He’d been feeling a bit under the weather since Juudaime - no, Tsuna, since Tsuna disappeared, but he hadn’t thought anything of it. Finding his Sky was more important than a cold … or the flu …or that cough and the persistent backache. But he wishes now he’d paid more attention, gone to Medical, because he’s dying, he can feel it with each choked, wet, not-enough inhale and wheezing, crackling exhale.
He’ll never see his Sky again, never tell him how sorry he is, how wrong he’d been, that he sees it now, how he’d been pressuring Tsuna into a position he didn’t want, because he thought it would keep them safe. After all, he’d learned that the only way to keep himself safe was to be right at the top, and the Vongola were the top of the top, and Tsuna would have been Don. Surely that would have kept everyone safe.
Except he was wrong. He was so wrong. Tsuna would have been so miserable here, like Yamamoto before Tsuna had become his friend. Tsuna would have hated every second, and he knew now that an uncertain future lived how you wanted was better than certainty and misery.
Because he’d lived that for the past month. A month of misery, of his only friend (best friend - Yamamoto was as much his friend as Tsuna, as much as he hated to admit it) missing, of people deferring to his position and safety from his sister’s influence but oh, so miserable.
And there was one thing he’d always regretted never saying out loud, even if he hadn’t seen it until after Tsuna left, and he’d realised, and started looking past what he wanted Tsuna to be and seen who he actually was...but did he have the breath to say it?
He found he did, as his dying, air-starved brain gave him one last look, one last painful look at his Tsuna. So real, almost like he was actually there.
“Tsu- Tsuna. I - I love you … I’m sorry I never …”
Dying felt like being carried, and smelled like warm cinnamon and clean sea air and damp, growing green. Like Tsuna.
Death was painful. White, and chilly, and painful, and it smelled awful, like something sour and the tang of … antiseptics? And there was a rhythmic beeping. He could hear his Tsuna, and a deeper voice, and someone that sounded like the Varia’s Sun. Then he saw Tsuna, and he was saying something, and there was a different, solitary beep, and the pain melted. Before the black came to swallow him, he felt a hand holding his, and lips on his forehead, and Tsuna’s voice saying something to him. Sleep? He was dead, sleep was for …
“… and they should be fully integrated by the end of the year. You owe me a lot, Chew Toy.” That was… Xanxus?
“I know, Boss. More than I can repay. What you’re asking is so very little compared to what he wanted of either of us, and nothing I wouldn't have been willing to do anyways.” Boss? Why is Tsuna using Xanxus’ Varia Name? And Chew Toy?!
“Tsuna. I have issues with you, and I think I always will, but you’re family, and you’re Cavallone now. Tyrant says you’re doing well. Horse says the Alliance will stop looking soon.” A pause, and he can almost hear the smirk. “And Freezer Burn’s awake.” He hears a door close, and the ensuing silence is awkward.
“Ha-Hayato?” Given name? And why is Tsuna here?! Tsuna can’t be dead, no, not Tsuna, not his Tsuna; Tsuna had to live! Is that why Tsuna had been missing?! No! His head goes a bit fuzzy, and the panic edges back, and Tsuna’s there. “Hayato? I’m really here. No one’s dead. Well, people are dead, and things are different, but no one in this room is dead. You’re alive, I’m alive, and if you follow Lussuria’s instructions it will stay that way. I didn’t pay Belphegor to sneak us in and back out with you, and then pay more for organs, and then even more for Lussuria’s treatments to lose you now.”
“Tsuna? Tsuna, I was dying. I know it. You say I’m not dead, but I was dying and … and then you were there and I died and …” He stops talking. He stops thinking, because Tsuna is kissing him.
“Hayato, you nearly died.” Tsuna climbs into the narrow bed with him, and he feels himself flush. “I had to freeze you to keep you alive long enough to get you here. Tyrant had to help me through keeping you alive because if I wasn’t part of working on you you’d have rejected Lussuria’s Flames, and then again when Maìnomai and Mammon were Altering the organs. It’s been almost ten months since … since I found you on the floor of the Iron Fort. It’s been two weeks since the replacement surgery. Hayato, I need to know, did you … did you mean what you said when we found you?”
