5986 May COLORE!

A surprise is waiting for Haru at her school doors. Will it be an unexpected romantic date or something more?

 

ONESHOT in Haru or Gokudera POV.

KHR 5986 & ALL ~ Haru's Surprise Day

(Haru's POV)

 

2.MAY, NAMIMORI TOWN, MIDORI MIDDLE SCHOOL ENTRANCE GATES

"Say say, don't you think this guy is too handsome, giggle!"

"Must be posing for some magazine or fashion catalogue, right? He's just like the model from this gothic male fashion blog so popular these days… Huh, but I can't see any photograph or anyone around…?"

"Uhnyaaa, he looks so hot! Completely totally exactly my type!"

"... isn't your type anyone good-looking..."

"Hmm, girls, since he looks our age, isn't he waiting for someone…?"

"Pfff, impossible! And don't say our age for someone so cool! Look look, isn't that a cigarette? A cigarette and an aloof pose... Such a striking cool guy can't be our age, you know!"

"Aloof...? Well, he sure looks good, but don't you feel like he's glaring at us, rather…?"

The commotion near the gates of Midori Middle School is growing louder and louder as more exiting students stop to join it.

The crowd and gossips even make Haru curious, although she usually only has in mind to run to Tsuna's house and leave this suffocating elite school where everyone is looking down on her upbeat personality and hobbies – costumes making – while being frustrated at the same time to watch her rank into the school Top3 at each exam session.

"Ahiii…? Gokudera-san…?"

Haru startles of surprise at finally catching a glimpse of the centre of attention after having worked her way amidst the onlookers to face the cause of the commotion.

It really is Gokudera-san… But why does he look so different from usual, strange-desu… His silver hair is all combed back: it gives a very neat shine to it, huh... Ahiii, had Gokudera-san's hair always looked that silky, beautiful-desu… The white shirt he's wearing is different too, not the one from his uniform: it's a fashionable gothic style one, and it looks amazing with this sleeveless vest in black velvet… perfect match...

But had Gokudera-san's shoulders and arms always looked that square and strong, unexpected-desu… His usual skull and leather accessories too: when he is wearing them together with these tailored black pants and these leather gothic black shoes, the impact is really different, huh... Dashing-desu… just like the gravure model in the magazines from where Haru's getting the material for the costumes…

Ahiii, why is Gokudera-san looking this good when he's trying… Haru almost wants to kidnap him to make him wear her costumes and promote them to the world… Hum, no no, the SkyTree Tower costume would be wasting Gokudera-san's handsome looks and… w-wait, did Haru just think 'handsome'... Ahiii, impossible-desu…!

"I've come to pick you up."

The words leaving Gokudera's lips as he stares straight-forwardly in her chestnut eyes give Haru and the crowd an electric shock, pulling Haru from her inward monologue.

"A…hi…?"

"I said I've come to take you with me."

"…?"

"… too slow…!"

"Ahiii?!"

Gokudera has already grabbed her wrist to pull her after him and exit campus, leaving behind them a stunned second of shocked silence, before gossips start fusing and fusing about how the rumoured handsome Italian thug from Namimori Middle School actually looks that good and wait more important he came for Miura Haru, THAT Miura etc. etc.

"Huf huf, w-wait Gokudera-san! W-why are you… and just slow down, Haru can't keep up!"

BIBIIP. "Ah, wait a sec'."

Gokudera pulls out his pager from his pocket with his free hand to read the message he's just received. He freezes at the words and scans their surroundings with a puzzled annoyed expression.

"Damn it, a phone…? Ah, wait here!"

And he runs to the phone cabin across the street, leaving Haru some well-deserved minutes to catch her breath.

When he's back, Haru can definitely tell he's bothered by how he's massaging his neck while seeming to think hard about something.

He stares at her as if about to speak, but his mouth close again before uttering a single word, and he avoids her eyes with a troubled expression, before seeming to give up inwardly on something and coming to grab her hand again to make her follow after him, but in a different direction than before.

"Ahiii, wait, Gokudera-san, where are you bringing Haru…?!"

"… in town…"

"Ahiii?!"

Why in town… Why in town with Gokudera-san… Why in town with Gokudera-san looking so different than usual…

Haru has fallen deep in thoughts again and only comes back to her senses when a familiar voice calls her attention away from a hardcover menu.

"Oy…?"

"Ahiii?"

"Your pick?"

"Ah, hum… Haru will take the Strawberry Parfait…"

"Black Coffee. Straight."

Ahiii… why is the waitress leaving…?! Don't leave Haru alone sitting here with Gokudera-san…! Too strange, too stressful, too much trouble-desu!

Haru digs her nose in her glass of water while staring nervously at the one sitting in front of her at the chic Café she has seen mentioned in many girly magazines as the perfect place to start a date with your boyfriend.

Somehow, she can't manage to meet Gokudera in the eyes. Something is feeling definitely weird inside of her and his attitude is not helping.

Why did he come to pick up Haru…

But just as Haru is about to ask him, Gokudera disappears to go and have a talk with the waitress – making a couple female clients gaze after him dreamingly as he walks across the tables to reach the back of the Café.

Haru tilts her head on the side, slightly puzzled, at seeing him borrowing the phone for a few minutes.

When he finally comes back to sit in front of her and sip his coffee, he avoids her eyes awkwardly, making her feel quite aggravated but also hesitant into questioning him.

"… you have all your time but it's ice-cream, you know. So just starts digging in, already, tsk…"

"Ah, hum… thank-you-desu…"

"A… After that, let's go… shopping, okay?"

TILT. Haru freezes with a mouthful of strawberry in her mouth, raising her eyes in complete disbelief towards Gokudera's annoyed face.

"Don't just look at me like that!… I… I said we go shopping. It's your damn school uniform, right? So let's just buy something else, you got it?!"

Haru's already big chestnut eyes widen even bigger as she tries to process what is happening.

Being stared at in silence apparently isn't making Gokudera more at ease and he snaps with a ranting shameful blush when she finally mutters to him to repeat what he just said, grabbing the spoon of her parfait to dig it between her lips to mute her.

But mute only until the blush of having a handsomer-and-quieter-than-usual Gokudera-san feeding her is overcome by her usual stubbornness. The shop manager is even obliged to put them at the door with a business-like smile as their level of noise rise below what is generally tolerated in a cosy Café.

"Ahiii! Haru is so mad! Are you taking Haru for a pet or something?! What is your problem, annoying Aho?! And first of all, why did you come to pick up Haru and decided to bring Haru with you?! Suspicious-desu!"

"I… Don't… Just… Raah! J-just stay with me, okay?"

DOKI. Haru startles as Gokudera's serious-yet-embarrassed green-eyes stare into hers with a lot more determination in asking than she has in refusing.

It feels so tight inside her to have him say it like that when looking like that… so embarrassing… and now that she thinks about it, aren't all the passer-by looking at them insistently… aren't these whispers wondering how such a little girl can be arguing so loudly against her handsome older brother, because he can only be her brother to bother about her when she's looking so plain standing next to him while still in uniform…

Haru's eyes fall under the shadow of her hair as she turns silent for a while.

"… Haru is going home…" She finally says while turning heels to walk away.

GRAB. A warm familiar pressure around her wrist stops her on her track.

"Wait, Stup… Raah, tsk, damn it! I mean, wait… please!"

