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College X Drabbles

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It was the beginning of the new semester. The air was just starting to chill, canceling out the stagnant heat from the summer. This felt like a fresh start for most people, but not Meruem. He wasn’t even a month into the the school year, and he was losing his mind. He felt restless so he had decided to take a walk to clear his head. This was his favorite time of year and he couldn’t even enjoy it.

 

He needed to find some place to be alone. Meruem had just moved into a dorm with a few of his friends for his 3rd year, and things were getting crowded. Youpi and Pitou were bearable, but it was Pouf who was driving him up a wall. If he wasn’t practicing his violin at an ungodly hour, he was following Meruem everywhere he went that wasn’t class. Pitou and him had suspected this would happen since Pouf’s feelings were transparently clear. Even so Meruem was over this behavior, they’d have to have a talk sooner than later.

 

He breathed in the fresh autumn air and headed off towards the library. It was always pretty empty around midday because most people were in class. The ones who were there normally kept to themselves or reserved a study room. It would be a nice place to collect his thoughts on what to do about his current rooming situation.

 

Finding a spot near a window, he sat down and opened it a crack to let in some air. He had to go about this somewhat delicately since Pouf was easy to upset. He idly scrolled through his phone as he went through the pros and cons to his ordeal. It had been about 20 minutes when a distinctive bump startled him out of his thoughts. Annoyed he looked up to see a girl setting down what looked to be a board game and a bag.

 

He looked around the library to see if the tables had suddenly filled up without him realizing it, but no there were several empty tables in their area. Looking behind his chair he noticed there was another free window spot. Did this girl want something from him? It had been about five minutes as she settled her things, and she had still said nothing. It was then he realized she had her eyes closed the whole time as she fiddled with her things. Did she not know he was there? How odd.

 

He narrowed his eyes at her in a fruitless attempt to intimidate her away from his table, but of course her eyes stayed shut. She was currently wiping her nose on the white sleeve of her oversized sweater, and going through the small bag she had sat down. Normally he’d find this gross or unsightly but the way this girl held herself made her running nose seem almost endearing.

 

It had been about fifteen minutes, and neither of them had acknowledged each other. This was getting ridiculous, he had to say something.

 

“Comfortable?” was his snide remark.
That seemed to do it though, because the girl jumped in her seat pushing her cane over in the process. Meruem blinked, he hadn’t noticed the cane before. Could it be that she couldn’t actually see him?

 

“I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed, standing up, “I--II had no idea anyone was here...I can go to a different spot!”

 

“You can stay, I don’t mind,” he said confusing himself. Then again he wasn’t about to push a blind person’s stuff off and make her move.

 

“Oh.. are you sure?” she asked, her eyes still closed to his discomfort.

 

“Of course. It’s fine,” he said, “What is it you have there?”

 

She sat back down, leaning her cane back against the table, “It’s a gungi board. Have you ever played?”

 

“No,” he answered, taking a closer look. It was a plain brown board, almost like a slab of wood, with a grid etched into it. It looked rather simple for a game, but he had no idea what the rules were.

 

“It’s my favorite game!” she said raising her hands as she talked, “I’ve started playing in competitions this semester, and I haven’t lost yet!”

 

“Interesting…” he stared at her, observing, “How do you play?”

 

“Oh you really want to know?” she sniffed, wiping her nose again, “Yea, I can show you. It’s a little complic--”

 

“SSHHHH” shushed a nearby librarian.

 

Meruem abruptly turned and glared at them, but they glared back just as hard. He hated being interrupted, especially in such a rude way. At least in his opinion. When he turned back the girl had her head sheepishly turned her head down with her arms crossed. He felt another rush of anger,but he wasn’t sure why. He had just met her after all.

 

After a few moments of silence he spoke up, “Continue.”

“Sorry…” she whispered, “Sometimes I don’t realize when my voice gets louder…”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” he assured her, “Tell me how to play, I want to know.”

She spent the next half hour explaining the basics of gungi with Meruem hanging on her every word. The bag had been emptied to reveal black and white pieces that she placed on either sides of the board. She then went through the moves and strategies to get to the games end goal. It was interesting, but still pretty confusing. This girl seemed smarter than she initially appeared if she was able to play this complicated game competitively with no losses.

 

“Do you want to try to play me?” she finally asked.

 

“Are you sure? What if I break your winning streak?” he asked feeling cocky, “What would you do then?”

 

“I guess I’d be impressed,” she said nonchalantly, “but I doubt you could beat me on your first try right?”

 

“You seem confident, but I’m a fast learner,” he said flicking one of the pieces at her.

 

She laughed, “Me too! That doesn’t mean anything!”

 

He found himself smiling and was thankful she couldn’t see him. Normally if anyone else had acted so casually with him he wouldn’t like it, but he felt at ease. Their back and forth was nice, it wasn’t everyday someone challenged him so openly even it wasn’t serious. He intimidated most people he met, and if they stuck around it wasn’t for long. His roommates were his longest standing friends.

 

“Sorry.. Did I upset you?” she asked suddenly, “You havent said anything…”

 

“No, I was just thinking,” he replied, “I honestly only remember half of what you told me so maybe we can play sometime after I read the rules.”

 

“Oh okay!” she said handing him a small book from her bag, “Here you go!”

 

“I…” he stared at the book she gave him, smiling more now, “This is….”

“What’s wrong?” she sniffed, her eyebrows upturned in worry.

 

“I can’t read this,” he laughed, tracing the braille scattering the book.

“Wha-- Oh duh of course,” she said as she accidentally grasped his arm instead of the book, “Sorry! Sorry!”

 

‘This is nice,’ he thought again. It was started to worry him though, they had only spent a little over an hour together. This girl just showed up out of  nowhere, and now he laughing and smiling like some idiot. It’s not like they’re friends… yet.

A thought suddenly occurred to him, “I don’t know your name.” It was more of a statement than a question, but it got the point across. She looked up at him opening her eyes a for second before closing them again. He barely caught a glance of blue, it wasn’t enough.

 

“Komugi,” she said, her eyes fluttering once more.

 

“What?” he asked, staring.

 

“That’s my name,” she explained, “Komugi.”

 

He continued to stare until she sneezed breaking his trace. She almost rubbed her nose on her sleeve like usual, but stopped looking a little uncomfortable. She patted around the table and gave up with a sigh.

 

He handed her a tissue box  from the ledge behind him, “Meruem.”

 

“What?” she asked as he nudged the box at her. She looked relieved and blew her nose loudly, going through at least three tissues. He forced himself to keep a straight face.

“That’s my name,” he said once she was finished.

 

“Meruem…” she repeated back, “Thanks, my nose is always running…”

 

“Allergies?” he found himself asking.

 

“It’s always been like this..” she said quietly, “but it’s getting colder so that doesnt help.”

 

“I like this time of year,” he said trying to appear casual again, “Right before it gets too cold.”

“Is that why the window is open?” she asked surprising him, “I could feel the breeze.”

 

“Does it bother you?”

 

“No.”

 

The conversation was starting to lag, and Meruem wasn’t sure what to say to keep it going. He didn’t want to end their interaction awkwardly if he wanted to see her again. Which he did. Drumming his fingers on the table he thought for a minute. She had quietly started rearranging the pieces on her board, probably reviewing some moves she was planning. He watched her go through the motions with mild interest, whatever spell they were under was broken now.

 

Just then a big gust of wind came through, cracking the window open further. The chill caused a rough shiver to go through Komugi making her sneeze three times in a row. While she was blowing her nose, he slammed the window shut against the strong wind. Then an idea stuck him.

“There’s a coffee shop nearby,” he said breaking their silence, “Did you want to go? You can bring your board if you still wanted to play.”

 

“I thought you didn’t want to play right away?” she questioned, already packing up her pieces to go with him.

 

“If I forget something you can tell me,” he smiled.

 

“Yea! You can ask me anything!”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

--

 

Meruem got back to his dorm later than he intended. Komugi and him had played several rounds of gungi at the coffee shop, and then he had walked her home. It felt like the right thing to do since it was dark out, but she said it didn’t make any difference since she couldn’t tell anyways. He didn’t tell her that wasn’t why he was worried, but it made him realize how innocent she was.

 

With every game they played he felt himself growing more comfortable with the rules. By the time they had played five games he was pretty confident in himself. He was nowhere as good as her though, he didn’t expect he would be. She always had a counter to his moves, she wasn’t surprised by any of his strategies.

 

It was odd. He had never had such a good time losing at something before. Normally if he couldn’t do something right the first time it infuriated him to no end, let alone someone beating him at something. He should be fed up with her and the whole day he’s had, but instead he was looking forward to seeing her again. He was looking forward to losing to her again.

 

The door to his room he shared with Pitou opened. They came out carrying some books and their laptop and settled themselves next to him at the table.

“You’re home late,” they stated coyly, “Get into any trouble?”

 

He rolled his eyes, “It’s not that late. Are the others around?”

 

“Just us for the time being,” they answered, “How long that will last? Who knows…”

 

He sighed, resting his head on his arms. He totally forgot about talking to Pouf. Meruem had no idea what he was going to say, and honestly didn’t care at this point. He was still feeling content after his day with Komugi, and he wasn’t about to sour that by confronting Pouf. Still they needed to set some boundaries soon.

 

“I don’t think we should talk to Pouf tonight…” he muttered into his arms.

 

“Oh don’t worry about that. Youpi said he’d take care of it, thank god,” they replied, “I think that’s why they are both out right now.”

 

He sat up, “Oh really? That’s going to be an interesting conversation…”

 

“Yea well, it’s embarrassing enough to have your crush tell you ‘I’m not interested’ when they weren’t supposed to know in the first place!” Pitou laughed, “He’ll probably sulk for a few days, but we don’t room with him so it’s Youpi’s problem now!”

 

“How empathetic of you,” he smirked.

 

Pitou leaned in giving him one of their flirtatious looks, “So…. where were you then?”

 

“Out.”

 

They let out a fit of giggles, “I don’t know why I expected anything more!”

 

--

 

The next morning Komugi woke to one of her cats pawing at her face. She shot up and sneezed twice scaring them away. What a way to start the morning, she thought. She got up and went through the motions of getting ready for the day. Everything felt off as she washed her face and brushed her teeth. It was weird stagnant feeling in the pit of her stomach that made it hard to focus. Was she feeling anxious?

 

Yesterday sent her spinning, she had made a new friend in the most peculiar way. Just by accident he took an interest in her. It was an odd thing that didn’t happen often, even though she made similar mistakes at least once a day. At first she thought he was just being nice, but when Meruem had invited her to that coffee shop she knew it wasn’t about being civil. He actually liked learning about gungi and playing with her multiple times until he got the hang of it. It really warmed her heart, and she hoped she would see him again.

 

There really was no telling if she would though. He didn’t give her his number or vice versa so there was no way to get a hold of him. He would just have to find her.

 

Komugi gasped, she had an idea.

--

 

Wednesday. 3:15 PM.

 

That was when they had first met at the campus library. Komugi figured that if she wanted him to find her the smartest thing to do was be in the same place, at the same time, on the same day and the rest was up to him.

 

So, that’s where she found herself the next Wednesday at 3:00 PM in the library playing herself at gungi and taking notes in her head on different strategies. She was hoping she’d find Meruem or he’d find her before today, but there was no sign of him. To be fair she was a shut in during the weekend and then was rushing to classes to get ready for her midterms.

 

The worst part is he could be in the library right now, and she would never have a clue. He was very quiet the last time she remembered, and she wouldn’t put it past him to sneak up on her. He had that type of personality. This whole thing made her feel ridiculous, there was no real guarantee he’d show up, but if he did.. Oh god what would that mean?

 

What would be worse? If he didn’t show up and disappointed her or if he did show up and what? Would she disappoint him? She was used to disappointments regardless, but now she was thinking this was a bad idea. She was about to pack up and leave until she heard the sound of someone scooting a chair.

 

“You beat me here,” Meruem said sounding amused.

 

“Oh I w-wasn’t sure you’d come..” she said unsure of herself, “I’m-- that’s why I came…”

 

She groaned inwardly, this was exactly what she was worried about. He actually does show up right on time and she acts so awkward. As if this actually meant something more than… whatever this was. Maybe this anticipation she felt had spoiled things after all.

 

She was too distracted with her own thoughts at first to hear Meruem turning the pages in a book and writing down notes, “Oh are you doing some school work?”

 

“Huh?” he said as if he just realized she was there, “Oh no sorry, I found this book about gungi, and I had some questions.”

 

“What?” she asked, even though she her him plain as day. She was almost glowing. He had gotten a book about gungi just to play it with her? He had questions? This was completely surreal, nothing like this happened to her.

 

“Well I had been writing down some strategies but then I keep finding ways you would counter them... “ he sighed, “It’s frustrating, how can you corner me at every move?”

He sounded almost deep in thought, not as if he was joking with her. She asked him what strategies he had written down. He thought of some pretty clever ideas that she herself had used in tournaments as well, but there was a counter move to everything he suggested. He was thinking too early into the game, while when she played she read the opponents moves as they played out and made her own pattern around them to victory. It was hard to explain, but he listened contently all the same.

 

It was nice to have someone to talk to about gungi with that was interested to learn from her. She had won her fair share of competitions early in the game, but no one had yet asked her to teach them her moves. She was too new to be sought after for advice, but won too much to be a novice.

 

Before she knew what was happening, an hour had gone by and they had already strategized and played a few games. Was this going to be a common occurance between them, she thought during their fourth game. Would they do other things together?

 

“I still have a lot to learn about this game…” Meruem sighed after his fifth loss, “To think I was so confident when I first got here.”

 

Komugi laughed, “You’ve gotten alot better from last time!”

 

“At least there’s that,” he agreed, “anyways thanks for taking the time to teach me. This game is very interesting.”

 

“It’s no problem, I think so too!” she said, “No one’s ever asked me for advice about it.”

“That’s surprising, if anything I’d say you’re the one to ask,” he complimented.

“II- I don’t know, but thanks so for saying so,” she sniffed.

 

The silence that came next was long but comfortable as Meruem wrote in his notebook about their last few strategies. She continued move the various pieces on her side, noting their titles in her head. It was a very tranquil moment in a way.

 

She wondered how long this would last. Not just today, but their future interactions if there were going to be more. Komugi tried to think of other things they could do together to keep their acquaintance going a little longer. Gungi was one of the only things she really focused on, so once this was burnt out what else was there. Maybe it was too early to have these thoughts, or at least entertain them. She was probably the only one having these weird doubts.

 

Out of the blue, Meruem asked, “Do you ever listen to our university’s radio station?”

 

“Huh? Oh sometimes yea,” she said, “It depends what’s on.”

“You should listen tonight,” he explained, “I’m going to have a slot to play music with my friend.”

 

“Oh wow that’s so cool!” she gushed, bringing her hands to her face, “What time?”

 

“It’s at 8:00 PM, lasts an hour,” she heard him start to put his stuff away, “I have to be there an hour early though. Do you want walk around until then?”

“Sure!” she said, “Walk around where?”

 

He picked up her board once she put the pieces away and put it under his arm, “Who cares, it’s a nice day out. I’ll carry your board.”

 

“Thanks!”

 

--

 

They ended up walking to the arboretum across from the library. It wasn’t much to look at with the current weather in Meruem’s opinion, but Komugi didn’t mind. What she did mind was the ‘nice day’ he’d mention earlier. It was freezing outside with the wind coming and going, even with her coat wrapped tightly around her. Meruem didn’t seem to mind however, and had even claimed he ‘d taken his jacket off. There was no way, she thought.

 

There was a comfortable silence between them as he led her threw the paths around the dying gardens. It was that same tranquil feeling. Komugi wondered if this would be a common occurrence between them. She hoped so. It had been an hour since they started and they had already reached the entrance again. Meruem led them to a bench nearby to sit for a while.

 

They had started talking again, but it was about themselves this time. Komugi told him about how she found her two cats, they were abandoned outside her dorm freshman year. She wasn’t supposed to have pets, but she couldn’t leave them out in the cold. Meruem thought this spoke very true to her character, and only made her more endearing to him.

 

When she asked about him, Meruem wasn’t as open about himself, but he did tell her some things. She found out he had three other roommates who he had been friends with for a while, and that he was an only child of a single mother. Normally these claims would have been followed with some sort of emotional story or anecdote, but he expressed his thoughts more as statements than sentiments. She wasn’t going to pry for more information though. It was nice to at least know something about his past.

 

The wind had picked up considerably, and it was starting to get to Komugi. The longer they sat there, the colder it got, and she wasn’t sure hom much longer she could stand. She knew her nose was running a lot more than usual, but she had come prepared this time with tissus. When she couldn’t hold it in anymore she sneezed four times in a row. Meruem had finally realized the discomfort she was in, and tried to resolve it.

 

“Hold on,” he said reaching into his bag. He handed her what felt to be a plush knit, “My roommate stuck their scarf in my bag.”

 

She wrapped it around herself quickly to cover her blush, “T-thanks!”

 

“Just keep it, it serves them right to think I’d take care of their stuff..”

 

Komugi let out a loud laugh, “If I let you borrow anything, don’t just give it away!”

“I won’t!” he jested, putting an arm around her and pulling her close.

Komugi decided she didn’t mind the cold that much anymore.

 

--

 

Meruem showed up to the station five minutes before they were about to start their slot to Pitou’s dismay. They had no idea what the theme was for the night and Meruem was the one who had the playlists. When he finally got there in the nick of time, they were up in arms, but there wasn’t enough time to give him a full lecture.

 

“That’s the last time I let you decide the show’s theme!” they scolded, putting their headphones on, “At least you showed up.”

 

“I lost track of time,” was his apology.

 

“Doing what? It’s not like you to be so out of it,” they asked, “Does this have anything to do with the reason you got home late the other night?”

 

How do they know everything, he thought to himself, not bothering to answer their question. He got his computer set up and headphones on. Pitou didn’t seem truly upset, but he knew this gig was important to them so he did feel a little guilty. They had worked hard to get their slot at a normal hour so their show could actually be heard, which was a hard thing to do at this university. They had some competition with some other groups who had music themes and talk shows that were well liked in the community.  As long he wasn’t late though at least the show could go on.

 

“You can do whatever intro you want, here’s some notes,” he said handing them a

notebook, “Just wing it, I can change things up if you go off script.”

 

They looked less annoyed and more thankful now, “Okay fine, but we aren’t done talking about this.”

 

“Yeah yeah,” he replied as he flipped on the ‘ON AIR’ switch.




Chapter Text

“Your first year of college is coming up soon…” Illumi stated one day at breakfast.

 

It was just the two of them this early in the morning as it usually was, plus their grandfather on occasion. Killua was about to start his freshman year at the same school as Illumi so he figured this conversation was bound to come up soon. He poked his eggs idly while Illumi innocently poured themselves a cup of coffee across the kitchen. Their next words might not go as calmly as the scene playing out right now.

 

Illumi glanced at him to see if he had heard, “One month left.”

 

“Yea, I know.. So what?” Killua asked. He felt agitated already.

 

Illumi sat next to him at the breakfast nook looking ahead, not at anything in particular. This type of behavior made Killua tense. They usually acted like this when they were about say something he didn’t want to hear. He straighten up to try to level himself with Illumi’s height, so they weren’t as intimidating.

 

“I think you should move in with me for your first year,” they said, still not looking directly at Killua yet.

 

Killua wasn’t shocked by this revelation, “Is that it?”

 

Illumi turned towards him finally, almost surprised, “You don’t mind?”

 

“I figured you or mom would suggest it, and I’d rather not look for a dorm,” Killua said, looking away from his sibling’s intense stare, “You’re apartment’s pretty cool anyways…”

 

Illumi seemed to relax a little bit, “Well that’s good to hear.”

Killua fidgeted, it was rare when the two of them were ever on the same page, “but don’t you have a roommate?”

 

“Not anymore, he graduated. He might stop by every now and then but he’s living pretty nomadic these days,” they explained, “We can move your stuff in whenever your ready.”

 

Killua wasn’t used to Illumi being so accommodating so he wasn’t sure how to react.  Maybe it was because he had gone with their idea so freely, and didn’t put up a front like he normally did. Either way it made for an awkward exchange on Killua’s behalf, but Illumi always knew just what to say to bring things full circle.

 

“Mother was worried, you can’t blame her.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean!” Killua demanded, his mood turning sour.

 

Illumi went back to their normal monotone expression, “Nothing about you. She’d be worried no matter what.”

“No matter what?”

 

“Mother wasn’t very.. pleased about who I was rooming with the past couple of years,” Illumi admitted, “I assume that’s why she preferred you live with me for now so you ‘don’t make the same mistakes’ as she put it.”

 

The hostility in Illumi’s voice near the end did not go unnoticed. Killua hadn’t seen this side of them very often, normally Illumi and their mother saw eye to eye on everything. Neither of them approved of many people, but their mother especially when it came to her children’s ‘peers’. The word ‘friend’ was not casually thrown around in their household like it was others.

 

It was refreshing to see them just as annoyed with her constant meddling.  Killua hoped that living together would show Illumi that they were in this together, and they were not their mother’s spy.

 

--

 

“So how’d it go? Did the twerp put up a fight?”

 

Illumi had plans to meet up with Hisoka later in the day before he left for Yorknew city. They has suggested they get together at a cafe on campus so they could make sure the apartment was ready to move in Killua’s stuff. Hisoka had packed up the last of his stuff in storage for the time being.

 

They were currently playing cards, one of the ridiculous games Hisoka had made up. Illumi wished their last moments together weren’t so mundane, it didn’t suit either of them. They sighed discarding a hand.

 

“Surprisingly...no,” Illumi replied.

 

“Surprising indeed,” Hisoka agreed reshuffling the deck, “but it’s for the best I suppose. You were so stressed about this for most of the summer.”

 

“I wouldn’t say stressed..”

 

Hisoka smirked, “And to think he came along so willingly. Almost makes you think of all the time you wasted worrying.”

Illumi huffed uncharacteristically, “Well you know just what to say to ruin a mood. As always.”

 

Hisoka didn’t say anything, but rolled his eyes at the comment. ‘There was a mood?’ he thought. He continued shuffling and dealing out their hands as Illumi sipped their coffee. It was going to be weird being away from them for so long after living together for two years. Hisoka chose not to dwell on it too much or he’d risk the same fate as Illumi.

 

“Well it’s good to see you have relaxed some,” he commented.

“Not that it matters.”

 

That got Hisoka’s attention, it was rare that Illumi ever initiated any sentiment between them first. Not that they didn’t reciprocate in their own way.

 

“Don’t tell me you’ll miss me when I go?” he asked playfully, hoping to lighten the mood. It did not. Illumi’s expression went from unimpressed to harsh in a matter of seconds after that remark.  

 

“Don’t joke around about this for once,” they said agitated, “It’s like you’re saying you don’t care.”

 

Hisoka wasn’t expecting that at all. Maybe Illumi was taking this separation harder than they had let on. It wasn’t going to change anything. Killua was still going to move in, and Hisoka was going to travel for who knows how long. Still it didn’t seem right coming from someone who usually had such an aloof and distant reaction to most things.

 

“Of course I care,” was all he could think of, “I was just trying to lighten the mood. I am leaving today after all.”

 

“Sometimes you can’t make light of things. You are ‘leaving today after all.’” Illumi mocked.

“My my what a development,” Hisoka said trying to take their hand.

 

Illumi scoffed, retracting back.

 

“You’re this upset? It’s unlike you.”

 

Hisoka was right. It was unlike them. They didn’t understand why they were in such a bad mood. Killua had agreed to move in, and Hisoka was actually doing what he was told for once. Everything should be fine, and they should be somewhat content considering the circumstances.

 

Things were changing though. This was their last year of school, and it would determine their future for the next several years. If they wanted to stay in their family’s brand and line of work they had to make themselves a worthy asset. They didn’t want to be given this opportunity because of their family’s name, they wanted to earn it. It was a lot of pressure, and the fact that on top of it Hisoka would be gone… Illumi didn’t want to admit that that’s what didn’t sit well with them..

 

Yet there they were basically broadcasting those feelings by acting so hostile towards him. When instead they should be trying to make the best of the situation and not act so attached. It seemed like Hisoka certainly wasn’t. He had taken back the cards and started stacking them instead. Illumi’s face was turned away in thought, though their expression still distraught.

 

“Time is a weird thing when you think about it,” he started, ignoring Illumi’s skeptical glance, “If I were a year younger or you were a year older we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Isn’t that strange? How we bind ourselves to it the moment we are born. Time’s chains around our necks telling us where to go and who we can be, when we can be it…”

 

Illumi didn’t say anything, just openly stared like they did when Hisoka went on these types of monologues.

 

“.... we just go along with it,” his tone fell bitterly, “and I hate it.”

 

Hisoka had finally stop stacking the cards and now there was a perfectly constructed castle in between them. He locked eyes with Illumi’s through the towers, both of them holding a stare apathetic and cold. He removed one card from the bottom and the whole thing gracefully fell apart, scattering cards on the floor in the process.

 

“Don’t you?”

 

--

 

The rest of the day felt robotic to Illumi after their exchange at the cafe. They shut off their emotions completely in an attempt to pretend everything was the same. It made for a cold farewell on their part, but of course Hisoka didn’t seem to mind. If anything he said it made him feel better to see they were back to their normal distant demeanor. They weren’t though, for once in their life Illumi was regretting their decisions.

 

Of course that didn’t mean they regretted asking Killua to take Hisoka’s place in the apartment. That was the one thing that they were the most relieved went well. It seemed like Killua might even be excited to move in with them, which was definitely not expected. Their sibling relationship was often one sided.

 

It was everything else that was bothering them, and they weren’t one to vent so instead all their worries stayed on the back burner.  While they instead decided to take things out on Hisoka, because he was leaving. Leaving Illumi to deal with everything on their own like it was before they met. There was no real reason to blame Hisoka though, he hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact he went out of his way to make the process easier for Illumi by getting all of his stuff out whether or not he actually had a place to put it. Just so things would be easier for them to have Killua move in.

 

The whole situation was nauseating, and Illumi wondered if this is what it felt like to miss someone even before they left. That made them feel sick to their stomach. They had never felt that way about anyone except their family, and even then it might have been more forced than they remembered.

 

Then they realized that maybe the only regret they had was not telling Hisoka how they were actually feeling. It was hinted at it at the cafe, but it came off more as an attack. It wasn’t like they wanted to make a declaration of love, just the thought of it made them ill. No, it was just wanting to give him some kind of reassurance that he would be missed or if anything just being able to honestly talk about his worries for the future.

 

The most ridiculous thing was that they already knew Hisoka assumed all this. It was clear during his little rant earlier that he understood why Illumi was upset. So why did it matter if he brought everything up ‘honestly’ or regretted leaving him with such an absent goodbye?

 

“Am I that pathetic that I need closure?” they asked to no one in particular.

 

A knock shook them from their thoughts. They already knew who it was before they opened the door. It made no sense for him to be back here but there he was looking disheveled and upset.

 

“Need something?” was their cold reply.

 

“I don’t need anything.”

 

Apparently that was enough for Illumi. They grabbed him roughly by the neck pulling him into what was once their apartment. Hisoka’s tongue was already in their mouth and Illumi’s nails dug into his back so hard they could feel blood. Neither of them had ever done this sober so there was a feeling of disgust in the pit of Illumi’s stomach that was usually dulled by alcohol or some kind of drug.

 

If they were to let this carry on the way things usually went that would mean accepting the fact that Hisoka actually meant something to him more than a friend, and being a friend was already a big step for them. Illumi suddenly wished they had been three drinks in by the time Hisoka showed up so they wouldn’t have to deal with this or could at least blame their behavior on something fake.

 

They couldn’t bring themselves to break away though, as Hisoka started to suck on their neck hard enough to leave bruises. One of his hands was tangled in their hair, pulling hard to give him better access. It was too much, too fast. Illumi shoved Hisoka off hard enough to cause him to fall back, tearing out strands of their hair. He looked excited for a moment until he saw their face.

 

Illumi had brought a hand up to their head, dazed by the pain. Their neck was bleeding as well from the bite Hisoka gave them when they pushed him away. Everything felt wrong and blurry for some reason. Hisoka was still on the floor staring them as if they had two heads. Illumi didn’t know what to say anymore.

 

“Illumi…?”

 

“Wha-at?” their voice cracked. They finally realized the reason he was so shocked, Illumi had tears streaming down their face. The realization almost more startling than the action itself. They couldn’t bring themselves to move.

 

“I’ve never seen you cry before,” Hisoka said standing up, “that’s what’s happening right? You’re not short circuiting.”

“Can’t you ever be serious?” they hissed.

 

“Can’t you ever not?” Hisoka retorted.

 

They glared at him with an intensity that shook him to his core, “This doesn’t happen to me !”

 

Hisoka tried to bring a hand up to their face, but they smacked it away hard. His eyes ran over the blood seeping into their shirt. This was very uncharted territory for either of them.

 

“Well then I’m honored to have caused such a reaction,” he laughed, “I am serious, that’s why I came back.”

 

“That doesn’t make any sense,” they said wiping their eyes, “ this doesn’t make any sense.”

 

“Either way, I’m glad to see you’re just as tormented as me,” he said, wiping the blood off their neck with his sleeve, “Do you realize how frustrating it is dealing with your apathy.”

 

Illumi said nothing, their expression blank. As if giving him an example.

 

“You would think we were strangers who met on the bus with the goodbye you gave me today,” he complained.

 

“You didn’t seem to mind..”

 

“Of course I mind!” he exclaimed bringing his hands to his head in exaggerated anger, “We’ve been together for two years!”

 

Lived together.”

 

“Oh thank you for the clarification,” he said, “what bullshit.”

 

Illumi roughly pushed his shoulder, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

Hisoka laughed, “You say you and your little brother are so different, but I can’t keep count of how many times he’s said that to you.”

 

They scoffed at him, “Ridiculous, always changing the subject.”

 

Hisoka turned around and broke out into a laughing fit so hard he had to hold his sides. It would be an unnerving sight for anyone except Illumi. They waited for him to finish, the whole time giving him an unimpressed look.

 

“I’ve never met anyone so infuriating!” he finally said, “First you kiss me, then your crying, and now you’re acting like I’M the only one who has feelings?”

Illumi just cringed, shifting uncomfortably. They couldn’t necessarily disagree with him. Nothing like this had happened to them before though, and they didn’t know how to react properly. It was like they were fighting with themselves, toeing the line between honesty and hostility. This is what happened when you let your feelings take a back seat to everything else, Illumi assumed.

 

“The worst part is, I don’t even care,” he continued, “I think it’s great! Who knows why? It makes it all the harder to leave. Imagine how interesting things could get if I stayed?”

 

“You would think my mental breakdown is ‘interesting’” they sighed, exhausted.

 

“Yea, but nothing’s going to change if I leave,” he said sorrowfully, “You’re going to do what you do best, and the next time we see each other you’re going to pretend this never happened.”

 

“Well wouldn’t you?”

“No way!” he shouted suddenly, “I love the conflict, I wish you would punch me in the face! Don’t I deserve it anyways? You’re bleeding.”

 

“So are you, we’re even,” they said nonchalantly.

 

“What?” Hisoka questioned, as if he didn’t just ask Illumi to attack him. He reached around, touching the wet groves dug into his back, “Wow I didn’t even notice, how exciting!”

 

He licked the blood off his fingers in an attempt to appear seductive, but they rolled their eyes in response. Hisoka really didn’t know when to quit.

 

“Fine don’t punch me,” he said exasperated, “I know you’re stressed over more than just me.”

 

They raised an eyebrow as Hisoka made his over to the couch to sit down. This situation had taken so many turns that relaxing was now a surprising change to their current conflict. He waved a hand over at them, beckoning them to join. Illumi sat down next to him, putting a respectable amount of space between them.

 

“Having a family like yours would drive anyone up a wall, even you,” he said, “and I’m sure that having Killua here will bring along a lot of pressure.”

 

He hit the nail on the head, and they were relieved they didn’t have to explain themselves. Hisoka scooted closer, to Illumi’s dismay, putting an arm behind them on the edge of the couch. They looked away from his intense stare, but shifted closer all the same.

 

“I’m not going to be gone forever,” he assured, “but I have to leave, for myself.”

 

“Yea,” was all they could say.

 

The silence was heavy as they continued to avoid his eyes, by the time they looked up Hisoka was looking down in thought. His eyelashes resting delicately on his cheeks. You would never assume how destructive he was while he was like this.

 

Illumi placed a chaste kiss to his lips, “I’ll miss you.”

 

Hisoka smiled, “That’s all I wanted to hear.”








Chapter Text

It was supposed to be a rainy day but sunlight filled Illumi’s room much to their dismay. They were currently burrowed in a three layer cocoon of blankets surrounded by pillows. Even under there they could tell the sun was harsher than normal this morning. Just their luck, they had a terrible headache and still felt nauseous from the previous nights ventures. It had been a while since Illumi was this hungover. The last time had been of course because of Hisoka, and Illumi pushed the memories of their drunken escapades to the back of their mind.

Carefully peeking out of their blankets they saw that Feitan and Shizuku were curled together in their own small pile of blankets and pillows by the door. That was a problem, because as soon as Illumi got up they were going to be making a mad dash to the bathroom to throw up.They wondered who else had stayed the night after the party. Killua was staying at his friend’s dorm for the weekend so there might be some people crashed on his bed too.

It was Machi’s birthday and Chrollo had convinced them to come out with his group to celebrate. If it was anyone else they would have said no, but they liked Machi. The two of them were both fashion majors and had a few classes together. Illumi admired her design choices and color risks, and often consulted her about ideas they had as well. So when Chrollo extended the invitation they had accepted, expecting to make an appearance, drop off a gift, and be gone within the hour. The others had a different idea that Illumi should have anticipated.

It was odd hanging out with them without Hisoka there at first, they were his friends after all. Regardless Illumi was welcomed warmly with punches and a round of shots which was the norm for any of their get togethers. They weren’t entirely sure how the night went, but they all started at a bar and ended up at Illumi’s place. Now everyone was probably piled up around the apartment, passed out and hungover. Surprisingly that wasn’t entirely unwelcome.

Illumi’s phone dinged, bringing them out of their thoughts. Feitan groaned and pressed a pillow to his head in protest. Silencing their phone, Illumi saw it was a text from Hisoka…

HM: Have fun last night?~

IZ: I guess that’s one way to put it…

HM: Chrollo’s friends are definitely a handful! Paku was posting photos !! <3

IZ: oh great.

HM: don’t worry MOST of them aren’t incriminating….
HM: where did you end up?

IZ: everyone’s in our apartment.

HM: OUR apartment?? Well thats surprising, how can you be so sure?~

IZ: Feitan and Shizuku passed out in my room.

HM: not who I had pictured you with, but whatever floats your boat!! <33

IZ: on the floor.

HM: not feeling chatty? Its noon!

IZ: h u n g o v e r

HM: you’re such a lightweight~!

IZ: It’s like I can hear your voice screaming at me as I read.

HM: that’s so romantic~<3

IZ: I want to throw up.

HM: grossssss. what a mood killer.
HM: why were you all together anyways??

IZ: Machi’s birthday.

HM: I MISSED MACHI’S BIRTHDAY!?!?!!

IZ: I’m sure she’ll forgive you.

HM: PLEASE you have to give her a kiss for me.

IZ: not likely.

HM: make sure there’s tongue so she knows it’s from me!!!

IZ: alright.

HM: AHAHHA seriously!?!?!

IZ: I just want you to stop

HM: pics or it didn’t happen~<3
HM: I’m glad you had some fun with them though. Do you think you’ll start hanging out with them more?

IZ: maybe.

HM: hey that’s the best I could hope for

IZ: I’m going to go throw up and swallow 4 raw eggs.

HM: without me ;)

IZ: good bye.

HM: <333333333333333

--

Once Illumi made their way out of the bathroom, they went into the living room to see Chrollo was the only other one up. Machi was curled up on the couch and Nobunaga was sprawled out on the floor next to her. Shalnark and Uvogin were probably in Killua’s room from the heavy snoring they heard in there. Chrollo had an extra cup of coffee waiting for them on the table.

Illumi nodded thanks, and headed to the fridge. They plopped a few eggs in a glass and without hesitation gulped the concoction down in one go. They noticed Chrollo starring, not amused as one would think but, something in his eyes that almost made them uncomfortably aware of themselves. Dismissing that thought, Illumi sat down next to him drinking the bitter coffee.

“Impressive,” Chrollo started, tapping his cup, “You’ve seen better days.”

“I’d say the same for you,” they scoffed.

“I meant in general…” he said, trailing, “At the party, you showed up ready to leave.”

“I didn’t mean to offend.”

“Oh no, no one was offended,” he assured, “We’re glad you ended up staying the whole time is what I meant..”

“Is it really?” they asked, swirling their coffee, “What you meant?”

Chrollo laughed, “Always on top of it, Illumi. Well what I mean is, how have things been with you lately?”

“Fine.”

A silence passed between, Illumi looking cold and unimpressed, while Chrollo waited for more. Nothing came, and the air between them was suddenly awkward.

“Fine huh?” he said, breaking the tension, “even after Hisoka left?”

 

So this is what he wanted, they thought, why would this even concern him? Illumi betrayed no surprised though, their expression unconcerned. He must have hoped this would strike a nerve with them, but there was no break. Chrollo had regretted bringing Hisoka up at all.

“Why are you so concerned, Chrollo? We aren’t close,” Illumi stated bluntly. They noticed the way his eyes darkened when they said his name, and that uncomfortable feeling was back.

“So you are attached to him then?” he asked.

“What an odd question,” they replied, “I’m not the type to be attached to anyone.”

Chrollo smirked, that dismissive answer was not what he wanted to hear. Either way it made this all the more interesting, and he was always looking for something that peaked his interest.

Illumi rolled their shoulders, they were too hungover to entertain anymore of this conversation. Chrollo’s stare was getting a tad too intense for their liking. It was clear where things would go if they continued, and it was definitely not what they wanted or expected.

“I had a good time last night, but I’d rather not go down this road,” they said, “be assured you’ll be seeing far less of me from now on.”

That seemed to get his attention, “You misunderstand… it’s my fault for not explaining myself. We want you to come out with us more, we were worried we’d never see you once Hisoka left. That’s all I’m saying.”

They sighed, it seemed like he was being honest, but Illumi wasn’t going to make light of what seemed to be an ulterior motive. He was one minute from making a pass at them, and now was dismissing everything to be their friend? What a coward, not that they were interested from the beginning. This whole talk left them feeling sicker than when they woke up.

“Fine.”

“That’s good to hear…” he sighed, “I didn’t mean to imply--”

“Illumi knows their hot shit Chrollo, stop making a fool of yourself!”

Machi lept from the couch with one of the blankets wrapped around her shoulders. She picked up Chrollo’s cup of coffee and finished it off in one gulp. It was like she had never had a hangover in her life.

“Sorry you have to deal with this ‘smooth talker’ Ilu,” she said, “He’s not as charming as he thinks he is.”

“That’s evident,” Illumi agreed.

“Whatever you can walk home Machi,” Chrollo retorted, “Just remember Paku sent me some pretty interesting photos from last night.”

“If I’m in them I’m sure they are,” she said simply, heading towards the bathroom.

“Extortion threats at lunch time…” Illumi remarked, “It’s no wonder Hisoka hangs around you all.”

--

Killua ended up coming home later that day. Illumi wasn’t expecting them back so soon, and was still cleaning up the apartment when he got back. Machi stayed to help, but to their surprise so did Feitan and Shizuku. Out of the group these three might be the most bearable, so they didn’t mind.
Illumi tried to push back the thoughts of their earlier interaction with Chrollo. They could tell just by his body language that he was interested in them. For what, that was still unknown, but it was obviously implied to be intimate. For a minute they wondered what Hisoka would say if he found out. He probably already knew...or would say something lewd about a threesome. Though the thought itself made them cringe it was not very surprising. Hisoka made his feelings very obvious, but respected that Illumi was not as forthcoming. It made things easier and harder now that he was gone.

Fortunately Machi hadn’t brought up the conversation she overheard, and everyone else seemed preoccupied with hangover cures than anything else. Things seemed oddly normal, even though they had spent only a short amount of time together. What caught Illumi off guard however was the fact that they had never introduced Killua to any of their friends. He had met Hisoka because they lived together, but never anyone else they spent time with. Apparently Killua felt the same, as a wave of shock fell over his face when he saw them cleaning with the others. It soon left and he played it off casually.

“You have a party here? Smells like beer,” Killua said, waving a hand over his nose, “No wonder you were so fine with me going out”

“I figured you would be gone the whole weekend, my mistake,” they replied, barely glancing his way.

Machi came in with a trash bag, “Is this your little brother!”

“I suppose for now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? You planning on killing me off?” he joked setting his bag down.

“You said it, not me,” Illumi said, “Kil, this is Machi, Feitan, and Shizuku. It was Machi’s birthday last night if you need an explanation.”

“Happy Birthday, I guess…” Killua said, feeling awkward as the three finally started staring at him.

“Wow, you guys look nothing alike?” Machi remarked.

“We get that a lot,” he said, throwing a box in Illumi’s direction, “Package for you in the office by the way. I’m going to my room.”

“Thanks a lot,” they deadpanned as the box hit the wall instead, “What a fine young man.”
“I’ll say… so what’d you get a present on MY birthday?” Machi asked picking it up, “Ohhhh it’s from Morow himself, what do you think it is?”

“Knowing that creep, he’s sent you a live organ or a sex toy,” Feitan said.

Illumi grabbed the package from her and read the address for themselves. It was from a P.O. box of course with Hisoka leading his nomad lifestyle. They shook it a little, there was something smaller inside jingling around. Feitan might be right about the sex toy prediction….

Opening the package they found inside was a small gold bracelet, nothing remotely what they had expected. There was a note as well, but Illumi pocketed it for another time. Machi and Feitan crowded them examining the gift as well. It was just a simple gold bracelet with two gold size adjusters on the side. This was a surprisingly pleasant present indeed.

Illumi slid the bracelet on cautiously, as if waiting for it to attack them all. Nothing happened, it just sat there innocently on their wrist, no shock or anything. Machi huffed in feigned annoyance.
“What is it?” Feitan asked.

 

“He gets Illumi a present on MY birthday?” she explained, “What a class act”

 

Surprisingly themself, they leaned over and kissed her cheek, “Hisoka told me to give you that.”

“What a team you two are…”

 

--

It had been a few hours since Feitan and Shizuku had left the apartment, but Machi had made herself at home for the time being. Illumi didn’t really mind since they saw each other often enough. She had started going through his patterns and fabric, commenting on some she thought were especially interesting. They were definitely kindred spirits, especially when it came to dealing with Hisoka.

Sitting down with their third cup of coffee, Illumi took out the note Hisoka had left with the bracelet. They weren’t sure why he would send them a present unless it was something obnoxious to annoy them. It was odd that this gift seemed to hold an actual sentiment. They still hadn’t talked to him since earlier that morning, not sure what to say. Giving up, Illumi opened the small letter that read:

 

Illumi!

I found this bracelet at a market on the outskirts of Yorknew. There was a silver one too so I got it for myself so we can match! I know what you’re thinking… VERY ROMANTIC <3 You’re welcome, its gold so I know there’s at least a 50% chance you will actually wear it. I hope you are surviving without me, it must be so boring now ~!! At least your snot nosed brother is there to keep you busy. I’m probably going to visit you in a month, I have to get some stuff from storage. SO PREPARE YOURSELF!!!!! <3

~Hisoka

By the end of the letter Illumi had a hand over their mouth to hide their smile. It was as if they could hear his annoying voice through the letter. One month wasn’t that far away, and it seemed like Hisoka was having a good time traveling. Still, it was such a domestic thing to do, sending them a nice letter and small present. Illumi tried not to read into it too much, it was never a good idea to get attached to people, Hisoka especially.
“What are you smiling at?” Machi asked, finally noticing their change in behavior.

“I’m not,” they straightened, “just thinking…”

Killua could be heard commenting from his room, “Yea you must be seeing things, Ilu’s never smiled in their life!”

Machi crossed her arms and gave them a skeptical look, “Could have fooled me.”

They figured there was no reason to lie to someone like her, she’d find out on her own anyways, “Hisoka’s coming back in a month.”

She raised an eyebrow, “A month? That will cause quite a stir….”

“Hmm I guess... “ they replied, “It is Hisoka after all.”

Machi wondered if Illumi had always been so dense when it came to this sort of thing or if they just brushed off anything that inconvenienced them leaving them obvious. She just hoped things would get sorted out before he arrived, or else they were all in for it. This was something she had dealt with before they had met Illumi. If Chrollo kept up his antics, Hisoka wouldn’t be happy, and no one wanted to be around a unhappy Hisoka.

--

Since the party Illumi found themselves spending more time with Chrollo’s friends. Not Chrollo himself, they had kept their distance since the party, and hoped he had been doing the same. The others would be constantly showing up though, whether it be at their apartment or on campus. At least one of them made an effort to meet up them every few days. While they didn’t mind the sudden interactions, it was still off putting. They felt there had to be some other reason they weren’t in on yet.

It had been two days until he finally thanked Hisoka for the bracelet, and it went as well as they thought it would. Hisoka had seemed elated that they were wearing it, and demanded photos. Illumi promised to send one, which they did, he never specified it had to be a nice picture. Unsurprisingly, Hisoka seemed to like it more that they had flipped him off.

It had been a normal conversation for the most part until they had made an off handed comment about Chrollo. As delusional as Hisoka liked to play it, he picked up on the remark immediately. He had learned that you had to pay close attention to the things Illumi mentioned dismissively, because those were in fact the thoughts that bothered them the most. He was not about to give them the validation of brushing this off either.

“What exactly does that mean? After I left?” Hisoka had asked, his tone subtly changing.

“Ah.. I don’t know. I think he wants me to hang out with them more..” Illumi guessed, “I--”

“Yea or he just wants you.”

“...I don’t think--” they were cut off again.

“Don’t pretend to be so naive, Illumi,” he said, his tone clipped and more serious, “He’s not someone to make comments so loosely. He always has a motive.”

“I suppose…” they agreed, “It doesn’t matter anyways.”

“It doesn’t?” Hisoka seemed almost mad.

“Why would it?” they asked, “He’s not really my type. I only thought of entertaining the idea to see his reaction.”

 

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked, still sounding unlike himself.

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“It isn’t.”

Illumi sighed, sounding disappointed. This really wasn’t like him, they thought, it wasn’t like he had been gone that long to forget the type of person they were? Maybe it was because Illumi had stopped treating Hisoka in the same hostile way he treated everyone else.

“Honestly, Hisoka…” they started, “I want to crush him.”

That had been the right answer. After hearing their response he had gone off in a fit of laughter that took him a few minutes to come back from. Illumi had stayed silent the entire time as usual, but they were still a little confused about his attitude before hand. Even though he had only been gone a couple weeks, Hisoka was starting to change. It made for an interesting development, but they weren’t sure why it unsettled them. Their conversation had ended shortly after, leaving Illumi feeling strangely vulnerable.

 

They were brought back to reality when they saw Machi walking towards them across campus. She had her sewing machine rolling behind her in a case, and was balancing a few bolts of fabric on her side.

“Hey IIlumi!” she waved, “You forgot, you said you’d teach me french seams!”

“No I didn’t.”
Machi frowned, her plan having failed, “Well I was going to ask you anyways, so we might as well head to the studio.”

Illumi considered her. They did have work to finish as well, so it wouldn’t hurt to go with her. If they happened to teach her french seams then it was just a coincidence.

“Fine, let’s go.”

Once at the sewing studio they had been working silently with Machi’s music playing to keep her motivated. It was nice to have someone to work with even if it was just quietly side by side, focusing on their own personal pieces. Other than class, the only person they had sewed with was their mother when she was teaching them her trade for the family’s brand. Even then it was mainly designing techniques rather than actual fabrication.

Machi eventually hit a wall with her work and asked them for help on a couple issues she was having. They taught her some useful tricks to use when a pattern was uneven or their fabric wasn’t lining up properly. It was nice to have someone else understand their craft and appreciate their advice.

“Oh I thought I should warn you,” she began, after she had finished pinning her work to a nearby mannequin, “Chrollo’s coming by to hang out at the studio.”

 

“I don’t see why you need to ‘warn’ me” Illumi replied, seemingly harmless, “It’s not like I mind.”
“You don’t?” she asked, dumbfounded, “He’s just going to work on some paper he has due.”
“Alright?” they said, as if they didn’t understand the concern.

They fell back into their work again after that. Machi had decided not to poke them anymore, if anything was going to happen it would when Chrollo got there. Instead she just continued her work as Illumi did, with the occasional shop talk and music still playing. By the time Chrollo had arrived the two were so engrossed with their designs that they didn’t pay him any mind once he had sat down and pulled out his laptop to work as well.

A couple of hours had gone by swiftly, and Illumi spread out their finished pieces on the table in front of them. They had been working on a set of blazers that all had a continuous fabric design that connected them. It was for one of their concentration projects, and it looked to have turned out the way they had planned it.

“It always astounds me,” Chrollo said eying their work, “How talented you two are.”

“Machi has much more natural talent,” Illumi deflected, “I’ve just had advantages to learn from my family.”
“Even so, I’m sure this would have been your calling whether or not your family was involved,” Chrollo complimented.

“Hmm… probably.”

An odd silence filled the air that didn’t go unnoticed by Machi as she innocently taped away at her phone. It dinged a few more times in a row.

“Who are you talking to?” he asked, “Uvo’s not getting into any more trouble is he?”

She smirked, “Oh I wish, just talking to Nobu. He surprisingly doesn’t want to model my dress I just made. Coward.”

“I’ll say,” he agreed, eyeing her working as well, “Why don’t you ask Illumi, I’m sure they’d make a better model than Hazama…”

“I’m not a model,” Illumi corrected, giving him a cold stare.

“Even so, you could,” he said passively, “What’s this for anyways?”

Turning her dress over to slip it back onto the mannequin, Machi pretended not to notice the daggers Illumi was glaring at Chrollo, “It’s one of the first projects of the year. I have to collaborate with one of the photography students. We put on a photoshoot to present at critique.”

“Who were you going to ask to take the photos?” he asked casually.

“Maybe Feitan if he’s not busy…” she answered, “not sure though. He doesn’t really shoot fashion photos.”

Her phone dinged again, but this time Chrollo was close enough to see who it was.

“Hisoka still texts you?” he asked, noticing Illumi’s subtle glance.

“What jealous he doesn’t text you?” she teased, “Of course he texts me, he’s not an ex you can shake that easily.”

Chrollo looked over to Illumi who seemed to be more focused on their work than what they were saying. Still, he wasn’t buying their aloof demeanor. If they truly didn’t care, they wouldn’t have been so hostile from the beginning.

Machi had already sent back a text before he could see what either of them were talking about. The whole thing felt off to him, but he didn’t question it. He wasn’t here to play games. He strolled back to where Illumi was folding their work, having finished for the day.

“Well I’m heading off,” he started, “but I hope you’ll come out with us this weekend if you’re not busy.”

Illumi paused, their neutral expression returned, “Perhaps. If I have time.”

This didn’t seem to deter his advances as well they thought it would. He leaned closer, his hand resting between them on their table, Illumi didn’t move, not wanting to seem bothered. The silence between them broke with another ding from Machi’s phone.

Chrollo gave them a once over before saying, “I look forward to it.”

Illumi’s face had stayed neutral, only raising an eyebrow.

With that he was gone.

“To your credit, you really seem like you don’t mind,” Machi sighed.

“Don’t expect me to be there this weekend.”

--

Things weren’t going as well as he initially thought they would. Chrollo had his back against the wall. He thought Illumi was interesting at first, and had played around with the idea of asking them out now that Hisoka was out of the picture. However after the exchange they just had, he was more than interested in them. There was a certain animosity Illumi seemed to have for everyone, and to have that hostility thrown in his face excited Chrollo to no end. It would only be a matter of time.

He hadn’t even made it to his car when he got a call from Hisoka himself. Things were certainly taking an exciting turn.

“I’d figured I would hear from you sooner than later,” Chrollo greeted.

“Really? I hadn’t expected to call you at all?” came Hisoka’s cheerful reply.

“What changed?” he asked.

“Nothing neither of us don’t already know..” he answered, “I just thought we had an understanding. After all we don’t want a repeat of what happened last time.”
“An understanding?” Chrollo repeated, “How vague. Am I supposed to respect an understanding of someone who’s running around on the other side of the country? I don’t think it really applies anymore, Hisoka.”

“I think it does~” Hisoka disagreed, “I would have thought you’d remembered. I really don’t like people messing with my things.”

“Does Illumi know how entitled you feel about this,” he asked.

“Oh I suppose you’re right! I guess I am coming off a little intense,” Hisoka laughed, “Even so, you can’t blame me for being surprised this development.”

Chrollo sighed, this conversation was starting to wear on him, “I don’t think it’s all that surprising.”

“Normally I wouldn’t mind. I mean it’s definitely exciting!” he agreed, “but you see it seems Illumi isn’t very happy about your advances.”

“I’d say you’re being bias,” he replied, “and I haven’t done anything to warrant such an attack from you.”

“You don’t think so?” he asked, “Well either way as it stands I’m not happy if they’re not happy. I don’t think you want me showing up sooner than intended, do you?”

“It’s not ideal,” Chrollo agreed.

“Then we do have an understanding?”

“We do.”

Hiska hung up without a goodbye.

Chapter Text

It had been about a month into his first year of college, and Killua was surprised at how smoothly things were going. He figured it would take some getting used to living with Illumi again, but surprisingly they were giving him space. He thought for sure he’d have to deal with them reporting back to their mother about everything he did. Thankfully it seemed like Illumi recognized that Killua wasn’t a little kid to be babysat anymore.

Speaking of, Illumi had been in a very sour mood since their party. It was interesting to see how they interacted with their friends. They were a lot less guarded and on edge, which was a nice change. Even so, Illumi had something on their mind, they were less focused and quieter than normal. Killua was curious more than anything, but he knew better than to pry when it came to his sibling.

That morning Killua had gotten up early to meet up with his new friend, Gon. He had met him briefly at an orientation led by Gon’s cousin, and they exchanged numbers. Since then they hung out almost everyday, unless Gon had practice and was too tired. He was there on a sports scholarship for Soccer so it tended to take up some of his time. Killua used to play soccer when he was younger, but he wasn’t nearly as good Gon. They played together some time, but Gon normally had other ideas since all he did was play soccer.

Today Killua was going to teach him how to skateboard. When they had met he was riding his board during the tour, and Gon had been obsessing over it ever since. The only person who was as interested in skating was his younger brother, Kalluto,who he had finally taught with their mother’s permission. Kalluto said they could borrow his board to teach Gon so he had picked it up earlier that week. His mother had been elated by the visit, asking him about classes and Illumi. He didn’t tell her about Gon though, he just said he’d broken his board and needed Kalluto's. He knew better than to mention any friends around her.

Killua’s phone pinged in a text as they finished making breakfast.
GF: Still on for today!

KZ: Yea, just eating something. Text you when I get there.

GF: You were able to get your brother’s board!?

KZ: Yes! Lol

GF: Just checking! Thanks for teaching me, Lunch is on me!

KZ: Cool sounds good.

Killua looked up to see Illumi dragging themselves to the table. It was pretty early for them to be up, normally they slept until ten in the morning if they didn’t have class. They looked exhausted, with their dark eyes and dark circles under them. Killua wordlessly sat a cup of coffee in front of them. They made no move to acknowledge his presence, but drank the coffee. Killua silenced his phone just to be on the safe side. What ever had Illumi up this early on a weekend was probably not by choice.

“Want some eggs?” Killua asked scooping them out of the pan.

“No.”

“Do you…. Want some toast?” he tried again.

“No.”

“Do you want anything to eat?”

Illumi finally looked at with their usual unimpressed look, “No.”

Killua scoffed, “Have you eaten anything?”

“No…”

“Aren’t these supposed to be the questions you ask me?” he joked sitting at the table with them.

Illumi picked a piece of his scrambled eggs and popped it in their mouth, “Probably…”

They sat in silence as Killua ate his breakfast and scrolled through his phone. Illumi’s eyes were closed as they took small sips from the coffee cup. It was a comfortable silence, probably more so than any of the silences at home.

