For anyone confused on the last chapter, the Arcobaleno Battle doesn't go well and Tsuna is one of the few people present who survived Bermuda's onslaught. He bolts from the Vongola; Bianchi goes with him because they're all each other really have left. Her husband/his big brother 'Ren' is Reborn who dies from a 'sickness', Harry is Hayato Gokudera, Anika is Bianchi, Steven is Tsuna, the cops are Vindice. Yes, Tsuna plays that girl into sex to take away the pain of the anniversary; yes Tsuna and Bianchi are kind of each other's rebound, yes, they're about to do the dirty in the last scene.

Bitter but Sweet

When they are together it is bittersweet to point out it is only because they are jealous people

Haru Miura is good at pretending; she pretends to be nowhere near as smart as she is because life like that is boring and leads to more teasing then she already gets, she pretends back in middle school that she's okay with having no friends and that it doesn't bother her people think she's weird or laugh at her costumes that she puts her heart in soul into.

When Haru meets Tsuna her life makes a huge turnaround, she knows he doesn't feel comfortable around her, but unlike so many others he doesn't turn her away, he doesn't snap at her, and other than the occasional 'What the hell' look he gives her he merely smiles at her uniqueness with a smile that makes her heart stutter every time she sees it.

But even when she is with Tsuna and all the new friends she's made through him, she still has to pretend; she pretends that Gokudera's comments don't sometimes hurt as much as they piss her off, she pretends that she doesn't constantly worry for their safety, that the Mafia doesn't scare as much as intrigue her, and she even pretends later on when they get trapped in a future-that-never-was that she's not sick and terrified every moment of the day.

She pretends because that's what Tsuna needs from her; he needs her to be strong and to ignore the hate from Gokudera because he can't leave his oldest and closest friend just for her. Tsuna needs her not to be afraid of the Mafia because he's clearly scared too and both of them being afraid won't help anybody. She pretends not to be devastated when he finally comes out and tells her the full story during that future-that-never-was, because he's about to be fighting for the fate of the whole world and he doesn't need some crying little girl to take care of while he's clearly trying to hold it all together by the skin of his teeth.

Lately Haru is getting tired of pretending, because now there's something she has to pretend not to see every day.

Haru's not blind to Tsuna's lack of feelings for her, though from the few times he's blushed around her, Haru knows that Tsuna is at least abstractly aware that she is attractive. She also knows that being attracted to is not the same as love, just as she knows there is someone that Tsuna does love… and it's not her.

"C'mon Haru, the cake shop is about to close, if we don't hurry now we'll have to get something mass produced" says a cheerful voice snapping her out of her thoughts.

"Ah, Haru is coming, wait for her!" she yells sprinting to catch up with her golden haired friend, the whole reason they're going to this shop in the first place is that the cakes are hand maid every day.

After multiple sabotaging lessons from Bianchi, both of their abilities to make desserts are shot, despite their mutual abilities in the kitchen. The cake is the last part of the meal necessary for tonight's gathering and after spending half the afternoon cooking, they need to run out and grab a proper dessert before the shop closes.

"Safe" Kyoko chirps a few minutes later coming out of the shop with a box of fresh cake, and Haru grins at her friend's happiness; Kyoko doesn't play when it comes to her cakes.

Before she can respond a familiar voice cuts her off

"Haru?" and immediately her heart starts to do the cha cha, as that familiar chocolate warm voice wraps around her name

Haru turns to greet her love enthusiastically like always,

"Tsuna" she says launching at him for a flying hug, and she watches him brace himself with a slightly resigned look

"Stop bothering him stupid woman!" and it's no surprise who that is, it could only be Tsuna's annoying shadow Gokudera

"Tsuna greeted Haru Stupidera, she is not the one who came up to bother him" she childishly sticks her tongue at him, using Lambo's infuriating nickname.

Predictably he looks ready to explode, and the bickering begins in earnest

"You little-"

"Kyoko-chan!" she hears Tsuna's voice brighten up instantly in a surprised exclamation, and Haru pretends the term of endearment doesn't hurt compared to the lack in her own.

"Hello Tsu-kun" Kyoko answers almost shyly back, and Haru pretends that doesn't hurt even worse

In the last year or so it seemed that Kyoko finally started to become aware of the wonder that is Tsuna, and almost every meeting between the two of them has been fraught with these shy greetings.

Haru slides off him and pretends it doesn't hurt when he steps forward towards her best friend without even a glance back at the girl who loves him; only a blind man couldn't see where this was going and even then they'd still hear it being screamed from the heavens it was so obvious.

The entire trip back to the house is dominated by Kyoko and Tsuna's shy chattering while she and Gokudera bicker back and forth.

Haru pretends not to notice the lack of attention

The meeting is short and lasts for only an hour in which they discuss some of the various positions and responsibilities their group will be expected to take in the Vongola moving forward.

The Vongola may be mafia, but in today's world, organizations as big as Vongola are managed more like companies than family groups, and actual positions like CFO and Heads of departments need to be assigned.

They'll be finishing high school soon and their continued educations need to be geared to what legal business positions they'll be taking as their covers.

Eventually the smell of food becomes unbearable and the meeting is ended early with the only thing really decided is that Tsuna will of course be the boss and Gokudera will be his Chief of Staff.

After a typical chaotic dinner, Haru is coming back from the bathroom where she just so happens to see Tsuna and Kyoko sitting outside on the porch from the window and the usual chaos in the room fades to a background buzz.

They're not sitting especially close, they're not holding hands, or kissing, and she certainly can't hear them to know if some monumental confession is happening, but she can see the look of utter peace and happiness on Tsuna's face and something in her heart just breaks off and dies.

Haru can't pretend not to see anymore

LINE BREAK

"Reborn" she asks the now eight year old looking child-man, and her voice is devoid of… anything really.

The hitman looks at her curiously

"Haru would like Reborn to make her the CFO for the Seashell Corporation" she looks down at him determined, sure Tsuna has final say, but they all know if it doesn't pass Reborn's approval first it will never make it to Tsuna at all.

The hitman tilts his head so his hat is just shadowing his face, its standard Reborn procedure to say he's taking her seriously.