"…?!"

"J-just come with me! Stay with me for a while and I'll bring you to a place you'll like, okay?"

Why is Haru feeling so hot… Ah, no, wait, he said a place she likes…?

"Ahiii, true! Haru needs to go to the tailor place!"

"Aah…? Tailor, how usel… kof hum, I mean, yeah, great. Then let's go together."

Haru turns to look at Gokudera, tilting her head on the side with a perplexed and indecisive expression.

It seems to make Gokudera panic a little and he grumbles while looking left and right uneasily, before spotting what his hand is still holding and letting go of her wrist gradually, watching out in case she would run away like a bird you release from its cage.

The thought can't help but make Haru smile, her natural enthusiasm back at seeing Gokudera so clumsily trying to tell her to stay.

The little part tingling inside her in confusion at wondering why he would ask her out is put under check and soon forgotten under the multitude of fabrics and materials of the haberdashery.

Gokudera can only sigh wearily at seeing her run around the shop like a kid in wonderland, but the temptation to belittle the shop disappears as soon as he spots in a corner numerous metal accessories destined to customize clothes and leather goods. A little sparkle of inspiration even switches on as he starts comparing the different spikes shapes and skull buttons diameters.

Half-an-hour later, they're finally out of the shop with grins on their face at their purchases. Haru doesn't even complain when Gokudera drags her to another shop, having not forgotten his original plan.

"… what…?"

"N-nothing-desu! Don't just stare at Haru like that, it feels weird!"

"It's not my fault if you have zero notions about colours, tsk! How come you're so good at picking and matching stuff for costumes but not for your own clothes…"

"Ahiii! Mean-desu! Haru is just… well…"

Haru can't help blushing while pulling on the curtain of the fitting room, the little something tingling in her chest having come back to play the samba.

Why is Gokudera-san standing here, in this shop, waiting for her to show him how the outfit they chose together fits her… How did it come to that…

Haru's eyes escape the cover of the curtain and can't help but detail the silhouette in the shop still checking onto other items.

Ahiii, he truly looks dashing… The shop ladies are obviously agreeing as they all ditched other work to come and 'assist' him. This shop is quite high-standards to have so many staff crowding over a single client, really… Haru never entered even when her father had offered to buy her something as reward for ranking second at her school, so… Maybe she should have accepted, and then show Gokudera-san she knew the shop, the brands, the colours and even accessories… Frustrating-desu… She had to let the shop ladies choose everything for her from shoes to hairpin and, in the end, Gokudera-san had given all the instructions according to complete metaphysical concepts such as the perception of colours under artificial light…

Haru sighs when passing the second outfit suggestion over her shoulders, adjusting everything in dread of not looking right when exiting.

Gokudera-san will be waiting to see, again, probably… crossing his arms in some handsome annoyed waiting pose while leaning on the back of a shelf and waiting for her to appear…

Haru's cheeks are feeling way hotter than usual, and she takes a couple minutes before exiting the fitting room, only to find the cause of her trouble out of sight.

"Your boyfriend asked to borrow our phone, Miss."

"Ah, hum, Haru is… I mean…"

"Oy!"

"Ah, G-Gokudera-san!"

"Looks good, let's take it and go."

"Eh?"

"I'll pay so just ask the staff to remove labels and we're out."

"Ah, wait!"

"What?"

"T-that's… Haru can't let Gokudera-san pay! No-reason-desu!"

TILT. Gokudera walks two steps closer to come and stand just in front of Haru, so close that she can see every hint of annoyance and stubbornness in his green eyes looking deep into hers.

"I said I pay, so don't mess with me. At least shut it up when it's your birthday, tsk. And let's go." He frowns with annoyance while checking his watch and pager with a crooked glance.

Haru has not yet defrost from the shock when the shop ladies see them to the door with a happy business smile insisting to see them again soon, and she lets Gokudera drag her after him with a lost-in-thoughts expression.

Gokudera-san… knows… my birthday is tomorrow…?

Something holds her back from asking as she follows after him in the streets, not snatching her hand away.

Maybe Haru has become used to it, used to his hand larger and warmer and stronger than hers guiding her towards the promised destination 'she'll like', used to walk by his side in an outfit not shaming his and causing false rumours about 'girlfriend' instead of 'little sister', used to hear him talk to her more softly than usual, without the usual 'stupid' or 'annoying' bickering.

BIBIIP. BAM. Haru bumps into Gokudera's back when he stops instantly at reading the characters on his pager. When he turns to face her, Haru can't help but blush at realising they are way too close, or at least way too close for a handsome-and-nicer-Gokudera-san comparing to her usual bickering partner.

"L-let's walk… a bit more…"

DOKI. Haru's heart has skipped a beat at hearing his uneasy tone – his green eyes even looking away from hers – and she can only toddle by his side as he guide her to the park instead of following the sidewalk.

Ahiii… Why…?! Why is Haru sitting with Gokudera-san on a bench in the park at sunset…?! Why sitting here alone when there are only couples cuddling all around us…?! Nerve-breaking-desu!

Gokudera is apparently not feeling more at ease than her, and he doesn't even know where to look to avoid witnessing the display of affection of the neighbouring couples: a hug on the left, a kiss on the right, something sounding a little hotter than a kiss behind them…

Ahiii…! Haru starts panicking with an embarrassed pout while looking for something to occupy her attention, something like the haberdashery items she just purchased.

"Oy…"

"Ahiii…?"

"Talk to me."

"Ahiii?!"

"Just anything, tsk. Get talking, already!"

"…?! Ahiii?! No but what is your prob…?!"

BAM. Haru feels her body sliding horizontally on the bench, as is air-cushioned all along from the moment Gokudera's hand has grabbed her until the moment his arm has closed around her completely.

"I said talk to me."

DOKI. Haru can't help but feeling completely numb by the combined effect of a strong hand still holding her back and a pair of serious green eyes shining of gold under the vacillating light of the park streetlights.

A…hi… W-w-what to do… what to say…

"E-Em… Emeralds… Emeralds are really beautiful, aren't they…? They're not even completely pure crystals, but still, beautiful-desu… D-doesn't Gokudera-san a-agree…?"

Kyaah, why that?! Stupid, stupid, stupid me!

"Gemmology? Fine with me: hope you know your topic…"

Haru's eyes widen of disbelief at hearing Gokudera keep on with the conversation.

Why… It was just something that had popped into her mind at losing all other thoughts a second before when meeting with two insistent green eyes… Why is he sticking with it… Why is he being so considerate…

Minutes succeed to minutes in the calm dim-lit park, as the conversation follows its course on the geological issues of gem formation, making Haru feel warmer and warmer inside for some unknown reason.

Why is Gokudera-san speaking so normally with Haru… Haven't he always said Haru is annoying, noisy and stubborn and… So why… Why is he not letting go of Haru too…

"… Gokudera-san…?"

Haru pauses with a quiet surprise at hearing stop talking gradually, although his eyes are not letting go of her.

Why is Gokudera-san saying nothing all of a sudden… just gazing at Haru like this… Ahiii, it makes Haru feels too hot, why… No wait, doesn't it feel like he is slowly getting closer…

"Gokudera-san?"

A-Ahiii… Wait, wh-wh-why…?!

BIBIIP.

