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The Normalcy Game

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Gokudera was starting to get annoyed.

Which in all actuality isn't saying a lot, but still the point was made.

Two months had passed since the whole Arcobaleno trials and everyone had seemed to settle back into some semblance of their own definition of normal.

Lambo was still terror in a cow costume, I-Pin still couldn't see past her own seemingly nonexistent nose. Reborn was determined to continue teaching Tsuna the most dangerous (and seemingly unnecessary) lessons that generally ended with someone in the hospital. Ryohei was forever the unbridled burning passion of Namimori and his sister was none the wiser. And poor Tsuna was still pursuing the Sasagawa girl, while the other woman pursued him relentlessly. Yamamoto continued to be a baseball playing idiot while Hibari and Muruko were the creepy and effective enforcers of the law. Emphasis on creepy. Even Enma and his crew had transferred over to Namimori as full-fledged students, delighting the Vongola's Guardians, especially Tsuna.

Gokudera sighed for the third time in an hour, leaning back against the cushy fabric of his well-worn couch. He figured it had to be around noon and really Reborn had to be almost done with Tsuna's lesson for the day. The bomber had spent the better part of the morning relaxing in his apartment waiting for the 10th to arrive so they could have a guy's day, celebrating the sheer wonder that after all this time they weren't dead. In the aftermath of the last few months everyone could feel how much Tsuna had missed being with his friends as just normal middle schoolers.

That also explained why the source of Gokudera's frustration, who was currently shuffling around in the small kitchen behind him, was present. Gokudera gritted his teeth at the occasional sound of bangs and crashes of dishes held by still unfamiliar hands working in there, trying not to let it rattle him.

Yamamoto had gotten over to his apartment about twenty minutes ago, with one sack full of movies and one full of food in hand. He had greeted Gokudera's frown with a bright smile and held up the food bag with the simple request of, "Can I use your kitchen?"

Gokudera had opened the door marginally wider and stepped back to let the taller teen in without much other than "You know where it is."

There was one thing that seemed to have changed during the past two months and that was Gokudera found that the hatred (or what he had assumed had been hatred at the time) for Yamamoto was nowhere to be found. The fact was he had accepted Yamamoto as both a big part of Tsuna's life and as the Vongola Rain Guardian. And with acceptance came the grudgingly admitted fact that the idiot wasn't so bad. He was loud and he was still far too focused on baseball but he was well meaning and he wasn't as much of an idiot like he let everyone believe. These revelations hadn't hit him nearly as hard as he thought they would have, he had probably already known these truths all along and yet another idea struck Gokudera: he didn't mind the company. Yamamoto had been almost a constant companion for the last month. Before that he claimed he had to take care of some damage control with the baseball team and his father. And Gokudera hated to admit the quiet was a little unnerving without the other teen. Soon after everything had been settled with his other commitments Yamamoto had found Gokudera and with a less than ear shattering laugh he'd asked Gokudera for help with the missed homework. His grades had taken a backseat once baseball and normal hanging out with his friends were back into his life.

In typical fashion Gokudera had told him he was an idiot but that he would help, so he wouldn't embarrass the 10th. With that the two were together most of the week and weekends, talking and studying and pretty soon Yamamoto and Tsuna were becoming more frequent guests at his tiny little flat. Although Tsuna still acted like a guest, Yamamoto had simply slipped into the house like he belonged there just like with everything else he had ever done. The three kids were together again and now they were being the kids they hadn't had time to be since Mukuro had staring knocking out the teeth of the Disciplinary Committee all that time ago.

A cheerful laugh arose from the kitchen as Yamamoto's voice filtered into the living room.

"Hey Uri! Do you want some fish too?"

Gokudera groaned at how overly attached his box animal had become to Yamamoto. Ever since he became a constant presence Uri had stuck to Yamamoto like he was a can of Rain flame covered fish. Yamamoto had seemed to enjoy the prickly cat's attention even coming over just so he could say hey to Gokudera's cat.

The silver haired teen almost missed the next question, not really expecting Yamamoto to address him. "Do you mind if Jirou and Kojirou come out, Gokudera? Uri looks real lonely right now."