"You're not a guardian" Reborn answers her steadily

"So Reborn wants Lambo or Ryohei in charge of that sort of thing instead?" she asks with a skeptically raised eyebrow

"Shouichi or Spanner can do that" he serves back unconcerned

"They're not guardians either" she counters

"They have a genius and experience in this world to counter that, you are a slightly smarter than average civilian girl reeling from a case of unrequited love and looking for something to prove herself not worthless" Reborn says coldly

Haru pretends that his comment doesn't cut as deep as it does; she already spent half the week's nights staring into space and the other half crying her eyes out on the phone to Bianchi. She should have figured Bianchi would have told her love anything, assuming the hitman didn't just use his mindreading to figure it out

"Haru is far more than 'just some civilian girl'" she says strongly, but careful not to let any sign of temper enter her voice, whiny teenage girls throw tantrums won't change anybody's mind, "And Shouichi and Spanner have far more important positions to occupy somewhere in R&D. Haru is the highest rated student in my school, is a close trusted friend to the Vongola Decimo inner circle, and she can say she has something few else do."

"And what's that?" he asks no less coldly, but she can tell she's intrigued him

"The sheer balls to look the world's greatest hitman in the eye and tell him to give. Her. That. Job."

There's a brief silence as he stares her down, and no Haru is not oblivious to the killing intent bearing down on her, but this is a test and Haru has always been good at tests and she's even better at pretending not to be scared.

"This is still a mafia business" he answers after a pause, his voice doesn't hint in the slightest whether he approves or not, "You'd need to know how to fight."

"Haru will train" she answers succinctly, honestly she's been trying to train in at least basic self-defense since before even the Varia Incident

"And who will be training you" he raises a brow, daring her to say him

"Hibari-sempai" she answers without hesitation, and by the blink she knows she's got him

There's another brief pause before he answers again

"Keep your grades up, and convince Hibari and we'll make it happen"

She nods, she already asked him to train her, for reasons she'll never know he accepted.

'Maybe he's just nicer to those who have the courage to talk to him' Haru thinks, though she didn't miss the glance he sent to Tsuna when she asked, 'And Haru is one of the top students in her class at an elite school for girls, she has nothing to worry about'

"This won't get his attention you know" the hitman calls after her as she spins to exit the room, though unlike before his voice is no longer cold, only warning her not to get her heart broken

"She is not so shallow Reborn", she answers without turning back, "Haru loves him as her Sky first and foremost before anything else"

Haru can almost pretend to believe it.

LINE BREAK-

Two days later Kyoko and Tsuna announce they are a couple, and Haru pretends again.

LINE BREAK

Haru has Lightning Flames and she's not sure whether to feel ecstatic or terrified about that.

On the one hand Lightning attribute is hardening, they make the best defensive fighters and if she practices enough, she'll no longer be kept in the back or told to stay home like some fine china you're afraid might get broken. She can fight, her opinions will hold more weight when she takes her seat at the table, the boys (and Chrome) no longer have any legitimate excuses to keep her at arm's length when things get serious anymore.

On the other hand now that Hibari-sensei is aware that she wouldn't die if he lets loose a little, he starts to hit her more often during their training. Hard

"Oof" she lets out a sound of a choking dying orangutan when one of her sensei's tonfa come slamming into her gut and sends her flying across the mat; it's not an attractive or feminine sound in the slightest.

A good five seconds pass as Haru wheezing tries to make the spots appearing in her head fade,

'God Haru thinks she taste blood in her mouth' she groans in her mind 'if this continues Haru really will die trying to get this job'

"Get up kitten, we're not done yet" comes the utterly unsympathetic voice of her teacher

Haru winces and begins the burning process of dragging her beaten body into at the very least a fetal position. Not moving at all, she has learned, will only get her kicked again while she's down

'I'm not training you to fight in herbivorous tournaments with rules' Hibari-sensei told her during one of his rare moments of multiple word verbal instruction, 'in a real fight you stay still you die'

Since then whenever she fell, no matter how hard she fell, she made sure to push her body right back up or at least make it look like she was trying.

"Fighting stance Kitten" he instructed once she pulled herself wobbly to her feet

Despite what some might call a demeaning nickname, Haru felt herself straighten up a bit when he called her it. A kitten was a baby cat, and even if only a mostly defenseless baby, a cat was not a herbivore. The nickname meant that Hibari respected her enough, or at least her potential, to give her an animal specific classification.

Even some of the other guardians, Gokudera, Ryohei, Chrome, and Lambo were still regulated to mere herbivores; with Takeshi being slightly higher as 'Dog' and Mukuro being significantly lower as Pineapple- a food that even Herbivores devoured.

"Your roar is not yet strong enough to make me bow little lion cub"

Haru shook her head to clear herself of distracting thought of the last person to earn that respect from her teacher, and focuses on the fight in front of her.

There's no warning, one moment he's on the other side of the dojo, the next theirs a skull cracking piece of metal careening towards her head,

Not allowing herself to think or even contemplate how this happened, she ducks at the sudden movement and strikes at him with her own blunt metal instrument.

The older man dodges her attacks so smoothly and gracefully you'd think he were dancing

'That is so unfair'

At one point he ducks so low that he's practically kissing the ground, it catches her off guard. Hibari is not a particularly tall man, but he's definitely taller than her, as are most fighters she's encountered since her training began, she's never had to defend herself from below.

The uppercut that impacts her chin makes her teeth rattle and her feet lift the ground; in an unnecessarily showy move, Hibari uses her hang time to hit her with a spinning heel kick that once more sends her flying across the mat.

Yes she is very thankful for her lightning flames

"-CK IS WRONG WITH YOU" she hears several moments later as her vision clears up from her latest blackout, that sounds like Gokudera, what is he doing here?

Sure enough when she looks over, she sees a suited up silverette in the middle of the training room breathing in an uncaring Hibari's face.

'No not uncaring' she corrects seeing the slightly harsher clenching of his tonfa, 'irritated. Come to think of it, since when was Gokudera stupid enough to get in Hibari's face like that?'

Groaning piteously, Haru drags herself into something of a standing position despite it being the harshest hit she's taken since their training sessions began.

She tries to open her mouth to speak but has to bite down on the urge to puke the moment her brain catches up to the fact that she's not still crumpled on the ground like it told her body to.

An unfeminine 'Ugh' is all she can get out but it does the trick and in a moment Gokudera is by her side checking on her, green eyes wide with undisguised worry.

