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catch you, catch me

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Tsuna has a secret.

Well, not exactly. Back when it was just him, there'd been no reason to make it a secret because no one was around to know. Tsuna is very, very good at deluding himself into things, but even he can't fight the combined power of Gokudera's feverish loyalty and Yamamoto's easy-going persistence—he's not alone anymore, and his friends are here to stay.

Quite frankly, Tsuna wouldn't have it any other way. Which is why the first thing he does upon accepting this is shove the entirety of his magical girl anime collection to the back of his closet, never to see the light of day again. His manga stays, mostly because there's enough shounen to hide the other stuff.

(So he likes cute and happy slice-of-life—so what? Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a classic and Tsuna dares anyone to say otherwise.

Actually, no, he really doesn't; please don't hurt him, he just wants to enjoy his peace and quiet while it still lasts.)

Over time, Tsuna notices that his manga collection slowly expands with books he doesn't remember buying. The first volume of Puella Magi Madoka Magica appears one day underneath his stack of select Naruto volumes, quickly followed by the second and the third. A following volume of Shugo Chara, which Tsuna had been reading very casually thank-you, pops up not long after. When Tsuna sees the next issue of Young King OURs, which not so coincidentally has the next chapter of Bokura wa Minna Kawai-sou, the manga that Tsuna had spent several nights binging underneath his bed covers, he connects the dots.

Reborn says nothing. It's only fair that Tsuna returns the favor.

They share the magazine. Tsuna reads it at night when he should be sleeping, Reborn reads it who knows when—the only thing he knows is that once he gets home from school, the magazine has been neatly sorted back into his bookshelf, right between the latest issue of Jump and Bessatsu.

Maybe two months ago he would've had a panic attack over Reborn figuring out and adopting his hiding system, but now all it does is make Tsuna feel like he's got a partner in crime. It makes him smile—quickly turned into an expression of horror as Reborn announces it's study time again, Leon a large wooden mallet in his hand.

...So life goes on.

Time doesn't stop for anyone. Reborn's arrival had only accelerated its movement. Tsuna can't go a day without something crazy happening to him; can't put a foot outside without an explosion of some sort going off. It's weird and crazy and scary and how is this even his life.

Sometimes he means it in a good way. A nice way. A I wouldn't trade this for anything sort of way, because this is his family now and he wouldn't have imagined it was possible in a million years. Sometimes, Tsuna feels good about where he is. Confused and Tired with a capital T but good. Glad. Happy.

But not always.

When he's feeling a little more than worse for wear, Tsuna wraps himself up in his blanket, digs through his closet as quietly as possible—which is surprisingly quiet, now, after months of Reborn's training—dodges all the traps lying around the room and heads downstairs with a couple of his favorite DVDs. Depending on how he feels, sometimes he'll go to the kitchen to grab a carton of green tea ice cream. Other times he'll just head straight to the living room TV, knowing he'll just hurl whatever he puts in his stomach into the downstairs toilet.

Sometimes, Tsuna looks at his life—unwillingly—and can only see the bad things. When that happens, he does the next best thing for himself: live in someone else's life, just long enough to trick his body into calming down and sleeping.

The volume's at a low 8 because everyone's asleep, but that's okay. The opening notes of his favorite theme song drowns out the buzzing noises in his head. It's episode 10 of Cardcaptor Sakura Season 1, the episode where she captures the Flower Card, and Tsuna's watched it enough times that he knows it by heart but it's one of his favorites because it's emotional but cathartic at the same time.

He falls into the pace of the episode, curled up with his feet on the couch and his knees to his chest, blanket wrapped around him like he's five again and the monsters will get him if he's not absolutely, 100% covered from head to toe.

Tomoyo, Sakura, and Tomoyo's mom are all having a tea party together when Tsuna hears behind him,

"It's late, Tsuna."

Tsuna looks behind him. He squints a little—hadn't bothered to turn on the lights when he'd come down. Reborn's tiny form is still in his PJs, illuminated only by the glow of the television screen, and he's a small but also distressing sight because Tsuna literally does not think he can deal with anything right now. Things can happen to him all they want but Tsuna can't do anything himself. He's just not up for it right now.

"Mmf," Tsuna says, and turns back to the TV.

He thinks, Reborn will definitely hit him. Reborn will hit him because Reborn is callous like that; he'll rush in guns blazing and mallet swinging and destroy Tsuna's carefully constructed safe place, because that's just what he does—he doesn't feel and he doesn't care and will push and push until Tsuna breaks, then push some more.

Tsuna buries his hands in his blanket and clenches, bracing himself for it.

But Reborn never does.

Tsuna glances over out of the corner of his eye. Reborn takes a seat on the cushion beside him, expressionless as always. He doesn't move and he doesn't speak and finally, Tsuna relaxes his fists.

Sports Day comes. The parents race. Sakura panics when a storm of flowers make an endless rain over the school, but eventually, she figures it out. The Flower Card gets captured and all's well ends well one bouquet of nadeshiko flowers later. The credits roll.

Reborn says, "Next time, watch it in your room. People are sleeping, Dame-Tsuna."

Unsaid is that Reborn sleeps in Tsuna's room, and nothing short of Nono himself calling will make him leave. It's an offer and reassurance all at once.

Tsuna can feel the guilt creep up on him. He hadn't been fair just now.

"Sorry," he says.

Reborn blinks at him, eyes dark and knowing. He turns back to the screen and says blithely, "Mafia bosses don't apologize, Dame-Tsuna."

For once, Tsuna doesn't say he won't be a mafia boss—mostly because that hadn't been what Reborn was saying at all.

He curls his toes in the plush upholstery and says instead, "Thanks, Reborn."

They binge episodes together until three in the morning, when Tsuna's eyelids finally begin to droop and his head's a little quieter.

Just like his manga collection, neither say a word.


—Not to say that it doesn't happen again. If anything, it happens more often: not just on the really, really bad days, but also on the days that Tsuna just needs a break for his sanity. He's too young to turn to alcohol. Magical girl anime is just the next best thing.

"Ah, I'm really glad the store didn't sell out of the DVDs," Tsuna says. "Otherwise we would've had to order it."

He peels off the plastic wrapping carefully, enjoying the staticy sensation. Mmm, new DVD smell.

"Hurry up, Dame-Tsuna. I won't let you sleep in tomorrow if you take too long."

Tsuna smiles wryly. "You weren't going to let me sleep in anyway."

Reborn, who had just whipped out a bowl of popcorn from nowhere, smirks. "Well, who asked you to do such illicit deeds so late in the night?"

"We're literally just watching the newest season of Cardcaptor Sakura—and if this is a crime, you're complicit in it too!"

"I'm the World's Greatest Hitman," Reborn says, hopping onto Tsuna's knee and making himself right at home. They'd managed to figure out it's the optimal spot for him, easily in range of any snack while also not inhibiting the view from the bed.

When Reborn doesn't continue, Tsuna says, "And?"

"And you have no right to question me. Hurry up and press play."

Tsuna sighs good-naturedly. He sets the bowl of popcorn within both of their reach and grabs the remote, and soon enough, the familiar voice of Maaya Sakamoto starts off the newest theme song.

Tsuna smiles. Reborn's a warm weight on his lap, the popcorn has an unhealthy drizzle of melted butter that he knows he's going to be forced to work off later, and the only light in the room is the glow of the television screen.

Tsuna might have a secret, but he likes to think that this is Reborn's, too.