Leaning his head back over the couch's arm rest, green eyes caught Yamamoto holding Uri in his hands. He fought to keep the edges of his mouth tilted down. "The cat is playing you Yamamoto. He just wants subjects to terrorize."

Yamamoto just laughed and rubbed under the all too innocent Uri's chin.

"Uri is a good cat and my Jirou loves playing with him."

A hand waved off Yamamoto's denial and he went back to absently staring at the open window. "Do what you want."

Several heartbeats later there was flash of blue as two distinctive animals suddenly came forth from Yamamoto's Rain gear. Another heartbeat later a blue swallow landed softly on Gokudera's head.

"I think Kojirou likes you Gokudera!" Yamamoto called from the kitchen, where if he listened closely he could hear Uri meowing and Jirou playfully barking.

Offering a finger to the bird, which he gladly hopped onto, Gokudera brought the little animal to his face and quirked a lip, "Do you now?"

A chirp was his answer and Gokudera was glad Yamamoto couldn't see him smiling.

Two minutes later Yamamoto was padding into the small living room with a bowl of popcorn in his hand and two glasses of water in the other.

Gokudera raised an eyebrow at the lack of sushi in his hands and Yamamoto simply placed one cup of water on a coaster by the other end of the couch and then passed Gokudera the other.

"Figured we'd wait for Tsuna for the actual food. Until then I figured we could talk, or watch the baseball game I was telling you about yesterday."

He couldn't pinpoint when exactly he had become accustomed to baseball games, but Gokudera figured he'd get used to it or end up destroying his tv whenever Yamamoto was over. It had been a close call for a while but the thought of never seeing another UMA documentary was simply too much for the bomber to bear.

Kojirou flitted onto Gokudera's shoulder and he simply adjusted so the larger teen had room on the couch. They had a routine and they stuck to it pretty well. Of course part of this routine of give and take ended up with Yamamoto sitting a little too closely for his title as a friend and for a while Gokudera hadn't noticed that Yamamoto was getting too close. Both physically and figuratively.

That didn't stop either of them from ending up with Gokudera's feet in Yamamoto's lap, the popcorn bowl sitting innocently on Gokudera's stomach.

And Gokudera had supposed he was thinking about all this stuff with Yamamoto too much, but that's what he did. He thought and he analyzed and then he thought about it some more. Even people were no exception to his mind. Really though, Yamamoto didn't seem to think at all about how close he was to Gokudera or how the silver haired boy was taking it. He still slung his arms around Tsuna and his shoulders, he still held Gokudera back whenever he was about to punch Shitt P. for grabbing his ass (again), and he still took the cigarettes straight out of Gokudera's mouth without a second thought. But there were times, like now, when Yamamoto sat too close, or seemed perfectly fine to have Gokudera's legs on him, or when they were studying when the other would lean in too closely when he was explaining that the Cold War was not called so because it was fought in a cold place, and Gokudera would feel hot gusts of air skim his ear or cheek and again Gokudera would fight away a blush, storing away how he felt and try not to think about what was happening…

It took a popcorn puff hitting him square on the nose for Gokudera to look up at his couch mate.

At the simply confused look on the silverette's face Yamamoto burst out laughing.

The larger boy had tuned slightly, long legs shifting on to the couch, putting both his bony elbows on Gokudera's thighs, faced nestled in one hand, while the other held another piece of popcorn poised and ready for flight.

Irritation crossed Gokudera's face at Yamamoto's smiling face, the grin practically splitting his face in half.

One warm brown eye opened and Gokudera scowled deeper at the mirth radiating from his partner.

"What the hell Yama-"

"Finally got your attention." Yamamoto cut him off happily.

Gokudera crossed his arms over his chest, carefully of the bird still perched there, trying not revert back to his instinct of lunging at his assailant. Although Gokudera had mellowed a little, Yamamoto knew what buttons he could and couldn't push if he wanted dynamite shoved down his pants.