What the heck is wrong with you, she tries to ask but only gets out another groaned trying to hold the puke in sound.

"Your guard is pathetic Kitten" Hibari says apathetically ignoring the screaming bomber

"Her guar-, YOU USED FLAMES ON HER YOU BASTARD!" Gokudera roars, reaching into his pockets obviously prepared to bomb her teacher and his fellow guardian, consequences be damned.

'Wait, he used Flames' she thought

"Lower quality, hardly visible to those without high Flame sense, but strong enough to stop a charging boar" Gokudera answers not taking his glare off of Hibari, and she realizes she spoke out loud.

"Haru tanked a Flame hit from Hibari-sensei!" she yells surprised, but not out of fear or anger like Gokudera, but because she's actually kind of amazed with herself.

Monsters like Takeshi and Tsuna notwithstanding, it takes years to develop that kind of hardheadedness to tank Flame attacks, let alone gain the skill that would make Hibari result to using his flames at all.

And yeah she's been training for almost three years now, but three years couldn't even get you a black belt in ordinary martial arts, let alone make you skilled enough to go against fighters with decades of experience and a magical powered fire for a boost.

"No you didn't" Hibari immediately rains on her parade, "You nearly lost consciousness, your guard is pathetic. Train with the crying cow herbivore for a few weeks, we're done"

And with that he walked out of the room without a backwards glance to her whose self-esteem he'd just crushed.

"OI, GET BACK HERE YOU BASTARD WHERE NOT FINISHED" Gokudera roared, it was clear by the half step he took towards the door that he wanted to chase after him, but he refused to move and leave her to support herself.

'Seriously what is with him' she thought giving him a skeptical look, 'he's never been like this with Haru before, and she knows he has had worse training than this'

An image of a nasty scar on Chrome's lower back glimpsed as the girl exits the bath hits her

"Chrome what happened!?"

"Training" she said in that old painfully dull voice she used to speak in, as if her pain was something unimportant that wasn't worth getting upset over, "This is still nothing compared to what Boss and the others have."

Haru never forgot that particular slice of humble pie ever so casually jammed down her throat; it was one of the less selfish reasons she agreed to this hellish training, it was why no matter how hard it got never once would she complain.

"Gokudera" she asked with tired curiosity as he finally ran out of steam barking at the entrance Hibari walked out of, "Why are you here?"

He looked down at her and searched her face for a long moment, that if she had the energy to be uncomfortable she would have shifted uneasily.

"What is wrong with you!" she snaps at him defensively, because really it was his fault for weirding her out like he was.

Immediately he snaps out of whatever trance he was in and scowled back down at her

"What's wrong with me, what the hell is wrong with you!" he snaps back

"Her!" she yell back indignant, what has she done! "You're the one staring at Haru's face all creepy like that!"

"How could I not!" he roars, and her eyes widen. A second later his own widen too, but rather than telling her to 'get stupid thoughts out of her stupid head' like he did years before, he coughs and looks embarrassed.

It's such a non-Gokudera action that she finds herself flat footed by how to respond. Gokudera is a Storm, Haru is a Lightning; the two elements are brothers on the power wheel (which makes absolutely no sense to Haru since Lightning hardens and strengthens while Storm disintegrates and destroys) and like brothers they get on each other's nerves quite easily.

Gokudera and Haru have had a thing going for the better part of five or six years now which is filled with sibling like bickering. They're both loud strong passionate personalities, they're both the most academically intelligent in their group, and they both care about Tsuna more than all the others.

It is the last that both brings them together and tears them apart more than any other pair in their group. Even if she's decided to give up on her fruitless chase after Tsuna, she has not stopped always being there for him, and being his number one champion.

'Number two to him' she can't help but think

"Haru, are you okay" seventeen year old Tsuna asks her, after somehow managing to corner her in the sole secluded spot in this entire jam packed party for Reborn's birthday.

"Of course" she chirps as happily as ever, even as part of her is dying a little bit inside. She noticed the promise ring on Kyoko's finger when the two came in, and decided that this would be one of the parties she sat out for once.

Tsuna looks into her with burning orange eyes that she always loved, and really it's kind of unfair that he only turns those soul searching eyes on her when she wants to be most alone.

"It's just that" Tsuna starts off so sweetly and nervously, even after years of knowing each other he's always so hesitant with sharing his feelings, "We haven't seen you in a while, I was beginning to think you may have been avoiding us"

He even finishes off with a short chuckle that she forces herself to give an amused snort at, even as panic and shame well up inside of her.

She's had almost a year to get used to seeing them together, but Tsuna isn't wrong, there has been avoidance.

'What is Haru doing' she thinks to herself, 'just because she didn't get the guy doesn't mean she can abandon her friends'

Didn't she tell Reborn she loved Tsuna as her sky more than any teenage crush; their world is too dangerous to hold on to such fickle things.

So instead she shakes her head and gently takes his hands in her own, bringing them to the side of face caressing them. She enjoys the surprised flush that crosses his face, funny not even her glomping him with a hug was enough to make him blush even when she wanted him to.

"Haru is very busy right now Tsuna-kun, she is trying to make herself stronger to be able to continue following the rest of you." She says honestly, and tries not to get nervous at how focused burning orange eyes are on her, "But please do not think she would ever leave you, even if Haru was upset with you"

And she hadn't, she deliberately got over herself, greeted Kyoko with a hug, and through herself into the festivities. She would always be there for the people who needed her, because that was what a Lightning did for their Sky; they accepted pain so the people they loved wouldn't have to… because they were hardened… because they could take it.

But it wasn't the Sky that was bothering her right now; it was the Storm who was currently going off of a very carefully crafted script that the two had been acting out for the better part of five years.

'How could he not what, stare at Haru's face?' she thought getting slightly flustered at the pause, 'Is he trying to tell Haru she's pretty, does he…'

"I mean" Gokudera rallied on after his momentary slip, "Look at you, your all beat up"

And just like that the walls came down and Haru was suddenly on familiar ground again

"I'd like to see you look better after going a few rounds with Hibari-sensei, you pretty faced chain smoker" she growled out, so what if she looked a little raggedy, that just meant she was giving it her all.

"Exactly!" Gokudera continued ignoring her 'insult' to his own looks; it was a frequent jab of hers to taunt him for his mixed and somewhat exotic looks, "Why were you picking a fight with that monster anyway!"

