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butterflies, they come alive

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~MEETING~

The idea behind the whole system is pretty simple.

You pay a dollar, answer some questions, and out pops a couple of names of people you’d be compatible with. Compatible as in, you know, dating-wise.

Or at least most students at Hunter High saw it that way, but it didn’t have to be used like that. It could be a way to find someone fun to hang out with, sometimes an easy hook up, other times a genuine start to something new. Kids did it for prom and parties and all sorts of things.

Gon, though. Gon never really knew why he signed up. And neither did anyone else.

It wasn’t like Gon was ever without friends. Just the opposite, in fact. Gon was a cheerful kid. Bright, bubbly. He volunteered in all the clubs, talked to all the new kids, always helped the teachers. He was just that kid, the one who made friends with every smile and wave. His laughter was contagious, infectious, and everyone who was anyone wanted to hang out with him.

It was a simple, established fact of the local high school’s social anarchy: everyone liked Gon. He talked to people, made them open up in ways no one else could.

So, it was a big surprise to Gon as to anyone when the high school's matching system paired him with the one person he had never uttered a single word to during his past three years at Hunter High.

“This can’t be for real,” Killua Zoldyck says flatly when Gon first confronts him face-to-face.

Gon tightly grips the strap of his backpack and tries not to squirm. Killua stares him down with narrowed, sharp blue eyes and it does something funny to Gon’s heart. He’s seen Killua around, of course. Who hadn’t? But to be paired with him of all people was kind of…unexpected? But not in a bad way!

“I think it is real, though?” Gon says with a hesitant smile and Killua’s glare intensifies. “I’m not lying, I swear! Look-”

Killua snatches the paper out of Gon’s hands before he can say anything else. Killua’s eyes dart back and forth across Gon’s results, lightning fast, and his frown deepens.

“See?” Gon says. He angles his head to catch Killua’s gaze, peaking at the other teen through brown lashes. “That’s you, right? Killua Zoldyck?”

“…yeah.” Killua roughly shoves the paper back at Gon and Gon fumbles, almost dropping it in surprise. By the time he finally gets a good grip on his results, Killua’s hands are hidden deep in the pockets of his black hoodie. He’s looking off to the side, refusing to meet Gon’s gaze directly.

Gon tilts his head. He asks curiously, “Why don’t you think this is real?”

“Because,” Killua says, exasperated. “Look at us- we’re nothing alike. The computers had to mess up. There’s no way in hell we were paired together on purpose.”

Gon purses his lips. He’s noticed Killua before, despite the other teen’s somewhat obvious attempts to stay out of the line light; Killua was the boy tucked into the back corner of every classroom, the one who showed up to school only half the time it was in session, a shadow more than a real person. Whispers and rumors followed him in the hallways-

He’s bad news, the whole student body echoed in hushed tones. Don’t mess with him, he’s no good and his family is even worse! That’s why he doesn’t have any friends!

Gon has heard it all. But no one ever mentions what exactly about Killua is so bad. Killua is a loner, that much was clear. He verbally spars with the teachers and glares at anyone who even looks in his direction. But that’s all Gon knows.

Because Gon, for all his friends and naturally social tendencies, has never had the opportunity to interact with Killua before. Killua is a mystery to him, an enigma. Even just talking to Killua right now feels to Gon like he’s hovering on the edge of some grand adventure waiting to happen. All he has to do is take the final step and commit.

So, Gon moves forward. He grins at Killua, despite the alarmed look he gets in return, and asks, “What makes you think we’re nothing alike?”

Killua raises his eyebrows. “Are you serious? I’m the high school outcast, and you’re a personified ray of sunshine. We’re on opposite ends of the social range, here.”

Gon throws his head back and laughs. He can’t help it- that description is hysterically accurate and Killua wasn’t even trying to be funny by saying that!

“Wha- why are you cackling?!” Killua stutters out in a hiss. A red blush is blooming across his porcelain cheeks, spreading all the way to the tips of his ears, and it’s then that Gon learns his first fact about Killua Zoldyck:

Killua is easily embarrassed. Which isn’t something Gon expects from the boy with a reputation for being ‘icy’ and ‘bad’ and it makes Gon want to push more, learn more about this person everyone, even the boy himself, calls an outcast.

“You’re funny!” Gon says, breathless from laughter and face aching from how wide his smile has grown. He feels lighter, somehow, even as Killua stares at him like he’s grown a third eye.

Killua shakes his head. “You’re crazy.”

“Maybe!” Gon dares to take step closer to Killua and he holds back a giggle at the way the other teen tenses. “And you’re cute.”

Killua makes a squeaking sound. “Wh-What?!”

“I said, you’re really cute,” Gon repeats without an ounce of shame and Killua sputters. His face is bright red by now and the sight fills Gon with a kind of prickling, giddy warmth.

He likes that innocently flustered look on Killua. And he’d like to see it more, if Killua will let him.

“Killua,” he says with a genuine smile. “I’m on your list. And you’re on mine. So, what do you say? Want to try this out? Because I know I would really like to.”

Killua swallows. He hesitates, clearly wrestling with himself while Gon waits and rocks on his heels. He really hopes Killua says yes. He really hopes Killua is as interested in Gon as he is in Killua. He has a good feeling about this, and his gut is usually right.

“Okay,” Killua finally says and Gon’s heart leaps. “We can try, I guess. Do you, I dunno, want to watch a movie or- or something…?”

Gon beams. It’s kind of adorable how Killua stumbles and trips over his words, but- “I’ve got something much better than a movie, Killua.”

The skeptical look on the silver-haired teen’s face only makes him burst into laughter again.

 


 

~FIRST WEEK~

“You don’t do this kind of stuff a lot, huh, Killua?”

“Shut up, Gon,” Killua snaps and Gon grins. “I’m just- oh, shit-”

A string of curses escapes between Killua’s lips as he juggles his hands to get a better grip on the squirming mass of fur sliding between his fingers. The kitten meows and squeaks- shrieks, really- at the rough treatment and Gon’s grin widens as Killua curses some more.

It’s oddly satisfying to see Killua being overwhelmed by a mob of tiny cats. Gon doesn’t know why exactly this is- maybe it’s because Killua’s white curls are fluffy like a cat’s? Maybe it’s because of how he bristles and scoffs on the outside, but is secretly affectionate and gentle, also like a cat?

Or maybe it’s simply because Killua is cute and having him surrounded by even more cuteness makes Gon happier than he can remember being in a long time.

“Have you never owned a pet before?” Gon asks as he scoots closer. He lifts two kittens off Killua’s lap, gently places them onto the floor in front of their touching knees.

“I had a dog,” Killua mutters, brow furrowing in concentration. "But he was nothing like these guys…”

Gon beams. It’s easy for him to picture Killua strutting around, a loyal dog trotting at his side. “What kind of dog?” he questions.

“He was a mix. I still don’t know what of exactly, though. He had black fur, came up to my waist by the time he’d grown and everything.” Killua huffs and his silver bangs flutter. “He’d always climb into my bed and sprawl out across the middle. Sleeping with him was the biggest pain.”

“Sounds like you love him,” Gon teases, nudging Killua in the side with his elbow.

The tips of Killua’s ears turn pink. “Well, yeah. I mean. He was mine, of course I loved him.”

Gon’s smile falls. “Was?”

Killua’s expression darkens, electric blue eyes turning dull and blank. There’s a deep twist of pain inside of Gon’s chest as Killua says shortly, “Yeah. Was. I had to put him down a few years ago when he got sick…”

His voice trails off. Gon watches silently as Killua lowers his head, letting starlight curls cover his eyes. When he speaks again, he’s so quiet that Gon almost misses what he says completely, “Putting him down was one of the worst things I ever had to do. But, he was my dog, and my family said it was my responsibility to put him out of his misery. So, I did.”

