Gray Willow Catkins

Yamamoto decides Gokudera is broken and needs to be fixed. It takes a while to find the right opening. Drama with Romance, I-3

Pairing(s): Yamamoto/Gokudera

Takeshi lay on his bed, arms folded behind his head, and stared up at his ceiling, thinking.

Gokudera had argued with him earlier, and Takeshi had teased him a little by smiling agreeably the whole time. Finally Gokudera had run his hands through his hair, looking like he was two breaths away from trying to pull it out, and yelled "Don’t you ever get mad, you idiot?!" before stomping off.

And now, for the first time in years, Takeshi was thinking about the things he’d said to Gokudera in the middle of their fight with Gamma years ago… or yet, depending on how you looked at it.

Gokudera’s constant growling had always kind of amused him, and he admitted that every now and then he sort of poked Gokudera just to get him going. Like playing with a cat; a few scratches were fair trade for getting to watch it flail at you. Actually, Gokudera reminded him a lot of a cat, sometimes, a feral cat that would only let one person pet him without biting, and that person was Tsuna. Even when they’d just met it had made Takeshi wonder a little how often Gokudera must have gotten kicked, to be that way, and now he was wondering more seriously.

Often enough that Gokudera didn’t understand not getting mad all the time?

Takeshi frowned at his ceiling. He didn’t like that idea.

…often enough that Tsuna doing something, unthinkingly, to help Gokudera had knocked down every wall he had and set him following Tsuna with his heart in his hand?

Takeshi really didn’t like that idea. It just wasn’t right for anyone to have something like that done to them.

Well, if that was the case, then something would just have to be done to fix it. After all, Takeshi liked and respected Gokudera, trusted him with Tsuna’s welfare and Takeshi’s own back. It shouldn’t be too hard to show him that. Takeshi nodded firmly at his ceiling, satisfied with this conclusion, and reached for his homework.

"You want to what?"

"Practice." Takeshi smiled at Gokudera and, when this only got him a dubious stare, amended. "Train. Together. For next time. You know there’s going to be a next time, and it might need two of us at once."

Gokudera couldn’t deny that, though he looked like he wanted to. "And who do you think we can train against?" he asked, arms crossed.

"I bet Reborn can find people."

Gokudera opened his mouth and closed it again. "Hm." He glowered down at his folded arms for a while before muttering. "Probably a good idea. I guess."

Takeshi didn’t press for anything more enthusiastic. That kind of was enthusiastic, coming from Gokudera. And now he would have more opportunities to show Gokudera that Takeshi wouldn’t kick him, and he really didn’t have to bite preemptively. It was a great idea if he did say so himself.

Of course, Reborn wanted to test them himself, first.

"Hopeless," he pronounced, landing with a light tap of shoes beside them while Gokudera swore—at least Takeshi assumed he was swearing from the tone, he’d reverted to Italian—and Takeshi tried to figure out how to untangle them without slicing anything off. "You’d better start with targets instead of opponents. Leon."

Takeshi couldn’t help laughing at the beady look Leon gave them before he transformed into a projector and a vaguely person-shaped red light flickered against the trees.

"Shut up, you idiot," Gokudera snarled, finally hauling himself out from under Takeshi. His eyes narrowed on their target and more explosives appeared between his fingers. "And this time just go and let me take care of not hitting you."

Takeshi grinned at that and agreed easily. "Sure thing ." He’d been right; practice would make good opportunities to prove his trust in Gokudera.

Gokudera paused and gave him a longer look. "Yeah, whatever," he muttered finally, and lit his bombs.

It took weeks before Reborn declared them ready for a live opponent.

"Fuck," Gokudera muttered, eyes just a little wide.

"I guess Reborn wanted us to practice for so long first so we didn’t get killed," Takeshi speculated.

Hibari pushed away from his lounge against a tree and looked them up and down. "Hm." The corner of his mouth curled.

"Okay, look," Gokudera muttered, low, "either one, he goes after you for a good fight or two, he goes after me to get me out of the way. My weapons are mid-range, and in close I’m no match for him. So if one, can you hold him while I get a target and if two, can you distract him so I can open the range again?"

Yamamoto considered. "I can’t hold him for long, but yeah. And I’m pretty sure I can be distracting."

Gokudera snorted. "Don’t know why I bothered asking." He sighed and flicked out a handful of explosives as Hibari started tapping his foot with impatience. "Kind of hope it’s two."