“So why are you up so early?” he asked.

“Why are you?” they replied without answering.

“Skateboarding…” he hoped they wouldn’t ask anything more.

They didn’t, “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Something wrong…?” Killua asked, feeling brave.

Illumi just sighed and finished their coffee and put their dishes in the sink. Killua figured they wouldn’t tell him the truth, but he wasn’t expecting to be ignored. They were acting stranger than usual, which was a red flag since Illumi’s never been normal. Killua figured he should do them a kindness and, give them some space. It’s not like he could or wanted to help them with whatever was bothering them. It was best to leave it alone until it affected him.

“Heading out!” he called before shutting the door.

--

“This is way harder than I thought!” Gon complained, having fallen for his fourth time, “You make it look so easy!”

“Practice,” Killua skated by and flicked his nose.

Gon laughed, getting back on the board. They had been skating for a couple of hours, and Gon was starting to get burnt out. It had been a good morning though. Killua liked showing off, and Gon was always a great audience. Everything he did seemed to impress him.

Killua had been able to teach Gon the basics of riding in a straight line, but doing tricks was another story. Gon hadn’t been able to get the hang of anything yet, but he had a lot of determination. Sadly the tricks were the reason Gon wanted to learn in the first place. Killua knew he’d get it eventually, but if they kept going it might kill his momentum.

“Let’s call it for the day,” he shouted, sliding off a rail, “I’m starting to get hungry again.”

 

“Me too!” Gon agreed, trying to do a simple jump, “I think I’ve done all I can today…”

Killua screeched to a stop and picked up his board, “You did better than me when I taught myself.”

“That’s harder though, you told me what to do,” Gon laughed, “Where do you want to eat?”

Killua led them to a cafe where his friend, Kurapika worked. He had met him at the bookstore when he was looking for stuff for his classes. Kurapika had helped him go through his list and gave him some tips on the teachers he would have. They seem to be pretty like minded, and even though Kurapika and Gon were very different he knew they’d get along.

When they got there Killua looked to see if they were working while Gon went to find a an empty table. He put their boards on a window seat and ran back up to the counter just in time for Kurapika to emerge and take their orders. Gon had kept his word and paid for everything, and the look Kurapika gave them made Killua squirm.

“I have my break in fifteen, I can come sit with you guys then,” he had said before leaving to put in their orders. Killua wondered how fast he could eat.
“Kurapika seems nice,” Gon said, seemingly oblivious, “Good choice! I pass this place all the time but I’ve never gone in.”

Once their food got to the table Gon scarfed everything down, as if it was his last meal. He seemed to eat like that no matter what, Killua noticed. It was the only time Gon was quiet for that long. After he finished he started telling him about his next game and who they were playing. Apparently Gon was good friends with one of the players on the other team and felt bad he’d have to beat him next week. That made Killua laugh, Gon was always so confident.

Hanging out with Gon was nice, they had a comfortable back and forth with each other. There certainly was never a dull moment either. Gon was very popular even though it was his first year too. During the twenty minutes they had been there two guys had come up to say hi as they left and a creepy girl even waved his direction. It would have been intimidating, but Gon was so genuine that it didn’t seem to matter.

By the time Kurapika got there Killua had just finished telling Gon about when he taught Kalluto to skate. Gon was completely engrossed, and didn’t notice Kurapika sat down until he place a cookie in front of both of them. Kurapika gave Killua another look that sent him glaring back. He was relieved Gon was too busy by the cookie to notice, or at least he hoped he was.

“Wow thanks!” Gon said, already finished with the treat, “I didn’t know Killua had the hook up here.”

“Of course,” Kurapika said, “I have to take care of the little ones when I can.”

Gon laughed, and Killua groaned. I already have two older brothers, he thought, I don’t need another one, “You’re only a year older…”

“A year wiser,” he replied, “thanks for coming in by the way. It’s been such a boring day, and I’m here until close.”

“It’s only just noon, what interesting things go on before then?” Killua joked.

“Nothing really, other than this really annoying guy comes in sometimes. He’s gets on my nerves, but at least he’s entertaining…” he explained, “Normally Melody comes by too, but she was too busy today.”

“Who your girlfriend?” Killua teased.

Kurapika didn’t take the bait though, “My roommate, as if I’d be so lucky.”

“That’s too bad,” Gon said absently, “If you like her just ask her out.”

That got a reaction, “O-oh no I mean… it’s not like that,” Kurapika blushed.

Gon was so matter of fact about things, which was one of things Killua liked about him. He might make skating look easy, but Gon made everything else look so simple. If there was a problem he would be straightforward. “You have to cut through the bullshit,” he had told Killua when they had first met. It was refreshing when you're used to everyone around you keeping secrets and being underhanded.

“Melody.. Wait is she a music theory major?” Gon had asked, brushing off Kurapika’s response.

“Yes?”

“Yea I know her! I met her through my teacher, Kite at the radio station,” Gon confirmed, “She’s so cute and nice! You’re right you would be pretty lucky.”

“I…” Kurapika’s face grew redder, “my breaks over… It was nice meeting you, Gon.”

Killua tried to contain his laughter as Kurapika basically ran away from their table, but it was no use. Kurapika sent a glare their way once they had picked up their boards and left. Killua had never seen him so embarrassed, they were usually so composed.

“Well that was interesting,” Killua commented as they walked back to campus, “I’m probably going to have to steer clear of him for a week.”

“It’s a shame though,” Gon said, seriously, “I think they would be cute together. I guess it is scary to tell someone how you feel though, especially when you live with them.”

Killua tried not to seem nervous, “Yea I can’t imagine…”

 

“At least we don’t have to worry about that,” he said, sending Killua’s heart racing, “We live with our families!”

Killua sighed in relief, Gon was too unpredictable.

Chapter Text

“I’m over this Pitou!”

A shriek of laughter followed, “Oh cooome oooooon!”

The door slammed shut, and more laughter came.

This happened at least once a week and Meruem wasn’t sure how long he could put up with this. Ever since Pitou had been dating this guy they weren't happy unless the two of them were constantly at odds. He had known Pitou long enough to realize that relationships were more of a game to them than anything serious. This poor Kite guy had gotten himself caught up in the thick of it, and he actually seemed decent. He’d learn soon enough, Meruem thought.

The only normal thing the they did as a couple was having breakfast at their dorm. This usually went over without altercation, but a week would go by and they’d be screaming at each other at eight in the morning. Over what, Meruem didn’t care to know.

Making his way into the kitchen he saw that Pitou was starting to clean up their uneaten breakfast. They didn’t look as giddy as they normally did after one of their fights. Maybe they were starting to come to their senses.

“I’ll eat it,” he said grabbing the plate of eggs from them, “So what happened now?”

Pitou sighed, pouring them both a cup of coffee, “I think Kite’s going to break up with me soon…”

“You don’t say.”

Pitou playfully hit his arm, “Rude. I think I actually like this one.”

“Well then stop picking fights with him,” Meruem said, “and then laughing while he storms out… at least wait until after he’s gone.”

“I guess that’s a start..” they sighed.

“That was a joke.”
--

Three days had gone by since he had last seen Komugi, and Meruem was cursing himself for not getting her number again. He knew where she lived because he had walked her home, but he couldn’t just show up out of the blue. Would it be creepy if he left her a note? He couldn’t leave her a note… she wouldn’t be able to read it. Hanging around the library or openly looking for her would be creepy as well.

He sighed, it wasn’t like him to be so invested in other people. If Pitou knew his real intentions or feelings they wouldn’t let him hear the end of it. Meanwhile Pouf would be a whole different story. No matter how their friendship progressed, he would make sure Komugi and Pouf never met.

It was getting to the point where he had to start admitting he didn’t want to be friends Komugi, as much as he wanted something more. He had never had any serious crushes before, or any relationships. Pitou and Youpi would joke saying he was probably aromantic or something along those lines. He was fine with that though. Relationships had never appealed to him, and he wasn’t sure if that had even changed after meeting Komugi. However he did like being around her, and he knew his feelings weren’t just after a friendship. Meruem just hoped she would understand him.

It was already eight o’clock at night that Saturday and he had no plans. People might think he was cool on the outside, but this was how a lot of his weekends went. He was never into going to parties with Pitou or hanging out with Youpi’s jock friends. It almost always involved a lot of drinking and loud people which was not something he liked to fill his time with.

He sighed, he didn’t want to be in his dorm with Pouf there. It had been awkward and tense between them since Youpi had his talk with him. Pouf was never malicious towards Meruem, but he was still hurt and it showed. The worst part was Meruem didn’t even feel guilty, just inconvenienced. Probably due to his upbringing, empathy was always hard for him to understand if he didn’t care about the person.

With nowhere to go he ended up walking over to the radio studio to kill some time. He figured he could start going over the next playlist, and maybe he’d bump into Kite and try to put in a good word for Pitou. Kite was a TA at the university, but he had helped start the radio station, which was how they had all met.

When he got there his heart jumped out of his chest, and he knew he had it bad. Outside of one of the studios, Komugi sat on a bench reading something. She had a smaller backpack with her, and Meruem realized he had never seen her without her obnoxiously big gungi board. She looked peaceful with her eyes closed, and her hand grazing the the book in front of her. He didn’t know if he should go up to her without her expecting it.

Before he could make a decision someone came out of the studio to sit with her. He was a big guy, not as big as Youpi, but definitely athletically built. He hair was styled in a ridiculous manner, almost a pompadour, and he wore a bright bomber jacket in pastels and white. Meruem had remembered seeing him around the station before, but had never talked to him before.

Jealousy swelled in his chest as he watched Komugi talk to the guy animatedly, her eyes opening more often than they did with him. He observed them behind the pillars trying to decide if he should still approach her. He took out his phone to look nonchalant as he eavesdropped on them.

“How much longer is your show?” Komugi asked, “Shoot’s not out?”

“No he’s handling the commercials right now, I just came to check on you,” the man said, “Just fifteen more minutes and we can head out. Thanks for hanging around so late.”

“I don’t mind! I’d just be doing the same thing at home,” she said, “Plus this way it’s easier to run into people this way.”

“Oh right….” he replied with a smirk, “Hoping to bump into anyone in particular?”

“What? No!!!” she sputtered blushing, “I-I mean I just …. Uhg okay yea…”

Meruem tried to keep his composure, shifting back behind the pillars again. He quickly put his headphones on, but didn’t turn any music up. Was she talking about me, he thought, and if she wasn’t then who…

The man was still laughing, “It’s okay we know you’ve been hanging out with someone.”

“What how!?!” she asked, dropping her book, “Have you seen him, do you know who he is?”

“Do you know who he is?” he asked, laughing harder, “We just heard you talking to someone when you came home a few nights ago.”

Meruem’s eyes widened, they were roommates! Of course, he shouldn’t be so jealous. He felt weird listening to them now, and wondered if her roommate knew he was there. He sat down on the floor and tried to seem casual as he pulled out his laptop to look like he was working on something. It wasn’t strange to be on the ground of the station working, he had seen other people doing it before.

“I just know his name…” Komugi said, seeming calmer now.

“What’s his name I might know him!” her roommate asked.

“Knuckle, I’m not going to tell you!” she shrieked, “You will embarrass me!”

His name was Knuckle, Meruem thought, who were these weird people.

“I would never do that!” Knuckle exclaimed, he seemed serious, “but what if this guy’s no good? I can give him a talk next time you guys go out!”

“What? No no no no he’s just a friend, we aren’t going out!” she explained, waving her hands around in panic, “and you guys aren’t gonna be talking to him at all if that’s how you're going to act!”

“Alright alright….” he said, “doesn’t sound like a friend….but sure.”

“Well you know who else doesn’t sound like a friend?” Komugi asked, her tone suddenly sinister, “Mel-eo-rooooon!”

“WHAT!” Knuckle jumped off the bench, “T-that is--”

Someone in the studio opened the door but didn’t come out, “Knuckle. What are you doing?”

“Huh?” was all he could say.

“Show’s starting back up in 2 minutes, stop bothering Komugi.”

“R-right…”
“Bye bye!” Komugi teased sticking out her tongue.

Knuckled frowned at her, “She seems all sweet and innocent, but I’m telling you Shoot, she’s devious!” The door to the studio slammed shut.

Meruem was thoroughly amused at this point. He never seen Komugi act like that before. Anytime they hung out she was either concentrating on gungi or flustered by something. He liked this side of her too, but wasn’t sure if he’d ever see it towards himself. He started to pack up his things so he could go talk to her when he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.

“Hey,” it was Kite, “Can I talk to you.”

Meruem was thankful he didn’t say his name, or else Komugi would have known he’d been there the whole time. He nodded and followed him into one of the empty studio rooms. Kite sat down looking more stressed than he normally did.

“I wanted to talk to you too,” he said shutting the door, “What’s going on with you and Pitou?”

“I was hoping you’d know that…” Kite said taking his hat off and running a hand through his long hair, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

Meruem felt bad for the guy, Kite seemed like a good person. While he would always stand by Pitou no matter what dumb things they did, he still had sympathy for him.

He sat down in the chair in front of Kite, “Nothing. You’re not doing anything wrong.”

“Then why…. I don’t even know what to say,” Kite sighed.

“This is just what they do,” he replied, “Pitou doesn’t date people because they want a relationship. They date people because they wants a challenge. That’s how it’s always been.”

“I see..” he said thoughtfully, “At least it’s not just me..”

“Honestly if I were you… I’d just break up with them,” Meruem said, “I know I’m their friend, but I’ve seen this play out too many times. I don’t think it’s good for them either.”

“I’ve thought about it, believe me,” Kite murmured, “I just wanted someone else’s take on it I guess.”

“This morning though,” he started, “.... well after you left they seemed upset for once. I don’t know if that means things are different, but I thought you should know. They already assumes you’re going to end things, and it seemed to make them sad. I haven’t seen that a lot.”

“I see,” Kite looked exhausted, “I have a lot to think about. I really appreciate your honesty though, you have no idea.”

“Hope I was some help,” Meruem said getting up to leave, “I know you’re not a bad guy, Kite.”

By the time he got back to the bench Komugi was gone and the studio lights were off. He figured that was just his luck. At least he was able to help Kite, and hopefully Pitou as well. He grabbed his bag and headed out the front doors.

“Oh hey, man,” a voice stopped him, “Meruem right?”

He turned around to see Knuckle leaning on the station’s wall by the doors. His stomach dropped, and he had to stop himself from looking around for Komugi. He tried to keep his expression level.

“Yea.”

“You talk to Kite?” he asked, “I know he was looking for you.”

He sighed, relieved he wouldn’t have to explain himself, “Oh yea. Just got done.”

“Guy’s been a mess over that friend of yours, I hope it works out,” Knuckle explained, “Sorry I never introduced myself before, I’m Knuckle. I’ve seen you around the station a bit.”

“Same here,” he said, grasping Knuckles hand in a shake, “Our times are off so I guess we’ve never had a chance to talk.”

“Right, you guys have a pretty good slot!” he agreed, “At first I thought Kite was bias, but you guys always have a solid line up.”

“Thanks, you too,” Meruem lied, “Pitou’s always going on about you guys. They don't like competition.”

Knuckled laughed. This seemed to be going well, Meruem was glad he knew who he was so he could make a good impression. At least this way he wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with any angry roommates in the future.

“I’ve got to head out, but it was good to meet you,” Meruem ended. He didn’t want to risk bumping into Komugi now, it might be overwhelming to come in so out of the blue. He knew he was definitely overwhelmed.

“Same here, see you around,” Knuckled waved.

Chapter Text

“Let’s go fishing!”

Gon had said out of the blue on their walk to the soccer field. Killua was walking with him to his last practice. After that he wouldn’t see Gon for at least a week since he was going out of town with his family. They were going on vacation at a resort in the mountains, but it was more for networking rather than relaxing. There were going to be other important brands and families going on the same weekend they would be staying.

Killua didn’t understand why he had to go, if anyone would benefit from this it would be Illumi. His mother had insisted the whole family go together though, and the only person who could change her mind was their father. He of course was fine with it, so that meant Killua would have to be too. He figured it was at least a good reason to spend time with Kalluto and Alluka.

He refocused, bringing himself back to his current predicament, Gon. He knew Gon liked to fish since he would go with his cousin at least once a month, but he had never invited Killua before. He wondered if this meant they were getting closer, he hoped so at least.

“Fishing? With you and your cousin?” he asked.

Gon stopped for a minute, “Oh um yea, I mean we would go when you got back!”

“I’ve never been fishing before?” he admitted.

“Your dad never took you?” Gon asked genuinely, not realizing the irony in his question.

“Well no.. but yours didn’t either,” he said. He hoped he didn’t hit a nerve.

Gon was quiet in thought for a minute, “Hmm, I guess you’re right…”

“Sorry I--”

“That doesn’t matter,” Gon interrupted, “I know everything we need to know! I’m the one who taught Leorio after all!”

It was definitely something to look forward to, Killua thought, he would need something to get him through this trip with his family. He accepted Gon’s invitation to his excitement. They spent most of the way talking about everything they would do on their fishing excursion. Gon said he would have a list of stuff for him to get when he got back. Fishing was starting to seem excessive, but if Gon was there it would be fun nevertheless.

Once they got closer to the field the air grew tense. Killua wasn’t sure why, it wasn’t as if he would be gone long on, or rather that they had known each other long enough to be so attached. Regardless Gon slowed his pace as the field came into view. He could see his teammates were waving him over, but he kept at the same speed.

Killua always got nervous when things like this would happen between them. Gon was an intense person, and it was intimidating sometimes. He knew Gon was trying to prolong their time together regardless of his commitments, and it made his head spin. Killua wasn’t sure how to respond when Gon suddenly stopped in front of the field.

“You’re going to text me while your gone?” he asked, his eyes on the verge of something vulnerable.

“Yea of course! This ‘vacation’ is going to be so lame,” he said trying to seem nonchalant, “I just hope the service doesn’t suck up in the mountains…”

“I’ll try to keep you entertained,” Gon laughed, “Just email me if you can’t text.”

Killua tried to ignored his heartbeat in his ears, “Yea.. okay.”

A moment passed, and then suddenly Gon was pulling him into an embrace. Everything felt very real as his hand came around to hold the back of Killua’s neck. This hug was too intimate for just saying goodbye to a friend you had met a couple months ago. The moment was over before he could react, and the next thing he knew he was staring back into Gon’s intense eyes. Killua knew his face had to be completely red at this point, there was no point to hiding anything now.

The moment was over when he heard Gon’s teammates yelling at them. There was a teasing edge to their voices that left him feeling completely mortified.Gon just rolled his eyes, and told them to “hang on” as if everything was totally normal.

“I guess I have to go,” Gon sighed, “I wish we could have spent more time together…”

“H-huh?” Killua felt out of breath, “I mean yea same.. It’s only a week though, don’t be so dramatic!”

“Yea yea,” Gon nudged his arm, “I’ll see you in a week!”

Gon gave his shoulder one last squeeze before running over to his team. He waved back to Killua who was still standing at the end of the field looking dazed. He managed to wave back before sprinting to the parking lot, trying not to make eye contact with anyone he passed. He relaxed once he got into his car, and let out an aggravated scream.

“Screw the mountains,” he said to himself, “How the hell am I gonna last on this Fishing trip?!”
--

When Killua got back to the apartment he saw most of Illumi’s stuff was packed and waiting by the door. They probably wouldn’t be too pleased that he ended up waiting until the last minute to pack. He ran to his room before they could approach him, and started shoving what they could in a duffle.

“Kil what are you doing…?” Illumi knocked on his door.

 

“Juuusst making sure I have everything,” Killua replied, “I’ve been packed since yesterday obviously!”

“Obviously,” was their clipped reply.

Once he had all of his stuff together he started putting everything next to Illumi’s bags. They were currently sitting on the couch looking at their phone in frustration. Killua hoped that didn’t mean there were going to be any surprises for the trip.

“What’s up” he asked sitting down next to them, “Mom giving you shit?”

Illumi didn’t answer right away, “What? Mother… no.”

“So what’s gotten you into such a bad mood lately then?” Killua asked. He figured it was best to be straightforward now rather than later.

“Nothing you need to worry about,” they said, “Don’t be so nosey.”

“Oh that’s rich coming from YOU!” he accused, “and it does concern me if we are going to be stuck together in the mountains for a week. I don’t want to be paranoid I pissed you off.”

Illumi’s expression soften the slightest bit, but Killua was able to read it. They gave him a light smack to the arm before responding, “You always find a way to piss me off, but you’re not the star of everyone’s show.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Killua scoffed.

Illumi had a far off look in their eye after he said that, and it unsettled him more than it should have. It was odd to see them with their guard down, he wasn’t used to it yet.

“It means… I have a lot on my mind, and none of it has to do with you,” they finally said, “This vacation is going to be a lot more stressful for me than it is for you, so quit complaining.”

Killua sighed, sitting back with a huff, “Why can’t our family be normal and actually relax on vacation…”

Illumi subconsciously mimicked his response, “You’re telling me…”

---

 

KZ: Anything exciting happening there? We’ve been at the resort for 3 hours and I’m already bored out of my mind.

GF: Something interesting did happen today!

KZ: Yea??

GF: So I went back to the cafe, to see Kurapika! You won’t believe who was there!

KZ: Uh that girl?

GF: Okay yea you got it lol
GF: Melody was there, and we sat together!

KZ: What did you talk about? Did you bring up Kurapika?

GF: Yea! I asked her if she liked him!

KZ: Gon!? What did she say!?

GF: I mean she said yes, but I don’t think she got what I meant. She’s good though, she changed the subject to Kite and I got distracted!

KZ: Kite’s that guy at the Radio Station?

GF: Yea he’s dating this awful person right now so he’s been really stressed. He needs to end it, but it’s not my place to say.

KZ: That sucks… does Melody know them?

GF: kind of, since she’s at the station with them sometimes.
GF: apparently he WAS going to break up with them until their friend came in and had a talk with him….

KZ: I would never peg you to be into relationship drama and sabotage

GF:Only when it comes to people I care about! And I’m not sabotaging anyone… yet.

KZ: what so if I dated someone? you’d be honest if you didn’t like them?

GF: what kind of question is that?

KZ: Just hypothetical.

GF: Whatever. That’s still a dumb question.
GF: Did you meet someone in the 3 hrs you were gone?

KZ: Wow didn’t know you could be so sarcastic!! HAHA

GF: I guess. Only when I’m pissed.

KZ: Yowza calm down. I wasn’t being serious…

GF: Sorry I’m just in a bad mood after this whole thing with Kite. I feel like I should be helping him..

KZ: For a TA you guys seem to be pretty close.

 

GF: Well yea, he knew my dad so .

KZ: Oh man sorry I had no idea.

GF: It’s not a bad thing! I just want to keep him in my life. Other than my aunt he’s the only person I know who’s known my dad. It’s a little weird though I guess..

KZ: No I don’t think so. I mean I feel the same way if Kalluto or Alluka are upset about something and I can’t help them.

GF: uhhh what about your older brothers?

KZ: I could give a fuck what they do with their lives (Mainly Milluki)

GF: lol you don’t have a favorite or anything

KZ: Alluka is my favorite!!! (Don’t tell Kalluto)
KZ: I’m just kidding. They are the only reason I’m not tearing my hair out right now.

GF: Yea at least they are with you so you’re not too bored

KZ: Yea thank god! I actually feel a little bad for Illumi though. They seem to really be putting them through the ring this time.

GF: they’re the oldest?

KZ: Yea but they’re going into my mom’s line of work, designing. So dad’s just trying to be neutral while they passive aggressively fight.
KZ: It’s weird, Illumi used to be such a mama’s boy

GF: Well things change. They are probably trying to grow and she doesn’t want them to surpass her

KZ: BINGO
KZ: It’s obvious my mom’s work is starting to dull in comparison
KZ: Anyways, maybe that means I can hang out with my dad and grandpa
KZ: They are pretty cool once they chill out, especially my grandpa

GF: That’s crazy you have such a big family, I can’t imagine.

KZ: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be lol

GF: I guess the grass is always greener.
GF: I gotta go, I’ll text you later!

KZ: Okay, don’t miss me too much :P

GF: Impossible!!

KZ: SHUTUP!!!!!
----

It had been three days into their week long mountain get away, and things were going about how Killua assumed they would. Milluki was nowhere to be found, probably hitting up a cyber cafe near by, while the younger siblings stuck together trying to avoid getting caught up in the crossfire going on between Illumi and their mother.

The two of them had been locked at the hip at every social gathering, but as soon as they got back to their quarters they went off at each other like enemies. To be fair most of it stemmed from their mother, Kikyo. She was obviously feeling lost in the shuffle as her colleagues seemed far more interested in Illumi’s work than hers.

He had to give Illumi credit for humbling themselves at first, and playing nice with Kikyo until it became too much. If there was one thing Illumi couldn’t stand it was being undermined. Their father had said they got it from him, and seemed to be sympathizing with his child over his wife, which probably was hurting the situation rather than helping.

Killua was surprised by the sudden change with their relationship, but when he thought about it, it made sense. Illumi had always looked up to their mother, and tried to be just like her when they were growing up (aside from the emotional outbursts). Killua had remember how worried they were when they had come out to their mother about their gender and sexuality, not at all caring about how the rest of the family viewed them. Their mother’s opinion had always been top priority.

So to see the way their mother had treated Illumi’s praise with hostility rather than pride must have been hard to take. They hadn’t intended to outshine their mother in front of her peers, but at the same time they always credited their work to her as their inspiration. Either way Kikyo should feel like she was coming out on top, but she still treated Illumi as a rival rather than her own child.

Alluka being the only good one in their family, in Killua’s opinion, tried to make things a little more bearable for their oldest sibling. After Illumi got back from another failed networking dinner she and Killua went to them with a peace offering.

“Where’s my stuff?” Illumi had asked , eyeing their two siblings sitting innocently on the floor playing a game of cards.

“In your room obviously,” Killua scoffed.

“This is my room,” they said.

Alluka sat up to level herself with them, “Not anymore! You’re too stressed out to be by yourself. We’re worried you will drive yourself crazy!”

“Excuse me?” they asked, “You moved all my stuff? Where?”

“You’re stuff’s with us,” Killua said, “Chill out, this whole trip has been a disaster before we even left. We think you should just stay with us.”

“Yea! Mom can’t yell at you if I start crying!” Alluka explained, “Plus it will be fun! Just like when we used to sleepover in the living room and watch movies.”

Illumi stared at them for a while, not knowing what to say. It was rare the five of them did anything like this together. The last time they could remember, Illumi had been a senior in high school when they still lived at home. To think it had been four years since then.
“Fine,” they agreed, “but don’t cry, mother’s not that easy to fool.”

---

Killua awoke to a light knock on their hotel door. He figured it was the cleaning service, but didn’t want them to continue knocking and wake the others. Opening the door he was surprised to see their father on the other side. He looked as if he’d been up for a few hours, dressed in casual clothes and smelling of strong coffee.

“Everyone’s asleep,” Killua yawned, “I shut off Illumi’s alarm so they would sleep in.”

Silva laughed quietly, “Good thinking, I don’t think all the makeup in the world could cover those dark circles.”

Killua snickered at this stepping aside to let his father in. The two of them sat down at the large table in their dining area. Killua was grateful for the comfortable silence between them as he tried to make himself more alert, it was still too early for them.

Even though he didn’t say anything, Silva seemed pleased that they had made Illumi stay with the rest of their siblings instead of on their own. His eyes softened when he noticed Illumi and Kalluto snuggled up together with Kalluto’s laptop still playing movies on their lap. It definitely seemed like Illumi was in a better place than they were last night.

“I’ve always thought Illumi and Kalluto were kindred spirits, don’t you agree?” Silva asked breaking the silence.

Killua still not fully awake remarked, “Well they’re both obsessed their looks and our mom…”

“You’re not wrong,” he snorted, “they both certainly take after her more than me.”

Killua hummed in agreement.

 

“On a more serious note,” Silva started, “I don’t want what’s going on between your mother and Illumi to happen between us.”

Killua’s eyes widened at his father, He had no idea he had been worrying about this of all things. He knew there was no chance of the two of them butting heads like Illumi and Kikyo, but the fact that this worried Silva pleased him to no end. It was as if he was also saying that him and Killua also shared that same bond. He had never felt so complimented before.

“I-I wouldn’t worry about that!” Killua exclaimed, “I mean I’m always straightforward with you!”
“Well you can’t blame me for asking, I never would have thought Kikyo and Illumi would be at odds with each other either,” Silva said, “but here we are..”

“I mean I guess…” he replied, “but this is different. The two of them… they aren’t that similar honestly.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know, I think mom’s always drove Illumi crazy,” Killua admitted, “Now that it’s just us, I’ve seen a different side of them that’s a lot less on edge.”

“I see,” Silva said thoughtfully, “and you like living with them?”

“Yea, I mean I didn’t think I would,” he said, “but it’s been pretty cool. I can tell something other than mom is bothering them though, and I just hope its not me. I asked them and they said it wasn’t but what else could it be. I know it’s not school.”

“You seem pretty bothered by this,” his father commented, picking up on their more talkative behavior, “I have an idea, but you probably wouldn’t understand right now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Killua asked.

“I’ve seen this behavior in myself as well,” he explained, “I noticed they’ve been bothered since they got here, and every time we’ve talked.”

“You have?” Killua asked, “What is it then?”

“They miss someone.”

Chapter Text

The week was finally over, and Killua was ecstatic. It had been such a bother to be in the mountains for that long with his family. He was definitely happy to be home at the estate for the time being. It just meant he was that much closer to returning to campus where he could see Gon.
Some good had come out of the trip for Killua though, that made the whole thing worth it. He was able to spend time with his favorite sister, Alluka. The two of them had a blast exploring the resort, and making up games to play. He didn’t care if it was childish for a college student to be playing hide seek in the lobby. If that was what Alluka wanted, he would do it.

She was the only reason he was staying the weekend at the estate, rather than going back to their dorm with Illumi. Alluka had begged him to stay, and he couldn’t say no. He hated leaving her there by herself. He felt like he had to stay and protect her for as long as he could.

Things definitely weren’t as bad as they were in the beginning when Alluka was in primary school. She had been diagnosed with a personality disorder early on in her life, and to say the Zoldyck’s weren’t sure how to handle it was an understatement. They had pulled her out of school immediately and started homeschooling her, isolating her from other children her age. The only people she had were Killua and Kalluto in the house, since Illumi and Milluki were distant.

When Alluka had started middle school Killua had convinced his parents to let her go back to school. They finally gave in and she was able to finish up her last two years at a private school, and now she was a freshman in highschool.

While she was in middle school Alluka had started openly identifying as a girl shocking her mother, but not any one else. Even so the rest of the family had their own reactions to the news. Silva being skeptical at first, but he had eventually come around. Milluki didn’t seem to care, but switched pronouns nonetheless. Kalluto and Killua had known she felt this way since she was a toddler, and were fully supportive of her decision to come out.

It was Illumi who had the worst reaction out of everyone. They had been identifying as masculine at the time, and felt completely floored when they found out about Alluka. To them it was unfair that Alluka assumed she was allowed to be herself when they had never thought it was an option in their family.

Illumi had refused to acknowledge her, and didn’t speak to her directly for half a year. They finally broke during the holidays when everyone was home at the estate. Kikyo had a custom dress made for Alluka to show her acceptance, and Illumi was livid. It was the first and only time Killua had seen them show jealousy.

They were normally a complacent person doing whatever the family needed, and showing unconditional love for all of their younger siblings. So when Silva and Kikyo saw first hand Illumi’s reaction they knew something was wrong. Killua wasn’t there to know exactly what happened, but his parents had taken Illumi out for a private discussion right in the middle of the celebration. When they finally got back from wherever they went, Illumi had come home a different person. As soon as they saw Alluka they embraced her, both of them weeping into each other's arms.

---

“Do you really have to go back to school?”

The three youngest siblings were sitting at the kitchen counter eating their last lunch together before Killua had to leave. Even though they had cooks, Killua had insisted on making them all grilled cheese himself.

“I do… believe me I wish I could take you guys with me,” Killua sighed.

“I only have a couple more years, it’s Alluka that needs to catch up!” Kalluto teased, “Can’t you skip a year? You’re smart enough.”

Alluka stuck out her tongue, “Easy for you to say! I can’t help I was born last.”

Killua’s phone dinged, alerting him of a text.

GF- When are you coming back! It’s been longer than a week.

KZ- Today! My siblings are hard to say no to!

GF- They made you stay longer! That’s sweet lol

KZ- I hate to leave them, and Illumi said they’d come back for me

GF- why didn’t they just stay?

KZ- they said someone was coming into town they wanted to see.
KZ- I assume its their old roommate, he’s such a freak though

GF- HAHAHA wow thats rude!

KZ- if you ever have to meet him you will understand…
KZ- anyways I will let you know when Illumi picks me up, did you want to hang out?

GF- yea! You can stay the night if you don’t want to be around their friend

KZ- WOW THANKS IM SWOONING MY HERO

GF- Yikes this guy must be awful
GF- well anyways my cousin will be out tonight too I think he has a date

KZ- wow who’d date him

GF- still trying to figure that out myself….

KZ- next weekend is the fishing trip right?

GF- yea! hey why don’t you ask your siblings if they want come with us?

KZ- oh really, you don’t mind??

GF- no way, it will be fun with more people, and I want to meet them!

KZ- thanks! I will ask them, I bet Alluka will say yes lol

“What are you smiling about?” Kalluto asked, “texting a girl?”

Killua ignored his teasing, “You guys want to go on a fishing trip with me and my friend this weekend?”

Kalluto’s face dropped as Alluka jumped out of her seat, “Yea! I’ve never been fishing!”

“....I’d rather not learn,” Kalluto said grimly.

“Suit yourself, more fish for us,” Killua smirked, texting Gon back.

KZ- my prediction was correct! Count on me and Alluka!

GF- that’s great! I can’t wait to meet her <3

KZ- same!

Killua’s face flushed and threw his head back to cover his face with his arms. Both siblings looked curious, but otherwise unphased by the outburst.
‘If I’m this messed up over getting a stupid text heart,’ he thought to himself, ‘should I even be going on this trip?’
---

IZ- omw

Killua was seated on the stoop of the doors with Alluka when Illumi pulled up with Hisoka in tow. They were playing dominos, setting them down the steps of the stoop and then knocking them back down. Killua had ignored their older sibling’s approach until they knocked down one their freshly laid lines.

“Ready to go?” they asked, twisting something behind their back.

“I guess soo,” Killua sighed dramatically, making a show of it for his sister.

She was more intrigued by the bag in Illumi’s hand to care, “What’s that? For mom?”

“For you,” Illumi’s expression softened a little as they handed her the bag.

Alluka’s face lit up, “A present! Can I open it now?”

“Wait until later,” they said picking up Killua’s duffle bag, “You know how I hate compliments…”

“You made me something!”

Killua gave Illumi an impressed looked, one would have never thought this was the same person who held such contempt for their youngest sibling. It was nice to see them putting in the effort to make up for the past. It was a good start.

Alluka gave Killua one last kiss on the cheek before running inside to open her gift. He was pleased for all of two seconds before he looked over and saw Hisoka sitting in the passenger seat watching them. He didn’t have his usual sneer, just a look of curiosity if anything. It still made Killua’s skin crawl, and he sent him a glare that did not go unnoticed by either party.

He received a light smack on the head, “Don’t be rude, you’re sitting in the back.”

“Fine I want to be as far away from that weirdo as possible!” he got another smack on the back, slightly harder.

“Well that was sweet!” Hisoka comment as they both got into the car, “Did she like her present?”

“Don’t know, I told her to open it later,” Illumi said, starting up the car and pulling out of the estate.

“Afraid she won’t like it?” he joked, “I don’t think you need to worry. Even I would wear it.”

“Like that means anything,” they responded.

Killua idly eavesdropped on them while he scrolled through his phone. It seemed like there was something different about Hisoka. He wasn’t nearly as unbearable as Killua remembered. He wondered if he had just exaggerated Hisoka’s personality in his mind, but even then there was still something slightly off. It was like he was actually trying to behave himself?

KZ- coming back
KZ- still want to hang out?

GF- Always!

KZ- Illumi’s ‘friend’ is here…

GF- ‘friend’ ???

KZ- I’m getting the idea it’s more than ‘friends’

GF- oh no they’re dating the ‘freak’ what if he becomes you’re brother in law!!!

KZ- GON DON’T SAY THAT!!!

GF- hahahaha sorry!
GF- well I hope the ride back isn’t too bad

KZ- I was forced to the backseat! THATS what gave it away. Illumi’s gotta be into this clown if it means I’m not shotgun!!! I’m the favorite GON

GF- ‘you’re not the star of everyone’s show’ isn’t that what they said?

KZ- I’m starting to think it’s the truth!!

GF- haha you can be the star of mine!

KZ- HAHAHA STOP

GF- let me know when you get back and I’ll head over!

KZ- Fine!

--

True to his word, Gon was waiting in the lobby of his apartment when he got back. Killua already had his stuff ready to stay over night, so he was able to save them the trouble of interacting with the two upstairs. He didn’t want to risk walking in on anything.

Things were less awkward than he had anticipated with Gon. He was worried that after the scene on the soccer field things would change between them. It seemed like Gon was being more forward in his texts as well, but when they met up it was like nothing was different. They fell into an easy conversation about Gon’s latest game. He had won of course, but also made friends with probably at least half of the other team in the process.

Killua was relieved things between them weren’t messed up. He knew he wasn’t the best at reciprocating friendship sometimes, so when Gon came at him with this more forward flirtation he had no idea how to react. He figured it was probably due to his upbringing. Killua’s family was pretty strict on him, and he found himself never having the time to deal with things like this.

While he had no trouble making friends, keeping them was another story. There always seemed to be a disconnect at some point, and then after that the friendship would just start to fade. His longest running friend was probably Canary, a girl he met in high school. They had only reconnected because he found out she was going to the same university.

Gon on the other hand had no problem keeping up his relationships. He had the type of personality that just made you want to gravitate to him, so it’s not like he had to work at it. Not only that but it was very obvious that he was a player. He knew just what to say to get anyone flustered, Killua included.

He tried not to think of the times he’d witnessed Gon flirt with other people, or caught him on dates. Jealousy was not something he was used to, and Killua tried to suppress it. It was hard at first, but then Gon started paying more attention to him and it seemed to matter less.

Anytime it Gon made a pass at other people, it seemed like he was only doing it so they’d leave faster. As if him agreeing to text them, and never putting their number in his phone was a sure fire way to get on with his life. Killua wondered if Gon would ever learn how to outright reject people he wasn’t interested in.

“So how was your trip?” Gon asked.

“You already know.. I texted you everyday!” Killua complained.

“It’s different when you hear it in person!” Gon laughed, “Anyways I found out who’s going out with Leorio…”

“Oh yea, who?” Killua asked.

“You’re not going to believe it,” Gon stressed, “It’s Kurapika!”

KIllua stopped dead in his tracks, “What!”

“Yea! Isn’t that crazy, I didn’t even know they knew each other,” Gon said, “and then I remembered Kurapika said something about an ‘annoying person’. It had to be Leorio!”

“Wow that’s insane?” Killua agreed, “So wait, what about Melody?”

“Oh yea I don’t know, we can ask Leorio if he comes home,” Gon said.

“Ew. IF he comes home. Please I don’t need to think about that,” KIllua groaned, covering his face.

“If anyone should be grossed out its me! He’s my cousin!” Gon laughed, “and anyways who knows if it’s serious. I mean haven’t you ever dated someone to just go out?”

“What?”

Gon blinked, “Like just go on a date with someone you’re not serious about? For fun?”

“Um why would I do that?” Killua asked.

“I…. don’t know. What if there was a movie you wanted to see?” he asked, “Or a festival going on?”

“I’d just go,” Killua said, “You don’t have to go on a date every time you want to do something fun!”

“I mean yea…” Gon sighed, “But-- wait… Killua have you ever gone on a date before?”

“No, why?” he answered honestly.

Gon was the one to stop this time, staring at him with wide eyes, “Excuse me?”

“What? It’s not a big deal,” Killua waved him off and continued walking, “I had better things to do.”

“You’re telling me no one’s ever asked you out? Didn’t you take someone to prom?” Gon asked, still baffled, “I mean that’s just crazy!”

“I took my friend, Canary, but we weren’t dating,” he explained, “And YEA people have asked me out jeez. I just never said yes.”

“Wow!” Gon whistled, “would you say yes now?”

“What?” Killua asked, confused

“If someone asked you out now, would you say yes?”

“I--I don’t know,” he shrugged, “I guess, I’m not really that busy anymore…”

“Great!” Gon smiled, “I’m going to take you on a date!”

“WHAT!”

---

Chapter Text

“So you’ve been hanging out with Machi a lot lately?

They were currently walking around a vintage shop next to campus. Machi had been the one to suggest it, but of course she was late. Which left Hisoka and Illumi to their own devices. Hisoka had gotten in late the night before from a 12 hour flight, and promptly passed out where he stood by the doorway. It was rather dramatic in Illumi’s opinion.

However it was an anti-climatic greeting compared to what they had expected. This continued when Hisoka had finally woke up around noon. He was acting as if everything was fine even though when he left he said he didn’t want that. Illumi assumed he was doing it for their benefit.

It had been a stressful time with their family in the mountains, and Hisoka had gotten a lot of drunk ranting text messages about it. To be fair Illumi had warned him that they would be using him to dump their frustrations. Almost every message they sent started with ‘please don’t respond to this’ and then a flurry of paragraphs attached.

So maybe that was why Hisoka wasn’t prodding them to get a reaction, which was almost worst. It wasn’t like him to be considerate, or maybe it was but Illumi hadn’t noticed until now.

“I’ve always been her peer,” Illumi explained, sifting through a rack of dresses, “she’s very talented.”

“Yea she is,” Hisoka said suggestively earning him an unimpressed look.

“Why do you ask?”

“Just curious, she talks about you alot,” he replied, “She likes you.”

Illumi nodded, but didn’t respond.

It was no secret that Machi and Hisoka had a weird relationship. When Illumi had met them, they had been dating for about half a year. Of course Machi hung around Chrollo’s group so that relationship had an expiration date from the start.

Regardless of how messy their breakup was Hisoka always treated her amicably. She didn’t return the gesture at first, but after a year they were basically friends with benefits until Hisoka had graduated. Illumi wondered if they hung around Machi more to have some other connection to Hisoka. The thought made their stomach turn unpleasantly.

 

“Well I think it’s nice!”

Hisoka dramatically threw his arm around their shoulders to get their attention. He often did things like this to blow off his more serious feelings. Illumi rolled their eyes, not enjoying this domestic behavior.

“You would,” their voice conveying their inner thoughts, “I guess I’m too corrupted to understand the pure feelings of friendship.”

Hisoka laughed dropping his arm, “Well I wouldn’t say they were pure.”

Illumi wrinkled their nose.

“What gross thing did you say now?” came a familiar voice.

Machi smacked Hisoka from the back of the head before he could turn around to grab her. She already had bags in her hand which was probably why she was late. She shoved them in Hisoka’s arms ignoring his protest.

“I found a place that organized things by era,” she explained to Illumi, “I had to check it out, and I got us a few things!”

“You bought me stuff?” Illumi deadpanned, they were not enjoying this weird threesome they were getting pulled into.

“I stole you stuff,” she corrected.

That however was fine with Illumi.

“Then how did you get these bags?” Hisoka dropped them on the floor.

“I stole them, idiot.”

 

The three of them hung out together for most of the day. Nobu had joined them later on at Machi’s request. With his added presence Illumi felt less pressure for some reason. Probably because all day it felt like Machi and Hisoka had a secret Illumi wasn’t in on.

They all left the vintage thrift shop with more than they needed at Illumi’s expense. Illumi had paid for everything simply because they could, it was much less tiresome than stealing. Yet after doing so that same weird feeling came back.

It was like the two of them were pulling their strings, and yet they acted so aloof. As if Illumi wouldn’t get to the bottom of what Hisoka and Machi were doing.

Then it dawned on them. As they sat together at a cafe drinking the coffee Hisoka got them, they finally realized.

Hisoka wanted to have his cake and eat it too.

He wanted to be with both of them, and finally everything made sense. The weird behavior, the sudden consideration, keeping tabs on both of them so closely, it was all a ploy to have them both and leave Chrollo with nothing.

Illumi suddenly felt like an idiot.

Machi must have realized this way before they had, and seemed to be on board. Why else would she be so constant in their life right now. Everywhere Illumi turned the past couple months Machi had been there.

It had been a while now since Illumi had said anything, and they were starting to notice.

“Helloooooo…” Machi droned, waving a hand in front of their face, “You plotting our murders over there?”

Illumi continued to look into their coffee, “I kissed you on the cheek.”

“Huh?”

Hisoka said nothing.

“Because you told me to,” Illumi stood up, “What else did you trick me into doing?”

“I didn’t--”

“I’m over this,” they said, “I don’t want to be a part of this pissing contest you’re in with that creep.”

“You’re not--” Hisoka tried again.

“Shut up. You know how stressed I am,” Illumi interrupted, “I don’t have time to deal with this too. Whatever’s going on with you two is fine, but leave me out of it.”

For once Hisoka didn’t have anything to say. He just watched Illumi storm out of the cafe, wide eyed and quiet.

“What the hell was that about?” Machi asked punching Hisoka’s shoulder, “They think you want us all to date and live happily ever after or some shit?”

Hisoka didn’t answer her, just stared in the direction Illumi left.

“Are you fucking serious right now?” she exclaimed scooting away, “You know that’s never going to happen right?”

“Of course not,” he finally said, “that wasn’t my intention, at least with you.”

“What I’m supposed to be flattered by that?”

“What do you want me to say?” he laughed, “I knew they’d see through me eventually. I just didn’t realize they would come to such an outlandish conclusion.”

“Yea I’ll say,” she huffed, “Also what pissing contest? I thought you and the boss were cool again?”

Hisoka scoffed, “Not when he keeps going after my things.”

“YOUR THINGS? What the hell is wrong with you!” she smacked him, “THIS is why Illumi thinks you’re trying to round us all up. What are you going to call up that blonde girl you fucked freshman year too?”

“Please don’t bring up the worst mistake of my life,” he whined, “she still texts me!”

“We’re leaving. Have fun sleeping on the side of the road tonight,” she said collecting the bags with Nobu.

“I’m sure I will…”

Hisoka really did it this time. Normally he was used to Machi being mad at him at least fifty percent of the time. It was part of their charming friendship. Illumi on the other hand…

Normally they were always indifferent at him at worst. Even when they had their breakdown earlier that semester, they weren’t actually mad at him. He could only count a couple of times he had truly pissed Illumi off. This was definitely one of those times.

Machi was right about sleeping on the road. There was no way anybody in Chrollo’s group would take him in with Machi and Nobu pissed off at him, and there was no way he’d face Illumi right now.

He didn’t mind all that in the end. The thing that frustrated him was the fact Illumi thought he wanted to go serious with both of them. There was no way that was possible with Machi anyways, her loyalty to Chrollo and her friends would always outweigh him.

That thought used to upset him until he started spending more time with Illumi. In the beginning Hisoka never thought much of his weird friendless roommate, when he moved in with them sophomore year. Illumi was just this silent freshman who spoke two words to him in a week, and paid their rent on time.

---

(past)

The most he knew about them was they posted the ad for a roommate because they didn’t want a dorm.

“My parents won’t pay the full rent, something to do with responsibilities,” Illumi had explained, “I think they wanted me to find a way to make the extra money. Whatever. This is easier.”

That was the most Hisoka heard them say for while. Which was fine with him, he preferred not having to explain himself to a stranger. Especially to some rich brat in the fashion program, he had thought.

What changed their relationship from roommates to friends started when Hisoka stumbled in bleeding and bruised from a fight he had with Chrollo. Machi and him had officially broken up for the first time, and things didn’t end well.

“Gross what happened to you?” Illumi asked.

It was the first time they had ever inquired about Hisoka’s state which said a lot since he wasn’t the most conventional roommate.

Hisoka could remember the scene perfectly. Illumi was hunched over their dining room table with gold pins popped in the side of their mouth. Fabric and patterns were scattered around them as they paused in their work to acknowledge the fact he was bleeding on the floor.

“My girlfriend… broke up with me I guess..” he said, his voice slurred from a punch in the mouth, “then she sent... her real boyfriend on meee.”

“Well how bad does he look?”

Hisoka blinked through his blurry eyes. What a weird response.

“Pretty bad~”

Illumi pinned the last of their fabric in place, and stopped working. They got bottle of expensive looking whiskey out of the cabinet and poured him a glass.

 

“I’m guessing you’re not going to go to the hospital,” they said, pouring themselves a glass as well.

“Nope.”

“You look like you have a concussion.”

“Nope” Hisoka repeated.

Illumi sighed, “Whatever, do you want to watch this horror movie with me?”

And that was the start of one of the weirdest friendships Hisoka ever had.

Since he wasn’t spending time with Machi or her friends he was home a lot more. That meant he saw Illumi more. This ended up being a nice substitute for the meantime since Illumi proved to be more than interesting.

They never had any friends over, or any friends in general Hisoka noticed. They sewed, slept, and went to class. Never going out to any parties or dates. He had never seen someone so content with themselves.

“Are you always by yourself?” Hisoka asked one day.

Illumi was currently curled up on the couch, idly reading something for a class. They glanced up at him with a look of impatience.

“You live here.”

Hisoka broke out into a fit of laughs, “Other than me!”

Illumi remained unmoved, “I guess I am… by myself a lot. I don’t care.”

“Are you some kind of only child?” he asked.

“I have four younger siblings,” he stated, “I wasn’t allowed to leave the house a lot.”

That had explained a lot. Illumi definitely came from a sheltered home. Not in the ways someone was normally sheltered, but sheltered nonetheless. If Hisoka was on terms with any of his friends he’d try to take Illumi out with him, but he then realized he was in the same boat.

“Want to get some dinner?’

“Sure.”

For a while it was just the two of them. He realized they had more common than he initially thought. Illumi was just as harsh if not worse than him. They also never batted an eye at any of Hisoka’s unusual antics which led him to make a game of it.

He tried to do whatever annoying thing he could think of to get a reaction from them. One time he had licked the side of their face earning a hard smack on their face, but other than that they normally remained unphased.

Things carried on like that until halfway through his Junior year. The two of them had decided to renew their lease on the apartment and live together for at least another year.

Things with Machi had also started getting better and the two them were friends again at least. This meant he had started going out with Chrollo’s group again.

At first Illumi said nothing about the change, but when Hisoka finally invited them out they had reservations.

“You don’t think I’d be a drag on your exciting friends?” they asked sarcastically.

“Don’t be so jealous,” he joked back, “you should get out more anyways.”

“Whatever,” they responded trying to wave them off.

“Come onnnnn,” Hisoka whinned, “Don’t you want to at least get buzzed with people who aren’t me.”

“Actually, that doesn’t sound awful,” they agreed, changing their mind, “I’m only going to stay an hour though.”

That hour turned into five hours and those five hours turned into Hisoka waking up next to Illumi not remembering much, but just enough to realize they probably hooked up at some point.

Hisoka had left before they woke up, and both of them went on as if it had never happened. He thought he might have even imagined the whole thing. That was until the next time they got drunk, and he found himself on their living room floor making out with them.

Illumi had stopped anything from escalating at a certain point, but the cycle kept continuing like this. There was no pattern, it was all just in the moment.

While he was normally able to disconnect himself from getting serious feelings for someone it was hard with Illumi. Hisoka had no idea what they were thinking most of the time, and it was too much fun to keep a hold of his emotions.

“What if I just stopped?” he had asked once Illumi stopped them from getting further again.

“Stopped?” they repeated.

“Stopped seeing Machi.”

It was pretty clear to everyone by this point that Hisoka and Machi had started hooking up again even though it wasn’t serious. She was familiar, and took his mind off his more serious developing feelings for Illumi.

It was hard to live with the person you had feelings for. Even harder when things got stuck a in vicious cycle.

“I don’t get it,” they had said, “I don’t care about that.”

“You don’t?” Hisoka sighed, “Then why…”

“It’s not about what you want,” they explained.

Though their words were harsh but, Illumi said them in the same neutral tone. It was not intended to be malicious.

“It’s about what I don’t want.”

“What…. Oh,” he finally understood.

---

(present)

It had a been a few hours since Illumi had stormed off. They hadn’t replied to any of his calls or texts. Hisoka had figured they wouldn’t but he couldn’t keep himself from trying. This situation was a mess, and he was getting annoyed.

He finally decided to take care of things in person. It was clear that Illumi didn’t want to see him, but if anything he could set the record straight and then leave.

When he got to their apartment he knocked for five minutes without a reply. While it might be possible that Illumi could be out, Hisoka knew better. He sent one last text in response.

I’m at the door.- HM

His phone rang. Before he could say anything Illumi’s voice came in cold and unaffected.

“Yes, I can hear you.”

“Are you really going to lock me out?” he asked in feigned sorrow.

“You don’t live here anymore.”

“Illumi.” he sighed.

“I don’t want to talk to you right now!”

“I don’t want to date Machi!”

“I don’t want to sleep with you!”

“That’s fine!” he said, more to the door than the phone, “I know you don’t care who I sleep with as long as it’s not you.”

“And you’re still at the door? Am I supposed to be moved?” their malice was clear, “anyone else would have the sense to fuck off.”

Hisoka sighed, “Yea well I guess I don’t have a lot of sense.”

The line was silent for a while. This was not what Hisoka had planned. He had thought of some coherent words planned on the walk over. Not this childish banter.

He hadn’t been himself in a while, and it would only continue if he let it things keep going this way.

 

“I tried to do what you wanted,” he started, “I know you’re stressed. So, I tried to act like everythings fine, but we both know its not. I don’t know why you think Machi had anything to do with this. I just liked that you’re friends.

And this shit with Chrollo is only going on because that’s just how it is between us. You can do whatever you want, I don’t care.”

Illumi opened the door, their face was neutral but the phone was still held to their ear. Hisoka’s tone didn’t change if anything it got angrier. He pushed Illumi’s shoulder as if he was trying to start a fight. Not hard, just a jab as if to provoke them.

“But don’t tell me to fuck off when I’m just worried about you.”

“Worried?” they repeated.

“All this shit with Machi, it doesn’t matter. You even said that.” he said backing them into a corner, “You’re messing with Chrollo and you’re going to get fucked over in the process.”

They looked down to get away from his intense glare, “I didn’t start it.”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re playing into his game even if you think your not,” he grabbed their arms, “I’m not coming back for a while, and what’s going to happen when I’m gone?”

Illumi pushed him off, “What the hell is the matter with you?”

“What’s the matter with you?” he retorted, “and why does it bother you so much to have some goddamn peace? What you’d rather focus on leading this guy on than care about me?”

“Wha--”

“You’re not happy unless you’re suffering.” he said, “because you’ve never really suffered.”

“That’s how you feel then?” they asked, their expression was unreadable.

“Yes!”

“Fine!”

Hisoka wasn’t sure when Illumi’s arms had come to wind around his neck during their altercation, but now they were pulling him closer. Their noses brushed as they came to a stop, faces inches apart.

He almost made a move until Illumi yanked him down. They kissed the corner of his mouth almost as a test, and all he could do was stand there. His shock had finally gotten the better of him, and he was starting to feel nauseated from all the things he had said.

Illumi didn’t seem to mind his slow pace for once. They pulled him in close if that was possible and kissed him hard. His mouth opened immediately and they bit down on his bottom lip until Hisoka could taste the blood.

Realization of what was happening finally hit him, and he started to take control. He grabbed them by the waist and pushed them down into the couch. Never breaking their painful kiss in the process.

Hisoka finally broke the kiss, both of their mouths covered in his blood. Illumi brought their hands up to his face and thumbed the wound in the middle of his mouth.

He bent back down and rested his face against their neck.

“Isn’t this how its supposed to be?” he said breathlessly against their ear.

Illumi’s arms wrapped around his back in response. He moved his head to see their eyes were closed, a peaceful look on their face as if the were sleeping.

Hisoka bit into their neck hard causing Illumi to call out. Their arms let go of him for a second and he used the opportunity to grab them and pin them above their head. Illumi’s annoyed expression made him grin.