The emptiness in Killua’s tone is enough to make Gon’s heart ache and bleed. Death wasn’t pretty or poetic like it was in the stories. It was just pain. Sharp, unbearable pain.

“I know what you mean,” Gon says softly. He doesn’t meet Killua’s gaze when the other looks at him sharply. Instead he reaches out to pet the brown and gold kitten curled up against Killua’s thumb.

He continues absent-mindedly, “My aunt and I used to own a farm on Whale Island before we came here. We had a bunch of animals- cats, dogs, horses, chicken, everything. But when we moved here so that I could go to a better school, we had to give all of them away. One of the animals that stayed with us was a fox cub I’d been nursing back to health for a few months. But…he didn’t get better in time.”

“He died,” Killua concludes quietly and Gon nods. It’s an old memory. But it’s still enough to make his eyes sting and a lump to raise in the back of his throat. Kon was good and young and Gon’s first friend in many ways. When he died, it felt like a part of Gon had died, too.

Gon took a deep breath, blinking rapidly. “Yeah. I, um, held him in my arms and everything until the very end. And then I cried the whole way here. I feel so bad for my aunt when I think back to it now.”

“You were a kid, Gon. You’re allowed to be sad over something like that.”

Gon glances at Killua from the corner of his eye. “So are you.”

Killua stiffens. Gon’s predictions were right, then.

Killua had said that putting down his dog was his responsibility. His family told him that. What kind of family would make a child put down their own best friend? The thought leaves a bitter taste in Gon’s mouth. He doesn’t want to think about the answer.

Another kitten is slowly making its way over to them, patting across the animal shelter’s cold tile floor. Gon reaches for it and carefully cradles the small animal to his chest. The kitten is a much nicer thing to think about; it has white fur puffed out in all directions, a long fluffy tail. It reminds him of Killua, especially once the kitten blinks sleepily at Gon with smoky blue eyes.

Gon rubs his thumb over its soft head as he asks aloud, “What was his name? Your dog, I mean.”

“…Wolf,” Killua admits after a pause. He shifts into a more comfortable position on the floor and their arms brush against each other. The contact makes Gon’s heart contract, then swell. There’s a small smile on Killua’s lips again and Gon wishes he could see it when it was bigger, less pained. “Not a very original name, I know. But it sounded good to the six-year-old me.”

“No, I like it!” Gon chirps and earns an amused snort from the teen sitting cross-legged next to him. “Really! I mean it, Killua. It’s a cute name.”

“You sure say cute, a lot,” Killua grumbles.

Gon smirks. “I only do that when you’re around.”

Killua scrunches up his nose and Gon giggles, unable to stop himself this time.

“What?” he asks Killua, still grinning. “This is a date, you know. Our first date!”

“Do you ever take the time to listen to yourself talk, Gon?” Killua groans. He’s clearly mortified; that pretty blush is back on his cheeks and Gon couldn’t be more delighted. “And what makes you think I’ll want a second date, huh?”

Butterflies flutter in Gon’s stomach at the thought of taking Killua out again- at spending more time with this shining star of a boy, at learning just what it is about Killua that draws Gon to him like a moth to a flame.

Slowly, carefully, Gon reaches out. Killua flinches but doesn’t move to stop Gon from tucking a stray silver lock behind one of his scarlet ears.

“Because,” he says as Killua stares at him with wide, impossibly beautiful eyes. “I got you to smile. And you haven’t turned me down yet.”

 


 

~SECOND WEEK~

killua?

what

do you like coffee? Or tea?

uh not really? coffee is bitter bean water and tea tastes gritty somehow. why?

Gon pouts. Darn. If Killua didn’t like coffee or tea, then…

Sticking his tongue out, he crafts his next message-

Oh, well, I was just wondering if you’d like to get some after school. But we can do something else since you don’t like that stuff!!!

Gon barely hit the send button before three little dots appear on Killua’s side of the conversation. Gon sits up straight, eyes glued to his phone as he holds his breath.

i like hot chocolate. i can get that instead.

Heart pumping loud and heavy against his ribs, Gon types out:

are you sure? I don’t want to force you to do anything!

listen. gon. i would never, and will never, turn down the opportunity for chocolate. we’re going out. no take backs.

A huge smile spread across Gon’s face. He gently rubs his thumb over Killua’s name at the top of his screen while his heart grows and swells.

is it okay if we go tomorrow though? i kind of ditched school for the day already

Gon laughs, picturing Killua sneaking out through the side doors with a hoodie covering his unmistakable white hair, and types back: sure! It’s a date :)

“Who’re you texting, Gon? Hmm? Someone special? You got the biggest grin on your face there,” one of his friends tease and Gon immediately locks his phone.

“No one!” he chirps with a smile. He would’ve liked to see Killua’s reply but he would have to be patient for now.

It’s not that he’s trying to keep his relationship with Killua a secret. He fully intends to pursue Killua as long as Killua remains interested in him.

But Gon also knows the whispers that follow Killua around school like a shadow. And he doesn’t want that poison to seep into the start of their relationship, not when they were only just starting to get to know each other.

Soon, Gon would tell his friends. Soon.

 


 

~THIRD WEEK~

Gon doesn’t know much about Killua. That much is a given. They’d only just met a few weeks ago and Killua was rarely in school even before they started hanging out. So, when Gon suggests they do something Killua wants for their next date, he doesn’t know what to expect.

He’d never even thought of skateboarding, though.

“Ki-Killua?”

“Mmm?”

Gon gulps, gripping Killua’s shoulders tightly while the other teen carefully adjusts the straps around Gon’s elbows. Gon’s heart his hammering inside his chest; he can smell the faintest trace of strawberries wafting off Killua’s hair, feel those slender, cool hands brush his skin…

Killua is the reason he’s so worked up right now. Gon’s never been on a skateboard before but he knows it’ll be fine. Probably.

Having Killua this close to him, though, is enough to make his pulse race.

Gon’s never been so aware of anyone as he is of Killua. It’s exciting, exhilarating. Killua makes him feel so many things- jittery anticipation, a deep and swooping joy- and the silver-haired teen doesn’t even know it.

“Okay, there.” Killua leans back with an enthusiastic grin. “You should be good. Are you ready?”

Gon looks down. He’s got padding on his elbows and knees, even a helmet on his head that’s crushing his spikes. Killua insisted he wore the proper protection, but this is a lot.

“You don’t think this is a little too much, Killua?” he asks and Killua snorts.

“No way, not with your track record. I still remember those childhood stories you told me last time of your aunt patching you up every other day, and I’m not gonna let this be another story that ends in bandages.”

Gon sticks out his tongue. “That was years ago; I was five, Killua!”

“Then act your age,” Killua retorts smartly and Gon sputters indignantly. “And stop complaining, jeez, the padding won’t kill you. I just want to make sure you don’t get hurt, okay?”

Gon blinks at the quiet concern shining in Killua’s eyes. It’s unexpected, the genuine care there, and warmth floods through his body. It makes him happy and somewhat breathless to see his own feelings reflected back at him.

“Gon?” Killua asks, brow knitting anxiously, and Gon shakes his head.

“I’m okay.” He breathes in deep through his nose, eyes narrowing in determination. “Let’s do this!”

Killua’s face lights up, and the memory of his broad and genuine smile is more than worth the dozen or so cuts and bruises Gon finds scattered across his skin the next day.

 


 

~FOURTH WEEK~

Being in a relationship is interesting, Gon’s decided.

He’s been on dates before- ones that are totally platonic, and others that are not. But they never lasted more than one or two outings before Gon knew it wouldn’t work out. And once that happened there was no point in dragging the relationship out, so he ended it.

Pursuing an actual relationship with someone he is seriously interested in is very, very different.

