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silent night

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It’s that time of the year again. Bells are ringing, children play in the freshly fallen snow, and the storefronts sparkle with unbeatable, slashed deals. It’s twilight, and Christmas trees and light decorations shine warmly in nearby parks, leaving the general feeling of contentedness twisting in the air. Couples walk down the street, arm in arm, blushing with a gentle passion as their little intimate bubbles of love remain unburst by the slow muddle of foot traffic. The one, teensy, ashen little smudge on the eve of the most magical time of the year is currently pushing against traffic, through lovebirds who squawk in protest and annoyance, and stepping in wide arcs much too harshly, crunching and slushing freshly fallen snow. Children complain and some throw feeble snowballs, but they all miss (did they want to deal with the consequences of if, by some terrible, unlikely miracle, they hit him?). Big, poisonous clouds of smoke curl out from his nostrils like some sort of fairy tale dragon, and lovers and young ones alike know to stay clear from him. This man is Gokudera Hayato.

Gokudera has his mind on other things, though. Right now, he’s thinking of his boss and friends– the people he’s been calling his family for years. He’s marking down everyone he’s gotten presents for and which gift wrap would suit them the best (because of course he’s going to color code them– how could he not?), all the while shouldering his way back to his shared apartment with you. Finally, his gift shopping was over! It was long and hard, with a famiglia as big as his, but the famous Smoking Bomber got through it all, even if he was cutting it a little close to the deadline! Confident in his memory, Gokudera checks his mental list (more than twice, in fact) to be sure everyone is accounted for. He is proud of himself for this, which isn’t something he can say about everything he does.

“Tsuna’s got a new watch, tie, and cologne set… Baseball idiot has a gift card to that stupid milk-based snack store and knife sharpening stones… Even Turf-Top has tickets to a boxing tournament… Lambo… that kid’s got candy… Who else…?” Gokudera murmurs to himself as he trods home, weary and eager to put down the multitude of bags that have been digging pale, red indents into his skin for the past few hours, cutting off circulation and making his already sour attitude almost unbearable. Gokudera hoists the paper straps higher up his forearms and regrips the about dozen in his hands with a new intensity: just a few more minutes and he would be home. Home with you– a hot chocolate in his hands, some soft holiday music playing in the background, and a blanket wrapped around him and the most lovely little minx he’s ever seen in his life: you! By now, the pile of presents under the Holiday tree (named so, by all of the Vongola to respect every member’s religion and beliefs!) must be taller than the tree itself!

Gokudera has hardly had a second to take for himself in the past few weeks, consumed by business and his duties as Tsuna’s right hand man, not to mention organizing the Vongola Holiday Hullabaloo (named by popular vote in order to be truly inclusive, and also, perhaps to be just the slightest bit silly. Gokudera can’t say it with a serious face. The Vongola family uses every possible chance to make him say it.) single handedly. Maybe the single handedly part was Gokudera’s own fault, as he stubbornly refused help from anyone… But besides that, and the gift buying, Gokudera sighs with the relief that comes from finally finishing all his tasks. Now that he has a second to himself, Gokudera can’t help but wonder what may lie under the Holiday tree for him… Maybe you got him some new jewelry, or perhaps a piece of technology from Giovanni that would allow him to modify his boxes with even more firepower! Or maybe a coupon for a couple’s massage excursion– no, a full on spa day together? With that thought, Gokudera takes a deep, slow breath.

Calm down, boy, he thinks to himself, Don’t get excited over what you don’t know.

In truth, Gokudera has been rather stressed lately. He misses the time he had, before this chaotic season, that he spent with you.

In his thoughts, everything seems perfect. Gokudera’s fantasizing about hurrying home and collapsing in your arms is a bit dramatic– what else can be expected of him?– but there’s something bothering him… Something at the back of his mind that just gnaws and gnaws until suddenly, but building ever so slowly, there are big holes of anxiety in his brain like swiss cheese. What the hell is missing?

“Shit,” Gokudera mumbles. He finally moves away from impeding pedestrian traffic and finds a small bench where he can rest his feet for a bit, but more importantly, riffle through his purchases. He feels like something’s missing. It’s a feeling he absolutely hates.

