Rating: T for language
Word Count: 4,451
Summary: Two lives, two different circumstances, but no matter what, there can only be one outcome. AU.
A single leaf hung on to a tree ready to fall yet clinging to the life of the branch. Despite the blowing wind, it held on refusing to let go. A sharp gust thrashed the leaf and so it cascaded to the ground, only to be stepped on by a pedestrian. What a bitter end!
The chill outside made warm secluded restaurants the place to meet. However, one in particular was having a hard time attracting customers. Perhaps today just was not its day. Though, no one would say the café was bare. A couple of friends, the barista assumed that’s what they were, sat in the back of the parlor. He had just delivered their drinks being the only staff on hand. He watched them closely, careful not to attraction their attention.
The one nearest to the window had a grin plastered on his face. He was the one who ordered the black coffee. Nothing out of the ordinary there, a typical Japanese man. It was the other one that caught his interest. A foreigner, clearly. He had given him plain tea careful not to stare too long. He was not looking up. And though the barista stared, he could not even or ever understand what was going on between the two just then.
It had been a year since they last saw each other, a year since they last sat near one another and talked. Yamamoto was smiling, but Gokudera knew well enough with one glance that it meant anything but happiness. He stared his tea down wanting to avoid looking at his company regretting agreeing to meet him here. And though Gokudera would not give him a glance, Yamamoto felt obligated to talk, after all he called him out. He was the one to pick up the phone and ask politely if he would meet him. Gokudera could’ve just said no instead of saying nothing at all and hanging up.
Could’ve but didn’t. And so, Yamamoto eager to say what he needed to, smiled. He wanted to break that barrier, to break that uncomfortable feeling shouldered between the two. What he didn’t realize was that it was the smile that caused the tension in the first place.
“I didn’t know you drank tea.”
“You know Gokudera, in another universe somewhere I’m probably a professional baseball player.”
The silence was broken and Gokudera met his eyes puzzled, and once again dealt with the terse smile. His knuckles turned white and he clenched his teacup harder. “No one brought you into this.”
“Ah, you didn’t let me finish. I might be a professional baseball player in another universe… but…” And he paused for a moment, forgetting he was supposed to smile shocking the man sitting across from him even more so. “Not in this one.”
Gokudera sat stunned trying to comprehend what he just said. Yamamoto wasn’t smiling anymore and Gokudera found himself more nervous than before. For a moment, he thought of words, anything to say; anything that wouldn’t give away the true thought in his mind. Why?
“Why do I care?”
Yamamoto blinked, not surprised and remembered to smile again. He downed his drink in a gulp. Took out his wallet and left cash on the table and stood up. “I wanted you to be the first one to know.” He waltzed out of the building flashing a winning smile at the barista, leaving a stunned partner, and feeling just a bit gloomier.
The barista rested his head on his hand and sighed.
The walls were yellow. Maybe in another time somewhere they were brighter. Instead, the lighting was all wrong. The paint peeling off somehow became the spotlight of attention and the rust on the window took center stage. It wasn’t falling apart, no. The little things just found their way into significance into being something bigger.
Quite frankly, not knowing any other way how, he smiled when he told her.
He thought it through, and convinced himself, she’d be like the rest. Smile sadly, and leave. Give up. A part of him knew better.
A part of him expected the screaming and the tears from this one.
Rather than comforting, he did the one thing he really shouldn’t—said what was on his mind. “You should’ve expected this.” She did, he didn’t even keep his stuff in their shared apartment, the stuff she was always asking him to bring. She knew.
She was sitting straight up in her bed, their bed, staring. She took a deep breathe. “You know, I’m upset. But, we can work through this, can’t we? We’ve been together for a year, we can work through this.”
Yamamoto frowned slightly, immediately masking it with a grin. “I’m sorry.” He turned around and walked toward the door. He began to twist it, the cold doorknob.
“I know... you don’t love me but I love you. We’ll talk this out. Please let us talk this out.”
The door shut with Yamamoto on the other side.
The sun was shining and the walls were lucid. Birds were singing. The stadium was filled with spectators coming to watch the Nanimori Samurais play their first game of the season. The crowd roared with afternoon cheer. The fans screamed with delight at the end game chanting the name of the star player, Yamamoto Takeshi.
After the game, he stayed behind, signing baseball, giving cheerful statements to the press and making PR with the child fans. He was a budding success. Nothing held him back. He spent time with a school mate, Sawada Tsunayoshi at his father’s sushi bar. They were friends catching up on old times. Tsuna was busy studying hard at University while Yamamoto was out on the field doing what he loved.
This was the life.
