"Please, stop time, I'm about to cry,

But I'm so happy that I'm about to die!"

Hatsune Miku, Melt

The two bags of flour rested quietly upon outstretched palms, weighing them carefully as bemused eyes tried to find any differences in the bland packaging. After glaring down at the nondescript baking products once more, Tsuna sighed in annoyance, choosing to simply shove one of the objects into his shopping basket and slamming the other back on the shelf without further adieu.

Tsuna's eyes swept across the paper decorated with his mother's neat writing to confirm that he had gotten all of the items listed. He nodded to himself in satisfaction and headed toward the cash register.

The poor teen behind the register looked fairly disgruntled. That, Tsuna knew, was probably because he was the one stuck with the last minute shoppers hurrying to ready supper for their families. Tsuna fumbled with his mother's wallet under the glare that the employee gave him. With shaking hands, he drew out a bill and exact change, and skittered away as quickly as he got his receipt, not wanting to be stuck under that gaze any longer.

As soon as he left the warmth of the supermarket and out the automatic sliding doors, Tsuna groaned. The pitter patter of rain on the asphalt was like a monotonous drumbeat. That stupid weatherman lied!

Finding shelter under the eaves, Tsuna weighed his options. He didn't have an umbrella with him, so he couldn't simply go home nice and dry under one. He could try to wait out the storm, but who knows when the weather would clear up, and Reborn would kill him for taking so much time for just grocery shopping. On the other hand, Tsuna could dash towards home, and arrive soaking wet, and probably with the groceries equally as wet. Reborn would torture him for ruining his coffee beans…

Either way, things weren't looking all too good for him. Tsuna sighed in dismay and stared at the gray clouds, wishing them away with his mind.

It really didn't look like it would clear anytime soon.

Leaning against the weathered wall of the building, he slid down, and wrapped his arms around his head. Ah…He was doomed… There were still so many things that he wanted to do, too. The self-embrace comforted little.

"Oya? And what might be the little Vongola doing?" A playfully inquisitive voice floated from above.

Tsuna, refusing to escape the warmth of his arms, didn't look up. "I'm getting ready to die."

A warm chuckle reached his ears. "And why might that be?"

Tsuna removed his head from his arms to look harshly at the speaker. "Becau-!" His voice failed as his eyes widened and jaw dropped in midword.

"Sawada Tsunayoshi." The blue haired illusionist stood in front of the little heir, smiling smugly at the others distress. He practically purred the others name.

The younger boy pressed himself got to his feet and backed himself up even further into the wall, practically hyperventilating in fear. "Mukuro! What are you doing here!?" Shouldn't you be locked away in some cell far away!

Mukuro gestured with the umbrella in his gloved hand. "Why, I'm enjoying a walk in the rain, of course!" He closed his eyes in mocking contentment, as if taking the time to listen to the melody of raindrops. He opened his heterochromatic eyes and gave the boy a predatory smile. "But the question is, what might you be doing out here?"

"I…"Tsuna's words trailed off as he feebly gestured his bag of groceries.

"Oya, oya. What a predicament you must be in!" The guardian practically hummed. "Last minute shopping for mother, and not an umbrella to preserve it? What a shame!"

Tsuna managed to fix his face into what he thought looked like a glare.

The Cheshire cat grin grew. "And I bet that tutor of yours would be after your hide!" He laughed in mirth when he saw his prey cringe.

"Well, I guess there's no helping it." Tsuna clenched his eyes shut as the illusionist moved his hand toward him. Oh, he wished he hadn't left his gloves at home...

But to his surprise, he felt a warm gloved hand grab one of his own, pulling him closer to the older teen. Tsuna's eyes widened in shock when he realized that Mukuro had just pulled him under the umbrella beside him.


Mukuro gave him a cheeky grin. "I'll accompany you home" His smile turned into a smirk when he saw Tsuna grimace. "Unless you have any objections…"

Tsuna opened his mouth to complain.

"…Sawada Tsunayoshi." The look in the teenager's eyes just dared him to say something.

His mouth quickly shut.

