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beat me to the punch(line)

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Kurapika falls into bed without even undressing – work has them dead tired these days, so they take every chance they get to sleep. It’s a bit of an inconvenience for sure, but it feels so good to sleep again. The nightmares – well, they haven’t stopped, but they’ve quieted down. It might have something to do with Leorio’s snoring drowning them out.

There’s a Leorio-sized lump under the covers, but the room is silent so he’s not asleep yet. The two of them are on almost the same schedule, so team naptimes are a common occurrence; at this point Kurapika’s gotten back into the swing of living with Leorio, of dealing with his gross cold feet under the covers and how much he clings in his sleep. Sleeping together finally feels like home again.

Mumbling something almost inaudible in greeting, Kurapika rolls over to smash their face into the pillows. Leorio sighs, sounding content. “Took you long enough,” he says sleepily, tugging on the blankets until Kurapika can comfortably slide under them without having to pick themself up. “Set your alarm?”

“Mmm.”

“I’ll make dinner when we wake up.” Finding out that Leorio could cook is probably the best discovery Kurapika’s made since the group met back up. Kurapika knows the technicalities of cooking, but everything they touch burns – what doesn’t burn is still unspeakably bad, so they barely even bother to try anymore, instead overseeing Leorio’s cooking and making comments whenever Leorio screws up.

There’s a comfortable silence. Kurapika feels themself drifting off a couple times, but something always shakes them back awake – the air conditioning kicking on, a horn honking down on the street below, Leorio shifting and jostling them. “Pika, you still awake?” Leorio asks finally, and Kurapika sighs in response. “Did I ever tell you the story about the broken pencil?”

Confused, Kurapika cracks one eye open. “Broken pencil?” they repeat, wondering what this has to do with anything. “Did I miss something?”

“It’s.” The mattress shakes lightly. Is Leorio crying or something? Kurapika’s feeling a lot more awake now, anxiety starting to flutter in their chest. “It’s,” and Leorio definitely isn’t crying but laughing, and Kurapika looks bemusedly at the headboard, “got no point.”

Kurapika’s eyes narrow. Leorio howls into his pillow, genuinely heaving with laughter.

“That wasn’t even good,” Kurapika protests, and slams their head back down.

--

Evening finds both of them crammed into the back of a taxi, following a lead on the Troupe’s whereabouts. Kurapika fidgets with their chains and stares out the window; they can hear Leorio drumming his fingers on the seat next to them.

“Leorio?” they say, not turning away from the window.

“You okay?” Leorio asks, sounding worried. “Listen, it’s all gonna be fine. If we get a lead we’re closer to wiping the Troupe out, if we don’t we just try again tomorrow. Don’t stress yourself out.”

“It’s not that.” Kurapika’s wanted to say this forever. The buildings in front of them stretch out and blur into the soft darkness. Neon lights merge into each other like watercolor, freezing the moment in painted time. “Where does a general keep his army?”

There’s a pause. “I,” Leorio says hopelessly, “I don’t know. Does this have to deal with the Troupe? The Spiders travel in big groups, we know that. He – uh, Chrollo probably keeps them close–“

“He keeps them in his sleevy.”

It takes Leorio a second, but “Oh, my God,” he says, and Kurapika has to rest their forehead against the window to keep from completely losing it. “Pika. That was bad. That’s the worst one yet.” He leans back in his seat, and Kurapika grins into the glass, shoulders shaking helplessly.