He looks down at where Tsuna had curled up against him, head on his chest, and can only nod as he winds a hand through that fluffy hair - longer now than it had been, looking less like Primo’s, and he finds he likes the change. “I didn’t realise until after you left, Tsuna. I’m so sorry. I was so wound up in trying to make us safe that I never stopped to think. Never thought about what you wanted or what would make you happy. I thought being on top would keep us all safe, but the Mafia isn’t safe, and it’s better, either way, to be uncertain and happy than safe and miserable. It was the longest month of my life, Tsuna, and my only regret on that floor wasn’t dying, it was never telling you how I felt, never figuring it out until it was too late. After you left me there, dying would have been -”
A single finger on his lips cuts him off. “If you finish that sentence, Gokudera-kun, I will not be responsible for what I do to you.” Burning orange eyes stare dispassionate holes into him, and he shudders. Seeing his Sky like that no longer sends sparks up his spine; Tsuna as he is, as he should live, has no need of Hyper Dying Will Mode and its forced calm. “But Tsuna, Tsuna you left me there!” He’s curled over his own lap, sobbing, harsh ugly pulls of strangely strong air that leave him almost painfully clear like his memories of his mother. “You left me there and alone just like everyone else! You came back, but still, you left me there to die alone and scared for you and all I could think of was finding you and I didn’t care about pulling you back just finding you and joining you and Yamamoto and yeah, even Chrome and Mukuro, and all I wanted was a home and you were … you were everything and you left!”
Tsuna crumples, and they cry together for a while, and he feels awful, but better? Bleeding it out, like poison. “I’m sorry, Tsuna. I know I wouldn't have let you leave at that point; I was still too stuck in my own head and my wrong idea of how to keep us safe. But damnit, you could have knocked me out and slung me on Uri’s back or something!” Tsuna makes a sound; a squeak-sob, accompanied by arms wrapping around his waist, and he stills. “Tsuna? What happened? What’s wrong?”
“They’re not real, Hayato. They have one, maybe two hours left, then they’ll be gone. That’s all Xanxus could give us. Kojiro almost disappeared on Takeshi and …” He chokes. Sure, Uri was a violent little shit, but she was his violent little shit, and even knowing that her being fake meant his Bone Loops and Flame Arrow were also fake (which hurt), losing her would be … terrible. Like losing a bit of his soul.
Tsuna senses his need to come to terms with that, and tries to get up, but he chokes out a plea for him to stay, and they fall asleep like that, curled around each other like kittens.
It’s been weeks, and he’s now out of that bed. It’s terrifying to find that it’s nearly Christmas now, when last he knew it was barely into February; the thought that he lost over a year with his Tsuna is almost too much. But he’s out and walking, even if he’s not allowed training, and just being able to follow Tsuna around and get used to how things work now that they’re no longer Vongola is reassuring.
Tsuna’s been so close, too, the past few weeks; he doesn’t even blink at the single room with the two beds, or the fact that there’s nothing between them, or that Tsuna’s asked if he wants to push them together or keep them separate.
“Together, Tsu.” He’s flushed red, and it makes his little Sky coo. “Like holding you at night. Reminds me I’m alive, and that you’re here and we’re safe and together.”
It’s his turn to coo as his fluffy Sky turns red.
It’s two weeks after that when Yamamoto walks into their room and freezes; Tsuna’s head is pillowed on his chest and he’s buried his hand in that fluffy hair, fingers moving gently. “Shh, I just got him to sleep. You’re five days late, idiota, and he’s been worried sick.” The tall swordsman silently puts his things down and enters the small bathroom for a likely long-overdue shower.
“So do I need to look for a new room today or am I welcome to stay for a while?” The idiota’s hair is still dripping under the towel, but he looks much more comfortable in russet hakama and juban, the thin white cloth all but transparent in splotches around the shoulders. “He’s been so worried about you lately, working himself into Flame exhaustion.” The taller teen sits on the bed next to their Sky and rests a hand on his shoulder, rubbing with his thumb. “I stayed here because he was usually so tired getting in he collapsed half off the bed. He’s been… it’s been awful, Gokudera-kun.” Yamamoto sighs heavily and pulls himself off the bed, going over to the closet. “Do you mind if I stay here? I have a futon, and I don’t snore. I just …”
“Yeah, stay a few days, I don’t mind. Tsuna won’t either; he’s been worried sick. What happened, anyways?” The look on his friend’s face has him backing down.
“Not in front of Tsuna; even if he’s asleep I don’t like bringing that stuff up around him.” Fair enough. Yamamoto’s laid down now, and is pulling the covers over himself. “Honestly it only got bad the once, but they got my phone so I couldn’t call for a while. Got a ferry over but was in the hold. Tell you about it tomorrow. Oh, and Gokudera?”
“Mm?” He’s back to petting his sleeping Sky’s hair, having combed it out for him earlier; it was soft and silky and fluffy and much longer than it had been when they were last all together.
“Glad you’re back. Missed you.”
“Missed you too, idiota.” The idiota huffed a laugh. “Who else can I argue with?” Deep, slow breathing is his only answer.