Haru has already stopped breathing when the pager ringtone stops Gokudera at about five centimetres from her face, before he pulls away to stand and shoot a glance at the trouble-maker.

Haru has not yet defrost – again – that her hand is snatched from her and she almost has to run after Gokudera who walks down the streets at full speed, not sparing her a single glance or a single word as they pass Namimori shopping district without stopping to catch their breath.

"Huf huf… G-Gokudera-san, wh…? A… hi…? Yamamoto-san's Sushi Restaurant, why…?"

But Gokudera makes no answer, his expression impossible to get under the shadow of his hair. Haru's eyes widen slightly at feeling his fingers slowly let go of her hand. The next thing she feels is the rough push grabbing her shoulders to make her pass the door that has just slided open.

BANG BANG BANG. "SURPRIIIIISE!"

Confetti from the party crackers fall in stunned silence as Haru gazes at the crowd surrounding her.

Everyone is here…?! Reborn-chan, Kyoko-chan, the children, and most important: Tsuna-san. Where did they get these fancy masquerade costumes from… so blinding, stupefying, fantastic-desu…! Haru wants to know who is the costume genius who made all of this! Ahiii, Tsuna-san and Kyoko-chan all wrapped in twin gift-boxes with ribbons are so great! The room is all decorated too… so many colours, so pretty… They even wrote 'Haru-chan's Birthday Party' with colour crepe-paper on the large poster at the back near the table… touched-desu… moved-desu… Ahiii… Haru must not cry…

"Mission complete, 10th!"

TILT. Haru turns to stare in awe at the one who has come back to her side after having put back the fangs and cape originally going with his costume.

"Well done, Gokudera-kun!"

"It was nothing, 10th, really really nothing! You know you can always count on me, shishi…! Nothing passed my lips: a perfect secret mission, just like you instructed, 10th!"

"Sorry for the delay, Haru-chan… We had a couple little things to sort out here so we sent Gokudera-kun to meet with you since his costume was the easiest one to remove."

"But now that everyone is there, let's celebrate, hahaha!"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HARU!"

BANG BANG BANG. Another round of party crackers pours confetti all around her stun Haru.

The usual realisation time, moved moment and group glomp sprinkled with tears of happiness later, Haru is finally able to think and speak properly again.

"Ahiii…! Tsuna-san as a birthday gift… Haru can die happy-desu…"

"… don't you dare die now after all my efforts, Stup…"

"GOKUDERA-KUN!"

"Ugh, s-sorry 10th, I really didn't mean to… it slipped, it just slipped, tsk! I promise I kept my word, damn it, y-you can ask her!"

"Really…? Haru, how was Gokudera-kun with you today?"

DOKI.

"G-Gokudera-san?! T-today?!"

"Haru-chan… are you still angry at him? You're quite red."

"A-ah, n-no of course! No-problem-desu!"

"Really no problem, Haru? The truth is Gokudera-kun promised not to call you bad names today since it's your birthday, so…"

"A… hi…? … call Haru…?"

"Yeah, I can't help thinking it's mean to always call you stupid or annoying when it's not true and… Anyway, that was the deal but, you know Haru, if he couldn't keep his word, please don't be too angry at him. He's just, you know… I'm sure he doesn't mean it, inside of him."

"W-what a-are y-you talking about 10th…?! I'll always make you honour! It's completely unrelated to my… h-heart… d-damn…!"

"… so it was a promise, I see… T-thank you, Tsuna-san! Haru is touched that Tsuna-san thinks about me! About today… the truth is… Gokudera-san…"

"Hum Haru, is something wrong?"

"… nothing-much-desu… Haru just wanted to say… well, yes, to say that he kept his promise to Tsuna-san so Tsuna-san can have faith in Gokudera-san. No-problem-desu, h-hohoho!"

"Ah, Haru-chan…?"

"S-sorry Kyoko-chan, H-Haru needs… something to drink… too-hot-desu…"

But a now-familiar hand around her wrist stops Haru in her tracks.

"Wait, we didn't finish so don't run away now, damn it…"

"G-Gokudera-san…?"

"What you said just now, did you mean it?"

DOKI. Haru can't help forgetting to breathe.

Gokudera's green eyes are serious, and this tiny embarrassed blush on his cheeks feels too unusual and unsettling to suppose no meaning. It can't help but makes her worry suddenly that the words she spoke and the disturbing words locked inside her chest has somehow swapped without her knowledge.

"Oy, what you said just now about the 10th trusting me, do you mean it?"

"… A… hi…?!"

A long moment of silence falls as Gokudera starts losing himself in a monologue devoted to his allegiance to the 10th and how touched he is that someone finally realises it – while Tsuna is sweat-dropping wearily at how the topic ended up on such dangerous proves of loyalty again.

Haru can't help freezing into a cold polite façade smile – glad to hear compliment about Tsuna but something else tingling inside her when reviewing their entire afternoon across the lens 'Gokudera-san did all of that as a favour to Tsuna-san' and how it was all only 'a diversion for the surprise party'.

"Haru really needs something to drink…"

"Ah, Haru-chan, let's take something together! Yamamoto-kun's father prepared fruit juices and…"

"Ah, wait, damn it!"

"… what? Another testimony you need from me to show-off to Tsuna-san? Haru wants to have fun now, so no need to ask anymore. Tiring-desu!"

"That's not it, tsk. Always so annoy… Hum hum, I mean, well, you were nicer this afternoon so why now, damn… Anyway, here!"

Haru stares dumbfounded at the small packet wrapped in the haberdashery kraft paper.

"Happy birthday, Haru."

DOKI. More than the gift from her favourite shop he picked for her, more than the handsome gothic vampire costume he's wearing for her, more than the rare straight-forward smile he's making for her… more than anything else, hearing her name from his lips sends a warm shiver down her skin.

Has the word 'Haru' ever sounded as magical on Gokudera-san's lips as now…?

KHR 5986 & ALL ~ Haru's Surprise Day

(Gokudera's POV)

 

2.MAY, NAMIMORI TOWN

"Gokudera-kun, can you go, then?"

"At your service, 10th, always!"

"No, well, you know, it's for Haru we're preparing all of that, so, you know…"

"Don't worry, 10th! It will be a perfect secret mission! I promise upon my honour to you that not a damn word will pass my lips to reveal the plan!"

"Well, there is that too, but actually, how to put it… The thing is I would really like is, hum, can you be, well, you know, make an effort with Haru today."

"… I… do not get your meaning, 10th. I'm always very proud of all the tasks you give me, so there is no damn reason to mess up when bringing this Stupid Woman here, and…"

"Here! See, that's the problem, Gokudera-kun. I mean, it's not like I don't know you don't get along with Haru, but… I mean it's her birthday, so just, I mean, just be nice, okay? I really count on you."

"1-10th! I'll definitely show myself worthy of your trust, and…"

"Gokudera-kun, I think Tsuna-kun wants to say that you have to do your best for Haru, not for him."

"Kyoko-chan, my saviour…!"

"See, Gokudera-kun, Tsuna-kun and us all are all trying to make Haru-chan happy today, so please take good care of her, be nice to her and escort her well for our share as well, alright?"

"Awww, thank you Kyoko-chan, I couldn't find the right words, and…"

"Tsk, if it's for the 10th…"

"Hahaha, come on, Gokudera! It's no big deal to be nice once in a while, right? You just have to stop calling her stupid or annoying for today and it will make everyone happy. Let's have fun all together!"