The pace between them accelerated as Hisoka went back into biting and kissing Illumi’s neck, each one hard enough to leave a bruise. His knee had moved in between their legs, but that was where it had stayed..

He could tell Illumi was getting restless being pinned down. He kissed them on the mouth one last time before he let his guard down. As soon as the pressure on their wrists lessened Illumi pushed them both off the couch roughly landing on top of him on the floor.

Hisoka laughed even though he was in pain, it didn’t matter. Illumi continued to stare at him, legs straddling his waist now. Anyone else would read this as seductive, but the blank gaze meant it was over.

They stayed like that for a little while. Hisoka had brought an arm over his eyes, but his bloody smile stayed on his face.

“You’re done?” he finally asked, breaking the silence.

Illumi said nothing, but rolled off of him in response. When Hisoka finally looked up he saw the bruises and bites scattered across their neck already taking form. He reached out to touch them, but his hand was smacked away.

“This can’t be something you actually want,” they said getting up to sit on the couch.

Hisoka didn’t know what to say to that. He thought he already said enough earlier, and was done acting like a fool. Did Illumi really not think they weren’t enough when in reality they were probably too much.

He liked a challenge so it didn’t matter if they were a lot to handle.

“You don’t know anything about what I want.”

Chapter Text

“Kalluto?”

Illumi had just gotten back from their last class to see their youngest brother playing his DS on the couch of their living room. While his presence wasn’t unwanted, Illumi wondered how he got there. Their estate was in the middle of nowhere, two hours away.

Kalluto waited until he finished his level before he responded to his older sibling. He seemed calm and relaxed as if this was a normal occurrence. Illumi then realized this was the first time Kalluto had ever been inside their apartment. How did he find it?

“Going to stay for the weekend,” Kalluto stated, rather than asked.

“Something wrong?”

A sigh was heard from the couch and finally Kalluto looked over at Illumi. He had a tragically sad expression on his face which was far from normal for their monotone brother. Illumi half expected an answer and starting raking their brain trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

“Killua and Alluka….” Kalluto started, looking away as he said their names, “I don’t know, it’s stupid. They went on this fishing trip for the weekend.”

“Ah I see,” Illumi was starting to understand, “You were invited to go as well. Should I be flattered or concerned you’d rather spend time with me?”

Turning back around, Kalluto sighed again. Illumi started a pot of coffee and joined him on the couch. They always forgot how small Kalluto was for his age. Illumi knew they took after their father in height, but Kalluto seemed to stay the same 5’2” since he was 13. He was a senior in high school now almost eighteen years old.

“Does mother know your here?” Illumi asked.

“No, I told Grandfather. He gave me the keys to his car and told me not to crash it,” Kalluto said.

So that’s how he got here, Illumi thought. They were impressed with Kalluto’s rebelliousness. If anyone was actually close with their mother it was him, and yet he told neither of their parents. Just took one of their grandfather’s cars with loose consent and hit the road.

Illumi groaned, suddenly annoyed. They would have to call mother and be the responsible adult.

“I’ll call her, but you can stay for however long your allowed,” they replied getting up to pour them a cup coffee.

Kalluto followed them to the kitchen with a seemingly hollow presence. He hopped up on one of the stools by the counter, eyes lighting up when they saw Illumi pull out the honey.

When they were kids the youngest three loved watching ghibli movies together, their favorite being ‘Ponyo’. Just like in the movie, whenever one of them was sad or scared, Illumi would make them a hot drink with honey and let them lick the spoon.

It was when Illumi handed Kalluto their drink and spoon when he finally broke. He stared into the glass, sucking the spoon with tears streaming down their face. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Illumi, since he himself didn’t really know what was bothering him.

All he could do was sit there and let his tears fall into the cup in front of him. It was only when he felt Illumi’s arm come to rest around his back, pulling him into an embrace was he able to let out a sob.

----

IZ- So Kalluto’s is here.

KZ- At the apartment??

IZ- Where else would ‘here’ be.
IZ- Anyways, you should do something with just him. I think he’s sad you seem to like Alluka more.

KZ- THATS NOT TRUE! I love them both the same, more than YOU :P

IZ- ouch
IZ- I also have feelings Kil

KZ- Kalluto/Alluka, then you, then everyone else in the family, then Miluki :<

IZ- find a new place to live, Kalluto is replacing you.

KZ- OH SORRY I thought Hisoka already did MY BAD

IZ- I hear it’s supposed to storm this weekend, hope you have a fun trip sleeping outside :)

KZ- oh I will :)

KIllua sighed, he was sitting in the backseat of Leorio’s car with his sister. Gon had started the drive about an hour ago, and they had an hour left. He shifted, looking over at Alluka. She had started reading a book with her legs spread out on his lap, her back to the window.

He felt awful that Kalluto seemed to think they were leaving him out. Kalluto was often the sibling that suffered the most middle child syndrome. Illumi was the oldest so they had that going for them, while Miluki preferred to be ignored. Killua took after his father so much, that he normally stood out, and Alluka was the baby of the family. So where did that leave Kalluto?

Kalluto was smart and talented when it came to school, and never really got into any trouble. He had a unique look, and stood out among his classmates so he was never unpopular. He wouldn't be average if he was from a normal family.

When it came to the Zoldycks that was another story. Illumi could be volatile and overbearing. He always had to take care of them so Killua couldn’t blame them. Both him and Illumi got into some trouble growing up as well. Then there was Alluka, having her school life constantly shifting while also going through the process of transitioning. Kalluto really didn’t do or ask for much compared to the others.

“What’s wrong?” Alluka asked, nudging him with her foot.

Killua tried not to notice the worried glance Gon gave him from the rearview mirror.

“Kalluto is sad,” he said, “I think he wanted to go with us, but you know how he can be.”

Alluka frowned, “He’s always trying to be older than he is…”

“Yea, I guess that’s my fault,” Killua read through his texts with Illumi, “He’s at the apartment right now. I think he’s going to hang out with Illumi for a bit.”

“Well then maybe we can all do something together when we get back!” Alluka jumped in her seat, eyes lighting up.

“Don’t you two have school?”

She stuck out her tongue in response, “Come on! We never miss school!”

“Ask Illum-- I mean..” Killua stopped himself, “I don’t know, are our parents in town?”

 

“When I left mom was, and gramps,” Alluka shrugged.

“I’ll ask gramps…”

----

When they got to the campground it was only about noon. Since Gon and Killua were both early risers they had left in the morning so they would still have a full day on Friday to fish and camp. The plan was to fish the first day so they would have food ready and, then use Saturday to do some hiking and exploring.

Gon had set up the tents by himself, while the others unloaded the car. Killua could tell he was starting to feel better now that they were in the fresh air. Alluka had already started surveying the area, marking the trees she wanted to climb in her mind.

Killua was a little worried about how this trip would go. It had been a weird day after Gon had mentioned going on a date. He was left feeling completely on edge, and had been unapproachable for the rest of the day. When they got up the next morning it was a little less awkward, until Gon had apologized.

(last week)

Killua had gotten up later than usual, having slept on the couch by himself. Usually Gon woke him up because he would sleep on the floor next to Gon’s bed. After what happened though, Killua opted to sleep by himself.

Gon had already started making breakfast, and looked ready for the day. Killua sat at the kitchen table, still groggy. His sleep clouded mind had made him forget that he should be feeling awkward. They ate with comfortable conversation for about an hour. It was only when Gon brought up the offending topic that Killua remembered.

“You’re not upset with me right?” Gon had started, “I mean about yesterday..”

Killua blinked, “What?”

“I mean I was just teasing you,” he replied, looking the eggs in front of him, “We don’t actually have to go on a date.”

“Huh--”

 

“Dates aren’t really a big deal to me, but I know it’s not like that with everyone,” Gon interrupted, “I really like being your friend. We’re still friends right?”

Killua stared at him dumbfounded. He had never seen Gon this nervous before, the only thing being close was jitters before a soccer game. This was completely new. He felt kind of terrible he caused his friend to stress, when he was normally so unbothered and confident.

“Gon…” Killua trailed, not sure how to remedy the situation, “I…Of course we’re friends.”

Gon visibly relaxed, “Okay, good.”

Killua flicked his toast a Gon’s nose, “I just woke up, you can’t spout off all that stuff, and expect me to know what to say right away!”

“All that stuff? You mean my feelings!” Gon cried, pretending to be offended, “Sorry.. I guess it was eating away at me.”

“Yea…” Killua sighed, “You just gotta understand, it’s a lot for me. I mean everything… like that. Sometimes it’s just too much.”

Killua hoped he was getting his point across. He didn’t want to outright reject Gon, but he was definitely not a hundred percent sure about he felt. Gon nodded in response. It seemed like things would be okay between them.

“I get it,” he said, “has anyone ever told you, you’re every eloquent.”

Killua threw the rest of his toast at Gon, “Shut the fuck up!”

(present)

The rest of the set up had gone without a hitch. It seemed like things really were okay between them. Though it was obvious Gon had stopped being so forward with him, which weirdly stung. It was if Gon had completely retreated to making sure it was clear they were friends and nothing else.

That wasn’t exactly what Killua wanted either, but with Alluka and Leorio present, it was probably for the best. At least for the duration of the trip.

Killua could tell Alluka, and probably Kalluto knew he liked Gon. He would be eternally grateful for Alluka keeping it to herself for the trip though. She could always read him like a book.

However he knew he was in trouble when Gon and Alluka met. It made him way too happy to see how well they took to each other. Alluka laughing at all of Gon’s jokes, and Gon asking her questions about her interests on the drive up. KIllua tried to ignore the way it made his heart feel lighter.

“We keep our boats by the lake so we can just head up to the dock!” Gon explained, leading the way.. Killua was currently giving Alluka a piggy back ride while Leorio and Gon were left to carry the rest of the stuff. Killua had claimed he needed to transport the ‘precious cargo’ himself.

Once at the dock they unlocked and started up the two boats. Leorio split the supplies between the two of them and started getting everything ready to go. Since Gon and Leorio were the only ones who knew how to sail the boats, that meant Alluka and Killua would be split up.

He was a mix of jealous and grateful when Alluka chose to go with Gon.

“Gon’s my new big brother, sorry!” she said, sticking her tongue out.

“You can’t keep collecting us, you’ll have ten by the end of the year!” he joked back, “That’s fine I have some interrogating to do anyways…”

“Excuse me?” Leorio said, looking surprised, “What exactly is my offense?”

“Playing with the hearts of my beloved friends!”

Leorio scoffed, “Yea I think that’s more Gon’s speed.”

The blush that hit Gon’s face was a new sight for Killua. He had never seen him shy away from his normal flirtatious habits.

“I don’t play with people’s hearts!” Gon said, shocked as if he’d ever entertain the idea.

It was Killua’s turn to scoff, “If you say sooooooo.”

The boats started up and they were starting to drift apart. Even so Gon still yelled back over the engine.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Try saying no to the people you don’t actually like, idiot!” Killua yelled back.

Gon looked wrecked, as if he had been caught red handed. He obviously didn’t know Killua had caught on to his relaxed behavior. Feeling brave Killua winked his way as Leorio sailed the boat father away from them.

He could dish it out, as long as he could run away afterwards.

--

“Why are you wearing that?”

Illumi was currently laying on their stomach in the middle of the living room floor. They had just finished watching a cheap horror movie, by Kalluto’s request. He had started folding origami cranes and flowers and placing them on top of Illumi’s head and back.

At first he only want to annoy them, but they seemed apathetic to the ever growing paper arboretum covering their body. Instead more interested in Kalluto’s clothes.

“Alluka’s doing this new thing,” Kalluto explained, “She’s been matching clothes with everyone. She’ll pick out the outfits and you wear them on the same day.”

Illumi gave him a once over, still seeming skeptical. Kalluto relented and pulled a headband out of his bag and put it on. There was a bow on the top that was bent into a heart shape.

“There it is,” Illumi smiled, propping themselves on their elbows, “So she’s wearing that right now too?”

Kalluto nodded. The outfit Alluka chose for them was definitely toned down from her usual style, but still not very comfortable for him. She had picked highwaisted jeans that were cuffed at the bottom, paired with a red and white striped shirt and matching red sweater.

The accessories were the worst part in his opinion. Alluka had insisted they wear matching headbands and fake glasses. He felt like a studio ghibli love interest.

“Why did she pick today if you aren’t together?” Illumi asked.

“That’s the point,” he said, “We have to make a post on instagram and tag each other. It’s all very… annoying.”

Illumi snorted at him, “There are worse things than appeasing your sister.”

“Don’t worry your next.”

“I’m wha--”

Illumi’s phone went off interrupting them. They gave Kalluto a warning look before answering. He couldn’t count how many time they’ve used the same expression on the other siblings. He scoffed in response and started back up on his origami.

“You’re not still mad at me right?” came Machi's voice.

Illumi cursed themselves for not looking at the caller ID before answering. They weren’t mad at Machi, more accurately they were embarrassed. After Hisoka skipped town again they went out of their way to avoid Machi and anyone from her circle.

It was ridiculous, they knew this. It didn’t make them want to confront the situation though. They had no idea what to say to her.

‘Sorry the thought of dating you made me storm out of a building in anger.’
‘Feelings disgust me. Are you surprised I didn’t want to deal with the both of you?’
‘It’s me not you. Let’s never speak again.’

Those were the better options they had thought of in the past week. All of the responses were either too harsh or half truths. Illumi had no idea what to think, and was annoyed at Hisoka for starting this mess.

They decided to go with the truth.

“I was never mad at you,” Illumi said, looking over at their brother. He was still folding cranes on the couch, acting as if he wasn’t eavesdropping.

“It was just a hunch,” Machi sighed, “Since you’ve been doing all your work from home and ignoring my texts… Hisoka says you still text him.”

Illumi let out an aggravated sound and headed into their bedroom.

“That’s because--”

“Don’t worry I know you guys made out and made up,” she assured.

“Great.”

“Don’t be such a recluse,” she said, “I don’t care about whatever that idiot was trying to do. Let’s just hang out like before.”

Illumi took a minute before responding. They did enjoy being friends with Machi, and the others for that matter. However it was dangerous to get close to them with Chrollo probably still lurking around. Hisoka had made a good point during their fight. They shouldn’t lead him on.

Even so Illumi did miss spending time with other people. Feitan and Shizuku were pretty tolerable, and Nobu always took off the pressure in a situation. If they were being honest they would like to go out with everyone again.

The only problem was Chrollo. They didn’t expect the others to leave him out for their comfort. That’s not how that group worked. They were more like a dysfunctional family rather than a friend group, and Chrollo was the guy who put them together.

Illumi realized if they wanted to be in their circle they had to have a serious talk with Chrollo. That would decide how things would go, it was only fair to both him and Hisoka. Illumi would just tell him they weren’t interested in his advances directly and whatever happened, happened.

It was disappointing. Illumi had wanted so much to crush his spirits. Hisoka did too, they figured. Chrollo was lucky to have a person like Machi in his corner.

“Alright,” they replied, “I do miss hanging out with you.”

“Was that so hard?” she joked, “Don’t worry about Chrollo I can--”

“I’m going to talk to him,” Illumi interrupted, “He’s part of the package, I realize.”

“Yea I guess so…”

“What did you mean about Hisoka?” they suddenly asked, “You said ‘whatever that idiot was trying to do’ He told me I misunderstood. Was he lying?”

“To himself maybe,” Machi snorted, “I think you hit the nail on the head earlier. If I’m being honest I think he’s still going to get what he wants. It’s not like either of us are done seeing him, right?”

“Hmm,” they agreed, “Still we can’t let him know. He’ll just push his luck.”

“Agreed, and no offense Illumi,” Machi joked, “you’re not really my type.”

That made Illumi laughed, more so than they intended.

“I don’t know about that,” they started, “You’re track record with queer guys says otherwise…”

“Yea yea I get it. You’re everyone’s type.”

Chapter Text

Kalluto pulled at their sleeves, feeling uncomfortable. When Illumi got off the phone they had invited him to hang out with their friends. While he was interested to see the kind of people Illumi befriended, he did not want to meet them dressed in one of Alluka’s getups.

So now they were dressed in one of Illumi’s boxy sweaters and a pair of leggings. Since they were so tall this was one of the only things Kalluto could find that didn’t look completely ridiculous on him. He wished he would have planned better. When he took the car he just left without bringing anything else.

Illumi was lounging on the couch with their eyes shut when Kalluto emerged from their bedroom. They seemed less stressed than they were in the mountains, but he wasn’t sure they were getting enough sleep. Killua had mentioned Illumi’s narcoleptic behavior before, but he thought his brother was exaggerating.

Not wanting to disturb them, Kalluto tried to seat themselves as silently as possible on the couch. He started folding more paper flowers while he waited. There was still a pile of them on the floor from where Illumi had shook them off.

Suddenly the door to their apartment swung open,and a flurry of voices could be heard on the other side.

“You should lock your door,” came an annoyed voice.

Illumi jumped up, startled from sleep, “What? ...you said you wouldn’t be here for an hour?”

Kalluto peaked up from behind the couch. There were about four people at the door, slowly filtering in. The guy who let them in looked like he slept less than Illumi. Kalluto was suddenly nervous, all their friends looked pretty intense.

“Yea and we’re an hour late,” a pink haired girl said, “Did you zone out again?”

“Maybe they got abducted and lost time,” said the tired boy.

Illumi straightened up and grabbed their bag, “Yes, because that’s more likely…”

“Come on, are we heading out?” a blonde girl asked, she was leaning intimately on the other girl, “We walked here, so you better drive.”

“Sure, even though I don’t know how we’ll all fit…” Illumi gestured over to Kalluto, “My brother’s coming with us, this is Kalluto.”

The tired boy’s eyes squinted at him, “How many siblings do you have again?”
“Four. Kalluto, this is Machi, Feitan, Paku, and Nobu,” Illumi explained, “They’ll probably annoy you at first, but you get used to it.”

Smirking, Machi put her hands on her hips, “Wow Illumi. Tell me how you really feel.”

“I just did.”

----

“So what do you do?”

“Huh?”

The six of them were seated around a booth at one of their college’s cafes. It was getting late, but since they were on campus everything stayed open until after midnight. Kalluto still wasn’t sure about how he felt about Illumi’s friends. Even so, he was glad that they seemed at ease with the group.

 

“Don’t all of you have a thing?” Paku asked, “Illumi is the fashionable one, you’re sister’s instagram famous, and that other kid does what?”

“Rides a skateboard?” Machi guessed, “His hair is bleached, that could be something.”

“Why are we having this conversation?” Illumi asked, “By ‘things’ do you mean basing our personalities on small interests and identifiers?”

“Why are you complaining? You got ‘the fashionable one’,” Kalluto shot back, “I guess mine is… origami and getting mistaken for a girl at least 90 percent of the time.”

The others laughed at the response, to Kalluto’s relief. He wasn’t used to being around such a large group of people. When all of the attention was focused on him it was more than unsettling.

Well most of the attention. That tired boy from before, Feitan, seemed like he was in another world. He had been ignoring most of the conversation, either on his phone or staring out the window. Kalluto wasn’t sure why that annoyed him as much as it did.

“To be fair I might have thought you were Alluka, since I’ve only heard of you guys,” Machi admitted, “but you two look a lot more alike than Killua. Are you sure he’s really your brother?”

“He looks like dad,” Kalluto said, “well more like grandpa did when he was a kid.”

“Man what’s it like having so many siblings?” Paku asked Illumi, “I’ve always wondered if I have any running around.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Illumi stretched, “I can tell you what it’s like to be a parent of four children though.”

“You two certainly know how to kill a mood with your tragic pasts,” Nobu scoffed, “You don’t see m--”

“Shut up, shut up,” Feitan said, finally acknowledging the group, “Nobody make a scene. I’m about to say something crazy.”

Illumi snorted, but the others went silent.

“You guys see anything familiar about the guy at the register?” he asked, his voice lower.

They all slowly looked over, and few of them gasped. Kalluto didn’t see anything out of the ordinary with the cashier. Obviously they knew him, but the guy didn’t look as intimidating as Feitan was making them out to be.

“Holy shit!” Paku whispered, “Are you kidding me? What’s he still doing here?”

Machi leaned over to grab Nobu from across the table, “You gotta keep your cool, don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

“Are you kidding me? He’s lucky I don’t take him outside and beat him into the ground,” Nobu threatened, “I thought he left the university when him and the boss split up?”

That caught Illumi’s attention, “You can’t be talking about that scrawny looking blonde kid right?”

“That ‘scrawny kid’ put Uvo in the hospital!” Nobu half whispered, half yelled, “I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it go down myself.”

“Keep your voice down,” Machi said, hand still grasping his arm, “You guys think he noticed us when we came in?”

“No, he must have been in the back,” Feitan assured her, “You think we should bounce?”

Illumi rolled their eyes, “What’s he going to do? Have security escort us out?”

“I mean he did file restraining orders for half the people in our group,” Paku explained, “Myself and Nobu included.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Illumi was not convinced, “And he’s Chrollo’s ex?”

Machi raised her eyebrows, “Yea. What’s it to you, Illumi?”

“Nothing,” Illumi glared, meeting her gaze, “It’s just a question.”

Feitan squinted at their exchange, seeming annoyed.

“Either way, if we stick around Kurapika is going to noticed us eventually,” Paku said, “I for one say we sneak out the back door.”

Kalluto was entertained to say the least. He wasn’t expecting this group to be so dramatic. It seemed trivial to him. So what if their friend dated some guy and got in a fight with their friend. It happens.

What made him stop was Illumi’s weird reaction to their friend. They had seemed more than unimpressed with the blonde at the front of the cafe. Kalluto wondered if Illumi had dated this guy as well. He was starting to learn a lot more about his sibling than he thought he would.

“Shit,” Feitan said turning back around, “Cat’s out of the bag. He’s glaring at us…”

“Should I blow him a kiss?” Machi suggested, “Or do you think he’ll call the cops?”

“I gotta get out of here before I give him a piece of my mind,” Nobu said stomping out the side door with Machi following closely behind.

The four left at the table stared at each other unsure of what to do. Paku and Kalluto were currently facing the front, while Illumi and Feitan’s backs were to the register. They could hear Nobu yelling something on the phone outside, probably talking to Chrollo.

Machi stuck her head in, “The boss doesn’t seem to care. Let’s just go.”

Illumi rolled their eyes again, and got up with Kalluto in their grasp. Feitan followed them closer than necessary, avoiding the eyes of the blonde still watching them. Paku was the last to leave giving him a wave and saying,

“We’re just leaving! No need to call the police..”

----

“God, what a brat.”

They were back at the apartment, opting to order food and play video games for the night. Feitan and Machi had stuck around, while Paku and Nobu left to blow off steam. Kalluto was currently trying to beat Machi in a round of smash bros, she was winning to no one’s surprise.

Feitan had decided to take up their entire couch, forcing the rest to sit on the floor in front of him. Their relaxed behavior was starting to get on Kalluto’s nerves. He acted like he lived there.

“I still don’t see how a pretty boy like that put Uvo in the hospital,” Illumi scoffed, “No offense Kalluto.”

If he wasn’t so focused on the game Kalluto would turned around to tackle his older sibling to the ground. It wouldn’t be too hard since they were all sitting on the floor anyways. The comment didn’t really bother him though, he was pretty confident in his appearance and identity.

It never upset him that people mostly assumed he was a girl until told otherwise. He used it to his advantage most of the time. Alluka had asked him recently if he was happy still identifying as a boy, and he honestly was. Gender in general had no meaning to him, so he had never really thought about it much until she asked.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were jealous,” Machi teased, taking out Kalluto’s last life, “I thought you said you weren’t into Chrollo.”

“I’m not,” they replied flatly, “It just doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t seem like his type, you can’t blame me for being surprised.”

Feitan snorted, “He doesn’t have a type. If he can use you for something he likes you.”

“I’m still confused,” Illumi shrugged, “What would he use either of us for?”

The other three burst out into a fit of laughs. Machi threw the controller finding it hard to breath, while Feitan covered his face almost screaming. The sudden outburst startled Illumi, but they looked even more lost than before.

“I forget how innocent you can be!” Machi laughed, “...maybe oblivious is a more appropriate word.”

“Don’t make fun of them,” Kalluto said wiping his eyes, “It’s not their fault.”

“I don’t…..” Illumi’s face dropped, “Oh.”
Feitan reached over to pat their shoulder, “It’s okay. To be fair we we’re all surprised, especially since you’ve spent so much time with Hisoka.”

Illumi frowned smacking his hand away. The motion was similar in the way they’d swat away Kalluto and the others when they were kids.

“Ya know someone should tell the boss,” Machi said, “I mean then he’d get over it. He’s not into crossing those kinds of boundaries,”

“Tell him what?” Illumi seemed lost again, yet almost apathetic to the conversation.

“....that your asexual?”

He gave Machi a confused looked, and shrugged.

“I don’t know what that is, I just don’t like sex.”

“Illumi….”
---

Machi had decided to bunk with Nobu and Paku for the night to see how they were doing. They of course had gone to Chrollo’s place to vent about what happened at the cafe.

From what Machi could get from the earlier phone conversation it really did seem like Chrollo didn’t care Kurapika was still in the area, he didn’t even sound surprised. That made her wonder if he had already seen Kurapika at the cafe or around campus.

She knew he liked to keep some things private, they all had their secrets. It was just unnerving to know he could care less about someone who had caused such destruction within their group. She could only hope he was down playing it on the phone for Nobu’s sake. The last thing he needed was to get arrested again.

When she got to his loft she saw that not only were Nobu and Paku there, but Uvo and Shalnark too. They must have been crashing with him for the week.

She shrugged her coat off by the door, and made her way over to sit with Paku on the couch. Paku looked more shaken now than she did at the cafe. Machi figured she was putting up a front, but didn’t realize that the other girl was so affected.

“Machi was there!” Nobu said pointing her way, “She can tell you! Her and Feitan were totally calm about the whole thing!”

“Looks like someone’s been drinking…” Machi stifled a snort, “I’m sure you’ve heard the story a hundred times now. It really wasn’t a big deal.”

“Not a big deal she says…” Nobu slurred, sitting on the floor, his head on the coffee table. Uvo gave him a hard pat on the back, but didn’t seem nearly as bothered as Machi thought he would be.

Shalnark on the other hand looked down right offended, “It is a big deal. What is that country brat still doing here? Is he asking for a deathwish?”

“Well he does go to school here…” Chrollo smirked, the least bothered of them all.

Machi’s stomach turned, but she didn’t say anything. Things had been weird between them lately, and she had a hunch she was already on thin ice.

“Yea and so do we?” Shalnark said, “There’s more of us… he needs to take a hint.”

The comment was pointed towards Chrollo, but he made no move to respond. His eyes analyzed Shalnark for a second too long, and his stare was apathetic. It was a classic warning.

Surprisingly Shalnark didn’t back down. Instead he raised his eyebrows, and starred back. The silence in the room was deafening. Finally Chrollo broke the stare, his eyes drifting to Uvo. It was clear why Shalnark was upset, Chrollo couldn’t fault him for being protective.

“I knew Kurapika was here,” he admitted, “I’m not going to force him out after I dragged him here. It’s not like he has a place to go back to anyways.”

Machi shivered, she knew why he didn’t care. He was still keeping tabs on Kurapika, for what reasons she didn’t know. The others didn’t see it like that however.

“Oh so you have too much sympathy for that bastard, Boss.” Nobu said, “He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Yea it’s not your problem he can’t go back,” Shalnark agreed, “He made his decision, and he couldn’t handle it.”

“I’m done talking about this,” Chrollo said, his mood going from bad to worse.

Shalnark looked down suddenly losing his momentum. He shifted slightly towards Uvo, his eyes still not meeting Chrollo’s. It was clear he went too far.

Not wasting any time, Chrollo grabbed his jacket and made his way to the door. He did a once over the room, his eyes locking with Machi. Her heart rate went up considerably.

“Stay as long as you want,” he started, “I’m going on a walk, don’t follow me.”

No one said anything, but a few nodded in response. Paku had grown consistently pailer even though she hadn’t said a word since Machi got there. She could scoff, Chrollo had a sweet spot for Paku it’s not like he would ever put blame on her.

“Machi?” Chrollo said startling her.

She got up to follow him out, ignoring the ‘goodbyes’ that followed. Sometimes her gut was wrong, maybe he had something else in mind that he wanted to discuss..

They made their way farther from campus and into the city. Neither saying a word. The air wasn’t as tense as it was in the loft though. Machi could appreciate that fact that he just needed to get away.

He was basically their leader, they called him boss afterall. So the stress of dealing with the group he put together could weigh on him. Even with Franklin, Kortopi, and Bonolenov off running around the country, it was still a lot.

Finally after walking around downtown for a little while he spoke up.

“Machi… it feels like there’s rift starting to form between us,” he said, not looking at her, “It’s not easy… being with us. Are you planning on leaving this behind?”

That was not the question she thought he’d ask, the shock on her face was evident to her answer. She thought he was mad at her, not the other way around.

“No!” she said, stopping in her tracks, “That’s not… I’m not…. I don’t want to leave the group.”

He seemed to relax more after that, but he was still curious.

“Then what’s the problem?” he asked, “Something is bothering you. Has been for a while.”

She didn’t say anything right away. He had to know what she was stressing over, Chrollo was always a step ahead of everyone.

He made no move to answer the question himself, something he was known to do. Instead patiently waiting for her to open up. She wasn’t sure which was worse.

“I’m still seeing Hisoka,” she admitted, “It’s not serious like before…”
“I know.”

She knew Chrollo was aware of their arrangement, but not to its full extent. She figured it was best to come clean now then wait for history to repeat itself.

“Illumi is too. We both are I guess,” she explained, “We talked about it a little, and I know Illumi and him are more serious…”

“I see,” Chrollo his expression unreadable, “And you’re okay with that?”

“Yea I mean it’s not serious with Hisoka for me,” Machi stressed, “It’s just easy and familiar and since Illumi can’t--”

She stopped herself mid-sentence. Her and Illumi weren’t best friends by any means, but that didn’t mean she should out them like that. Especially when they hadn’t been too clear about how they identified.

It was too late though. Chrollo was waiting for her to go on, and she couldn’t think of anything to cover up her mistake.

Finally he asked, “Illumi can’t?”

“It’s not my place to say,” she shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. She could tell he was starting to get annoyed with the runaround.

“You already did.”

“It’s just… the thing with Illumi is... They’re not….” Machi muttered, not sure what she should say, “I think they are asexual.”

“You’re kidding me right?” he asked, his voice a weird mix of skepticism and disbelief.

She shook her head, unable to think of a response.

“Wow I feel like the biggest idiot,” he sighed, “Well maybe not as big as Hisoka.”

“It’s o--”

“So wait,” Chrollo interrupted, “You’re okay with him screwing you because he can’t sleep with Illumi?”

“It’s not like that,” she insisted.

She had a feeling when she told Chrollo about their relationship, he would say something like this. It just happened to work out for her and Hisoka. Machi didn’t feel like she was being used.

Since Chrollo had never accepted Hisoka he wouldn’t see it like that. If this was going on with any of the others in the group he wouldn’t care, but they had both been burned by Hisoka. Chrollo couldn’t trust him anymore, and Machi wasn’t sure where that left her.

“You’re better than that,” he said, “You’re better than him. I don’t get why you waste your time on him.”

“I’m not,” she defended, “That’s the thing. I don’t like having ties, this works for me more than it does for him.”

He gave her a skeptical look.

“He wanted us all to be serious thing…” Machi admitted, “We both said no.”

“The three of you?” he asked, “Together?”

“Yea.”

Chrollo scoffed, “That figures.”

It was all in the open now. She didn’t regret telling him, but she wished that feeling of betrayal in her stomach would go away. This whole situation was upside down.

In the beginning when Hisoka and her had first started dating, Chrollo had been with Kurapika. After they broke up he had been a loaner for a while. It wasn’t until Hisoka had started leading them both on did things hit the fan.

Chrollo had assumed things were heading in a polyamorous direction, but Hisoka just wanted a fight. Machi ended up having to choose a side as the two beat each other to a pulp. After that she figured that would be the last of Hisoka, but he wormed his way into their group yet again.

This time he had matured, and actually wanting something lasting. The only problem was Machi didn’t. She couldn’t speak for Illumi, but she was smart enough to keep Hisoka at arms length.

Things only got worse when Hisoka left town and Chrollo started hitting on Illumi. That had come completely out of left field, and Machi could only chalk it up to Illumi being hot and mysterious. At least to Chrollo. The fact that they were associated with Hisoka didn’t hurt either.

“I don’t want that though,” she said, “I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

“I’m not going to tell you what to do…” he relented, “but I’m glad you told me what was going on.”

“Of course.”

Machi linked their arms together as they turned back to walk home. She hoped that after their talk things would start getting better between them. It made her wonder if all this trouble with Hisoka was actually worth it. It was easy to say it wasn’t when he was gone, running around doing who knows what.

Either way her loyalty would remain to Chrollo if push came to shove. He had pulled her from the dirt and given her a home. Anything serious with Hisoka seemed to end in heartbreak, whether it was hers or his.

Chapter Text

It had been about thirty minutes into fishing, and Killua was bored out of his mind. He figured if he was with Gon it might have been a little more exciting, but either way fishing was not for him. He was glad this weekend would be a whole camping trip so they could do other things.

So far neither of them had caught anything. Leorio seemed content enough, just sitting there with his eyes closed. Killua couldn’t relax though. How could he after he said that to Gon. He hoped he wasn’t sending him mixed signals, he knew Gon got frustrated by that kind of thing.

He needed to talk about something to get his mind off his stress. Killua slyly looked over at Leorio, his previous idea coming to mind. He did have something he wanted to discuss with him, but it might end up turning the tables on him if he wasn’t careful.

“So…” Killua started, “How was that date with Kurapika?”

Leorio didn’t open his eyes, “How was yours with Gon?”

Damn it, Killua thought, that lasted all of two seconds. He shifted away uncomfortably, unsure of what to say. Did Gon mention that weird conversation to Leorio? It would make sense, they did live together.

“We never went out..” Killua muttered, the annoyance clear in his voice.

Leorio stretched out, unconcerned by Killua’s state. He sent him a lazy smile as if he were none the wiser.

“Sorry I just figured you were,” Leorio explained, “He never shuts up about you.”

Killua didn’t respond, but he knew his face was as red as a beet. He couldn’t form any kind of response to that. He knew Gon probably mentioned him sometimes, but not the way Leorio was insinuating.

“And I wouldn’t call it much of a date,” Leorio continued, “I’m sure that’s what Gon told you. He thinks everyone’s in love, such a romantic.”

“What did it go bad?” Killua asked, finding his voice.

“We were just studying, it wasn’t a date,” Leorio sighed, “I wish he wouldn’t say things like that about me. Like I have time for that.”

“Oh yea, you’re a med resident right?” Killura remembered.

“Yep. It’s slowly killing me,” he joked, “I enjoy it but this year has been rough!”

“So what were you doing with Kurapika then?” Killua asked.

He had to get to the bottom of this. Leorio was trying to change the subject so that meant something was up. It was all so odd, he could have sworn Kurapika liked Melody. Did he like them both? Was that even allowed?

“He’s in an anatomy class and asked me to help him with a paper,” Leorio said, “I ended up passing out on their couch.”

“So you met his roommate?”

“Yes…”

 

“What do you think of her?”

“She’s cute.”

“What about Kurapika?”

Leorio threw his hands in the air as if to surrender. Killua realized he had inched closer and closer to the man that he was completely pushed against the side of the boat.

“What’s up with the third degree kid!” he said nudging Killua off, “like I said I don’t have time for that. I’m trying to be a doctor!”

“Sorry sorry!” Killua laughed, “Gon and I have been trying to solve the mystery!”

“There’s not really much to solve,” Leorio admitted, “Though I’m flattered you guys think I could land either of them.”

“That was the actual mystery….” Killua snorted.

“I could throw you into the lake, you brat!”

“Just try it old man!”

“I’m 23!”

----

“We caught so many fish!” Alluka shouted over at them as she hopped off the boat, “I caught three by myself!”

Killua gave her a thumbs up as she ran towards them. She told them all about their fishing experience while Gon took a net and cooler out of the boat and started locking things up. Leorio and him hadn’t done too bad fishing, but he told Killua that Gon would still probably come out with the most.

Once they had broken the ice he had a pretty good time with Leorio. He felt a little bad for giving the guy so much grief about Kurapika, but at least they could put it behind them. Killua was still convinced there was something more to what he had said. Either way he wouldn’t pry too much about it now.

“Looks like we’re set for the weekend,” Leorio commented, opening Gon’s cooler full of fish.
Killua jumped, “Holy shit! How many did you catch?”

“Just like.. Twelve,” Gon laughed.

“He threw some back!” Alluka exclaimed, “We could have had more, isn’t that crazy!”

“We were only out for like a few hours?” Killua questioned

He didn’t know a lot about fishing, but he was still impressed. Leorio had caught about seven while they were out, and he had only gotten as many as Alluka.

The four of them made their back to the campsite. Killua and Alluka actually helped carry things back this time. She seemed to really be enjoying the outdoors to Killua’s relief. He was a little worried since it wasn’t something she was used to, but Gon had assured him before the trip that he could take them back early if it was too much for her.

The thought of Kalluto weighed on his mind again. He felt bad that his younger brother felt left out. Killua had always assumed Kalluto could take care of himself, but he never meant to make him feel unwanted. He was grateful Illumi could be there for him in his place at least.

KZ- How is it going over there?

IZ- Kalluto knows way too much about my life now.
IZ- We might be going out with my friends. I worry he is too young though.

KZ- He’s more mature than me thats for sure.

IZ- This crowd can be a little rough.

KZ- If you’re there I’m sure it will be fine.

IZ- Is basking in the dirt everything you thought it would be?

KZ- oh that and more.
KZ- Alluka is having fun too.

IZ- Did she tell you about the matching outfits yet?

KZ- The what now?

IZ- [image]
IZ- see anything familiar?

KZ- Yikes! Poor Kalluto. It’s a good look tho <3

IZ- Apparently I’m next…

KZ- haha good luck! :)

IZ- your time will come :)

“Hey Killua!” Alluka called him over to a tree by the site, “Take my picture for Kalluto!”

“Yes, Illumi just told me about the outfits…” he replied, “You’ll be kind when it’s my turn right?”

“Take a good picture, and we’ll see!”

---

It was about five in the morning, the perfect time to start their hike. Alluka was never an early riser so Killua made sure to wake her a half hour before they were going to leave.

They shared a tent last night so she would be more comfortable sleeping in a new environment. However KIllua was starting to worry less about her in the outdoors. She had taken everything in stride, and really seemed to be enjoying herself.

When Gon cooked up their fish over the fire she ate everything and more. Killua was more than surprised at that since Alluka was always a picky eater, and even he had a hard time eating the fish at first. He was never a fan when his food stared back at him.

He was about to start getting ready until Alluka stopped him.

“I might have lied to Kalluto when I said Illumi was next…” she said clutching her bag to her chest, “It’s just I wasn’t sure you’d want to wear it… and you don’t have to if your uncomfortable..”

“You brought me an outfit to wear?” Killua asked.

Alluka nodded, “Illumi told me you sizes…”

“Of course I’ll wear it!” he replied without hesitation.

When he saw what she brought he understood he hesitation. She had gotten them both vintage graphic tees and black leggings to wear with their hiking boots which was fine with him. He normally wore both of those things, but the big change for him was the light wash denim skirts she brought.

He might have cared when he was a brat in high school and Illumi wanted him to wear something like this, but he could never say no to Alluka. Everyone in their family was pretty feminine anyways, excluding Milluki, so it’s not like he wasn’t used to wearing things like this.

Their father had always been a very masculine seeming person on the outside, but he often wore bright colors and really anything their mother put him in. Even their grandfather was pretty eccentric in what he wore, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to reject Alluka’s outfit.

“Nice! Illumi will be so jealous we left them out,” he grinned starting to change, “They have been getting on my nerves, trying to guilt me about Kalluto!”

“I actually had a third outfit for him,” Alluka sighed, “...just in case he wanted to go last minute.”

“Don’t worry about him too much,” Killua assured, “Illumi said he had a good time with their friends last night. There was drama apparently.”

“Wow drama with Illumi, who’s surprised?”

---

“Wow you guys look so cute!”

Killua had prepared himself for the praise, knowing Gon would make a comment. At least he was able to say thanks and not completely embarrass himself.

He internally thanked Alluka for going into a detailed explanation of her matching project with Gon. Alluka was pretty talkative when she was excited about something so he was able to take a minute to himself.

Leorio was the last to wake up. He had slept in the car because he needed the power outlet to charge his computer while he finished a paper. Killua couldn’t imagine having to do work out in the forest, but then again he wasn’t the one trying to become a doctor.

“Do you think we could match sometime?” Gon asked Alluka, “I mean you did say I was your new big brother.”

Alluka laughed, “Yea! I will make you wear something other than green!”

“But it’s my color!”

The four of them had a breakfast of mainly fruit and granola before hiking up the path. Gon had explained the route to them in case anyone got lost since the cell service would become nonexistent.

He seemed to really thrive in the outdoors. It made Killua wonder why he was mainly focused on sports in school when doing something in nature was obviously his passion. Maybe a sports scholarship was his only way into their school.

“Oh also if you see any of these guys try to catch them!” he said pulling out his phone to show the others.

“Gross no way!” Alluka shrieked, scooting back, “Why do you want bugs?”

“To study!” Gon said, not deterred by her reaction in the slightest, “I wanted to bring some back to show Kite! He’s one of my teachers.”

“Well don’t count on me!” Alluka huffed crossing her arms.

Killua smirked, “You do know you’ve been sleeping outside with the bugs right?”

“I’m sleeping in the car tonight!”

Killua took Gon’s phone to screenshot a picture of the list, and sent himself the image. He wasn’t too fond of bugs either but he would at least try to make the effort. Kite was an important person to Gon, so if he could help them in some way he would.

He had met Kite before, but just briefly. The guy seemed a little standoffish, not the kind of person Killua had pictured when Gon was going on about him. Even so he was pretty cool, and the way he cared about Gon reminded him of the way he cares about Alluka and Kalluto. They were able to find some common ground after that.

“Are you going to take his Entomology class next semester?” Killua asked, “I know he asked you last time right?”

“Oh yea I want to,” Gon said, “It’s just a matter of if I can afford the equipment. My scholarship doesn’t cover it.”

“Don’t worry I said I’d handle it,” Leorio assured, smacking him on the back, “Just play your dumb sports and let me take care of it.”

Gon looked apprehensive, but smiled nonetheless.

They started down the path with Gon and Alluka leading the way. They both seemed to have the same amount of energy that morning. Killua was an early riser, but still wouldn’t be fully awake until a couple hours later.

Killua felt bad for asking about the entomology class. It was hard to remember that Gon and Leorio didn’t have a lot of money, because it was never something he had to think about before.

Since Canary was a family friend he would always pay for her things regardless of her protests. Gon on the other hand might think he’s jerk if he tried to buy him entomology equipment just because he had the funds.

“Hey Gon, I’m pretty sure Illumi’s gross friend took that class. I can ask him if he still has the stuff from it,” Killua offered, “I can get the key to his storage unit.”

“Oh wow really?”

“Yea that freak’s not gonna need it,” Killua scoffed.

“You shouldn’t call Hisoka a freak!” Alluka scolded, “Illumi’s bringing him to our parents vow renewal you know!”

“Mom’s gonna be pissed,” Killua shuddered, “She hates that guy more than I do!”

Leorio stopped, “Hisoka Morow?”

Killua gave him a curious look. He knew Hisoka had a reputation, but Leorio didn’t seem like the type of person to hang around him. They were the same age though so it wasn’t impossible.

“Yea why?”

Leorio visibly stiffened, “I just know some of his friends.”

 

That was a surprise to Killua. He had met some of the people Hisoka and Illumi ran around with, and they were a rough group to say the least. The thought of Kalluto meeting them made him a little wery, so he couldn’t imagine a goof like Leorio being able to keep up.

“Really how? They don’t seem like your type of crowd…” Killua trailed.

He felt like he might be stepping into something he shouldn’t be by the way Leorio’s face darkened.

Catching himself, Leorio put on a neutral front again, “I just patch them up for cash when they get in fights... Which is often.”

“Oh yea, like that big guy who stayed over at our place for a couple of days, right?” Gon interjected, seeming oblivious to Leorio’s out of character behavior.

“Yea that’s one of them.”

“His boyfriends would come visit him all time, they seemed really worried,” Gon explained, “I don’t think they are that bad of a crowd.”

“I think he was only dating the blonde one…” Leorio trailed, “and either way you should stay away from them if you can help it. You too Killua.”

“Kind of hard when there’s at least three of them in our apartment at a time.”

Gon turned around, his eyes still bright as if he didn’t notice the group’s discomfort.

“You can just hideout at our place. You do when Hisoka’s in town.”

---

It was noon when they decided to take their first break and eat. After that they would be heading back down the route they came from. It seemed like Alluka was still having a good time.

Her and Killua had taken a lot of pictures to post when they finally had service. The skirt proved not to be such a big deal to hike in since he had the leggings on, and as long as Alluka was happy that’s all that really mattered to him.

During their hike Gon had already caught ten new bugs from his list. Killua was able to point out several he needed, but didn’t trust himself to catch them so he just told Gon.

Leorio’s mood had also seemed to brightened since their odd conversation earlier. Killua couldn’t blame him, he also felt apprehensive about Hisoka and his friends. It seemed like Illumi was handling them pretty well though, so tried not to think too much about them.

“I think I like the outdoors,” Alluka said, “besides the bugs.”

Leorio and Gon had gone to catch another bug after their lunch so it was just the two of them.

“I’m glad. I was a little worried taking you here for so long, but it seems like you’re getting along pretty well,” Killua replied.

“Yea I don’t feel overstimulated at all,” she agreed, “It’s so nice to get away for a bit.”

“Yea.”

“Are you in love with Gon?”

Killua jumped at the question. He turned his head around to make sure it was still just them in earshot.

“Alluka you can’t just ask me that!”

She shrugged, “Sorry I was just curious. I know you like him, but now I think it’s more than that.”

“Listen I don’t know, and I don’t want to talk about it here!” he whispered, “Something weird already happened, I don’t want to make things awkward.”

“You worry about the dumbest stuff!” she stuck her tongue out at him.

Alluka was definitely more up front than he could ever be. Maybe that was why her and Gon got along so well. Now Killua was starting to worry about what they could have talked about yesterday when they were alone on the boat together.

He didn’t have to wonder for too long.

“He likes you too,” she said, matter of fact, “he told me on the boat.”

“I know that…” Killua sighed, “Our family is so messed up though. I don’t think I ever learned how to talk about stuff like that, let alone make friends. So it’s just too hard to think about right now.”

“Well I don’t think he minds waiting,” she smiled, “but don’t lead him on. He’s a good boy.”

“You sound like such a mom,” he laughed nudging her.

It was another fifteen minutes until Gon and Leorio got back. Gon was now almost at twenty bugs, so he said he didn’t need to catch anymore unless there was something rare. Alluka again shared her distaste on the subject to no one’s surprise.

They started to head back after that. Gon had told them if they stayed in one sport for too long they would start to loose light by the end of the path.

When dusk hit the lightning bugs started to come out and light the rest of their way back. Alluka decided that lightning bugs were the one bug she could handle. Gon showed her how to catch them on her finger much to her initial dismay.

Once they got closer to the campsite their cell service had come back on. Gon and Alluka’s phones immediately started buzzing and chiming, Killua timed a whole thirty seconds of missed notifications. He always forgot how popular the two of them were.

Checking his own phone he saw he had few texts himself which he wasn’t expecting since Gon seemed like the only person who texted him. His lock screen listed the most recent:

Kalluto: When are you coming back? Alluka said something about missing school?
Canary: Hope your having fun! Have you and Gon made out in the woods yet? <333
Illumi: I worry Kalluto knows too much about my social life. Help.
Dad: Do you know anything about the missing Camaro? Gramps is keeping quiet.
Mom: KALLUTO IS MISSING!!!! HAVE YOU HEARD FROM HIM????
Kurapika: I had the WORST day. >:(

“And they say the world moves on without you….” Killua muttered.

----

When night fell Gon started the fire back up. They finished the last of their fish, and Alluka surprised everyone when she pulled out ingredients to make smores. Killua was eternally grateful for something sweet. It had been too long since he had eaten anything but fish and granola.

“Finally something from civilization!” Killua sighed dramatically eating his first smore.

Gon gave him a look, “We haven’t even been out here 48 hours, Killua…”

“You’re telling me it hasn’t been a week?”

Leorio smacked his leg, “No but I have a week’s worth of bug bites.”

Gon laughed, “Well at least the bugs like you.”

“What did you say, brat!”

They continued like that for a while, making fun of each other and eating smores. Killua didn’t have a lot of moments like this. Growing up he was never good at keeping friends and his family only did things together to impress their peers half the time. Nothing felt as real and genuine to him than sitting here with these three people he actually cared about.

After meeting Gon he realized that he had been going through the motions in his life. He did things because he felt obligated to not because he wanted to. The only reason he went out with people in high school was to socialize not really because he liked them. His family held parties and went out of town together, but it was only to keep up an image.

They were just sitting there by a fire in the middle of woods where no one had anything to gain, and there were no ulterior motives. The only reason was because they wanted to be together.

Later that night Alluka had brought out her ukelele to play for them while they all dozed by the fire. Leorio had already fallen asleep in Gon’s tent, giving his keys to Alluka so she could sleep in the car, safe from the bugs.

 

Killua wasn’t sure when he fell asleep but he woke up with a startle leaning against Gon’s shoulder. Blinking a few times he looked over to where Alluka should have been to see that the stump she was sitting on was empty. His heart rate shot up.

He was too worried to be embarrassed that Gon was still awake while he was sleeping. He jumped up and ran over to the car to make sure Alluka was alright.

She was fine, curled up in the backseat with a blanket she had taken from the tent. He was grateful that Leorio was okay with her switching the sleeping arrangements so suddenly.

Walking back to the firepit, he noticed it was now just dying embers blending in with the fireflies in the distance. Gon was laying down against the log they were sitting on, looking up at the stars.

Killua’s stomach clenched. Gon’s stare was a little too apathetic to be neutral, and he suddenly felt more like a nuisance than company.

“Hey,” Gon greeted without looking at him, his eyes still on the sky.

“....Hey.”

Killua sat on the log next to where Gon’s head was resting. They quiet for a long time, Gon staring straight ahead into the stars, while Killua looked across the lake. The water looked black in the darkness, and his surrounds suddenly seemed cold compared to the magical feeling he had earlier.

“Do you think things can just go back to the way they were?” Gon asked, breaking the silence.

Killua’s nerves skyrocketed. He wasn’t exactly sure what Gon meant by that, ‘back to the way they were.’ It had been a fun trip, but it was obvious they were both walking on eggshells. He reflected a moment and realized he might have been more concerned for Alluka as an excuse to ignore Gon so he wouldn’t mess anything up.

It was funny how trying so hard to keep it together, usually ended with things falling apart. He could definitely relate to Illumi on that now.

“I guess… what do you mean?” Killua finally replied.

Gon shifted up to look at him, “I mean I don’t want to pretend I don’t like you, but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

Killua wanted to say, ‘well that’s never going to happen’ but he knew it would come off wrong. It wasn’t that he was uncomfortable with Gon, he was uncomfortable with himself. He didn’t have nearly as much experience as him and it was intimidating.

“I like you too…” Killua admitted, he had to look away when he said it though.

He felt like he was about to have a nervous breakdown. It frustrated him, because he knew it shouldn’t be that way. He never understood what people meant when they said they had ‘butterflies in their stomach’ as if it was some romantic nervous feeling. For him it felt like he was going to pass out from the stress of it all.

To his credit Gon didn’t seem deterred by the fact that he was acting like a wreck after admitting something so simple.

“And yea this whole ‘being friends’ thing has really sucked..” he continued, “but I don’t know how to be anything else. You’ll just get fed up with me eventually, and then we won’t even be ‘just friends.’”

Now Gon looked half as stressed as he did, which made him feel a little less ridiculous. He sat up on the log to be eye level with Killua.

“That’s what you’re worried about?” he asked, “Killua, we’re always going to be friends.”

Killua looked down, “You don’t know that…”

“Yea I do!” Gon insisted, “Nothing has to change, but I don’t like pretending like this isn’t going anywhere. Acting like that is how we’ll stop being friends.”

Killua couldn’t come up with anything to say to that. He felt the same way, but there was no way Gon wanted that. He was used to more than what Killua could give him.

“I shouldn’t have acted like this sort of thing isn’t a big deal to me, because it is,” Gon continued, “I guess I was just trying to be cool… it’s stupid.”

Killua scoffed, “You’re already the coolest person I’ve ever met, you don’t have to do lame things like that.”

“Yea right!” he said looking almost offended, “You’re way cooler than me!”

Killua had to laugh at that, Gon didn’t seem to have any idea how popular he was at the university. He could feel his anxiety lessen a bit, knowing they were on the same page again.

“Whatever, you’re as popular as my sister, its ridiculous. You both have no self awareness,” he said waving him off, “Sometimes I feel like such a loser because I have maybe three friends, compared to you guys.”

He thought that would get him a laugh, but Gon just kept looking at him like he was crazy.

“I have no self awareness?” Gon asked in disbelief, “You’re one to talk! Everyone thinks you’re so cool, maybe they don’t know how to approach you because you can be so rude about it!”

“What! How am I the rude one!” Killua laughed, “You’re the one pretends to put people’s numbers in their phone and then deletes them, because you can’t reject them.”

“Jealous much! I only do that so I won’t hurt their feelings!”

“What the hell! That just prolongs it!”

“CAN YOU TWO SHUT UP!” Leorio yelled from his tent, “It’s two in the morning, neither of you are cool!”

 

They both apologized in unison, and then immediately broke out into a fit of laughter. The stress that had been building up during this trip seemed to dissipate. Since everything was out in the open the hard part was over.

Killua figured that there wasn’t anything else that needed to be said about it, at least for now. He knew things were actually okay between them, and they weren’t going to pretend they were ‘just friends’ anymore.

He still didn’t know where that left them though. The most he figured is they would see where things led to in the future. Killua was fine with putting that conversation off for a little while.

The two of them decided to sleep outside that night under the stars. Gon had grabbed their sleeping bags and sat them side by side as the fire completely died out.

Killua looked over from in his sleeping to see Gon’s eyes were closed and his hands were resting behind his head. He looked like he was asleep at this point.

Feeling brave Killua said one last thing before he fell asleep himself.

“I’m glad I met you”

“...me too.”

Chapter Text

“That wedding is coming up.”

 

It was early in the morning, but Illumi had actually gotten up before Killua. When he walked into the common area, they had already started a pot of coffee. It was too early for Killua to put together what Illumi was saying. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember anyone in their family getting married.

 

“Wedding…?” Killua asked, taking a seat at the table.

 

“Sorry… vow thing, our parents, you know,” Illumi yawned, it seemed like they weren’t all there either.

 

“Oh yea…” Killua closed his eyes, “Wait… do we have to bring a person?”

 

“Yea, you’re bringing Canary right?”

 

Killua didn’t respond to them. He totally forgot his parents were renewing their vow in two weeks, no matter how many times Alluka reminded him. Since he was out of high school now he knew he should probably bring someone.

 

Canary always had to play along and be his date to things, he felt bad asking her again. She would be invited anyways. She probably wanted to actually bring a girl instead of pretending to be straight with him for the night.  

 

He wondered if it would be weird to ask Gon to go with him. It’s not like he would say no, but was it too soon to ask him. They weren’t exactly dating, but they weren’t exactly not so where did wedding invites fall under that category?

 

“You’re bringing that weirdo right?” Killua asked.

 

Illumi kept a straight face, even though Killua could tell he hit a nerve.

 

“To mother’s dismay, yes,” they replied, “I am bringing Hisoka .”

 

They emphasized Hisoka’s name as if to remind him that he indeed had one. Killua figured ‘weirdo’ or ‘freak’ sufficed, but he should probably come around if Illumi was actually serious about someone.

 

“Well I might bring this guy with me…” Killua said trying to seem nonchalant.

 

Illumi dropped the dishes they were idly scrubbing and were suddenly at Killua’s side. Their eyes were unnervingly wide and examining.

