lysapadin: pen & ink painting of bamboo against a full moon (Default)
[personal profile] lysapadin
Title: A Year in the Life: Yamamoto
Characters: Yamamoto, Tsunako, Reborn
Summary: In which Tsunako gives Yamamoto a place to stand.
Notes: And here we kick off the grand re-imagining of the Daily Life arc of the manga, with all that entails. Suicidal ideation, genderswap, and the mafia. Part of Choice: The Betrothal Arc. Series Index. General audiences. 2295 words.


A Year in the Life

"You seem like you're in a good mood lately," Tousan noted over dinner one night as Takeshi told him about his day.

Takeshi thought about it, because Tousan didn't tend to make observations like that without cause. "Huh," he said, finally. "Maybe?" He guessed he was in a pretty good mood lately, but maybe he had reason to be—Tomita-buchou was going to have him starting in their next game, and ever since he'd started playing the mafia game with Sawada-chan and Gokudera-kun, she'd stopped spending so much of her time looking sad. So that was plenty of cause for a good mood, wasn't it? "Things have been good lately."

"But not too good," Tousan said, superstitious that way, just in case the universe decided to take notice and even things out again.

Takeshi laughed. "But not too good," he repeated obediently, grinning at the idea that the universe could care so much about what one middle-school student had to say about his own life.

But then again, he thought a couple of days later, holding his arm and sitting in the middle of his teammates' fussing, bewildered by the inexplicable betrayal of muscle and tendon and bone, then again, Tousan was really smart sometimes—it was good to be careful, to be modest, to try avoiding drawing too much attention to oneself. Too bad he hadn't taken Tousan's little superstitions seriously enough.

The trip to the hospital, the doctors, and the x-rays all went by in a blur, too loud and too bright for him to pay attention to or focus on. He remembered that Tousan was there, talking with the doctor, and he remembered Narita-sensei, looking more irritated than anything else, and Tomita-buchou talking on the other side of the curtain that partitioned off the bed where Takeshi sat. Tomita-buchou was already talking with Narita-sensei about which teammate they could rotate into Takeshi's spot in the lineup, and it was then that Takeshi stopped listening to anything that was going on around him in self-defense.

Even so, one thing penetrated, and that was the doctor shaking his head and talking about the eight weeks it would take for his arm to heal, plus the months of physical therapy after that to regain full range of motion. Takeshi waited for him to laugh and say that it was a joke, but he didn't.

Takeshi was quiet when Tousan took him home. Tousan let him be, let him skip dinner and go straight up to bed, where Takeshi lay down with his head fuzzy from the pills the doctors had given him before they'd set his arm. The break in it still ached, but it was in a distant sort of way. Takeshi did his best not to think, then, so successfully that eventually he fell asleep still dressed in his gym clothes, which were a real pain to deal with (hah, a pain, hahah) the next morning when Tousan woke him for school and made him late for school.

Not-thinking had worked for him while he was at home, but it didn't work so well at school, because everyone looked at him there, but not the way he was used to. They were looking at him like they felt sorry for him, like they were disappointed that Namimori was going to have to rely on Nagai-kun in his stead. Nagai-kun was a great guy and all, but he wasn't Takeshi and everyone knew it. Once or twice Takeshi heard someone say, "What a waste," and that made his gut clench because it wasn't like he was dead yet. His arm was broken, but it was going to heal and be as good as new. The doctors said so, and they wouldn't lie about something like that.

Takeshi did his best to concentrate on that and the day's lessons, but focus eluded him. Everything was all tangled up in the painkillers that didn't really kill his pain so much as wrap his brain up in a fuzzy haze that made it hard to focus on the teachers' lessons or his classmates or taking notes.

Not, he thought vaguely, that there was going to be much worth caring about if he didn't have baseball.

It was funny, or should have been funny, how everyone treated him like he was already over, like he was already washed-up and done at the ripe old age of thirteen. Like he really was already dead. For pity's sake. It made him want to do something, he didn't even know what, yell or scream or something, but instead he took his painkillers at lunch time and then drifted upstairs toward the roof, leaving his bento still sitting inside his desk. He had the ill-formed thought that it would be quieter up there, with fewer people to stare at him and look sorry that their pet baseball star had ruined his arm.

Great, he couldn't even escape the voices in his head. Takeshi made a face and ambled over to the sunny eastern wall of the roof, where he could look at the sports fields. That was where the guys from the team would be eating lunch, wolfing it down before hitting the field for some practice. Nagai-kun was probably down there right now, enjoying his good luck.

The chain link fence that ran around the perimeter of the roof creaked under Takeshi's fingers; he blinked at it, a little surprised by its protest. But the fence was old and kind of rusty, pretty flimsy now that he was looking at it. And this was supposed to keep accidents from happening? Geez. Like that could stop anyone who was feeling determined. Heck, even a guy with a bad arm could probably get around a rusty old fence like this one. All he'd have to do is put a foot here, and grasp there, and—

"There you are."

Takeshi blinked at his hand gripping the fence in front of him, coming back from that strangely abstracted place inside his head, and loosened his grip. When he had eased his foot free of the fence and turned around, he saw that it was Sawada-chan who'd hailed him. "Oh," he said. "Sawada-chan."

She was looking at him—no, she was looking at him and the fence both, and something was moving across her face. Which was kind of strange, really, because she was usually pretty good at hiding what she was thinking, just like he was. It was one of the reasons he'd always felt a sort of strange kinship with her. She was on the outside, too, in her own way. "So this is where you've been," she said, after a moment. Her voice was strange. Tight. "Reborn says you're being a bad bodyguard. You forgot to stop by this morning. I had to walk to school by myself, except for Reborn."