Except… something was missing.
He heard it when he heard the music.
His manager caught his ears perking up whenever the certain sound of a piano would play.
“You’re really drawn to it aren’t you?”
“I can tell. Would like me to book you tickets to one of his performances?”
Yamamoto smiled, entertained at the thought of a sophisticated evening, and nodded his head vigorously.
Dreams went out the door is what some people would tell you. A dream walking out the door is exactly what the press printed because their star had announced something big. He was not continuing baseball.
He was not going to play anymore.
The headlines that day, and for the next few days read this: ‘Star player Yamamoto Takeshi gives up his talent. He quits.’
What they got completely wrong is that Yamamoto Takeshi never quits, he moves on. And that’s exactly what he was doing, he was prioritizing. He had enough money from the short time he did play. All of that was hoarded in a bank somewhere away from tempting eyes. At 12:30 that afternoon, three days after he ‘quit’, he was sitting in a sunny condo in Italy.
He had talked it over with Tsuna after the announcement was made. Both of them of thought it would be best if he left the country.
Not once did Tsuna question his decision, not that that he really expected him to. Although, on the inside, he was quite sure Tsuna really wanted to analyze it, talk him through it.
He couldn’t though.
Yamamoto chuckled to himself as he drank a glass of alcohol recalling yesterday’s events. Gokudera came to Italy specifically to do one thing. And that one thing was...well...to punch Yamamoto in the jaw. Hard.
He came to his condo, and the moment Yamamoto opened the door with a grin, a fist met his face. The attacker left in anger as Yamamoto rubbed his jaw. No words were exchanged.
No words were needed.
His manager got him tickets to a concert being played at a local venue, a high class local venue.
“Do you know how much these tickets cost me?” his manager would say.
“I’ll pay for them! Don’t worry about it.” Yamamoto would reply.
“That’s not it. I want you to know just how much I care about you, Yamamoto. I bought these as a gift, and hell! We’re going to enjoy it!”
Yamamoto laughed. Him and his manger donned suits and were being driven to the concert hall. To say he was excited was an understatement. Yamamoto felt classy. He had purged himself of the sweat of baseball preparing for this occasion. He had no idea what to expect.
He and his manager were ushered into the concert hall with ease. The women were wearing expensive dresses, designer dresses, with suit adorned husbands, boyfriends, and lovers in tow. The whole spectacle was astonishing, like Hollywood.
Apparently, Yamamoto had a lot to thank his manager for. Both of them had seats right in front of the stage. Flowers lined the edge of the stage and a large grand piano was in the center. Yamamoto and his manager fidgeted for about ten minutes, curious, excited.
Then the pianist appeared on stage. The audience silenced.
“He’s amazing.” his manager had said, “An absolute prodigy in musical talent. You have a thing for his piano pieces especially I noticed, so I thought this concert would be perfect. He’s been touring in Japan for a little while now.”
Yamamoto had examined the site his manager had brought up. Pianist: Gokudera Hayato.
When he sat and played the piano, Yamamoto held his breath.
It was sweet music to his ears.
Six months flew by. Yamamoto had transferred to a university in Italy near where he was staying. His Italian was getting better by the day. The media had no idea where he was, or what happened to him.
He could thank Reborn for that later.
Everyday, Yamamoto trained with the Varia. His skills would not get dull as long as he practiced. And every so often, he’d visit Dino for a chat. The days were lazy, monotonous.
Tsuna came to see him once, last month actually. He stayed for a couple days. Since he was on business, he came to chat with Yamamoto.
“How’s everyone, Tsuna?”
“They miss you. You dad says he writes letters.”
“I get one every week from him.” He smiled at the thought.
“It hasn’t been the same.”
“It’s alright though. You’re all getting along, right? Ha ha ha.” The laugh was a tagline, a hollow, meaningless tagline.
“Gokudera’s been off lately, Yamamoto.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Maybe he isn’t getting enough sleep.”
“He isn’t. But why?”
“Work? Stress? Smoking?”
Tsuna shrugged. “I don’t know. I was hoping you would.”
Yamamoto rolled over on his couch yawning. Tsuna didn’t say much pertaining to Gokudera.
Yamamoto didn’t admit it out loud, but he missed him.
I wonder how he’s doing.
It was raining in Japan, an absolute downpour. Miyashita Yuriko was boarding a plane with information.
The manager and Yamamoto were backstage. The concert had ended, but the treat didn’t end there. His manager had managed his connections to get Yamamoto a chance to meet the grand pianist himself. He looked over to the baseball player. Yamamoto was smiling, nervous.
Yamamoto had no idea what to say.