 

“A guy?” they asked in an eerie tone, “You’re dating someone? Who?”

 

Their questions sounded more like demands, but Killua mirrored back the same unimpressed look he’d seen Illumi use time and time again.

 

“Just a friend, get off my back,” he said, “I just don’t think Canary will want to go with me. You know she’s dating a couple different girls right now.”

 

“Hmm… alright,” they squinted at him, “I still want to talk to this guy.”

 

“Oh god, please don’t,” Killua begged, “You’re worse than mom. Dad doesn’t care about this kind of thing!”

 

Dad’s barely in the country,” Illumi replied, mocking Killua, “plus even if he was he wouldn’t have anything useful to say.”

 

“Has Father ever met Hisoka before?” Killua mocked back, changing the subject.

 

Illumi gave him a warning look, and went back to finish the dishes. They didn’t respond to his question, instead opting to make only themselves a cup of coffee.

 

“Well has he?” Killua insisted.

 

“Briefly…” Illumi glared, “I don’t know which was worse, Mother or Father.”

 

“And you’re still bringing him?”

 

“He said he would behave.”

 

“Fat chance”

 

----

 

“Hey there’s a book signing coming up in a couple of weeks. You want to go?”

 

It was rare that Chrollo did anything for recreational purposes. If it wasn’t an experiment for his psych theosis then it was something for their side ‘business’. Regardless Feitan wouldn’t be able to accept the invitation.

 

“Wish I could,” he replied, “That party is coming up with my family. If we want to get more money I should probably go…”

 

“Oh yea, you should go,” Chrollo nodded, “You think you can get us another car?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Feitan came from a pretty loaded family before he met Chrollo. He hated them, but had no outlet or refuge until Chrollo’s group came into town.

 

His family was old money, and had only one son, Feitan. So when he started high school they started planning out the rest of his life, grooming him to take over the family business. If he was being honest Feitan wasn’t sure what his dad actually did. Something to do the stock market, he had assumed.

 

He met Chrollo and the others and knew they could be his out. This was the time where him and couple of the others were traveling around before they put in roots at a university. At the time Feitan was a junior in highschool.

 

The night his parents had mentioned arranged marriages and company ties was the night he ran away from home. He got the info for access to his savings and stole a car to meet Chrollo at the train station before they left.

 

He went two years without talking to his family, living off of the freedom Chrollo gave him. They could relate on an intellectual level the most out of the others in the group. Both of them had very similar tastes in literature and aesthetics so he was welcomed in immediately.  

 

However this past year Chrollo suggested he reach out to his family. Feitan wasn’t an idiot and knew Chrollo was only interested in them for financial reasons, but he did make a good point. If he hated his family he might as well take them for all they’re worth before he gets cut off again.

 

Unsurprisingly his father was thrilled he might be coming back to the family. Feitan betrayed them but he was their only son after all.

 

“It’s probably for the best,” Chrollo said, “If you act even remotely serious about coming back, imagine the leniency they’ll give you for a little while.”

 

“Yea, and then once they start getting serious I’m out,” Feitan agreed, “I have to bring someone though. Who should I ask?”

 

“Got a preference?” Chrollo asked, “If not I know Phinks is free.”

 

“Over my dead body am I bringing Phinks, that asshole,” Feitan scoffed.

 

Chrollo laughed at his harshness, “Well sorry but Shalnark is going out of town in two weeks. Some tech thing is being released in the town over.”

 

“Maybe Machi?”

 

“Fashion show prep for the midterm,” Chrollo explained, “Just ask Paku or Shizuku”

 

“I guess so…” Feitan sighed, “Paku is mad at me for some reason, and Shizuku is going to forget to show up, knowing how her bad her memory is.”

 

“Well there is Machi’s hunch,” Chrollo said his tone turning sly.

 

“A hunch about me?”

 

“She said she thinks you have thing for someone,” he laughed, “but doubt she’s right… right?”

 

“Obviously,” Feitan glared up at the ceiling, “...she’s one to talk.”

 

Chrollo perched himself on the arm of the chair Feitan was spread out in and started to scroll through his phone. It was just the two of them in his apartment today. Since Feitan had the money he paid for this communal space, while Chrollo paid for his personal loft.

 

It was nice to be in control of something, and he could see the appeal from Chrollo’s perspective. Even so it was exhausting, and he’d much rather be the number two of the group and just use his own finances.

 

Only half the group really knew where Chrollo got his money from. Feitan found out pretty fast once joining them. The others being: Uvo, Nobu, Shalnark, Shizuku, Franklin, and Bono. Hisoka was aware as well, but he didn’t count as part of the group.

 

As far as the others knew, Feitan financed everything. He understood why Chrollo did this, his world was far gruesome than the one most were used to. The people he brought in from that world... he wanted to shelter them from it the best he could.

 

“I had a talk with her while you were at Illumi’s place,” Chrollo said, “about them and Hisoka that is…”

 

“What’s the verdict?”

 

Feitan was half concerned about this matter. Illumi seemed alright, but he would never see the appeal of Hisoka. He truly hated the guy. Chrollo and Machi were starting to get tied up in all of his nonsense again, and it pissed him off.

 

“She says they are just fooling around, but I worry about her,” he explained, “and Illumi is asexual so I guess the jokes on all of us.”

 

“No, just you,” Feitan snorted, “and anyways they may seem cool, but they’re a real mom type. You should see them with their siblings,  it’s total parent mode.”

 

“Weird… no thanks, I’d rather keep my distance,” Chrollo laughed, rolling his eyes.

 

“So what’s the deal with Kurapika?” Feitan asked, “Shalnark’s been a mess. Thinks you hate him, which is stupid.”

 

He heard about what went down that night from Nobu. Shalnark was one of his closest friends out of the group so he told him he would ask Chrollo about it. The poor guy had been a wreck the next two days, even though from what he heard Chrollo was just a little pissed off.

 

“There’s no deal. I haven’t seen him in a year, but I knew he was still here,” Chrollo explained, “I’m not mad at any of them, I was just in a bad mood.”

 

“I see.”

 

“I just didn’t want to think about another failed relationship,” he continued, “Those other three were weighing on my mind. I think it’s best to just forget about them all in that aspect.”

 

“This is what happens when you hook up with people in the group,” Feitan sighed, “Everyone acts like they can handle it, and then someone catches feelings. No thanks.”

 

Chrollo raised his eyebrows, “That’s right, you steer clear from that. I guess one of us should...

 

So why were you at Illumi’s for so long? I heard you spent the night.”

 

Feitan figured this was coming. One uncomfortable question for another. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was out of character for him. It might have been different if Machi stayed too. Feitan usually stuck with Shizuku or Shalnark when he could help it.

 

“I hadn’t realized Machi left, I just fell asleep on their couch,” he explained, “I figured she would have woken me up when she left.”

 

“Well that’s disappointing,” Chrollo sighed, “Nothing dramatic ever happens to you anymore…”

 

“Yea and I’d like to keep that way.”

 

Technically Feitan wasn’t completely lying, he did fall asleep. He also noticed when Machi got her things and left the apartment. Chrollo and the group didn’t need to know everything about him.

 

They especially didn’t need to know about the blanket that was draped over him when he woke up early that morning, the coffee waiting for him on the table, or the fact that Illumi slept in until noon that day.

 

---

 

“Hey so here’s a stupid question…”

 

Gon and Killua were sitting on the soccer field after practice that afternoon. Killua had come by just as it was ending to see if Gon was busy. He claimed he wasn’t, but the glares he got from some of his teammates told Killua otherwise.

 

“What’s up?” Gon asked.

 

He was currently stretching after their workout so it didn’t seem like he was paying much attention. Maybe he could get away with asking and Gon wouldn’t make a big deal about it. He’d have to try his luck either way.

 

Killua stood up to pace as he talked.

 

“Well my parents are doing this dumb thing… renewing their vows in a couple of weeks,” he started, “....anyways if you’re not busy you should go with me and Canary.”

 

Killua could smack himself in the face. Of course he was such a coward that he had to drag Canary into this. It didn’t seem to phase Gon though.

 

“Go with you,” Gon corrected, he was still sitting on the terf, “Yea sure!”

 

That horrible stressed feeling came back, but it wasn’t as strong as before. Killua nodded in response even though they still weren’t looking at each other.

 

“I’ve never really met anyone in your family other than Alluka now that I think of it,” Gon commented, finally standing up and gathering his things to leave, “You’d think I would have met your oldest sibling by now.”

 

“That might have been on purpose…” Killua admitted, “I don’t want to deal with their snooping.”

 

Gon laughed at that, “You want to go to that cafe again?”

“Yea I probably should. Apparently Kurapika had a bad day while we were out of town,” Killua said, flipping through their texts, “I can send him a message and maybe he’ll save his break for us.”

 

“And free food!”

 

“Gon…”




When the two of them got to the cafe they saw Kurapika at the front. He looked exhausted. Normally he was so composed but this afternoon he was in total disarray. His hair was sticking up, there were dark circles under his eyes, and all in all he had a disheveled appearance.

His eyes brightened a little bit when he saw them enter. He switched places with his co worker so he was able to take their order.

 

“Thanks for stopping by,” he said as he put in their order, “My break is coming up anyways so I will join you after this.”

 

“Sure,” Killua agreed, “Everything alright? You didn’t tell me what happened.”

 

“Tell you in a minute,” he replied cashing them out, “It’s on me today don’t worry.”

 

“What! Thanks!” Gon jumped, “We’ll go get a table.”

 

Kurapika nodded in response and took of his apron as he headed to the back. They surveyed the area and found a seat by the window with a familiar looking face.

“Melody!” Gon greeted, “Can we sit here with you? Kurapika’s going to join us soon!”

 

“Oh sure!” she accepted, “Who’s your friend?”

 

Killua had never met Melody before, but he had heard a lot about her from Gon and Kurapika. Her gentle demeanor matched her description perfectly, he had never heard a sweeter voice. There was no doubt he was already blushing from the sound of it.

 

“This is Killua!” Gon introduced, “He’s the one who introduced me to Kurapika!”

“Oh you’re Killua ,” she replied, “Kurapika has told me so much about you, but everytime you come over I’m always out.”

 

“Yea…” Killua murmured.

 

He now understood why even someone as composed as Kurapika could be flustered by her, she had a way of singling you out but in the most sincere way. The last time a girl had ever gotten him in this state was probably Canary, and that was just because she had embarrassed him.

 

“It’s good you came by,” Melody continued, “He’s been in the worst mood ever since…last weekend.”

 

“Yea what happened?” Killua asked regaining some composure,“We were out of town when he messaged me.”

 

“Oh well…” she trailed, “I’d better let him tell you, I wouldn’t know all of the details.”

 

It was then that they noticed Kurapika walking over to them. He must have looked in a mirror, because he seemed a little more adjusted than when they had first arrived. His hair was at least back to normal.

 

He sat down with their orders, and there more than what Gon and Killua had initially asked for. They thanked him and then started in on the food. Kurapika sat in silence, sipping his water with his eyes shut.

 

Killua had seen a similar expression on Illumi’s face many times. Whatever happened must have had a big effect on him.

 

After a minute Killua addressed the elephant in the room.

“So?”

 

“Hmm?” Kurapika hummed, “Oh right…”

 

His eyes were downcast while he brought up the offending subject. Not in shame but an anger none of them had seen on his face before.

 

“It’s ridiculous… nothing actually happened,” Kurapika started, “Some of Chrollo’s friends were in the cafe last weekend.”

Killua’s eyes widened, “What are you serious? Who was there?”

 

“Well for starters… You’re siblings,” he grimaced, “and then four of the others.”

 

“Oh right, Illumi said they were bringing Kalluto to hang out with their friends,” Killua remembered, “I forget they are the same people in his group…”

 

“Yea small world,” Kurapika sighed.

 

Gon looked more than confused at the trio. Melody hadn’t said anything, but it seemed like she had heard the story already and knew who the people mentioned were.

 

“Who’s this group?” he asked Kurapika, “and Chrollo? You get in a fight with him or something?”

 

“You could say that…” Kurapika trailed.

 

“Chrollo is his ex, and those people are the ones that Hisoka and Illumi hang around sometimes,” Killua explained, “That’s why Kurapika and you aren’t over, because they’re--”

 

“Garbage,” Kurapika finished.

 

“I see…” Gon replied, “I’m guessing things didn’t end well.”

 

“They didn’t start well,” he confirmed, “Anyways I wouldn’t care, but I’ve filed restraining orders against a few of them. So it was unsettling to see them here.”

 

“They probably won’t be coming back,” Melody assured, “You said they left soon after they saw you were working there.”

 

“Yea but now Chrollo knows where I work,” Kurapika sighed, “I mean he probably already knew, but at least before I could pretend he didn’t.”

 

Kurapika slouched down to put his head in his arms as the other continued eating. Killua could sympathize with him a little bit. He wasn’t too fond of that group either, but he couldn’t imagine dating anyone from it. It still stressed him out to know Hisoka and Illumi were getting serious, let alone someone who was actually in their group.

 

He still felt unsettled that Kalluto had been there when Kurapika saw the others. His younger brother was smart and self sufficient, more than he was, but he was still worried. There was never a good way to bring it up with him though.

 

After the effect this group had on Kurapika, he considered bringing up the topic again. Kalluto would always do what he wanted, taking the car without their mother knowing was proof enough. At least this way he could try to give him some advice.

 

When Killua looked up he noticed Melody rubbing small circles on Kurapika’s back in comfort. He would have teased him about if he hadn’t locked eyes with Gon a second after that, and then he was back to staring at the sandwich in his hand.

 

“Oh hey Kurapika?” Gon asked, nudging his shoulder.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You know my cousin!” he told him.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“The Doctor? He’s Tall?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You know, Leorio?”

 

Kurapika shot up with a confused expression on his face.

 

“Wait Leorio’s your cousin?” he asked, still shocked.

 

Melody raised her hand, “I see it! You two have some resembling features.”

 

Gon scoffed as if he was offended, “Well I would at least hope I’m the cuter one!”

She laughed in response, but Kurapika was still staring at Gon like he had two heads. Killua couldn’t believe he forgot to mention that to him. He had gone in so hard on Leorio to figure out if they liked each other, but he had never thought to bother Kurapika about it.

 

“I guess you look alike…” Kurapika agreed, “That’s just too weird. You’re the kid he was complaining about?”

 

“What? Probably?” Gon admitted.

 

“Not you, I’m talking about Killua,” Kurapika pointed.

 

“What? Me?” Killua jumped, “I don’t do anything? Why’s Leorio shit talking me?”

 

“Oh. I don’t know,” Gon said, wide eyed.

 

It was almost like he was pleading to Kurapika, and Killua was now the confused one.

 

“Ah, maybe it was Gon…” Kurapika trailed, “Anyways--”

“No it wasn’t! What did he say about me?” Killua pressed, “I thought we were friends?”

 

“It’s nothing bad,” Melody insisted.

 

“What you know too?” Killua asked, thoroughly in the dark.

 

“It’s not a big deal…” Gon said, putting a hand over his mouth.

 

Killua noticed he normally only did that when he was uncomfortable or upset. None of these clues had him making any sense of the secret everyone else was in on.

 

“Now you have to tell me,” Killua said, zeroing in on Gon, “Why are you acting like that.”

 

“God it’s like grade school with you two,” Kurapika scoffed, “Leorio just said he wanted to know when Gon would shut up about his new boyfriend. Which from what I gather is probably ‘not’ you.”

 

“Oh.”

 

There was a distinctive smack of Gon’s face hitting the table that echoed throughout the cafe.  



Chapter Text

Ever since he saw Chrollo’s friends at the cafe Kurapika had been tense about going to work. He was on a work study program to cover part of his tuition so it wasn’t like he could quit. This one of the better work study jobs too, so if he requested to change, who knows where’d he end up. The only other place he’d rather work is the library.

Melody was certain they wouldn’t bother him, but she didn’t know that group like he did. Sure they had left him alone this long, but he was pretty sure most of them thought he had moved. Now that they knew he was still there working, he felt he had every right to be a little on the cautious side.

The fact that Killua’s family hung around them was shocking enough. He knew of Illumi, and when he met Killua he had no idea they were related. Now their youngest brother was interested in them too. He hoped Killua would steer clear.

Killua seemed level headed enough. That was what made them friends, they could always see eye to eye. Both of them were usually practical thinkers, unlike some other people they knew..

He was wiping down a table when he notice Baise come into the cafe. They had met in class when they were set up to work on a group project together. She had been very forward at first, but they became friendly classmate once everything was said and done.

He caught her eye as she scanned the cafe, it seemed like she was looking for him.

“There you are,” she greeted, “I’ve got a question for you.”

He put down his rag and leaned against the table, “Sure, what’s going on?”

“There’s a party coming up next week, and my ex is going to be there…” she explained, “Anyways it’s going to be super stressful… so I was wondering….”

Kurapika raised an eyebrow, his expression apathetic.

“Are you going to take me or not?”

Kurapika groaned, “You know I don’t go to parties. I don’t want to run into… them.”

It was Baise’s turn to groan now, she draped herself dramatically over the table he just cleaned to his dismay.

“Sorry I might have gone if you asked me sooner, but…” he trailed, not sure if he wanted to disclose information to someone he didn’t know as well.

“But?”

“My ex’s friends showed up here recently,” he started, “and I’m a little more than adamant that I keep my distance from them.”

“Fine, fine…” she waved him off, “Do you at least know anyone who can take me? Squala’s dating that girl now so he said no too.”

“I’m sure you know more guys than me, Baise,” he said, “I’m either hanging out with freshman or people who already graduated so--”

“Oh you know a guy who’s graduated! What about him then!”

“I don’t know… he’s pretty busy,” he disagreed.

Baise crossed her arms, “You sound jealous….”

“I’m not jealous-- I just… “ he couldn’t think of a good excuse, “I guess I can ask him…”

“Great thanks you're the best!” she said kissing his cheek.

And with that she was gone. Kurapika felt like he just made a huge mistake, but it was done. A selfish side of him hoped Leorio wouldn’t like her too much.

Later that day Leorio showed up to the cafe. He looked tired as usual, but this time he also seemed stressed about something. It was later than he would normally come by so Kurapika could only assume that something happened at the hospital.

Kurapika debated on asking him, but when he ordered and then abruptly sat in the corner and opened up his laptop he decided against it. He hoped it was just work putting Leorio in a bad mood.

Despite that Kurapika still went over to sit with him during his break like he normally did. He had some work to do as well, and figured if he didn’t pry right away Leorio would tell him what was wrong.

After a few minutes of doing their work in silence Kurapika spoke up.

“So I have a weird question for you…”

Leorio perked up as if he just realized Kurapika had been sitting there.

“... my friend came in today, and she asked me a favor,” Kurapika began, “You don’t have to say yes but I told her I would ask…”

“Do I know her?” Leorio asked, he seemed less upset than he initially appeared thankfully.

“No, she’s just this girl from my class,” he explained, “She wanted me to take her to this party, but I said no because of reasons…

Anyways, if you’re free you should take her.”

Leorio blinked at him as if what he was saying didn’t make any sense. Kurapika thought he had been composed, but maybe there was a tinge of uncertainty to his voice. It didn’t matter, at least he did what she asked.

“Why.. would I want to do that?”

Kurapika wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. He could mean a number of things. Maybe he wasn’t into going to college parties anymore, or he was obviously busy so why ask…

“Unless you want me to, I’m probably going to have to say no,” Leorio continued.

“Why would I want you to?” Kurapika asked without thinking.

“I guess that’s my answer then,” he joked, “anyways you seem out of it.”

“Huh? Oh I guess,” Kurapika hadn’t told Leorio about Chrollo’s group stopping in the other day. He had never really brought up Chrollo to him at all now that he was thinking about it. It was kind of a mood killer, and not something Kurapika wanted to think about normally.

“I just ran into some people I don’t really speak to anymore,” he explained, “It’s not a big deal.”

“It seems like a big deal.”

“What--”

Kurapika was cut off by Leorio’s phone. Leorio seemed to deflate when he saw the caller ID, and suddenly stood up to leave.

“Sorry I have to take this, you don’t mind looking after my stuff? I’ll just be a minute.”

Kurapika nodded, and Leorio almost sprinted out of the cafe. How odd, he thought to himself. It seemed like everyone was out of sorts today.

---

Leorio found a secluded corner by an alley and called back the number. He figured Chrollo would call him this week, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to give him the usual supply. Normally he was amicle when things like happened, but Leorio didn’t like to count on that.

“Hey,” came his voice on the other line, “What’s the timeline on the next pick up?”

Leorio went through his schedule on the other end trying to figure out how to word his predicament.

“That’s the thing, the normal shipment didn’t come to the hospital yesterday so I’m playing the waiting game,” was the best he could come up with.

“That’s fine, you’re normally good on your word,” Chrollo consented, “Just shoot me a meeting place when it comes in.”

“Great, will do,” Leorio said, relieved, “Anything else?”

“You sound stressed, I hope that’s not because of me,” Chrollo joked, “You’re not someone I’d ever have a grudge with even if I couldn’t get my supply for some reason. You don’t need to worry.”

“Why is that?” he asked, suddenly feeling on edge.

“You’ve patched up too many of my people to do wrong by us at this point,” Chrollo explained, “And you’re not a rat so I couldn’t imagine us having issues.”

“That’s good to hear,” Leorio admitted, “I like to know where I stand with people.”

“There is something else…”

Leorio figured as much or he wouldn’t have gotten such a good response for not being able to deliver his end of the trade.

“What is it?”

He could hear Chrollo’s breath hitch, “Machi got hurt.”

---

LP- Gonna be out late tonight.

GF- Everything okay?

LP- Yea just the usual, gotta fix someone up.

GF- anyone I kno?

LP- That pink haired girl, don’t know if you met her.

GF- nope, probably not.

LP- that’s a relief I guess.
LP- she’s alright just has bad ankles from a previous break.

GF- ah a sprain, that shouldn’t take too long.

LP- they’ll probably want to get drinks after

GF- well be careful, and remember you’re on call!

LP- wow mom thanks
LP- I will let you know if I end up crashing here, don’t wait up

GF- fine… you better be getting paid well.

LP- Always.

Gon sighed putting away his phone. He was always worried when Leorio hung around that group of people. He had his suspicions that Leorio wasn’t just patching them up for cash. If he was he was getting paid way too much, to the point they might as well go to a real doctor.

No, Gon knew he was getting money from somewhere else, but he let it slide for now. There was no need to bring it up since Leorio would always change the subject. He vowed to crack into him if he ever came home hurt, so far Leorio was just tired from work.

He tried to push it to the back of his head. Kite was on his way to the station to meet him. They were going to look at some of the pictures Gon took on the trail and the bug samples he brought back.

Kite had been kind of elusive since he worked things out with Pitou. It was hard to pin him down to do anything lately, and it was starting to annoy Gon. He never liked his partner, but he felt he had good reason too after how they treated Kite.

When they had first started dating Kite and Pitou were always fighting. Pitou seemed to enjoy their fights, but Kite was constantly drained. Gon had been so sure he was going to end things, but then they suddenly made up.

The fighting has stopped so at least there was that, but Gon was positive their relationship was still unhealthy. Now Kite was never around, and flaked out on plans. It was so unlike him.

Regardless Kite promised to meet him today, and if he didn’t keep his word Gon was going to raise some hell.

From the window of the studio he could see Kite’s car pulling up to the station’s parking lot. Unfortunately Pitou was with him in the passenger seat.

He hoped Kite wouldn’t bring them in with him, it was a known fact Gon disliked them. Disliking someone was a pretty big offense for Gon since he found something to like out of most people he met. He’s always had an open mind, but he would turn on anyone who treated his friends badly.

Kite gave him a wave once him and Pitou were out of the car, to which he responded with a short flick of the hand and an unimpressed look to Pitou. Of course neither of them were phased, but Kite did say something to them that thankfully sent Pitou in the opposite direction of the studio.

“Tell me how you really feel,” Kite greeted upon his entrance.

Gon scoffed, “Alright you brought it up--”

“--what’s got you in a bad mood?” Kite interrupted, “Normally you’re only half as hostile towards Pitou.”

“Nothing you’d care to know,” Gon mummbled.

He knew he was acting childish, but this was Kite. He was always pushing his feelings to the side for other people, but with Kite he felt he was allowed to be more honest.

“Of course I care,” Kite replied putting his stuff down, “but I’m not going to force it out of you.”

That was another good thing about Kite. He never pried, but he was always there to listen. Gon felt he could ease into talking about difficult things with him, which was odd since Kite could be notoriously impatient.

His impatience normally stemmed from mundane things though. He never rushed anything important, which was leading Gon to believe this relationship with him and Pitou might be more serious than he thought.

“I don’t want to get into it now…”

And so they didn’t.

Instead Gon pulled out his newly pressed board of bugs he pinned to study, and told Kite about where and how he found them. Most of the Kite had already seen in person or caught himself, but there were a few he had only read about until then.

After that they went through the pictures he uploaded onto his computer to show Kite their trip. While there were up close pictures of bugs and terrains there were also photos of the others as well.

Gon had invited Kite on the fishing trip too, but he had turned him down this time. So Gon had weird feeling of melancholy showing him the photos.

When he got to the one Leorio took of him, Killua, and Alluka, he had to take a minute before continuing. It was one of Gon’s favorite photos, but for some reason it made him incredibly sad in that moment.

“So that’s what’s bugging you?” Kite said braking his trance, “I don’t see why, you look so happy here.”

“Yea I guess…” Gon sighed, “I just feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

“Join the club,” Kite said, patting his back, “Have you talked to him lately”

Gon nodded, “He invited me to his parents vow renewal in a week.”

“Well that’s a good sign.”

“I just feel like I’m going to mess it up again,” Gon admitted.

“You can’t let that stop you,” Kite replied, “I’ve seen you mess up more than once. You always bounce back.”

“Gee thanks…”

That wasn’t the only thing bothering Gon, but he wasn’t sure if he should tell Kite about his concerns about Leorio. He trusted Kite, but he didn’t want to get his own family in trouble. Even so he needed advice from someone who he could trust.

“There’s something else…” Gon started, “Have you talked to Leorio recently?”

“I haven’t talk to much anyone recently,” Kite admitted, “Is something wrong with him?”

“I’m not sure,” he said, “It’s just this group he’s around… I’m starting to think they’re more trouble than I thought.”

Kite looked concerned, “Would I know any of them?”

“Well Killua’s friend Kurapika used to date someone in that group, and the way he was describing them… I don’t know, I guess I’m just worried about Leorio,” Gon explained, “He supposedly just patches them up for money, but I think there’s more to it.”

“There probably is,” Kite agreed, “but Leorio can take care of himself.”

“I guess so…”

“I’d talk to him for you but I know he wouldn’t take my advice no matter what it was,” he explained, “Maybe you can bring it up to one of his friends.”

Even though Leorio and Kite were on good terms, it didn’t mean they were friends. There was always a disconnect between them that stemmed from Ging, Gon’s father.

It was no secret that Kite had been in love with Ging when they were working together. When Ging had split town for research he hadn’t asked Kite to come with him so that was where things ended. Yet even after such a harsh response, Kite still looked up to him.

That’s where Gon and Kite could relate. His father had abandoned him too, but no matter what he couldn’t bring himself to hate him. Leorio on the other hand was a different story.

He hated Ging for leaving Gon. In his mind it was unforgivable. So when Kite came into Gon’s life Leorio was not very accepting at first. Gon knew he was just protective, but it was nice to have someone to tell him what his dad was like.

“Maybe…”

----
“Thanks for coming on such short notice,” Machi said stretching her leg, “I’m so mad at myself, I was just walking down the stairs when my ankle went out…”

She was currently propped up on the couch with her left leg elevated on the ottoman while Leorio checked her ankle out. It didn’t look bad, but the sprain would take two weeks to completely heal.

“It happens,” Leorio replied, wrapping her foot up, “Just bad luck you were on the stairs, there’s not much you can do to prepare for that.”

“I’ll say…” she huffed, “God Illumi is going to kill me, I’m supposed to be one of their models for a run through.”

Chrollo spoke up from his chair where he was reading, “Such a great loss.”

“That better have been sincere!”

Leorio laughed, putting the finishing touches on the wrap. He walked their freezer and tossed Machi some frozen peas.

“Ice it,” he recommended, “I know you won’t, but I’m supposed to say that.”

Machi gave him a glare before throwing the bag at Chrollo. He caught it before the peas hit his face.

Leorio started to pack up his things to head out, though he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. He was banking on the fact that Machi needed to rest, so maybe Chrollo wouldn’t ask him to go out with the group.

Before he could make his escape Chrollo stood up to meet Leorio at the door. He pressed the bag of peas to Machi’s ankle on his way over despite her protests.

“We haven’t hung out in while, Leorio,” Chrollo said, “You sure you have to leave already?”

“I’m on call…”

“It’s just one drink.”

Leorio sighed in defeat. He knew he couldn’t turn him down, he wasn’t that stupid.

You don’t just say no to the drug dealer who’s paying you for supply.
---
When Kurapika finally got home from work he was exhausted. It had been such a weird day. First Baise with her strange request, then Leorio’s weird attitude, and on top of it all Melody had been too busy to drop by.

He couldn’t blame her of course, she was always busy now. There was a concert coming up for the end of fall that she had been practicing for, and her occult club was really starting to take off.

B- So what did that guy say? Did you ask him?

K- How did you get my number?

B- Squala gave it to me
B- Tell me! Is he in?

K-he’s a med res so he told me he’s busy/on call

B- damn, guess it’s back to the drawing board.

K- I can take you….

B- yes WHAT A PRINCE<3

K- yep that’s me… -__-

“That’s not a very nice face.”

Kurapika jumped from his place on the couch. Looking up he saw Melody putting her flute case down, along with some other cases and bags. He was always astounded by how much she could carry despite how small she was.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” Kurapika said, “You should have texted me. I would have helped you with your things.”

“Oh it’s fine,” she waved him off, “but what’s with the sour face.”

Kurapika groaned and slouched deeper into the couch.

“This girl from class wants me to take her to a party…” he sighed, “I don’t want to though.”

“You don’t normally go to parties anyways?” Melody questioned, “Why would she ask you?”

“She couldn’t find a date,” he explained covering his face, “even wanted me to ask Leorio for her…”

“Weird…” Melody muttered, “What did he say?”

Kurapika raised a brow, “He said no…”

“I’m not surprised,” Melody scoffed.

Melody wasn’t a jealous person, or least Kurapika had never witnessed anything that would make him think otherwise. However this behavior was definitely not in character for her.

Things between them have always been borderline romantic, but it was very clear that Melody prioritized her goals above anything else. He was similar in that way, or at least he used to be.

Since he left Chrollo and the others he had felt lost. He had abandoned his family, and he didn’t have any friends. It wasn’t until he met Melody did he finally feel somewhat at peace.

She was such comforting presence it was hard not to get attached. He had gotten used to the distance she put between them at times, but he couldn’t help but be pleased by this new development.

To say she was jealous might be stretching it. She was however not happy about him or Leorio seeing another girl. So he would take the victories where he could.

“You don’t have to worry…” he trailed, pretty sure he was on thin ice by insinuating that.

“I’m not.”

Her answer was full of confidence, but also rejection. He definitely shot too far again. It must be so easy for Leorio, he thought, he’s so blunt about things he gets an answer right away.

“My mistake.”

He went back to idly flipping through his texts. His only response was a door shutting to remind him he was alone again.

Chapter Text

[There is no content regarding the actual plot in this chapter.]

 

Over the past few days I have started compiling pinterest boards of each character’s personal style/mood. If you have your own idea of what they’re aesthetic is then feel free to skip this chapter.

 

However if you are interested  in how I picture them for the story then here is a list to the links of each character’s pin board. I have not made a board for everyone yet, so I will update this chapter frequently with new board links.

 

(If I make a new board after I post this I will try to mention it in the chapter notes in the future so you can stay up to date.)

 

I figured this would be a fun interactive piece for this AU for people who enjoy visual aids as well. I get a lot of inspiration setting these up so I wanted to share them with you.

 

Enjoy!

 

Gon:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/gon-too-far/

 

Killua:
https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/killing-fashion-softly-/

 

Canary

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/brds-flyin-hi-u-kno-how-i-feel/

 

Leorio:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/bad-for-your-health/

 

Kurapika: 

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/red-eyes-no-surprise/

 

Melody:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/music-to-my-ears/

 

Kite:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/flying-high/

 

Chrollo: 

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/rolling-on-some-bad-times/

 

Machi: 

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/matching-it-up-until-you-get-cut/

 

Machi's Work:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/run-thrushow-machi/

 

Feitan:
https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/feitan-over-these-bad-looks/

 

Shalnark:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/twunk-for-a-goodtime-funk/

 

Paku: 

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/packing-it-up-before-you-get-cut/

 

Kalluto:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/kcalling-me-a-girl/

 

Hisoka:

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/hell-choke-ya/

 

Illumi

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/illuminating/

 

Illumi's Work: 

https://www.pinterest.com/pageongrace/run-thrushow-illuminating/

 

 

Chapter Text

It was three in the morning when Leorio finally got home. Just one drink turned into six and then was followed by several shots. He was going to be wrecked for tomorrow.

 

The normal drinking crowd were all present, Uvogin, Nobu, Phinks, Paku, and couple of other random girls Paku brough with her. Chrollo seemed content enough just sipping whiskey so Leorio thought it would be a casual drink and then he could leave.

 

Of course he would never be so lucky. Uvo caught him trying to head out, and dragged him back to the bar. That was when the heavy drinking really began.

 

Most of the night after that was a blur. He knew he ended up making out with someone, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember who. He hoped it was just one of the random girls, though he wasn’t worried about anyone holding it against him if it wasn’t.

 

He had finally been able to escape when Chrollo and some of the guys went into the back room. Leorio figure it was something illegal. His suspicions were confirmed when Nobu called a car for him and basically pushed him out of the club.

 

That was fine with him. He was worried he’d have to walk home in the dark.

 

CL- hope you had fun.

 

LP- I guess you could call it that

 

CL- we always like when you come out with us, especially Uvo now

 

LP- you’re telling me I wasn’t sucking face with one of Paku’s friends?

 

CL- did you see any 6’3 ripped girls at the bar?

 

LP- G R E A T

CL- don’t forget to keep me updated.

 

LP- asap

 

CL- good to hear.

He couldn’t say he was surprised. Uvo was always the most affectionate out of the group, and at least it wasn’t Phinks.

 

It was 3:15 in the morning. Leorio wasn’t sure if it was worth it to sleep for two hours or just stay awake in case he overslept. He was tired but at least he could sober up and get some caffeine in him.

 

He was thankful he only had an observation course and then he could go back home. He’d have to skip if there was any hands on lessons with actual patients.

 

“Are you kidding me, man?”

 

Leorio jumped, dropping his coffee mug in the process. He looked up to see Gon standing at the end of the hall with his arms crossed. Of course he’d wait up, Leorio thought.

 

“Jeez kid!” he yelled, still breathless, “I almost had a heart attack!”

 

“Yea, yea,” Gon waved him off, “It’s three in the morning, don’t you have work tomorrow?”

 

“Don’t you have practice?”

 

Gon huffed and walked over to the kitchen to help Leorio clean up the glass from the mug. He seemed pretty on edge, to Leorio’s surprise.

 

“Maybe if you came home at a decent hour, I wouldn’t have to stay up worrying…” Gon said, “I haven’t been able to calm down.”

 

Leorio blinked at him. This wasn’t the first time he had come home late, so he wasn’t sure why Gon was on his case all of the sudden.

 

“You stay out just as late,” Leorio retorted, “especially when you’re out with girls.”

 

“I don’t do that anymore,” Gon sighed, “I just….”

 

Gon sat down on the floor and rubbed his face. Leorio knelt down to meet his eye level and waited for him to continue.

 

“...I didn’t realize how rough that group is,” Gon explained, “I don’t want you to get in too deep with them just to make money. It’s not worth it.”

 

Leorio didn’t know what to say. He had no idea Gon was worried about that. In the past he was always pretty private about how much money he made from Chrollo and the others. However this past year he hadn’t been paying attention to the numbers he threw around.

 

It was no wonder Gon was worried. He probably thought Leorio was some kind of sketchy drug dealer like Chrollo. In a way that wasn’t completely wrong, but he was more of a middle man.

 

“Gon you don’t have to worry about that,” Leorio assured him, “I know what I’m getting myself into, they just invited me out because I fixed up Machi’s ankle.”

 

“I guess... “

 

“They are very serious about that kind of stuff,” he continued, “that’s just how they say thank you. Whether or not you want to be ‘thanked’ is a different story.”

 

Gon didn’t smile at his joke like he normally would. The worry was still written all over his face. Leorio would never tell Gon where all of his money came from, but he couldn’t bare to see the kid so stressed out over him.

 

“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” Gon said, his voice cracking, “You’re the only family I have.”

 

Leorio pulled him into an embrace from where they were on the floor. He could feel Gon crying before his face hit his shoulder.

 

He knew something had to change. There was no way he could keep supplying Chrollo like he was, but how else would he get that kind of money?

 

The world ran on money. Leorio learned that the hard way, but he promised himself Gon would never have to suffer the way he did.



----



CL- Can we talk?

 

It had been three hours since Kurapika got the text. He had no idea what he was supposed to do. If this had happened six months ago he would call the police, but since Chrollo had kept his distance he wasn’t sure how to respond.

 

What he did know was that his heart felt like it was going 200 miles an hour with no chance of slowing down. He couldn’t bring himself to leave the house he was so shaken.

 

It was already one in the afternoon, he had missed two classes. He was grateful those were his only classes of the day. Now he had the rest of the day to think over his options and try to calm down.

 

He wasn’t sure if Melody was home, but even if she was Kurapika wasn’t sure if he could talk to her about what was going on. She had been distant lately, and he was trying his best to respect that.

 

Even so it made him sad, and now he just felt helpless on top of that.

 

The only thing he was completely sure about was the fact that he did not want to talk to Chrollo ever again. The easiest thing to do would be ghosting his text, and hoping none of his friends came to confront him.

 

He couldn’t live in fear like that though. His anxiety at work had been almost unmanageable ever since a few of them had come in.  

 

A knock at his door shook him from his thoughts.

 

I guess she is home, he thought, cracking his door open. Melody looked back him with worried eyes. He figured he probably looked like shit  since he hadn’t left his room all day. He didn’t bother to put on his binder either, though they were past that by now.

 

“Is everything okay?” she asked, “You haven’t come out of your room since last night?”

 

Kurapika took a breath to level himself before speaking.

 

“Chrollo texted me this morning…” he began, “I… I guess I didn’t realize what time it was.”

 

“Are you serious?” she asked, eyes wide, “What did he even say to you?”

 

He pulled out his phone to show her the text. Melody seemed to be relieved he hadn’t replied yet, but she didn’t look any less upset.

 

“What an asshole!” Melody cursed, “He’s still just as entitled as before if he thinks he’s allowed to talk to you. I can’t believe this!”

 

Kurapika laughed, Melody rarely cursed so it sounded weird coming from her. His anxiety had already started to go down, but now he was starting to feel sad.

 

“Yea well.. I think I’m going to ghost him for now,” he explained, “at least until I think of another solution. I don’t want his friends coming up to me because of this.”

 

“Well you filed a restraining order against him,” she said, “He shouldn’t even know your new number, that’s so creepy! Just call the police.”

 

“I guess so…” Kurapika trailed, “I just don’t want to make it worse. Some of his friends don’t need the police on their tails.”

 

“That’s their own fault,” she said turning away from the door, “Wait a minute, it’s a tuesday!”

 

“....yea.”

 

Melody gave him a scolding look, “You missed your classes!”

 

“I know…” he sighed, “I’m taking a mental health day. I have to work tomorrow.”

 

“Alright then,” she agreed, “I will try to come by tomorrow to see you after rehearsal.”

 

Kurapika felt like he was going to breakdown so he gave her a nod and shut the door. It was unfair to Melody to put her in a position to comfort him.  

 

MS- Going out. Let me know if you need anything <3

 

She was too good to him.

 

----

 

Since it was a tuesday Melody had her usual meeting with the occult club she started last semester. It wasn’t a serious club, they just went over paranormal events and theories. They might also have the casual seance every now and then but it was mostly harmless.

 

Her interest was mainly in sacred geometry and music, and was currently studying the unsound. The others had their own focuses as well and every week they would meet up to share their findings.

 

The club had been such a godsend lately. She was feeling very melancholy, and it seemed to be the only thing that would take her mind off things. Playing the flute wouldn’t  work to ease her stress. She would just end up composing sad songs.

 

When Melody got to their meeting spot, a coffee house across the street from a cemetery, she could feel herself starting to relax. She had showed up an hour early to get settled so she wasn’t surprised to see no one had arrived yet.

 

She put her stuff at a large table by the window, and hoped no other groups would come in and try to take her spot. When she had finished she looked up to see Leorio at the counter ordering something.

 

He was in casual clothes with a bag slung around his chest, so she could assume he was finished at the hospital for the day. As if reading her thoughts he turned around and their eyes met. He smiled and waved her way. She suddenly felt very shy.

 

When he got his order Leorio made his way over to her table sit with her. Melody was grateful to have another person to help hold the table, but her nerves were starting to take over.

 

“Hey I didn’t know you came here?” he said joining her, “I normally come here on the days Kurapika isn’t working.”

 

“Me too,” she said trying to regain her composure, “I’m meeting with my club tonight.”

 

“Oh yea you’re spooky club I’ve heard about,” he joked, “I guess this place is pretty perfect being across from that graveyard.”

 

“Yea that’s definitely why we chose it,” she laughed, “Thanks for sitting with me, I came early and I don’t want to lose my spot.”

 

“Sure, do you mind if I sit in?” he asked, “I don’t have a lot to do today, and I need to get out of the house.”

 

“That’s fine, we don’t have that many members so it’s not a big deal,” she explained, “We talk about some pretty dark things though…”

 

“I’m covered in blood or puke everyday, I’m pretty sure I can handle it,” Leorio assured, “Plus we never get to hang out a lot. I wish Kurapika could come out too.”

 

“He’s not doing so good today…” Melody trailed, “He’s been in his room all day.”

 

“What happened?” he asked, “Does this have to do with that stupid party?”

 

“No his ex texted him this morning,” she explained, “but yea I think that whole party thing is dumb.. He’s taking that girl himself now.”

 

“Yikes… on both accounts,” Leorio sighed, “Well it seems like drama follows him around. I’m not that surprised.”

 

“I guess… I hope he’s in a better mood when I get back. He’s been pretty down lately.”

 

“Yea I wonder why…..” Leorio couldn’t keep himself from saying.

 

Melody gave him a weird look, but didn’t say anything. Leorio had a growing suspicion that the two of them were walking on eggshells around each other. Both of course for the wrong reasons.  

 

From his perspective it definitely seemed  like there was some miscommunication between them. It was obvious that Kurapika cared about Melody, but she held some hostility towards him that Leorio couldn’t place.

 

He wished they would just talk to each other, even if that meant in the end he would be left out. It was definitely a weird feeling when you had a crush on two people that also might like each other, but then again seemed to like you back. He wasn’t sure if there was room for him or not.

 

Not that he deserved any of it. With his current situation with school and his side trade with Chrollo, there was no way he could bring anyone else into that. Even so he was getting a little tired of the stagnant air and dramatics.

 

“I just mean... “ he started, “Are you guys in a fight or something?”

 

She gave him another confused look, “We’re not fighting, why would you think that?”

 

“You just seem frustrated with him.”

 

Melody was quiet for a while after that. She just continued to look down at her club notes as if she could just wish the whole conversation away. Leorio regretted bringing it up a little, but it was getting too unhealthy to sit by.

 

“Sorry we don’t have to--”

 

“I’m mad because I feel like he’s coddling my emotions all the time,” she explained, “I mean I know he doesn’t like me like that, he doesn’t have to pretend just so my feelings aren’t hurt!

 

If anything this is worse.”

 

“You really think he’s pretending?”  Leorio asked, the shock evident in his voice.

 

She glared at him so harshly that he felt like he couldn’t breath.

 

“Of course you would say something like that,” she sighed, “Listen I don’t get my hopes about these things anymore, so could you just not bring it up.”

 

Leorio was at a loss, “I-- what are you talking about?”

 

“I literally came here to not think about this right now,” she said, her agitation clear, “This is so ridiculous coming from you when you obviously like him too.”

 

“Right but if you just talked to him--”

 

“I’m not going to talk to him,” she interrupted, “and I don’t want to talk about this anymore either.”

 

“Alright fine then, I’m going to head out,” he said grabbing his things, “but you’ve got things all twisted.

 

I’m allowed to like the both of you.”

 

“What?”

 

He was gone before she could question him further about what he meant. Leorio had basically sprinted out of the coffee house after that last sentence, giving her no time to respond.

 

Melody was in disbelief. Never in a million years would she believe she’d have this conversation with him, or for it to end the way it did. Her heart was beating a mile a minute, and her emotions were all over the place.

 

She had no idea what to do or how to feel. Was Leorio implying he liked her and Kurapika? Did he really think Kurapika was being genuine with her as well? It was all too much, and unexpected. While she cared about both of them, she wasn’t sure she could really believe this.

 

“Hey Melody are you okay?” asked a voice.

 

Looking up she realized half the club members were already there. How long had she been thinking about this. It felt as if Leorio was just there, but it must have been twenty minutes if people were starting to show up. Her head was spinning.

 

“Not really…” she admitted.

 

“What happened?” Palm asked leaning forward, “Is it boy troubles?”

 

“Boy troubles!” Neon gasped, “You have to tell us if it is!”

 

“Can’t we just talk about club stuff,” Shoot insisted, “I have the whole piece written about medieval torture devices I wanted to get into.”

 

That  will get your mind off boys for sure,” came the last member of their club.

 

“Feitan! You actually showed up this time?” Neon asked, “You’re always so fickle about club meetings.”

 

“Well I have boy problems of my own I’m trying not to think about,” he joked.

 

“Join the club,” Palm sighed.

 

“Okay honestly guys, I don’t care about boys or romance,” Shoot sighed, “I just want to talk about guillotine ghosts.”

 

“Fair enough.”

-----




“I just can’t catch a break…” Leorio said to himself as he opened his apartment door.

 

When got inside he saw that Gon had a couple of his friends over. From the looks of it, they were Killua and some other girl he had never met before. They were playing some video game in the living room.

 

Upon entering the kids on the couch had stopped what they were doing to stare at him. Normally he was ignored when Gon was hanging out with other people, so this was a little startling to him.

 

Before he could say anything Gon spoke up.

“Can’t catch a break?” he repeated, sounding like a parent.

 

Leorio rolled his eyes and put his stuff down. Of course Gon would think that this had something to do with last night.

 

“Just had a weird day, don’t worry about it,” he replied.

 

Killua and the girl gave each other a look, while Gon squinted his eyes at Leorio. It was clear the other two knew something about Gon’s breakdown from last night.

 

“Weird how?” Gon pressed further.

 

“Weird like I’m trying to set up two of my friends, and I accidently confessed to both of them,” Leorio sighed, “Since it happened about twenty minutes ago I’d rather not talk about it  for at least another twenty more.”

 

“You mean Kurapika and Melody?” Killua asked jumping up, “I knew it! I knew you liked both of them!”

 

Leorio raised his hands up in defeat, “You caught me, let me know when the press conference starts.”

 

Gon looked a little embarrassed by the revelation.

 

“Sorry man that sucks,” he replied, “I mean I’m guessing it didn’t go well right?”

 

“I wouldn’t know,” Leorio sighed, opening up a beer from the fridge, “I ran out of the coffee shop before I could hear what she had to say.”

 

The three looked at him in disappointment.

 

“I know I know, I’m a real prince.”

 

Killua jumped up to confront him, “What the hell man? So you don’t even know if they liked you back?”

 

“I don’t even know if they like each other,” Leorio shrugged, taking a seat at the table where Killua joined him.



“Uh incorrect you looming buffoon,” Killua snapped, grabbing his beer, “Kurapika has been mooning over her forever, he’s convinced she doesn’t like him. Don’t even get me started on you.”

 

“On me-- whatever what do you mean? Melody thinks he is just being nice,” Leorio explained, “I told her she was wrong, because she obviously is. I didn’t know Kurapika was so broken up about it…”

 

“Well yea, he’s always broken up about everything,” he replied, “It’s kind of his thing.”

 

“You boys are so dramatic, with the ‘he said, she said,’” the girl scoffed getting up from the couch to lean on Gon, “Leave this poor girl alone if she doesn’t like you guys.”

 

“Canary, she’s in love with both of them!” Killua cried, “Don’t tell him to give up, what’s wrong with you?”

 

“No one is ‘in love’ with anyone, good god kids,” Leorio sighed.

 

“Psh okay,” Gon disagreed.

 

“Well either way it sounds like the three of you need to sit down, and actually talk about this,” Canary said, “or you’ll all keep running around throwing a pity party for yourselves.”

 

“Yea that would be productive, wouldn’t it,” Leorio replied sarcastically, “I’ve been trying to do that for a while, but we barely have the same schedule and when we do Kurapika’s ex decides to butt in.”

 

“His ex?” Killua asked, “like the ex ?”

 

“I guess,” he said, “I’ve never met the guy, I just know Kurapika hates him.”

 

Gon and Killua looked at each other, but didn’t say anything. Their expressions were both grim. Leorio decided then and there he was about done with this conversation.

 

“Listen boys and girls: I appreciate the concern, but I’ve had about enough of this fun back and forth,” Leorio said grabbing his beer back from Killua and heading towards his room.

 

When he got to the door, he left them with one last piece of advice.  

 

“Why don’t you worry about your own love lives.”



Chapter Text

“Well this is certainly a look…”

 

The party was that night and he thought he had a pretty good plan put together. Putting the plan to action however was proving to be a surreal experience. He could feel himself taking three steps backward looking at his reflection in the mirror.

 

Since he had actually agreed to take Baise to some house party he figured the safest thing to do was wear a disguise. It sounded a little a childish but it was pretty full proof.

 

He used to be insecure when he had first started to transition. It made him feel like he had to stay away from anything feminine to be taken seriously as a guy, or even as a person.

 

When he was with Chrollo that insecurity had only gotten worse. He was around a lot of cis gendered guys and felt like he had something to prove. That group was already so dysfunctional that he probably would have felt that way regardless.

 

It was only when he started living with Melody did he realize it was fine to do whatever he wanted with his look as long as he was comfortable. There were days he didn’t even wear his binder to class, and he didn’t feel any less of a guy.

 

 Melody was so accepting and unassuming that he was able to explore parts of himself he was unsure about before. His confidence had really done a 180 in the past couple of years, and he had to be thankful to her for getting him there.

 

So he figured after all this growth he had as person, wearing a full feminine look wouldn’t really bother him if it was just pretend. Boy was he wrong about that.

 

It wasn’t that he felt dysphoric or uncomfortable when he looked in the mirror, he just felt like he was in a costume. Which made sense since this was supposed to be a disguise. He figured it was good he didn’t recognize himself so that would probably mean Chrollo and the others wouldn’t either.

 

This was fine, he thought, he could totally do this. It was good to have something to hide behind if it meant he would be safer because of it.

 

And who knows, he thought, maybe I will end up liking this by the end of the night. Just occasionally.

 

To be fair Kurapika thought he made a pretty hot girl, if he was being honest. Now that he was older and knew what he was doing when it came to dressing himself, he did a good job putting this look together.

 

He decided to go for a more vintage look with a zip up turtleneck bodysuit and shorts. The shoes he was wearing had heels so he was taller as well which would definitely throw anyone off from recognizing him. To top it off he was wearing round glasses and borrowed a grey wig Killua. It was from one of Illumi’s shows that they didn’t need anymore.

 

Overall it was a successful disguise. The problem was being able to actually leave the house. He had told Baise his plan, but couldn’t bring himself to tell Melody.

 

He could admit that this whole thing felt kind of foolish, and he didn’t want her to look down on him. Which was ridiculous, because Melody was the person to make him feel confident enough to do this in the first place. He was definitely thinking about this too much.



KP- I might be going to this party dressed like a girl soooo just a fair warning. I am totally not freaking out about it or anything. Just be prepared I guess?

 

ML- What? Clothing has no gender, dress however you want.

 

KP- Oh let me rephrase, it’s a disguise.

 

ML- Oh my god. Incase you run into any of the others?

 

KP- Basically. I’m wearing a wig, it’s very avant garde.

 

ML- Wow I’m terrified. It’s not like I wear a wig everyday or anything.

 

KP- It’s a grey wig, you know for : f a s h i o n

 

ML- Is the shocking part that it’s a bowl cut, I hear those are coming back

 

KP- I wish, that really would have sold me on this whole outing.

 

ML- Why are you going if you don’t want to go? Also why are you texting me when we are both in the apartment?

KP- I kind of want to go, Killua said he’d go too. I am hiding in my room until I have to be seen.

 

ML- you know you can’t hide in your room at the party right?

 

KP- Wait what????

 

ML- drop dead.

 

Well at least things are good with Melody right now, he thought. She had come home the other night from her club acting very on edge. Freaked out might be a better word.

 

He had asked her if they had a ghost hunt gone wrong or summoned something that followed her home, but she did not think that his jokes were that funny.  

 

When he asked her what was wrong she said she had a weird conversation with someone that she didn’t want to get into. Not wanting to pry, Kurapika left it alone, but it still sat in the back of his mind.

 

Maybe it was for the best though, because the next day she was in a pretty good mood. It had been like that ever since, it felt like whatever walls were up between them were finally coming down. He would try not to get his hopes up.

 

ML- I think you’re friend is here, it’s time to face the music.

 

He heard the door open and voices in the hallway. He couldn’t put it off any longer. When he stepped out of his room he couldn’t help but be pleased by their reaction, which was a good way start to the night.

 

“Wow how are you supposed to be my wingman when you’re hotter than me,” Baise said, though there was no malice in her comment, “I mean really, you clean up pretty nice.”

 

“Get a long look, this is never happening again,” he groaned, though he was only half joking “Hopefully this won’t be a long night.”

 

“I think you look really good!” Melody said suddenly, and if it wasn’t clear, her blush definitely got the thought across.

 

Kurapika wasn’t sure how respond other than running back to into his room and hiding forever, since that wasn’t an option he let out a weak “Oh… thanks.”

 

“Yea sure,” she abruptly turned around, embarrassed by her outburst, “Have fun!”

 

“Okay…”

 

Baise had to basically push him out of his apartment. It didn’t help that she kept making rather suggestive comments on their way out either. Assuring Melody that she didn’t need to worry because Kurapika was only there to be her wingman.

 

Once they were in her car on the way to the party Kurapika was finally able to snap out of his dazed thoughts.

 

“Hey so do you think Melody might like me?” he asked feeling childish all over again.

 

“Man you really are an idiot.”

 

---



“I’m telling you I’m fine!”

 

“I’m telling you you’re not!”

 

Machi was currently trying to convince half the group that her ankle was well enough to go out with them. It had been about a week, and she was starting to get restless. She had already missed Illumi’s run through, and now Hisoka was in town and she wanted to go out with him. Even if it was just a stupid house party.

 

Of course Chrollo was hard to convince, since he was there when she twisted her leg to begin with. Nobu was another hard case too since they had always been close, and of course Uvo would take his side, which meant so did Shalnark.

 

Paku was obviously concerned, but didn’t make an effort to actually stop her from going. Feitan and Shizuku could care less since they weren’t going to the party, and normally just stayed out of any conflict.

 

“You can’t wear those shoes and party with us. You’re just going to get hurt all over again,” Shalnark insisted.

 

“What kind of shoes am I supposed to wear then?” she asked, crossing her arms.

 

“Flats?”

 

“FLATS?”

 

“Machi I can just drop you off at Illumi’s while we’re out,” Chrollo tried to reason, to no avail.

 

“No thanks, and I’m not asking permission,” she huffed, “Hisoka’s already on his way to get me so there.”

 

A few of the others relented after that. Nobody wanted to argue with Machi when Hisoka was involved. Everyone except Chrollo who seemed to care less.

 

“Really?” he asked, “And he knows you messed up your ankle?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Great so he won’t be surprised when I just text him to be careful since you’re in such a fragile state right now,” Chrollo said pulling out his phone, “We wouldn’t want anything to get broken right?”

