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Defender

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

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Summary: "Apologize to Gokudera-san right now!" It's those words that save him. Out of everyone in the world to defend his honor... Gokudera is surprised that it's Haru.

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(A/N: Hello again! Thank you for tuning in for chapter three!)


"Haru-chan, your hair is so pretty today!" Compliments Hitomi, one of the girls from their class as everyone enjoys their lunchtime. She's a stocky kind of girl, with dark brown hair going just past her shoulders. She's a shy individual, the kind that is attracted to people who are out going like Haru. However, she's one of the few students that Hayato finds bearable.

Just barely.

Which doesn't say much because the only other person Hayato finds bearable is Haru.

Hayato, who has the unfortunate circumstance of sitting next to said girl, is annoyed by the other boys and girls that surround her desk. Today, she decided to curl her hair to "change it up" as she so claims. Hayato doesn't tell Haru that he saw her this morning and how the disappointment on her face was so evident when Tsuna didn't acknowledge the difference about her. Instead, the brunet focused all of his attention toward her friend, Kyoko.

'If they can even be called friends at this point.' Hayato tells himself as he leans back on his chair, one foot on his desk. The Italian mafioso isn't blind. Ever since the start of the school year, Haru has been growing a little more and more distant with the other members of the Vongola Famiglia. To be fair, though, it's not really her fault. He knows that she tries to hang out with them but Haru has become the vice president of their student council so she has a lot of duties to uphold. Haru was also their class representative, she had signed up for gymnastics again, and was ranked #2 in their grade (just under him). She was also, very popular in their class and throughout the entire school, with a lot of people wanting to befriend her. Haru, the ever kind girl she was, always tried to make time for the friends in her class, as well as from others.

Being together for just under two months has forced Hayato acknowledge some things he never would have bothered to try to know about her. Like, how Haru is actually a really hard worker. She's kind and considerate of those who need help and is a very dedicated individual, always keeping her word when she means it. She is also a very studious person and is more than the air-headed girl he thought she was before. Hayato spares a glance her way and see's one random classmate attempt to get close to her.

"You know Miura-chan, maybe you and I can get together later and study by ourselves." The outlandish comment comes from an admittedly good looking student from their class. He gives Haru a foxy smile which she doesn't acknowledge.

"Sorry, I have plans later today with the student council. Maybe another time?" She smiles cheerily at him before giving her attention to Hitomi and the others. The guy deflates and dejectedly walks back to his desk. The silver haired teen snorts in satisfaction and humor, a smile teasing the corner of his lips.

'Maybe she's still that air-head.' Laughing to himself, Haru catches the sound and looks at Hayato.

"What's so funny, Gokudera-san?" Asks Haru, leaning towards his desk from hers. The teen in question watches as a few people around her give him a side glance before returning to their seats as well. He frowns a bit then.

"It's... Nothing." He replies, though hesitant. "Geez, stop bothering me and leave me alone. Stupid woman." He mumbles under his breath so that she, and anyone else, won't hear him. Haru pouts at that and before she can say anything to him, Hitomi asks if she is free to go to karaoke with everyone after her duties. Haru's soft, gray eyes light up with delight and immediately agrees.

"Gokudera-san, want to come too?" Asks Haru, once again, giving her attention to her seatmate. The boy tenses at the question, shifting slightly in his seat to get more comfortable. When he sees Haru, he can tell that she means no ill-will for him. It actually seems like she really wants him to come. However, a cough from another girl by Haru's side catches his attention. Hayato grows hyper aware of the stares that his classmates give him. All filled with uncertainty and reluctance.

Though it seems like their class has slowly started to accept him, it's times like this which remind Hayato that that's really not the case.

Sighing, he shakes his head. "No, I'm good. I'll be out with Juudaime and the others." Haru freezes up at the title he uses for Tsuna. Her cheerful (and hopeful) demeanor fades a bit, her smile growing smaller. Wordlessly, she nods that she understands and turns away.

He can't help but feel a little bad for her, mentioning his boss when he knows what happened earlier. 'Maybe... That was a little bit of a low blow.' He thinks, his eyes unwavering from the girl beside him. For the remainder of the lunch period, Haru chats animatedly with their classmates but it's only Hayato who knows that she's forcing herself to stay happy. Knowing that he was the cause of it...

Leaves a dirty taste in his mouth.

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During free period, before anyone can snatch Haru's attention, Hayato asks for her to meet her a little ways outside the classroom. Picking a hallway that's not overly crowded, he has Haru wait for a moment. He can see the question in her eyes, wondering why he has pulled her away. Shuffling his feet and clearing his throat, Hayato sucks in a deep breath. "I'm sorry." He breathes out, the words feeling foreign on his tongue.

"Hahi?!" Exclaims Haru, definitely feeling shocked. Embarrassed by her reaction, a tiny blush forms on his face. Soon, Haru grins. "Say that again, Gokudera-san? I don't think I heard that right!" She teases, giggling.

"Grr..." Clenching his fists, Hayato feels his ire already rising. He takes a moment to breathe in and out before focusing onto her again. "I... Am not going to say it again." He boldly states. Rolling her eyes, Haru can't help but to laugh quietly. Clasping her hands behind her back, the older girl leans forward, closer towards her friend.