He and Killua text all the time. Gon asked for Killua’s number before their first date at the animal shelter- Killua complains that it was hardly a date, seriously, they didn’t do anything even remotely romantic, but Gon insists it was anyway- and they’ve been talking nonstop since then. They never run out of things to text about and soon it becomes habit for Gon to check his phone every five seconds, eagerly waiting for Killua’s response.

Killua’s just so…cool and amazing, of course Gon wants to talk to him as much as possible!   

(after a while Aunt Mito yells at him for ‘being glued to his phone’ during dinner, so that becomes the only time Gon doesn’t respond to Killua)

He also gets nervous about really random things. Like, what he should wear to school today because Killua might be there and see him? Or, how Killua would react if Gon tried holding his hand? Gon’s never really wanted to hold hands with anyone before, but Killua’s hands are beautiful and slender like a pianist’s and Gon wants to weave his fingers between the Zoldyck’s with an intensity that surprises him.

He’s terrified, though. What if Killua rejects him? What will he do then?!

(Gon tries it anyway on their way to the animal shelter about a month after they initially meet. Killua stiffens, a dark pink blossoming across his cheeks, but he allows Gon to interlock their fingers and Gon’s heart soars)

And he starts to notice things. Little details and habits that Killua has that Gon would never bother seeing in anyone else. Gon makes a mental list of them in his head- Killua blushes at the slightest compliment, he loves chocolate and starry skies, he takes pictures of everything, hates to wake up before noon and will loudly and willingly complain about anything he can think of- and replays them over and over again to see how much he can remember. It’s a game and Gon loves it nearly as much as he’s slowly but surely starting to love the boy the game itself is about.

(It makes him wonder, though: is Killua is paying as much attention to him as he is to Killua?)

 


 

~FIFTH WEEK~

“Let’s play truth or dare!”

Killua rolls his eyes. They seem brighter and even more brilliant than usual today in the crisp autumn air. “Gon, c’mon, that’s a kid game. You know, for little boys and girls to play when they have nothing better to do?”

“Yeah, so? We’re still kids!”

“You’re turning eighteen in half a year-” Killua exclaims, exasperated, “-not ten! And besides, that’s not something you play on a date, idiot!”

Gon grins, swinging Killua’s hand back and forth with a little more enthusiasm than necessary. He’s so glad they’d gotten past the hand holding barrier; he loves to grab Killua’s hand whenever the opportunity arises, loves the feel of Killua’s smooth palm pressed against his own. He chirps, “To you, maybe! I think it’s a good way to get to know you better, Killua. Unless, you know, you’re scared to play it or something-”

He cuts himself off with a yelp; Killua had dug his nails into Gon’s skin with enough force for it to sting.

“I’m not scared,” Killua says- hisses, more like- and his eyes flash like blue fire. “Not of a game, and definitely not of you. Go ahead, ask me anything. I’ll beat you at your own stupid game.”

Gon’s pulse picks up and adrenaline rushes through his veins. He can’t turn away from that spark in Killua’s eyes- the defiance, the challenge and dare that makes excitement explode inside Gon like fireworks.

It’s another side of Killua that Gon loves instantly. He’s tried pushing people before, his friends and competitors alike. He’s spurred them forward to see just how far they could go, just how much they’d be willing to challenge him. And every single one had left him disappointed. No one could match Gon’s energy and resilience.

Then he’d met Killua, and that had changed. Killua matched him easily, sometimes leaving Gon to chase after Killua .

But not this time. Gon was more blunt than Killua; he didn’t know the meaning of ‘backing down’. The easily flustered Killua didn’t stand a chance.

“Okay,” Gon says, smile widening. “You start, then.”

“Truth or dare?” Killua asks without missing a heartbeat.

“Truth!”

Killua blinks, caught off guard, and Gon laughs aloud at the shock that washes away his friend’s determined glare.

“You- you choose truth?!” Killua repeats, abashed. “What kind of loser chooses truth first-”

“I do!” Gon chirps.

He gently nudges Killua to the side so they don’t walk into an orange and red speckled tree in the middle of the sidewalk. The air around them is filled with the sounds of busy shoppers rushing in and out of the town stores to stack up on supplies for the upcoming week.

Gon has to raise is voice to be heard over the general bustle, “Plus, you can do a lot of things with truth. You could make me admit to something I’d never admit to!”

“Are you saying you got some deep dark secrets, Gon? You hiding something from me?”

“You’ll have to ask to find out, won’t you?”

Killua snorts. “Jeez. You know, you really are a kid sometimes. Fine, then. Why’d you chose to date me?”

Gon blinks. He glances at Killua but Killua keeps his gaze pointedly fixedly ahead on the leaf-scattered sidewalk stretched out in front of them.

“You had a list of names,” Killua continues steadily, but the slight quiver of his gloved hand in Gon’s reveals his true feelings. “Why me? We’d never talked before then. You had no reason to choose me. So, why? Why would you want to take the social outcast of your school to your favorite animal shelter every weekend; why would you bring him hot chocolate after he said he didn’t like coffee or tea; why would you want to hold his hand, or even ask him out at all?”

“…that’s more than one question, Killua,” Gon says after a pause and immediately yelps at the swift punch delivered to his shoulder.

“AH- ow, Killua that hurt-”

“Shut up and answer the question!” Killua snaps. He’s blushing again, cheeks blossoming red in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with the cold, and Gon bites back a teasing remark. Killua wanted an answer, he had to be serious.

“Well,” he begins thoughtfully, breath fogging a bit before dissolving into the air. He makes sure to keep a firm grip on Killua’s hand as he explains, “I think it was because I wanted to try something new! I’d seen you around school and stuff, but never outside of classes. I was curious, I wanted to know more about you! And-” Gon shoots Killua a sly glance, “-I always thought you were pretty, you know.”

Killua stumbles at that and almost lands face-first into the sidewalk. Gon yanks him back upwards before that can happen and catches Killua around the middle. He’s already laughing when he hugs Killua to his chest. He’d expected Killua to stammer, or blush harder, but for him to be so mortified that he’d lost track of his surroundings and nearly fallen was-

“You bastard,” Killua says breathlessly. He’s not looking up from Gon’s shoulder- probably because his face his painted the brightest shade of scarlet- and Gon can’t help but find that incredibly cute.

“It’s not my fault you get embarrassed so easily, Killua!” he says, still snickering. Distantly, Gon notices Killua’s form is slim. He fits perfectly in Gon’s arms, head tucked into the curve of Gon’s shoulder at just the right angle.

I like holding Killua like this, Gon realizes and tightens his arms. It feels right, somehow, to have Killua so close to him like this.

“You said all that on purpose,” Killua argues weakly, pulling Gon out of his thoughts.  Gon shakes his head adamantly even as grin spreads his lips from ear to ear.

“No, I didn’t! I was just being honest, I swear!”

“Too honest,” Killua grumbles. He finally pulls back and Gon reluctantly drop his arms. He’d never hugged Killua before then. It had been so nice, but too short-

His mind goes blank when Killua offers a gloved hand to him. The other teen is purposefully looking away from him with pink tipped ears and happiness bursts to life inside Gon’s chest. He enthusiastically grabs Killua’s hand, squeezing tightly.

Killua doesn’t complain at the strength in Gon’s grip. He just returns the squeeze with one of his own and the warmth in Gon’s heart overflows and spreads all the way down to his toes.

“My turn,” Gon says with a beam and tugs Killua forward again. “Truth, or dare?”

“…truth,” Killua says slowly, much to Gon’s (pleasant) surprise.

He decides to go easy on the still red-faced teen. “Why do you take pictures all the time?”

Killua’s jaw drops. “What?”