"Are you looking for a fight, Baseball Nut?!"

"Actually, Gokudera-kun, Yamamoto is right. Promise me not to call Haru by bad words today."

"1-10th…?" "It's her birthday, remember? So please do your best to keep her happy until you arrive here, okay?" "Ugh… al-alright, I promise, 10th…"

Gokudera is still dwelling on the episode while waiting for Midori Middle School bell to ring.

Tsk… Elite schools sure slave their students, don't they… Finishing classes so late, damn… Gokudera grumbles inwardly while leaning casually on the portal wall.

According to his calculation, based on the average time for a middle school girl to pack her things after classes and exit campus, then he'll just have to walk down with her until Yamamoto's restaurant right on time for the welcoming feast. Nothing big…

"Say say, don't you think this guy is too handsome, giggle!"

Damn… He had forgotten girls could be so noisy and annoying… Actually, when comparing with the rest of her school, this Stup… hum hum… she is actually almost quiet, tsk… And at least she never bothers him with some stupid blushing face thinking he would have nothing better to do than talk or hang out with her… Just how retarded are girls in general, that they don't even bother to keep their damn comments low, tsk…

"Ahiii…? Gokudera-san…?"

TILT. Gokudera has never felt so grateful to see Haru for about as long as he can remember – except for the times he was glad to see her alive, but that's another topic more related to mafia wars than friendship.

"I've come to pick you up." He says with less annoyance than usual, even smiling faintly at his deliverance when making eye-contact with the person he is in charge of escorting to the 10th.

"A…hi…?"

W-what…?! She's making kind of a weird face, damn… Don't tell me she has other plans and won't be coming…

"I said I've come to take you with me."

At still receiving no answer except the puzzled look of two big chestnut eyes, Gokudera feels suddenly aggravated.

"… too slow…!"

"Ahiii?!"

Why is this Stup… hum hum… she so troublesome…?! And to think we went through the trouble of arranging everything just for her, tsk… What if I show up late and the 10th is disappointed in me and…

"Huf huf, w-wait Gokudera-san! W-why are you… and just slow down, Haru can't keep up!" Haru is panting behind his back, trying to snatch her wrist out of his hand as they go down the streets towards their destination only he knows.

BIBIIP. The sound of his pager suddenly stops Gokudera in his track and he shoots a puzzled glance at it, wondering what kind of emergency can lead the 10th to contact him – as only the 10th was given his number.

"Delay! Don't come now."

Gokudera freezes on the spot, releasing Haru's hand without realising.

Crap… Hopefully this Stup… hum hum… she didn't see his face… Damn, poker face, poker face… He needs to keep his poker face or he'll fail his mission of bringing her discreetly without leaking any hint… He'd never be able to face the 10th if he wastes all their efforts by spoiling the surprise effect, damn…

Gokudera quickly chills out and scans their surroundings with a puzzled annoyed expression, in search of a phone cabin to call back 'HQ' and learn more about the situation.

"Wait here!" He asks Haru when leaving her catch her breathe on the sideway before crossing the street.

Some coin inserted in the machine later, and he's connected with a familiar voice.

"Haha, Gokudera called back, I told you, Tsuna."

"… just hand this damn phone to the 10th before I bomb you, Baseball Nut…!"

"Ah, Gokudera-kun…?"

"Sasagawa?"

"Tsuna-kun is busy running after Lambo-kun, I'm very sorry to be answering instead."

"I see. Then what's the situation?"

"Actually, during their playing, Lambo-kun and I-pin-chan have burnt the welcome banner so we're redoing it right now. It will take some time, so can you please stay with Haru-chan until then?"

"Ah, Gokudera-kun!"

"10th!"

"Yes. Gokudera-kun, please do your best, as discreetly as possible. I think we'll need one hour more at least. I'll just message you when we're ready, alright? So… Aaah, Lambo! What are you doi…" TUT TUT TUT.

Gokudera clenches his teeth as he hangs up the receiver, wondering what to do for the time being.

"Ahiii, wait, Gokudera-san, where are you bringing Haru…?!"

"… in town…"

"Ahiii?!"

Yeah, town is his best option… The 10th said last time that this Stup… hum hum… she seemed interested in a coffee shop there, so maybe he can keep her busy with some food…

Gokudera thus watches patiently as his hostage is taking her time to choose some strawberry parfait, wondering what he should do after that.

Now that he thinks about it, isn't she still wearing her uniform… Won't it be a mismatch with the costume Reborn-san prepared for her… She loves costumes so she might feel bad not to enjoy it fully because her clothes don't coordinate with it, right…

TILT. Before he realises, Gokudera's feet have brought him at the back of the store to ask the shop manager to borrow their phone.

After a couple minutes:

Damn that Aneki, making fun of me…! Choosing girl's clothes can't be that difficult, tsk… I just have to find a good shop and… Wait, why is this Stup… hum hum… she avoiding my eyes now… She hasn't even started her parfait yet…

"… you have all your time but it's ice-cream, you know. So just starts digging in, already, tsk…"

"Ah, hum… thank-you-desu…"

Don't tell me she was waiting for me to come back before starting…

Somehow, the thought takes Gokudera aback, annoying him for some unknown reason.

Isn't today supposed to be her birthday… The 10th even said to take good care of her, so why would she be considerate to him instead, damn… That won't do… He'll definitely have to make up for it or he won't be able to report proudly to the 10th later on…

"A… After that, let's go… shopping, okay?"

TILT. Gokudera tumbles on his own words at seeing Haru freeze with a mouthful of strawberry in her mouth, raising her eyes towards him in complete disbelief.

"Don't just look at me like that!… I… I said we go shopping. It's your damn school uniform, right? So let's just buy something else, you got it?!"

D-damn, what's this Stup… hum hum… her problem…?! Why is she staring at me like that…?!

"… can Gokudera-san repeat what he just said…?"

The whisper is more than Gokudera can bear with and he feels his cheeks flush, before nervously looking for something to make her quiet and stop acting like if he was acting weird.

NOM. The spoon of her parfait stuffed between her lips manages to momentarily mute her, but only until the long noisy ranting of usual manages to put them at the door of the Café.

"Ahiii! Haru is so mad! Are you taking Haru for a pet or something?! What is your problem, annoying Aho?! And first of all, why did you come to pick up Haru and decided to bring Haru with you?! Suspicious-desu!"

C-crap… She's starting to suspect something… What to say…?! No damn way I'd let the 10th efforts go to waste…

"I… Don't… Just… Raah! J-just stay with me, okay?"

Gokudera pauses uneasily at receiving no answer. Haru's expression is even hidden under the shadow of her hair, and he can't help feeling suddenly very anxious.

"… Haru is going home…"

Gokudera's eyes widen in panic at seeing her turning heels to walk away.

Don't mess with me…! What did I say wrong?!

"Wait, Stup… Raah, tsk, damn it! I mean, wait… please!"

"…?!"

"J-just come with me! Stay with me for a while and I'll bring you to a place you'll like, okay?"

Crap… She's looking weirdly at him again… No but what kind of expression is that, so aggravating… She won't leave, right… Please tell him she's not going to say she's leaving again…

"Ahiii, true! Haru needs to go to the tailor place!"