“Tsuna, Yamamoto, Ryohei, Lambo, Mukuro and Chrome, Hibari, Kyoko, Haru, Big Sis, some smaller stuff for the Varia… A box of chocolates for Tsuna’s Maman… Reborn…”

The more Gokudera digs through dozens of paper bags, the harder a feeling of emptiness sets in. His brow furrows as he counts every gift once more, grinding the butt of his nearly smoked out cigarette between his teeth.

What the hell is missing?

Feeling the frustration build, he pulls out his pack and lights another cigarette, rubbing out the used one on the bench. Gokudera fumbles around in his winter coat for a lighter he knows is in there and bites the fresh cigarette between his teeth. After coming up empty, he drops the rest of the bags the were weighing on his wrists to search his other pocket– he knows he has his lighter in there somewhere!

Gokudera’s fingers find it in the downy inner pocket of the overcoat, next to a small, but very important box that he’s kept in there for a few months, blunt nails bumping against smooth plastic that he’s so familiar with. The muscles around his mouth tug in what you, his darling beloved would call a slight smile; strangers that hurriedly pass him might call it different. The hunched man seated on a bench in the snow, surrounded by too many bags for a single man to carry, glaring pure heat indiscriminately at everything that moves would be more inclined to call that a grimace, or less politely, a full out snarl. However, the relief and joy Gokudera feels just grabbing the lighter make him feel like he’s walking on Cloud Nine.

He pulls it out, strikes the mechanism, and takes a long huff of that little stick of poison. The lighter is pink and covered with worn (or the term Gokudera prefers, “well loved”) stickers of kitties and hearts and cream puffs. You gave it to him on your one-year anniversary, before you realized how much of a problem his smoking habit was and how dangerous the consequences of smoking were. By your second shared anniversary, you totally denounced smoking and your previous gift, instead urging him to wean himself off and maybe start using nicotine patches, or get on prescriptions to help him off smoking.

Gokudera smiles at your concern, and with your help he’s been able to significantly reduce how much he smokes. But old habits die hard and he needs some instant relief right now. Taking another puff and feeling the nicotine swim in his lungs, filling him with a familiar sense of ease, he can’t help but feel little wiggling worm of guilt for smoking not just one, but two cigarettes in a single day. It’s been stressful, he tries to placate himself. Gokudera wonders how you’ll take the strong smell of ash on his mouth when you kiss him to welcome him home.

You kissing him is one of his favorite activities to do with you– among many others– and he wonders if you’ll abstain from that lovely affection again like you did when he last smoked this much in a day…

He doesn’t want to miss out on a single moment of your love.

Of a single moment of you.

Gokudera shakes off the build of ash that collects on the red tip of the cigarette. A little bead of recognition is rolling up into his brain, slowly, so very slowly… He takes another long puff and goes cross eyed watching that little scarlet circle rush towards the filter…

You.

“SHIT!” Gokudera vaults off the park bench, startling several passersbys and some mothers cover their children’s ears. Caring nothing for the delicate sensibilities of the general public, Gokudera scoops up all his purchases and runs back into the fray of holiday shopping in a panic.

A million gift ideas have come and gone through his head through the entire month of December, and for that whole month he’s pondered and entertained the idea of gifts, then rejected it with thoughts of “No, that’s too cheesy” or “Can’t get them that, that’s way overdone,” only to eventually forget that he failed to get you anything at all.

Gokudera feels overly warm in his winter coat– suddenly, he remembers you were the one to buy it for him and why was it that you seemed to buy him all his favorite things?– and all around him it seems shops are closing their doors and turning over their cursive “We’re Open!” signs.

He runs up to a glassware store with tea sets in the display window– you like tea cups and those cute little spoons, right?– just as a teenaged employee turns off the display lights. He meets eyes with the teen and there must be a wild desperation in his eyes because she reaches for the lock on the door to let him in, but a yell from behind the young worker causes her to jump and turn away from Gokudera.

His heart is pumping loud enough he can hear it in his ears and feel the pulse high in his throat as he silently begs that something just fell over in the store. No managers here, no siree.