Oh. The mafia game. Right. He'd forgotten about that. About promising to make up for Gokudera's trip out of town. About—a lot of things. Takeshi cleared his throat. "Don't think you need a bodyguard with a bad arm," he said, trying for something like a joke, something like his normal self.

He didn't think it had worked; Sawada-chan looked at him, looked past him, and frowned. "That's not—that's not the point." Her voice was still funny, too tight and high.

She understood, Takeshi thought, even though he was a little fuzzy in his own head about what it was that she understood, exactly. But she knew why he was here. He could tell, looking at her eyes.

Sawada-chan had spent a lot of time on the roof, too, he remembered suddenly, and wondered whether she'd ever noticed how pathetic the safety fence really was.

Something seemed to occur to her after a moment, and she took a breath. "You're supposed to be my bodyguard." Maybe she was trying to sound light-hearted, but her voice shook just a bit. "You swore to it, remember? Your life for mine." She folded her arms across her chest, pulling herself up and frowning, and despite the uncertainty in her voice and the joking, there was something there, something in her that pulled Takeshi's spine straight in response. "Don't you think it's a little early for you to be slacking off?"

"My arm—" Takeshi began, even though something was already easing inside of him, because there was still a place for him, something he could still do. Someone who still needed him.

"Is going to be fine, right? Soon as it heals. That's no excuse for being lazy." Sawada-chan frowned harder. "Or did you not mean your oath? I don't think it's a good idea to go making oaths if you don't actually mean them. I'm pretty sure I could have you shot for that."

"No. No, I… meant it. Sorry." Takeshi came away from the safety fence, breathing easy for the first time in twenty-four hours. "I got distracted."

"I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to do that, either," she said, almost breathless, like she'd been running hard. Or was relieved. Takeshi smiled for real for the first time since yesterday afternoon, because he'd always suspected that Sawada-chan could get sarcastic when she was pushed to it. It was nice to see that he'd been right.

"Sorry," he said. "I won't do it again."

Sawada-chan gave him a long look. "Make sure you don't," she said. She gestured at a sunny spot over by the stairwell, away from the edges of the roof. "I'm hungry. You?"

He wasn't, really, though he was supposed to have eaten something with his meds. Whatever. "I'll just keep watch," he said, falling in with her as she headed over to sit down.

"That works, too," she said, unfolding her bento.

Which, yeah, Takeshi thought, it kind of did.

Later that evening, well after he'd seen Sawada-chan home, Reborn surprised him by dropping in via the window of his bedroom. "So," he said, standing right in the middle of Takeshi's homework while Takeshi blinked at him. "You've decided to be Tsunako's bodyguard."

The way he said it sounded serious. Takeshi straightened up like he did when Tousan had decided that it was time for a life lesson. "Yeah, I guess I have."

Reborn gave him a long look, like he was measuring him against something and trying to decide whether he was going to come up to standard. Takeshi supposed he must have, because Reborn nodded, the gesture strangely curt in someone who looked like an infant. "There are things you should know, then," he announced. "For one, she's not going to marry you."

What? Oh. Takeshi reached up with his good hand and rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. "Ah. That was kind of a joke, actually. I'm not—Sawada-chan really isn't my type, you see." Really, really not his type. Maybe if she'd been a boy. Well, maybe.

Reborn didn't seem particularly moved by that. "Make sure she continues not to be your type. She's promised to someone else. Joking about marrying her will get you shot."

Not, Takeshi thought, a joke. Not like it had been when Sawada-chan had said it. Well. Okay. It really wasn't a problem, so he put it to the side. "All right."

Reborn eyed him, then smirked. "Good. You're going to need to be able to fight," he said. He produced a baseball bat through some kind of magic that was frankly far more interesting than either the bat itself or the thing he'd said about fighting. He ignored the question when Takeshi asked him how he'd done that. "Tell me, have you ever thought about the sword?"

Takeshi guessed that idle speculation about Tousan's kendo hobby didn't really count, so he shrugged his good shoulder. "Not really." He glanced at the bat and then at Reborn. "Not that it matters, right? Broken arm, remember?" It almost didn't hurt to say it.

"Never mind that." Reborn pinned a look on him, piercing. "If it came down to her life or yours, would you fight for hers?"

It was a stupid question, but Takeshi guessed that Reborn must not have been around to see Sawada-chan talk him back from the edge by giving him a place to stand and belong. How would he know? "Yes," he said. "I would."

"Then you'll need this." Reborn rolled the baseball bat across the desk. "As to the other…" The pacifier resting against his chest began to glow, yellow as the sun in a child's drawing. "It won't do her much good if you're injured, I suppose."

"You're not really a kid at all, are you?" Takeshi said, fascinated by this new mystery. Reborn smirked at him. "What are you?"

"That has no bearing on this," Reborn told him, reaching out and laying a hand on Takeshi's sling. "Hold still, this is going to hurt."

And he wasn't lying; whatever it was that the glowing pacifier and hand he'd laid on Takeshi were doing hurt like crazy. Takeshi gritted his teeth and did his best to breathe through it as bone ground against bone, the fierce ache of it throbbing in time to his heartbeat and the sweat beading on his forehead, until Reborn took his hand away and it eased. "That should help," Reborn said. He fixed a frown on Takeshi. "If you blow off your duties again, I will shoot you."

He hopped out the window while Takeshi as still clutching his arm and breathing through his teeth, and was gone before the last thing he'd said had even begun to sink in.

Takeshi, hunched over and breathing hard, stared at the bat Reborn had left behind. Then, even though there was no one around to see it, he began to smile.


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