Aah…? Tailor?! What kind of retarded useless place does she want to be going to…?! Crap, no wait, he's the one supposed to escort her until the party, so it doesn't matter where as long as they can pass time until the 10th calls him…

"Y-yeah, great. Then let's go together."

She's looking at me… Damn… She's looking at my hand, but... letting go... is it really okay to let go… What if she tries to run away again… Ah, but I'm faster than her, so it's not like I can't grab her back by force, but…

But no, she didn't run away… She's now running around the haberdashery shop like a kid in wonderland…

Just what kind of idiot would be happy in this kind of… Eh, isn't that section for customization? Woow, I can't believe they have so many metal accessories for clothes and leather! Damn amazing, even the spikes come in different shapes! Ooh, and these skull buttons too!

TILT. Gokudera comes back to his senses half-an-hour later only, when they're finally out of the shop with their purchases.

The plan… Damn, he almost forgot the original plan…

And making use of Haru's good mood, Gokudera drags her to a shop on the other side of the street, having quickly surveyed that Italian fashion should do the job.

Great, the shop assistants here are reactive and efficient!

It only takes Gokudera a couple glances around to spot the most matching colours with the costume waiting for Haru back at the party, and after re-evaluating the coordination based on the difference of lightning between this shop and their destination, he hands Haru over to the shop ladies with three full sets to try on.

"… what…?"

"N-nothing-desu! Don't just stare at Haru like that, it feels weird!"

Staring… Crap, what is this Stup… hum hum… she saying…?! He wasn't starting at her, right?! It's only to have the definite proof he picked right, damn it! He's definitely not staring because this outfit is making her look different from usual… Tsk, yeah no, too different, too unsettling, damn it… To think he chose it himself too, this damn girly outfit... Why was this damn outfit his first pick for her…?! D-damn… why it feels very hot suddenly…

Gokudera steals another glance at the silhouette standing by the fitting room, pulling shyly on the curtain as if ready to hide behind it.

Why has this damn girl so little confidence when he took the trouble of choosing something for her?! Ah, crap, now he even feels more aggravated… None of this would be happening if this Stup… hum hum… Haru was able to coordinate her own outfit better! It's for the 10th Surprise Party, for Hell's sake!

"It's not my fault if you have zero notions about colours, tsk! How come you're so good at picking and matching stuff for costumes but not for your own clothes…"

"Ahiii! Mean-desu! Haru is just… well…"

Crap…! She said 'mean' just now… The 10th is going to be angry at him if he can't keep his promise of being nice to her and escorting her properly…

Gokudera swallows back uneasily, diverting his attention on the accessories on the shelf on which he had been leaning on when waiting for her to change.

He needs to be more considerate, damn… Let's see, he's already applied all theories available to help her match her outfit: from the low heels of her shoes to the decoration of the hairclip, he's carefully considered everything! Everything she's wearing has been scientifically approved, and…

TILT. Gokudera freezes on the spot with a very disturbing thought.

W-wait… Everything…

Gokudera feels his cheeks burn heatedly, unable to put the right words on the unsettling feeling of having a girl wearing clothes you gave her, of having everything touching her skin be something you gave her, of having basically this powerful sensation of owning all of it and being able to remove it to your liking.

Damn…!

Unable to think about looking at her once again inside another outfit he's chosen for her, Gokudera walks away at full speed, before freezing mid-way at wondering what he's doing, and finally settling that yeah, he's just on his way to phone HQ, obviously.

But the phone call only ends up on Yamamoto's father as everyone else is apparently busy getting ready, meaning they shouldn't stay too long either and head there once the shopping will be done.

When hanging up, Gokudera feels unusually troubled. The last parting words of this damn Baseball Nut's father about treating Haru well are slowly sipping into him as he realises he hasn't done anything for her at all for the entire day.

Well, there is this little thing he's picked at the haberdashery because it was redeemed with his own purchases and, at that time, it looked like something she might like but, objectively speaking, he hasn't put in a lot of efforts for her at all…

The thought brings a bitter after-taste to Gokudera's mouth, and he clenches his teeth with a guilty scowl while calling for the shop attendant to prepare the bill, before walking to the fitting room again.

"Oy!"

"Ah, G-Gokudera-san!"

Damn… It can't be that his heart skipped a beat just now, right… This second coordinated outfit 'just' happens to be suiting her, as expected during the picking analysis… Definitely nothing related to why he's unsure if his poker face is still on or not… And first of all, it's not like there would be any feeling to betray his poker face, damn it…

"Looks good, let's take it and go."

"Eh?"

"I'll pay so just ask the staff to remove labels and we're out."

"Ah, wait!"

"What?"

"T-that's… Haru can't let Gokudera-san pay! No-reason-desu!"

Why is she messing up with me again…?! First she annoys me to no end by looking like that inside these clothes I've damn picked for her, and now that I'm trying to close the topic, she… Tsk…!

"I said I pay, so don't mess with me. At least shut it up when it's your birthday, tsk. And let's go."

Damn… Why always so irritating… Just when I decided to treat her to something, she has to complain against it, damn it… We'll be late too…

Gokudera curtly thanks the shop ladies as they leave, taking double care in being sure his 'mission' is following close to him. Strangely enough, she looks completely spiritless or lost in thoughts, and he has to pull her after him.

She's… alright… right…? Gokudera worries despite himself at seeing his usual bickering partner following him so docilely.

BIBIIP. The long awaited message makes Gokudera snap and he stops instantly his steps to pull out his pager, not even minding the soft crash of Haru having bumped into him from behind at his abrupt stop.

"40min more, sorry!"

D…damn, what to do… They're already too far from the shopping district to go back…

"L-let's walk… a bit more…" Gokudera mutters with all the determination he can gather while rummaging his mind to find some other time-consuming excuse he hasn't used yet.

Hopefully, Haru is apparently not minding the delay too much and even follows willingly by his side as he guides her to the park instead of following the sidewalk.

She often comes to the park with the kids, right…?! The park should be no probl… Oh, crap…!

Gokudera collapses on a bench next to her with whatever composure he can gather at realizing the situation he has dragged them both into... Impossible to look anywhere without witnessing the display of affection of the neighbouring couples: a hug on the left, a kiss on the right, something sounding a little hotter than a kiss behind them…

Damn it, why for Hell's sake did he suggest to sit at the park?! He can't even look in her eyes anymore, now…!

He relax his head backwards to glance at the flamboyant skies, wondering how on Earth he could start a conversation with the one sitting at the other end of the bench and clearly avoiding to make eye-contact with him.

D-damn… what if she says she wants to go home again…?

TILT. Gokudera reacts at noticing a group of high-schoolers making their way across the park while talking aloud about going to find some girls. Are these assholes seriously expecting him not to notice they've shot a glance to the one sulking on his left while furrowing in her bag of haberdashery purchases.

"Oy…"

"Ahiii…?"

"Talk to me."

"Ahiii?!"

"Just anything, tsk. Get talking, already!"

"…?! Ahiii?! No but what is your prob…?!"

BAM. His hand grabs her shoulder to pull the one too slow to react by his side faster, even tightening the hold with an arm behind her back to show the nearby wolves that their targeted sheep has a shepherd chaperoning her already.

"I said talk to me." Gokudera insists while staring deep into her eyes.