Alarm shoots through Gon; Killua’s hand is slackening like he’s about to let go. Gon quickly tightens his grip and blurts out, “You take a lot of pictures on your phone! When we go to the animal shelter, that time we got hot chocolate after school, and- and I saw you flipping through them last week when we met up between classes!”

Killua just looks at him blankly. “You…paid attention to all that?”

“I-” Gon’s not one to get embarrassed but he feels the blush starting to creep across his face all the same, “- I was just curious! Do you, um, want to go into photography or- or something?”

“No,” Killua says after a beat. He’s frowning, an inner war raging behind those blue eyes, and Gon nudges his shoulder gently. He doesn’t like it when Killua retreats into himself like that. It makes him feel like he’s losing Killua, somehow.

Killua blinks at the nudge and refocuses on Gon. Relief washes over him, and Gon says with a small, encouraging smile, “I’m sure you could, if you wanted to! You’re good at pretty much everything.”

Killua flushes. “Sh-shut up, Gon, jeez. I just said I didn’t want a career in photography.”

“What is it, then? You wouldn’t take all those pictures if you didn’t care.”

“I’m still trying to get over the fact that you noticed me taking all of those pictures. I mean, c’mon, you have the attention span of a snail.”

“Killua!” Gon whines and squeezes Killua’s hand tighter to stop the other teen’s laughter. “That’s mean! And why wouldn’t I notice something like that? I like you, so of course I’m gonna pay attention to you! I want to know everything there is to know about you, you know?”

Killua’s laughter dies away and he stops walking completely. Gon pauses, glancing back at him questioningly. Killua opens his mouth like he’s about to say something, then closes it. Gon can practically see the steam pouring out of his friend’s ears and has to fight himself to keep the grin off his face.

Honesty really was the easiest way to Killua’s heart.

“You…” Killua says, tripping over his words. “You. You- like me?”

“Mhm,” Gon hums happily. He lets go of Killua’s hand to boldly wrap his arms around Killua’s waist, pulling him in close until their chests press together. “We’re dating, Killua. Of course I like you.”

Killua swallows thickly. Their faces are close enough that Gon can feel the warmth of his blush as Killua whispers, “Is- is that really what you want?”

His voice is quiet, smaller than usual, and Gon frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not… I’m not the best person to date, Gon. I’ve got a lot of problems.”

“I don’t mind that. I got problems, too. And if we’re dating, we can help each other with them. Right?”

Killua bites his bottom lip. His eyes are shining too brightly in the light radiating through the stores’ windows. Heart aching, Gon lifts one hand to tenderly cup one of Killua’s scarlet cheeks.

“Is that okay with you?” Gon asks hesitantly. This wasn’t all about him . He needs to know what Killua wants, too. “I don’t want to force you to be with me, Killua. If you don’t like me back, that’s oka-”

The rest of his response is wiped out by the chapped lips that abruptly shove against his own. Gon’s eyes fly open wide and bulge as he stares at Killua’s scrunched up face, the light splattering of freckles across a narrow nose.

It takes him all of a second to realize that Killua is kissing him- Killua, the bright, beautiful and amazing Killua- and this his heart explodes with joy. His grip on Killua’s waist tightens and then he’s kissing Killua back with a passion he didn’t know he had until now.

Killua tastes sweet, like chocolate. His nose is squished into Gon’s cheek and the kiss is more messy than it is gentle. Their mouths are awkward and their teeth clack a bit. But the small, happy hum of Killua’s lips as they press against Gon’s is more than enough to make Gon’s heart soar.

He’s happy, kissing Killua. He’s drowning in it, this simple feeling of falling in love, and he’s happy.

He’s happy, all because of Killua.

They part, both breathing heavy and leaning against each other. Gon still hasn’t let go of Killua’s face and somehow Killua’s arms are wound around his neck.

“I do like you,” Killua admits and a sharp thrill rushes through Gon. “I like you a lot, Gon. I just…don’t understand how you can like me.”

Gon rubs his thumb across Killua’s cheek. Killua’s skin is smooth and warm, and even that innocent bit of contact makes Gon’s already erratic heart pound. He doesn’t understand how anyone could not like Killua; Killua is beautiful, kind and daring. His presence is both comforting and addicting, so much so that Gon is already dreading the moment they’ll have to say goodbye.

“I like you because you’re you,” Gon says simply. “That’s all there is to it, Killua. I think you’re amazing.”

Killua takes in a shuddering breath. “You can’t keep saying stuff like that. I’m going to explode one day.”

Gon giggles and nuzzles his forehead against Killua’s. “But you’re the one who asked!”

“And I’m regretting that now.”

Gon throws his head back and laughs loudly. He doesn’t pay attention to the stares of passerbys’- he’s with Killua, dating Killua, and he won’t tone down the overwhelming joy he’s feeling right now for anyone.

“The photographs…”

Abruptly, Gon cuts himself off. He looks at Killua with wide eyes, their game coming back to him in a second. He’d forgotten he’d even asked Killua about that.

“Yeah?” Gon asks, hesitantly because Killua’s brow is puckered and he’s gnawing his lip again. He’s nervous about something, but Gon doesn’t know what.

“They’re for my sister,” Killua finally says. “She, uh. I take the photographs for her.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister!” Gon says, surprised.

“I do.”

There’s more to the story. A lot more, probably. But Killua’s looking uncomfortable as is, and Gon doesn’t want to ruin the happy glow from their first kiss, or the confirmation of their relationship on both ends. The only thing he wants to feel right now is the blinding happiness from being with someone who wants to be with him, too.

So, he just smiles, and says, “You’ll have to introduce me to her sometime.”

Killua’s returning smile warms him from the inside out.

 


 

~SIXTH WEEK~

“I’m so glad you brought him over for dinner, Gon,” Aunt Mito tells him quietly. Her tone is of the softest warmth, colored like honey. It makes the tips of Gon’s ears turn pink and a surge of relief to rise within him.

He sneaks a glance at his adoptive mother from the side of his eye and asks, just to make sure, “Really?” It had been a surprise after all, him bringing Killua to their home after school had ended.

But Aunt Mito hums her approval, carefully scrubbing leftover sauce off the plate and leaving nothing behind but a shiny, porcelain white. “Of course. He’s the reason you’ve been smiling so much lately, why wouldn’t I be glad?”

Gon’s face burns; the heat prickling across his cheeks is strange, alien, and kind of itchy. It only makes him more aware of how his body reacts to Aunt Mito’s words: his heart flutters inside his chest like a bird, soaring and diving before climbing up again in a whirlwind of giddy joy.

He looks down at the bowl he’s drying, heartbeat in his ears. “I’ve been doing that?” he asks innocently, despite already knowing the answer.

“Yes,” Aunt Mito laughs. “Don’t tell me you already forgot all the times I yelled at you to put your phone down when you were supposed to be doing homework! Or cleaning up after a meal! Sometimes you don’t even hear me until I’ve asked you for the fourth time in a row.”

“Heh, sorry, Aunt Mito. I don’t mean to ignore you.”

“That wasn’t a reprimand, Gon.” She nudges him gently in the side with her hip. “I’m just telling you what I see. And what I see, is that you’re happier with that boy around. You haven’t stopped smiling since the day you met him. You were practically glowing during dinner tonight.”

Gon bites his lip, trying but unable to stop the beam from spreading across his face. He couldn’t help being happy around Killua. It was easy. Killua made him smile more, made him excited and breathless and… and awestruck, really. Killua was fascinating and wonderful to him. He was never bored when Killua was around.

But when Killua had grabbed onto him earlier today in school, taking a fistful of Gon’s jacket and pulling him into a deserted classroom, Gon had known something was wrong.

“Can I come over to your place after school?” Killua had asked in a trembling voice, arms wrapped tightly around Gon’s back and face buried into Gon’s shoulder. A pang shot through Gon’s heart, a mix of fear and horror and worry that swirled and crashed together like a wave.