To his greatest dismay, the girl turns back to him, with the deepest pity in her eyes, and her hand falls away from the lock. Green eyes are reflected back to Gokudera in the glass door and he sees just how pale and panicked he looks. Through that, the girl in the closed store frowns and shakes her head slowly– no, and I’m sorry.

Breath shakily falls out of Gokudera’s lungs and a hot burn touches his lip and he spits the cigarette he forgot he was smoking to the ground. With a groan, he touches his lip to find it tender, most likely slightly burnt. But he has no time for that. He stomps out the cigarette, in case it didn’t fizzle out in the snow, and turns heel to run around the shopping plaza against, in the desperate hope that some store, any store, is open for him to get you a gift that isn’t absolutely terrible.

He sees a lingerie store across the plaza with its lights still on. Should he… Does he dare?... No time to find out, Gokudera thinks, as he shuffles as fast as he can to the store, the bags around him making the loudest and most embarrassing sound he’s ever heard in his life.

It’s the sound of the dumbest boyfriend in the whole fucking world.

He’s fifty feet away when he considers what sort of boyfriend he is to buy you lingerie for a holiday. On one hand, it’s a sweet, sexy gift that you can wear whenever you want, and he knows you enjoy that. On the other, isn’t it selfish of him to buy you lingerie? After all, you’ll probably be wearing it for him, and in most cases, for hardly ten minutes at a time. Wouldn’t this be more of a gift for him?

He’s thirty five feet away when he considers that, hey, maybe if you don’t like it, he wouldn’t be the worst boyfriend in the world. You would have something as a gift and he could always get you an apology bouquet of roses (Sorry, I Fucked Up written in sad, loopy cursive) and a box of bourbon chocolates. Maybe a stuffed animal to boot. Maybe it’s a nice, sexy way of saying how much he loves you, and how much he loves you in the more… physical sense, too.

No, Hayato shakes his head, that’s so stupid.

He’s twenty feet away when he wonders if they have anything in his size. You get dressed up to impress him all the time– why shouldn’t he as well? When you wear anything with lace and silk he feels all hot under the collar… Why can’t he do the same for you? He’s not entirely sure how you would react to him in a lacy bralet and some thigh highs, but if past experience has told him anything, it is more than likely you would pounce on him before he could say anything witty as a hello.

Not even “Is that a gun or are you just happy to see me?” Gokudera thinks to himself in a delirious, out of body way. Nope. Not even that.

“Is it hot in here or is it just you?”

No go, buddy,

“Hello, gorgeous?”

Sure, why not say it with a rose between your teeth, too?

He’s ten feet away when he thinks that, yes, purchasing lingerie for himself would be a nice present for you– maybe he could get a nice red velvet number with a white fur trim to match yours. The emotional bonding of two people, simply lounging around and being in love in lingerie must be rather significant. That skin-to-skin contact, the intimate traces of silk, lace, latex, or even leather?.. That must truly send a shock up the spine, right? It does for him, when you sit on his lap in teasing, almost see-through netting, in that fiery red color of his flame. And with the both of you in lingerie, what sort of gaudy opulence is that!

He’s five feet away when, all on board with his plan, in his mind the most significant barrier to his plan is the size restrictions all stores have. He’s not sure if men’s lingerie even exists, but that’s no matter to him. Gokudera is fully worried on whether or not he can fit the women’s sizes that this store provides. The holiday season must have wiped most of the sophisticated styles from the racks. He can deal with looking a little racy, but will he be able to fit the sizes? Gokudera doesn’t think he has enough time to get his bra sized, or if they even have his band size in stock. If they don’t have any bras that fit him, he supposes he’ll have to settle for a teddy or some sort of sexy contraption that fits around his chest loosely. For the bottoms… Well, he’s seen the underwear you have for special occasions and what’s on display in this shop, and frankly? The goal of the underwear doesn’t seem to be to conceal, so Gokudera thinks he will be fine in whatever he chooses. And he knows you have some lovely garters and stockings he can fit; from previous experiences, both of some sexy, but also of some simply curious endeavors.

