Gokudera's Defender

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Disclaimer: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn! in any way or fashion.

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Summary: "Please... Just stop, stop crying. Please." Gokudera isn't worth the tears that are falling from Haru's face. He doesn't deserve them but Haru's heart disagrees. Gokudera is definitely someone who deserves to be protected.

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(A/N: This takes place after Haru tries sticking up for Gokudera in front of their class.)


When he finds her hiding behind the bleachers at their school, Hayato is aghast at the sight of her well being. Thick tears roll down Haru's cheeks, dripping heavily from her face. With pink, swollen eyes and a runny nose she defiantly tries to hide behind the sleeve of her blazer, Hayato is struck with guilt at the sobs that escape from her lips. An uncomfortable stir resounds in his heart and the only thing he can do right now is scratch the back of his neck, feeling completely unsure.

"H-Haru..." He starts off gently, taking a step closer to her. The older girl just continues to sniffle, patting at her cheeks. Whimpers of sadness is all that fills the air around them and the Storm Guardian is desperate to be rid of them quickly. Clearing his throat, the Italian teen steps close enough to Haru that she's within arms reach. "Please stop crying." He pleads gently. "Stop. Please stop crying."

If anything, this makes her cry a little more.

"Haru, I'm not worth your tears."

And it's true. This he strongly believes to be so. The reason Haru is crying so hard right now is because of the way their classmates have treated him. The way the teacher and the rest of the school staff have treated him. How terrible they are to him. Once she saw and realized it, she had defended him then and there in their classroom. He remembers Haru's face turning bright red from anger for him and how beautiful she was when she stood up for him.

"Apologize to Gokudera-san right now!"

Those are the words she shouted. Those are the words he didn't know he needed to hear. Hayato didn't know it then, but looking at the crying girl now, he realizes that she saved him.

However, people are more cruel than Hayato gives them credit for. Haru's bravery for standing up for him didn't last long before students started clamoring against her, the teacher included, and verbally abused her in front of him. Saying mean, terrible things about her, claiming injustices against her character. Calling her a know-it-all, a stuck-up, a loser, a weirdo, a freak... It was more than Haru could take before she burst into tears and ran out of the classroom.

Hayato had been next to her the whole time, unable to do anything.

'More like you didn't even try to do anything the whole time.' He berates himself, clenching his fists tightly closed in self-anger. If he were being honest, Hayato never thought that Haru would ever have gotten mad for his sake. She spends so much time being mad at him that when she shouted at everyone for him, it took him by complete surprise. 'That doesn't mean anything though, idiot!' One more look at Haru, and Hayato feels terrible for not doing anything to help her. Not when she needed someone, him, the most.

That's why he's not worth her tears.

"Please... Just stop, stop crying. Please." Begs he, feeling worthless.

Suddenly, small arms encircle around his waist and an even smaller body presses against him. It takes the silver haired teen a moment to realize that Haru is hugging him. The warmth of her embrace emits a small, tender feeling of affection from his heart. Though he can still hear her crying and that he still feels guilty, Hayato's body moves on its own and traps Haru within his own hug. He holds her fiercely against him. "Please stop crying Haru. I'm not worth it." He tells her, sincere in those feelings.

He feels her shake her head against his chest. Sniffling, Haru brings a hand to rub at her eyes before holding him tightly again. Tip toeing, her lips find their way to his ear and in a soft tone, whispers, "You are though. You're really worth it."

Hayato thinks his heart stops. Pulling away from her, his brows furrow close together. "No, I'm not."

Haru looks back at him, a rebellious glow in her gray eyes. She scolds him shortly after. "You are Gokudera-kun. I'll fight anyone who says you're not worth crying over, o-or fighting for. The teacher, our classmates, Yamamoto-san, Kyoko-chan, Tsuna-san even! I'll even fight you too!" Haru speaks with such passion and assurance, he's nearly blown away. Then he remembers her running out of the classroom, her tiny shoulders shaking. Just as Hayato opens his mouth to say something, Haru uses both hands to cover his lips.

She glares at him. "Don't," her voice shakes, "don't tell me you're not worth it. Because I have already decided that to me, you are." Hayato feels his eyes widen at the conviction in which the confession was whispered in. His heart, maybe, even thumps a little bit weirdly too. The boy watches closely at how Haru sucks in a deep breath, as she takes a moment to gather her thoughts, before continuing. "It was wrong of them to treat you like that Gokudera-san." She refers to their teacher and class. "I'm actually sorry I noticed so late."