Gokudera Hayato was not one for first impressions. He was irritable to say the least. He hoped his foul mood would scare off the visitor and leave him to some peace and quiet. He came to the room followed by his own manager to where Yamamoto Takeshi nervously was.
His manager stood in the front of the door before he could open it.
She sighed. “Hayato, I mean it. It’s not good for your PR if you keep that mood up.”
“Fuck my mood. If they don’t like it, then they can just leave.”
“I mean it Hayato, just try. A little. Maybe try smiling when you’re being an ass.”
Gokudera rolled his eyes, and opened the door. He didn’t expect it to be a man who so anxiously wanted to greet him. Turn of events it seemed. He tried smiling. “Hello, did you enjoy the performance?”
Yamamoto nodded. “I did. It was... good.”
Gokudera frowned. Amateur. “Good?” His smile was becoming strained.
“Like soothing, soft and pretty. But it was sad... are you sad?”
Yamamoto’s manager interjected. “How rude of us! Let me introduce ourselves. This is Yamamoto Takeshi, he plays baseball, and I’m his manager.”
It fell on deaf ears. “Sad, huh?”
Yamamoto smiled, and then shrugged. “Ha ha ha. That’s just what I think.”
Gokudera’s manager stared at Hayato, confused. She was waiting for him to blow up, strangle him, or just walk away.
She didn’t get any of those. Instead, Gokudera sighed. “Well, do you have any questions or was this just a flattery session, baseball idiot?”
Gokudera’s manager turned red a little. Yamamoto smiled. “I want to take you out for dinner.”
Both managers stared. One was puzzled and the other was worrying about a hurricane forming and blowing the visitor’s brains out. Gokudera looked at his manager. “Work it out in my schedule.” Then he just walked away.
His manager’s eyes widened. “Um... okay.” Both managers conversed eagerly.
Yamamoto just watched the pianist’s back disappear down the hallway. There was just something about him...
A loud knock could be heard on Yamamoto’s door in sunny Italy. He had been lounging on his couch reading a textbook, half asleep. The knocking gave him a shock. He lazily stood up and walked to the door. He didn’t get visitors that often.
So it came as a surprise when it was the last girlfriend he dumped, who slapped him the face when he opened the door.
“I guess I deserve that too.”
“Why won’t you talk to me? I spent the last six months trying to find out where you were from Sawada. You just... you just disappeared.”
Yamamoto shrugged. “That’s kinda it, yeah.”
She clenched her fists. “I just... I know... I’m your what, eightieth girlfriend?”
She wanted to hit him again. “I knew I was like the others. We might’ve dated longer, but I... I knew.”
Yamamoto had nothing to say, but he listened.
“You’re always looking at someone else. Aren’t you?”
He rubbed the back of his head.
“You’ve been trying to forget about them for the longest time. Just... just do us all a favor and confess or something. Please,” she started to cry, “Move on. Stop breaking our hearts.” She walked away. She had come, said what she needed, and left.
There was no need to linger.
Yamamoto closed the door, and leaned against it sliding to the floor. Hadn’t he been moving on this whole time?
“So I’ve arranged for you two to have dinner after your game today, don’t forget!”
They had planned it a week ago. Yamamoto was thrilled. “That’s great! He’s actually going to come?”
“He should be at your game today actually. I gave his manager tickets. She wasn’t sure if he’d take up on the offer. My surprise when she called this morning saying he’d come.”
Yamamoto grinned. “Which seats did you give him?”
“The ones right by Sawada, in the front.”
“You’re the greatest manager a guy could ask for.”
His manager grinned sheepishly. “I try.”
It was hot. The sun was beating down on the crowd at the stadium. Gokudera and his manager both were wearing sunglasses. Gokudera’s face was in a scowl scaring the person next to him.
The person next to him, other than his manager, was Sawada Tsunayoshi. He wasn’t used to seeing someone different sit next to him. Maybe he was just curious, so he struck up a conversation. “So, how are you liking the baseball game?”
“Che. It’s alright.”
“Ah, that’s good. I’ve never seen you before.”
Something inside Gokudera made his hostility bar go down. He smiled genuinely. “I’m new to this. My name is Gokudera Hayato. And you?”
At that moment, the entire crowd stood up and screamed. Gokudera diverted his attention for a slight second and watched Yamamoto score the game’s winning homerun. He also heard some people scream loudly behind him, “TENTH!!!”
Of course, the real reason for this was because that was the tenth homerun scored by Yamamoto in this game, and because it was one of the few English words the crowd had gotten so used to screaming. Gokudera Hayato, a well cultured being, somehow mistook this for the man-beside-him’s name. He slipped it into Japanese and spoke to the Tenth beside him. “So, Tenth, how do you know Yamamoto?”