"That monster is my teacher!" she held back honestly offended on Hibari's behalf, yes he was brutal, filled with blood lust, cruel, snarky, rude, unsympathetic, possibly sociopathic… but he was her teacher, and no one called him monster, "And we were sparring before you rudely interrupted!"

"Sparring!?" he yelled incredulously, looking at her like she was crazy, "He was wiping the floor with you! Brutally!"

Haru gritted her teeth, it was true, but she didn't like being reminded of the fact that he had witnessed her embarrassing defeat

"Like Gokudera could do better!" she screamed, everyone knew that in their circle of friends the only ones who could perceivably stand up to Hibari let alone beat him were Tsuna and Mukuro, the Arcobaleno didn't count, "Why does Gokudera even care!"

"Maybe I don't like seeing you hurt alright!" Gokudera screamed back, his face flushed, obviously embarrassed and frustrated.

Haru found herself once more caught off balance as Gokudera seemed to veer off script; this was around the time that he would typically say 'I don't, I just don't want the Tenth to have to worry over you useless woman' or something else juvenile.

"Bull" she narrowed her eyes suspiciously

That snapped his patience, "LOOK I SAID JUST DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU HURT ALRIGHT YOU DAMN WITCH!"

"AND HARU SAID BULL" she yelled back, "WHEN HAVE YOU EVER CARED ABOUT HARU, HER FEELINGS, HER WELL BEING, HER-"

"I'VE ALWAYS CARED ABOUT YOU!" he roared over her

There was a sudden silence as she stared wide eyed at him and he glared down at her with seriousness, frustration, and some other third emotion that made something in her stomach tighten nervously.

"I was an idiot when I was younger" he continued in a quieter voice, not a whisper, but under the pounding of her heart in her ears it might as well have been, "I suck at emotions, and I hate letting people in, but, you've always been family… even when I didn't understand why you made me so… you made me so uncomfortable so I… I did what I always did and got mad… but I don't hate you… I … I…"

Throughout his speech Haru stared at him wide eyed, apparently the script that had held them together, that had kept all those 'uncomfortable emotions' from coming out had been thrown out long ago.

It's not like she didn't know what he was talking about, not like the stray thought didn't cross her mind when they were the only two who understood some "smart person joke", or when they were arguing about nothing and she could see his eyes light up from the challenge of someone willing to push back against his overbearing personality and knew her eyes were the same.

"Gokudera" she cut him off, because it was still too early, their emotions still confused, her face still sweaty and stinky, her heart still…

"Haru won't ever leave you"

"Why are you here?" she asks instead

She watched as something inside him seemed to deflate and he took a subtle step back, she hadn't even noticed how close they'd gotten.

"Our meeting with the Ninth has been moved up, so we need to get packed tonight instead of tomorrow." He answered in a subdued voice

"Okay, thank you for telling Haru, she has a lot of packing to still do." she nods in an uncharacteristically polite manner

"Just don't bring any of your weird ass fruit costumes" he grumbles already turning for the door, "We want to make a good impression."

"How rude" she huffs out, crossing her arms as they fall back into their original roles, "Haru knows not to do that, and even so she has moved on from fruit costumes ages ago"

"Yeah, yeah whatever" he rumbles rudely slipping out the door

"…"

There is a moment of silence as Haru releases a long sigh, that was too clo-

"Coward" says a dark voice just a few feet to her right

The scream that escapes her is shrill enough to wake the dead

Turning to the side she sees a completely dressed Hibari, hair wet presumably from the dojo's shower, staring at her with a dead look in his eyes

"H-Hibari-sensei, how long have you been standing there!?" she points accusingly at him, even as her face flushes in embarrassment

'We didn't say anything too damning' she thinks hurriedly, 'He couldn't have… have…'

"I care about you, I want to mate with you" Hibari responds in a deadpan tone that sounds nothing like Gokudera, even so she flushes horribly

"H-he didn't say that" she tries to come off nonchalant, but it comes out too high pitched and nervous, Haru has always said what she was thinking and is a poor liar because of it.

Her response is not a lie, but she knows neither are Hibari's words

"Coward" he repeats, and Haru flinches, she never wants to disappoint her teacher, her ability to never run away is what made him continue 'teaching' her all this time

"…" she opens her mouth, but she really has no response, she's a coward

Suddenly a hand roughly pats her head

"Kittens are curious, be curious, and see what you can see." Hibari-sensei's advice has always been notoriously difficult to understand, but Haru pretty much gets the gist of it. That advice though solid is not however the problem, the problem is

"Why is sensei being so nice to Haru?" she questions suspiciously, cause yeah he helps her with her fighting, but this encouraging and head patting is just damn suspicious.

"All cats are fickle" he says with a devilish grin that Haru is sure caused the death of a thousand puppies somewhere in the world, "I just want to see a baby cats reaction"

Haru goes from suspicious to confused to finally resigned,

'Hibari-sensei's animal metaphors really just don't make sense' she thinks, 'In any case'

"Thank you for the advice sensei" she says respectfully, and almost has a heart attack when she hears him make a dry coughing sound.

Hibari has just laughed

Haru tries to swallow her suddenly dry throat as she carefully backs out of the dojo. Hibari continues to watch her with an amused sadistic smirk, a few more dry coughs escape, and it's all the signal Haru needs to turn around and bolt.

Some things are better off not known in this world

Somewhere in her dead panicked sprint she runs into a figure walking along the hallway

"OW! Fu-, Who in the hell-, Miura?" says the stunned face of Gokudera as she crashed into him, her flames she activated in her terror make the impact more solid.

"Sorry Gokudera-kun, Haru was just escaping the sounds of a bell toiling" she gasps out still exhausted from her training and fear induced run

"Right" Gokudera says in a tone that says he knows somethings up, but won't ask lest he catch her crazy

'How rude'

"So what do you need?" he asks in a voice that's about five times too nonchalant, and Haru knows he's trying to seem casual, like he hadn't been one step from putting 'it' all out there a moment ago.

Haru stares at him for a moment thinking about what she wants to say

Coward

"Gokudera-kun, do you maybe after dinner… want to like go… out for ice-cream with Haru" she says fidgeting with her shirt, and she is hyper aware of how disgusting and sweaty she must look right now "you know… just the two of us"

For a moment he doesn't answer and just stares at her, and she is one hundred percent ready to take it all back and go hide like a coward her teacher thinks she is. But something must show on her face, because he snaps out of his daze and answers.