"Good," Mukuro purred, and he gestured with his hand that he was about to walk. Tsuna begrudgingly forced his legs to move, not wanting to escape the umbrella shelter. The mist guardian chuckled when he tripped over his legs a little.

The rain left small puddles that grew larger with time along the road, each with that peculiar smell that rainwater always seemed to carry. Tsuna stared meekly down at his feet as he walked, not wanting to meet the illusionist's eyes. He just knew that his guardian was getting some sort of sick amusement from this. He cringed when he accidentally stepped into a cumbersome puddle, getting some of the water into his shoes. His now wet socks clung to his ankles in the most uncomfortable way…

Nearing a familiar junction, Tsuna looked at Mukuro wondering if the boy actually knew where he lived. He wouldn't put it past him though; Mukuro always knew the creepiest things. But when the older boy made no move to turn, Tsuna hesitantly tugged at the blue-haired guardian's sleeve.

Mukuro looked at him curiously, surprised that Tsuna had tried to make contact with him and gave a nod when Tsuna pointed towards the path to the right with his free hand.

The Vongola boss gently tore his fingers away from Mukuro's wrist, and found his gaze lingering on the slender fingers wrapped lightly around the umbrella's hilt. Were these fragile things really such a dangerous man's? Though, he sneaked a look at Mukuro's face, nothing about him really showed that evil nature that he supposedly carried. There was a melancholic look set in his eyes. That sad expression made Tsuna feel something inside of him break.

Mukuro noticed Tsuna's gaze, and gave him another smirk–forced, Tsuna finally realized- the sorrow still evident in his eyes.

"You're…" The boy began, "not really here, are you?"

The illusionist gave a bitter laugh. "No, dear Vongola, I'm not."

"Then you're…" Tsuna couldn't finish his statement he meekly fumbled with his hands a little.

Mukuro was silent for a moment. "Still stuck in a cold desolate prison, with no light to see, no sound to reach my ears. A silent jail with no escape." Rage replaced the sorrow in his eyes. "A hell where I can't even draw air into my own lungs, a damned purgatory worse than hell! A place where the silence creeps up on you, where the loneliness eats at you, little by little! And," He snarled. "No matter how I busy myself with dreams, that emptiness is always there! That useless, unnecessary need!"

He took a deep breath to calm his anger. He looked away.

Tsuna looked down again, too shocked to form words. And silently, the pair continued to walk under the same umbrella. The sound of rain and the gentle footfalls were the only things heard.

He felt uncomfortable- no, he felt guilty- for bringing up such a thing. He could only imagine what it was like for Mukuro, alone in such a desolate place.

It must be lonely.

Slowly, the brunette reached over and wrapped his hand over the hand holding the umbrella. And shyly, he ran his thumb over the back of the other's hand in a comforting gesture. The older boy was startled by such an unfamiliar gesture, and looked at him with wide eyes.


Mukuro stopped suddenly stopped walking and just stood there for a little while before slipping his hand from under Tsuna's, leaving him with the umbrella in his hand. And swiftly, he stepped out from under the safety of the umbrella, into harsh onslaught of pouring rain.


The older boy lifted his head toward the grey sky. Tsuna watched as water trailed down the older boy's face, washing over his face and mingling with two distinct trails from his eyes, trying to wash away the evidence before the younger boy noticed.

He pretended that he didn't.

The illusionist glided back to his side, and with his sleeve wiped away the rainwater on his face. In one cool motion, he tucked stray hairs that had become plastered to his forehead behind his ear, and plucked the umbrella from Tsuna's small hand, carrying the burden once more. Quietly, he took a small step forward, then another, and the odd pair began walking down the path once more.

Though the earlier silence had been decidedly awkward, Tsuna decided that he liked this one much more. Smiling softly, he reached for his guardian's free hand with his own, and held it loosely in his grasp. Mukuro tilted his head to look at him from the corner of his eye, and Tsuna was glad to see all traces of the sorrow gone. He gave the older boy another warm smile, and Mukuro responded with his own shy smile.