Tsuna cocked his head sideways. “I’ve known him for a long time. We’ve been classmates. What about you?”
Gokudera nodded his head. “He came to my concert.”
Yamamoto had always liked Gokudera. But, Yamamoto had always liked everybody. He was just that type of guy. For Yamamoto, his main focus was baseball in school. It was his joy. He didn’t fall into the temptation of girls, although he got letters of confession, at least one per week.
It was during the latter half of his second year in high school. That was when he noticed something, the way he would look at Gokudera, the jealousy under his gaze when Gokudera talked to girls. There was something wrong with him.
And the dreams. Oh the dreams.
Yamamoto didn’t give the slightest hint as to what went on in that head of his. He told himself he had no choice. This is wrong. So, the next letter he received, he accepted. And that’s how he became one of Nanimori’s finest players. He went through girlfriends like one does water.
It irritated Gokudera. You’re not spending enough time on the famiglia.
Yamamoto didn’t care. As long as it kept him away from those thoughts, from Gokudera, as long as he could get over this, it didn’t matter. This was just a phase.
Yamamoto, Gokudera, and Tsuna were all sitting at a sushi bar. A couple of men in suits were sitting in the back eating, suspiciously.
It was curious, but if Yamamoto and Tsuna weren’t noticing it, then Gokudera wouldn’t either. Gokudera had no idea why he went along with this, but he demanded that his newfound companion the Tenth come along.
Yamamoto and the two managers had no objections. Tsuna on the other hand went along a little confused and reluctant at first.
All of three of them were sitting. The two managers were conversing on the opposite side of the room. Gokudera’s manager refused to leave him just in case he had a hankering to blow something up.
Tsuna brought up some conversation. “Congratulations on your win today, Yamamoto. You must be tired.”
Yamamoto grinned. “Thanks! Did both of you see all of it?”
Tsuna nodded as well. “You were really amazing out there.”
Gokudera added, surprisingly. “It... was good.”
Yamamoto rubbed the back of his head. “I’m glad to hear that. I didn’t know you were coming.”
Gokudera shrugged. “Will they mind if I smoke in here?”
Yamamoto laughed. “Don’t worry about it. Dad owns this place. Since no one’s here, it’s not a problem.”
Gokudera lit one up and relaxed.
After their meal, Tsuna got up and left. The men in suits that had been there the whole time walked out behind him.
Gokudera raised an eyebrow. “Is he going to be okay?”
Yamamoto waved it off. “Yeah, those two are always with him. I believe their names are... Mukuro and Hibari? Maybe. They’re invisible half the time.”
Gokudera nodded slowly. Right.
“Did you have fun today?”
“It was fucking shit.”
Yamamoto looked downcast. “Really?”
He laughed a little. “Then let’s do it again sometime!”
Gokudera waved him off, and started to walk out of the building. His manager got up and ran after him. Gokudera wrapped his arm around her shoulder. He was a little tipsy.
Yamamoto couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.
His manager came over to him and smiled. “So, did you two get along?”
“I had a nice long chat with his manager, she’s really pleasant.”
“She was really surprised that Gokudera actually took you up on your offer. She had no idea why he did.”
“Actually, she’s really happy for him. I did find out a little something you should know though...”
“Gokudera is gay.”
For the next six months, Yamamoto abstained. He did not get a girlfriend, although the streets of Italy were teeming with ladies who gave him more than a second glance. He carried on through the days working hard in his education and his swordsmanship. No one from Japan had come to see him except his dad during the seventh month of his year long Italy study.
He and his Dad went around the country like worriless tourists. Yamamoto was happy.
He was not happy, however, when his yearlong honey moon was over. Reborn came to him personally when the second semester ended. “Yamamoto, I’ve come to fetch you.”
He was a little shocked. “Reborn! Why are you—“
“Decimo is being inducted this week. You are required to come back to Japan.”
Yamamoto shrugged. “I thought I was coming with the Varia or Cavallone.”
“You are needed now, Rain Guardian. Your place is in Japan.”
Yamamoto understood. He gathered some of his belongings while Reborn waited outside. He shaved off the unbecoming stubble and donned a suit.
He was going home.
They were doing it again. Only this time, it was Gokudera’s choice of an evening at a fancy Italian restaurant in a fancy part of town. He had come to pick up Yamamoto with a suit bag in his hand.
“Wear this,” were the first words out of his mouth when Yamamoto opened the door.