Takeshi looked at him, startled. "You do?" He had never thought of Gokudera as one of the ones who liked this kind of fight for its own sake.

Gokudera gave him a dour look. "If he’s looking at you for a good fight, he’ll pound me into fucking paste for interrupting. Crazy bastards, all of you," he added under his breath.

Takeshi considered Gokudera for a long moment. "You know, you’re really good at this."

"Notice that afterwards!" Gokudera snapped as Hibari stopped waiting for them and they dodged back and apart.

Takeshi laughed. "Okay!" He would, too. And bit by bit he’d get through.

A month later he was starting to have some doubts about that.

Oh, they were getting to work pretty smoothly as a team, at least when there was an opponent in front of them. They were having some really fun matches on the way, too, though Gokudera gave him dark looks whenever he said anything about that. The problem was that, the more time he spent with Gokudera, and the better able to work together they got, the clearer it became that Gokudera was still holding himself apart. He might not be the best fighter among them, but when it came to his heart, he left absolutely no openings, sliding by every overture Takeshi made, slick as ice. It was starting to get frustrating.

Takeshi probably shouldn’t have taken that out on Shamal, but when he emerged from Gokudera’s smoke screen right behind the man and heard him muttering about his precious girls choking and whippersnappers too smart for their own good, it annoyed him.

"All clear," he called, as Shamal went down in a heap, clouted smartly with Takeshi’s hilt. "Don’t suppose you can get rid of the smoke?"

"What do you want me to do, blow it away?" Gokudera grumbled.

Takeshi shrugged. "Sure, why not?"

There was a moment of silence. "Why not? Why not throw a bomb in there when I can’t actually see where you are? Gee, I can’t imagine." Sarcasm dripped off Gokudera’s voice.

Takeshi’s mouth quirked. "I trust you."

The smoke was thinning enough on its own for him to see Gokudera, standing a dozen paces away, staring at him with a now-familiar expression of wary puzzlement. Takeshi sighed to himself and waited for the usual sort of comment about baseball-addled brains.

Instead Gokudera shook his head and asked, "Why?"

The question, the moment he’d been waiting so long for, sang down Takeshi’s nerves and made the world sharp, and now Gokudera was looking at him even more warily. He took a breath for control. The words were sure as a sword stroke in his mind, though.

"Because you see the big issues and you think about them for all of us. Because you’ll shoot without a second thought, if it’s to protect us. I’ve watched you give everything you are to Tsuna, and you never hold back. You snarl all the time, but you can’t pass by a stray or a kid. You act like a thug, but you read physics for fun. You have a temper hotter than those bombs, but you’d die for any of us; you’ve proved that."

Gokudera actually backed up a step, eyes wide with shock. Takeshi spread his hands.

"I trust you because you’re you."

He could see Gokudera swallow before he managed to speak. "Yamamoto…"

Shamal groaned, between them, and rolled over, squinting up. "Remind me not to underestimate you brats any more," he husked and put an arm over his eyes.

When Takeshi looked up, Gokudera was collected again, face closed, and he sighed. It had been a step, at least, he was pretty sure, and he didn’t want to mess that up by pushing Gokudera too far.

At their next practice, though, he decided he should have pushed, because Gokudera was completely distracted.

And Colonello was not someone even both of them together could be distracted, against.


Gokudera hauled himself out of the splinters of a tree, wincing. "I’m fine."

"You’re not fine, you have a piece of tree in your arm," Takeshi pointed out, just a bit exasperated. Then he had to bite down a yelp as Gokudera reached around and yanked it out.

"Enough for today," Colonello told them, shaking his head. "Get that fixed." He frowned at both of them, though it didn’t have quite the usual coach-scowl impact, on a baby’s face. "And get your minds on your training, kora!"

"I’m not going near Romario," Gokudera muttered, as Colonello’s eagle flapped off with him.

Actually, Takeshi couldn’t blame him for that. "Do you have an emergency kit at home?"

Which was how they came to be in Gokudera’s tiny apartment kitchen, Gokudera seated on his table, swinging a foot and watching with rather alarming disinterest as Takeshi cleaned and wrapped the gouge in his arm.

"There." Takeshi tied the bandage off.

Gokudera slid to his feet and flexed his arm a lot more freely than Takeshi would have thought wise when it wasn’t absolutely necessary. "Yeah, that’ll do." He looked aside. "Thanks."