 

She lurched for his phone, “Oh can it! You’re the one in a fragile state!”

 

“Yea emotionally!” he joked pushing her off, “I can still walk.”

 

“So can I, stop being such a bitch about this!”

 

At this point Uvo had joined in and the three of them were rolling on the floor fighting over one of Chrollo’s many cell phones. It didn’t occur to them he could just use another, but that was still proving difficult when Uvo had him pinned to the ground.

 

“I thought you were on my side?” he asked, trying and failing to push him off.

 

“Sorry man, I switched sides after I heard Machi’s comebacks,” Uvo laughed, finally relenting when Machi started texting on Chrollo’s phone.

 

“What did you say?”

 

“I gave myself permission dad what do you think?”

 

“Gross,” Feitan piped up from the couch, “I can’t wait until you’re all out of my apartment. We’ve got some big plans for Darksouls III.”

 

“Big plans,” Shizuku confirmed from her place next to him.

 

“Oh looks like I gotta leave anyways,’ Machi shrugged, “Listen if I feel like I can’t handle it I will just make Feitan pick me up.”

 

“You’ll make Feitan do what now?” he asked, “Did you not hear about our big plans?”

 

“Fine sounds good,” Chrollo sighed.

 

“Um hello? Good for who?” Feitan pressed.

 

Chrollo gave him a look, something that didn’t happen often between them. He relented and raised his hands up in surrender. It didn’t do anything to make him feel better about the situation though. He would forget that even if he’s number two, that’s still not as important as number one.

 

The rest of the group finally finished getting ready for the most part. Machi was relieved that everyone finally let up on her. She was getting restless in more ways than one, and she wasn’t about to broadcast that. A girl has needs too.

 

As if on que the door opened to reveal Hisoka much to most of the group’s dismay.

 

Chrollo, unaffected as ever went in first to greet him. No one would have ever thought the two of them had been threatening each other over the phone for the past month by the way they acted. It was if Hisoka was a long lost friend come home, at least for the night.

 

Both of them were known to be hot and cold if they thought it would serve them a purpose, so there could be something going on between the two that the others weren’t aware of. Machi would never believe they actually liked each other.

 

“Wasn’t sure if I was allowed up, and then you text me this?” Hisoka said showing his phone to Chrollo.

 

“Machi….” Chrollo groaned, but then suddenly his attitude switched, “Actually did Machi tell you the news?”

 

“The news?”

 

“Chrollo--”

 

“She fell down the stairs a week ago and twisted her ankle,” he explained.

 

Hisoka gave her an unimpressed look which she mirrored back. It was clear there was a standoff going on between the three of them, and no one else wanted to get involved.

 

“....well now that you’re here let’s go--”

 

“No way!” Hisoka interrupted, “You can’t go like that!”

 

“Give me a break,” she said, “I already went through this. You can just carry me--”

 

“Yea right, you lost those privileges,” he retorted, “You’re just going to break it again.”

 

“What so we’re gonna stay here with these jerks?” she asked, getting more agitated.

 

“No, weeee” Hisoka gestured to him and Chrollo, “Are going to get wasted so we can tolerate each other, you’re going to stay here with these jerks.”

 

“Fine Paku will just take me, and I’ll have to hook up with some other asshole,” she replied, walking off to one of the guest rooms and shutting herself inside.

 

“Fine!” he said laughing near the end, it was hard for him to keep a straight face.

 

“Machi please don’t drag me into this!” Paku called after her.

 

“Let’s make a run for it while we can!” Shalnark said hanging off of Uvo’s back.

 

Chrollo figured that was for the best. While he was still a little annoyed that Hisoka had more pull than he did with Machi, at least she wasn’t getting hurt. That was if Paku did her job and stopped her from going.

 

If that also meant that Machi and Hisoka weren’t hooking up that night, then that was just coincidence.

 

“Best idea all night…”

 

----

 

When Kurapika and Baise pulled up to the house  party when it was already in full swing. There were people filtering in and out of one of the big fraternity houses on campus. They could hear the music even from all the way outside.

 

He was glad that they showed up a little later, it would be easier to blend in. If he was lucky none of Chrollo and his friends would show up, and he could actually enjoy the night for once.

 

He sent Killua a quick text letting him know he was there. They had discussed checking in with each other periodically throughout the party since neither of them were used to the crowd. Or parties in general for the matter.

 

Gon was pretty popular around campus even if he was just a freshman. A lot of people already knew him through Leorio and Kite, so it was definitely intimidating. The fact that him and Killua weren’t officially dating but weren’t just friends was also a lot to deal with.

So as a precaution Killua told him if it got weird he might tag along with them. That was fine with Kurapika, because he could see himself doing the same thing.

 

“I think Squala is here already with his girl,” Baise said by the door, “Do you want to get a drink and go find them?”

 

“Sure, I’m going to need a drink no matter what…” Kurapika agreed.

 

“Are your friends here yet?”

 

Before he could respond a yell interrupted him. He looked over to see where it was coming from to find that Gon and some guy twice his size were in a race to shotgun some beers outside.

 

And so it begins, he thought to himself.

 

He scanned the area to find Killua figuring he must have been nearby, but he was nowhere to be found. He ran up to Gon in the middle of his victory.

 

“Hey Gon!” Kurapika yelled over the other people.

 

“Sorry do I know you?” he asked, shoving some guy off of his back.

 

Kurapika pulled him closer so he hear him, “It’s Kurapika, where’s Killua?”

 

“Wow! You look so cool!” Gon yelled, it was clear he was already tipsy, “Oh yea Killua and Canary are dancing inside still! I said I’d meet them out here when they wanted to do something else.”

 

“Oh wow,” Kurapika said, impressed, “I was just curious, I’ll see you around.”

“You totally thought I ditched him to do stupid stuff didn’t you!” Gon slurred, leaning against the guy he beat at shotgun, “Listen these guys just came up to me to do stupid stuff, I’m an upstanding boy most of the time!”

 

“I believe you!” Kurapika laughed,turning around to follow Baise “We’re going to go inside, so don’t get into too much trouble.”

 

“Okay okay okay!” Gon called back.

 

To say Gon hit the nail on the head was an understatement. He was glad the two of them were on the same page, Gon did seem like the kind of person who could get carried away at parties. Kurapika was glad to be proven wrong for now.

 

“Sorry about that,” he said to Baise, “let’s go inside.”

 

“No worries, Mr. Popularity,” she joked.

 

The music could literally be felt through the walls of the house as they made their way into the kitchen. So far he didn’t really recognize anyone which was a relief. He didn’t want to socialize with anyone until he had enough to drink to back up his confidence.

 

“I told them to meet us here!” Baise shouted over the music.

 

He gave her a thumbs up and started pouring them a couple of shots each so they could get on the same level as the people around them. So far so good, he thought.

 

“I don’t understand why you dragged me here, I was having a perfectly nice night until you showed up.”

 

He had thought too soon.

 

The infamous Illumi stepped in with Hisoka close behind. Kurapika was relieved that no one else followed them in. He could assume that they went alone for now. While Kurapika and Hisoka had been acquainted while he was dating Machi, he was never really a part of their group either.

 

“Machi couldn’t come, and you never get out,” Hisoka explained. It seemed like they were coming their way, but didn’t notice him and Baise yet.

 

He decided to continue taking shots and ignore them. Kurapika wasn’t too worried about them recognizing him. Baise on the other hand was little more than intrigued.

 

“Great to know I’m your second choice,” Illumi scoffed, “Also I wouldn’t be surprised if she hobbled out here anyways.”

 

Hisoka waved them off and started to make them a drink at the makeshift bar as well. Kurapika was glad that he wasn’t getting noticed by Hisoka, Illumi however started glancing at him oddly.

 

Turning away from Hisoka they asked him, “Hey are you friends of my brother?”

 

“Huh?” Kurapika choked out, not sure what to say.

 

“Sorry, he asked to borrow some of my stuff and there was a wig he took that looked similar to yours,” Illumi explained offhandedly, “Anyways it looks good.”

 

“....thanks,” Kurapika replied, “Probably just a coincidence”

 

Hisoka had finally looked over now too, “Hey do I know you?”

 

“What? I don’t th--”

 

“Stop flirting with people if your going to bring me out,”  Illumi interrupted, taking the drink and walking off.

 

“I swear we’ve met,” Hisoka replied, before running off after Illumi, “I was not flirting!”

 

“Honestly how is it you couldn’t come up with a date for me when you know people like that ?” she said crossing her arms.

 

“I don’t know them, really,” Kurapika said, “and even if I did, I can tell you right now they’re both more trouble than their worth.”

 

She laughed, “So harsh!”

 

----

 

KZ- I lost Canary I think she’s found some other girls.

KZ- I’m getting a drink, we can meet in the kitchen if you want.

 

GF- Yea give me a second I will be right there!

 

Killua was still out of breath from dancing with Canary and her friends. Parties weren’t really his thing, but he was actually having a good time. When Gon had invited him he was hesitant to go, but once Kurapika and Canary said they’d be there he felt more comfortable.

 

KP- In the kitchen (20 minutes ago)

KZ- Sorry I just saw this! I’m in the kitchen rn where ru??

 

KP- suffering.

KP- Baise is forcing me to dance in a minute…

 

KZ- get really drunk and go do it!

 

KP- I saw your boyfriend shotgunning with a bunch of frat guys

 

KZ- Yea I watching the stream rn
KZ- what a keeper

 

KP- theres a stream???

 

KZ- there r like 20 goin on rn. Btw I think I saw some of chrollo’s friends here so be careful!!! Wasn’t sure if it was them tho.

 

KP- oh no ur right, I saw them.
KP- its fine, none of them recognize me THANK GOD I’m coming back for another shot, pls wait for me.

 

Before Killua could respond a girl bumped into him, causing him to drop his phone. She continued to bump into him while he went to retrieve it. What a strange person, he thought, must be really wasted.

 

When he finally got a look at the girl he noticed she didn’t seem all that drunk, but she was wearing black circle sunglasses inside. He caught her the third time she ran into him causing her to gasp.

“Oh! Sorry!!” she said grabbing his arm.

 

“No worries,” Killua replied, “You should probably take those off so you can see.”

 

She laughed at that, “I’m wearing them because I can’t see.”

 

“Shit sorry!” he jumped, he had no idea she was blind.

 

Now he really felt like an asshole.

 

She continue smile, unphased by his mistake, “You seem nice, can you make me a drink? I’m waiting for my friend to find me.”

 

“Ah sure!” he said grabbing a cup, “What do you want?”

 

“Can you make me a screwdriver?” she asked, her voice giddy even though she seemed pretty sober.

 

“Yea sure,” he agreed, and started making the drink, “Ya know, you should be more careful in the future. I have a little sister, and I wouldn’t want some random guy making her a drink at a frat party.”

 

“Ah that’s true!” she said, “but I’m probably older than you anyways.”

 

“What does that matter?” he laughed.

 

The two of them continued the back and forth for a while. She seemed like a pretty cool person regardless of her trusting nature. They decided to wait for their friends together, so he could make sure she found the people who brought her.

 

Apparently one of her roommates were actually friends with a lot of the frat guys, so that might have explained why she wasn’t too concerned with Killua. She seemed pretty sweet for someone who ran around with a bunch of tough guys, but then again who was he to say they weren’t nice either.

 

“Komugi!” came a voice, “Thank god, I was looking everywhere for you!”

 

“Pitou!” the girl exclaimed, “I thought we agreed to meet in the kitchen if we lost each other?”

 

Killua’s blood ran cold. Pitou was the name of that person Gon hated who was dating Kite. He had never met them before, but they were not who he was expecting. They seemed pretty harmless, and the fact that they were worried about this sweet girl didn’t paint a bad picture either.

 

“Yea but you were right next to me in the living room,” Pitou explained, “Whatever I’m just glad I found you, Meruem would have killed me!”

 

Komugi laughed at that, but her face got red as well. Killua could assume that this Meruem person might be her boyfriend.

 

He wanted to break away from them before Gon got there and saw him talking with Pitou. Komugi had been so nice though, and he wanted to get her information to maybe befriend her. He took a long sip from his cup to try and calm his nerves.

 

“So who’s this guy?” they asked, Pitou’s voice suddenly critical, “He’s not bothering you right?”

 

“No! He’s really cool,” Komugi said, “He made me a drink.”

 

Pitou scoffed and took the drink from her and poured it down the sink.

“Hey!”

 

They started making another screwdriver, while giving him a skeptical look. He couldn’t even be mad because he would have done the same thing. Komugi reminded him a lot of Alluka, so he could understand why Pitou was acting overprotective.



“It’s cool,” he raised his hands, “We were just waiting for our friends--”

 

“Hey Killua!” came a familiar voice, “What did you-- oh.”

 

Pitou’s eyes wided, “You’re friends with Gon?”

 

“You’re friends with them ….” Gon said, glaring past him, “I hope you didn’t drag Kite here, he hates parties.”

 

Pitou crossed their arms, “I don’t know this kid , and of course I didn’t bring him here. I’m just hanging out with my roommate’s girlfriend.”

 

“What no-- I’m not--!” Komugi waved her arms around, accidently hitting Gon in the face, “Oh sorry!!”

 

“Whatever,” Gon leaned back on the counter, “Don’t talk to my friends. I see enough of you as it is.”

 

Killua couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had never heard Gon speak to someone that way before. While he knew Gon didn’t like Pitou, he had never expected him to be so harsh with them. Especially in public.

 

Pitou didn’t seem phased by his behavior however, if anything they looked bored. Killua could tell they were used to this. Komugi on the other hand had started clutching at their arm.

 

“Believe me I wouldn’t have if I knew he hung around you ,” Pitou replied, “Let’s go Komugi, I’m a little too sober for this.”

 

Crap, Killua thought, I wanted to hang out with her…

 

“Hey Komugi we should hang out sometime!” he called after her, “I’ll look you up!”

 

Gon gave him a look of betrayal, which might have been taking it a little too far. He knew he would be on thin ice, but it wasn’t like he would be hanging out with Pitou.

 

Once they were out of earshot Gon turned to him.

 

“Hey what the hell?” he said nudging him.

 

“What? I liked hanging out with that girl,” he shrugged, “Obviously she isn’t that close with Pitou.”

 

Gon huffed and turned around.

 

“Wow you’re acting like a real baby,” Killua laughed, “How I supposed to know it was them?”

 

“Ahhhh sorry,” Gon sighed, “I just get so mad when I see them.”

 

“Yea.. I can tell,” Killua joked, crossing his arms, “I’ve never heard you act so rude!”

 

Gon laughed, “Sorry must been like looking in a mirror!”

 

“Hey what the fuck!”




Chapter Text

FT: Thought you should know

FT: Machi n Paku took off

CL: Great....

FT: I can DD if need

CL: I could kiss you

FT: gross no thx

CL: <3333

FT: pls stp

Chrollo sighed, he had just started getting a good buzz. He wasn’t surprised she was coming, he almost expected it. A part of himself felt relieved, because that meant she wouldn't listen to Hisoka either. He knew that was futile now.

Illumi had ended up coming with them at Hisoka's request, and only Hisoka's. He practically dragged them from their apartment. Chrollo had been dreading the next time he would have to see them, but things were surprisingly natural.

He wouldn't peg Illumi to be confrontational like Hisoka, so when neither of them brought up the elephant in the room it didn't seem to matter anymore. Even so it made him feel a little better that the reason they didn't want to go was because they hated parties, and not because he was there.

The two of them had taken off to get drinks as soon as they arrived, which worked out for them. Chrollo preferred to keep Hisoka at a distance, even if he was playing nice.

The other guys had broken off into their respective groups as well. Uvo and Shalnark ran
off to go dance, while Nobu and Phinks smoked with him by the side of the house. He would need some kind of high to endure this weird night.

Chrollo was glad the girls were on their way regardless of Machi's ankle situation. It was starting to feel a little off without them there, and he was always ready to dance with Paku.

They had been hooking up here and there lately, and while it was fun it was not a serious fling. Both of them needed to blow off steam and had a lot to relate to when it came to their love lives. They often felt rejected by Machi if Hisoka was around, and they needed to move on.

"So are we going to get a drink?" Nobu asked, finishing his blunt.

Chrollo showed him his texts, "Looks like the girls are coming after all, want to wait for them?"

"Ah sure, I'm not surprised," Nobu said, his voice relaxed, "Unless Phinks needs a shot? You've been on edge lately."

Phinks blinked, "Huh?"

"Oh really?" Chrollo asked, leaning against him, "I had no idea.. why?"

He fidgeted in response, "Just classes.. nothing really. I'm not on edge, Nobu."

"That's what someone would say if they were on edge... just saying," Nobu shrugged with a smirk. It seemed like he was in on something the other two weren't.

Chrollo leaned in closer, his eyes boring into Phinks', "Hiding something?"

It was a known rule that none of them could hide anything from the group, most importantly Chrollo. Sure he was absent minded sometimes, but if something peaked his interest it normally had to meet an end.

"No of course not!" Phinks insisted, stepping back. The response was enough to cause the other to back off, surprisingly .

Chrollo looked as if he had a satisfied answer, even though none was given. That was fine with Phinks, there was no way he'd tell him the truth about this anyways.

He rested a hand on Phinks' shoulder.

"You know what, I could use a drink sooner than later," Chrollo admitted, "Follow me in after a few minutes. I'll meet you in the kitchen."

He gave his shoulder a squeeze before heading off in the opposite direction. Phinks turned away to let out a breath, but Nobu still noticed.

"Sorry man," he started, "I didn't mean to out you so suddenly.. but watching you moon over the boss is starting to get on my nerves."

"I'm not mooning?" Phinks replied, "Wait does he think--? You both... It's not like that Nobu!"

Nobu laughed slinging an arm around his shoulder, "Just make some kind of move, if you're actually serious. If you don't, you're just going to get played. Kinda like what's going on with him and Paku right now."

 

When Chrollo got to the kitchen he saw Illumi and Hisoka were still there. From his position it looked like Hisoka was trying to get them to go dance with him, but they weren't budging. Honestly why did he force them to come in the first place?

He decided not to get into that right now, and just poured himself a shot. At the bar, if you could call it that, he could see more than a few people he knew. Before he had a chance to pick someone to socialize with, someone came to him.

"Hey Chrollo right?" said some kid in a green jacket. He looked familiar, but Chrollo couldn't place it.

He nodded in response, and waited for the kid to go on.

"I'm Leorio's cousin," he explained, "anyways, just wanted to make sure you're not getting him into any trouble..."

Oh that's right, Chrollo thought, this kid was there at the place Uvo stayed after..

"Gon, yea?" he confirmed, "Of course not, I know Leorio's a good guy. I hope he hasn't been worrying, I already told him we're cool no matter what."

"No matter what?" Gon repeated.

Chrollo paused for a moment. Of course Gon wouldn't know about the drugs. Leorio always kept his secrets, and probably didn't want Gon getting into his line of work.

"Manner of speaking," he replied casually, "Leorio's cool, we take it very seriously when one our own gets hurt."

"You sure pay him a lot," Gon muttered.

Smart boy... Chrollo thought.

"It's always good to invest in someone's future if it can pay off in the long run," Chrollo joked, "Feitan's loaded, and we would like to count on Leorio to fix us under the table no matter the cost."

"Right...." Gon said, still seeming skeptical.

This was no longer his problem, who cares if the kid found out his cousin was stealing drugs for them. No sweat off his back, he'd still get the drugs.

"Don't worry so much, kid," he assured, after finishing his shot, "We like Leorio, so nothing's going to happen to him."

Gon didn't seem to like that answer, but made his goodbyes and went on his way. It was always sticky when family got involved, he needed to make sure that boy wasn't going to be a problem in the future. Or at least a loose end.

He started a conversation with a girl he knew from class as he observed what Gon would do next. To his dismay he started walking over to Illumi's little brother, Killua. Even worse they were also with a very familiar looking... 'girl'.

Yea, he thought, this kid is definitely going to be a problem.

---

"Where'd you go?"

When Gon finally found Killua and Kurapika he was relieved to see their backs were facing where he had been talking to Chrollo. The last thing he wanted was for Kurapika to think he was betraying him somehow. Unlike someone else he knew..

"Don't worry about it," he shrugged.

Kurapika gave them a confused look until Killua explained,

"He's just mad at me because I was talking to his 'worst enemy'."

He laughed in response, "Ah I see... well it sounds like both of you need more to drink then."
"I'm not mad at you!" Gon insisted, his voice suddenly worried, "I just can't believe you're going to hang out with that random girl...."

"What does it matter?" Killua asked, "You have tons of friends?"

Gon fidgeted, it was clear Killua was not getting it, but maybe that was a good thing. There was no way he could possibly be interested in that girl right? She had a boyfriend supposedly...

Kurapika seemed way too amused for his own good, Gon noticed. Was there something he was missing?

"Yea maybe you're right I do need more to drink," Gon agreed, making his way over to the bar.

Killua gave Kurapika a confused look as they trailed behind him. Deciding to throw him a bone, Kurapika pulled him close to whisper out of Gon's ear shot.

"I think you made him jealous..."

"What?" Killua jumped, "How? I'm--"

Gon turned around with a couple of shots in his hands.

"What do want to--"

"--Drink?"

"--Gay?"

A silence passed between them as both tried to process what the other was saying. Before they could confront the other, Kurapika broke the quiet between them in a fit of laughter.

"I uh... he laughs a lot when he drinks," Killua explained, he could feel his face heating up. When was he going to stop getting so stressed out about these things with Gon?

"Sorry sorry," Kurapika waved, "Watching you two is like sitting through a romantic comedy sometimes!"

He then grabbed the shots out of Gon's hands and downed both of them, before either could respond to his remark.

Killua was starting to get a little worried. He didn't realize Kurapika drank so much a parties, but then again he did used to hang out with Chrollo's group so maybe it wasn't that surprising.

"I'm gonna go dance now," he said, "So try to have some fun together!"

And with that Kurapika left them in their awkwardness. While it was always entertaining with those two, he felt like he was walking on eggshells when it came to their relationship. He hoped Gon and Killua would figure it out soon, they seemed really good together.

On his way through the hallway he grabbed a random cup of something alcoholic and made his way to the living room where everyone was dancing. He passed Phinks and Nobu, but they didn't seem to notice him.

Well, he thought, looks like most of them are here.

When he was being pulled into the living room earlier that night he saw Uvogin and Shalnark rush past him. He could assume they had just come as a couple, but now with Phinks and Nobu here Chrollo probably wasn't far behind.

He pushed those thoughts to the back of his head, and tried not to think of them. No one had recognized him yet, not even his friends so he should be okay. The only person he was actually worried would find him out was Chrollo. If he kept his distance it shouldn't be a problem.

The lights were off and there were strobe lights in their place blocking his vision, but he was able to find Baise and the others within a few minutes. Squala was there with his new girlfriend, and couple other people who he knew through classes.

When Baise saw him she pulled him in to their circle to dance. He was suddenly aware at how close she was, and started to feel light headed.

"Who's your girlfriend?" Squala shouted above the music.

"Kurapika!" she screamed in his ear.

Squala did a double take, and grabbed his hands to pull him close.

"You look really hot, man!"

All Kurapika could do was laugh in response. Killua was right, he did laugh a lot when he was drunk. To the point where people had thought he was making fun of them. Sometimes he was.

"Thanks! I wish I could say the same to you!"

Squala scoffed pushing him back into Baise's arms as the other danced around them. Squala's girlfriend laughed at his expense, at least she could take a joke.

Baise started to lead them closer to the music. He passed who he thought might have been Machi, but kept his head down and stayed close to Baise.

They all continued to dance together, some of them getting too close for comfort. Normally he would feel uncomfortable letting loose like this, but Kurapika was glad the nerves from their close contact kept his mind off of Chrollo and the others.

Somewhere along the way Squala had come from behind him with his hands gripping his waist, while Baise had her arms around his neck pulling him forward. He felt like his heart was caught in his throat, and he was grateful for the shots he had earlier.

Kurapika wasn't sure how long he had been dancing with that group. He could feel the alcohol starting to take effect when Gon and Killua found their circle. The same could be said for the two boys as well.

Killua being the godsend he was pulled Kurapika closer to him and Gon.

"Are you having fun?" Killua shouted above the music.

Kurapika snorted, and gave him a nod.

He laughed in response, "I think we're going to head out soon!"

"You just got here?"

Gon moved in closer, "It's been like an hour since we saw you!"

"What really?" Kurapika didn't realize he had been dancing so long, "What time is it?"

Gon checked his phone, "Almost midnight! I'd stay longer but I have morning practice."

"Did you want a ride home?" Killua asked.

Kurapika almost didn't hear him though. He was too busy trying to keep himself composed. From across the room he could see Paku and Chrollo dancing together. It suddenly hit him that he hadn't seen Chrollo since he broke up with him.

He still looks.... really good, Kurapika thought to himself.

It was clear that alcohol was blurring his judgement. If he was smart he would take the offer and leave with Killua and Gon right now.

He didn't feel like being smart tonight though.

"Hey!" Killua shook him, "Isn't that your ex?"

Gon whipped around, "Shit you want to go?"

"No, no it's fine!" Kurapika laughed, "Baise is taking me home, don't worry!"

Killua gave him a look, "Are you sure? He's right there?"

Kurapika nodded, "Yea yea, I'm good. He won't know it's me!"

The two decided to leave it, and say their goodbyes. While he was thankful they were trying to give him an out, Kurapika was feeling more self destructive now that the alcohol was kicking in.

He went back to the group he was with, and they were still as hands on as before. Baise pulled him right back in, her hands were already around his waist. He started to lead them near the middle of the room.

Kurapika didn't really have a plan. If anything he was just curious, it would be his only opportunity to observe Chrollo without having to confront him. He could make him out from the corner of his eye, but the two of them slowly started moving out of his vision.

Before he could turn around to move the group closer Baise had yanked him forward. He suddenly remembered where he was, and what he was doing. A part of him felt a little bad, he was supposed to be Baise's date but he was looking for his ex.

Even so he thought he made it clear they would be going as ‘just friends’ to this party, and Kurapika didn't have many friends that grabbed his ass the way she was right now. The fact that her chest was pressed up against him was also not helping the situation.

He couldn't remember when she had gotten so close to him, but he couldn't bring himself to push her away either. He was drunk, and had forgotten how nice it was to be with a girl. He really loved girls.

When he had started dating Chrollo he was pretty young, and when they broke up he kept to himself for a while. He really didn't have a chance to be so close with any girls like this. Especially since the only girl he was interested in was Melody, and she always kept her distance.

Baise pulled him even closer if that was possible. His nerves were on fire, but he made no move to break their contact yet. She was taller, but his heels gave him some advantage.

 

Within a second lips were on his. He wasn't sure who initiated the kiss, but he kissed her back regardless. Nothing felt real anymore. His arms were around her neck and in her hair. He used it to pull her closer, and her mouth opened up at the force.

"Hey if you guys are gonna make out, maybe get off the dance floor!" Squalla shouted, causing them to break their kiss.

Baise seemed annoyed, but Kurapika couldn't hold in his laughter. How could he not be giddy after that. While he wasn't into Baise for the long run, it felt great to have someone kiss him with no ulterior motive. His last kiss had been with Chrollo afterall.

"What a mood killer!" Baise pouted, "I didn't say anything when you two were going at it!"

Squala held up his hands in surrender. They started to move near the side of the living room away from the dancing to Kurapika's disappointment. Baise caught his glance, and pulled him closer to the door, and away from the music.

"Hey you little shit," she said, taking him by surprise, "I thought you were going to help me find a hookup, not drool after your ex."

"What?" he laughed, unable to process what she was saying.

She didn't seem mad, despite her words, "I saw him staring at us, like he was trying to figure you out."

"Do you think he knows its me?" he slurred.

"I don't know, that's why I kissed you," she explained, "So he couldn't see your face."

"Ohhhhhhhh," Kurapika nodded, "I didn't even realize!"

She laughed at him but he could tell she was blushing, "Yea I could tell! You were.. uh
really into it."

"Yea, you're a good kisser," he laughed, "I um... I should probably go through if he's here..."

"Screw that!' she said, grabbing his arms, "You're having a good time, he can go fuck himself!"

Kurapika broke again, air getting caught in his throat as he laughed.

He decided to stay at least for a little while.
---

After his drink with Phinks and Nobu, Chrollo made his way towards the hallway where he saw Hisoka and Illumi head off to. He figured he should let Hisoka know Machi was on her way.

While he wasn't a fan of them getting together, he was interested in how Illumi felt about all of this. Obviously if Machi was coming, that meant her and Hisoka were going to hook up. Was Illumi really fine with that?

Chrollo was going to hope they weren't. He'd be pissed if this little threesome actually worked out. Hisoka would feel like he had won something over him, and that was never good.

When he found them they were smoking with a couple of other people by the back door. Illumi looked sober, but then again they never seemed drunk until they opened their mouth.

"Hey you hear?" he asked Hisoka, taking the blunt from him, "Machi's coming."

Hisoka sighed, "Of course she is..."

Illumi seemed indifferent so far, their expression blank as they sipped their drink.

"She'll probably be looking for you..." he trailed, "So make sure she doesn't get hurt."

Hisoka leaned closer to him, "Of course, but what makes you think that?"

"I had a talk with her," Chrollo said, keeping the mood casual, "I figure if your in town, you guys would be getting together."

Hisoka frowned and backed off, "It's not a serious thing."

Illumi remained disinterested in their conversation, flipping through their phone instead.

"Sure," Chrollo agreed, "I'm over it. All of it."

"So I've heard...."

Chrollo had glanced at Illumi catching their expression going from blank to unimpressed. Apparently the fact he was over Illumi, annoyed them.

"I'm not extending any good will towards you," Chrollo explained, "but I don't want her to get caught up in your shit again. Can you manage that at least?"

Hisoka smiled, but it wasn't genuine, "I think I can thanks."

Illumi finally spoke up, surprising both of them, "For someone who's over it, you're sure going out of your way to let us know."

Chrollo smirked, "Who said I was talking to you."

While Hisoka almost seemed impressed, Illumi looked absolutely pissed off. Their emotions going from zero to a hundred within seconds. Chrollo was hoping that would strike a nerve.

If he couldn't cause an upset with Machi and Hisoka anymore, he could always start a rift between him and Illumi. Maybe it was childish, he didn't really care. He would do anything to gain some control over this mess. If that meant upsetting a brat like Illumi so be it. Hisoka didn't even look mad.

"What can I say? I was told I'm not allowed to," he joked, turning to Hisoka, "Anyways, I'll catch up with you another time."

After another hit he gave Hisoka back his blunt and made his way out the back door.
There was no way he would stick around now.

He bumped into Paku when he got to the back porch. She was lounging next to some guys he hadn't met before, with a glass in her hand.

Paku probably didn't know them either, but just wanted to get some good alcohol off them. The stuff they had inside was weak. As he approached her a few other guys seemed to shrink back. At least they knew who he was.

She turned around to see it was him, and almost shrank back herself. He figured she was hiding back here so he wouldn't see her. She did let Machi come out after all.

"I guess the cats out of the bag.." she laughed weakly, "Sorry I tried to stop her but.."

He sat down next to her on the bench, "Don't worry, I'm glad you came."

She gave him a skeptical look, "What do you want?"

He let out a laugh, a real laugh with no malice behind it. There was no way he could be mad at her.

"Nothing!" he insisted, "But I have a question."

"Yea?" she said leaning towards him.

His arm came around her easily and he rested a hand on her waist.

"Why did no one tell me about Phinks?"

Now she was the one laughing. This must have been a long time coming by her response.

"You didn't know?" she asked.

He shook his head.

"Oh man he's had it bad for you for a while now..." Paku began, "Why do you think he's being such a dick to me lately?"

"I just thought you guys were bickering," he guessed, "Nobu finally said something, and now Phinks is avoiding me."

"Do you like him?" she asked, there was no jealousy in her voice. She seemed genuinely
interested, which made him more pleased than not.

"I don't know..." he admitted, "I mean of course I like him, but I didn't even know he liked guys so... I guess I've never thought about it."

"That's a little weird... but poor Phinks," she sighed.

"Weird?"

She shrugged, "I mean you've slept with more than half the group, I find it hard to believe you've never thought about Phinks like that."

"I suppose...." he said thoughtfully, "Well I'm thinking about it now."

Paku leaned away to look him in the eyes, "Don't lead him on... I think he actually likes you so.. If you're not going to be serious about it, I mean I don't know if he could take it."

He considered her for a moment. Paku was really amazing, he thought. Here is this guy whos supposed to be her friend, treating her like crap, and yet she is vouching for him. She's genuinely worried about Phinks getting his heart broken, but he probably doesn't deserve it.

"Well then maybe I will leave it alone for now," he agreed, "Things are good right now right?"

"You tell me?" she said crossing her arms.

He was getting the feeling Paku knew more than she was letting on. About what, Chrollo wasn't sure.

"What do you mean?" he asked, leaning back on the bench.

She paused, unsure of herself. Paku had been more timid around him lately, and he wasn't sure why. It left him feeling worried. Was he taking it too far with her? Did she feel like she had to hook up with him out of obligation or something like it.

He hoped that wasn't the case. Chrollo found a real comfort in her, and thought she did in him as well. Then again, he shouldn't assume things like that.

He put a hand on her knee, "We're okay right? If we're not I want you to tell me. I'm not going to be upset."

She seemed to relax a little bit, "It's not that... I just don't want you to think I'm keeping tabs on you... I just overheard..."

His heart rate went up. She could have overheard a lot of things. Anywhere between his supply calls to his sensitive conversations with others in the group. He didn't want to keep things from her, but there were certain things he couldn't tell her.

There was no way he would put her back into the kind of life he took her from.

"... that you texted Kurapika."

He swung his head back in relief. He could deal with that.

"Yea I did," he said looking away from her, his eyes on the sky.

"So what's that about?" she asked, "Are you... trying to get back with him?"

Chrollo closed his eyes and took in a breath. He didn't know what he was doing, at least in the long run. Lately things had been a hot mess when it came to his relationships. The only thing going well was with Paku and that wasn't serious.

He had no idea what he wanted, other than control. Even then, he was fine letting others take the lead, as long as they remembered where they came from. They needed to remember who he was to them.

He couldn't help missing Kurapika. The guilt he felt about it sometimes weighed on him so heavily he thought of just moving them all away. Chrollo had taken Kurapika away from his family, but Kurapika hurt the people he cared about.

There was always a struggle between them. He liked the struggle, but Kurapika didn't. He should have considered that, he should have done a lot of things.

"Even if I was he wouldn't have me..." he admitted, "I guess I just want closure. Everything happened so fast."

Paku didn't say anything.

"Does that upset you?"

"Of course it does," she sighed, "Some party..."

"Some party."

Chapter Text

Illumi had been sulking in the kitchen for a while now, in hopes to wain the awful feeling in their stomach. They were on the fifth drink, but it only dulled their thoughts by a fraction. They needed to forget.

Chrollo of course knew just what to say to piss them off. They had been pissed off ever since Machi told them she talked to Chrollo.

Everything will be fine, she had said, he doesn't even care anymore don't worry!

Things weren't fine though. It felt like they were on display suddenly. Her word was law and everyone just went along with it? Maybe it wasn't that extreme.

Even so, it was different when you were outed as being 'asexual' than it was any other sexuality. To Illumi it felt like it was just letting everyone know they had this crucial flaw. They wished things could go back to people just assuming he wasn't straight.

Illumi barely knew what asexuality was. They probably should have known, but it didn't really matter to them. They weren't into labels. The only real preference they had were their pronouns. Nothing else mattered.

It wasn't like they wanted to be asexual. Their life would probably be a lot easier if they could sleep with people, or rather sleep with Hisoka.

Illumi huffed in the corner they were currently nursing a rum and coke. They didn't even want to go to this party, but Hisoka had asked. No, begged them to come.

Now Chrollo was holding their sexuality against them. As if the reason Hisoka is hooking up with Machi is Illumi's fault. It was no one's fault. Hisoka would be hooking up with Machi regardless of their sexuality. They liked each other, or at least having sex with each other.

Hisoka was a polyamorous person, it wasn't as if that was unknown information. Chrollo just wanted to get a rise out of them, and it had worked. He got what he wanted, they were alone in this stupid kitchen, in this stupid frat house.

Maybe Chrollo just wanted an excuse more than anything. It was easy to blame Illumi for Hisoka wanting to sleep with Machi and Machi rejecting Chrollo.

If only I could just put out so none of this would matter, Illumi thought, grow up, it's not my fault.

"Hey come on and dance with us!" came a familiar voice.

Illumi looked up to see Machi pouring herself another drink and Hisoka leaning on the counter next to them. They had been so consumed in their thoughts they didn't even realize the two of them were there.

"You're not still upset are you?" Hisoka asked, sliding an arm behind them.

Illumi glared, "I'm not upset. Obviously I can't feel anything."

"Obviously..."

Machi groaned, crossing her arms.

"Are you guys fighting?" she asked, seeming annoyed.

Illumi gave her look, she was the one who started this to begin with. They did however appreciate her appearance. She was wearing a tight fitting lace bodice with high waisted shorts and... flats.

"What's with your shoes?" Illumi asked, completely disregarding their point.

"Paku wouldn't let me leave the house unless I wore them..." she grumbled.

Illumi shifted away from Hisoka, "Gross, why? I didn't think either of you owned anything that touched the ground."

"She twisted her ankle..." Hisoka said, "Didn't you tell them?"

Illumi hummed, "I see. You told me it was better though? I made a spot for you in the
second run through."

"It is better!" she shouted, jumping up and down to prove her point.

They forgot when drunk, Machi could be charmingly childish.

Hisoka shook his head, as if saying she was full of shit.

They sighed, if this was all people cared about doing they might consider being serious about their relationship with the two of them. They liked this moment, but it wouldn't be enough for Hisoka or Machi.

"So you want to dance with us or what?" Hisoka asked, leaning in way too close.

Illumi pressed a hand to his nose, slowly pushing him away, "No way I'm dancing with you traitors."

"Traitors!" Machi exclaimed, "I'm not a traitor!"

Hisoka sighed, "They're mad because you told Chrollo that they're--they don't like...ya knoooow?"

"Have you always been such an idiot?" Illumi asked.

"Well you told me, and I quote 'Gross, I don't like that word. Never speak to me again.' So what do you want me to call you?" Hisoka laughed, "I mean either way it's true."

Illumi huffed and slid away from him a second time.

"Hey I'm sorry," Machi said grabbing their shoulder in an attempt to be comforting, "I totally spaced and it was an accident. I didn't mean to out you. We weren't even talking about you, we were talking about that asshole."

They waved her off, "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at him for not defending me."

"Wait what?" Hisoka asked, "and hey am I supposed to be 'that asshole'?"

"Yes," Machi and Illumi said in unison.

"Listen don't let him get to you," Hisoka said, "Chrollo's just mad at himself and wants someone to blame."

Machi glared at him, "Oh whatever you don't know what's going on with him."

Hisoka rolled his eyes, but didn't respond.

"I... guess I'll dance with you," Illumi said suddenly.

Apparently that was the right thing to say. Hisoka and Machi looked like they just won the lottery. It was probably the alcohol so Illumi tried not be too pleased by their response.

She grabbed both of their arms and dragged them out of the kitchen.

"Let's go! Let's go!"
---

It had taken some coxing, but Chrollo finally managed to get Paku to go dance with him. She had been feeling reserved ever since he came clean about how he felt about Kurapika. He could understand that to a point, but he was only human and it was normal to want closure.

Maybe her fear came from him choosing Kurapika over the group? That would never happen. That was why they had broken up in the first place.

It seemed like she was having fun now though. They found Uvo and Nobu in the living room as well, and decided to join them. Things were finally starting to go well at this ridiculous house party.

Ever since they arrived it felt like everyone’s emotions were on edge. Now that they were actually letting loose coming out was almost worth it.

However that feeling was short lived when his eyes caught someones across the room.

At first his eyes had been on Machi when she ran by them. She was comically dragging Hisoka and Illumi behind her, and everyone in the group started making jokes. That was fine, that was funny…

It was when she almost bumped into the ‘girl’ in the middle of the room did his heart stop in his chest.

“Something wrong?” Paku asked him over the music.

Her eyes followed his to where he was staring, but nothing seemed to click.

“You know her?” she asked,slightly confused.

“What that girl?” Nobu asked, butting in between them, “Yea she’s hot.”

Chrollo could smack them. How could none of them see it? Maybe he was the one imagining things… no, there was no way.

That was definitely Kurapika…

… and now he was…. making out with some girl.

Well that nice moment was over before it began, he thought.

He was suddenly feeling a flurry of emotions. Everything he’d been mulling over the past few weeks hit him fast and hard. His guilt, sadness, anger, everything was breaking him down.

An angry groan he was holding in came out, and he turned away, “No she’s not.”

“Huh? Tough break,” Nobu laughed. He obviously thought Chrollo was just mad this ‘random girl’ was here with someone else.

Uvo snorted, “Tough break….”

Yet apparently Uvo knew who the girl was too.

“Let’s keep dancing, maybe we’ll get her attention,” Paku suggested, putting her arms around his neck.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll get her attention,” Uvo said, “I’m getting out of here, catch me at the bar.”

He gave Chrollo a look before slapping him on the back, and walking off the dance floor. Of course Uvo would recognize the only person who’s ever been able to kick his ass.

Nobu shrugged and followed him out, leaving Paku and Chrollo by themselves. She was still holding on to him, but he was still just standing there trying to figure out what to do next.

“Maybe you should go with them,” he suggested, gently pushing her away.

She gave him a confused look, but nodded, “Alright weirdo… you’re okay right?”

“Sure, get out of here,” he smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

He wanted to talk to Kurapika, but if Paku ended up recognizing him she wouldn’t let him hear the end of it. If she knew he was here in general she would probably be a panicking mess, and run out the door.

After what happened at the cafe, he didn’t want to worry her. If Kurapika didn’t call the police on them then he wasn’t going to now.

With a final kiss on the cheek she was gone.

Before he had a chance to move another girl came up to him.

She introduced herself as Neon, and she looked way too young to be at a college party. There was entitled air to her as well that he was not into. Regardless he decided to use this to his advantage, while also keeping her away from the other creeps dancing around them.

“You want to help me make someone jealous?” he asked her, he figured someone like her would get a kick out of something like that.

“Sure!” she agreed, “After that… do you want to go somewhere else..?

He paused, “I… you’re not my type.”

She frowned but didn’t seem deterred, “We’ll see!”

This was definitely not how he planned to approach Kurapika, but it did paint a better picture. He figured it would be a little too forward to just walk up to him by himself. At least this way, Chrollo could ‘bump’ into him.

“Who’s the girl?” she asked, clinging to his side uncomfortably.

He pointed over to the group where Kurapika was currently laughing at something the other girl had said. Jealousy swelled in his stomach.

He’s probably just drunk, Chrollo thought.

“I know him!” Neon jumped, “Yea yea, he’s like totally in love with this girl in my club!”

He was surprised she could recognize him, when his own friends couldn’t. She must be very intuitive, he thought.

Chrollo could barely hear her above the music but he got the jist, “The girl he’s with?”

“No no!” she shouted, “I don’t think she’s here tonight.”

That was a relief. The fact that she was also in a club on campus boded well too. She must just look young, he assumed.

The party was finally starting to die down a bit, so he took the initiative to lead them closer to Kurapika’s group. It was getting late and he didn’t have a lot of time to waste on this girl anymore.

While he was trying to figure out a way to approach him the impossible happened. Kurapika was in front of him, his hand grasping the front of his jacket. All he could do was stare, he hadn’t thought this through.

There was no sign on Neon anymore either. Did she run off?

“Why are you dancing with me?” was all he could think to say.

They were closer to the speakers now, but he could still hear Kurapika laughing. The sound sent his heart racing, this wasn’t good.

Kurapika still wasn’t saying anything of import, just laughing in an almost crazed way. This definitely wasn’t the kind of closure he wanted.

“Do you want to go somewhere?” he tried again.

He finally acknowledged him, but Chrollo wished he hadn’t.

“No! Are you kidding me!” Kurapika laughed, pushing him away, “Why would I want to do that!”

“Why are you wearing that?” he asked, his frustration clear.

Kurapika scoffed and lead them to the side of the living room where they could hear each other better.

“Why am I wearing this!” Kurapika exclaimed, pushing him back into shelf, “I haven’t done anything in the past year. I go to work, I go to class, I go to sleep, because I don’t want to run into you!”

“You don’t--”

“And the one night I decide to go out-- the ONE night, you come up to me?” Kurapika asked, “You want to talk to me? You want to go somewhere?”

Chrollo wasn’t sure what to do. Kurapika was too drunk to have a real conversation with him. He should have taken that into account when he approached him, but he didn’t think he would get this far.

At this point Chrollo figured one of Kurapika’s friends would have come over and broken up their conversation, but from where he was standing they were all still dancing without a care in the world.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” he explained, “Maybe get some closure about everything.”

Kurapika laughed again, “Closure!”

His grabbed Chrollo’s shoulders and pulled him closer. He couldn’t remember the last time they had been so close. His heart was pounding and his head was spinning, and there was no way he could blame it on the alcohol anymore.

Kurapika was glaring at him now. Any signs of being wasted were gone as he spoke to him in clear determination.

“You’re a sad person, Chrollo,” Kurapika started, “You try to make this fake family to gain some semblance of control, and when someone does something you don’t like you take it out on everyone else. I don’t want that. I don’t want you.

I don’t need closure, and you don’t deserve it.”

There was nothing left to say. Any hope of an civility between them was gone. Kurapika had made himself clear, and Chrollo couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t want to.

At least he could admit he was wrong.

“I’m sorry.”

The cold stare Kurapika gave him could rival Illumi’s. This was a mistake, talking to him was a mistake.

Kurapika pressed him painfully against the shelf, but Chrollo made no move to stop him. Sharp pain hit him in the side, but the angle he was being held against made it impossible for him to get away.

Suddenly Kurapika’s face was right next to his ear.

“Yea. You are.”

After another painful shove he let Chrollo go and disappeared into the crowd of people still dancing. He could barely process what happened. All he could focus on was one thought:

This was a mistake.

----

The three of them had been dancing for about a half hour, but Illumi was already burnt out. If anything Hisoka and Machi were basically just pushing each other around on the dance floor. Illumi wouldn’t really call it dancing.

They were thankful for the amount of alcohol they consumed before joining them. Machi had started to be a lot more hands on then he was used to with her. Hisoka of course didn’t find it weird, but he wasn’t thinking about it from Illumi’s perspective.

Illumi had never been very open about their preferences with anyone, not even Hisoka. They liked feminine people, and that was basically it. Machi and Hisoka fit that category perfectly, so things should be easy right?

It didn’t seem like anything could ever be easy with them though. Both of them were too caught up with Chrollo’s bullshit, and now they were getting pulled in as well. Illumi was getting a little tired of it all.

Then it came down to what seemed to be the most important thing to everyone, sex. Illumi had never been a fan, but recently they themselves have been realizing they had more of a repulsion to it. That couldn’t fly with Hisoka or Machi, so where did that leave Illumi?

Illumi didn’t understand those two. Why spend so much time on them, when they had nothing to give. What was there to gain? Then again, why did it matter?

This kind of thinking probably wasn’t helping the mood, they thought to themselves.

They were pulled from their thoughts entirely, when they noticed Machi and Hisoka walking away from him and towards the stairs. Upstairs probably led to the bedrooms, and the two of them wanted to hook up tonight so…

Even Illumi could put two and two together.

Regardless of the implications, Illumi followed them. They weren’t sure what they were expecting. Illumi had no idea what they were doing, but maybe this time things would be different.

Hisoka gave them a blank stare halfway up the staircase, but didn’t say anything. Machi probably hadn’t noticed they were following behind yet.

What am I doing… Illumi thought to themselves, I can’t handle this right? I should leave, they want me to leave right?

Machi knocked on the first door they found and kicked it open when there was no response. Finally turning around she noticed Illumi.

“I-- What…” she trailed, not knowing how to address the situation, “You’re… do you want to-- I mean do you know what we’re…. Why are you here?”

Illumi was just as confused, “Do you want me to leave?”

I want to leave, they thought, right?

Machi blinked at them, “I… don’t care.”

She looked over to Hisoka who shrugged. He was being more nonchalant than he usually was. Normally he’d be all over a situation like this. Why was he holding back?

“So we’re all going to….?”

Hisoka shoved the door opened further, and pushed them both in, “It’s fine. If you want to leave at some point just go.”

For some reason that pissed Illumi off, “I can handle it.”

No I can’t, their thoughts combatted.

“No you can’t?” Hisoka echoed, a laugh rising to the edge of his voice.

Even though he was right, Illumi didn’t want to agree with him. They didn’t want him to be right. Or rather they didn’t want admit they couldn’t do something.

Maybe it will be different, they thought again, if I like them it’s different right?

Hisoka stopped himself from deterring them further, “I mean if you want to…”

Machi’s arm came up around them, and rested on their waist, “Yea I’m into it if you want to.”

Illumi felt conflicted. They could barely handle one person, what made them think two was a good idea? This might be going too far, why were they putting themselves in this position?

Hisoka decided to test the waters anyways. His hands grasped the strands of their hair pulling them towards him with force. Their head’s collided hard enough to make Illumi’s spin. Before they had a chance to process anything, Hisoka had already started kissing them.

They were reminded of Machi’s presence when smaller arms came around their waist and under their shirt. Illumi’s heart rate increased but other than that they felt okay.

This is fine, they thought as Hisoka started biting hard into their neck.

Machi was kissing them now, just as roughly if not worse than Hisoka. Her hands trailing up their chest, pushing them towards one of the beds in the room.

The three of them stumbled backward on to the bed, never breaking contact with each other. Illumi almost laughed, because this whole thing just seemed ridiculous to them.

Their high was short lived as reality started to come back. Machi’s hands were on their thighs, and Hisoka had started to pull them closer from where they fell on top of him. Everything was suddenly too real.

Illumi went rigid, and felt the panic rise in their chest. Hisoka must have felt the change, because he let go of his hold on Illumi. As soon as they felt him let go they flipped Machi off of them, and tried to stand up.

Stumbling to the door, they leaned over to catch their breath. The pounding of their heart rang in their ears.

“Are you okay?” Hisoka asked from the other side of the room.

Illumi finally looked over to see them both staring at them like they had two heads. If their mind hadn’t been clouded by all the alcohol Illumi probably would have realized they were just worried, but the way they looked at them made Illumi feel small. Small was the only way to explain it.

“I… yea,” they managed to say, “Don’t… you don’t have to stop. I’m just ...going to go.”

“Are you--”

Illumi slammed the door shut before Hisoka could say anything else.

Humiliation would have been a better, than what they felt in that moment.

----

Chrollo was pacing outside of the bathroom trying to figure his next move. After Kurapika basically destroyed his pride he felt completely wrecked. If he went back to the others in this state, they wouldn’t get off his back until he told them what was wrong.

Was it wrong to think that he could be friends with Kurapika after everything that happened? Absolutely, but it didn’t stop him from wanting it. Maybe friends wasn’t the right word. If anything it would just be nice to be on civil terms with him.

That was asking too much. Chrollo had basically turned his life upside down, and brought them across the country after Kurapika’s family rejected them. Things had deteriorated fast after that, their relationship had barely lasted two years.

He rubbed his side, and groaned. Kurapika had punched him, but at the time he was too drunk to realize how hard. He deserved it, and would rather have a bruised side than get arrested for violating the restraining order. Even so he didn’t like the reminder.

The door to the bathroom opened breaking him from his thoughts. He was relieved that he could finally have some privacy until he saw who was coming out.

Illumi was staring back at him wide eyes, and slightly dazed. They looked a little disheveled which was odd for them, since even in the most dire circumstances they were always put together.

Chrollo was about to ignore them, but then he saw the blood dripping from Illumi’s hand…

“Great, of all the people to run into…” Illumi sighed.

He suddenly remembered their last altercation and a pang of guilt ran through him, but he wasn’t sure why.

“What happened to you?” he asked, glancing into the bathroom.

There were shards of glass on the floor and the spots of blood on the edge of the sink. Looking up he saw that the mirror had been smashed in, and his breath caught in his throat.

Chrollo stared back at Illumi, “Looks like you’re having a night.”

“No thanks to you,” they glared back at him.

“Right… I didn’t mean to--”

Illumi scoffed before he could explain himself, “You didn’t mean to? So being a complete ass was just an accident?”

“Illumi.. You’re hand is bleeding…” Chrollo reminded them.

They just rolled their eyes, “It wouldn’t be the first time. Can you get out of my way?”

He realized he was blocking their path because the bathroom was at the end of the hallway. That comment they just made didn’t make him feel better about letting them pass. He wasn’t sure what to do though, it wasn’t like he had any say with what Illumi did or didn’t do.

Chrollo was too wasted for this.

“I… are you okay?” he asked, “Is there glass in your hand?”

Illumi gave him a blank stare, “I just punched a mirror. What do you think?”

“Okay… well should you be alone right now?” he tried again.

“As opposed to what?” Illumi asked, “Spending time with the person who upset me to begin with? I’m good thanks.”

They pushed passed him, accidentally bumping into the side that Kurapika had just hit, so they were able to get by easily. Chrollo cursed, but let them go. In a way they were right.

He was just fucking up everyone’s night.

Chapter Text

 

It was still early when Killua got up the next day. He figured he would be passed out at least until noon, but his body’s internal alarm clock got him up at eight. It was probably from all the early mornings he spent with Gon. He made sure his first class didn’t start until ten when he made his schedule.

 

The party had been alright when he thought about it. For some reason he thought it would be more exciting. College parties always seemed way more intense in the movies.

 

He had just hung out with Gon and Canary, and met their friends. There was that small altercation with Pitou, and then the thing with Kurapika’s ex, but other than that it was pretty uneventful.

 

Some guy named Knuckle gave them all rides home, and he was home by one in the morning. It was a little disappointing at the time.

 

And then Illumi came home. He had decided to wait up for them, because Illumi hadn’t been responding to his texts. Killua was a little worried, but it was a party afterall.

 

He had been out when Hisoka picked them up, so the only reason he knew they were there was from the one text he got that night.

 

IZ: coming to that party with Hisoka and his friends….

 

KZ: did you lose a bet?

 

When Illumi had gotten home it was about two in the morning, which wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the state they were in.

 

Killua had never seen them so disoriented. At first he figured that this was just how they were when they drank. Illumi had never been drunk around him before so how would he know what was normal?

 

He realized it was more than that though. Looking them over, Killua caught sight of their hand all cut up. It sent his blood running cold, and he suddenly felt helpless.

 

Illumi had always been the one to take care of him, it had never really been the other way around. They were always put together, and showed no weakness it seemed. This was the first time the tables had been switched.

 

Of course they tried to brush it off. If Killua had been paying more attention when he was younger he probably would have realized this wasn’t the first time Illumi had been vague with their feelings.

 

This time he wasn’t having it. He sat them down and fixed up their hand the best he could. All while Illumi was mainly quiet, watching him with a blank expression.

 

“I get it.. You don’t want to talk about it,” Killua had said, “but I wish you would tell me something... “

 

Illumi looked away from him, with their chin resting on their good hand. They were contemplating something.

 

“I just wish…” they started, “... I could be more.

 

I want to feel like a real person…”

 

Killua couldn’t stop thinking about that comment. ‘A real person.’ What did that mean? To him and his siblings Illumi was everything. Even when Killua was young and stupid and claimed to hate them for some childish reason, Illumi was always there.

 

They were the one to make them do their homework, make sure they were eating, help them with their problems, everything. There were times when Killua wondered if they might resent them or resent their parents for putting it all on Illumi’s shoulders.

 

That never happened. Illumi was always there, whether anyone wanted them there or not. They were the one to take care of everything it seemed.

 

So how could they not see that they were more than a ‘real person’? Illumi was the one person who he could count on.

 

There was a knock at the door. Killua checked the time, eight thirty.

 

He didn’t have to guess who would be on the other side.

 

Looking through the peephole he saw Hisoka standing on the other side. He looked a little hungover and exhausted, Killua had little sympathy. Sure he didn’t know what actually happened last night, but Hisoka had to be involved with whatever happened to Illumi.