He knows he has some high heels that he can wear as well– these are from a mission he had to cooperate with the Varia– Lussuria, in particular– that ended in satisfaction but the details of the mission are things he would rather not remember or talk about. In the end, though, he learned that Lussuria is not as unbearable as he originally thought, that Lussuria might actually be a pretty good friend, and that Gokudera looks damn good as a woman.

Gokudera is standing right in front of the store, face almost pressed to the glass, when he realizes that it is closed and the lights are simply a festive, though confusing, decoration choice. Shit.

The walk back to that sad little park bench is slow and each step fills him with a pitting sense of dread that makes his feet feel they’re chained. Yellow light flickers above him and casts Gokudera’s shadow long and mourning, as the lamp post seems to feed off of his dilemma. Gokudera’s palms press into his too warm eyes and he is completely at a loss for what to do next.

A sudden buzz in his pants pocket scares him out of his misery before he realizes it’s a phone call. After he realizes it’s a phone call, he’s even more scared. He’s sliding the cell out of his pocket when a million thoughts rush through his mind. What if it’s you? Would he lie? No, sweetheart, I have everything under control, don’t worry about a thing. I’m just the absolute worst boyfriend in the world– nothing you didn’t already know. Love you, be home soon.

It’s Tsuna. Gokudera moans in relief and answers.

“Hey, Gokudera, how’s the Hullabaloo coming along?”

“BOSS!” Gokudera shouts into the receiver. A small noise of pain meets him from the other side.

“Y-Yeah?”

“I’m…” hesitation pulls at the right hand man’s voice, “in a bit of a situation.”

Tsuna finally gets the full story out of Gokudera nearly ten minutes later, with many pauses for apologizes and his best friend agonizing about how he forgot the love of his life’s present. Silence falls over the phone when Gokudera takes a deep breath after his explanation.

“Well,” Tsuna’s voice is light and tinny over the call, “you do actually have a present.”

“What?” Gokudera’s brow furrows and his fingers twitch in the craving for another cigarette.

His boss laughs, not condescending, but in a way that gives Gokudera the sense that he’s missing something. And that is a feeling that Gokudera hates very much. Gokudera pulls out the cigarette carton: damn the consequences, he’ll have as many as he wants tonight.

“Hayato,” Tsuna says, “you have a ring.”

At that, all the blood drains from Gokudera’s face leaving him as pale as the snow that surrounds him. Now he really needs a cigarette.

Gokudera swallows and clears his throat after a pause that was longer than it needed to be. “S-So?” he says, and shakily lights what’s clenched too tight between his teeth. It lights but Gokudera doesn’t seem to feel any warmth from it.

So? So, Hayato, you’ve been sitting on this for months. No, it’s closer to a year now, isn’t it?”

“Well, I– it’s more complicated than that– y-you see–”

“Hayato, you’ve been giving me excuses for months.” A tired sigh comes over the receiver and a quiet moment passes where Gokudera’s eyes lift. Now all the stores are closed and empty. A light, thin snowfall hides footprints just barely and lights in apartment buildings start to disappear. It’s late. He hopes that you’re sleeping, but he hopes even more that you waited for him so he wouldn’t miss holding you close in bed on such a special evening.

“I think it’s time.” Tsuna isn’t pressuring. Tsuna is concerned.

Gokudera takes a big suck from the cigarette and watches the heat from his breath and the nicotine tinged smoke rise white against the dark, velvet lined sky. His voice comes out weak. “I’m not ready.”

“Are you? Are you really?”

Gokudera closes his eyes and buries his head in his hands, fingers pulling at his soft silver hair, the hair you love to run your hands through and wash and brush for him.

“I don’t think I can do it.”

Tsuna snorts, “Of course you can!”

“I’m afraid.”

At that, Tsuna quiets. No one speaks. The man he trusts so implicitly and so completely, the man he found most capable in the world, the man who was his first friend– how could he doubt himself so? How can Tsuna help his best friend when he can’t help himself?

But he can.

They aren’t fourteen anymore. They’re grown. Tsuna has matured into a fine mafia boss, fitting for the Vongola. Fitting for his family. Tsuna is a man now.