Takeshi sighed softly. He knew it was possible to get through to Gokudera; Tsuna had done it more or less by accident.

So maybe the question was, what did Tsuna do that he wasn’t? He thought about that as he put the emergency kit back in order. Tsuna was diffident, unthreatening. Except when he was in the grip of his Will, and then he got less diffident and more threatening than any two of his Guardians put together, and Takeshi had seen Gokudera watching when Tsuna was like that. If anything, Gokudera’s focus on Tsuna got even tighter, then. Tsuna was accepting, but Gokudera wasn’t responding to simple acceptance from Takeshi. Of course Tsuna was so completely transparent about it…

Takeshi paused in the act of stowing the kit back in Gokudera’s rather bare cupboard. "Gokudera." He turned to look at him, wondering if he’d gotten it at last. "Do you think I’m lying?"

Gokudera blinked at him. "Huh?"

"When I say I trust you. Do you think I’m lying?"

Gokudera’s shoulders jerked and pulled tight. "I’m sure your word is good," he said flatly, staring out the kitchen window.

Takeshi had a feeling he’d just stepped in another mafia custom of some kind, but he’d figure that out later. The important thing was that, obviously, his word alone really wasn’t enough. He chewed on his lip for a moment, thinking. He didn’t think he could be as clear as Tsuna was, but maybe… maybe Gokudera would accept a different kind of evidence. Something that wasn’t just words.

And he could think of one thing that Gokudera couldn’t possibly misunderstand, no matter how determined he was.

Gokudera looked around again as Takeshi came closer, frowning a little. "What?"

Takeshi smiled, just a little wry. "You can hit me for this, if I’m really wrong." He lifted Gokudera’s chin and bent his head to kiss him gently.

Gokudera froze, staring at him. But not slugging him, which Takeshi took as a good sign. He slid an arm around Gokudera and drew him closer, slow and careful.

"What…?" Gokudera was stiff as a board, eyes wide and a little wild.

"I thought you might believe body language more than words," Takeshi explained, one hand rubbing Gokudera’s back.

"You can’t… It’s not…" Gokudera shook his head violently, though he wasn’t pulling away, which made something in the back of Takeshi’s head sit up and take notice. "You can’t."

"Can’t what?" Takeshi asked, quietly.

"I’m not… You don’t…" Gokudera’s jaw tightened. "You can’t think I’m worth anything."

Takeshi considered that for a moment, head cocked. "Why not?"

Gokudera opened his mouth and closed it again, looking rather lost. Finally he glanced aside and mumbled, "No one does?"

Takeshi took a slow breath, fitting pieces together in his head. Gokudera might think that was true but he had to be desperate for it not to be, or else Takeshi would have eaten dynamite the second he touched him. "Tsuna does," he pointed out, hoping to springboard from this inarguable fact. Before he could, though, Gokudera spoke again.

"No one else." He wasn’t stiff any more, but he was still, completely still, eyes dark and cold as he gazed blankly over Takeshi’s shoulder. Takeshi almost shivered at that cold, except that a spark of genuine anger was starting to warm him up.

No one should have something like this done to them.

"Someone," he corrected, firmly, turning Gokudera’s head back toward him and gathering him closer.

Gokudera started, jarred out of that frozen stillness, and and still not socking Takeshi one for doing this. Takeshi nodded.

"Someone," he repeated, softer, and kissed Gokudera again, deliberate this time, coaxing, because he’d be damned if he let Gokudera go on thinking like that. This time he was rewarded with a quick, uneven breath and Gokudera’s fingers tightening in his shirt for a moment.


Takeshi wound his arms snugly around Gokudera. "Hmm?" He could feel tiny shivers running through Gokudera and lifted a hand to knead the nape of Gokudera’s neck, slow and firm.

"You really…? I mean…" Gokudera looked up at him, conflicting expressions tangling in his eyes—tense fear and disbelief and a tiny glow of wonder.

"I really mean it," Takeshi told him gently. "We’re all in this together. I’m glad we are." He smiled, brushing back Gokudera’s hair. "You’re amazing, you know."

A faint pink crept across Gokudera’s cheekbones and he glanced aside again. Takeshi resolved to tell him that was adorable, some time when it wouldn’t undo months on end of work.

"Okay," Gokudera said softly. "I… I believe you."

Takeshi smiled. It was a good start.