 

There’s no way I’m letting him barge in here and what, Killua thought, beg for forgiveness?

 

He opened the door, but didn’t move to invite him in.

 

“What do you want?” Killua asked coldly.

 

“What do youuu want?” Hisoka mocked, “Is Illumi up?”

 

Killua scoffed, and shut the door behind him so they wouldn’t wake them.

 

“Yea I don’t think so.”

 

Hisoka blinked, “You don’t thinks so?”

 

“I don’t like the way they came home last night,” Killua started, “So I’m not going to let you come in and force Illumi to talk to you. If they want to see you, you’ll know.”

 

“That’s….  Fair,” Hisoka consented.

 

Killua crossed his arms, “What happened last night?”

 

“I… don’t think it’s my place to tell you...” Hisoka trailed.

 

That pissed him off, “Okay so it’s not your place to tell me why my brother came home with glass in their hand? Cool, you can rot outside this apartment for all I care.”

 

“Wait what--”

 

Killua had slammed the door on his face before he could say anything else. Things didn’t go the way he thought they would, but at least that jerk got the message.

 

When he turned around Illumi was staring at him from the hallway. If he wasn’t used to their towering frame, and long hair he would have been terrified. Illumi had a fun way of looking like a japanese horror movie when they first woke up.

 

“Who was at the door?” they asked, their voice hollow.

 

Killua shrank back a bit, how could they be so intimidating?

 

“Who do you think?”

 

Illumi sighed, “Let him in… he didn’t do anything wrong.”

 

“No way are you kidding me!” Killua exclaimed, locking the door for emphasis.

 

Illumi brushed passed him, nudging him to the side. They unlocked the door, but didn’t open it. Looking back at Killua they asked:

 

“You didn’t… say anything… did you?”

 

He glared back, “Uh yea I might have asked him what the hell happened, and asked why you came back looking like a Freddie Kruger victim?”

 

Illumi rolled their eyes, as if this wasn’t a serious matter. Taking a breath, they opened the door.

 

To their surprise no one was on the other side. For once Hisoka had actually decided to give them space, and for once that wasn’t what Illumi wanted.



----



Hisoka had never really panicked before.

 

If anything he was an angry mess, or calm and collected. There were varying degrees of both, but he never panicked. Not when he was kicked out of his fifth foster home, not when his mother never came home that night, not even when his ex girlfriend decided to let her friends beat him up in a parking lot because he didn’t want screw some other guy she liked.

 

No, he expected all of that in way. This kind of shit just happened to him. He was passed the point of caring when it came to himself. Why should he care when the world gave him no reason to expect anything more.

 

However this kind of shit was not supposed to happen to them.

 

He knew from the moment he met Illumi that they were too good for him. They moved into together, maybe spoke two words, and even then he knew. They were out of his league.

 

It wasn’t because they were rich, anyone could be rich or poor. Maybe it defined your character, but if that was the case you didn’t have much character to begin with. He knew they were better because they were selfless.

 

Illumi did things with nothing to gain. He had never really seen anything like it before. In Hisoka’s world the only reason someone gave you a break is because they wanted something in return. Not Illumi. They were always content with themselves.

 

How could he not admire that. How could not fall for something like that.

 

He wasn’t claiming that Illumi was some sort of saint, or even a good person all the way through. No one was really good or bad, people just made choices that were either or.

 

It didn’t change the fact that the day after he was beaten into the dirt, Illumi took him to the hospital. They had nothing to gain from making him clothes or mending the ones he already had. There was absolutely nothing to gain from letting him sleep around, and travel back and forth as he pleased.

 

Hisoka crashed into their life constantly and they never had anything to gain from it. There was nothing he could give them that they couldn’t go out and get. There was no reason for either of them to be dependent on each other.

 

It was perfect.

 

So when they asked if it was okay Hisoka move his stuff so his brother could live at their place, he jumped at the opportunity. When Illumi told him it didn’t matter what he wanted, that the only thing that matter is what they didn’t want, he agreed.

 

Illumi never asked for anything for themselves. The only thing they wanted was what they didn’t want. That didn’t make sense but neither did their relationship.

 

“Okay so it’s not you place to tell me why my brother came home with glass in their hand?”

 

Killua’s words rang over and over in his head. He fucked up, he really fucked up. Hisoka still didn’t know what had actually happened after Illumi left last night, but he knew one thing was certain.

 

He was panicking.

 

Hisoka had left the building as soon as Killua told him off. He deserved it, and the least they could do was wait for Illumi to reach out to him.

 

His heart was going a hundred miles an hour though, and he couldn’t calm down. He had never felt this way before. All he could think was, Illumi got hurt and it was his fault.

 

As if hearing his dilemma and wanting to make it worse Machi texted him.

 

MK: HEY!

MK: WTF IS GOING ON??

 

HM: what do you mean?

 

MK: Have you talked to/ seen Illumi???

 

HM: not yet

 

MK: OKAY WELL

MK: Chrollo is just now telling me that he saw them before they left last night.

 

HM: Does he know what happened?

 

MK: Yea apparently Illumi PUNCHED A MIRROR and took off???

 

HM: Fuck.

 

MK: yea.

 

HM: can I trust you two can keep that to yourselves?

 

MK: why would I tell anyone that? Chrollo only told me because he saw Illumi with me last.

 

HM: Okay, well I just ask because the last time they came up, you decided to out them as something they didn’t even know existed and it has really fucked them up.

 

MK: YES I KNOW

MK: You don’t think I feel awful?

 

HM: We all should. We’re all horrible people.

 

MK: Okay calm down whats up?

 

HM: Whats up? Illumi would rather punch a mirror and runoff than be with us?

 

MK: Theres no ‘us’ here.

 

HM: Well there was last night.

HM: Not that thats EVER going to happen again

 

MK: Have you tried talking to them?

 

HM: I went by the apartment, and their brother kicked me out.
HM: So no.

 

MK: Idk what to do..

 

HM: It was a mistake to think this could work.

HM: I don’t think we should keep doing this.

 

MK: Fine.

 

HM: Whatever be mad, I don’t care.

HM: One day you’re going to realize where all of your problems stem from and it’s not going to be because of me.

 

MK: Go to hell.

 

Well that could have gone better, Hisoka thought.  

 

----

 

A day went by before Hisoka tried to reach out again. He figured Killua would have told Illumi he dropped by. They didn’t call him so he took that as a clear sign to stay away.

 

The anxiety in his chest hadn’t calmed in the past day either. He felt like he was on the edge of a cliff about fall. Maybe he had experienced a lesser version of this, but he couldn’t remember a time he felt worse.

 

He knew it was selfish to try to get a hold of them just to ease his mind, but he had to know what was going on. Illumi didn’t have a lot of friends that he knew of, and he figured they were going to stay as far away from Machi and Chrollo as they could.

 

So he could only figure that Illumi was just stewing on everything. Hisoka didn’t even care if they hated him, he just wanted to know how they were doing.

 

That last thought scared him more than he realized.

 

Finally he dialed their number, not being able to to stand not knowing. Illumi, of course waited until the last ring to answer.

 

“...hey,” they said, their voice sounded miles away.

 

“I-- Do you want to.. Can I come over?” he asked.

 

Hisoka didn’t have a plan when they called, and suddenly the anxiety in their chest doubled. He expected them to say no, to tell him they never wanted to see him again.

 

“Yes,” they replied, sounding relieved, “Why didn’t you stay yesterday?”

 

Hisoka didn’t know what to say to that, this wasn’t the response he expected at all.

 

“I… didn’t think… you wanted me to?” he questioned, “Killua said you didn’t want to see me.”

Illumi sighed, “I heard what he said, he didn’t say that.”

 

“I don’t really remember what he said,” Hisoka admitted, “That’s just how it felt.”

 

“I see... “ Illumi paused, “You should come by.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Alright…” they trailed, “I mean because when you didn’t--

 

“I did!” Hisoka interrupted.

 

“-- it felt like we were breaking up.”

 

Any relief he felt in those few minutes was gone now. Hisoka wasn’t sure he could feel this stressed for much longer.

 

“What? No I don’t want --- unless.. I mean do you want to break up?”

 

Illumi sounded just as frazzled, “Are you asking me or telling me?”

 

“Asking?” he guessed, “I don’t want to break up.”

 

“Good, I’ll see you when you get here.”

 

“What--”

 

Illumi had already hung up. Hisoka was getting a little tired of Zoldycks slamming the door in his face, whether it be in person or on the phone.

 

----



“I was thinking about it on the way over here….”

 

The two of them were sitting on the porch of the apartment, since Killua was still home. He had been annoyingly protective of Illumi when Hisoka showed up, so they decided to take things outside.

 

“...why would you think I’d be the one to be upset?”

 

Illumi looked at him in confusion. It seemed like the best way to deal with any of this was to be direct. A lot of things ended up going over their head, romantic or not.

 

Hisoka tried not to stare at their hand when he first arrived. It didn’t look bad, but it had been bandaged up so he really didn’t know how serious it was. Regardless of ‘who’s fault’ it was, he felt horrible.

 

They sewed for a living, and were trying to make a career out of it. Now their hand was messed up, and who cares if they did it to themselves. Hisoka felt responsible.

 

“I just mean, why’d you think we were breaking up?”

 

Their face soured, “Why do you think?”

 

“I broke things off with Machi,” Hisoka started.

 

Illumi whipped around to look him in the eye, “What? Why would you do that?”

 

They looked terrified. This was not how he had expected things to go either. Why would Illumi be so stressed about that? They didn’t seem to be guilty, which was what Hisoka had expected could be a possibility.  They were just frantic.

 

“I… Illumi you punched a mirror.. and” Hisoka tried, he thought it was obvious, “I mean she’s in too deep with Chrollo, it’s not worth it.”

 

“But-- I mean I can’t do it by myself?” Illumi said more to themselves, “It’s not about sex, I can’t be emotionally present at times. I mean it can’t-- It’s too much for me, do you understand?”

 

Hisoka put a hand on their shoulder, “Hey it’s okay! It’s not like I’m here all the time, and nothings going to change. I think you’re thinking about this too much--”

 

“--No, you’re the one who’s not thinking. We didn’t start anything until you got back with Machi, don’t you remember?”

 

That was true. When it had just been him and Illumi, things between them were only friendly. It was only when he took Illumi out with Chrollo’s group did they start hooking up.

 

He hadn’t realized that until now, but it didn’t make a difference. Hisoka wasn't interested in Machi like that if she was always going to side with Chrollo. He felt stupid to think that anything would change in that area.

 

“I mean yea… but does that really matter?” Hisoka asked, “I’m not breaking it off because of you, I’m just not into her anymore.”

 

Illumi gave him an unimpressed look, “And why aren’t you into her?”

 

Hisoka felt like he couldn’t breath in that moment. Suddenly he knew exactly why he wanted to break it off with Machi. It didn’t have anything to do with Chrollo, or trivial things like sex.

 

This probably wasn’t the answer Illumi was looking for, but he wasn’t going to lie.

 

“Because… I’m in love with you.”

Chapter Text

 

It was four in the morning when Leorio’s phone rang. He was already up because he had to be at work by six, and he was never good with mornings. At first he figured it must have been someone from the hospital since who else would be calling him so early.

 

When he saw the caller ID he couldn’t help the excitement bubble in his chest. Then he remembered what day it was. Kurapika went to that party last night and now he was calling him the next morning… Was he in trouble? Did he bump into that ex or those people?

 

Feeling his heart rate go up, he answered the phone and stopped dwelling on the hypotheticals.

 

“Hello?” he said unsure of himself.

 

“You answered!” came an excited, and slightly slurred reply, “I wasn’t sure if you’d be up! Are you goin to work?”

 

Leorio somewhat relaxed, “Not for another two hours, but I was already up.”

 

“Ohhhhhhhhh,” Kurapika said, “I just… Uhg I don’t… I don’t want to bother you.”

 

“What’s up?” he asked, though he was pretty sure he knew why Kurapika was calling him.

 

“Wehhhhll, I’m pretty sure my ride ditched me,” he confirmed, “Actually I’mmabsolutley sure she went home with Nobu… A traitor!”

 

Leorio paused, he wondered if it was the same Nobu he was thinking of? It wasn’t a common name, but no one in that group had ever mentioned Kurapika so… hopefully not.

 

“I can pick you up,” he found himself saying.

 

“Wha really?”

 

“Sure.”

 

There was some background talking he could hear on the other side of the phone. He could hear a high pitched laugh ringing in his ears suddenly, and couldn’t believe that was Kurapika. He normally was so composed, this would be an interesting scene.

 

“Thanks!” Kurapika finally said, “Oh oh hhhh another thing--”

 

“Yea?”

 

“I’m… I…. Don’t freak out or anything! I’mmmm dressed ….like… I mean… a femin--girl? It’s fine It’s fine, just don’t freak out.”

 

“Uhhh.. alright,” Leorio mustered, he had no idea how to reply to that. He didn’t really care, but the way Kurapika was freaking out put him on edge.

 

He sighed as if content, “Okay good. I’m goinnnnng to … throw up. Good bye.”

 

The line went dead.

 

Leorio sighed, running a hand through his hair. He finished off his coffee and grabbed his things to head out. This was going to be a long day…

 

---



True to form Kurapika did not look like himself. Leorio tried remain as neutral as he could, but it was proving to be difficult. It was… a good look.

 

Kurapika’s mental state on the other hand, was a little clouded. He was riding that fun line of being half sober, but also having no filter. At first it was amusing.

 

When Leorio had arrived, Kurapika was sitting on the curb talking to some other guy. The only way he recognized him was because Kurapika had waved him over. After that he made a big show of Leorio being his hero, but it was hard to tell if he was being genuine.

 

Sober or not, Kurapika always carried an air of cynicism.

 

He found out the guy with him, was a friend of Gon’s. That wasn’t a huge surprise, but at least Leorio could be assured this random person was a good guy. Not to be too judgmental but he wasn’t sure what to make of the man smoking a cigarette in a monochrome sweatsuit.

 

When Kurapika finally settled in the front seat, he made a weird request.

 

“Hey so… I don’t want to go home,” he said, sending Leorio’s heart racing, “I just… I don’t want Melody to see me like this…”

 

Leorio calmed down, “Oh but it’s fine if I do?”

 

“She’s a lady!” Kurapika exclaimed, his drunken state still evident.

 

“I can drop you off at my place before I go to work,” he relented, “Just make sure Gon gives you a key to lock the door, he has practice.”

 

Kurapika nodded, closing his eyes.

 

Leorio thought that was it, and he would be asleep for the rest of the ride. Then he had one last burst of energy. Popping up from his slouched position in the passenger seat Kurapika started telling him of the nights events.

 

Gon had apparently been great, in Kurapika’s opinion, because he was very considerate of Killua. Leorio noticed he didn’t mention Baise that much, even though he had spent the most his time with her.

 

He could only assume Kurapika was trying to be delicate with his feelings, and that might have made it worse. Leorio was smart enough to realize something happened between them, and tried not to dwell on that too much.

 

If that wasn’t in the worst part of the conversation, the next thing Kurapika brought up sent him to a new level of dread.

 

“I guessssss it was an okay party,” Kurapika said flipping his hand, “but I did bump into my ex, and saw like allllll of his stupid friends.”

 

“Damn, what happened?” Leorio asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer.

 

Kurapika huffed in a more exaggerated manner than normal, “Comes up to me with some fuckin brat, then I realize I know that dumb brat… like she’s in Melody’s club--

 

--So she takes off with one look… thank god! And then he’s whining about closure or some shit, so I think I got mad and punched him in the side. It’s his own fault… I know that sounds gross, but he’s done worse believe me--”

 

He continued on like that for a few minutes, throwing insults and excuses around left and right. Leorio wasn’t really surprised, other than the fact that Kurapika had hit the guy. He wasn’t sure what to make of that until Kurapika let the most telling detail slide…

 

“I’m just like… Chrollo your so pathetic. You have to text me AND then try to corner me at a dumb house party? … get a life.”

 

And with that he let out a sigh an leaned back against the passenger seat.

 

Leorio on the other hand felt like he couldn’t breath. His thoughts were going 100 miles an hour, with no sign of stopping. This couldn’t be happening. Kurapika couldn’t be that ex Chrollo always went on about. There was no way.

 

If either of them found out about Leorio’s relationship with them…. He might as well pack up and leave the city.

 

He tried to keep calm, but he knew he was starting to break. Kurapika let out one last damning piece of information, and Leorio had question how cruel fate could be in just a single moment.

 

“OH god like I would even consider talking to him seriously after I found out about his ‘side business’.” Kurapika crossed his arms and looked out the window, “So caught up selling drugs, he’s going to get shot where he stands one day.”

 

There was a silence that was louder than anything either of them had said.

 

“Leorio…. I ...sorry did I overshare?” Kurapika finally asked, “I didn’t mean to freak you out…”

 

“No, it’s fine…” he replied, eyes intently on the road, “I just didn’t know he was your ex.”

 

It was Kurapika’s turn to take pause, “Do you know him?”

 

Leorio knew he shouldn’t lie, but he couldn’t tell the truth. He settled for a mix of the two, that way if Kurapika wanted to leave he didn’t have to take the whole burden on his mind.

 

“Yea… well I had a class with him back in the day, and he’d ask me to fix up his friends when they get knocked around,” he admitted, “So I’m guessing you’re the one who…. basically took out Uvogin.”

 

When he looked over Kurapika looked like he’d seen a ghost. His eyes were wide, and he looked like he was about to start shaking. This might have been a bigger mistake than he realized.

 

Regardless of his state, Kurapika was able to manage an even tone when he asked, “Do you still… help them?”

 

“Not recently,” Leorio lied, “I just did it because he paid off some of my debt.”

 

That wasn’t completely untrue, but the timeline was messy.

 

Kurapika laughed, but it was cruel and cold, “Yea with his drug money… small world.”

 

“Small world.”

 

----

 

LP: Wasn’t sure if you were still upset with me, but I’m just letting you know Kurapika is at my apt with Gon so don’t worry.

 

ML: I’m not upset with you!

 

LP: Well maybe you should be

 

ML: What is that supposed to mean?

 

LP: Just ask Kurapika about it, he’ll probably tell you anyways

 

ML: Okay….
ML: Are you okay?

 

LP: Don’t worry about it
LP: I hope things have gotten better with you guys

 

ML: I guess

 

LP: I just don’t think he’s going to be associating with me much longer
LP: so that probably includes you as well

 

ML: and you’re just not going to tell me what’s going on or explain yourself?
ML: great I’m not surprised at this point.



It was about eight in the morning, when Melody had replied to his text. She had just gotten to her Music in Film class, sitting down next to her fellow clubmate, Shoot. He must have seen her distressed expression, because he asked if she was okay before Melody had opened her mouth to greet him.

 

“I just… you’re a boy,” she started, “Why are all of you so dramatic?”

 

Shoot shrugged, “I can’t relate. I’m constantly trying to distress, and I don’t even have that much going on.”

 

Melody just sighed in return. She had no idea what to make of Leorio’s cryptic texts, or if she should bring them up to Kurapika. Would Kurapika really explain what happened? Were those two in a fight now?

 

“I’m guessing this is a continuation of the ‘boy problems’,” he continued, “I wish there something I could do to help, but I put that stuff behind me… relationships I mean.”

 

“I see,” she replied, “Sometimes I wonder if I should do the same…”

 

Shoot laughed in response, surprising her. It wasn’t often he was so talkative, let alone laughed. She just hoped it wasn’t at her expense.

 

“Sorry, it’s just... “ he started, “You care way too much to do that now. You must reap what you sow.”

 

She scoffed, “I don’t have to do anything. If they want to act like babies let them. I asked what was wrong, and he wouldn’t tell me. I done with those two feeling sorry for themselves..”

 

Shoot blinked, “Wait which one are are you dating?”

 

Melody blinked back, “Neither of them.”

 

“... which one do you want to do date?”

 

“Both of them, was that not clear?”

 

He looked down, as if his whole world view had just changed. Shoot rocked back on his chair for a minute, and then looked back at her as if to confirm she was still there.

In response, Melody gave him a confused look. What was she supposed to do with this reaction. She had been unaware he didn’t know, but then again he was zoning out during the first half of their meeting.

 

“Sorry I just didn’t realize you were such a heartbreaker,” he joked, “I could never keep up with two boys. I now see why you’re so stressed.”

 

That was not what she was expecting. Even though Shoot had said it so matter of fact, she couldn’t help but feel flushed at the notion. Melody had just figured she was in a weird circumstance, not that she was braking anyone’s heart. To her that seemed like a stretch.

 

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, and even debated leaving class for the day. The movie had been started yet, and she was early. There was still time to head out before their professor arrived.

 

Then again there was no way she could skip class over something so childish. She was supposed to the mature one in this situation.

 

“I… it’s not like that,” she insisted, “That’s just… that’s just how it happened.”

 

Shoot gave her a look like he wasn’t buying it, “I don’t know… you might be turning out to be just like my friend, Gon.”

 

“What? That’s ridiculous!” she jumped, “Gon is a respectable guy. There’s nothing wrong with that, and he’s set on Killua.”

 

“You must have just met….” Shoot trailed, “You know he dated palm when she was a freshman last year, and a couple other people I don’t know.”

 

“There’s no way, Palm?”  

 

“Yea he told her it was ‘open’ from day one,” he explained, “but she still went OFF about it when she saw him hanging out with some guy.”

 

Melody couldn’t imagine someone as bright and cheerful as Gon going out with Palm. She wasn’t a bad person , but the two of them were so different. That must have been a short relationship.

 

What shocked her even more was to hear about Gon’s reputation. Everyone knew he was popular, but she didn’t realize the extent. Either way what did it matter, as long as he was up front, there was nothing wrong with dating multiple people.

 

She wished she was able to be half as confrontational as he was, then maybe there wouldn’t be so much miscommunication. It had only been about a week since she found out they all had crushes on each other, and she had known both of them over a year.

 

This all felt so grade school. Something had to change. There had to be some way to communicate with each other better, but it felt like there was always something in the way.

 

First she had been mad at Kurapika, now they were fine. Then Leorio had upset her, but she got over it. Now Kurapika and Leorio might be fighting about something that didn’t involve her, and she didn’t know where the boundaries were anymore.

 

“Maybe I should just talk to Gon…” she sighed.

 

Shoot snickered, “Maybe you should just talk to them .”

 

Melody didn’t glare often, she was normally a calming presence. Even so if looks could kill, Shoot would be in the grave.



----

 

It was late afternoon when Leorio was able to leave the hospital. It had been a long stress inducing day, that lasted about twelve hours. If this had been any other day he’d go to one of his two cafes to finish some homework, but today he decided to go to the library.

 

He didn’t want to bump into Melody or Kurapika. They were better off without him, and hopefully would work out their own issues. While Kurapika didn’t clearly state he never wanted to see him again, it was pretty obvious any association with Chrollo was a deal breaker.

 

How did he miss something so big? He spent a good amount of time with both of them, and never got any name drops or hints that Chrollo and Kurapika had been a thing. From the looks of it on Chrollo’s end it was pretty serious, but Kurapika had only mentioned his ex insultingly.

 

Regardless he needed to make money to support Gon and pay for school, and the only way he could afford it was by working with Chrollo. He couldn’t drag anyone else into that mess. Maybe if it was just himself he could have just stayed afloat with under the table patch jobs, but it wasn’t just him.

 

He tried to push those thoughts to the back of his head. The next supply date wasn’t until the end of the month, and he had all of his people paid off and confirmed. There wouldn’t be a late truck this time, and everything would go smoothly.

 

At this point he had been seated at desk by himself with his head in his arms. If he stayed like this for too long he might not be able to have the energy to work.

 

Before he could make the decision between working and napping a person took a chair from across from him.

 

To his distaste it was just Kite.

 

“Mind if I join you?” he had asked, as if they were old friends.

 

They were anything but that.

 

Even so Leorio relented, it was somewhat comforting to see a familiar face that wasn’t upset with him.

 

“It’s been a while,” Leorio commented, “I hear you’re going to be a full time professor next semester.”

 

Kite nodded, “Yes, it’s about time. How about you? How long do you have left until you can call yourself a doctor?”

 

“Are you trying to make me miserable?” Leorio groaned, “I just started you know…”

 

“Of course, but you did all those extra courses,” Kite reminded him, “At the very least you can cut down six months?”

 

Leorio laughed, “That’s not really how it works, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

 

The two of them exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then they settled into their work. Leorio had to be a little grateful Kite joined him to do some work. Otherwise he might still be half awake on the verge of sleep.

 

Looking around Leorio noticed there weren’t too many other familiar faces around. Him and Kite had aged out of this crowd of students by a couple years, so Leorio figured that’s why Kite had joined him. The poor guy was always pretty stressed in social situations with other strangers.

 

He decided he didn’t mind too much that Kite had joined him. While they had their underlying disagreements and butted heads, nothing had come up that set him off yet. At least in the beginning.

 

After an hour of working in comfortable silence, Kite started to bring up some touchy subjects. Leorio knew it was too good to last.

 

“I heard from Gon that you have been getting paid to fix injuries under the table lately?” Kite said suddenly, “If you don’t mind me asking, how’s that working out for you?”

 

Leorio frowned, “I actually do mind you asking, but it’s going fine.”

 

“Sorry it’s just…” Kite trailed, “Gon’s been worried about you. I figured I’d at least make sure you weren’t in over you head.”

 

Leorio didn’t let the mention of Gon deter his focus off the subject. He had an idea where Kite was going with this, and he wasn’t about to tell him what he wanted to hear.

“What exactly would I be in over my head with?” he asked, “It’s just normal pat--”

 

“--You can’t be making that kind of money with gig work,” Kite interrupted, “You’re paying for med school, and taking care of Gon with no issues?”

 

Leorio could feel his temper rising, “I have a partial scholarship, and Gon’s on a full ride. I don’t need to pay for that much.”

 

Kite didn’t seem like he was buying it.

 

“You must have some pretty loyal clients,” he replied, “Or at the very least they are consistently clumsy.”

 

“You’d be surprised,” was Leorio’s response through gritted teeth.

 

“I’m sure I would be.”

 

The air between them was too tense now. Kite was trying to pin him down with something between a glare and earnest curiosity. Leorio started to collect his things to leave, he couldn’t stand to be around the other man for a minute longer.

 

Kite’s expression soften at the motion and he tried to stop him from leaving.

 

“Leorio, I’m not accusing you of anything,” he began, “I’m just worried about you… I know things between us are civil at best, but I really do have nothing but your best interests at heart.”

 

Leorio scoffed, “You expect me to trust you? I barely know you. You’re just some guy who fills Gon’s head with this BS about how good of person his dad used to be. I’m not fooled by the same smoke and mirrors, you need to leave this alone.”

 

Kite looked soleme at the brief mention of Ging, just further proving Leorio’s point. What did Kite know about his best interests? He couldn’t even take care of himself.

 

“Fine,” Kite finally agreed, “but if you get yourself killed it’s not just yourself who’s going to be affected.”

 

That was the last straw that sent Leorio fuming from the library. The rage that ran through him was nothing compared to the cold guilt he felt along side. He knew that if anything happened to him Gon would be crushed, but he was never really in danger.

 

Chrollo didn’t even do his own dirty work, the only thing that was even remotely dangerous about their exchange is if he got caught. Even then he wouldn’t be killed. Kite didn’t know what his life was like. How could he?

 

That fool was a loner still crying over a bum twice his age. Why should Leorio listen to him?

 

Maybe, Leorio’s thoughts intruded, because that fool is right.

 

Chapter Text

There was just a few more days until the wedding renewal with the rest of the family. Killua had already made plans to take Gon, so that was fine. The only problem was getting there. In the beginning he just figured Illumi would take them.

 

There was no way that was happening now.

 

“What do you mean Hisoka is coming with us?” Killua whined, “Can’t he just meet us there?”

 

Killua knew he was being childish to extent but there was no way he going to willingly sit in a car for three hours with that guy. He definitely wouldn’t put Gon through that torture either. It was already going to be an awkward car ride with Illumi interrogating them the whole time about their ‘relationship.’

 

The last thing he wanted was Hisoka’s commentary on all of that.

 

“No, he’s not going to meet us there?” Illumi said giving him a look, “We’re all going together.”

 

The man in question was currently sitting on their couch, within earshot. Not that it mattered to either sibling. Hisoka was lounging casually, scrolling through his phone until the two decided to talk about him while he was in the room.

 

“Please have mercy on me, Killua,” Hisoka joked, “I already have to deal with your mother.”

 

Killua scoffed, “We all have to deal with her…”

 

Illumi threw a rag at him in response, “She gave birth to us!”

 

“So?” Hisoka and Killua replied in unison.

 

“Great I’m siding with the freak now…” Killua sighed.

 

Illumi smacked him on the back of the head as they came around from the kitchen to join Hisoka on the couch. Their relationship confused him more than he liked to admit. Illumi had never dated anyone in high school or when they first went to college.

 

Killua had figured that they just didn’t need anyone around in that way, and maybe that was still true. Yet out of all the people in the world, after all this time single they had to choose someone like Hisoka?

 

To give the guy credit, Hisoka had calmed down a bit since he first met him. Killua was actually starting to come around to him, until whatever happened at the party. Now Hisoka was on thin ice, as far as he was concerned.

 

“Oh by the way,” Killua said, addressing Hisoka, “You took entomology right?”

 

Hisoka blinked, “No I took anthropology?”

 

Illumi seemed pleased they were actually having a normal conversation for once. Killua hated to burst their bubble, but that wasn’t his intention.

 

“Figures…” he sighed, “but you still have the supplies to dissect bugs regardless, right?”

 

“No….”

 

Killua stood up to leave, grabbing his bag and skateboard by the door. Illumi and Hisoka stared at him as if the younger boy had two heads.

 

“Sorry I had to ask, for my own moral compass,” he shrugged, “but I gotta say… I’m a little skeptical about that.”

 

Shutting the door he could hear Hisoka on the other side.

 

“What the fuck was that about?”

 

He pulled out his phone, scrolling through until he found Kurapika’s number. Killua needed to talk to a normal person that didn’t stress him out. He was going out of his mind.

 

KZ: Please tell me your off work.

 

KP: I’m off work.

 

KZ: Please tell me you want to comfort me in my time of need.

 

KP: I want to comfort you in your time of need.

KP: Actually I have a theory I want to discuss with you if you have the mental capacity.

 

KZ: What kind of theory?

 

KP: I’ll tell you when you get here.

KP: Also some chick made Melody some baked goods?

 

KZ: ????

KP: me: wow thanks for all the cookies

KP: also me: wow what the fuck are you doing giving my not-girlfriend baked goods, stranger???   w h a t s y o u r a n g l e ?????

 

KZ: GIRLFRIEND???

 

KP: Oh yea we’re kind of dating? It’s very confusing

KP: Also Leorio has ‘abandoned us’ that’s what the theory is about.

 

KZ: ON MY WAY

 

KP: christ.

 

----

 

By the time the two of them had gotten into their dramatics, Kurapika and Killua had already eaten their weight in cookies. Melody left for a class halfway through their binge to Kurapika’s relief.

 

He didn’t want to bring up his thoughts about Leorio around her just yet. The most she knew was that Chrollo and Leorio knew each other. Obviously there was more to it than that, but she didn’t pry.

 

Chrollo was a touchy subject, and the fact that Leorio was close with him had been enough information for Melody. They had just started getting serious, and Kurapika didn’t want Chrollo to somehow ruin that for him too.

 

The only problem was now Leorio was ignoring them. After Kurapika found out Leorio had helped out some of Chrollo’s friends he didn’t write him off. For some reason Leorio resigned himself before they were able to have an actual conversation about it.

 

At the time Kurapika had been a drunk mess, but even then he didn’t get upset with Leorio. If anything he was just shaken that they had known each other for over a year but they were just finding this out.

 

Having any association with Chrollo or the others was kind of a dealbreaker for him to an extent, but he wasn’t trying to be unreasonable. Melody had a club he knew Feitan attended, it didn’t mean he was going to get bent out of shape.

 

As long as he didn’t have to see any of them he didn’t care. At least that’s what he thought at first.

 

After mulling over Leorio and Chrollo’s connection a thought occurred to him. A dreadful, unrelenting thought that had been eating away at him for the past week. He wanted to bring it up with Melody, but at the same time…

 

It was better if he told someone on the outside. Then again was Killua even on the outside of this?

 

Kurapika had explained more or less that he found out Leorio helped the group out with injuries, but he stopped himself before he explained anything else. Up until this point Killua didn’t seem too surprised, which led Kurapika to believe he might have had some idea of what was going on.

 

Even so Kurapika was hesitant on telling him. What he had to say next might change things for the worse.

 

“The theory is…” Kurapika trailed, “Well I started thinking about it and… what if there’s more to it.”

 

“More to it?” Killua asked in confusion, “More to what? His relationship with Chrollo?”

 

Kurapika shifted uncomfortably, “In a sense. What I’m about to say is--I guess a better question would be: Can you promise not to bring this up with Gon?”

 

“With Gon?”

 

“Leorio takes care of him,” Kurapika sighed, “So if he found out… I don’t know maybe he already has his suspicions.”

 

“You can trust me,” Killua assured, “Gon is very intuitive, I won’t need to say anything if it’s true. He will already know.”

 

That was true. Gon was pretty good at figuring people out. He had Kurapika all figured out from the start without saying as much as a hello. It would be safe to assume that the guy knows more than he lets on.

 

“Alright then..” he began, “To put it simply, Leorio works at the hospital. Chrollo is a drug dealer. The fact that Leorio can afford the things he can with just fixing sporadic injuries is just…”

 

“You think he’s their supplier?” Killua’s eyes widened, “I don’t-- Don’t you think that’s a pretty big leap?”

 

“Here’s the thing…” Kurapika said looking down.

 

This was the first time he had ever told anyone about this revelation. While Killua was understanding to a point, would he accept the kind of person Kurapika was when he was with Chrollo?

 

Back then he had been young and stupid. He cut all ties with the people he cared about to make reckless decisions with dangerous people. The fear of being trapped ran his mind and heart for so long. He’d do anything for some kind of change in those days.

 

Taking a breath he admitted, “I think I’ve met Leorio before.”

 

----

 

(past)



“Please tell me we’re going out tonight? This week has been a nightmare”

 

Machi had just come back from her last class of the day. It must have gotten out early, because she usually wasn’t back for another hour. Not that it really mattered today.

 

When she got in the two of them were just on the couch doing work. Well rather Chrollo was doing work, writing a paper, while Kurapika read through one of his psych books he was sourcing.

 

It had been a pretty boring day compare to most with this group. Since Feitan had just set up his new apartment a lot of the others were over at his place, ‘breaking it in.’ That left them with some alone time.

 

The problem with alone time, you never really wanted it when it was there. Kurapika should have been more concerned neither of them had taken the opportunity to have the apartment to themselves.

 

Then again with finals around the corner, there were actually important things to think about. Chrollo had been holding off on a lot of his work, and staying out late recently. So today he had woken up early to get everything done. Leaving Kurapika bored and idly lounging for most of the day.

 

“I could do something,” Kurapika agreed, “We’ve been stuck inside all day.”

 

Chrollo hummed, but didn’t stop typing.

 

“Everyone’s still at Feitan’s huh?” she asked, “Well you must be happy.”

It was no secret that Kurapika didn’t really fit in with the rest of Chrollo’s friends. They were on a different level than him. While he could keep up with them just fine, their morals weren’t the same as his.

 

Kurapika sighed, “Please tell me you’re not going to bring that guy with you if we do go out.”

 

“I second that,” Chrollo spoke up.

 

“The wet blanket, I get,” Machi huffed, “but I thought you liked Hisoka?”

 

Chrollo stopped typing, “I don’t like him, but I don’t dislike him.”

 

“Fine,” Machi sighed throwing her hands up in defeat, “but who else then?”

 

Kurapika tuned out after that, he really didn’t care who was going out, as long as they actually did. Chrollo had been typing away for hours, he had to be restless too right? It was hard to get a read on him, especially lately.

 

The two of them had been drifting apart the past couple of months. At least that’s how Kurapika felt. It seemed like Chrollo was in a different world half the time. His head wasn’t all there and it didn’t have anything to do how high they got.

Then there was the fact that he asked Kurapika if their relationship could be more ‘open’. While he was fine with that, it left Kurapika feeling insecure that he wasn’t living up to what he should be. It was getting frustrating, towing the line between apathy and insecurity.

 

“Alright then, I guess I should get ready,” he heard Chrollo say as he got up.

 

Machi nodded and took a seat next to Kurapika, which was a little out of character. They didn’t  dislike each other, but ever since the whole ‘open relationship’ came about the girl had avoided him like the plague. He didn’t need to guess why.

 

“Try to loosen up tonight,” she said casually, “Both of you have been so out of it lately.”

 

Kurapika was surprised by her good nature, that was the last thing he expected. It seemed she also noticed Chrollo’s weird behavior. That was a relief because he thought he was going crazy, or doing something wrong.

 

“What’s been going on with him?” Kurapika asked, lowering his voice, “It’s like he’s not even present.”

 

“Which I guess explains you,” she confirmed, “Yea I have no idea. At first I thought maybe you two were in a fight, but now…?”

 

Kurapika snorted, “He’d like it better if we were fighting. I guess he’s just busy…”

 

“I guess,” she replied, “Either way it will be good for you guys to come out. It’s been a while.”

 

He didn’t respond. The last time they went out he had gotten in a fight with Shalnark over something stupid. Since then some of the others had been cold towards him so he wasn’t keen on bar hopping with them anymore.

 

All he could remember is the initial fight had something to do being the ‘boss’s girlfriend’, that alone was a lot to unpack. The fact that he wasn’t seen as a real member of their weird little group, and then calling him a girl on top of it… well it wasn’t a shock to anyone when Shalnark went home with a broken nose.

 

It had pissed him off to no end. He didn’t care about this weird fake family Chrollo had made, and maybe now he was starting not to care about Chrollo. Maybe he was overthinking it.

 

Machi could feel his hesitation after her comment.

 

“Things are cool now with everyone now,” she assured him, “Plus Shalnark and Feitan are staying in to play some new video game.”

 

“Well at least there’s that,” Kurapika sighed.

 

“Hey,” Machi nudged him, “This isn’t an easy gig, especially dating him. Cut yourself some slack.”

 

Oh Machi, he thought, that’s not the problem here.

 

-----

 

(past)

 

When they got to the first bar there were already a lot of people even though it was only just eight. Regardless, when the group came over to the edge of the bar, people scattered out of their way to give them a spot. Kurapika always wondered what ties they had to cause such a reaction.

 

The people who didn’t move seemed to be invited by Chrollo or his friends and were welcome to stay. Kurapika didn’t recognize anyone outside of their circle, but they seemed more amicible than he expected.

 

By his third drink a couple girls were chatting him up, and he was actually having a pretty good time. Chrollo of course was nowhere to be seen, which wasn’t surprising. He often disappeared when they went out in big groups.

 

Suddenly an arm came around his shoulders and Kurapika was being pulled away. He was pretty tipsy at that point so the annoyance in his voice was clear.

 

“Hey what the hell?” he sneered, pushing at Chrollo’s tight embrace.

 

“Sorry did I interrupt you trying to pick up those girls?” he asked, leading them out of the bar, “We’re all going somewhere different, this place is boring.”

 

Kurapika scoffed, “It’s a bar, they’re all the same.”

 

“Exactly, we’re not going to a bar, we’re going to a club.”

 

“Of course we are…”

 

The lack of enthusiasm didn’t deter him, if anything Chrollo pulled him faster. They got into the first open car they found, some random guy holding the door open for them.

 

As soon as they were seated Chrollo was deep into a conversation with the other man. Kurapika tuned them out and looked out the window. It was a lot darker now, he wondered how long they had been at the bar. He had class the next day, but he never got hungover so he’d just have to battle a little sleep deprivation.

 

The hand that started gripping his leg brought him back to the two other people in the car. They were currently in the back seat of some taxi, Chrollo sitting in the middle. His expression was grim, and his hand unintentionally gripped harder. Kurapika wished he would have been paying attention.

 

“I see…” Chrollo replied, “Well Franklin’s coming back to town next weekend, so he’ll make sure they don’t give you anymore trouble.”

 

“Oh it’s not a big deal,” the other man said, “I’ve dealt with worse.”

 

“I’m sure,” laughed in return, “Even so, you helped us out. Sorry you got caught in the crossfire.”

 

It was too dark to really see anything so Kurapika didn’t know who was riding with them. It seemed like they got caught up with Chrollo’s drama which wasn’t surprising. Still this conversation sounded more serious than just someone getting into a fight.

 

“Talk to me later tonight,” Chrollo said as the car pulled into a spot, “I think I’ve got a job for you.”

 

Before the man could reply, Chrollo was pulling the two of them out of the car leaving him behind. Kurapika couldn’t explain the shiver that ran up his back at the final words Chrollo left him with.

 

What kind of job?

 

They all got into the club pretty easily. Before Kurapika had a chance to ask Chrollo what he was talking about the other man was off mingling and buying drinks for his acquaintances who had already arrived.

 

Nobu found him at the end of the makeshift bar and bought them both something.

 

“The boss ditch you?” he asked, goodnaturedly, “Yea sometimes he doesn’t have a lot of self awareness. I’m sure he’ll be back when he’s done making his rounds.”

 

Kurapika rolled his eyes, “And then he’ll say this place is boring, and we’ll all find ourselves jumping off a cliff or getting naked in a river.”

 

“If that ain’t the truth,” Nobu laughed, choking on his drink.

 

The two of them sat in a comfortable silence with each other. Only being interrupted by Uvo who immediately turned around at the sight of Kurapika. He couldn’t blame him, but Shalnark’s pretty face had healed just fine.

 

Noticing their weird  interaction Nobu tried to give him some reassurance.

 

“Uvo will come around, he’s just protective,” he explained, “We all thought he deserved it, sometimes Shalnark goes too far. He used to be the newest one before you.”

 

“He still is,” Kurapika pointed out, “I’m not apart of this group, I’m just with Chrollo.”

 

Nobu blinked at him, confused by the response, “I… yes and so did Shalnark?”

“Wait what?”

 

“He hooked up with Shalnark, that’s how we all met him,” he explained further, “It was just a fling, because then he hit it off with Uvo…”

 

Kurapika laughed, but it was bitter, “So we’re both the idiots then, is what your telling me?”

 

“What do you mean by that?”

 

“Nothing important..” he sighed, “This is such a toxic group of people, why am I still here.”

 

“What--”

 

Kurapika got up leaving his drink and Nobu at the bar. He couldn’t stand to hear anymore. It felt like lately the more he found out about Chrollo and his band of misfits, the more he wanted to run away.

 

He didn’t care that Chrollo dated Shalnark for hot second, it wasn’t about that. What pissed him off was the fact no one told him that was the reason the guy called him out. Obviously he was just jealous or hurt for some reason.

 

But no why acknowledge reason or feelings, Kurapika thought, that would be the healthy choice. Let’s just beat the crap out of each instead.

 

It was late now, and he wasn’t sure what to do. He knew he wanted to leave, but would that start shit with the others. Probably not, Chrollo had basically left him the minute they got inside. Kurapika could only assume it was so he didn’t question him about that weird conversation he had with the stranger in the taxi.

 

In the middle of his thoughts he felt an oddly familiar presence from behind grab his shoulder. Turning around he saw it was the man in question. Kurapika couldn’t really make out his features from the club lights contrasting with the darkness, but he knew it was the guy from the car.

 

“Hey you were with Chrollo right?” the man yelled over the music.

 

Kurapika nodded in response, “What’s that job about?”

 

He shrugged in response, it seemed genuine, “No idea, I just fixed some kid’s nose and he said he had another job for me.”

 

“I see…” Kurapika said, trying to keep from laughing, “What are you doing right now?”

 

“I was going to head out. I have an early shift,” he explained, “Can you tell him I had to leave?”

 

“Yea yea sure,” Kurapika said grabbing his arm, “I’ll go with you, give me a second.”

 

“Oh okay?” he agreed.

 

Sending the man towards the front, Kurapika scoured the club the to find Chrollo. It took him a little while, but he finally found him talking to some guys by the back door. He tried not to let his suspicions cloud his mind. He was upset with him, and wanted him to know. That’s all this was about.

 

Instead of greeting him normally, Kurapika pushed the other man forward into his friends. He tried to hold back a little, but it still sent him back further than he intended.

 

Chrollo didn’t seem too bothered by it though, “Hey! What are you doing back here?”

 

“Oh fuck off,” Kurapika cursed, “I’m leaving, so’s your friend.”

 

Again, he didn’t seem phased if anything he looked relieved, “Alright, have fun.”

 

“I-- Are you kidding me?”

 

Chrollo turned around to face him, now a little more annoyed, “What? What do you want? Just leave if you don’t want to be here?”

 

“God, you’re a real piece of work.”

 

He draped an arm over Kurapika’s shoulder, but it wasn’t affectionate, “You’re just now realizing? Look I don’t care what you do with that guy. Are you trying to make me jealous or something?”

 

Kurapika was furious, that’s not what he was getting at, at all. Then again Chrollo didn’t really know why he was mad, but this reaction was not what he expected.

 

“Of course you would think that,” he seethed, “Get your head out of your ass. I’ve never met anyone with such a blatant disregard for the people he claims to care about.”

 

“What are--”

“I’m not even talking about myself,” Kurapika interrupted, “I almost feel bad for all of these people you’ve conned into loving you. It’s sick.”

 

He left before Chrollo could say more or try to change his mind. At the end of their fight it seemed like Chrollo understood a fraction of what he was trying to get across. Either way it wasn’t enough to keep him there.

 

Surprisingly the guy was still there at the door waiting for him. He probably assumed he had to since Kurapika was technically ‘precious cargo’ from his connection with Chrollo. Kurapika almost felt bad taking up the man’s time, but then a thought occurred to him.

 

Might as well prove him right and have a good time while I can.

 

The whole day had been a wash, so if anything it would be a nice pick me up to do something or someone that didn’t involve Chrollo. At least to an extent.

 

A car pulled up to the curb, and the stranger opened the door for him.

 

“You ready?” he asked.

 

“Sorry for the wait,” Kurapika apologized.

 

“Don’t worr--”

 

“--So do you want to makeout in the back of this cab? I’ve had a really shitty day.”

 

Kurapika still couldn’t really see the stranger’s expression in the darkness of the night, so he wasn’t sure if that had come off as too much. Regardless his answer was finally something he wanted to hear.

 

“Yea why not.”







Chapter Text

“You’re worrying too much. It’s going to be fine!”

 

Killua was not sure about that. While Gon was always optimistic, this car ride would another level entirely. While Hisoka promised to behave, Illumi did not. Their reason being they wanted to make sure Gon was an acceptable ‘friend’.

 

He wasn’t sure if Illumi was downgrading their relationship to be considerate or piss him off. Then again Killua was often the one to do that to Gon, and he was just now realizing how annoying it was. He’d have to make that right eventually.

 

They were leaving the radio station, having just met with Kite. Killua ended up buying all of the things Gon said he needed and just told him they were Hisoka’s. He still wasn’t sure how Gon would take to him spending money on him.

 

Gon had called Kite to let him know he had the required instruments and books for the class, so he could get signed up. In response Kite had been as thrilled as Kite could get. He wanted to take a look at what Gon had for class, so that was why they dropped by.

 

They weren’t able to stay long though. As soon as they got back to Killua’s apartment they would be leaving for the mountains in the most excruciating car ride ever recorded.

 

“You don’t understand,” Killua explained, “Our family is not normal. Illumi is basically my mom and dad, and actual my mom and dad are my like weird extended relatives that give me an allowance.”

 

“My aunt is my mom and my cousin is my dad,” Gon joked, “I’m pretty sure it won’t be that weird. I just have to impress Illumi right?”

 

Killua groaned, “No one has ever impressed Illumi, not even their own boyfriend.”

 

Gon continued to laugh at him regardless of the situation they were walking into. He’d admit Gon is charming to a fault, and honestly Silva would probably like him. Illumi was the main issue. They were not so easily swayed.

 

They wouldn’t know charm even if it hit them in the face, he thought to himself.

 

“Plus I have something to talk to his boyfriend about,” Gon reminded him, “I have to thank him for letting me borrow his stuff.”

Shit .

 

“Trust me, you don’t want to talk to this guy,” he pleaded, “He probably didn’t even show up for the class.”

 

Gon gave him a look that Killua had grown accustomed too by this point.

 

“I knew there was something you weren’t telling me…” he teased, “So where’d you get the stuff then?”

 

This was not how Killua wanted the day to go. This weekend would already be horrible, why did he have to come to terms with the fact he was a huge liar as well. Just a terrible person for wanting to help his dear friend out.

 

“I…. stole it,” he decided to lie.

 

Gon wasn’t buying it, and just stared blankly at him until he got a real answer.

 

“Fine! I bought it! I bought it with my own money,” Killua admitted throwing his hands up in defeat, “And guess what I did it because I like you and I wanted you to take that class with your weird friend. Are you happy? Are you happy you know the truth now!”

 

Laughing at Killua’s outburst he pulled him into a hug, “Yes!”

 

“So you’re not mad or upset?”

 

Gon pulled away, “Not at all! I have zero money, please feel free to buy me stuff whenever you want.”

 

“I just didn’t want to offend you...:” he admitted.

 

“Why would that offend me!” Gon asked, but reminded him of Kurapika’s bitter sarcastic tone, “The only thing that offends me is Leorio lately…”

 

“Oh yea… that oughta do it.” Killua deadpanned, “You still haven’t talked to him about it.”

 

“Well no,” Gon said taking his hand, “Kite said he’s working out something with a friend. When I get back we’re going to go over a plan.”

 

“Something?”

 

“Beats me,” he shrugged, “Just as long as it helps Leorio out and he doesn’t get arrested or killed.”

 

“Isn’t that the dream.”



---



“I thought you said you were too busy to go?”

 

Feitan was currently getting ready for that dumb party his parents invited him to. He was prepared to go dateless, but suddenly Machi had approached him again. She wanted to go three hours out of town to a stupid party with old people?

 

He chalked it up to her wanting to steal things, which he was all for. That was basically the only reason he was going, to get money from his parents. Chrollo was hoping for another car as well, but he couldn’t promise anything just yet.

 

Since this party was technically a vow renewal he knew they would bring up marriage with him again. That was the last thing he wanted to talk about.

 

If anything they’d think Machi was his girlfriend, which might be just as horrible. She was a big sister figure to him anything, and then there was the fact he really didn’t lean towards girls that much. Save for that time he got drunk and made out with Shizuku but they were basically blood brothers at this point, light on the brother.

 

“I just need to get out of this town for a minute,” Machi explained, “If I never see that clown again it will be too soon.”

 

“Ah I see…” that made sense, Feitan wasn’t never fond of Hisoka.

 

“Plus,” she twirled for emphasis, “I made this great dress, and I have nowhere fancy to go.”

 

“It is a great dress, and this will be fancy.”

 

She sprayed herself with some perfume from her bag, “Well there you go, it’s settled. Anyways isn’t it beneficial to look heterosexual at these things?”

 

“Not really,” he explained, “Both my parents are pretty queer, they just want me to get married, don’t care who.”

 

“Well isn’t that progressive …”

 

“Isn’t it?”

 

In the midst of their banter the door to the back bedroom opened to reveal a sleepy looking Shalnark and Nobu. Probably hungover, and slept the entire day. There was no doubt Uvo was back there too from the snoring that overtook the apartment once the door was open.

 

Making his way to the kitchen Shalnark finally noticed their attire.

 

“Oh wow hot date?” he asked, starting some coffee.

 

Feitan blinked, “Aren’t you supposed to be waiting in a huge line, at some electronics store, to get some fancy game, with that money I lost in poker?”

 

“Fuck.”

 

“Better start running kid.”

 

Shalnark gave him the biggest puppy eyes he could muster, “You won’t take me?”

 

“Get a look at us!” Machi said gesturing to their outfits, “We have people to impress, valuables to steal, looks to serve? We don’t have time to drop you off at some game store.”

 

Feitan shrugged, as if saying there was nothing they could do.

 

“How about this,” he began, “You send me the online resale listing and we’ll steal something expensive enough so you can bid on it?”

 

The other boy relented, “Alriiiiiight, it’s probably going to go for a thousand by the time you get back though….”

 

He agreed with the terms and they were out the door. This would be a long weekend, and the faster they left, the faster they’d be done with it. He just hoped his parents would ease up on him for the event.

 

While his mother would probably keep to herself, his father was obsessed with his legacy. Feitan wouldn’t surprised if after their relationship went south again, he’d adopt some new kid to take over.

 

“So who’s getting ‘married’ again?” Machi asked from the passenger seat.

 

“I don’t know, some guy who used to date my dad I think?”

 

----



Illumi and Hisoka were waiting by the car by the time they got there. Of course Illumi wouldn’t give him any breathing room. Get in the car and go was always their style. They probably wanted to get things over with, but Killua knew it would be so easy.

 

The trunk was open revealing multiple suits and jackets in garment bags. It seemed like Illumi was debating something, so they weren’t noticed right away.

 

Hisoka, always so helpful, nudged them on the shoulder to draw their attention to them. Killua braced for impact, but all he got was Illumi’s hand waving them over. Their eyes still fixed on the coats.

 

“Kil, mother sent over some suit jackets for us to wear,” they explained, “I need to take both of your measurements to make sure you have ones that fit.”

 

“Gross no way am I wearing her gaudy designs!” Killua whined, “I thought you were making my clothes?”

 

Illumi tried not seem pleased, but Killua saw the twitch in the corner of their mouth. He was right though, their mother was so eccentric with her fashion. He was never really keen on it.

 

“It’s her day, I am not here to rock the boat,” was Illumi’s response, “And it’s only for one night, don’t complain. I’m sure father will be wearing the worst thing there anyways.”

 

Neither Hisoka or Illumi had acknowledged Gon’s presence yet. It was very odd. He knew Illumi was stressed, constantly trying to please and surpass their mother, but still. He had assumed this meeting would be a lot more painful.

 

When they were finally satisfied with their choice of jackets for Hisoka, they snapped out a measuring tape from mid air. Before Killua had a chance to protest the tape was already wrapped around his waist and then his chest.

 

“I was right, you’ve gotten bigger…” Illumi murmured, writing the numbers on their hand, “Take the blue one, it’s the least offensive out of the bunch.”

 

“Gee thanks.”

 

Next was Gon’s turn. Illumi finally sized up the boy, their expression unimpressed all the while. To his credit Gon didn’t seem very intimidated, which was a relief. Illumi was never very kind to people who showed any kind of weakness.

 

“Alright then young man….” Illumi trailed, “Your style is … interesting. I’m sure you can pull off even the worst here.”

 

Killua wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or not. Gon seemed to take it that way though. Illumi took his measurements with ease and recorded the numbers on their other hand. Hisoka was still scrolling through his phone, ignoring them.

 

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad…

 

“Well I don’t have anything green,” Illumi said eying the boy, “and even if there was something, I would be wearing it. Green’s my color too. Soo…..”

 

Illumi sifted through the bags, “I’m sorry to say, the orange one is all yours.”

 

“I don’t even own a suit, I’m fine with whatever you want.” Gon agreed.

 

“...interesting….” they repeated, “.... Well anyways, you won’t have to wear any of this until we get to the estate.”

 

Gon blinked, and looked to Killua in surprise. He mouthed the word ‘estate’ seeming shocked by this revelation. Ignoring them both Illumi slammed the trunk shut and pushed Hisoka the opposite direction.

 

Finally addressing Gon, Hisoka commented, “Rich people, am I right?”

 

The car ride started out alright. The first hour in no one said much of anything. Gon and him watched videos on his tablet in the backseat, while Illumi and Hisoka idly chatted about this and that. It wasn’t until Hisoka turned to ask them something, he took a good look a Gon.

 

“Hey kid, you remind me of someone….” Hisoka trailed, “I can’t put my finger on it.”

 

“You know any high strung med students?” he joked in return.

 

Many people who knew Leorio often stopped Gon to comment on it. They had very similar features in a sense, but carried themselves differently. A lot of the older students already knew him through Leorio so he often felt like the kid brother.

 

The light went on in Hisoka’s eyes, “Oh yes! ‘The good doctor.’ You know I saw him once for a concussion?”