“Hayato,” he begins, “it’s okay to be afraid. This is a big commitment. You’ve been thinking about this for years, saving up to buy a ring. Turning it over in your hands at night, right? When you think they’re sleeping and you’re just torn apart by it?” Gokudera laughs softly in reply. His boss– his best friend knows him so well.

“It’s okay to be scared,” Tsuna continues, tone growing rough over the phone. “But don’t you ever fucking say that you’re not ready.”

Gokudera almost swallows his cigarette in shock, choking on the smoke. He can count the times Tsuna has said “fuck” on his fingers. Maybe he would have to use his toes too, but Tsuna hasn’t really sworn much since they were handed their high school diplomas and threw fringed caps in the air.

“Do you think you would have bought a ring if you weren’t ready? That you would have come to ask my blessing, which you’ve always had, if you weren’t ready? Hayato, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t see love in you. It’s in the way you talk, I can see it in the way you hold yourself. Your eyes, Hayato, I see that love there. It’s not just my intuition, it’s a fact. Don’t you ever doubt yourself about that.”

Gokudera, floored, immediately apologizes, assuming his position as right hand man and subordinate. “I-I’m so sorry, Boss, I didn’t mean–”

“For the love of god, Hayato, shut up!” Tsuna yells, “Don’t disrespect me like this! Don’t disrespect the family like this! Don’t you know how much we believe in you? In your future? How any of us would do anything to help you get a shot at happiness?

“So don’t you dare disrespect us like this. You’re ready, Hayato. Don’t you dare disrespect yourself like this, and don’t you fucking dare disrespect your partner like this.”

The line goes quiet except for Tsuna’s panting and Gokudera doesn’t know what to say.

He’s seen this love for family in Tsuna before, experienced it back in middle school when he almost blew himself to bits to win against the Varia, but it never fails to wipe him out with the depth and sincerity of Tsuna’s love. It’s a love that, to a stranger, could be easily mistaken for rage. But Gokudera is no stranger and he can’t stop the hot tears from spilling over his green eyes, palm pressed firm against his teeth so he Tsuna can’t hear him cry.

“T-Tsuna…” Gokudera manages to croak out, with not much else to say.

“Hayato,” his childhood best friend says in a much quieter voice, “Please stop holding yourself back. You deserve happiness. You’ve protected this family for so long, and we will always protect you… But you deserve to give yourself the chance to start your own family, grow your own happiness. It’s a risk, but please take that chance.”

Tsuna can hear Gokudera sniff on the other side of the line. He smiles.

“Yeah… O-Of course, Tsuna,” Gokudera swallows. “I think I’m ready.”

 

You’re worried. The clock reads well past midnight and Hayato isn’t home yet.

He left the house in the early afternoon, when the cool winter light hit him so softly and beautifully that you couldn’t help but kiss him goodbye so many times that he had to drag you on the couch and kiss you just as much in return. He promised to try to be home early so that you could bundle up together in front of the fire and plug in the tree lights, pull out hidden presents and put them under the tree. Hayato laughed and said that he wanted to watch holiday movies on the television with you, and yes, even the really awful ones because it was something he said he might actually enjoy if he experienced it with you. He laughs in this soft way around you, a laugh he doesn’t have with anyone else. It’s tender and he has this strange little smile that’s even softer when he looks at you. It could be love. It scared you at first, but you’re certain now, and it’s not so scary when it’s so gentle. You hope it’s love. You love him back.

You’re very worried.

For an hour or three, you passed out in front of the TV in the living room wearing his pajamas that are way too long for you. The spirit of the season made you sentimental, what can you say? But those few hours disoriented you and the sun had long since set. Through the glass windows above the kitchen sink, you can see the snow had started falling again. It had picked up.

Hot chocolate sits on the kitchen counter in lovely holiday mugs that you received as a present one year but the drink has been cool for the better part of an hour now. You don’t feel thirsty with the way things are now.

