When Eponine dies she dies with a gunshot to her chest and the sound of rain thundering in her ears. She's cold, from her chest out and she shakes even when her dreams are fulfilled in how Marius is finally looking at her and her alone. She never wants the moment to end, but she dies, and the darkness comes only after she had faded.
When she awakes, she cries and cries and realises that she is a boy. He flutters his eyes and gurgles at the woman who birthed him and he only realised his name is Tsunayoshi when he is coherent enough to recognise the woman as his mother.
Tsuna lives quietly, grateful that his mother loves him even when his father is gone ('to the stars,' his mother says, but he knows that she knows it isn't the truth).
One day he remembers, when children scream derisively at him and strike him in the chest with a rock, and it so happens that it's raining and suddenly he can't breathe- and he's Eponine Thenadier, a little girl in a barricade and she can see it looming over her- she blacks out and meets Sasagawa Kyoko when he awakes.
She's the only one who doesn't call him Dame Tsuna and who doesn't look at him sneering with disdain. Instead she gives him a smile and he's in love.
He supposed he was courting heartbreak because it was twenty years later, and he finds himself a mafia boss and her the wife of his best friend.
They are sickeningly sweet, the perfect couple really, and Yamamoto's a good guy but he can't help the feeling like his heart was crushed in a fist, and that he was once again lying before the barricade, too weak to stand.
When he greets them during their wedding he can feel the lies prickling at the edges of his skin and his throat constraining beneath the salt of his soul, and he almost feels ridiculous but he can't help it.
"Congratulations," he manages to say, and excuses himself for work immediately after.
The next few times he sees her is in picture frames and in the proud father Yamamoto had become, and their daughter is beautiful, and she's sweet or so he hears because he's too scared to see them directly.
The next time she sees him is when he dies, once again, shot in the chest, once again, after a failed negotiation with Byakuran, and suddenly he's in a room he's been in for too many times, though usually he's not the one in the bed.
Ryohei is running around, his face etched impassive, but Tsuna can recognise the panic behind his careful visage.
He reaches out for Ryohei and stops him as he gives the order for all the Sun flame users to come into the medical hall. Tsuna knows he's dying, and he can almost hear the pour of rain and see the silhouette of the barricade in the shadows of the people he had grown to love surrounding him.
He sees Kyoko and suddenly she sees Marius and Kyoko is suddenly by his side, a comforting presence in the white, dark, rainy, cold. He hears Kyoko say something, and Marius is crying, and Eponine, and Tsuna dies.
As the edges of their vision fuzz black they suddenly see the silhouette - people.
Eponine's eyes pricked as she recognised them, tall shadows framed by light, but at the front an unmistakeable red jacket. And beside him, an old man with kind eyes, flanked by an old woman, whose hair had once upon a time been spun gold. Her breath hitched, and she stepped towards them.
When Sawada Tsunayoshi returns to life, with the future changed and the world saved, he wakes up alone in his mind and his bed.