"Ah, yeah sure that would be cool" he tries to say nonchalantly, but he's not meeting her eyes and theirs a huge flush on his face.

"Oh, okay" she says

"Okay" he says

"Okay"

"Okay"

She grins, just a little teasing, just a little shy

"Okay"

He smiles back softy

"Okay"

Storm and Lightning were like brothers, they got on each other's nerves, and they worked well together more than any other elements. Even in nature there was no one without the other, they were just compatible.

Hayato and Haru are storm and lightning, they just go together.

Haru likes to pretend that's all she needs

LINE BREAK

It's a grand total of four months since Haru and Hayato have started to have their nightly outings; throughout their group of friends people have been beginning to catch on little by little. Surprisingly it is Ryohei who is the first one to oust them, apparently the man can recognize the sight of young love in the air because of his own relationship with his 'promise girl' or something.

It's then that she remembers that old boxing club captain from high school is surprising good with girls and relationships in general.

The mist duo is the next to realize something is going on, but then again it's in their nature to spy on everybody and dig around in their personal lives; Mukuro gets a strangely similar smile to Hibari when he confronts her about it.

Hoping to head off any potential blackmail that the Mist user may have in mind, Haru tells him this to his face. The smile disappears immediately and she later hears her sensei smugly holding over the Mist's head how slow he can be on the uptake for a supposed information gatherer, Mukuro was firmly distracted.

Surprisingly enough the only one who seemed utterly oblivious to the change in her relationship status was the person who should have seen through them easily.

"So what are your plans for our next off day Hayato" Tsuna asked tiredly hunched over a mile high stack of papers, "I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little claustrophobic in this office, whaddayasay we go out into the city this weekend?"

"U-um, T-tenth about that" Hayato said flustered and Haru knew why; they had planned to go on a date on that particular day.

There first one in quite a while, aging meant increase of responsibility to go with the freedoms and they had all been busy. They had already canceled the last two dates, and Haru was looking forward to some alone time with her boyfriend.

Hayato looks to her as if asking her opinion on whether or not to tell him about them.

It never occurs to Haru until just now to ask why it is exactly it is they're keeping their relationship a secret from Tsuna in the first place.

'Haru didn't want to stress him?' she thinks, but why would learning that two of his friends are dating stress him, that kind of answer would probably have made logical sense to Hayato who knows more than anyone how much Tsuna really works behind his smiles to keep the rest of them happy.

Hayato is truly terrible with emotions and is not the kind of man to announce to the world that he's in a relationship at all, but Haru is.

Haru loves, and she loves love; she falls quickly and deeply, she doesn't shy away from expressing her feelings loudly, publically, and will often hold onto the one she loves with an iron grip with zero sense of embarrassment.

So why have they not told Tsuna?

"A-actually Tenth, I may have something planned for that day." Hayato answers when its clear Haru doesn't have a response for him

"Really?" Tsuna looks up curiously, orange eyes clouded with confusion, "I don't remember there being anything on our roster for this weekend" Tsuna said absently going through papers to find the schedule, "In fact we went out of our way to clear those two days for whatever, did something come up?"

"U-uh no, just wanted to take care of some things Tenth" Hayato answers looking incredibly uncomfortable before shooting Haru another glance to see which way she wants to go on this.

Haru honestly doesn't know, she knows Hayato won't say anything unless Haru agrees, because she was the one that suggested they keep it to themselves in the first place, and Hayato agreed not to stress Tsuna or share his personal life with idiots.

Still Haru once thought Tsuna as her everything and parading the relationship she's in with essentially his best friend seems… wrong.

"Oh, did you want to stock up on bombs or go to some science seminar or something" Tsuna is once more looking at Hayato expectantly, and it's clear from his tone that he's still fully expecting to tag along.

"Um, not quite Tenth" Hayato answers still looking at her not knowing Tsuna is looking at him.

Tsuna follows his gaze to Haru, and Haru feels a heat rise to her cheeks at his scrutiny, there's something incredibly embarrassing about all of this.

"Am I missing something?" Tsuna finally asks, glancing between the two of them confused

"Oh for the love of common sense take a hint Sawada" Hana says flinging her hands into the air from where she and the rest of the peanut gallery have remained forgotten in the sudden awkward atmosphere, "The monkey and Miura want to go on a date, alone, without you."

Both Haru and Hayato flush like a couple of middle schoolers, both irritated at her rudeness, but neither willing to say she's wrong.

There's a brief pause as Tsuna stares between the two confused for a moment before the lightbulb goes off.

"Eh" Tsuna blinks rapidly before his eyes all but pop from his skull, "Eeeeeeeeeeeh!?"

"Seriously Sawada, how slow can you be" Hana rolls her eyes, "You really think they're going on nightly walks to 'check the perimeter'"

Tsuna still looks shocked head whipping between the two of them and the rest of the room

"W-wait, you all knew!?" Tsuna shouts surprised

"Kufufufu, of course I know everything Tsunayoshi"

"Duh Tsuna-nii"

"Idiot, still a cub, baby carnivore"

"Ha ha, I didn't know it was a secret"

"Sorry for not saying anything Boss, but they looked like they were trying hard to keep it a secret"

'Thanks for that Chrome' Haru thought as one by one everyone including the kids admitted that neither she nor Hayato were any kind of stealth

"EXTREMELY obvious Sawada, you are just EXTREMELY slow!"

"Even Ryo-nii knew!" Tsuna shouted

'No Tsuna doesn't need to feel ashamed, we're all surprised about that' Haru thought sweat dropping

"I'm sorry for keeping something like this from you Tenth!" Hayato shouts and full on prostrates himself, slamming his head against the floor with speed and weight of a sledge hammer

"No no it's fine, please get up Hayato!" Tsuna quickly shouts, but Haru can't help notice there is something shaky about his tone.

'Is something wrong with the two of them dating, or more importantly Hayato dating her?'

"Still, why didn't you guys tell me?" he asks, but his attention is on Haru as he asks, and for a brief moment it feels like they're the only two in the room and it's the party from two years ago where he asked her if she was avoiding him and…

There's just a touch of hurt in his tone which is understandable, considering they've all known each other for years and Hayato is his best friend.