“What’s wrong?” Gon had asked as he gently ran his hand through Killua’s soft curls.

Killua shuddered- Gon could feel the tremor race through Killua’s entire body. “It’s- it’s nothing…”

“Killua,” Gon said, voice pained. “It’s not nothing if it makes you to react like this.”

For a long moment, Killua didn’t speak. The loud rumble of a hundred footsteps could be heard through the crack underneath the door, signaling the steady stream of students making their way to their next classes. Gon didn’t bother paying attention to them or the slight buzzing from his phone, alerting him to texts from his friends asking him where he was.

None of that mattered. The only person that mattered in the world right now was the too-pale teen in his arms.

Finally, Killua whispered, “It’s my family.”

Gon’s stomach lurched, then plummeted to the tiled floor. He gripped Killua tighter, opened his mouth to ask, “What did they-”

“I swear, I’ll tell you everything later. I just- I can’t right now.”

“Killua…”

“Gon, don’t. Please, I just.” He sucked in a large, unsteady breath. “I just can’t. I’ll make it up to you. I promise.

Gon nodded, despite the urge to press Killua for more information. That wasn’t what Killua wanted or needed right now. So he just held Killua close to his chest, rubbing his back and murmuring into his ear until some of the color returned to Killua’s too-pale cheeks.

Gon shakes his head to banish the hours-old memory. He casts his gaze to the kitchen ceiling, to where his bedroom is located on the second floor. Killua is still here resting in Gon’s room; Aunt Mito refused to let him help clean dishes after dinner, insisting he was a guest. And as much as Gon loves his aunt and enjoys helping her as best he could-

All he really wants right now is to talk with Killua. He needs to know what exactly Killua’s family had done to upset Killua so badly. What had they said to leave him shaking in Gon’s embrace?

He starts distractedly, “Aunt Mito-”

“You can go, Gon.”

He blinks, then focuses on his mother. She’s smiling at him, lips soft at the edges, and her eyes shine the way they did whenever she was especially proud of him.

She leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to Gon’s forehead. “I’m glad you’re happy. Treasure that feeling; it’s so rare that we come across it.”

Gon swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. He puts down the plate and throws his arms around her.

“I will,” he says as he hugs her tightly. “I promise.”

 


 

~SEVENTH WEEK~

Gon’s shoes squeak loudly against the shiny tiled floors. Killua’s footsteps are silent though, just as silent as the teenager they belong to. Killua hasn’t said a single word since they entered the hospital together. He just grabbed Gon’s hand, squeezing tight enough to leave indents in Gon’s skin, before dragging him through the lobby towards the elevator.

Gon wrinkles his nose at the strange chemical smell hanging in the air like a cloud. He’s never liked hospitals, not as a kid and definitely not now. Everything here is white- the walls, the floor, the ceiling, even the nurses in their white uniforms, the masks covering their mouths. It’s as if the color’s been bleached from life itself.  

No, Gon doesn’t like hospitals. But that doesn’t matter, because he’s not here for himself. He’s here for Killua, because Killua asked him, because Killua trusted him with a part of himself he had never shared with anyone, and Gon loved him for it.

Killua stops short by a random wooden door a few floors above ground. He spins around to face Gon, cheeks ghostly pale, and says quietly, “Wait here. Okay?”

Gon nods and Killua lets go of his hand. He slips into the room without another word, leaving Gon to his own devices.

Biting his lip, Gon rocks on his heels. He can hear the faint sound of beeping from another room, the low murmuring of two doctors down the hall. It’s too quiet and the lack of general sound makes Gon’s hair stand on end.

Gon looks back at the slightly open door. The name ‘Zoldyck’ has been scribbled onto a label next to the doorframe and there’s a slight layer of dust on the plastic covering. It makes Gon wonder just how long Killua’s been coming here, to this same room on this same floor, to visit the same person over and over and over again.

Killua’s head pops up in the space between the door and the wall. His face looks pained, tense in a way that makes Gon’s heart twist. “C’mon,” Killua says, taking Gon’s hand once more. “Let me introduce you.”

Gon follows Killua into the room. There’s a large window opposite the door, a nightstand with a cup of water and a thick book. But it’s the photos on the walls- a rainbow of pictures, most of them containing Killua at all different ages, others with a dark-haired child who has Killua’s eyes- that makes Gon’s jaw drop.

These are the pictures Killua’s been taking, he realizes abruptly. These pictures that span years and seasons and all kinds of places that Gon’s never been to and may never visit…they paint the walls with memories, but they’re not memories for Gon. They’re for someone whose existence matters more to Killua than anyone else in the world, for a girl who is currently in a twin sized bed in the center of this hospital room.

They stop next to the mattress and gaze down at the patient resting peacefully below them. Gon waits as Killua takes a deep breath, giving his boyfriend the time to steel himself.

“Gon,” Killua says and his voice holds only the slightest quiver. “This is my younger sister, Alluka.”

Gon stares. Killua’s sister is almost swallowed by the bed’s white sheets; she’s tiny, thinner than Killua and shorter, too. Choppy layers of dull brown hair are spread out around her head in a halo and dark circles rest under her closed eyes. She’s so pale her skin is almost translucent. The only sign that she’s alive at all is the heart line on the machine next to her bed.

“What happened?” Gon asks and Killua’s grip on his hand tightens.

“I’m not sure,” Killua admits. He lowers himself into one of the rooms two chairs, leaning forward to slowly brush Alluka’s bangs off her forehead. Killua caresses her cheek with a tenderness that’s almost painful to watch: the blatant, palpable love for his immobile sister radiates off him in waves.

“I was away at summer camp,” Killua continues, sounding empty in a way that Gon has never heard from him before and never wants to hear again. “I didn’t want to go. Yorknew was far from our mansion, but my parents insisted. They didn’t tell me about Alluka’s illness until I came back in the fall, and by then it was too late. She was already gone.”

Killua looks up at Gon, blue eyes shining with unspeakable pain when he croaks out, “That’s how my parents got me to move here with them; this hospital is the best in the country to treat patients like Alluka. They keep her living, attending all her needs, and I can visit her as much as I want.”

Gon’s eyes widen in a moment of understanding. “That’s why you miss so much school,” Gon says aloud and Killua nods.

“School.” Killua laughs but it’s bitter, humorless. “What’s the point of it? Grades, assignments, participation… why should I bother with any of that when I could be here, with Alluka? I only go to get good enough grades to keep my parents happy. If they plummeted completely, my visiting hours would be taken away and I can’t afford that. Not when any day could be Alluka’s last.”

Gon slowly sits down next to Killua, trying to somehow absorb everything Killua is telling him. It all makes sense, every detail. But seeing Killua like this- eyes hollow, skin ashen and mouth quivering- hurts Gon to his very core.

He hates seeing Killua so hopeless, so miserable and, and sad. He only wants Killua to be happy, for him to smile. He would trade places with Alluka, if only so that Killua would never make that heartbroken expression ever again.

But he can’t do that. All he can do is support Killua and be here for him in every way he can.

“I bet she has your eyes,” Gon says with a gentle nudge and Killua blinks, momentarily surprised.

“She- she does.”

“And your smile!”

He gets a weak laugh at that- small, tiny, but a genuine laugh nonetheless.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Gon,” Killua says, giving him a wobbly smile. “Alluka’s got a much prettier smile.”

“No one has a prettier smile thank you,” Gon replies automatically and Killua sputters. Relief floods Gon as some of the color returns to Killua’s white cheeks.

“I-Idiot!” Killua hisses. “Don’t say stuff like that in front of my sister!”

“Why not?” Gon teases while squeezing Killua’s hand. “She’d probably agree with me! Right, Alluka?”