Both of them were sitting across from each other. Yamamoto looked down at his black suit and red tie. Somehow, it just felt like it was meant for him.
Gokudera was wearing a white suit and glasses. He had never seen Gokudera wear glasses before. Instead of trying to decipher the menu, he struck up a conversation. “I’ve never seen you wear glasses before.”
Gokudera glared. “How many times have you seen me, baseball idiot?”
Yamamoto shrugged. “Well...”
“Fuck.” He was fiddling with his lighter that wouldn’t ignite. He sighed. “What are you ordering?”
Yamamoto shrugged again. “Well...”
“You have no idea do you?”
Yamamoto shook his head.
“Fine. I’ll handle it.” He called over a waiter, and ordered something or another.
Yamamoto couldn’t hear him.
Gokudera sighed. “So, you didn’t object to coming out with me.”
“Why would I? Gokudera is a fun person.”
“You hardly know me.”
“But I like you.”
Gokudera coughed. “Wouldn’t you rather spend time with your girlfriend?”
Yamamoto didn’t have an empty head. He knew the trap behind the question. “I don’t have one.”
Gokudera nodded. “Right.” The lighter finally started to work.
“What about you? You and your manager seem awfully close.”
Gokudera waved it off, taking a drag. “Marie? No, no. We’re just friends. I’m... single.”
“Married to your music?”
When Yamamoto came back to Japan, nothing had changed. It had only been a year. Somehow, he wanted things to look different, be different, feel different. Instead, he was right at home.
A sense of dread washed over him.
He and Reborn were going to straight to Tsuna’s home. There were a couple of bits of information they had to catch up on. He didn’t want to walk in, honestly.
The house felt empty as the two of them walked in. They headed straight for the kitchen. Tsuna was hiding behind a stack of papers at the kitchen table. Gokudera was resting on his arms beside him. Yamamoto could see the difference. Gokudera looked sick. He was paler, thinner, and his eyes were bloodshot.
He looked... tired.
Tsuna immediately stood up to greet his friend. “How have you been, Yamamoto?”
He smiled. “Haha, I’ve been doing alright! You look like you’ve got some work ahead of you. Need help?”
“I’d appreciate it.”
Gokudera interjected. “Tenth! I said I could help you.”
Tsuna looked at him and gave him a weary smile. “Gokudera, you need to rest. You’ve done enough to help me, please take care of yourself.”
Gokudera frowned, grumbled, and then went back to laying his head in his arms. He didn’t so much as glance at Yamamoto.
The rest of the papers were filled in silence.
Tsuna left the two alone. “You guys can sleep in the guest room, since we have to get up early for tomorrow.”
Yamamoto and Gokudera both nodded. Their guest room had already been set up for the both of them to sleep in. Yamamoto spoke once Tsuna was out of earshot. “What? No objections?”
Gokudera blinked. “Do you have a problem, idiot?” There was an ominous lack of the word baseball.
Yamamoto shrugged. “No, far from it. I think we need to have a talk.”
Gokudera stared. “I think I said enough when I broke your jaw.”
“Ha ha ha. You did, didn’t you? Were you the one that gave Yuriko my address?”
Gokudera winced. “What?”
Move on. “I like you, Gokudera.”
Yamamoto was sitting in the audience at Gokudera’s next concert. He was dressed according to the clothes Gokudera had picked out for him the night before. He had to look stylish apparently.
Yamamoto watched as Gokudera’s fingers danced across the piano. Gokudera’s manager had told Yamamoto something before the concert began. “He really likes you, you know.”
He couldn’t stop thinking about it.
After the concert, he was backstage. Gokudera came to see him and was greeted by a bouquet of roses. “You were magnificent.”
“Che. Not that you could judge.”
Yamamoto did something brave, something he had thought through. He kissed Gokudera.
And surprisingly enough, when he pulled away, he didn’t get punched.
Gokudera deadpanned at the confession. “What?”
“I have liked you since the second year of high school.”
Gokudera made the connection. That was when Yamamoto turned into a player.
“What Yuriko said made me think.” He laughed. “Why not just confess? The worst I have to face is rejection... so go ahead Gokudera. Reject me so I can let go.”
Gokudera clenched his hand in a fist. Yamamoto braced himself ready to get smacked in the jaw.
Instead, he was met with a sloppy kiss. “You’re such a fucking idiot.”
In one universe somewhere, he’s a professional baseball player, and he’s a renowned pianist.
And in another universe elsewhere, he’s a prodigal assassin, and he’s a loyal right-hand man.
And no matter who they are, or where they might be, to each other they belong. Circumstance is only that, nothing more.