Haru can vaguely understand, she was the first person Kyoko told that she was dating Tsuna; if she hadn't already known beforehand there was no way she could have wished the other girl happiness with an accepting smile.

'But that's not right' Haru thought, 'the two situations are completely different'

"No one had to tell us either" Hana continues mercilessly, "We're just not stupid"

"You're so busy Tenth that we didn't want to bother you with it" Hayato interjected sending a black glare at Hana who ignored it

"I must be if even the kids noticed before me" Tsuna mumbled under his breath, but they still heard him in the silence of the room as everyone waited for his reaction.

Despite their blasé attitude Tsuna was still the boss, the head honcho, a big brother and father figure to most of them despite being the youngest of their generation excluding the kids; his approval or disapproval held a weight to it, and his lack of positive reaction was not inspiring.

"A-are you mad Tenth" Hayato asked hesitantly and Haru could feel her heart racing

Tsuna looked at him blankly for a moment, before his eyes flickered to hers and Haru felt… something.

"Yes" Tsuna answered evenly, there was a heart stopping silence in the room and Haru felt that… something… clench in her stomach before he continued, "I'm angry at myself"

"Huh/huh" went her and Hayato

"You two are my closest, most passionate… somewhat clingiest, friends and I've been so busy with work I didn't even notice you finding happiness" Tsuna said in an evenly measured voice, she couldn't help but feel there was something… off about his tone, like he was trying to make it sound a certain way but failing, "I bet you've had to cancel dates to work around me haven't you?"

She and Hayato shared a quick glance before shaking their head firmly in the negative

"OF COURSE NOT TENTH, YOU COULD NEVER-"

"WE ALWAYS PLANNED OUR TIME EFFICIENTLY AND-"

"NO TROUBLE WHATSOEVER-"

"IF ANYTHING I FEEL GUILTY FOR HOW MUCH TIME WE SKIVE OFF FRO-"

" .ALL. TENTH!"

"…"

"…"

"…So how many dates have you had to cancel?"

"…This week?" Haru asked weakly, and Tsuna sighed guiltily

"How long have you guys been going out?" Tsuna asked, once again his eyes flickering more towards her than Hayato, did he not trust his right hand to tell him the truth about these things for some reason?

Granted prior record hasn't been inspiring with his right hand failing to report one out of one, 100% of his girlfriends' existences, but still?

"Three freaking months" Hana answered interrupted yet again to sass; she was the only one who was perhaps not fully aware of Tsuna's authority what with Ryohei refusing to allow her into the darker sides of their semi-legal business.

"Four" Hibari corrected with that same odd sadistic smile on his face when he first convinced her to go after Hayato.

She felt and saw the shivers go around the room at the smile; though she noticed the only one who wasn't freaked out but rather annoyed was Tsuna. The younger man that was still a teen sent a scathing glare at her teacher that actually scared her as much as Hibari's smile.

The glare only lasted a second and she only caught it because she was watching Tsuna rather than getting distracted by Hibari's odd facial expression, which widened at Tsuna's ire.

'Haru is getting real tired of not knowing what's going on'

"I see" Tsuna sighed, "I'm deeply sorry, well now that I know I'll try to give you some more time off."

"Ah Tsuna you don't have to" Haru began to counter feeling a touch awkward for reasons she refused to acknowledge about having her old… crush… supporting her relationship with his best friend.

"Nonsense!" Tsuna clapped cutting her off; like a flip had been switched he was suddenly an overenthusiastic with wide doe eyes, "We can even go on double dates, you two with me and Kyoko! Kyoko and I have been looking for another couple to do couple things with, but the only ones we have are Ryo-nii and Hana"

"Hey, what's wrong with me and Ryohei" Hana challenged

Tsuna didn't even answer just gave her look almost to say 'What isn't' before ignoring her seething expression, turning back to them and jabbering on a mile a minute about how happy he was and how great it was they were dating.

Haru pretends she doesn't know what the mild sting she feels at his reaction is

LINE BREAK

"Hahi!" Haru shouts in surprise, rightfully so in her honest opinion

Standing across from her covered in bruises and with a split lip is her teacher Hibari Kyoya

The world itself seems to stop, because nobody repeat NOBODY, beats Hibari freaking Kyoya; not without him being previously injured, exhausted, poisoned, AND severely outnumbered and even then Haru wouldn't bet on your chances.

"Fighting stance Kitten" Hibari says nonchalantly as if nothing happened and he doesn't look like he just went ten rounds with a meat grinder… and lost.

"WHAT HAPPENED TO HIBARI-SENSEI!" she screeches ignoring his instructions

When the man swats his tonfa at her it's almost pathetic how easily she dodges

"SEE, HARU DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO TRY TO DODGE, NOW TELL HER WHAT'S WR-OW!", she cringes as his next swing is nowhere near as sluggish as the last, nearly reaching the speed of his usual swings.

'Monster' she thinks holding her head

"Fighting stance" he repeats gruffly, and reluctantly she holds her questions till at least the end of the spar.

An hour later the both of them are panting for once and Hibari calls off her training

"Will pant, will you tell Haru, gasp, what happened to Hibari-sensei?" she wheezes out, at least she isn't on the edge of consciousness.

The smile that takes over the Cloud's face is just as frightening as she remembers

"A spoiled baby cat" Hibari answers in an extremely satisfied and amused voice

'Why can't he make sense', she thinks with a huff

"Don't you have work to do with the cub?" Hibari asks still amused

Haru's eyes widen, that's right she and Tsuna have to go inspect some restaurant that the Seashell Corporation is thinking of buying for the Vongola. The two of them will be dressed in casual clothes so that the managers won't realize their being inspected, it's the kind of thing that the two of them have been doing more and more often.

It seems her relationship with his best friend is enough to remove whatever lingering awkwardness Tsuna once felt around her, and he's been trying to get close to the one his best friend has claimed as a lover. As the CFO in training for the Seashell Corporation, Tsuna wants her in reach of him as much as Hayato and the three of them are now joined at the hip for most assignments.

She enjoys the extra time with Hayato, she ignores the extra time with Tsuna

"Hahi, that's right, Haru needs to get ready." She exclaims hopping up from the mat, she can't greet Tsuna all sweaty like this

The coughing cackling noise she recognizes as Hibari's laugh only makes her run out all the faster

Haru spends over an hour and a half getting ready

When she meets up with him on the street in front of the restaurant and gives her a cheerful smile she has to stop herself from screaming again.