Gon blinked, “Oh yea? Do you know Chrollo then?”

 

Hisoka and Illumi shared a look.

 

“Yes…..?”

 

“Guy’s a dick right?” Gon cursed, “I tried to talked to him at that fraternity bash, but he brushed me off.”

 

That got a laugh out of Hisoka, “What were you trying to talk to him about?”

 

“Ya know, what anyone talks to Chrollo Lucifer about..” he replied, crossing his arms, “God is that even his real name? It can’t be.”

 

Hisoka continued laughing, but Illumi seemed curious now. Killua knew his sibling had dealings with Chrollo, but he wasn’t sure what. Kalluto knew more than he did, but their younger brother kept his mouth shut when asked in the past.

 

“You saw him at that party?” Illumi asked, eyes on him from the rear view mirror.

 

Gon nodded, “Yea I was hoping to run into him, I want him to leave my cousin alone.”

 

Hisoka didn’t seem to be laughing anymore, and both boys could only assume he knew exactly what was going on now. Illumi was oblivious to it all, having their own problems with the man of the hour.

 

“Yes, it’s quite difficult to shake him,” they agreed, “or any of his friends for that matter.”

 

“That’s an understatement,” Hisoka huffed, looking out the window.

 

-----

 

The estate this party was being held at was huge. It had to be twice the size of Feitan’s old home, which was saying a lot. He thought his family was well off, but this was another level of wealth all together.

 

“Nice digs,” Machi commented, barely glancing at the mansion in front of them.

 

“Digs?” he asked “What are you a greaser from the 50s?”

 

Machi threw his suit jacket at him, “I’m whatever you want baby.”

 

“Never speak to me again,” he deadpanned, slinging the jacket on.

 

Machi had snuck into the studio before they left for the party and grabbed him one of Illumi’s blazer’s to wear. He had nothing fancy except for the basics so at least this way he didn’t have to waste money on this dumb event.

 

She insisted they wouldn’t even know the blazer was gone, since the studio was closed for the weekend. That and there was the fact she had originally made the dress she was wearing to match that specific jacket.

 

Tacking it in on the sides and shortening the length, she made it fit him like a glove. He was surprised she was able to hand stitch all of that in the car, but then again what else would she do on the drive up.

 

“Wonder what small expensive things we’ll find inside,” she joked, “You better hope there’s something worth a thousand.”

 

“Oh fingers crossed .”

 

The inside of the mansion was more extravagant than the outside. There was a huge ball room with a dining room across from it, all dressed in decadent food and decor. They had to have rented this place out, there was no way people actually lived here.

 

He sent a quick text to his father, letting him know they had arrived. Machi had already started surveying the area. It was always interesting to watch her work. She was the one who taught him a lot of tricks when it came to stealing, forging, etc.

 

Suddenly there was a tap on his shoulder, “Why are you wearing Illumi’s midterm?”

 

“What?” he turned around to find himself face to face with Kalluto Zoldyck, “Oh shit, what are you doing here?”

 

He arched an eyebrow, “What are you doing here?”

 

“To support the lovely couple,” he joked, unsure what to make of the situation.

 

Kalluto’s eyes widened, “You mean my parents ?”

 

“Your what now?--”

 

Before he could question him further, Machi caught their eye and came over to interject.

“Yikes, small world,” she smirked, “Who do you know here? The bride or groom?”

 

“Both.”

 

Machi draped an arm around Feitan’s shoulders, “Ah figures… let me ask. Do you know who else is on the guest list?”

 

Kalluto sighed, “Obviously not.”

 

“Lovely seeing you again,” she replied, started to pull Feitan away, “Can I talk to you a second!?”

 

Feitan let her drag him to the back of the ballroom by the back doors. Not a lot of people were there yet since the ceremony was still finishing up in the other room so no one noticed their odd behavior.

 

“Do you realize what this means?” she asked him, her expression grim.

 

Feitan shrugged, “I realize that your crazy?”

 

“No you idiot, if Kalluto’s parents are getting married that means Illumi’s here!”

 

She waited for him to connect the dots to no avail.

 

“I guess that means we shouldn’t steal anything?”

 

“Try again.”

 

A silence passed between them and then Feitan gasped. Dread filled his entire being at the thought. He didn’t even want to think about how Machi was feeling at the revelation.

 

“Hisoka!”

 

Hisoka… .”



Chapter Text

“What the hell are you wearing?”

 

There was an hour until the ceremony and everything had been going fine. They were all getting ready in the dressing rooms outside the hall, and everyone was actually on time for once.  That is until Hisoka reemerged in an a suit that was not the one Illumi picked out. Was he trying to piss their mother off?

 

Instead he had come out wearing one of the jackets that Illumi had made last semester. It was one he had worn before, claiming to like the eccentric colors. While in a sense they could appreciate the compliment, this really wasn’t the time or place.

 

“What?” Hisoka asked, “Did you really think I was going to wear it, and give that woman the satisfaction?”

 

Killua interjected, “Honestly this is the only time I will say this, but Hisoka is the best dressed one here.”

 

“That’s not--”

 

“Look at Alluka!” he exclaimed pointing at his sister trying to fix the monstrosity she had been thrown in, “She could pull off gramps’s clothes, but look at her now!”

 

Illumi sighed, knowing the boy was right, “It will be over soon, keep your voice down.”

 

Then Gon came out of one of the dressing rooms into the main area clad in orange. No one had really noticed yet since half of them were fighting or trying to fix their outfits. It wasn’t until Killua finally turned around did he comment.

 

“Alright I take back what I said. Somehow Gon is the best dressed person here?” KIllua said, causing the others to finally take notice.

 

“You’re right….” Illumi trailed, “How? How is this possible? That was the worst one.”

 

Gon shrugged in response, “I guess it’s all about how you carry yourself? I’m used to wearing bright colors.”

 

Kalluto was the last to come out, taking the longest to get ready out of the bunch. The poor boy had the look of death in his eyes.

 

“That’s great, is anyone going to comment on the fact that I too was chosen to wear a dress? No? Fantastic.”

 

Illumi pulled the younger sibling in to a dramatic embrace, “Oh Kalluto, if you weren’t basically 4 ft tall I would wear it.”

 

Not taking kindly to the joke, Kalluto broke free of their embrace, “Laugh it up while you can, as soon as the reception starts I’m changing.--

 

--Also I’m 5’3”...”

 

Alluka pulled him to the mirror, and started to compare their dresses. The look on her face was the most unpleasant Illumi had seen in a while. She pulled at the trims and beading adorning her and Kalluto as if to fix something.

 

“It’s not fair,” she said, “How is your dress nicer than mine?”

 

“Want to switch?”

 

Alluka paused, “Do you think she’ll notice?”

 

“That’s it!” Illumi said holding up a hand to stop everyone, “No one is switching, changing, or wearing anything that this unholy woman hasn’t made. We are going to pretend that we’re a happy family, get our pictures taken, and let her have the publicity I deserve.”

 

All of the other siblings stopped, looking thoroughly scolded. Meanwhile Gon and Hisoka locked eyes in confusion, and maybe a little fear.

 

“Yes?”

 

The three others repeated with less enthusiasm, “Yes….”

 

Illumi put a finger up, “Something's off…. We’re missing one.”

 

“I saw Milluki drinking with gramps at the lobby bar when I got here,” Kalluto said, the only one brave enough to answer.

 

Illumi’s eyes widen, and they made a beeline for the exit pushing past Hisoka. The door slammed shut, but they could still here Illumi’s enraged voice.

 

They’re drinking before the ceremony?”

 

Hisoka took a seat on the fainting couch, looking pleased with himself.

 

“I don’t know about you kids, but I’m not changing.”

 

----



The actual vow renewals went off with no issues. Kikyo and Silva proclaimed their love for each other in front of their friends, family, and multiple paid members of the press. It was clear this was all for show, not that they didn’t love each other, but it also made great advertisement.

 

The rest of the night would be mingling with important people, and giving statements on new projects. Illumi could only assume this was to retcon the disaster that was their trip to the mountains. Kikyo specifically requested Illumi’s work not to be shown for that very reason.

 

That made it a little hard to smile in be happy for their mothers fake party. Not that Illumi was happy or smiled much to begin with.

 

And of course Hisoka did not change. Kikyo hadn’t noticed during the ceremony, because she was in her own world. When it came to the reception after Illumi prayed she would try to avoid him.

 

Silva had never really met Hisoka before though, and all he knew was what their mother had told him. They never had a very close relationship with their father since they didn’t have a lot in common. Illumi couldn’t help resenting him when they were younger because he was never around.

 

So they never really cared what their father’s opinion of Hisoka would be. At least that’s what they thought until the reality sunk in. Illumi was the oldest after all, and if Silva didn’t approve what would he do in retaliation?

 

Right now Silva funded a lot of Illumi’s projects since their mother had pulled out after the business trip in the mountains. They assumed it was out of pity, but it seemed their father was actually investing in them. It was one of the many times he didn’t side with his wife.

 

Illumi hated to admit it but they were suddenly worried that if he didn’t like Hisoka would he do something to deter their work? If he wanted to Silva could cut his funding when ever he wanted. Then again Silva did marry Kikyo who was just as eccentric if not more than Hisoka. Maybe he would understand and they would actually have some common ground for once.

 

That would be nice, Illumi thought to themselves.

 

“This is starting to make me sick,” Kalluto whispered in the seat next to them, “Can I leave?”

 

The ceremony was basically coming to an end, so Illumi relented. They were a little confused about the comment though.

 

“You’re sick?”

 

Kalluto mirrored their blank expression, “You can’t seriously be buying this right? It’s so fake it makes my stomach crawl.”

 

Illumi blinked, “I suppose they are a little over the top with the press… we knew this wouldn’t be a very… authentic.”

 

“That’s for sure,” Alluka snorted, “If it was dad wouldn’t be wearing a shirt, and mom would be screaming.”

 

“He does like to go sleeveless….”

 

Kalluto poked Illumi again, “I’m leaving, there’s no way I’m wearing this at the reception.”

 

“It’s your funeral,” Illumi joked.

 

“I think we could make that case for both of us.”

 

Kalluto sent one look at the press to emphasize his point, and then turned on his heel to leave. This was a new side of Kalluto, neither Illumi or Killua had seen before. He seemed too ahead of his time to be a part of this facade.

 

---

 

This whole day was a huge joke. Kalluto hoped the reception would go by fast, and he could catch a ride back home with their grandfather. Normally Kalluto was used to his mother’s antics, and liked to indulge her. He knew she had a twisted view of everyone’s best interests, she just took everything so personally.

 

Even so there was no way he was going to continue wearing this disaster gown she sent him. He didn’t mind wearing feminine things if it was on his own terms, and he didn’t mind dressing up for Alluka or his mother either if it was a request.

 

This was not a request though. He felt like his identity was being chosen for him. While he was fine wearing her designs, he was upset that just because he had feminine features he couldn’t dress like his brothers. Even Illumi wore a more masculine outfit for the occasion.

 

When he got to the dressing rooms he looked through the garment bags brought in for the event. While he was able to find a dress shirt and pants, all of the blazers and jackets were too big on him. This night was going south fast.

 

Kalluto thought if he at least wore one of her blazers she would be appeased. His next thought was just to borrow Killua’s blazer. Even thought he was a bigger than him, he still had a slight frame, so maybe the difference in size wouldn’t be too noticeable.

 

He left the dressing rooms, and hoped for the best. It probably wouldn’t be as bad as he thought.

 

Walking into the ballroom he caught an interesting sight. A guy around his size was wearing one of Illumi’s pieces… How was that possible?

 

Kalluto had seen the designs on Illumi’s portfolio website, but he knew they hadn’t been graded yet since the photos were under ‘progress’. Then there was the fact that none of Illumi’s masculine pieces were made that small.

 

He decided to approach the smaller man and tapped him on the shoulder.

 

“Why are you wearing Illumi’s midterm?”

 

“What?” the stranger asked, turning around, “Oh shit, what are you doing here?”

 

Kalluto felt like he was going to throw up all over again. What the hell was Feitan doing here? There was no way Illumi or Hisoka invited him right? The last he heard from Illumi they weren’t really speaking to that group anymore.

 

“What are you doing here?” was all he could think to ask.

 

“To support the lovely couple,” he joked, though Kalluto was very doubtful of that.

 

“You mean my parents ?”

 

“Your what now?--” Feitan seemed just as shocked to find out this revelation.

 

Could he be a friend of a family member or one of their parent’s friends, Kalluto wondered. Before he could ask Machi was suddenly behind them, looking just as shocked.

“Yikes, small world,” she smirked, “Who do you know here? The bride or groom?”

 

“Both.”

 

Machi draped an arm around Feitan’s shoulders, and Kalluto was suddenly trying to push down his insecurity. Were they dating? Did he bring her? Does Illumi know they’re here? Multiple questions flooded his mind, and he almost didn’t hear Machi’s question.

 

“Ah figures… let me ask. Do you know who else is on the guest list?”

 

Kalluto sighed trying to seem aloof, “Obviously not.”

 

“Lovely seeing you again,” she replied, starting to pull Feitan away, “Can I talk to you a second!?”

 

Kalluto watched her drag Feitan away towards the back of the ballroom. It seemed like they didn’t realize who the actual vow renewal was for. He was suddenly very relieved he decided to change before he ran into them.

 

There was one thing he knew for sure, if his mother saw Feitan or Hisoka wearing Illumi’s work there would be hell to pay.

 

----

 

The reception had just started, but Illumi was already wanting to leave. This whole night was going to be difficult, especially with Hisoka refusing to change. When they got back to the dressing rooms to freshen up before the reception they had basically begged him to take off the stupid jacket.

 

Illumi was still in shock that he had refused them, they normally always got what they wanted. With Hisoka sometimes it was difficult, but everytime always worked out in their favor. Lately he had been less lenient.

 

It had all started after he broke up with Machi and confessed to them. Illumi was starting to wonder if Hisoka had been such a doormat for them because he felt guilty about hooking up with the other girl. If so he didn’t know Illumi well at all.

 

Once the dramatics had died down, and a couple days had passed since the fight between him and Machi, they decided to bring it up again. It was still a sore subject, but it was obvious Hisoka still cared about her. Illumi wished he didn’t have to act so monogamous all of the sudden.

 

Maybe it was selfish or the total opposite, Illumi didn’t know or care. They just didn’t want the full burden of a serious relationship. It didn’t matter who it was with, Illumi had always felt this way. They weren’t emotionally present enough, nor did they want to be.

 

Illumi worried eventually Hisoka would get bored or frustrated with them, since that was his personality with everyone else. The things that had made Hisoka attractive to them in the first place was the fact he was polyamorous and fickle. It took the stress off immensely.

 

Now they were in constant fear that they would mess up this very real relationship that kind of snuck up on them. Illumi’s only solution was to get Hisoka and Machi on better terms again.

 

It didn’t matter if they were hooking up or not, Illumi just wanted them to be friends again. If they ever were friends. Before they had broken up the first time, Hisoka had told Illumi some things about Machi and his past. As soon as Illumi and him started hooking up and they were no longer ‘just friends’ that side of him closed off.

 

What they did know was that Machi and Hisoka had known each other a long time. Longer than either of them knew Chrollo. Hisoka had told them they were in the same foster home for a couple of years. He had left before her because he aged out, but they met up again when she started college and was hanging around Chrollo.

 

There was no way they could just stop seeing each other, and cut the other one off. Illumi thought they had too much history to do that.

 

Apparently so did fate, because on their second drink they looked up to see the woman of the hour standing across the room.

 

Illumi knew they weren’t seeing things, Machi was even wearing the dress they designed together. Looking over he saw Feitan next to her wearing the matching blazer…

 

“What the hell…” they said without thinking.

 

Hisoka, who was standing right next to them, followed their line of sight to the couple.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” his voice dripped with distaste.

 

Illumi ignored him, and grabbed his arm, “Let’s go say hi.”

 

Hisoka wrenched his arm out of their grasp with a little too much strength. The force shocked Illumi, they didn’t realize how mad he really was.

 

“Illumi,” he warned, “I get what your trying to do, but don’t.”

 

“It’s not a big deal--”

 

“--it is.”

 

Hisoka looked completely enraged at the idea of even speaking to Machi, but Illumi didn’t look phased on the outside. The inside was completely different story.

 

They continued to stare each other, almost like two predators circling. This was getting too out of hand for the calmer of the two.

 

“Fine,” Illumi relented crossing their arms, “You either lose the jacket or you talk to Machi.”  

 

“I’m not doing that--”

 

“--then you can leave.”

 

That was not the response Hisoka expected. Illumi had assumed that would upset him further, but he was actually thinking about what to do. They weren’t used to him acting rationally, and it was a little unsettling.

 

“I’ll go with you but you’re the one who wants to talk to her,” he bargained.

 

“....Good enough I guess,” they agreed, “Try not be so childish when you actually speak to my parents.”

 

“No promises.”

 

Illumi led them across the ballroom, avoiding other family members and press who try to stop them with ease. When they were halfway there Machi and Feitan noticed them. Hisoka and Machi were in a glaring contest by the time they made their way over.

 

There was a beat of awkwardness. No one knowing what to say. Illumi knew Hisoka said he wouldn’t talk to her, but they didn’t think he was being serious. Feitan seemed annoyed, and a little bored. Nothing strange there at least.

 

Illumi decided to break the ice, “What… are you guys doing here?”

 

“You don’t want to know…” Feitan trailed, “Believe me Illumi. Your head would explode.”

“Wait what?”

 

Feitan gave them a look of sympathy, “Our dads used to fuck, and I think both of your parents wanted to hook up with my mom before they got married.”

 

Hisoka and Machi laughed out loud, almost screaming. Illumi on the other hand was unphased, just nodding in response.

 

“Oh you must be the Pohtoh’s son who ran off a few years back,” Illumi replied, “I remember my father being very impressed with you.”

 

“I… what?” Feitan stammered, eyes wide.

 

Illumi hummed, “I think your parents tried to request an arranged marriage with one of my siblings… at your age it would have been either… Killua or Kalluto.”

 

“Kalluto?” he choked out.

 

Illumi raised an eyebrow, nodding skeptically.

 

Feitan looked like his soul had just left his body, “I… I need some air.”

He took off pretty fast after that leaving Machi and making a dash towards the closest exit. Illumi didn’t realize they made him uncomfortable, they figured this wasn’t news to the other boy. The Zoldyck family had rejected the request so it’s not like it would have happened anyways.

 

Suddenly the air was tense again, Machi was glaring at Hisoka again while he looked anywhere but her. This night would be more entertaining than they thought.

 

“Machi you look lovely tonight,” Illumi began, “doesn’t she?”

 

Hisoka didn’t acknowledge either of them.

 

“... Since both of our dates seem a little too immature to handle this evening would you like to come with me and talk to some designers?” they asked, turning towards Machi and offering an arm, “I’m not allowed to network tonight, but maybe we can get you a job.”

 

Machi looked surprised by the offer, but took their arm regardless.

 

“...Sure.”








Chapter Text

The reception was in full swing at this point. Some sections of people were dancing, others networking over dinner. It was kind of a well organized mess of fake and well meaning people mixing together trying to find common ground.

 

Killua had been so bored during the actual vow renewal, itching to get the party so he could be a little less than sober when he had to deal with his parents.

 

He was about three drinks in on his fourth, but everything was so watered down that he was barely buzzed. Gon on the other hand had nothing but water. Claiming he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of the happy couple.

 

That was unlikely in Killua’s opinion, but even if he did have a drink it would take a least a couple to calm his nerves.

 

Since Illumi was the oldest most of their relatives seemed mostly interested in bothering them. That was a relief to him, he hated playing nice with people he barely knew. Once he found Canary and the girl she brought, Amane, they made their own little group to survive the night.

 

Currently it was him, Gon, Alluka, Canary and Amane at a table by their parents who were talking to something families they had invited. He had no idea where Kalluto ran off to, but he knew Gramps and Miluki split early after the ceremony.

 

“I didn’t know we were allowed to bring people,” Alluka huffed, “I have tons of friends I could have brought!”

 

“Technically you’re too young,” Killua explained, “In the next couple of years you can since the people you bring will most likely be adults.”

 

She pouted in response.

 

“At least you have us,” Canary consoled her, “Killua used to sneak me into all the events, now they just put me on the invite list.”

 

“Am I actually going to meet your parents, or should I save my nerves for later?” Gon asked, leg bouncing with restlessness.

 

Killua looked over to see his mother laughing too loudly at a joke, “Hard to say… maybe my dad, but I know he’s mostly interested in meeting Hisoka.”

 

“Don’t be nervous!” Alluka said, “I already told them about our fishing trip, and bragged about you.”

 

Gon put his head in his arms, embarrassed, “You’re too kind.”

Canary nudged him, “If they put up with me, they’ll like you. Once Killua shaped up at the end of highschool they stopped giving him a hard time.”

 

“Shaped up?” Gon’s head popped up, “What you were some kind of rebel?”

 

Killua gave Canary a look, “It’s not a big deal….”

 

“What’d you do? Skateboard in a grocery store? Sneak out to go to a rave?” Gon teased, “There’s no way you did anything too crazy.”

 

“Actually!” Alluka interjected, “He got in fights, like all the time!”

 

Gon was a little taken back.

 

“Over what?”

 

“What do you think?” Killua retorted, “Ya know I used to be on a lot of different sports teams too until the rumors got too bad.”

 

“Rumors?”

 

It seemed like Gon really didn’t understand. It was surprising to Killua that the other boy didn’t have to deal with the same thing. Gon was always so open about his sexuality. There must have been a time when someone confronted him about it.

 

Thankfully Canary explained for him, “He was kicked off a couple teams because his teammates were ‘uncomfortable’ having him there, if you catch my drift.”

 

“Shit,” he breathed, “Yea I would have kicked their asses too.”

 

“That’s never happened to you before?”

 

Gon thought for a minute, “Maybe, but it must have gone over my head. Plus I was the captain of my old soccer team so it wasn’t like they could get rid of me if we kept winning.”

 

“Interesting,” Killua commented, “Consider yourself lucky.”

 

“I definitely do.”

 

----

 

Hisoka was nowhere to be seen once they were done showing Machi off to the press and brands. Illumi wasn’t surprised, but it was a little annoying. Machi had abandoned them to talk to a publicist so they were on their own.

Normally that was fine, but with family involved sometimes they crossed boundaries, not realizing they were in a public setting. To put it simply, if Illumi was handed another baby they were going to lose it.

 

Since they were the oldest in their family, and extended family they often got saddled with babysitting the children. That was fine when they were growing up, but they were an adult now. It was quite the mood killer to be handed a screaming child in the middle of an important conversation with a future client.

 

When they were with Machi or Hisoka nobody had bothered them, but now that they were alone Illumi was fair game to hassle.

 

The third time it happened they were talking to the press about their mother’s new collection and then some great aunt they’d never met handed them some brat. In any other occasion Illumi loved children, they were surrounded by them constantly growing up. But this was not the time or place.

 

With this random child in their arms, Illumi abandoned the conversation to find someone to push her off to. They almost cornered Kalluto, but the boy took off as soon as they saw the kid.

 

Some sibling solidarity, they thought.

 

Finally a familiar voice approached them from behind.

 

“You win a prize? If so, I’m sorry.”

 

Illumi sighed in relief, “Hisoka thank god, take her somewhere away from me”

 

They tried to thrust the child into his arms, but he took a considerable step back looking horrified. Illumi had totally forgotten, Hisoka hated kids.

 

Well really he hated babies, they reminded him of staying in overcrowded foster homes. Illumi couldn’t blame him, they both had very different experiences with other children growing up.

 

“Right,” they sighed, “Give me a second then. I have no idea who she belongs to.”

 

They sprinted off to find some other poor soul to drop this child off with. Finally they spotted Killua’s table and made a beeline towards the group.

 

“Take this,” they said dropping the baby in Alluka’s arms, “Congratulations it’s a girl.”

 

She scoffed at the joke, “Just when I thought this night couldn’t get weirder.”

 

“Who’s kid is this?” Killua asked.

 

Illumi shrugged, “Who knows, have fun.”

 

“Hey!” Gon asked grabbing their sleeve before they were able to leave.

 

Illumi swiped their arm back, and arched a brow. Who did this kid think he was?

“Yes?”

 

“You don’t think they’re going to want to meet me tonight right?” Gon asked referring to the table behind them.

 

Illumi glanced over to see their parents talking to who they assumed were Feitan’s. That was interesting… and probably couldn’t mean anything good.

 

“Probably not…” they trailed, “... but you might want them to.”

 

Killua looked confused, “What do you mean?”

 

Illumi took a seat for a moment to seem natural, “You see the people they’re talking to?”

 

He nodded in return, trying not to let his eyes linger for too long.

 

“They had asked our parents if they’d fix their son up with one of us. Most likely you or Kalluto,” they explained, “I’m not saying anything for sure, but it might be beneficial for you to make it clear you’re ‘off the market’.”

 

Killua and Gon paled considerably, looking at each other and then back at Illumi. This was probably a lot to process, and while their parents had rejected the offer before… there was no telling what they’d do tonight. Illumi figured they’d give the boys a heads up.

 

Illumi addressed Gon again, “They’ll like you, if anything because you’re not Hisoka. You really don’t have to worry.”

 

“What about Kalluto?” Alluka spoke up.

 

“Who knows,” Illumi shrugged, “I have no idea what he’s going to do.”

 

Alluka stiffened, “But he---”

 

She stopped herself from continuing. Obviously there was a secret her and Kalluto shared. Normally Illumi wouldn’t care, but they were curious now. What could the two youngest be hiding.

 

They stared at her, hoping she’d break. Nothing came, and so they pressed further.

 

“He what?” they asked, “Is he dating someone too?

 

She shook her head.

 

“Back off,” Killua pushed them in their chair, “You don’t have to know all of our business.”

 

Illumi scoffed, “Of course I do.”

 

Rolling her eyes, Alluka relented, “He likes someone okay? I don’t know who it is, but it’s pretty obvious.”

 

“Someone at school you think?” they asked, trying to get as much information as they could.

 

She shook her head again, “I don’t think so. Like I said I don’t know, and I probably haven’t met them.”

 

They hummed in thought. It suddenly occurred to Illumi that due to their absence at home they probably missed a lot more than they knew. There was no helping it, everyone was growing up now.

 

“Hey, just a tip?” Killua interrupted, “Your crazy boyfriend is talking to dad.”

 

Whipping their head around, they saw the two of them having a conversation by the bar. It seemed to be going well, but Illumi’s heart rate went up considerably.  

 

“I’m leaving, have fun with the baby.”



-----

 

When Hisoka was left in the dust by Machi and Illumi he decided to go outside to cool off. As they made their way to the door, he suddenly realized Feitan would be outside too. That would not be a pleasant interaction.

 

His frustration was bubbling up, and he couldn’t even go out to get some air. He took a deep breaths in the lobby. There were few people here since the reception was going on now, so at least there was that.

 

He had no idea what Illumi’s deal was. Lately they had been so on edge. Hisoka had chalked it up to going to this event, but it was clear what they were mulling over now.

 

They wanted him to get back with Machi?

 

It didn’t make any sense whats so ever. Hisoka thought they would be happy he stopped seeing her, but it was the total opposite. Illumi was stressed and distant with him now, and he didn’t know how to fix things.

 

Maybe they didn’t want them to get back together, but they had to respect the fact he didn’t want to see her. Illumi didn’t get that you can’t just force people to deal with each other because it’s more convenient for them.

 

Hisoka knew he had come on a little too strong, but that’s just how he was. The response he got was Illumi going back into their shell even more than usual. This was now an even bigger mess.

 

They did invite him to this dumb party though, and they wanted him to make a better impression on their parents. That was a good sign, leading him to believe maybe Illumi was just as serious, but trying to catch their breath.

 

Of course Illumi didn’t say they loved him back or anything like that when he first confessed. He figured they wouldn’t, it wasn’t their style. Illumi’s actions spoke louder than words. They’ve always had a hard time putting their feelings to words.

 

The fact that he decided to spring this on them right after that horrible party, and in the midst of planning for this event probably didn’t help either. Illumi could handle a lot, but even they had a breaking point. Hisoka had seen it once before, when he was about to move away.

 

He never wanted to upset them like that again, but here he was standing out in the lobby. Illumi was towing a fine line though. If anyone else tried to pull what they did just then, he’d cut the person loose.

 

“Hiding from you’re in laws?” a voice asked.

 

He turned around to see Kalluto sitting by the window he was near. Hisoka hadn’t noticed the boy when he first came in, but it was clear he had been there a while.

 

“You could say that…” he replied.

 

Hisoka didn’t really know a lot about Illumi’s siblings other than the fact they loved them all unconditionally. The one he knew the most was Killua, and that kid did not like him at all.

 

Machi had commented on Kalluto being a mini version of Illumi when she had first met him. While Hisoka could understand that visually, their personalities were probably far different.

 

“So what are you doing out here?” he asked.

 

Kalluto’s eyes were still looking out the window when he replied, “I don’t know. I just couldn’t be in there anymore.”

 

He made a noise of agreement and joined the boy at the small table. Maybe he could at least get Kalluto to like him out of Illumi’s siblings.

 

“Yea I can see how stuff like this can get old fast,” he said, “Are you at least feeling better now that you’re out of that monstrosity?”

 

Kalluto scoffed, “Better now that I threw up my guts.”

 

Hisoka wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was he confiding in him, or was Kalluto simply sick after the ceremony? It was hard to tell, but he decided not to respond.

 

“If you don’t mind me asking…” Kalluto began, “Why are you dating my brother?”

 

Hisoka wasn’t expecting that either, “I’ve notice you all still call them that, they don’t mind?”

 

Kalluto shook their head, “No, they said they like it. Told me it gives them a wake up call that they don’t always have to be our parents.”

 

He nodded in response, that made sense. At least Illumi was pretty self aware they had become a guardian figure to their siblings.

 

“You notice how… in the end they always get what they want?” Hisoka found himself saying. He didn’t plan on actually answering the kid’s question but he decided to indulge him.

 

Kalluto nodded, but didn’t respond.

“I guess that’s why I’m with them,” he said, “It’s easy to read someone who just tells you what they want or don’t want.”

 

“That makes sense,” the younger boy agreed.

 

“You know our first kiss was at this horrible bar we got dragged to,” Hisoka went on, “I didn’t even start it, which is surprising. They walked up and kissed me, just like that.”

 

Kalluto was looking at him now thoroughly intrigued. It wasn’t often he heard about Illumi outside of their parental role. The most he saw was their interactions at the cafe with their friends that one time.

 

“They told me: they just wanted to know what it would be like,” he sighed, “I guess it sounds stupid but that never occured to me…”

 

“What?”

 

“To just walk up to someone and kiss them because you wanted to,” Hisoka explained, “I guess that’s why they interested me. Illumi always knows what they want, and I never do.”

 

Kalluto looked thoughtful for a moment. Their silence unnerved him a little, he was now wondering if he shared too much. Since the start of the party he had three drinks, and Hisoka had the tendency to talk too much when he got buzzed.

 

“Did you--” the other boy began but then stopped themselves.

 

“Did I what?”

 

He looked unsure whether or not he should continue. Finally looking away, towards the window he asked him,

 

“Did you like it… that they kissed you first?”

 

Hisoka laughed, “Who wouldn’t want to be kissed by a Zoldyck?”









Chapter Text

After Hisoka went back into the ballroom Kalluto debated leaving altogether. While he had a boost in confidence, it soon faded when presented with the reality of the situation.

 

Ever since that first meeting with Illumi’s friends he hadn’t been able to shake that rude punk from his mind. It made no sense logically speaking, Feitan was not the type of person he normally went for.

 

Yet here he was hiding in the lobby, all fed up because he brought Machi with him as his date. Obviously they weren’t dating, but still it made him feel self conscious. Kalluto forgot to take into account the possibility he didn’t even like guys.

 

If he had time to mentally prepare he probably wouldn’t have been so flustered. How was he supposed to predict Feitan and Machi would roll in, especially when Illumi hadn’t been talking to them lately.

 

There was no warning. No way to examine every possible outcome before it happened. This probably wasn’t the best way of looking at life, but Kalluto was a perfectionist.

 

And this night had been anything but perfect.

 

He took a deep breath. It wouldn’t do him any good to run away from his problems, he had enough reference from his older brothers to know that. Maybe this was just built up in his head, people often disappoint in reality.

 

If he could just figure out a way to knock down the pedestal he started making in his mind he’d be able to get over the guy. There’d be no reason to waste anymore time thinking about him if Feitan didn’t meet his expectations.

 

Kalluto would be let down, and then he could move on once and for all. There was no way the other boy was even interested in him. If he got shot down it would just end this farce faster.

 

Before he realized his feet were carrying him, Kalluto was back in the loud bustling ballroom. He forgot how horrendous this evening really was.

 

Sliding over to the bar unseen, he grabbed one of the champagne glasses sitting on the edge. If he was going to confront his feelings, he’d need a drink.

 

It wasn’t very strong, but it would have to do. He grabbed another after he finished the first and surveyed the area. To his relief everyone was too consumed with themselves to notice his underage drinking.

 

Even though the event was crowded with people, it didn’t take him long to find the person he was looking for. Unsurprisingly Feitan was sitting alone at a table near the back of the room. Kalluto noticed it was as far from his parent’s table as possible.

 

He didn’t waste anymore time making his way over, making sure not to catch the eye of any siblings or family members. It was pretty easy with Illumi caught up introducing Hisoka to their father, and the others all couped at a table watching some kid.

 

Strangely enough their mother had stayed contained to the main table talking to some couple. He tried not to think about that too hard.

 

When he got to Feitan’s table, the man didn’t see him at first. He was caught up reading something on his phone to notice Kalluto’s presence.

 

“I didn’t know you’d be here.”

 

Feitan looked up, almost shaken when he realized who was addressing him. It looked like he’d seen a ghost, which was not the response Kalluto was hoping for.

 

To his credit he regained his composure quickly, “Really? I thought you put my name on the guest list.”

 

“....No?”

 

“Well then it must have been your parents who invited me,” his sarcasm not lost on Kalluto.

 

I forgot how annoying he was , Kalluto thought to himself, it wasn’t going to be easy to get a straight answer out of him.

 

“Where’s Machi?”

 

“She’s at the bar, you didn’t see her?”

 

You saw me?  “She looks pretty--”

 

“-- you want me to hook you up?”

 

Kalluto blinked, “What no? I was just saying--”

 

“--get to the point.”

 

This was proving to be one of the most frustrating conversations Kalluto ever had. It didn’t matter what he said, Feitan was either interrupting him or making a joke of it. He didn’t remember him being so on edge when they first met. Did something happen?

“Do you want to dance?” he finally asked, his tone dry.

 

“Not at all.”

 

Kalluto sighed, and took a seat from across the table. He was mentally exhausted and they hadn’t even been talking for five minutes. What the hell was going on.

 

Apparently Feitan didn’t expect him to sit down, “What?”

 

“Why are you even here?” Kalluto asked not sure what else he even wanted to say at this point.

“Open bar.”

 

He rolled his eyes, of course there wouldn’t be any serious answers. This was a mistake, he should have just left it alone. Why did he listen to Hisoka’s advice, he was pretty sure Illumi didn’t even do that.

 

However the next thing out of his mouth surprised Kalluto.

 

“--I’m just here to appease my parents. Isn’t that why you’re here.”

 

“I guess so, who are you even related to--” a horrifying thought hit Kalluto in that moment, “-- Are we related!?

 

Feitan actually laughed at his outburst, “No don’t worry, you’re not hitting on your second cousin or anything.”

 

“I’m not hitting on you at all!”

 

He didn’t look convinced.

 

“Anyways… my parents are the ones sitting with who I’m assuming is your mother.”

 

Kalluto paled, that was interesting. It was then they both noticed his mother’s table was staring directly back at them. Feitan’s parents looked almost excited, while his mother’s face held something of distaste and curiosity.

 

“I should go,” they both said in unison.

 

“Do you know what they want?” Kalluto asked.

 

Feitan nodded and seemed to turn green. He ran a hand through his hair trying to calm his nerves.

 

“Yes.”

 

“What is it then?”

 

He shook his head no, and started to collect his things to leave. This was not how Kalluto wanted to end things. They had finally started to have a normal conversation. He hated to admit that at this point it was clear Kalluto didn’t have any expectations other than Feitan paying attention to him. If he left then it would ruin things.

 

“I’ll go,” Kalluto stopped him, grabbing the wine bottle that was at the centerpiece of the table, “Being in here gives me a headache… so I’m going upstairs.”

 

“Have fun.”

 

It didn’t seem like Feitan understood what he was implying. He just stayed seated, scrolling through his phone again.

 

Kalluto sighed, “I’m telling you this for a reason.”

 

“Wha-- Oh.

 

“You’re an idiot.”

 

----



Illumi was thoroughly panicked by the time they made it over to their father and Hisoka. This was not how their first meeting was supposed to go, neither of them were supposed to meet unsupervised.

 

Their father could be very intimidating, but also unknowingly incriminating, while Hisoka was a different case altogether. If things didn’t go smoothly that could be the end of everything. Illumi felt as if the only life line that had to success in their family rested on their father so if he didn’t approve…

 

“Illumi!” their father addressed, his voice booming over the music.

 

They nodded stiffly, and gave Hisoka a look, “I see you two have finally met…”

 

“No reason to be so cold about it,” Silva assured, “Hisoka’s is quite the charmer.”

 

“Is he….”

 

Neither of them seemed to care about Illumi’s bad mood, no matter how hard they tried to hit the brakes on this engagement. Silva had started asking what Hisoka was up to since graduating, to which Hisoka inquired about his job. At least the subjects were somewhat safe.

 

They tuned out of their conversation for the most part until Hisoka suddenly left. Illumi blinked, and tried to follow until their father stopped them with a strong hand on their shoulder.

 

“Everything alright?” he asked, genuinely, “You seem to be in another world.”

 

“Oh?” they murmured, “Just nerves, did you see what he’s wearing?”

 

“Your mother’s too wrapped up to care,” he explained, “I can see why she wouldn’t like him, but I don’t have any issues. It wouldn’t matter if I did anyways. You’re an adult.”

 

Illumi scoffed, “Of course I know that, but after what happened…”

 

Silva sighed, he understood what his child was implying. Ever since the mountain vacation things had been tense between Illumi and Kikyo. He didn’t want his oldest child to view him the same was as their mother.

 

Maybe that was why he had been more open minded about Hisoka. Not that he needed to be, Silva was surprised at what they had in common. Still the there was something off putting about the young man that he couldn’t figure out.

 

“She may not admit it to you, but she does feel bad about how she handled things on that trip,” Silva confided, “I think--”

 

“--What does it matter,” Illumi interrupted, “She’ll never be pleased with what I do, why bother trying to understand her reasonings.”

 

“You have every right to feel that way.”

 

That last comment shocked Illumi to their core. They hadn’t expected their father to side with them so easily. While he was sympathetic to their situation with Kikyo they had assumed in the end Silva would just go along with her.

Illumi looked down, unsure how to respond. It was rare to have their father speak so openly to them.

 

Before they had a chance, Silva ruined the moment.

 

“You don’t normally wear gloves,” he commented, “and I don’t remember your mother sending them.”

 

They paled at the observation. No one had noticed or commented until now, so they thought they were in the clear. Illumi was only wearing them to hide their scarring hand from the mirror incident.

 

Leave it to their father to finally notice something of importance.

 

“Just trying something new,” they lied, “It isn’t that strange.”

 

Silva didn’t seem to buy the off handed answer. His gaze suddenly intense and unwavering.

 

“It’s not like you to lie to me,” he started, “but it is like you to hide things…”

 

Illumi scoffed, “I’m not--”

 

“--we’ll talk about it later.”

 

It wasn’t often Silva used that tone with them, it was usually saved for everyone else in the family. Illumi got into trouble when they were young, but even then they had never had such harshness pointed in their direction from their father.

 

All they could do is nod, unable to think of anything to counter with.

 

Hisoka had come back with two drinks, but didn’t say anything right away. It was clear he noticed the sudden change in the air between the two of them.

 

Suddenly Silva broke the tension with a smile, as if nothing had changed. Putting a hand on Illumi’s shoulder they said,

 

“It’s a party, try not to take things so seriously.”

 

Illumi raised an eyebrow, unnerved by the sudden mood change.

 

“I wasn’t the one who brought it up….”

 

Hisoka gave them a curious look, but neither of them explained their comment. It seemed as though their conversation was over.

 

Silva took one of the drinks right out of Hisoka’s hand, “It was good to officially meet you, Hisoka. I’m sure we’ll get better acquainted in the future.”

 

He took off before Hisoka could respond. The interaction seemed to be more painful for Illumi than it was for him. At least Silva seemed to approve of him since he claimed to want to get better acquainted. Even so Illumi still seemed uneasy.

 

“So that was something…” Hisoka began, “What happened after I left?”

 

Illumi rubbed the leather of their gloves self consciously.

 

“He asked about these.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Where’d you run off to?” they asked, curious about the drinks he brought.

 

“Your dad wanted something stronger….” he trailed.

 

This night felt like it would be far from over. The echoing of their father’s words played over and over in their mind. Illumi felt sick, they didn’t want to have that conversation with the man.

 

If anything he would hopefully just forget about it, especially after the alcohol.

 

“Can I just say something,” Hisoka said, breaking them from their thoughts.

 

“What?”

 

“Your dad is hot.”

 

Illumi took the second drink from him and chugged in response. That was too much for them to unpack. Of course Hisoka would go and say something crude.

 

It would be even more awkward looking Silva in the eye now.

 

“We’ll talk about this later.”

 

Illumi hoped that later would never come.

 

----

 

Hisoka could now understand why Illumi was the way they were. It seemed like with this family and atmosphere, shutting one’s emotions off was the way to get by. With a mother so hellbent on getting her way and a father that was such a loose cannon he was surprised Illumi turned out to be half the person they were.

It was moments like these that left him feeling family wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He used to be jealous of families like Machi’s and Illumis. One made of friends and another with so many siblings. Now both seemed distasteful to him. Maybe this was just him growing as a person.

 

When he had reconnected with Machi again he thought he’d fit in perfectly with her misfit family. It had come as a shock when things didn’t go his way in the end. Then again that’s what you get when you pick fights with the leader.

 

Then there was a Illumi’s situation. They were rich and came from a big family, it didn’t get better right? No if anything it couldn’t get worse. Having to raise your younger siblings while combatting judgement from the very people who refused to take care of their children… It was not a life to be envious of.

 

There was a small part of him that still wanted a semblance of what they both had with their ‘families’. If anything he longed for some kind of structure. Even when he ran with Chrollo, he didn’t feel it there. This dumb event had been the closest he had every come to a family obligation.

 

That last thought freaked him out a little. He wouldn’t consider any of these people his family except for one. The very notion of being familial with Illumi shook him to his core. Yet he was the one who wanted to meet their parents again so what was he expecting.

 

He needed to clear his head. These thoughts were getting too real.

 

Illumi had run off after the interaction with their father to go back to talking with press so he was left to his own devices again. He surveyed the room for somethings to do.

 

Killua and his little group had remained glued to their table, now with one new baby. Kikyo had returned to her able as well, conversing with another couple animatedly. It was the last familiar faces he saw that left him feeling stressed.

 

Kalluto and Feitan were talking at a table near the back. Well Kalluto was talking at a rather green looking Feitan. His stomach dropped. Was this his fault somehow? He had known Kalluto was weirdly asking for advice, but if it was on how to get with that brat then he felt bad for the kid. Feitan was… a tough case.

 

He hoped what he told Kalluto wouldn’t come back to bite him. That kid was perceptive though, so he wasn’t too worried.

 

The ballroom was starting to feel a little crowded to him now. He opted to go to the bathroom and throw some water on his face. No one would miss him if he stepped out again.

 

On his way to the bathroom he passed a closet with a familiar yet rare noise. His first instinct was to whip open the door, but he stopped himself. This wasn’t his problem anymore. Even so he felt a pang of guilt shoot through him.

 

This could very well be his fault.

 

He decided to knock on the door instead. The response was one he was all too familiar with. There was loud bang of someone aggressively slamming the door back as if to scare them off.

 

“Machi isn’t a little cliche to cry in a closet at a wedding,” he sighed.

 

There was a groan on the other side followed by a, “Fucking idiot, of course it’s him.”

 

“I don’t why you’re crying over m--”

 

“--I’m not!”

 

“You’re not.”

 

He wasn’t very convinced. She didn’t cry often if at all, the only time she did was when..

 

“You’re the idiot, I’m opening the door,” he said, turning the knob.

 

It stopped in his hand, Machi obviously gripping the other side to stop him for dear life. He wasn’t surprised, normally when this happened she liked to be alone. Which was probably why she was in there to begin with.

 

He let go of the door, “Obviously you’re hurt so--”

 

“--Just leave!”

 

This happened every time. He couldn’t blame her, if anything he was impressed that she hadn’t let her rage over what happened fade over time.

 

She had been this way ever since he met her at his last foster home. Every time she hurt her ankles she was a rage filled mess. Nothing could help other than closing herself off somewhere and giving her time to cool off.

 

When he first witnessed this, he thought she was being over dramatic not knowing the reasoning behind it. Later on when she finally told him what happened Hisoka felt she wasn’t angry enough.

 

Machi had hard life like everyone Chrollo scooped up in his little club, but Hisoka knew to what extent so maybe that was why he was little more sympathetic to her than the others.

 

She had come to the foster home he was in because her father had finally been arrested and her mother was dead. He had never seen someone come in feeling relieved they were in the system. That was how he knew she must have gone through some shit to be happy living in that dump with him.

 

He didn’t know the exact timeline of events but he knew the following: Her mother had died under suspicious circumstances, and her father had broken both of Machi’s legs shortly after. He still didn’t know how the man had finally gotten caught, but it wasn’t because some neighbor took pity on her and saw what happened.

 

After the surgery to fix her legs she had no money left to her name, so she was put in the system. There apparently were no extended family members who would take her in.

 

Though the surgery was successful her ankles were still extremely weak. So the slightest upturn in pavement would cause them to go out. Every time it happened, she would turn volatile and aggressive.

 

So no, he couldn’t blame her for wanting him to leave. He couldn’t blame her for hating him in general, because it wasn’t him she really hated.

 

He slid against the door, taking a seat. The least he could do was be there for her when she was ready to leave.

 

“I’m not leaving.”






Chapter Text

    Kalluto had been drinking on the balcony when Feitan finally showed up thirty minutes later. While waiting for him to come, Kalluto thought about just going home. He had no idea what he was expecting to happen when he-- if he actually showed up.

 

    Then again it would be even more humiliating if he saw Feitan again, and their last interaction was a hit and run.

 

    After their conversation with Hisoka he had a new found confidence that lasted all of an hour. Only when he had started in on the wine in an empty sitting room upstairs did he realize the reality of the situation.

 

    This was his parents vow renewal, and he had invited some guy upstairs with a bottle of wine to do what? Obviously Feitan didn’t take him seriously. Still it left him feeling mortified and excited.

 

    The excitement outweighed everything else so he stayed.

 

    It was only when Feitan opened his mouth, did he suddenly regret his decision.

 

    “Do you realize the situation you’re in?” he asked, shutting the door behind him.

 

    Kalluto stayed on the balcony, as if that would keep him safe from having to answer the confusing question. What situation? The one he was implying or the one their parents were?

 

    He decided to play dumb.

 

    “What do you mean?”

 

    Feitan sighed in frustration, shrugging off Illumi’s blazer. He finally made his way to the balcony, giving Kalluto an annoyed look.

 

    Taking a seat on the chair next him he replied, “You can’t tell me you have no idea. Illumi must have said something to you at this point.”

 

    Now that made absolutely no sense. Kalluto was starting to think both of them had different ideas about what this meeting was for. What on earth did Illumi have to do with this?

 

    The confusion was clear on his face. Feitan grabbed the bottle between them and took a drink before explaining. It seemed like this was a conversation that he didn’t know he was going to have.

 

    “Our parents have been talking all night,” he said hoping that would any bells.

 

    It did not.

 

    “God… my parents have been trying to get me set up with one of you Zoldycks,” he explained, “Ever since I was fifteen, and now that I’ve come back to the family to get the rest of my money they are probably trying to pull the same shit.”

 

    “I see….” Kalluto trailed.

 

    “I just want a top off on my accounts, and take my dad’s porsche,” he continued, “Then I’m gone again.”

 

    Now things were making sense. That must have been why Feitan looked so sick when their parents were eyeing them from across the room earlier. His parents must have thought everything was going to plan, while Kalluto’s mother didn’t seem quite as on board.

 

    So his mother did not approve of the match then. That was… interesting.

 

    “I can’t believe you didn’t know,” Feitan sighed again, “So… wait then what is this about?”

 

    Kalluto’s heart fell into his stomach in that moment. He hoped that Feitan would have just forgotten about whatever Kalluto had been implying in the ballroom. Instead he was on to him, and now he had to face the music.  

 

    That wasn’t any fun though. Instead he continued to play dumb, at least this way he wouldn’t have to make any decisions.

 

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

He snorted, “Okay sure.”

    They were silent for while after that, but it wasn’t awkward. It might have been without the alcohol. Instead they just sat outside listening to the party going on downstairs. Kalluto could make out their father’s voice talking to couple of people below them. It was weirdly nice. He finally felt somewhat at ease.

 

    Finally Feitan broke the silence.

 

    “Ya know Machi looks really pretty tonight.”  

 

    “Shut up!”

 

-----


    “Illumi dear, have you been having a good time?”

 

    Here we go, they thought to themselves.

 

    They had been able to get away with avoiding their mother for most of the reception, but it was halfway through now. It was no surprise she came to ‘check up’ on them.

 

    Turning around from the designer they were talking to, they faced the woman who had single handedly turned their life upside down. She looked just as beautiful as she did during the ceremony. Normally they could admire that but now their only thought was,

 

Did she use concrete sealer instead of a setting spray?

 

Regardless they pushed those intrusive thoughts away and embraced her as if they were never closer. Her sharp nails danced on their back in approval, causing any nerves they had to settle.

 

“Yes, do you need anything?” they found themselves asking.

 

It was almost like a reflex. Illumi learned far too early that it was better to be accommodating than anything else with their mother. If she felt taken care of and in control then there was less of a chance at any outbursts.

 

“You’re so sweet,” she replied, turning to the designer, “Aren’t they?”

 

“You have a very fine son,” they replied, unfortunately.

 

Kikyo blinked, and both mother and ‘son’ mirrored the same blank expression. The woman pointed in the direction of Killua behind them,

 

“Yes, he’s over there,” the sentiment was nice, but her tone was cold, “I hope you leave your information with us, I’d just love to look at your work.”

 

The man noticed something was off, but didn’t bat an eyelash at the opportunity, “Oh yes of course.”

 

She smiled, but it was still just as cold, “I must steal them away, but I’m sure you’ll hear from us soon!”

 

Her nails clutched Illumi’s shoulder as she led them away. If Illumi didn’t know any better they would have thought their mother was being protective. It seemed too farfetched to be true however.

 

As soon as they were out of earshot Kikyo’s tone turned sour.

 

“So sad to see another up and comer run himself into the ground…”

 

Illumi blinked, “It was an honest mistake--”

 

“--not when talking to me.”

 

They were taken back to say the least. People in the press and limelight often misgendered them, and it had never been a huge deal. Illumi then realized during those times their mother hadn’t been present. Maybe this was news to her?

 

“Now Grandfather and Milluki have already left, and I can’t find Kalluto anywhere…” she trailed, “I want to take extra pictures before your father drinks more!”

 

“Sure,” they agreed, “Kalluto has been very elusive tonight.”

 

“Not elusive enough….”

 

“What do you mean?” they asked genuinely.

 

The comment was strange on its own, the fact that she seemed to be pointing her attitude at the younger boy was more than confusing. It was no contest that Kalluto was very dear to her.

 

At least when Illumi lived at home he had been, maybe things had changed. Everything seemed to be changing with their family dynamics lately…

 

“Did you not see him talking to that boy?” she gasped, “Oh it was awful, right while I was talking to the Portor’s. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

 

    Illumi hummed. That might have been their fault. Kalluto and Feitan had met before, but neither of them knew his affiliation to the Portor’s. Kalluto was probably surprised to see him there, and wanted to talk to someone familiar. It made sense.  

 

    The only reason he had left the ballroom was because they weren’t having a good time. It wasn’t because Kalluto was off eloping with the Portor’s son. Their mother might be losing it.

 

    “Have father deal with it,” Illumi suggested, “You shouldn’t have to waste your time.”

 

    She perked up immediately, “OH! You’re so right. Kalluto is my child after all! I suppose I am just stressed. Your father should talk to them, I know it can be hard for him but still.--

 

    Illumi nodded, letting her continue.

 

    --And that poor woman. She’s so timid now, who lets a man boss them around like that? She was never like that with me. So distasteful to watch. You’re father always said he was controlling!”

 

    They never found it odd how much they knew about their parents personal lives, but to the bystander they wouldn’t assume Kikyo was their mother from the way she gossiped. While the woman was right on all accounts, it was probably not the kind of conversation a mother and child should have.

 

    Illumi remained unphased. They were just relieved their mother wasn’t lashing out at them like before. Maybe they could put that in the past…

 

    However it was too good to be true.

 

    “Now I must ask, Illumi,” she began, “Are you just completely blind today or are you trying to offend me?”

 

    The switch was so sudden they almost agreed with her, “Yes-- wait what?”

 

    Kikyo gave a pointed look at the gloves on Illumi’s hands. Their anxiety came back ten fold. Would be better to make up something or tell the truth? This was Kikyo, not Silva. Could Illumi be honest? Would it make it better or worse if they did?

 

    “Are you trying to humiliate me?”

 

    “Of course not!’’ they insisted, “I just-- These are…”

 

    The truth might be the only way out.

   

Instead of responding, they took off the gloves as an answer. While their left hand was unmarked, the right had red jagged lines and scabs covering it. Their knuckles were the worst off, since that was where the punch had made contact with the glass. It hadn’t enough time to heal so it was still rather gruesome.

 

    Kikyo’s eyes had widened at the sight, but she didn’t comment right away.

   

Illumi was surprised when she took their hand gingerly in hers, running fingers over the rough lines. It was the most comforting she had been in a long time. It caused something in them to crack.

 

“Nervous breakdown again?” she asked, no malice behind it.

 

They found it hard to speak so they just nodded, unable to look her in the eyes. If her initial response wasn’t shocking enough, the next words out of her mouth stunned them.

 

“I’ve been too hard on you,” she sighed, “You must know I’m not serious?”

 

Illumi finally looked at her, their face filled with confusion.

“An act?”

 

“Of course, you’ll be treated far worse when you’re on your own,” she explained, “If you can’t handle me then the world you want to go into has no place for you.--

 

--at least that’s my reasoning. I hassled you because no matter how good you are, there will always be someone who’s been there longer trying to undermine you. Understand?”

 

Everything made sense now. The abrupt change in their relationship, the harsh treatment… Illumi was going to graduate this year, and get a job under her company. Was she just trying to prepare them for it this whole time?

 

“I cut your funding because that’s what happens all time in the beginning. People lose faith, switch designers, get paid off,” she continued, “I was upset with your father for butting in because you didn’t have a chance to adapt. You’re not always going to have that safety net.”

 

Illumi found their composure, “I… I understand that, but when-- when it comes from you, how am I not supposed to take it personally? It didn’t feel like a company cutting ties with me, it felt like you just hated me?”

 

Kikyo pulled them into an embrace, “Oh Illumi, I should have considered that. I just wanted to prepare you for harshness that awaits you. I never thought it would affect you this much. I should have known.”

 

Illumi didn’t have anything to say to that, they just let the shorter woman hug their frame. It made sense, but it didn’t he could forgive her right now. She could cry and apologize all she wanted, but it would take time to feel like they could trust her again.

 

At least in the end they didn’t have to tell her the real reason behind their scars.

 

She didn’t deserve to know.

 

----

 

    This was not how tonight was supposed to go. If he had known it was the Zoldyck’s party Feitan wouldn’t have come. If not because of his parents, then this very moment he was having right now.

 

    He shouldn’t have taken the bait and followed Kalluto up here. Originally he had assumed it was because he wanted to talk about their parents and figure out a solution. Now Feitan was realizing those were not the younger boy’s plans.