"And what, pray tell, made the big, bad Gokudera-san apologize to little ol' me?" Questions Haru, curious. Hayato glances away, unsure of what he should tell her. Luckily enough for him, though, Haru is a perceptive girl and remembers their slight conversation from lunch time. "Don't tell me that you're apologizing to me for hanging out with Tsuna-san and the others?" She asks with disbelief.

Hayato replies with a tiny flinch.

"Oh, Gokudera-san. It's okay. Y-You don't have to apologize for that." She assures him, raising her hands and waving them before her. "I know you would prefer to hang out with the others anyways." Her voice changes pitch near the end of her sentence. It tells the Storm Guardian that there is something else she wants to say.

"What is it?" He asks, prying a little bit. Haru gives him a nervous smile.

"It's just... Well, I just wish that..." As she talks, Haru happens to look out the window and abruptly stops speaking. A look of horror flashes on her face before she looks down to the floor. "Mmm..." She whines. Wondering what had made her show such a reaction in front of him, Hayato also looks out the window and tsk's at the sight.

Down onto the playfield, Tsuna's class must be having P.E. and from where the two are standing, it gives them a clear view of how he is holding Kyoko's hand, the latter blushing at his touch. Even from afar, anyone could see the soft aura around them. The two look smitten with each other. While some part of Hayato is happy that the Juudaime is finally making a move on Kyoko, to search for his happiness, the other...

Verdant eyes slowly move to Haru who remains quiet. Her small figure looks even smaller and the hands she has now placed on her side, they're tightly closed and shaking. Hayato, not knowing how to approach her, scratches the back of his head nervously.

'This is really awkward.' He gulps, coughing into a fist. "Umm..." He tries to begin and fails once he hears her sniffle.

Haru, afraid that she is making her friend uncomfortable, quickly brings a sleeve to wipe at the corner of her eyes. Looking up, she flashes him a smile. "We should get to class, huh?" She suggests, anything to rid the atmosphere that she is sure is suffocating him.

"Y-Yeah." He agrees. Giving a cheery sound of joy, Haru walks past him. "Wait..." He grabs at her wrist and turns her around. "Look, about earlier. I saw what happened when you tried to have Juudaime notice you." She cringes heavily at the memory from this morning. Hayato sighs. "I just... Look, I know we don't usually get along. But... Everyone in class is right."

"What do you mean?"

"Your hair..." He points to the curls that still look as tight as ever. "It does suit you. You should do it more often." He ends that sentence with a faint blush.

Haru's eyes widen and immediately, she feels deeply touched by Hayato's out-of-character response. Placing her free hand to her heart, she nearly swoons. "Oh, Gokudera-san... That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." He watches as Haru laughs and can't help but to smile too.

"That's better." He says out loud.

Confused, Haru tilts her head. "What's better?"

'It's better when you're happy too.' He thinks of saying those words out loud but decides against it. Instead, he stuffs his hands in his pockets and begins to walk leisurely back to class. "Come on, stupid woman. Class is going to start soon." He calls back for her. It's a lie, they both know. Free period is at least in the half-way point. Haru frowns but shrugs her shoulders anyways, walking to match his pace. When beside him, she pokes his arm.

"Are you going to elaborate on that earlier?" She questions, poking him again.

"Keep poking me, and I'll pinch you again." Retorts the Storm Guardian.

Blowing a raspberry, Haru rolls her eyes and begins to scold him. "Geez, Stupidera. You really have a way with woman." She mocks. He chuckles.

"I don't see any woman." Teases Hayato. Haru replies with a smirk curling on the corner of her lips.

"You may call me stupid, but as far as I know, I'm the only one you acknowledge as a woman." She snickers at the sudden gobsmacked look that crosses Hayato's face. He then begins to stutter. Amused, Haru grins. "Oh? Cat got your tongue, Gokudera-san?" She flips her long hair while laughing evilly and walks ahead of her friend and enters the classroom first.

Rooted in his spot, Hayato stares at the spot where Haru disappeared into. He's in disbelief that Haru had made such a comeback at him and wracked his brains for any other given time he may have called a female a "woman." 'Let's see... Bianchi? ... No, no way. Chrome? No, I haven't called her a "woman" either. Shitt P?' Hayato wrinkles his nose at the thought. Yeah, he's never called her a woman either.

Just a freak.

'Yuni? Anyone else I know? Sasagawa-san?' The thought of her somehow annoys the hot-headed young man and he shakes his head. 'No, she's just a bitch.'

Hayato, after thinking about it for a good while, comes to the utter realization that Haru is right about him. He can feel a familiar heat on his face, coming to facts with what she had said. "Grr..." Assuming what he thinks is anger, Hayato stomps back inside class and is ready to tell her off.

Only, Haru is now crowded with students. Missing his chance, he goes to his seat, ignoring some strained looks that others stare at him with. As he plops down, he catches Haru glancing at him. It may just be him, but the smile she shows him seems a little brighter, a little warmer, and a little more sincere than the one she uses with their other classmates.

Th-thmp.

The Italian born mafioso sighs. 'I'm just thinking too much.' Running a hand down his face, Hayato brings out his phone, doing his best to ignore the crowd beside him.


(A/N: What's this? Gokudera is beginning to have a soft spot for Haru!? Also, I previously changed the last chapter where he interacts with Sana. I made it so he does not address her as a "woman" at all and instead, a "pest." Lol.)