Killua shoves his shoulder, flushing in earnest now, and Gon laughs.

Later--after hours of hearing stories about Alluka, Killua’s cold childhood and pinning new pictures onto the walls to add to the collection--Gon and Killua walk out of the front hospital doors, clasped hands swinging back and forth.

Gon’s humming a random tune under his breath when Killua says quietly, “Thank you, Gon.”

Gon smiles slightly at that. Killua was so silly, sometimes. “There’s no need to thank me, Killua. I wanted to meet her, you know? I’m really happy you introduced us!”

Killua bites his bottom lip. “I- I know, but…still. Thank you.”

Gon slows to a stop. He leans over and presses a kiss to Killua’s cheek. “It was an honor, Killua. Thank you for bringing me here.”

Killua nods unsteadily, eyes starting to shine over again, and Gon pulls him into a tight hug.

There are no words he can say to heal Killua’s fractured heart, or to bring Alluka back to herself again. But he can hold Killua together like this until the pain doesn’t sting as much. He can walk with Killua hand-in-hand and be there with him whenever he goes to meet his nightmares face-to-face.

 


 

~EIGHTH WEEK~

The skin around Gon’s right eye is still smarting when he stomps into detention late one afternoon after school. It doesn’t stop the burning anger from rolling under his skin, doesn’t make his white-knuckled fists uncurl or his blood boil any less.

Seeing Killua sitting at a sunlight-doused desk with a split lip and bandaged knuckles, however, does.

“Ki-Killua!” Gon gasps and Killua’s head snaps up. Gon rushes over, letting his backpack fall ungraciously to the floor in his hurry to get to his boyfriend.

“Ah!” Killua winces as Gon cups his face, turning his head right and left to see if there are any other injuries marring that beautiful porcelain skin. “Ack- ouch, Gon- GON! Hey, cut it out, that hurts, dammit!”

“What happened?!” Gon demands, dropping his hands. He knows Killua isn’t very well liked here, but this was…. Gon clenches his teeth enough to make his jaw ache. Whoever did this to Killua was going to pay for it tenfold. No one hurt Killua and walked away without punishment.

No one.

Killua scrunches up his face, obviously unwilling to explain anything, but Gon just growls darkly. “Killua. Tell me.”

Killua groans and shoves an injured hand through his bangs, pushing starlight locks off his forehead. If this were any other time, Gon would be hypnotized by the full force of Killua’s piercing blue gaze. But he’s too furious right now to be distracted. Instead he just listens intently as Killua grumbles out, “I… I got into a fight, okay?”

Gon doesn’t miss a beat. “How did it start?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes,” Gon insists, leaning forward until he’s right in Killua’s face. “It does, Killua. I need to know who did this to you and what happened. I need to know the details.”

Killua’s cheeks are slowly flushing from Gon’s close proximity. Still, he manages to snarl back at Gon, “Why?! So you can avenge me or something?!”

“Maybe.”

“Gon.”

“I wasn’t joking.”

“I know that,” Killua snaps and roughly pushes Gon away. “But I don’t need someone to defend me! I don’t need you to anything like that for me ever, okay? I can handle myself.”

“Oh, sure, and that’s why you’re bleeding and your hands are hurt!” Gon says scathingly and Killua rolls his eyes, irritation rolling off him and through the air.

“Listen, those guys didn’t land a scratch on me compared to what I did to them, got it?! I’m stronger than I look! And you can’t avenge me when I was avenging you to start with!”

Gon blinks, taken aback. The stabbing anger freezes over in his chest and confusion washes over him.

“You were….” he starts as Killua looks away, cheeks growing even darker by the second. “Avenging me? But that- Killua, that doesn’t make any sense-”

“Those guys were saying bad stuff about you, okay?!” Killua cuts him off sharply. “They were- were laughing at you, saying you were an idiot for dating me and. And that whatever bad stuff was coming your way, you deserved it for hanging around me all the time. They said if you were smart, you’d drop me right now and be done with me.”

Icy fury stabs Gon straight through his heart. He curls his hands into tight fists, nails digging into his palms. He can’t stop the way his hands shake, nor the trembling in his voice when he asks, “Who said that to you?”

“I took care of it,” Killua says shortly. “Seriously, Gon. Drop it. You won’t get anywhere by perusing this.”

“I can’t. Not when-” Gon stops. Killua still isn’t looking at him, preferring to stare at the tiled floors as if they contain the secret of the universe. The sight of him- bruised and battered, visibly upset and emotionally hurt- makes Gon’s heart ache. He hates seeing Killua like this, and before he knows it, he’s reaching across the desk. He gently grasps Killua’s chin and forces the other teen to meet his gaze directly.

“Killua,” Gon says softly, trying to put all his love and adoration for Killua into his next few words. “Hey, Killua? It wasn’t true, okay? Everything they said was just a lie. Nothing bad is going to happen because we’re together.”

Killua’s piercing blue gaze roams over his face. “You can’t expect me to believe that when you’re sporting a black eye yourself, Gon.”

He shrugs. “That’s nothing. It’ll heal in no time.”

“And your friends? Everyone avoids me. Everyone hates me. They’ll start treating you the same way sooner or later. And that’s not something as easily fixed as a black eye.”

Gon leans forward. He rests his forehead against Killua’s, inwardly loving the way Killua’s soft bangs brush his skin. Neither of them speak for a few seconds. Instead they just stare into each other’s eyes, blue clashing with brown, and their breath mingling in the space between their lips. Slowly but surely a tension rises between them- a charge, a spark. It takes all of Gon’s self-control not to rush forward and seize Killua’s lips, to push him against the back of his wooden chair and remind him just how much Gon is in awe of everything Killua is.

But Gon does manage to hold himself back, because this is important. And as much as Gon wants to kiss Killua senseless, what he needs to say right now is even more important than kissing the person he loves with his whole heart.

“If they treat me any differently,” Gon says to Killua quietly. “Then they weren’t really my friends to begin with, were they?”

Killua visibly swallows. He whispers, lips almost touching Gon’s, “Are you sure, Gon? Is this really what you want?”

Gon smiles. “I wouldn’t have gotten into detention for fighting my friends if I didn’t.”

Killua’s eyes widen. “You- you fought your friends?! That’s how you got those bruises?!”

“They were saying mean things about you.” Gon cups Killua’s jaw in his hands once more, rubbing his thumb over high cheekbones and feels porcelain skin grow warm under his touch. “I told them to stop but it kind of escalated from there.”

Brow furrowing, Killua opens his mouth. Gon squishes Killua’s cheeks together before he can get a word out though, saying firmly, “It’s okay, really! Don’t you get it, Killua? You’re important to me, more important than anyone in the world, and I don’t want to be friends with people who can’t see how amazing you are.”

Killua’s blush deepens. Freckles pop out across his narrow nose- too light to see in normal light- and the intense, flaring want from earlier returns tenfold.

Gon presses his mouth to Killua’s, eyes falling shut. The kiss tastes like blood; the cut on Killua’s lip hasn’t healed over fully, but Gon doesn’t care about that. He kisses Killua deeply- trying to somehow convey a fraction of the overwhelming love and adoration he has for the other teen into the movement- and his heart soars when Killua’s lips move against his to respond in kind.

I love him, Gon thinks distantly as the warmth inside his chest bubbles over and spreads to every corner of his body. I love him I love him I love him.

I’m in love with Killua Zoldyck.

 


 

~TWELFTH WEEK~

Gon is waiting in the parlor by the time Killua arrives. He wastes no time in yanking open the front door and grabbing a fist-full of Killua’s soaked tux. He drags Killua inside and up the stairs without uttering a single word.

It’s only when they’ve gotten into the bathroom next to Gon’s bedroom that Killua whispers brokenly, face paper white, “Are- are you sure your aunt won’t-?”