Haru shakes her head and looks down. The boy thinks she's about to start crying again. "I'm sorry." Repeats Haru, looking back up with him, a wet smile on her face. "You're nothing short of amazing and talented. And if they can't see past your tough exterior, then that's their fault. But that never gives any of them the right to talk bad about you, to threaten you, to use someone like me as a leverage against you." Haru's lips purse at the thought, disgusted by her class' actions. "And don't worry about me, honestly Gokudera-san."

Slowly, Haru moves her hands from his lips and cups his entire face between them. "I'd do it again. You're always protecting the family. Protecting me. I've always noticed and I never tell you how grateful I am to have you as a friend but I really am. Grateful, I mean." Despite the earlier sadness, Haru giggles and Hayato thinks it's one of his more favorite sounds right now. "You've made school fun for me again. You've become such a precious person to me, I can't bear the thought of anyone hurting or taking advantage of you."

Despite himself, Hayato chuckles. "Dumb woman." He says with no real intent to insult. "I don't need you to protect me." She pinches his cheeks then. "Ow!" Fully pulling away from her, the hot headed teen rubs the sides of his face. "What the fu—I mean, what was that for?!" He scowls.

"Just because you don't need protection doesn't mean you don't deserve it." She snaps.

This startles Hayato as he immediately stops moving. A blush rises to his cheeks before stuttering. "Wh-What did you say?" Again, his heart is doing those weird skips.

"I said, you deserve to be protected." States Haru. She sighs and goes in to give him a hug. He doesn't stop her. "I know you're a 'mister tough guy' and all but even a tough guy needs protecting once in a while." She mumbles into his chest. "I hope in the future, you'll rely on me more. I know I can't protect you much physically..."

He begs to differ. Haru's hugs do amazing things.

"...but if there's one thing I can do, it's protect your heart. I'll definitely, definitely always protect that for you." She squeezes him. "I promise."

Hayato sucks in a huge breath and suddenly it's hard to breathe. The boy needs to take huge gulps of air just to feel he can breathe easily because there's a sudden lump in his throat. His vision quickly becomes blurry and that's all it takes for him to know that he's crying. The words Haru said to him affects him so much in such a strong way, he doesn't know what to do. All he knows is that his heart is warm with tender affection and something else that he doesn't quite understand. Haru must know though because he feels her lean in to give him a warm kiss on the cheek before returning to embrace him.

Tears spill over her shoulders. Haru doesn't mind the slightest because she lets him. She lets him lean over her so she can support him. "It's okay Gokudera-san. I'm here." Her hands rub over his back in a soothing manner. "I'm here, I promise."

Always.

That is not a word said but it's one he feels.

Hayato doesn't know long he cries for, only that when both he and Haru are ready to go, school is just about finished. The two of them sat close to each other, not saying a word. Which was more than enough for Hayato because Haru has told him everything he needs to know. Her words have been on repeat in his head and he's grateful for her too. Because when he thought he didn't need protecting, she went and did it anyways.

Today, she did more than protect him.

Haru saved a part of him which he didn't know needed saving.

The thought of being back to school tomorrow, seeing those same kids and teachers, didn't seem as dismal as usual. Not when he knew there was someone willing to be by his side, through thick and thin. Turning his head, Hayato looks down at Haru who's head is leaning against his shoulder. "Are you ready to go?" She asks, not looking up. Her voice sounds drowsy and Hayato can't help but laugh.

"Were you sleeping?" He questions.

"Mm... No?" Her reply is more of a question and Hayato laughs again. He brings a hand up to ruffle her hair. This earns him a grunt but nonetheless, the two begin to sit up and get ready to leave. Haru surprises him one more time that day. She grabs his hand in hers without saying a word. Hayato doesn't comment about it either but there's a strange heat the spreads throughout his cheeks. He stifles a cough behind his free hand. "Are you ready, Gokudera-san?" Asks Haru.

"Um, yeah." He answers, feeling a bit flustered that she still hasn't let go. Instead, Haru looks over him one time before smiling. She pulls them away from the bleachers and Hayato's green eyes can't help but wander to their hands. Still joined together, he smiles at how much smaller her hands are than his. 'Such a tiny person.' He thinks, the smile on his face growing. He squeezes her hand. 'Thanks.'

She squeezes back.


(A/N: And that's the end of that. This is a one-shot dedicated to my idea that Gokudera and Haru are in the same class and everyone from their class treats him like shit. I actually have a short, multi-chapter story dedicated to that plot but you know... I don't want to publish it until I'm done with it. Here's hoping I finish it! Hope you guys enjoyed this read, please review!)