Their fingers entwined, the pair walked at a slower pace than before, as if to lengthen the time that they could share each other's warmth. When Tsuna gave Mukuro's hand a squeeze, to make sure that he was really here and this was all happening, the other responded with his own comforting grasp. Tsuna beamed and Mukuro smiled.

Soon, Tsuna saw the familiar roof of his house come into view, and instead of feeling relieved from the sight of it, a feeling of dread filled him. Dread? Tsuna mentally laughed at the thought. He was walking hand in hand with a convict that tried to possess his body and harm all those he loved dear, under the same umbrella, and instead of feeling relieved at the sight of his safe haven, he felt dread! It was absurd.

But, with each step that he took, he wanted to take two steps back. He really didn't want this to end… But the distance between them and the house continued to dwindle.

In front of the home, Mukuro stopped and rested his gaze on the metallic name plate above the mailbox; his eyes looking down upon the engraved surname melancholically. He tugged lightly at their entangled grasp, leading the smaller boy to the doorstep and stopped when he reached the dry shelter of the eaves. He nodded his head at the door, gesturing for the younger one to go. Tsuna slowly removed his small fingers from the nimble fingers that had dwarfed his, and stepped forward to unlock the door.

He never knew that letting go of a hand could hurt so much.

He rummaged through his pockets, sifting through the lint that had collected inside of them, and made a small sound of triumph when he felt his fingers brush against the small object. When he heard an amused chuckle behind him, he promptly blushed red. Inserting the key into the doorknob, he gave it a little twist and heard a satisfying click. Pushing the door open, Tsuna turned around with a wide grin to invite his companion inside.

His smile faded when his gaze met nothing but empty space. The illusionist had left, probably retreated to his prison after exhausting all of his power.

There was no sudden and overly romantic rainbow that had appeared after the storm, and no suddenly radiant sun and its effulgent rays to greet him from between the clouds.. The rain had continued to pour, and the sound of it dancing across the roof was a constant beating of faint drums. Had it been any other day, Tsuna would have found it depressing, but today he found himself finding comfort in it.

The little droplets that stained the window were the only evidence that he had.

He crawled into the warm covers of his bed and closed his eyes. Listening to the faint melody that the rain played, he silently drifted to sleep. That night, the little heir dreamt of warm gazes and soft smiles, and a faint comforting smell that lingered everywhere.

A hushed voice whispered into his ear.

"Thank you."

A/N: This was originally going to be a Christmas thing, but I kept procrastinating it, so it really didn't work out. I ended up buying Song Summoner: the Unsung Hero, and that dominated my life for a while. The birth of Square-Enix was a beautiful thing!

As for the strange quote at the beginning of this, it's and excerpt from a song that the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku sings. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Vocaloid is a computer program designed to sing. They borrow the voices from various people, voice actors, for the most part, and you are able to play around with the pitch and other things to coordinate with music. An example of a vocaloid's original voice is the all dominating Gackt, who is the base for the vocaloid Camui Gakupo. This guy is just every where! Final Fantasy, Vocaloid…I heard that he'll be a villain in Kamen Rider next year!

We'll it's the end of 2008. All in all, it was a pretty good year for us otaku and japanophiles. Out of all of the new anime out this year, Soul Eater is the one I hold dearest to my heart! But, the coming of 2009 will be wonderful, too! I'm already all hyped up for the anime lineup! Axis Powers Hetaila will be the first up on my to-watch list, on January 24, the series will begin to air as a short animation on the Japanese channel Kids Station. Himuraya Hidekazu, you are a genius! I heard that a second season of Natsume Yuujinchou is scheduled for January. I can't wait! And finally, there's going to be a new season of Hagaren! The new season of Fullmetal Alchemist is coming out in April! My friend, who recently entered the fandom, after many spammages of the Vic Mignogna variety, is going to buy the box set to watch it before it comes out.

I'm going to spend that last day of 2008 eating New Years soba and osechi., and watching this year's Kouhaku, with my family. This years lineup is amazing! Ponyo, ponyo, ponyo~

Happy New Years, everyone! And I wish to you all that this next year will be better than last!