"What happened to Tsuna-kun!" well at least it was lower than the scream she gave Hibari

The man in front of her is dressed in a classy but not overly fancy button up and slacks with a simple leather jacket over the button up. There's also a white medical patch over his right eye and a band aid over his left eyebrow; and though Haru can't see it she just knows his body has similar bandages as the one around Hibari's torso.

"Nothing" he answers with the same soft smile like absolutely nothing's wrong, "Shall we go inside?"

Haru stares at him blankly wondering if all males were stupid or if they just thought all woman were stupid.

"I promise I'll tell you when were done" he says in a softer voice leaning into her ear so as not to attract the attention of the perky thing approaching them with a menu, "But we got to work now, so wait please"

Burning orange eyes look at her like a whimpering puppy begging for scraps

Haru folds shamefully easily

It occurs to her a few minutes later that the fact that they have to 'work' is little more than an excuse to hold off her questioning. As the meal progresses it becomes clear that there's little official work that they can do other than rate their own experience of the service and maybe inspect the cleanliness of the bathrooms since their supposed to be incognito.

Instead they spend the time catching up like old friends even though they see each other nearly every day, there's still so much she misses when Tsuna has to out his time to so many people.

He makes her laugh with stories of some weirdos he had to entertain in some meeting, or whatever antics the others have been up to when she's not there.

He makes her feel needed when he asks her opinion about some problem he's been having with a Famiglia in another part of the country.

He makes her feel validated when he listens to and even agrees to some of her opinions about some of her own problems she's facing with the idiots who look down on her at the office for her age, lack of mafia heritage, and her own uniqueness in the way she speaks.

They laugh, they sigh, they enjoy good food; somehow neither Hayato nor Kyoko manage to come up in their conversation.

LINE BREAK-

"Argh, what do I do Haru" Tsuna says groaning stretching his arm over his eyes, she thinks that no matter how old they get Tsuna will always be the dramatic little boy she knew in middle school.

There once again hanging out, Tsuna seems to have elevated to some kind of confidant that he can trust with things he doesn't want to tell their mainly male group of friends.

"Suck it up and tell Kyoko to back off" she says flipping through a magazine about theatre, even if she's stopped making her own costumes she hasn't lost the love of it, in fact she's been thinking of suggesting they expand Seashell CO's entertainment section for just this reason.

"I can't say that it will hurt her feelings" Tsuna groans laying his head into her lap, though there's plenty of room on the bench their both sitting on, Haru pretends not to be annoyed

"Why don't you explain why you don't want to move in with her then?" she breathes out and lets the annoyance somewhat fade

"We've been dating for five years, since high school, what possible reason can I have that's good enough not to want to expand on that relationship?" Tsuna asks sarcastically

"Haru doesn't know, what possible reason could Tsuna have to be afraid of moving in with his girlfriend?" she asks back just as sarcastically, but with a slightly colder edge.

Tsuna hears it because he turns his head up to face her with a raised eyebrow

"Do I detect annoyance in your voice Haru?" he asks her in a slow drawl

"Tsuna is crying about how he has commitment issues with her best friend, and that he can't think of a good reason why he doesn't want to be around her."

"If I recall" Tsuna answers back slowly, a touch of cool entering his own voice as he sat up from her lap, "I believe we had a similar discussion not two months ago about my best friend."

Haru cringes at that

"In fact" Tsuna continues with a bit of edge, "it was Hayato wanting you to move in with him that started Kyoko's own little fever."

"That's not Haru's fault, and Tsuna was the one who convinced Haru do agree to it!" she snaps back, not sure why she was so irritated by him throwing that in her face

"Yeah well now I need some convincing" Tsuna said scowling back at her, "But you're acting like I'm some kind of scum for asking, we all have doubts Haru!"

Doesn't she know it

"Well Haru doesn't want to hear them about her friend!"

It was at this time that Hayato would have escalated the argument; sometimes storm and lightning can be a little too compatible, feeding off of each other. When emotions were good, it's incredibly passionate and Haru never even thinks about… when emotions are bad, it's like the worst of storms, tearing apart everything, there are no lines that don't get crossed and it can take days for reconciliation.

Tsuna is a Sky, it's not in his nature, he just accepts whatever she throws at him

After a long moment of giving her a hard stare, orange eyes tearing through her defenses painfully easily, he asks her in a steady tone, "What's really wrong" and just like that the fight is gone and Haru feels herself opening up to Tsuna like she always does.

"Haru found Hayato going through some magazines" she responds

"Well", Tsuna blinks clearly surprised, "Have you… tried looking through them together… I mean Kyoko doesn't, but some couples are into that sort of thin-"

"Not those kinds of magazines Tsuna!" she shouts embarrassed, "Wedding catalogues"

His response isn't quite what she suspects, rather than jumping for joy like she expects, or giving her the 'tell big brother Tsuna you can talk to me' look like she fears, he goes still. Like frozen solid still, and it reminds her of a year ago when her relationship with Hayato came out, and he didn't immediately give his blessing.

"Tsuna?" she asks a little worried by just how still he's being, is he even blinking?

"What have you told him?" he suddenly asks in a voice that says he's trying to sound patient but she can't help but feel it sounds a little demanding

"Nothing he hasn't asked Haru anything" she says back a touch defensively

"What are you going to say then?" he asks in a slow tone

"Haru doesn't know"

"You don't know!?" he screeches

"No Haru doesn't know!" she snaps back weirded out by his attitude, "He might not even ask Haru, it was just a magazine!"

"But if he does-"

"Why is Tsuna yelling at Haru, why does Tsuna even care!?" Haru interrupts him, and she has the oddest nagging feeling of Deja vu

"How could I not!?" Tsuna yells back, and Haru can't help but think this is almost exactly like

"WHEN HAVE YOU EVER CARED ABOUT HARU, HER FEELINGS, HER WELL BEING, HER-"

"I'VE ALWAYS CARED ABOUT YOU!"