“Killua,” Gon says and reaches out to grasp Killua’s shoulders with a reassuring squeeze. “It’s okay, really. Aunt Mito loves you.”

Killua’s gaze drops to his feet and he nods jerkily. Water droplets fall off his silver bangs and onto the tiled floor as he shivers from the cold. A deep pang resonates in Gon’s chest and his grip tightens.

“Killua, go take a shower,” Gon tells him gently. “We can talk after you get out. I left some of my pjs out for you.”

Color floods Killua’s cheeks. “G-Gon, that’s-”

“It’s fine. I promise! You don’t have to worry about getting embarrassed when it’s just you and me here.” He leans forward and presses a kiss to Killua’s wet forehead before Killua can argue. “Go get warm, okay? I’ll be waiting for you in my room.”

Only ten minutes has passed by the time Killua pads into Gon’s bedroom, hair still damp and skin a rosy pink. Gon perks up and throws his arms open wide as Killua quietly closes Gon’s door behind him. Killua stills at that, skin darkening just enough for Gon to see even in the dim light, but Gon just smiles at him expectantly.

Finally, Killua sighs. Dragging a hand down his scarlet face, he grumbles, “You’re ridiculous. You know that?”

“Mmm.” Gon hums as Killua climbs onto his bed. He immediately pulls him close, so Killua’s shoulder blades are pressed into his chest, and nuzzles Killua happily. Killua smells like him after using Gon’s shampoo and dressing in Gon’s clothes, and the knowledge makes Gon happier than he expected.

Aloud, he says, “Yeah. I do. But you love me anyway.”

A scoff. “Idiot. Whoever said I loved you?”

Gon grins, resting his head against Killua’s. “Well you’re not denying it, so-”

“Oh, shut up!”

Gon laughs quietly and squeezes Killua around his slim waist. He likes to hold Killua like this; he likes feeling Killua breathe, the warmth of his body and the smell of soap and shampoo coming off his silver hair. It’s good and nice. Comforting, somehow. Gon’s never as content as he is while Killua’s around.

But Killua wasn’t content right now, no matter the air of ease he was putting on. And both he and Gon knew it.

“Killua?” Gon asks hesitantly and he feels Killua tense in his arms. “What… what happened? Did something go wrong at the dinner party?”

He can’t see Killua’s face like this, but he knows just by the irritated growl in Killua’s voice the exact irritated expression he’s wearing. “What didn’t go wrong, honestly? My mother was freaking out the entire time as usual, I had to wear that suffocating tux that kept trying to choke me, the food tasted like cardboard, I hated everyone invited, and my older brother kept trying to talk to me about ‘responsibilities’ and ‘family duties’ and blah blah blah… god, it sucked so bad.”

He lets his head fall back against Gon’s shoulder with a huff. “I really wish you were there. You would’ve at least made it interesting.”

“I did ask for an invitation,” Gon reminds him.

“And I did ask on your behalf,” Killua retorts. “But my parents rejected the idea. They told me you couldn’t come. So, I had to suffer alone. Ugh.”

Gon hums again and rubs his hand through Killua’s silky locks in an attempt to calm him down. Killua liked it when he played with his hair, Gon knew. “It’s okay, maybe they’ll let me come next time.”

“Doubt it. They don’t want me bringing anyone home.”

“They don’t want anyone who can distract you from your bright future?” Gon says, half joking.

“Exactly. They just… they’re so horrible, Gon. I can’t stand them or that cold house or their heavy expectations. And the way they talk about Alluka, is just…”

Killua’s voice trails off, but it sounds wrong. His voice doesn’t just trail off; it dies.

Worry and anxiety constrict Gon’s throat. He swallows thickly, mouth suddenly dry. “Killua. Did- did anything else happen? You sound really upset this time. Even more than usual.”

For a long pause, Killua doesn’t speak. The silence is filled with the sound of their low breathing, the muffled spattering of rain against Gon’s window. His bedroom is dark and completely lightless. It makes Gon feel like he’s floating in space, and the only thing that’s real is the thin teen resting in his arms.

It makes him feel like Killua and him are the only two people that exist in the entire world.

But a small sniff pulls Gon out of his revere, the low sound enough to make his heart plummet to the ground.

“Ki-Killua?” he says, alarmed. He still can’t see Killua’s face and it hurts in the worst way possible - “What’s wrong, why are you crying?!”

Killua tries to shake his head but he ends up bumping into Gon’s nose instead. “It’s- I just.” He takes a deep breath, shuddering, and Gon buries his face into the curve of Killua’s shoulder. He hugs Killua tightly, like he can push the sadness right out of him with sheer strength alone.

Killua didn’t deserve the cards life had given him. He didn’t deserve his stuck-up family with their abusive words and actions and expectations. He didn’t deserve to have his precious sister locked up in a hospital, within arm’s reach but never close enough to have his words reach her ears and mind. He didn’t deserve the way everyone sneered and avoided him in school for a family reputation he had always rejected and always would.

Killua didn’t deserve any of it. And Gon would do anything to stop it all, but the only thing he can do is hold Killua like he is now. Hold him, and listen.

“Shhh, Killua.” Gon rubs gentle circles into porcelain skin and Killua’s ragged breathing slows a bit. “Killua, it’s okay. You can tell me anything. I want to help you. Just- just tell me what happened and we can figure something out together! We can fix it, whatever it is.”

Killua laughed, that same broken laugh from the hospital a few weeks ago. “This isn’t something either of us can just fix , Gon. It’s bigger than that. My parents, they- they want to move. They think I’m not getting a good enough education here, apparently. They want to leave but Alluka. She. She can’t be moved. She would die the second they unplugged her from those machines.”

Ice skitters down Gon’s spine and his body turns to stone. He doesn’t say anything for a beat, mind blank as he tries to process what Killua had just told him.

“You’re…” He stops, unable to speak for a moment. He can barely hear himself over the roar of blood in his own ears. “You’re moving? Away from Hunter?”

He tightens his arms around Killua reflexively, and Killua squeezes his wrist. He admits, “Maybe. I’m not… sure of all the details yet. My parents sprung this on me in the middle of the dinner. It turned into this whole big fight in front of everyone, and I left immediately after.” He lets out a long breath. “I’m sure I’ll be punished for it later when I go back-”

“Don’t go,” Gon says immediately. “Just- stay here. Stay with me and Aunt Mito.”

Killua sighs. “I wish I could. But even if I stayed, I’d have to leave eventually. I can’t just not go home.”

“It’s not your home,” Gon argues back. “You hate it there. You don’t like your family. But- but you like me! And you like Aunt Mito too, right?”

“You don’t have to even ask that,” Killua huffs and Gon feels his blush by the warmth radiating off Killua’s skin.

Gon’s heart flutters. He holds Killua closer, a soaring kind of happiness filling up his chest when Killua melts back into his embrace. He feels better whenever he has Killua in his arms. Like this, he can pretend he’s a shield, protecting Killua from everyone and anything that would ever try to do him harm.

He murmurs into Killua’s silver curls, “Then don’t leave. If you live with me and Aunt Mito, you could visit Alluka whenever you’d like. You wouldn’t have to listen to any of their rules or- or go to their fancy parties or do anything else they make you do!”

“As wonderful as that sounds, it’s just not possible. You know that, Gon. They’d figure where I was and come to get me sooner or later. I’m not a legal adult yet, and neither are you.”

“There has to be something I can do! I don’t want you to leave, I m-might never see you again, n-not until-”

An idea clicks into his mind, falling neatly into place like two puzzle pieces fitting together for the first time.

Gon sucks in a quiet breath and his eyes widen. “Oh.”

Killua straightens, instantly noticing the change in Gon’s tone. “What. What is it? What are you thinking?”