"E-Em… Emeralds… Emeralds are really beautiful, aren't they…? They're not even completely pure crystals too, but still, beautiful-desu… D-doesn't Gokudera-san a-agree…?"

"Gemmology? Fine with me: hope you know your topic…"

As Haru keeps on with her unexpected topic, Gokudera watches, from the corner of his eye, the high-schoolers slightly changing trajectory to go back to the main path bypassing the park fountain, walking farther and farther from the bench side.

Tsk… Did they damn expect me to mess up on my mission for the 10th?!

His eyes lower on his 'mission' who is still keeping on about emeralds and crystals geological formation, letting blanks for him to answer her from times to times.

Wait… How come he's still keeping on with her…? How come he forgot his initial motive so fast, not letting go of Haru even once the annoyance gone…? How come he really talked to her for so long on such a weird topic as if it was a common passion to discuss geological issues about gem formation…? How come he can't help noticing that they've come even closer to each other now than they were at the beginning of the conversation…?

"… Gokudera-san…?"

How come it actually feels good inside to be having a normal talk with this girl he never thought would actually hold up on par with him on something scientific out of the blue…? How come it doesn't feel annoying to hold onto another person for so long…? How come he doesn't feel like letting go…?

"Gokudera-san?"

How come her big chestnut eyes feel closer and closer…?

BIBIIP. Gokudera freezes at about five centimetres from Haru's face, and it takes him about two to three seconds to come back to his senses, jump on his feet precipitately while avoiding her eyes and shooting a glance at his pager.

… Finally…!

Gokudera grabs Haru's hand to make her follow after him despite having not yet defrost – again. Somehow, he can't manage to make eye-contact as they walk down the streets at full speed.

Just what was he about to do before this damn message…

As streets and crossings pass down his field of vision without him really minding them, Gokudera can't help trying to sort out his own feelings.

Just why isn't he able to look at her or speak at her right now…

"Huf huf… G-Gokudera-san, wh…? A… hi…? Yamamoto-san's Sushi Restaurant, why…?" Haru's out-of-breath question as they reach their destination interrupts Gokudera's train of thoughts.

… Finally…

He has finally brought her where he was supposed to bring her… No need to run around anymore, no need to pretend anymore, no need to gain time anymore…

Damn, just why isn't he saying anything… Just why isn't he letting go already… Just let go, damn it!

The eerie feeling of having his fingers let go while not wanting to let go aggravate Gokudera further and he clenches his teeth to get rid of the last shreds of troubled feelings still lingering in his chest.

I brought her here for only one reason…!

PUSH.

The door opens on the ones he has left not so long ago… not long ago, but long enough to make his heart feel a lot heavier than before…

BANG BANG BANG.

"SURPRIIIIISE!"

KHR 5986 & 27 ~ Gokudera Birth Day

 

 

NAMIMORI SHOPPING DISTRICT, ONE DAY EARLY SEPTEMBER

 

"Ch-cheer up, Gokudera-kun!"

But even the 10th personally trying to cheer him up doesn't manage to lift Gokudera's feelings this time. Little clouds of depression are even following him as he drags his feet down the streets of Namimori Shopping District, kicking a small rock here and there to vent his crestfallen frustration.

"Ahiii… Tsuna-san? It's really Tsuna-san, lucky-desu!"

"Ah, Haru, good afternoon."

"Good afternoon, Tsuna-san! Haru was on her way to visit you and… ahiii…? Is something wrong with Gokudera-san…? Spiritless-mitai (-looking)…"

"Tsk…"

"Well, actually, Gokudera-san is a little… upset… because tickets were sold out and…"

"Tickets?"

As Gokudera is avoiding the topic of conversation with a stubborn angry frown, Tsuna can only sweat-drop uneasily, scratching his cheek while pointing at a big advert poster for Haru to see.

"Ahiii…? In exclusivity from the British Museum Collection, a once in a lifetime exposition at the National Museum of Nature and Science for thirteen days only with limited admission tickets, the mystery from Mesoamerica, the legendary Thirteen Crystal Skulls…?"

The repetition of all the words that had made him sparkle with deep passion aggravates Gokudera to no end, and by the time Haru detaches her eyes from the poster to give him an inquisitive glance, he's boiling with depressed frustration again, clenching his fists and almost crying.

"Does Gokudera-san and Tsuna-san really want to go?"

"Ah well, I don't especially c… I mean, my interest is, you know, let's find a good word, limited… But Gokudera-kun really wanted to go and even queued up since yesterday night at the ticketing office but… it looks like most tickets were pre-booked by big institutions so…"

"Ah, yes, Haru knows because Haru's school booked many of them. Here, Haru got two of them in class today because not so many people were interested, and… kyaaa?!"

BAM. Gokudera's hands have suddenly closed around Haru's hands, holding onto them like around the Messiah's hands having bestowed upon him salvation.

The shine in his green eyes is so palpable that Haru feels like a glittering Milky Way is floating around Gokudera's face, startling her considerably and even giving her the illusion that a symphony of cherubs is singing hallelujah around him under a downpour of divine light and feathers.

"A… ano… G-Gokudera-san…?"

"Ah hum, forgive him, Haru! I think the shock is too big and he isn't back down on earth yet, I guess…"

"Tsuna-san… Ah, hum, does Tsuna-san want the tickets…? Haru means… well, it's true the rest is already distributed, but Haru can ask some classmates to get another ticket, and…"

"Ah no, I'm alright, I wasn't planning on going anyway. But if you have two of them and it's not too much trouble, can't you ask Gokudera-kun to accompany you, I wonder? Well, when he'll be back on earth and able to listen, that is... It would be a great help!"

"Ahiii! I-if Tsuna-san asks, then Haru will help… O-of course, Tsuna-san! Leave it to Haru! Agreement-desu!"

Last time, she had accompanied Lambo-kun to the amusement park and Tsuna-san had invited her for tea to thank her for it… So this time too, yes-desu, it's an agreement! She will definitely do a good job and have Tsuna-san invite her again!

And thus, on the following week-end...

_

NAMIMORI JR STATION, MID-MORNING

What is he doing here… What is he damn doing here, for Hell's sake…

Gokudera is sweat-dropping nervously while checking his watch every thirty seconds. It's only now, when waiting at Namimori Station surrounded by people eagerly waiting for their dates, that he realises the situation he has let himself into.

The bait of the tickets for this exposition he is dying to see was too tempting and he had not thought twice about it before jumping on the occasion, back when the 10th had told him that he had arranged for Haru to invite him with the tickets from her school.

But now that the bliss of the legendary exposition has passed, he is left with the very disturbing conclusion that anybody could easily reach upon looking at the situation objectively: he has plans with someone his age of the opposite gender on their day off and, even worse, he is in her debt for it…

He has just become… a mantenuto (Ita. 'kept/maintained person')… a gigolò (original Ita.)… Raah, no way, no way, what can he do, what can be done, damn it… The 10th will certainly be disappointed in him and say this kind of low-virtue man is unworthy of being his Right Hand Man… no damn way…

"Ahiii, good morning, Gokudera-san!" Haru's call interrupts Gokudera in the middle of tearing his hair out.

DOKI.