No, she shakes her head of the crazy thought, that's not right he has Kyoko

"You two are my closest friends!" he continued unaware of her brief internal strife

"It's just a magazine Mr. 'He-can't-tell-his-girlfriend-of-half-a-decade-he-doesn't-want-to-be-around-her-more-than-he-has-to-be'" she growls lowly and (doesn't) enjoy the way he flinches back with satisfaction

"Haru has to go" she lies after Tsuna remains silent

She pretends she can't feel his eyes burning into her back

LINE BREAK-

"Hibari-sensei" she asks as she cools off on the mat after yet another beating masqueraded as training, she takes the grunt she receives in return as an invitation to continue, "Why do you and Tsuna always look beat up at the same time?"

She doesn't look up from where her head is buried into her knees, after pushing herself to beyond exhaustion after her tiff with Tsuna in this training session, where she was greeted by a bruised grinning Hibari, she thinks she may already know the answer.

"Carnivores need to keep their fangs sharp" he answers in another of his hard to understand metaphors; but she's heard enough of them in the last four and a half years of being his student to figure it out.

They're bruised at the same time, because they fight each other, but Tsuna never goes that far on anyone not an enemy. Which means that Tsuna has to be beyond angry when they fight, and Hibari is the only one that can take that anger.

She used to pretend not to notice that this happens mostly after Tsuna and Haru have a fight of their own.

She's not sure she can pretend not to notice that they only ever fight about their relationships anymore

"Hibari-sensei… why do you always smile like you're excited for a fight whenever Haru mentions her relationships?"

"Because cubs are just baby cats" he answers

"All cats are fickle" he says with a devilish grin that Haru is sure caused the death of a thousand puppies somewhere in the world, "I just want to see a baby cats reaction"

"Idiot, still a cub baby carnivore"

"Four" Hibari corrected with that same odd sadistic smile on his face when he first convinced her to go after Hayato.

She felt and saw the shivers go around the room at the smile; though she noticed the only one who wasn't freaked out but rather annoyed was Tsuna. The younger man that was still a teen sent a scathing glare at her teacher that actually scared her as much as Hibari's smile.

She turns and looks at her teacher with wide eyes as dots slowly connected

"Hibari-sensei, did you-"

"Carnivore cub" he interrupts, but the infliction of his voice is

"Kyoya" a voice greets from the entrance of the room, and Haru nearly jumps at the suddenness of it.

Hibari looks between the two of them for a second as a silence permeates the air and neither one of them even acknowledges each other, then without care just turns and walks out of the room.

'Thanks a lot Hibari-sensei'

There's a long silence and Tsuna shuffles on his feet in a way she hasn't seen in years

"Sooo, I guess I should tell you that I told Kyoko I don't want to move in together…or really be together." Tsuna said awkwardly, Haru doesn't answer, "I guess you were right about me being afraid of commitment."

Haru still doesn't say anything, she can't, she doesn't even know what she can pretend to be feeling

"I guess I should also stop beating around the bush and apologize for jumping down your throat about some dumb magazine" he continues taking a hesitant step forward, before taking it back when her eyes track the movement, "I don't know, I guess my… instincts, were screaming at me and I confused it with intuition, though if you're questioning Kyoya it's pretty obvious it wasn't intuition talking but… but my"

"Hayato asked me to marry him an hour ago" she interrupts

"…ah" Tsuna spoke and there's a tiny sway to his legs before he stumbles a bit forward and slides down to sit next to her, "I guess you guys really do keep these things close to the vest, I really didn't know"

"…"

"…"

"…um, you don't have to answer, but considering I'll kind of find out anyway, um, how did you… uh"

"Haru said she needs to think about it", she sat her head back on her knees remembering what drove her to asking for an extra training station.

Haru was Lightning, she was hard, she could take a lot, she didn't think she would be able to pretend the look on Hayato's face when she said that wouldn't haunt her for a long time.

"…oh…"

"Oh"

"…"

"…"

"…I suppose this is a bad time to tell you I'm desperately in love with you, painfully jealous of your relationship with my best friend, just broke up with yours out of jealousy, and am disgustingly kind of happy right now."

"It's a terrible time Tsuna"

"Yeah"

Her eyes are burning

"Haru kind of hates Tsuna"

"Yeah, Tsuna kind of hates Tsuna right now too" he sighs running a frustrated hand through his hair

"Haru gave up so much for him to decide that he wants her now" she cries

"…I know" he whispers

"She trained until she was sick, she gave up her old dreams, she put her life in danger" she sobs

"I'm sorry" he says tentatively placing a hand on her shoulder, when she doesn't pull away he pulls her into a hug.

"She broke her own heart over and over and now she's breaking other peoples because Tsuna couldn't pretend for just one more day, because Tsuna felt jealous!" she sobs hysterically

"I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry Haru" he whispers kissing her forehead as he wraps her up tighter in his arms

"Tsuna is an indecisive, petty, selfish boy and Haru doesn't know what she ever saw in him"

"I know, I'm sorry, I'm sorry I'm like this, I'm sorry I was such a little brat back then, I'm sorry that I can't seem to mature in the only ways that matter, I'm sorry I hurt you so much Haru" he says pulling her tighter, "and… and I'm so sorry that... I don't even have the decency to feel sorry about my feelings, because… I love you Haru Miura. Your weird accent, your strange love of clothes, your stubbornness, the way you take on so much, the way you always stay by my side no matter what I pretend not to see, and I'm sorry I can't be a more worthy man, I'm so sorry that I give you my feelings anyway, I'm sorry."

Haru for her part said nothing just sitting in the one place she always wanted to be, in Tsuna's arms while he whispered sweet nothings to her, at the one time she never wanted it.

"…"

"…"

"…"

"…Haru supposes this a bad time" she says in a croaky voice and can tell she has his full attention, "to tell Tsuna she's never stopped loving him, that's she's waited for him for four years using his best friend as a replacement and a way to stay closer to him, and that she is disgustingly kind of happy right now."

"…Yeah" he says but she can hear the smile in his voice, "It's a terrible time Haru"

"Haru knows, but…"

"Yeah, but…"

When she looks up to his face she only has just a moment to see pained yet unbelievably happy burning orange eyes, before she is distracted by the warm moist feeling consuming her lips that send volts of electricity up her skull, down her spine, and down to her curling toes.

It's a terrible time but…

The kiss breaks and Tsuna blinks at her with warm dazed eyes

"Wow" he says, and she smiles

Haru really can't bring herself to pretend to care

.

.

.

.Honestly writing Haru is hard and I think it shows, but next to Chrome she's my favorite