The small window pane in the front door shakes shrilly in its frame when the wind picks up and you jump. It’s even colder out now. You’re just barely tethering yourself from running headfirst into a panic attack but Hayato hasn’t picked up his phone calls and the last few went straight to voicemail. The house feels bigger without him, lonelier, but so much more claustrophobic as well. It’s the juxtaposition of the fearful, you know, but you can’t quiet those worries of him being stuck somewhere without help, freezing to death in the cold– you should have made him wear those gloves and wrapped that extra cashmere scarf around him as you kissed him goodbye for the second try. What if something bad happened to him? What if the worst happened to him?

You’re nearly burning a hole in the carpet with your pacing, and just as you’re about to call up Tsuna and wake him at an ungodly hour, technically the day of the Vongola Holiday Hullabaloo (you pushed very hard for that name), the front door rattles with the struggle of keys not turning the locks, you all but break down the door.

Gokudera, despite his quiet attempts to enter the house without waking you, curses and can’t seem to get his keys to cooperate and open the damn door. He’s freezing out here, he grumbles to no one in particular. He does say something rather nasty and biting about Jack Frost, though. Maybe the door is so hard to open because his hands are all but pieces of a cadaver with how frozen they are from the elements and refusing his damn gloves you tried to get him to wear earlier, and the combination of the heaviness and multitude of his many shopping bags.

Gokudera gets the shit scared out of him when the door knob flies out of his hand and he’s face to face with the love of his life, who is absolutely pissed the fuck off.

“Hayato!” You hiss, and drag him inside.

He’s startled by your abruptness but you’re wrapped in your favorite blanket from your shared bed and he notices, giddily, you’re wearing his pajamas and they’re just so big on you and you’re just so goddamned cute and–

“I swear! I almost called the cops, Hayato! But I couldn’t, because my man is the bane of their existence, so you know what I was doing? Just worrying my damn head off! If my hair turns gray and all falls out, I’m holding you personally accountable! What were you doing out so late? It’s freezing!” You rant and chastise and shake your head, but you help him put his bags down and take off his coat, putting it over the couch. You take his hands in yours and gasp.

“Jesus, Hayato!” You bring his hands to your mouth and blow hot air on them, rubbing and trying to warm them, “You feel like ice!”

“Tell me about it,” he groans, and leans his full body weight on to you, tipping the both of you over. Luckily, he made sure the couch would be there to catch you.

“Hayato, I’m serious! I was so worried!..” Your voice takes on a wounded edge as you trail away, burying your face into his chest, speckled with stubborn, melting snowflakes. The man above you looks down to see your hair wild from running your hands through it and that makes him uncomfortably guilty. Another feeling he hates, especially when it concerns you.

“Hey, I’m, uh,” he sits up and brings your face up to his. “I’m sorry.”

You don’t say anything but turn your face into his palm and sigh. He smells like ash.

“I lost track of time and Tsuna called me about–” he stops talking. When you look up at him he has a lost, helpless look on him. His hand on your face twitches against your cheek but it doesn’t leave. Hayato clears his throat.

“He, uh, called me about the party tomorrow. Then my phone died, sorry.”

“Hullabaloo,” you remind him, ghost of a smile creeping up your face.

He groans and the atmosphere is suddenly light, and the rest of the room returns in technicolor, high definition, 1080p. The crackle and lovely warm smell of the fireplace greets him and the television plays some god awful Hallmark movie softly. Gokudera finally feels the burn of the cold he’s been out in all night and he bunkers down further on the couch with his arms wrapped around you, pulling you half in his lap and you squeak a bit but don’t protest.

“Whatever,” he grumbles and buries his face in your neck. He missed you.

You squirm in his lap– his nose is cold!– and say, voice full of mischief, “It’s called a Hullabaloo,” and when greeted with another complaint from Gokudera you say more insistently, “What is it called, Hayato, love of my life?”

His hair tickles your neck as he shakes his head and says, in the resigned way only a man that’s hopelessly in love and fighting a losing battle can say–

“Ugh. Fine. It’s a damned Hullabaloo…”

He feels you roll over in his grasp so you straddle his hips and your face is looking up at him, gentle and kind.

“Thank you.”

“You’re not welcome.”

