Many years later Killua cannot remember who the precipitant was – no one special, just another small-timer with poor nen and petty ambition and the usual tragedy locked away in his heart somewhere; an inferior fighter who got lucky, once, against Gon. Nothing unique at all about that. It is not possible to count, let alone catalogue, the scars on Gon's skin – no one, living or dead, could tell you the story behind each pale line of tissue. Gon certainly could not; Killua, who cares more, has already blurred the recollections of one battle into another: that arena, that curved sword, that improbable strike. Faces and techniques amalgamate, people pass before them in quick succession and are forgotten, transformed by memory. Every day spent with Gon is different, and yet the same; it is always a day spent with Gon.
So perhaps Killua is confabulating this too, that evening in the hills, after the fight, and Gon lying back on composted earth, blood-soaked bandages wound around his torso. On the west the sun had gone down behind a shadowy mountain, but leftover streaks of gleaming sky still filled the horizon. Killua hugged his knees and watched the fading light, the firewood damp and sending up dark smoke to obscure his view. Against his bare feet the soil was cold, covered with bodies of dead and living insects.
There were moths and a dragonfly and other small, buzzing things flitting around their heads, and as night fell they drew closer to the fire, sometimes too close. Killua observed them burning their own bodies with a detachment borne of familiarity and physical exhaustion, and that frozen relief that one feels upon realising that the centre of one's existence will not, after all, cease to exist; he could never get used to the feeling, despite the frequency with which it had occasion to overtake his body. He has never gotten used to the feeling.
He cupped his hands around a tiny moth blowing past his cheek, trapped it, felt the wings beating within interlaced fingers. Beside him, Gon unpeeled the wrapper off a chocolate bar, the decorated and oversugared kind one gets from vending machines. When Gon bit into it the marshmallow flavour seemed to flood the hillside, even overpowering the smell of smoke and trampled grass; it made Killua hungry but his heart was still full, too full; it may have occurred to him that he could not bear this any longer. But he could, and did.