Both eyes trained on him Yamamoto grinned. "What'cha thinking about so seriously Dera?" Gokudera only twitched at the horrid nickname. "You've had a scowl on your face since I sat down."

The little bird chirped and flew off and Gokudera looked away from the eyes staring at him.

"Just about, things." Gokudera tried to let that be the end of the conversation but a laugh told him they both knew that wasn't an answer. Pushing bony figures through his already tangled hair, he tried to put everything into words that would kind of make sense, "Isn't it strange that everything's so…"

He trailed off, not knowing how to finish his sentence. Whatever genius went on inside his head always came out in strange tangled explanations that left his friends staring owlishly at him. Words weren't his strong point.

"Normal?" Yamamoto supplied when he saw the frustrated glint return to the bomber.

Gokudera deflated a little and turned to look at Jirou, who was currently trying to pounce onto Uri's tail that lashed back and forth like an old time cat clock. Another frown began to pull at his lips and he warned, "Oi, your dog's gonna get his face torn up if he does that…"

Another piece of popcorn promptly smacked into Gokudera's forehead and he rounded back on Yamamoto who was grinning triumphantly. "You bastard! What are you doing?"

The baseball player popped a piece into his mouth quickly before pinning Gokudera with another stare, this one screaming for him to pay attention. "Hey, you're gonna get old man wrinkles if you keep making that face." Eyes briefly flashed to his dog before holding Gokudera's gaze again, although there was a grin in his eyes this time. "If he wants to take that chance on Uri, let him. He knows what he's getting into."

And this time Gokudera had a gut feeling that they weren't talking about the two animals on the floor.

But Yamamoto forged ahead, picking up on Gokudera's frustration of doing nothing.

"Gokudera, normal may be boring but it's necessary every now and again. We're about to be 16, not 26. Summer isn't that far away and maybe we are supposed to just have fun for once in our lives. Don't you think?"

The smile on the baseball player's face dropped slightly as he carried on.

"There will be plenty more to do, being friends with Tsuna practically guarantees that. But why don't you relax for a bit? No crazy illusionists, no dark impending future, and no crazy Arcobaleno curse. Just focus on the here and now, on our time with Tsuna and Ryohei and the girls. Just," his eyes darkened a little, which Gokudera typically interpreted as his I'm being serious here look.

"Just focus on me." And something flipped in Gokudera's stomach at the look of this ridiculous boy who insisted upon making the normal, not so normal. Bianchi had once tried to describe her feelings for Reborn to him, and Gokudera had scoffed at her, brushing off the notion as silly and not valuable at all in war. But that had given him a name for what he felt for the boy leaning on his legs.

The piece of popcorn he'd secretly picked up soared through the small distance between them and hit Yamamoto on his forehead. The silver haired boy laughed at the look on Yamamoto's face before he taunted, "How's that for focusing on you?"

They quickly digressed into a full out popcorn war that never quite left the couch, both teens throwing well aimed popcorn at one another, pieces that their animals dove for and ate greedily. And so what if during the war there was another moment of Yamamoto's warm hand on his stomach or Gokudera not so innocently brushing a hip when Yamamoto fell underneath his assault. And they were both guilty of looks that should have never been aimed at one another unless they knew where they were going, and if they were going there together willingly.

By the time Tsuna arrived with an unexpected addition of the Sasagawa siblings, Haru, and Enma the two teens were brushing off the pieces of popcorn stuck to their clothes, surrounded by even more of the salted snack and three animals that were positively stuffed from the war. Tsuna had initially been worried but maybe thanks to his hyper intuition or maybe he had just seen all the signs, he just laughed and pulled through the small apartment, asking what movie everyone wanted to watch.

As everyone made themselves at home Yamamoto stood up, brushing the snacks off his leg and offered a hand in truce. Gokudera accepted and was promptly pulled up and crashed into the baseball player. Yamamoto plucked a final popcorn piece from his hair and ate it while Gokudera tried to scowl at the teen.

And even if he wasn't quite ready to admit it to anyone, least of all the boy who was causing all of this, he at least had a name for what he felt and Gokudera knew he could tolerate normalcy for days like today.