Crap… Why did this Stupid Woman dressed up like that today of all days, damn… No wait, maybe he's just over-reacting due to all the thinking from before… When looking around, there are plenty other girls dressed more femininely, so this Stupid Woman's outfit can be considered normal… yeah, just damn normal, no need to formalise thinking she chose it like if it was a real date…

"Ano, Gokudera-san, is something the problem with Haru?"

"O-of course not! I was definitely not looking at you! Tsk! L-let's go, Stupid Woman…"

The ride in the train until Ueno Park Station, the wide blue sky of this end of summer day and, most of all, the impatience of finally entering this exposition are enough to rid Gokudera of his previous worry, and he sticks with Haru – the holder of the tickets i.e. the holder of his present happiness – with good will and sparkles filling his green eyes for the entire waiting queue before entering the exposition hall.

The end of his cigarette good-willingly abandoned in the ashtray at the entrance of the museum, a hair-tie and a pair of glasses later, and Gokudera is gloating over every little skull-related thing, from the posters to the queue barriers adornments.

But it remains nothing in comparison of his expression when finally entering the exposition first room. A memorial silence of at least five full minutes passes as he stands immobile in the middle of the room, sparkles palpable on a two-metre radius around him, before his enthusiasm finally takes over his mouth as well.

"Oy! Check out that, check that out! This one is the first crystal skull to have been discovered! It was found by… blablabla…"

"Ahiii…? But Haru thought this kind of moulding techniques was not known in that era…?! Mysterious-desu…!"

"You said it, Stupid Woman! That's why it was always thought that these skulls were actually from real skeletons of aliens! But then it was only when they analysed the three skulls from the Trocadero Museum that… blablabla…"

Eerily, the both of them can't help smiling and even laughing at each new vitrine, each new tablet detailing a new step of the exposition, and they call onto another all the time to share another date, another statistics, another theory suggested by the museum supports.

Why haven't they ever conversed normally like that… even though they have no trouble following the other no matter how high-level the talk could be for average middle-schoolers… Why have they never noticed before that it could be so enjoyable to chat like that normally… without insults… without fights…

"Ah, just wait a sec', I'll go get us some drinks!"

"Ah, Haru will take…"

"Strawberry-milk, right? I'll be back in a minute, so just do a damn good job at keeping our spot for the next room, shishi…"

Haru's eyes widen as they chase after Gokudera's silhouette exiting the room towards the vending machines area.

He knows what Haru is taking for drinks… He knows about Haru… and also, he… smiled… just now, Gokudera-san smiled…

DOKI. Why are her cheeks feeling so hot… Museums usually have very good AC system for the preservation of the antiques, so why so hot… Strange-desu…

But just as Haru is walking away from the last vitrine to get in line for entering the next room of the exposition, four people approach on her right.

"I told you it was Miura!"

"Oy, Miura Haru, so you came today too?"

Haru's expression closes a little at recognising two girls from her school, arms under the arms of their respective boyfriends. The fact she doesn't particularly gets along with her schoolmates doesn't mean she should behave coldly, so she greets them with her usual upbeat smile.

"Good-afternoon-desu."

"Hum, Miura, you're alone? Didn't you take two tickets?"

"Ara, true. We were sure you would be coming with your boyfriend too…"

Haru's expression closes even more.

Here comes the legendary detached-but-condescending speech of the middle-school girl so proud of having a boyfriend that she enjoys showing off to all single girls around. Not that Haru usually minds, and she knows it's not to be taken personally, but somehow, today, she's minding a little more than usual.

If only Tsuna-san had come together, she could have shown them, that she too, has a strong and cool guy she likes…

FUUSH. The sudden passing in slow motion of a flying black vest across her field of vision makes Haru freeze slightly.

"Yosh, good damn job! Here, your reward, shishi! Careful, it's cold." Gokudera grins while holding out the brick of cold strawberry milk to the one in front of whom he has landed after having jumped the queue barriers single-handedly, even more coolly than the lead actor of a stunt movie.

"Go… kudera…-san…"

"Hum, what's with that look? Did something happen while I was away…? Don't tell me someone damn messed up with our waiting list number?! Tsk, these people are…?"

Gokudera's green eyes narrow coldly as he stares at Haru's schoolmates mercilessly, ready to pull out dynamite if needed to protect their precious waiting spot for the rest of the exposition.

But the four teenagers are frozen on the spot, either blushing of admiration or flushed of jealousy at finding him too handsome, too cool, just too enviable as a boyfriend from a girl's point of view and thus too hateable as a rival from a guy's point of view.

"Tsk…" Gokudera scowls before turning heels, grabbing Haru along the way to progress in the queue, not planning to let any opening to any potential sneaker.

Under his arm, Haru can't help blushing gratefully while following after him, not knowing herself why but still feeling suddenly proud and relieved.

The cold strawberry milk is probably going to help her cool down, since she is feeling hot again, for some unknown reason… Yes, the strawberry milk will be good…

The remaining rooms of the exposition pass as happily and boastfully as before, earning them a scolding from the guards for being so loud in a public place, and they finally exit the exposition at the end of the afternoon, a grin on their faces.

"Ahiii, free seats for… the Epsilon Perseids Meteor Shower…?"

"Hum, it's true Ueno Park is a damn good place to see stars inside the city, but I'd never have guessed they have an observatory attached to the museum."

"Yes, Missy, Young Man. Complimentary with any museum ticket today, as only tonight will the peak of this meteor shower be visible."

"Ahiii? Only tonight?"

"Yes, the Epsilon Perseids Shower is active during September waxing crescent moon, but the radiant area is the most visible this year on the 9th of September, meaning tonight. Since you are already here, we hope you will enjoy one more spectacular show from what nature and science can offer!"

When they head out of the museum for the park, Gokudera's expression quietens into a forsaking smile as he gazes at the free coupons they just received.

"Special radiance for the 9th, hum… I guess this year is not bad a birthday date to fall onto, shishi…"

TILT. Haru's feet stop abruptly and she stares at Gokudera in shock.

"Birthday… Today is Gokudera-san's birthday…?!"

"Hum? Yeah, why?"

"Ahiii?! Don't 'why' me! Haru didn't know at all… W-why didn't you tell Haru?"

"Because it's no big deal, tsk. It happens every damn year too, so nothing to make a fuss about."

"B-but don't you want to… celebrate or something? Special-day-desu… We could have organised something with Tsuna-san and…"

"Hum? Don't start up trouble, seriously. Why would I want to bother the 10th for something so damn not important? At best, I'm grateful these tickets are good for today because it makes me escape Aneki's damn poisonous cake this year, sigh…"

Something in Haru's chest is tightening uneasily at hearing Gokudera so genuinely NOT caring about his own birthday, and she can't help but feel responsible and upset by the turn of events.

Why is this aho not caring… Why didn't he tell Haru, instead of needing a coincidence… Why… even though they are together today… even though she's here with him… not knowing… unable to prepare anything for him…

Haru's expression turns into a resentful pout and she stares at Gokudera with a very annoyed air, startling him a little.

"You Aho wait for Haru a little while!" She mutters before turning heels to head back to the museum at full speed, abandoning Gokudera behind, a perplexed sweat-drop on his temple at wondering if she needs to use the bathroom so much.