 

Within a commercial break, Hayato is settled in and donning a new set of sleepwear, snug and warm on the couch, and you have hot chocolate and sugar cookies in spades. He’s got an arm around you and you are all but tangled in him. You can hear his heartbeat in his chest, faster than normal, and it’s concerning but the debacle you were faced for the past few hours has exhausted you and the low, dancing lights from the Christmas tree lull you to a happy sleep. The both of you know you won’t be awake in a few moments.

“Hayato?”

“Yeah, babe?”

He feels your breath warm against his exposed collar and it’s almost as nerve wracking as it is a comfort. He’s all too aware of that little box in his coat, just behind the two of you to his right, slung over the couch. It’s the heaviest little box in the world, he’s sure.

“I was really worried. I thought something happened to you…”

“I know,” Hayato whispers and places a kiss on your temple, petting your hair. “And I’m so sorry. Really.”

“I know,” you reply back in a quiet voice.

You add on, as sleep has made you embarrassingly and so emotionally raw, “All I really want is you, Hayato… ”

The couple on the television kiss and orchestral Christmas music swells: the credits roll to the sound of a remixed, pop version of holiday classics. It’s really a pain to witness. Hayato can tell you’re trying your hardest not to drift away when you ask a question that freezes him up.

“Are you really okay?” you ask, pressing your ear to his chest, mumbling, “Your heart’s beating so fast…”

Gokudera coughs a little, then belatedly hopes that you can’t smell the ash on his breath. He knows you noticed he’s smoked, and smoked a lot, but you haven’t said anything about it. He’s grateful you’ve given him that small mercy.

“Yeah, just, uh,” he sighs, running his hands through your hair, “We can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Another Hallmark movie begins and the snow outside drifts to the ground, calm and steady. You’ll wake up to a beautiful, snowy Christmas morning, then go to the Vongola-Varia Holiday Hullabaloo (damn you for making him think it…), and be surrounded by friends and family. A truly memorable night indeed.

Your body leans heavily on Hayato and when he’s sure that he’s sure you’re asleep, he carefully reaches behind him, fumbles with his coat, and nearly drops the ring box on your head when he takes it out.

You’re damn right I’m not okay, I’m scared as fuck, he thinks, opening the box and running the flat of his thumb over the smooth parts of the silver ring. He didn’t want to get you anything too gaudy, but it’s still rather dramatic and pretty (just like me, he thinks in a detached humor). He knows you’ll like it. He hopes you’ll love it.

Pressing another kiss to your head, Gokudera takes a deep, steadying breath. Of course you’ll love it, he reminds himself– if Tsuna can see it, it has to be true. He knows, deep down, that you’ve been waiting for this for a long time. You’ve been ready for a long time. He’s finally ready, too. He thinks of a plan, as responsible as he is, but he knows it’ll all go to shit the moment he opens his mouth.

 

In the morning, you’ll wake up to soft winter light, and Hayato on one knee in front of you in pajamas; you’ll laugh at first, disoriented and sure you’re in a dream. Then he’ll make a little speech, fingers itching for a cigarette and instead occupying one hand on your thigh and one in his pocket, running over the edges of that little box over and over.

You’ll start to get teary, some stupid holiday movie that you love to hate will play in the background, and the lights from the tree will make Hayato look so beautiful, so devastatingly handsome with his heart bared wide open for you like that.

Eventually, you’ll shout yes, and Hayato will cry before you do, and he’s not afraid to admit it. Though Yamamoto will tease him about it, Ryohei will cry too and tell him he’s the most manly guy on the face of the earth. The whole Hullabaloo will be full of congratulations and love, friends and family– and presents.

And Lambo, that son of a bitch, will say, after all that fuss over the ring and marriage, “Wait, the ring is great, but where's the present you got them?"

And Gokudera will knock his lights out– or try his best to.

And you’ll forgive him and kiss him under the mistletoe to calm him down because really, all you want is him.

And the best present he ever could have gotten is you.

 

Gokudera takes another deep breath, and squeezes the box one more time in his hands before he hides it away safely in his pocket. He kisses your hair one more time before resting his chin on your crown and closing his eyes. Gokudera Hayato falls asleep with a slow burning determination to be the most loving and supportive husband he could possibly be for you. He smiles as he drifts away, dreaming of weddings and honeymoons.