“Killua, your birthday is in July, right?”

“Right,” he answers. “But, what does that have to do with-”

“You’re turning eighteen, aren’t you?” Gon asks him excitedly and Killua makes a confused sound of agreement. “Killua, don’t you see? You might not be a full adult now, but once you turn eighteen they can’t make you do anything! So, if you can somehow stall the move until your birthday-”

“I could stay,” Killua breathes, tone full wonder and awe. “Is that- do you really think it would work? Something that simple?”

“Why not?” Gon’s practically vibrating now, the entire mattress shaking from his boundless energy. “As an adult, you’re allowed to make your own legal decisions! You could move into an apartment, away from your family and closer to your sister. And you said so yourself; they can’t move Alluka. Your parents trapped her here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay with her!”

Killua’s breathing had quickened. Gon could feel the rapid rise and fall of his boyfriend’s chest and even the lightning-fast pulse on Killua’s wrist as Killua gripped his arm tightly.

“I could apply to colleges nearby on purpose,” Killua whispers and Gon nods enthusiastically.

“Yeah!”

“I could get a job to start saving money for an apartment-”

“Yeah!!!”

“-and we could move in together right after we graduate-”

Killua stops short, freezing in horror. Gon blinks owlishly as his mind trips over what Killua said.

Had…had Killua really just suggested…?

“You,” Gon says, heart pounding heavy and loud against his ribcage. “You want us to move in together, Killua?”

“I. Uh.” Killua bows his head. His nails scrape across Gon’s skin, betraying his anxiousness, and Gon grabs his hands. He squeezes them reassuringly as Killua stammers out, “I mean. I just. I thought, maybe, it might be nice? We spend so much time together anyway, so…”

A smile spreads across Gon’s face, wide enough for his cheeks to ache, but he can’t help it. “Is that your way of saying you’d like to go steady, hmm?”

“D-Don’t say it like that!” Killua hisses and Gon throws his head back with a laugh. He feels light, like he can fly. Like he can walk on clouds and never fall. Like he can do anything, as long as Killua is there at his side.

“How should I say it then?” Gon teases and Killua lets out a groan. “Moving in together is a big step, I dunno if I’m ready for that kind of a commitment-”

“We’ve been dating for three months, stupid!” Killua says, exasperated. “Seriously, you were the one who insisted we start hanging out in the first place!”

Warmth washes over him. Gon lightly angles Killua’s face and pushes his silver bangs back with one hand. He presses a kiss to Killua’s forehead, relishing in the low but happy sigh he gets in response.

“I know,” Gon says simply, tone filled with joy. “And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

 


 

~SIXTY-NINTH WEEK~

It’s snowing.

Gon stands in the middle of a winter wonderland, memorized, as his breaths puff out into the air in small clouds. The air is crisp, clean. He can taste winter on his tongue and feel it in the fat snowflakes that melt on his cheeks.

“Oi, Gon!”

Something heavy and hard slams into his back and Gon gasps, eyes flying wide.

He whirls around to find Killua grinning at him. He’s tossing a snowball up and catching it single-handedly, his other gloved hand on his hip.

“Are you just gonna stand there, or what?” Killua challenges with a smirk.

“Killua!” Gon whines loudly. “That was mean! You can’t attack someone while their back is turned!”

His year-long boyfriend just rolls his eyes. “Tough. You knew what we came out here to do, Gon. You don’t get a pass for losing focus.”

“But it’s beautiful out here! How could you not lose focus?” Gon gestures with his hand and turns in a circle. The whole area in front of their apartment building is blanketed in white. The snow is smooth and unbroken, perfect in a way that only the first fall of the season can be. It’s even more breathtaking under the streetlight, where the snowbanks glimmer like millions of fractured diamonds.

Gon looks back at Killua with a beam. “This all reminds me of you, actually.”

Killua sputters, face flushing. “You- shut up. God. You never stop saying embarrassing things, do you?”

“Nope!” Gon says cheerfully. He makes his way over to where Killua is standing, his ivory cheeks now a brilliant red. His hands move to hold Killua’s face in his hands and he can’t help but smile softly at the way Killua pouts.

“Will you ever stop torturing me?” Killua grumbles. Despite his words, he makes no move to stop Gon; instead he curls his fingers lightly around Gon’s wrists, holding him in place just like Gon is holding Killua. The fond warmth in his blue eyes is enough to make Gon’s heart skip.

Gon’s smile widens. “Why should I stop,” he says teasingly. “When you always blush so pretty for me every time?”

“Ugh, Gon.” Killua scrunches his nose and Gon laughs. “You’re so- ugh.”

“So, what? Hmmm?”

“Embarrassing,” Killua hisses.

“Not embarrassing enough to stop you from moving in with me, though!”

Killua huffs. “Apparently not. But keep it up and we’ll see what happens.”

Gon chuckles at the blatant fib. “You’re funny, Killua. You couldn’t resist me even if you tried.”

Killua’s eyes flash. “Oh, really. How about we-”

Gon rushes forward, tilting his head to get the right angle at the very last second. He kisses Killua before the other college undergrad can get another word out, soft and slow and gentle, and Killua melts into his arms.

Gon loves moments like these; the quiet ones when time stands still and his world narrows down to Killua. Killua, and the feel of his cool, chapped lips on his. Killua and the little sigh he makes between kisses. Killua and his steel-like strength and his beauty and his wit. His undying loyalty for his sister and never-ending ability to make Gon feel like he’s the luckiest man on earth.  

Killua, who Gon fell in love with on an accidental chance, but whom he now could not imagine living without.

“You’re still embarrassing,” Killua whispers, pressing his forehead against Gon’s and staring directly into his eyes.

Gon hums in acknowledgement. “Only ‘cause I’m honest. The snow really does remind me of you, though. The color, the temperature.”

“Hey! I’m not that cold, okay-”

“Then why do you snuggle up to me every night in our bed for warmth? You give me goosebumps when you do that, Killua! You’re always freezing.”

Killua snorts. Gon feels long fingers weave through his spikes as Killua says, “Maybe you’re just too warm. Ever think of that? You’re like a furnace or something.”

“Maybe you just like snuggling with me.”

“We’ve been dating for over a year now,” Killua says, exasperated. “That’s what couples do, Gon.”

Gon grins. “Yeah, but you’ve never admitted to liking it, before.”

“I shouldn’t have to admit something like that, you doofus-”

He cuts himself off in an ear-splitting shriek. He shoves Gon off him, the strength of his push enough to send Gon toppling backwards into the snow.

By the time he sits up, Gon is cackling uncontrollably. His cheeks ache from how wide he’s smiling and he can barely catch his breath to keep on laughing. Killua, on the other hand, flails and arches his back like a cat. He’s got one arm shoved down the back of his jacket and is spitting out curses left and right. The sight only succeeds in making Gon fall over, still wheezing.

Finally, the handful of snow that Gon shoved down Killua’s back falls out his jacket and onto the ground with a dull thud.

For a few seconds, Killua just stares at the lump of snow, chest heaving. Then he raises his gaze to Gon and all laughter instantly dies in Gon’s throat.

“Gon,” Killua says lowly. His eyes are narrowed into thin icy slits. “You’re dead meat.”

Gon’s smile falls of his face. Uh, oh.

He leaps upwards and starts running. He ducks just in time for ball of snow to fly over his head, and then he’s laughing again while Killua howls furiously at his back.

“I LOVE YOU, KILLUA!” he hollers over his shoulder and his nearly met with a face full of snow.

“SHUT UP AND GET BACK HERE, YOU IDIOT!!!” is all he gets in return. “THIS ISN’T OVER, GON!!!”

Gon only laughs harder at that, heart full and bursting while butterflies came alive in his chest.

This is his life now. Killua is his life now, and Gon couldn’t be happier.