_

AN HOUR LATER

"Woow, no damn way! So the earliest information on this meteor shower caused by the comet Swift-Tuttle was found in Chinese annals in 36 AD…? Tsk, as expected of the most advanced Asian civilisation from that time, we Italian were amateur astronomers at that time, damn…"

Haru is watching in silence as Gokudera is reading and re-reading the brochures distributed at the entrance of the open-air planetarium.

Being the end of summer means the weather being fair enough to let visitors sit in the grass, and they are now both sitting on a rented picnic cloth separating them from the chilling ground.

Once again, Gokudera brought back drinks and sandwiches, as if it was normal for him to treat her, and she had been unable to rant more than two minutes against it at how warm his unexpected smile was, once again.

Now that she has plenty leisure time to think about it, Haru realises she doesn't really know Gokudera-san a lot…

Strangely enough, she knows how he fights, she knows his loyalty for his boss and she knows for what he risks his life so often, but, objectively speaking, she doesn't know anything about him from the list about what normal middle-schoolers know about each other's.

Like what is Gokudera-san's favourite music, favourite book, favourite movie, usual pick of food and drink, ideal type of girls…

She kind of knows about his taste for clothes – skull rebel, for studying – science, and his favourite place to hang out at – Tsuna-san's place…

She also knows that he is a selfless idiot forgetting his own birthday… that he's rough with kids despite taking care of them in the end… that he speaks bad to people but never lets the members of his family in trouble, even if it means hurting himself…

And today she also learnt that he can smile brightly and be friendly when he wants, that he can be even more childish than Lambo-kun at the amusement park when in front of potential alien remnants, and that he can be caring… care for her… naturally… normally… maybe even more than how Tsuna-san usually cares…

DOKI. The last piece of thoughts troubles Haru more than she would have imagined, and she gazes at her neighbour pensively.

The sun is setting, giving a golden-orange tint to the world…

It's isn't even late, but now that Haru thinks about it, it's the first time she's spending an evening at sunset with a guy… And somehow, unknowingly, she isn't even fantasizing of spending it with Tsuna-san instead, so strange…

Her chestnut eyes run across the golden skies gradually turning to indigo… There isn't a single cloud in sight: the perfect conditions for star-gazing…

Gokudera has just reached the same conclusion and can't help chuckling jubilantly.

Today has been such a bliss… The perfect mysterious exposition filled with wonders transcending human and filling him with theories… The perfect astronomical phenomenon transcending once again humanity and filling him with curiosity… The perfect… person to enjoy it with…

His green eyes stray away from the sky to gaze at his neighbour.

Yeah, when she's quiet like that, smart with her follow-up like that, generous and grateful at the same time like that, she's really the best one to have around… Not that he wouldn't prefer spending time with the 10th, but he has his pride to honour and won't relax the same way around the 10th… As for the other noisy Guardians, there is no way they would be on the same level as him when visiting a scientific exposition, just a real drag…

And now that he's managed to pay her back for the tickets with food, it shouldn't be considered as being a gigolo, right… Ah wait, do girls usually care that much about food… Hum, considering how precious the tickets were, shouldn't he try and find something better to pay her back… But what do girls like better…

Now that Gokudera thinks about it, he's never really thought about how to care for a girl… He doesn't even know what girls like, and right now he doesn't have any library or book shop around to make research on the topic… So what would she like…

Night has completely fallen by now, and all spectators are waiting eagerly for the sky to darken and reveal the myriad of stars it is hiding.

TILT. The eerie impression from the morning finds its way back in Gokudera's mind as he realises that the other visitors around them are about 98% couples.

D-damn it… Why would lovey-dovey idiots want to come on a scientific event… Aren't they supposed to do 'couple' things like… like he has no idea what, but he's approximately sure romantic things are not things from his own hobbies list… why would science and aliens be considered romantic…

But when his eyes catch sight of the one by his side, he can't help forgetting about science and aliens instantly, too dazed by how starlight gives a magical glow to a girl's skin, by how the chill of nightfall gives a magical shivers to her lips, by how the meteor shower gives a magical shine to her eyes.

Damn… Why does it feel so itchy and uneasy and hot, suddenly… And wait, was this picnic cloth so small to start with… Aren't they unusually close, sitting there... too close, yeah…

But Gokudera doesn't manage to order his body to move away, as if something else is pushing him to stay, and maybe even to inch closer.

What is he doing…

TILT. The insistent stare of two chestnut eyes suddenly makes Gokudera come back to his senses, just as he was almost reaching her, and he pulls away while clearing his throat, feeling hot and thirsty all of a sudden.

He rummages in the shopping back to pull a can of iced coffee and looks away with a troubled face.

"If you already noticed, no need to spy on Haru… Unfair-desu!"

"E-eh?"

"Gokudera-san is not good at keeping a poker-face, buuh... To think you complained about your birthday but still… sigh, forget it… Here, present-time-desu!"

Gokudera blinks of surprise as a small black box with a silver ribbon lands in his free hand, stamped with a sticker from the museum souvenir shop.

"P-please don't complain to Haru… It's all your fault for not telling before, so Haru couldn't prepare anything special…"

The box opens on a silver old-fashioned storm-lighter embossed with a small skull of quartz.

"H-happy birthday, Gokudera-san!"

Haru's tone is at the same time upbeat and embarrassed, her smile half-disappearing in a blushing pout, but not enough to spare her interlocutor from its effect.

GRAB. Gokudera's arms close on Haru with such strength that the little space left between them disappears instantaneously.

"Crap, I can't believe it! So damn epic and perfect! Do you have any idea how damn awesome it is: I wouldn't have chosen better! You're the best, for real! Thank you, Haru!"

DOKI. Haru freezes despite blood coming to rush to her face.

A…hi…ii… W-w-w-wait, it's just that Italian people are usually more tactile, right… In TV emissions, even political men in Italy are hugging each other in greetings, right… Lambo-kun who is Italian too is often glomping her to thank her for giving him a lollipop, right… But it REALLY doesn't feel the same, ahiii…

TILT. On the other side, Gokudera's outburst of happiness seems to have quietened down as well, and he's now frozen as well at realizing what he has just done.

Even back in Italy, he's never hugged, let's say, even as a child, not even his Aneki, but now he is hugging a Japanese girl his age…

Crap, how is he going to justify this one… Saying he just felt like it doesn't sound too good, damn it… Saying it was an accident might make him get away with it, but she would angry at him… Damn, he doesn't want her angry at him… After today's perfect day, making her angry would be the most pathetic way to pay her back… Then should he say the hug is a payback for today… Girls usually like hugs, aren't they… All the other couples around them are more or less hugging at the moment, so all these guys probably did their homework about girls' tastes and apply the theory of hugging to make the girls happy, right… Damn, but they're couples, so what if the theory only applies for two people in a relationship…

TILT.

"Ahiii! A shooting star! A shooting-star-desu!"

The impulse of Haru snapping out of his arms to point at the skies with a broad jubilant grin hopefully saves Gokudera from his turmoil.

"Ahiii, Haru forgot to make a wish… No way, let's find another one!"

"Aah, damn, I forgot! I was supposed to track UFOs tonight too!"

And Gokudera diverts his entire attention back to the skies too, pulling a map of the constellations from his pocket with the anticipating sparkle of finding any proof of alien life.

The rest of the evening passes peacefully as both sides search the Milky Way in quest of their dreams: 

"Shooting stars, shooting stars!"

"UFOs, UFOs!"