 

    In the beginning he wasn’t sure, but at this point it was very clear that Kalluto had a crush on him. Which was of course just his luck, because he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him either.

 

    Feitan figured that he had no chance, and he really didn’t want one. It was a dumb crush that he figured was unrequited. He’d get over it. They had only met once, this was ridiculous. He wasn’t even sure how old this kid was, but he had to be in high school right?

 

    Everything about this felt off. While he was young too, there was no telling with the other boy. At this point he felt like he should ask, but if he did it would imply he was interested too.

 

    Feitan had been trying to seem as aloof as possible, but it was proving to be hard. He never expected the Kalluto to confront him not once, but twice. How could he not follow him up here to figure out what was going on?

 

    It didn’t help that if his parents found out about this, they’d be thrilled. He hated knowing they might have actually been right about something.

 

    They had been drinking for a little while now. He figured it was best if he left before anything other than sporadic conversation happened. Getting up he looked around the sitting room they were in.

 

    He had totally forgotten about stealing something for Shalnark.

 

    “You don’t live here right?” he asked, as he eyed the various objects in the room.

 

    Kalluto scoffed, “This place is rented for events…. So no.”

 

    Feitan nodded in response and pocketed a few of the smaller more expensive looking antiques on the the bookshelf he walked past. There was no doubt Kalluto saw since it was just the two of them in this room, but the other remained silent.

 

    He figured he wouldn’t take anymore. If it didn’t come out to a thousand in resale, he would cover the cost. Shalnark was lucky he was such a considerate friend.

 

    Before he could make his exit for the night, Kalluto was suddenly right behind him. He hadn’t heard him get up, so Feitan jumped back for a second. He didn’t realize how high strung he felt until then.

 

    “Can I help you?” he asked, trying to gain some composure.

 

    Kalluto didn’t respond, instead just moving closer until they were a few centimeters apart. Feitan really hadn’t planned for this. He knew he should just leave, there were so many variables conflicting. There was no good outcome for this right?

 

“I just…” Kalluto finally said, grasping his arms, “I just want to know what it would be like.”

 

There was no way he could say no to a face that tragic.

 

Before he could talk himself out of it Feitan closed the space between them. Their lips met in a chaste kiss. He planned to pull away after that, but Kalluto’s arms were now around his neck pulling him closer.

 

Their kiss deepened, his mouth opening against Feitan’s closed lips.  Kalluto’s arms circled him tighter, almost annoyed that he wouldn’t move in further. He wanted to, but there had to be a line somewhere.

 

His coldness was short lived when Kalluto started trailing down his neck to get a response. It worked too well, and Feitan found himself pulling the other closer by his waist. The surprised gasp he got in return burned in the air.

 

“What the hell are you doing!” came a voice from the doorway.

 

Feitan’s blood ran cold and he immediately dropped his hands and tried to pull away. He stayed in place from the hold Kalluto still had on his neck though.

 

“Alluka get out of here!” her brother hissed, voice suddenly lower than it had been all night.

 

The girl looked back out into the hallway almost panicked, and then back at the two of them. She seemed just as distraught for some reason.

 

“Oh did you find him?” a voice from the hall asked.

 

It was too late. Alluka was moved aside by Killua, his confusion soon turned to anger. Feitan tried to pull away, but it was no use. Kalluto still wasn’t aware of the situation they were in. He could hear more footsteps outside of the room, most likely the oldest of their siblings.

 

“Get the hell off him! What are you guys doing?” the white haired boy exclaimed, moving to break them up.

 

Out of everything that could have happened this was the absolute worst.

 

Before he had a chance to escape, Illumi made their way in. The two of them locked eyes, Feitan’s filled in fear, while Illumi seemed unreadable.

 

The younger siblings moved out of their way as Illumi started walking slowly towards them.

“Feitan---”

 

The air was still and he could feel Kalluto gripping them harder. Why was everything so dramatic with this family?

 

--I’ll kill you.”

 

As if to mock Illumi further, Feitan stole one last kiss against the other’s mole, and then dashed out towards the balcony. Illumi was not deterred in the slightest, grabbing a hold of his shoulder in an attempt to stop him.

 

He didn’t know if Illumi was a fighter, but he wasn’t planning on figuring it out. He jerked out of their grasp just as he made it to the railing of the balcony and swung a leg over to climb down.

 

Illumi stopped their pursuit after that, but their voice was furious.

 

What the hell do you think I don’t know where you live? I’ll kill you!”

 

“Illumi stop it! I’ll kill you!” came Kalluto’s voice.

 

Both of them sent shivers through him as he made his way down the side of the mansion. He had done this many times before so it didn’t take him long before his feet his the ground.

 

Just when he thought he was scott free he looked over to see who he now knew was Kalluto’s father. He was sitting at a table outside with a few other people. All of them looking bewildered to see some kid fall from the sky.

 

    There was no time to get machi, and he still didn’t have the keys to his dad’s porsche. Was this night just completely wasted?

 

    “You’re the Portor’s son right?” Silva asked from the table.

 

    Feitan just nodded, unsure of his next move.

 

    The man laughed and tossed him something, “I’d run off too.”

 

    He blinked and realized in his hand were the keys to said porsche.

 

    How the hell…

 

    “Can… you do me another favor?” Feitan asked, “I came here with that pink haired girl. Just make sure Illumi and Hisoka take care of her. I … gotta go.”

 

    “Sure, get the hell out of here.”

 

    And so he did.

 

---



    FP: Don’t be mad, had to bounce.

    FP: Illumi will probably fill you in….

    FP: Got the Porsche.

 

    MK: It’s fine I ended up making out with Hisoka in a closet so I think we are friends again?

 

    FP: Stop! Texting! Me!!!!

 

    MK: you ditched me, you get all the details.

    MK: haven’t seen Illumi in a while, but I will ask?

 

    FP: hahahahahahahahahahahaha

 

    MK: what did you do?

 

    FP: don’t worry about it
    FP: just know that I am suffering

 

    MK: what else is new?

    MK: last thing! scored some diamonds off a lady so this party wasn’t a complete waste

 

FP: nice
    FP: got antiques

    MK: thats what im talkin abt little man

 

FP: never talk to me again

FP: friendship over

FP: actually no, pls try to put a good word in for me with the grudge

 

MK: OH SHIT I KNOW WHAT YOU DID

MK: im telling everyone

 

FP: fantastic.

 

-----


“I’m going to wring that little brat’s neck.”    

 

Illumi had stormed back into the ballroom, and made a beeline for them when they saw Machi and Hisoka sitting at a table together. The two of them figured Illumi would be thrilled they were on speaking terms again, but it seemed like they had other things on their mind.

 

“Oh hey Illumi,” Hisoka waved, “You look cute.”

 

They ignored him and addressed Machi instead.

 

   “Where is he?”

 

    “I… who?”

 

    “You know who.”

 

    Looking around it looked like Illumi might be causing a scene with some of the press perking up to see what was causing such distress. Hisoka pushed the tall headcase into a chair so that they didn’t look like they were about to strangle the girl across from them.

 

    He could almost certainly pinpoint this outburst had come from something happening to one of their siblings. Even when Illumi was mad at him it wasn’t this dramatic. His mind started to put the pieces together while Machi and Illumi continued their showdown.

 

    The air caught in his throat, he knew exactly what happened. The ‘he’ in question had to be Feitan and the only other person Feitan knew here was Kalluto… Kalluto had asked him for romantic advice so… it seemed like Illumi had walked in on something… interesting to say the very least.

 

    “Calm down,” he urged, knowing that probably wouldn’t help, “I’m sure he’s already left if you’re acting this demented.”

 

    He expected to be met with some hostility from Illumi. Which was the plan, so it would take some of the heat off Machi. The only thing he received was a gloved hand up, as if to tell him to stop talking.

 

    Machi didn’t seem phased, “Hisoka’s right, he took off in the Porsche we came to get.”

 

    That seemed to draw Illumi out of their furious mood a little bit.

 

    “Wait you just came to get a car?” they asked, “Did you even go to the ceremony?”

 

    “Yea no. We skipped that shit.”

 

    Hisoka groaned, “Unfair… I had to sit through the whole thing.”

 

    Both of them continued to ignore him.

 

    “So what did Feitan do to your little brother?” she asked bluntly.

 

    Illumi’s rage was back not even a second later to Hisoka’s dismay. It seemed like Illumi did take after their mother in some ways. Those ways being volatile mood shifts.

 

    “He was kissing Kalluto. They had been drinking. Did you know he’s only seventeen. I’ll kill him Machi. He’s dead. I’m going to kill--”

 

    “I get it! Jesus, you’re a one track record,” she interrupted, “Feitan is only a couple years older, calm down! And yea of course they were drinking. You’re centerpieces are literally $500 bottles of wine.”

 

 As if just realizing this herself, she took the bottle off their table and put it by her bag. Hisoka was impressed to say the least, and a little grateful. He wouldn’t be able to handle Illumi like this, if anything he’d probably make it worse.

 

It annoyed him to know end realizing Illumi was right. Maybe the three of them did need each other to some extent. Just another victory to add to their list, not that Illumi gave themselves anytime to enjoy them.

   

    Just when things seemed to be calming down another presence started the fight right back up again. Almost in the same way, Kalluto seemed to zip over to their table with the same furious energy.

 

    It was uncanny how alike the two were.

 

    “I can’t believe you did that! I am mortified! What if he fell and broke his leg or died!”

 

    “Fingers crossed.”


    Kalluto let out an aggravated noise of frustration causing the people around them to get interested again. Neither sibling seemed to care, both just glaring at each other with the same fierceness.

 

    “I hope you know we are having a conversation about this with our parents when we get home,” Illumi said, their tone finally even.

 

    That seemed to be the last straw for Kalluto however. His eyes bulged in disbelief, the anger and confusion more evident on his face than ever.

 

    “Unbelievable!”  he laughed bitterly, “None of you have ever cared before. Is everyone in this idiotic family trying to pretend we actually care about each other? Ridiculous. I’m the most stable one here! You’re the fucking mess, Illumi.”

 

Before Illumi had a chance to respond, Kalluto had already turned around to leave. Hisoka thought they would try to stop him, but they stayed seated. Their face was unreadable, they didn’t even seem upset.

 

“Yikes….” Machi said breaking the silence.

 

Illumi looked confused, “That’s just how teenagers are, everything is so life or death.”

 

“So … you’re not upset?” Hisoka asked, hoping they would finally acknowledge him.  

 

“Of course not,” they sighed, “Better he yell at me, than our mother. I don’t think that woman knows what a child actually is.”

 

    “That’s for sure…”







   

 

   

Chapter Text

 

Morning came too soon the next day. Illumi was painfully aware they had forgotten to shut their curtains the night before. Not only that but they had a horrible crick in their neck, and they felt smothered for some reason.

 

They still hadn't opened their eyes, but they could tell the daylight was streaming in harshly. How late did they end up sleeping in.

Everything felt groggy, and it took them a moment to remember the previous night's events. Then it hit them. The vow renewal, their mother, Kalluto, those two....

 

Speaking of that smothered feeling...

 

Illumi finally blinked their eyes open.

 

On one side they could see a very familiar, muscular arm gripping them from a across their shoulders. Another glace down, and it seemed like smaller arms were grasping onto their waist under a pink mess of hair.  

 

That's right... they thought to themselves, we stayed the night.

 

It was odd having the two of them in their childhood bedroom. There was really nothing childish about it, since their tastes had always been refined. It was still a little jarring.

 

Apparently the sun was bothering Hisoka as well.He proceeded to crush his jaw into their neck, almost painfully hard. How did they get trapped by such a troublesome people?

 

Illumi knew the two of them had made up by the way they were actually tolerating each other by the end of the night. Even so they would never have predicted the three of them would end up like this.

 

They had all ended up just staying at the estate for the night because driving home was impossible from the amount of alcohol they drank at the reception. If Illumi had any self preservation they would have stopped drinking after the third glass, now they would have to explain these two to their family….

 

While it might be possible to sneak out that would mean ditching Killua and his little friend. They weren’t too inclined to either scenario, but at least if they ditched the kid Hisoka and Kikyo wouldn’t have a chance to see each other.

 

That might actually be for the best all things considered….

 

There was a loud knocking at their door followed by Killua’s voice,

“Breakfast you freaks! Unless you plan on hiding from mom and leaving me here!”

 

Dammit, Illumi thought, they should have considered Killua’s knowledge of their flighty behavior when it came to things like this.

 

Hisoka groaned into their neck while Machi threw something hard at the door. Neither action was very surprising.

 

The knocking came back louder, this time Alluka’s voice filled the room,

 

“Are you coming!! I want to meet everyone!”

 

“Stop it! You want to get killed, Alluka? Let’s get out of here!”

 

Shrieking and laughing could be heard echoing down the hall as the two made their escape. It was Illumi’s turn to groan. They really didn’t want to face their family.

 

Machi was the first to release them from her tight grip, sitting up with a hazy look in her eyes. It seemed like she also forgot about where she ended up. She was still wearing her dress from last night, having passed out immediately when she hit the bed.

 

Regardless of her state of disarray she still looked so elegant as if the black smudges under her eyes were on purpose. They tried to push other thoughts about her to back of their mind. This was starting to get more complicated, especially this early in the morning.

 

She had yet to acknowledge them, scrolling through her phone and replying back to any messages. Illumi wondered if they should stop staring at her, but it seemed weird to pretend to be asleep.

 

“I don’t have any clothes,” she said, not looking at either of them.

 

“I have a sister.”

 

“Cool.”

 

“We’re at my house,” Illumi reminded her, for what reason they weren’t sure.

 

She finally looked at them with a weird expression, “Yea…. I figured.”

 

They were at a loss of what to do, or how to make this whole thing less awkward. This was the first time they had brought anyone over to their house so they had no idea what was normal.

 

Machi didn’t seem too bothered by the situation. She had gotten up to check herself in the floor mirror on the other side of the room, as if checking the damage from last night.

 

In the meantime they tried to push Hisoka off of them so they weren’t in such a compromising state. All attempts seemed to be futile, and he just pulled them closer using their waist as leverage now that Machi was gone.

 

How annoying, they thought to themselves.

 

They could hear Machi snort, probably at their struggle to get out of the stronger man’s grasp. Normally Illumi could keep up with Hisoka’s strength, but this early in the morning it was a lot harder. Hisoka seemed to be on guard all of the time.

 

“For future reference,” Machi said, pinching a spot on Hisoka’s neck that was left vulnerable from his positioning.

 

“Fuck!”

 

Hisoka basically leapt out of the bed, falling onto the floor. Illumi almost laughed, seeing someone normally so graceful fall on their face.

 

Machi shrugged, looking unphased, “He doesn’t like that.”

 

He turned from his position to glare at her. The look in his eyes was similar to the one that came over him when he wanted to fight. The girl still seemed not to notice or care, now looking through one of Illumi’s closets.

 

Illumi thought he was really going to try something, but his expression turned to something displeased instead.

 

“I can’t believe we stayed here last night,” he replied, “There’s no way to head out before we’re noticed?”

 

“I’m afraid not.”

 

Hisoka clicked his tongue in annoyance, “I thought I was off the hook….”

 

Machi finally addressed him, “Their mother can’t be that bad.”

 

Both Illumi and Hisoka shared a grim look.

 

“She is…”



------



Since Canary had also stayed over breakfast was met with her and Killua dominating the conversation. Kikyo had yet to come down, but Silva had been there with their grandfather at the counter on his second coffee. The man didn’t say anything, but Illumi noticed his eyes linger on their injured hand as the three of them made their way to the dining table.

 

They figured at this point their mother had probably told him about what she thought had happened. If that was the case, Silva would probably leave the subject alone.

 

Kalluto was the last of the younger ones to make it to the table. Illumi noticed he sat as far away from them as possible, with room to still glare at them every five minutes. They hadn’t brought up the altercation with their parents yet, but it was soon to come. It was rare the two of them were home for an extended amount of time, and Kalluto needed to have some sort of punishment for his actions.

 

Machi’s presence seemed to unerve the younger boy. That was interesting. Was it because she was friends with Feitan?

 

Before they had a chance to explore that line of thought the woman of the hour came in.

 

Of course since there was company over Kikyo had made sure she was perfectly pinned together, in her designer robe and ‘natural’ makeup. She glided in like a terrifying gust of wind, stopping to kiss Silva on the cheek before taking a seat next to the still disgruntled looking Kalluto.

 

“My dear your face will get stuck that way,” she commented, causing him to look away from Illumi.

 

Alluka snickered from her seat next to Gon and Killua, trying not to give anything away. It was then her turn to receive her fair share of Kalluto’s wrath after that.

 

“So angry today?” she pressed, giving Illumi a questioning look.

 

She had yet to zero in on Hisoka or Machi for that matter. They hoped since Killua had people over it seemed normal enough for them as well. They decided to play along to keep the heat off of them for as long as possible.

 

“Sometimes when people make mistakes they tend to get upset, rather than feel remorse….” Illumi replied cryptically, “I would have thought you’d tell mother what you got up to last night?”

 

Now Kikyo was thoroughly interested, completely turned towards the younger boy waiting for an explanation.

 

“Might I remind you mother I’ve never been one to cause trouble… unlike some others.”

 

“Blaming me for your own actions?” they asked, eyebrow raised.

 

“I didn’t even do anything!”

 

“Didn’t you?--”

 

“--- Alright!” Silva’s voice boomed, from his place at the counter, “If you are going to fight like children, then that’s how you’ll be treated.”

 

Illumi whipped their head around, confused by their father’s comment. It seemed like he was actually trying to be a parent? When did this start happening? Things haven’t changed that much.

 

Even so Kalluto seemed defeated, leaving the room altogether. They almost felt guilty, but more so confused. Children he had said. Was he also referring to them?

 

“Speaking of trouble,” their mother’s bubbly voice butted in, “How long have you been here, Hisoka?”

 

The man in question blinked, “Since yesterday?

 

“I hadn’t noticed,” she replied, “Well seems like you have been trying to stay under the radar. I’m surprised you didn’t just leave this morning.”

 

So she did notice that… Illumi confirmed.

 

“Under the radar?” Hisoka asked innocently, “I’d never classify my actions like that. It just seemed like you had more important things to arrange .”

 

That had definitely been on purpose. Illumi had to be thankful he was going to take the bullet, commenting about her actions with the Portor’s. They didn’t have the heart to bring it up.

 

“That’s certainly none of your business.”

 

Hisoka put a hand on Illumi’s.

 

“Isn’t it?”

 

“Can we stop with all the dramatics?” Killua finally spoke up, annoyance clear in his tone.

 

Their mother seemed shocked by the interruption, “Kil--

 

“This is a bunch of bullshit. You all want to know what’s going on? Kalluto made out with the Portor’s son, Illumi is probably making out with these two, and you just don’t like Hisoka because he called your 2016 collection gaudy. Can we all just get over ourselves. None of this matters.”

 

The table was quiet. Some too shocked to speak, others keeping their mouth shut to stay out of the crossfire. Illumi seemed the most annoyed, and the least surprised.

 

“Alright then, who’s the kid?” they asked, as if that would get them some leverage.

 

“Gon, is my boyfriend. Are you happy everyone?” he threw up his hands, “I’m gay, guess what no one’s surprised.”

 

With that the middle child took his leave, said boyfriend following closely behind. Illumi had to give Killua credit. He put everyone’s cards on the table, even his own.

 

Of course this made for an even more awkward meal. The silence broken by Machi,

 

“I just want to make it clear, I have only made out with one of them.”

 

----



“Well that was a fucking disaster…”

 

Machi was currently sprawled out in the backseat while Illumi drove the three of them back to campus. Gon and Killua decided to get a ride back with Canary thankfully. It seemed like all of the siblings except Alluka and Miluki had issues with each other.

 

Hopefully the issues with Killua would get sorted out first since they lived together. Kalluto was a different story…

 

“It went about the way I thought it would,” Hisoka disagreed, “Thank god Killua called everyone out. I was about to get my ass handed to me.”

 

Illumi sighed, “I suppose. I just can’t believe Silva said that….”

 

“Silva?”

 

“My father.”

 

Hisoka blinked, “Since when have you called him by his first name?”

 

“Since my parents started dating?”

 

“What?”

 

Illumi sighed again, this was not something they wanted to get into. Their home life had already been on display back there, this was too much information at once. There was no other way to explain what they said though…

 

They straighten in their seat looking away from the two that now had their eyes on them.

 

“He’s not really my father…”

 

“Oh.”

 

Kikyo had married Silva after she had Illumi and Miluki. Killua was technically their first child together which was why they didn’t really look a like. Maybe that was part of the reason they felt the need to show their family they were worth something.

 

Being a bastard child was a technicality, they never wanted to feel like one.

 

It wasn’t a subject normally brought up.

 

Hisoka and Machi had been in the foster care system however, so they wouldn’t think differently of them because of this right?

 

 “Well I would be pissed too,” Machi agreed, “You’re the one who’s always dealt with the kids right? So he’s just now trying to step in and be present?”

 

“I guess so… maybe more had changed with him since I left for school.”

 

Hisoka hummed, “Well it could have been worse. You talked right? What did he say about Kalluto?”

 

Illumi’s expression went blank, “He didn’t care. He likes Feitan.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Kalluto is too young. He doesn’t even care, neither of them do,” they continued, “They just want their little arrangement to work out. Apparently the Portor’s shares went up and it would be good… business wise.”

 

Machi looked almost distressed, “Well that’s fucked up.”

 

From Silva’s perspective he didn’t care what Kalluto did, and since this worked in his favor he encouraged it if anything. No one was thinking about any of the consequences. Sure Kalluto would be eighteen next month…. But what if they broke up or things got messy.

 

It wouldn’t just be a bad breakup, it would affect deals and costs. It made Illumi feel ill. They never thought their family would go along with something so crude.

 

Then again, this was just convenient for them. Silva and Kikyo weren’t pushing them together, but they weren’t going to put a stop to anything either. If anything Kikyo seemed displeased by this revelation as well, but left it up to Silva’s discretion.

 

Since the man had never been much of a father, what good did that do?

 

“If it makes you feel any better,” Machi started, “Feitan is only nineteen. He left home before he finished high school. I don’t think he wants to be part of this kind of life… we only came to get more money from his family. He plans on splitting as soon as he can.”

 

Illumi didn’t say anything to that, but it did give them some relief. That wouldn’t make everything better even if it was true. Feitan had been reckless and irresponsible. If anyone else had caught them…. like the press? It would have been a scandal in some form or other.

 

There was a reason Illumi had these opportunities, there was reason Alluka was famous on social media, there was a reason Killua didn’t tell anyone about Gon, there was a reason for Kalluto to be cautious. Their family, their name, was in the spotlight.

 

Sometimes it felt like one wrong move and they would be ruined.

 

-----

 

It was about one in the morning when Feitan finally got back to the apartment after the vow renewal. He had basically raced back home, adrenaline running high.

 

After his texts with Machi he prepared for the worst. If she really had told everyone what happened, especially from Illumi’s perspective, then the rest of the group was going to confront him about it.

 

Opening the door, he was fully prepared to be met with their relentless teasing.

 

However none came.

 

Chrollo was laying on the couch reading something, while Phinks sat next him on the floor. Shizuku was in her normal spot at the table writing, and Shalnark was next to her playing something on his DS.

 

Nothing seemed out to the ordinary. Everyone greeted him half heartedly, no jabs or jokes at his expense.

 

Maybe Machi hadn’t said anything?

 

Regardless he felt jittery and stressed. There was no real reason it was just the mood he had been left in ever since the initial… confrontation, with Kalluto or Illumi he wasn’t sure.

 

Apparently something had been said while he was running a playback of the past events through his head. He looked up to see Chrollo had a hand on his shoulder. Had he called his name?

 

Feitan looked away, but finally acknowledged him, “What?”

 

“Nothing, just remember to take your medicine. You got back later than you were supposed to.”

 

“Oh…. right… yea.”

 

The mention of medicine made him feel foggy. He didn’t usually mind taking it, but now he felt stressed. Was this normal? Why aren’t they asking about Machi? She must have talked to them then?

 

The questions kept coming, but he didn’t make a move to ask them.

 

Chrollo gave his shoulder squeeze and then walked off towards a bedroom to sleep for the night.

 

Was he waiting up for me? That’s weird… he thought.

 

“So how the party?” Shalnark asked nonchalantly.

 

“I don’t know... I got the car... I stayed too late… it was … fine.”

 

Shalnark didn’t make any comments about Machi or Kalluto. Instead opting for something a little more selfish.

 

“What ya get me?”

 

“Right!” Feitan went through his pockets taking out the small antiques he stole from that sitting room, “I can price them in the morning, and cover the cost.”

 

The other seemed pleased by the response, not bringing anything else up. The rest sat in comfortable silence. Phinks was now stretched out on the couch, while Shizuku hadn’t changed pace in her writing since he arrived.

 

The silence was getting to him. He felt like he should just say it , they had to know by now. Machi wouldn’t lie about telling everyone right?

 

“I… I made out with Illumi’s brother.”

 

Shalnark paused his game, “So it was a good party?”

 

“ Yea.”  

 

It was obvious they already knew, but he hadn’t said anything else. There was no teasing, not even on Phink’s part. Everyone must be too tired to hassle him.

 

Feitan rested his head in his arms. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about everyone giving him a hard time about this. Now that left one question.

 

What was he going to do about Kalluto?

 

He hoped their kiss would wayne the feelings he had initially, but if anything it had just jump started it. That second kiss had sealed the deal, but where did that leave him. Was Kalluto actually interested in him or was it more about the experience?

 

Why would anyone be interested in me anyways, he thought, trying to put other self deprecating thoughts away.

Kalluto obviously didn’t know him that well or he would have thought twice before pursuing someone like him. Eventually he would learn he made a mistake.

 

It was just deciding if Feitan wanted to prolong it or not, but those were thoughts for another day. For now he would just take his antipsychotic and try to get some sleep.

 

 

 

Sleep never came that night.





Chapter Text

“Hey the boys want to stay here, if that’s cool?”

 

That was definitely cool. It had been over six months since Franklin and Bono had come to visit them. They had graduated last year, and hit the road after that. Kortopi had left as well but she was still working when the other two asked her to tag along.

 

It was so odd to learn they had real jobs outside of the group and school now. Bono was training to be a boxer, but still managed to get a few concert gigs. Franklin was basically working gig jobs, trying to figure out what he wanted.

 

Kortopi’s job was a little more structured than the others. She was working at a museum a few hours away, restoring artwork and making copies of other pieces. Chrollo and a few others had gone to see her, but Feitan had never gotten around to it.

 

He had too much going at the time to make the trip, but hopefully she’d make her way back to see them too. Sometimes Fetian wondered what would happen once they all graduated… Would everyone leave and make their own way in life. Would he even be able to since he was tied up in Chrollo’s drug games?

 

Feitan tried not to think about the long run that often. All that mattered was that for now Franklin and Bono were coming to visit, and they wanted to stay with him.

 

“Yea, there’s enough room. Some people might have to get moved around to your place at night if it gets too crowded.”

 

Chrollo nodded, “I figured, but we’ll see how everything goes. I’m sure you’re excited to see Franklin right?”

 

It was true, he was pretty bias about the two of them coming to visit. He liked Bono just fine, but him and Franklin were close. When he first joined the group Feitan stuck around him, Shizuku, and Shalnark. Along with Chrollo, they had really made him feel accepted.

 

“Yea, he’s been texting me,” Feitan admitted, “Wants to have a big poker game this weekend.”

 

That perked up the boss, “Oh really? I could get into that. Mind getting a headcount?”



“Sure. There’s another thing…”

 

Chrollo looked curious, it wasn’t often Feitan had requests. Normally he just went along with whatever the group did as long as it interested him. He was never into the partying scene, too much stimulation, but he did enjoy the little things.

 

Feitan found it hard to bring up what wanted to say however. He knew it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it felt like he was putting himself on display. Which he always hated.

 

With Chrollo it wasn’t as stressful, but then again this was the guy who pulled the strings. If he wasn’t okay with something that was it. Thankfully Chrollo was never too put off by anything unless it had to do with Hisoka or Kurapika.

 

Then again Illumi had become a sore subject… and Kalluto was Illumi’s younger brother. Maybe this would be an issue…

 

Only one way to find out.

 

“I might ask Kalluto to bring my mustang at some point… I left it there.”

 

Chrollo didn’t seem too surprised, “Oh? Is he going to hang out for a little while?”

 

He shook his head, unsure of what would happened.

 

Machi had given him Kalluto’ s number, but he had yet to message him. The whole situation was so awkward. He at least wanted to ask about his car, but then that seemed like such a selfish thing to start a conversation with.

 

Since when did he care about whether or not he was being selfish?

 

“If he does that’s fine with me,” he agreed, “So let me ask you…



...Are you two a thing?”

 

“Thing?” Feitan asked, unsure of the phrasing.

 

“Dating I mean?”

 

He blinked in response. Sure they had kissed at the reception and it had been rather dramatic, but they weren’t dating or anything serious. If the boss has only heard about what happened though, he could be unsure of how things went down.

 

“No.”

 

Chrollo hummed, “Well that’s interesting. I hear Illumi is completely livid about you two, did you know that?”

 

Feitan shook his head, but he had assume the oldest Zoldyck would still be pissed.

 

“Anything that will upset Illumi always brings in some interesting developments,” he continued, “So I hope it works out with you two.”

“You can be such a tool, you know that?”



----

 

Bringing the boys over. Get ready- CL

 

Feitan was ready. Ever since they had gotten word Franklin and Bono might be coming three months ago he had been ready. He wasn’t sure how long they were staying, but he made sure to have enough food and liquor on hand to last a month. While they probably wouldn’t be staying that long, everything would be eaten and drank by the others regardless.

 

There wasn’t a lot that got him that excited these days. If anything he was mostly stressed out because of the hole Chrollo had been digging himself. Feitan hoped that Franklin would be able to knock some sense into the man. This drug shit was getting too heavy.

 

It was only a matter of time until their boss would get caught.

 

If or when that happened it might throw a wrench in their group. While Chrollo would never taken them down with him, they might kill each other in the process. He tried not to think about it. Hopefully Franklin would be able to turn the tide in this short time.

 

About thirty minutes after he got Chrollo’s text the three of them were pulling in around the corner sliding into the space next to the ‘new’ porsche. Bono was the first to jump out, giving him a one of his classic sucker punches in the shoulder.

 

“What the hell baby, when did you get this ride?”

 

Feitan pushed him good naturedly, “Like a week ago, you want to take her out later?”

 

“Fuck do I.”

 

A bag came falling towards the taller boxer’s face followed by a long instrument case. He grabbed both before they hit the ground, giving the offender a dirty look.

 

“Jeeze man, careful with the cargo!” Bono squawked, “I’ve gotta a recital later, ass.”

 

“You’re still doing that?” came Franklin’s deep voice, “What a spaz, you don’t even go here anymore.”

 

Feitan had to keep himself from whipping around and looking too excited. He hated when people could read him, he could barely deal with the fact that Chrollo knew too much about him.

 

He didn’t have to play cool too long before he was suddenly being lifted off the ground by two strong arms. Franklin haphazardly threw him over his shoulder, and grabbed the rest of their bags with the other.

 

“Still as short as ever,” he teased, earning him a whack in the face.

 

“Still as ugly as ever.”

 

He could hear Chrollo laughing behind them, the urge to kick had never been stronger. It was known the only person who could manhandle or comment about Feitan’s height was Franklin. Phinks has once tried to pull something similar and the poor guy didn’t know what hit him.

 

Despite his smaller stature, Feitan was probably one of the strongest ones in the group. Since Franklin was stronger he couldn’t put up much of a fight, not that he wanted to.

 

“Are you going to be playing tomorrow night?” Franklin asked, still carrying him up the stairs.

 

“Obviously, or what money would even be in the pot?”

 

The bigger man laughed, “Looks like you’re gonna get cleaned out, boss.”

 

“That’s fine, it’s a special occasion,” Chrollo agreed.

 

Feitan was finally thrown onto the couch once they had reached his apartment. Thankfully no one was crashing on it, or that would have been a very rude awakening. It wouldn’t be long until more people started showing up to catch up with the two visitors.

 

Even though it was barely ten in the morning, Bono started cracking open some beers like he had never left. Feitan joined the three of them leaning around the kitchen, taking the stool next where Franklin was standing.

 

When Bono offered him a beer, he declined. It was too early to drink since he just had his medication.

 

“So heard you made out like a bandit,” Franklin commented, confusing him.

 

Chrollo explained, “Yea those antiques he swiped from the party went for way more than we first thought, not to mention the car, and….”

 

“And?”

 

Feitan couldn’t remember anything else he had stolen from that stupid Zoldyck party. Unless they were talking about….

 

“--And nothing.” Feitan stopped him from continuing.

 

Bono whistled, “Doesn’t sound like nothin, little man.”

 

He threw his unopened beer at him in return. Feitan really hoped they would drop the subject, this was not the first thing he wanted to talk about with these guys. Then again wasn’t he stressed out a few nights ago because no one would bring it up?

 

Emotions were so annoying.

 

“Well now I’m curious,” Franklin said, giving him a side glance, “What the hell happened?”

 

Feitan couldn’t bring himself to talk about it, so he just waved a hand at Chrollo giving him permission to explain. It took a lot for him not to glare at their leader in the process, since he was the one who brought the subject up to begin with.

 

“Alright, not to get into detail but….”

 

“-- I kissed Illumi’s stupid brother, at that stupid party, and then fucking Illumi almost killed me. I had to climb down the balcony of their stupid fucking mansion. Then their dad threw me the keys to the porsche and I bolted.”

 

There was a silence and then Franklin spoke up.

 

“Damn, sounds like a good party.”

 

“I was so proud when I heard the news from Machi, our Feitan is finally growing up,” Chrollo teased, “I can’t believe the day has--

 

“--bite me.

 

And go put on a shirt, you look like an asshole.”

 

-----

 

MK- Hey kid
MK - contact share: [Feitan Portor]

MK- I figured this could be helpful.

MK- DON’T TELL ILLUMI I GAVE THIS TO YOU.

 

KZ- Oh thanks, this will save a lot of time. I thought I was going to have to waste blackmail material to get this number.

 

MK- Don’t say I never did anything for you.

 

KZ- Hey quick question.
KZ- Are you dating Illumi?

 

MK- NO

 

KZ- could have fooled me.
KZ- so does he want me to text him or something?
KZ- does he have my number?

 

MK- How should I know, I was just trying to be nice.
MK- I now realize that might have been a mistake.

 

KZ- whatever I will figure it out.

KZ- don’t worry I won’t tell Illumi.

 

MK- thanks…..

 

KZ- of course, I’ve always wanted another sister <3

 

MK- YOU’RE REALLY PUSHING YOUR LUCK KID.



“What’s so funny?”

 

Kalluto looked up to see Alluka standing by the door with a bag. It looked like she was about head out somewhere, probably a friend’s house.

 

He hadn’t realized he laughed aloud at Machi’s texts, but that must have been what she was asking about. Couldn’t anyone in this family mind their own business?

 

“Just a message someone sent me.”

 

“That boy?”

 

It took a lot of effort not to fling his phone at her, but she didn’t seem like she was teasing him about it so there was that. Even so it things had been weird between them since the vow renewal.

 

Alluka felt bad about outing Kalluto to their other siblings, and thought he was mad at her. He wasn’t, he was just mad at the situation. Of course it would be his luck that half of his family would walk in on him when he finally got to kiss the guy he had been obsessing over for the past month.

 

If he was mad at anyone it was Illumi. It was one thing to rat him out to their parents, but to chase Feitan off the side of the building? That was way too far, and honestly a little overkill. Kalluto knew Illumi wouldn’t be nearly as pissed if it was someone else.

 

He had come to realize that Feitan was also wrapped up with their family along with Illumi’s weird on again, off again, friend group. Once he had found out that the Portor’s were back to propositioning another arranged marriage everything made a lot more sense.

 

Their mother’s distaste, Illumi’s rage, Feitan’s hesitation, all stemmed from the fact that the Portor’s were trying to build this weird alliance. Feeling brave he had finally confronted his father about what the hell their intentions were.  

 

Silva had seemed impressed Kalluto had completely bypassed his mother and went straight to him. It had been a rather refreshing conversation, and now he had a lot more perspective on things.

 

Apparently the Portor’s shares had gone up, and so Kikyo had become interested in making some kind of connection with them again. Silva was not on board, since he didn’t see eye to eye with the man running things. To be fair they did used to date before he met their mother.

 

Kalluto figured that would seal the deal or their family’s distaste for Feitan, but instead something more surprising happened. Silva liked Feitan?

 

“That boy is just pretending to come back so he can get the rest of his money and whatever else that desperate man will give him,” Silva had explained, “I feel bad for the kid, he has a horrible father to look up to. I have to respect him for leaving like he did, especially so young.”

 

That had turned Kalluto’s world upside down. Never did he expect anything remotely like that to come from his father’s mouth.

 

“You’re young too,” he continued, “but if you like this kid and you’re looking for some kind of approval, you have mine. Illumi is just being overprotective, it’s their nature.

 

You can’t fault them for being worried, we have always put a lot on their shoulders. Even so you can do what you want within reason.

 

Honestly I like that kid, I hope it works out.”

 

That whole conversation had been surreal, but it was nice to know he had his father’s approval. Even more so that no one was trying to force Kalluto get married which would have been a whole different issue.

 

All in all it had been a very eye opening talk. Kalluto couldn’t help be pleased by the outcome, it felt like they had common ground with each other. Like Illumi, Kalluto never had a very close relationship with the man.

 

Illumi’s insecurities about that stemmed from a completely different place,  but even so Kalluto could relate.

 

“Well is it?” Alluka asked breaking his train of thought, “That boy?”

 

“No.”

 

She scoffed, obviously not believing him, but didn’t press the issue.

 

“Well I’m going out, try not to get into anymore trouble.”

 

It was Kalluto’s turn to scoff, “Shouldn’t I be telling you that, learner’s permit ?”

 

She stuck her tongue out at him and grabbed her keys off the hook, disregarding his warning. Either way he wouldn’t sell her out for driving around without a real license, because apparently he was the only one who still knew what sibling solidarity was.

 

The door shut and he had one thought.

 

One down one to go.

 

KZ- Hey Machi gave me your number.

FP- What do you want kid?

 

Wait a minute…. kid?

 

What did Kalluto want? He hadn’t planned on Feitan getting back to him so fast. He didn’t have anything planned to say after that. There was one neutral thing he could bring up…

 

KZ- You left your other car here, when you stole your dad’s porsche.

KZ- If it’s not gone by the end of the week, I’m going to sell it.

 

FP- I was going to ask you about that but...
FP- It’s annoying. You live two hours away.

 

KZ- I can drive it over.

 

FP- shit I just realized the keys to it are in my pocket.

 

KZ- It’s fine, I can make my brother start it up for me.

FP- Isn’t that dangerous?

KZ- Whatever. I’m sure I could get a good price for it.

 

FP- Fine. Drive it here. Do whatever you want.

 

KZ- Well when you put it like that.
KZ- You’re lucky I’d rather see you than have $50,000

 

FP- Yea right. It’s only half that amount.

FP- Maybe if you were trying to sell that ugly camaro.

 

KZ- I like that camaro asshole.

KZ- But wait I don’t understand why you’re so focused on the cars?

 

FP- I like talking about cars.

 

KZ- I see.

 

FP- Did you know that the most expensive camaro was sold at an auction for $990,000 in 2016?

KZ- I didn’t.

 

FP- Yea I think it was a 1969/68’ model.
FP- It was so ugly, Z/28 Penske Trans Am Racer.

 

KZ- Interesting.

 

That was not where they planned to have the conversation go at all. Why was he suddenly so into talking about cars? Did he get sidetracked easily or something? Maybe he was nervous? He didn’t seem that nervous, but it was hard to tell through texts.

 

There was nothing Kalluto could really add to this exchange, so he figured changing the subject would be the right response. It would also help him try to lock down some plans.

 

KZ- Well do you want this thing or not?

 

FP- What the mustang?

 

KZ- Yes. I can drive it down there this tonight, and you can tell me more about how much you hate my car.

 

FP- Okay.
FP- Some of my friends are in town rn.

 

KZ- Alright.

 

FP- You can still come, I just thought I would let you know.
FP- There will be a lot of people over.

 

KZ- That’s fine.

KZ- I’ll see you then.

 

FP- I hope you don’t get killed driving that thing, because you don’t know what you’re doing.

 

KZ- It’s a win win either way

 

FP- not going to think about that one too hard.

Chapter Text

After a painful three hours Kalluto was finally on campus, parked at the address Feitan texted him. It had only taken him that long because he had to spend the first hour convincing Miluki to jump the car in the first place.

 

Two Idol girl figures with matching key chains later Kalluto was on the road. While the car drove fine once it was started, he was paranoid something would give out on the way up. Thankfully he made it there in one piece.

 

Now he was exhausted. On the trip over his anxiety was rising steadily, when he was finally parked he was having a hard time breathing. It was ridiculous. He was the one who basically invited himself over, and now he couldn’t even get out of the car.

He cursed himself for not thinking this through. From what he could remember Feitan’s friends were a pretty intense group of people. So much so that even Illumi had been staying away from most of them lately. Would he be able to keep up with them?

 

The last thing he wanted to do was look like a fool after coming all this way. It was already a little mortifying that he had gone to all this trouble. Kalluto hoped no one would comment on it.

 

Finally he willed himself to leave the car. Walking over to the apartment building, he saw a small crowd of people outside circling each other. That was probably something to steer clear of…

 

He almost turned around to go back to the mustang, until he saw a couple of familiar faces in the circle. It was Machi and Nobu.

 

From what he could tell Nobu was in some kind of fight or match with a lanky looking guy wearing boxing gloves. Machi was sitting with another girl and some big guy not wearing a shirt. At least he knew he was in the right place…

 

“Look who it is!” Machi shouted from across the parking lot, “Didn’t expect to see you so soon!”

 

Kalluto raised a hand in greeting, but didn’t respond right away. Nobu relaxed his stance to wave as well, recognizing him from last time. His opponent took the opportunity and punched the man square in the jaw.

 

“Yikes…” was all Kalluto say, flinching back.

 

“Bono that’s dirty!” the big guy yelled, but there was laughter in his tone.

 

The boxer in question just shrugged and helped Nobu up. This was a little rougher than Kalluto was used to, but at least they seemed to care about each other.

 

Machi waved him over, and he took a seat next to her on the curb with the other two. She offered him a beer, which he immediately took. There was no reason to go into this night sober. He already felt like throwing up.

 

“Glad you could make, tonight’s a big night you know.”

 

“Oh really? Feitan said you were having people over… but there’s so many of you I can’t tell.”

 

Machi laughed, “Yea there’s more inside too, they are playing poker right now.”

 

“So what’s going out here?”

 

She explained that Bono was a boxer and Nobu was more into martial arts so they wanted to have an official match. Whoever won got to face off with Uvo, the big guy next to them. Apparently Uvo was the strongest guy in their group, at least until one of the other boys beat him.

 

Like that was going to happen….

 

“So who’s the kid?” Uvo finally asked, leaning closer to their eye level.

 

“Excuse me--”

 

Machi decided to but in, “Kalluto, Illumi’s brother, ya know.”

 

“OH right! You were with them at the cafe that night, right?”

 

Kalluto nodded, thankful that was the reason Uvo might have heard of him. At least that ruled out anyone else talking about what happened at the reception.

 

“So what are you like Feitan’s boyfriend or something now?”

 

Well that lasted less than a minute.

 

He almost choked on a sip of beer at that comment. Instead of embarrassing himself further, he was able to come back with a quick retort to the accusation.

 

“He would be so lucky.”

 

Before anyone could comment Bono struck the winning blow on the other man, and the group’s attention was on the victor.

 

“Alright Uvogin, looks like it’s just you and me now,” Bono said, the insinuation not lost on anyone.

 

“What did I say about fighting dirty!”

 

Machi looked on with annoyance, as the other girl helped Nobu to his feet. Kalluto was thankful for her presence. It was nice to know there was someone he knew here who he could somewhat trust.

 

He was mainly counting on the fact that she liked Illumi so she’d look out for him. She did give him Feitan’s number after all.

 

The girl in question, draped an arm over his shoulder, pulling him a little closer.

 

“Let’s go upstairs and get some stale air.”

 

“Stale?”

 

She laughed, “What goes better with poker? Something good to smoke.”

 

“Yes, that does sound pretty good about now.”

 

----



Machi wasn’t joking when it came to stale air. The apartment smelled like smoke and alcohol, but it wasn’t entirely unwelcome. He had been bracing himself for the more unfortunate smell of weed, but it seemed like it was mainly cigarettes and cigars that filled the air.

 

Most people found that to be the more disgusting smell, but it was more familiar to him. While his mother and some other extended family members liked to pretend they were perfect, there was also a lot of back porch smoking that went on in his childhood.  

 

“Hey lady and gentleboys,” Machi greeted at the door.

 

“Lose interest in the pissing contest already?” came an unfamiliar voice.

 

“Franklin you of all people know how draining five minutes can be with those idiots.”

 

A lighter voice laughed above the smoke, “I doubt it’s that draining if Uvo took his shirt off before the fight.”

 

She scoffed in response and led Kalluto to the kitchen.

“Of course you’d say that, Shal…. I mean I would fucking hope so…”

 

From where Kalluto was standing in the kitchen he could somewhat make out the crowd around the big table. The kitchen cut off his perspective, so he could assume no one had noticed him come in yet, which was a relief.

 

He was very grateful to have Machi with him. He couldn’t imagine coming into this on his own, and trying to find a place among these strangers.

 

“Hey man, try not to stress,” Machi whispered, basically reading his mind, “Half of these idiots are wasted. You can’t fuck up around this group either way.”

 

“I suppose that’s some relief. I just wish people wouldn’t bring up… that .”

 

She hummed, “Yea you and Feitan both. Don’t worry I’m pretty sure he’d kill everyone and then himself if you were embarrassed. That’s just his personality.”

 

“How… comforting.”

 

Their conversation was cut short, when some of the guys started asking for Machi. It was clear they didn’t realize Kalluto had come along with her. The realization of seeing Feitan again hit him like a ton of bricks.

 

Only this time he didn’t have the advantage anymore, and he was about to confronted with his closest friends. What if they didn’t like him? What if they did?

 

Machi didn’t give him anymore time to panic, grabbing his arm and pulling him back towards the living room. The group up close looked a lot more intimidating than he remembered. Then again he didn’t know over half these people.

 

He remembered Paku, she was seated closely next to a greaser looking boy who was also shirtless underneath a leather jacket. There was another blonde next to them, though he was a little more put together looking, aside from the permanent scowl on his face.

 

It seemed that face was popular, as the biggest and scariest guy at the table had one too. Then almost out of character, a blissful looking boy with a bleached bowl cut was happily leaning against the plague on Kalluto’s mind.

 

Feitan of course looked as horrifyingly devastating as he remembered a week ago. It only made the headrush Kalluto was getting from all the smoke worse.

 

The guy in the leather jacket caught their eyes first.

“Welcome to my night of humiliating defeat,” he greeted raising a drink to them.

 

“One in a series…”

 

The bigger man flicked a chip at the offender,“Don’t gloat Feitan, its not christian.”

 

“Neither am I.”

 

That same annoyed look came over Machi’s face again. She grabbed a pack of cigarettes off the table, and lit herself and then Kalluto one. Again he couldn’t be more thankful for this girl being there.

 

“Everybody this is Kalluto. I’d introduce you but I don’t know three of them.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” the leather jacket asked.

 

She threw the pack his way, “It’s means, Chrollo, I don’t know you until you start winning your money back.”

 

Chrollo …. Why did that name give him more anxiety than this whole night? All he could remember was that this guy was the person Illumi and Hisoka were constantly having issues with. Machi didn’t seem to have any problems though.

 

The boss, as far as he knew, just laughed at her remark. It didn’t seem like they were being too serious, but it was hard to tell with this group.

 

“Hey kid come sit next to me,” Feitan said suddenly.

 

What’s with this ‘kid’ thing… its a total turn off- - Oh god is he talking to me now?

 

Trained to never let his emotions rest on his face, Kalluto just raised a brow.

 

“Is that allowed?”

 

The bowl cut boy… Shalnark spoke up, making room for him, “I wouldn’t object!”

 

Dazed and definitely a little distracted, Kalluto found himself between the two of them at an already cramped table. Thankfully there were two other people just spectating at the game as well so at least he wasn’t the odd man out.

 

From the stacks of chips at each player it seemed like Paku was winning, and Franklin and Feitan were closing in. Their boss however did not look too good, but there was something in his expression that made Kalluto think he wasn’t too worried.

“So what do you know about this game?”

 

Kalluto blinked, not expecting Feitan to really acknowledge him again. He glanced at his cards, expression unreadable.

 

Under his breath he finally relented, “I know you’re about lose.”

 

Sure enough the next hand was revealed to be Feitan’s downfall, and suddenly Chrollo wasn’t looking too bad. Neither seem mind the shift in funds that much, leading Kalluto to believe this game might not really in involve actual money.

 

“Well there goes 2g you idiot,” Shalnark commented.

 

Kalluto almost choked for a second time, “Two thousand dollars?”

 

“Gotta bet it to win it,” the big guy said flatly.

 

To that Feitan shrugged, “It’s just money.”

 

This was a totally different world than what he was used to. Sure Kalluto was rich and so was his family on both sides, but it was still a little jarring to see this kind of money getting passed around so carelessly.

 

After another couple of wins on Chrollo’s side, the tide was starting to shift. Still Feitan didn’t seem bothered, he also didn’t seem like he was going to stop playing anytime soon…  

 

“Should I send the IOU to your pop? Cut out the middleman?”

 

He actually laughed at that, and it took Kalluto a moment to register the sound.

 

“Yea sure, my plan was to let you win a few times so you could afford to buy yourself a shirt,” he retorted, “but I don’t mind if you send me a bill.”

 

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

 

As predicted the hands were Feitan’s favor the next two rounds, and not so suddenly Kalluto was bored, very bored. This was not really the night he was expecting, but then again Feitan did warn him.

Either way it almost felt like a waste or rather some kind of spell was broken. Maybe it was the constant ‘kid’ comments, or the fact they were ignoring the elephant in the room. It was a little sour pretending to play it cool for this long.

 

It wasn’t like his feelings had really changed. It just felt a little unreciprocated in the moment. Then again it could just be the alcohol and anxiety crash he was experiencing.  

 

After a few more drinks the next thing he knew he was waking up on a couch in that same living room. Except this time the only people in the room were the ones passed out on the floor.

 

Of course Feitan was nowhere to be found.That made sense though, it was his apartment so he had a room to go to. The fact didn’t make Kalluto feel any better.  

 

Another fact hit him even harder…

 

How the hell am I going to get home?

He couldn’t ask Illumi for a ride, they would kill him. The only other person that left was Killua, but would he rat him out to their older sibling? There was only one way to find out.

 

(note: KZ- Kalluto, ZK- Killua)

 

KZ- hey are you up?

 

ZK- yea it’s like noon man.

ZK- do I want to ask?

 

KZ- no need.
KZ- i’m sort of in your neck of the woods…

 

ZK- you’re on campus?
ZK- WAIT ARE YOU WITH THE GUY?

 

KZ- oh don’t worry he barely even talked to me, it was great.

KZ- totally worth it

KZ- I just need a ride home, and I don’t want Illumi to know.

 

ZK- fine, I owe you one
ZK- if you pull this shit again, you won’t be so lucky texting me

 

KZ- got it.

 

ZK- i’m sorry it went down like that.

 

KZ- I don’t know why i’m even surprised.

It was easy to make a silent get away. Everyone was completely knocked out from the previous night. Kalluto wondered how long they actually stayed up playing. He could slightly remember getting bored and watching a movie on the couch with a few other people in the group.

 

He must have fallen asleep during that time. The only thing he was sure of was the fact that Feitan had continued playing well into the night, the only people dropping from the game were the ones just watching.

 

Kalluto couldn’t really be mad about it, he was just disappointed. Was this just proof he couldn’t keep up? At least nothing too embarrassing happened, aside from Uvo’s comment.

 

He now realized he should have been flattered, because the mention of being Feitan’s boyfriend was probably as close as he was going to get. Not that he expected too much more.

 

Twenty minutes later Killua pulled up to the side of the apartment. Kalluto was half expecting Gon to be there too, but it was just him. He looked tired, but not upset which was a relief.

 

“So was it everything you hoped for and more?”

 

Kalluto only sighed in response, pulling himself into the passenger seat. He felt a lot more exhausted sitting in his jeep, and once the car started moving the headache from his hangover started to set in.

“So what’s the verdict?”

 

“Huh?”

 

Killua gave him a side glance before continuing, “What’s the story with that Portor guy?”

 

“Oh… I don’t know,” Kalluto began, “I still like him, but I don’t know if I should have come over last night…. There were a lot people, and …. I shouldn’t have expected much I guess.”

 

“I know what that’s like.”

 

That was not the response he had planned on getting. There was no way Killua felt that way with Gon right? They seemed inseparable at the wedding, and everything he had scene on social media had the two of them together.

 

Maybe there was something he was missing.

 

“Gon is… really popular,” he explained, “Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong, but now I know that’s not true… Sometimes you have to deal with other people being just as important as you but… in a different way. I don’t know if that makes sense…”

 

“It does…”

 

That was probably a better way of looking at it. Feitan’s friends seemed more like a dysfunctional family, and it was easy to see through the jabs and the punches that they all really cared about each other.

 

It was intimidating to be a new person in that kind of setting, and it left him feeling a little uncared for when that wasn’t really the case. He realized if he did want to pursue anything with Feitan, then that meant putting himself out there with this group of people as well….

 

…. And that didn’t seem so bad.

 

FP: Thanks for bringing my car.

FP: I’m glad you came.

 

KZ: I hope you won a lot of money.

 

FP: I did.
FP: What are you mad?

 

KZ: No way. I just hope it was worth it.

 

FP: Worth it?

 

KZ: i g n o r i n g  m e

 

FP: I didn’t ignore you

 

KZ: Haha whatever kid

 

FP: Oh does that bother you?

FP: I can send you some money for bringing my car over.
FP: How much do you want

 

KZ: How much did you win?
KZ: That’s not really a question.

 

FP: That’s fair.

 

KZ: ARE YOU SOME KIND OF IDIOT?

KZ: YOU CAN’T JUST SEND ME THAT KIND OF MONEY?

 

FP: I only sent you half, calm down.

 

Chapter Text

It was already dark when Gon’s practice ended. Killua had gotten there an hour before with Canary and Amane to hang out and watch him play. The girls had taken off when the temperature started to drop though so now it was just him.

 

He could tell not a lot of people on the team liked him very much. It was nothing personal, he took up Gon’s time, and he would end up bailing on the others if it didn’t involve soccer. Still it was a little annoying and even more disheartening.

 

He used to play sports too, and with this crowd of more open minded people he would have liked to do things with this group. They didn’t realize that though, and Killua didn’t make it easy with his standoffish personality.

 

Before he could continue down this pity party one of the team members jumped up the bleachers over to where he was sitting. That was odd.

 

If he remembered what Gon had told him this kid’s name was… Zushi. He was a pretty nice guy out of the team, but he was often on the sidelines because he wasn’t as strong of a player yet. He had a lot of potential from the practices Killua had seen though.

 

“Hey!” he greeted taking a seat next to him, “You and Gon wanna get food with some of us after this?”

 

Killua blinked, that was not what he expected, “Oh.. I wouldn’t mind. It’s up to Gon I guess.”

 

“Oh cool! Yea we are almost done, so it should be soon.”

 

“Sounds good….”

 

The boy bounced back down the bleachers back to the field as if that was the most natural thing. Maybe he had pegged the team wrong after all?

 

He watched as Zushi made his way to Gon, probably asking him the same thing. Killua figured it would be a yes from Gon since he didn’t mind going, but the way their interaction ended seemed to say the opposite.

 

Zushi looked a little deflated at his response, but smiled nonetheless. How odd…

 

In that moment he locked eyes with Gon. He smiled back but it didn’t seem to reach his eyes. Was something wrong? Nothing had been weird when they saw each other that morning, but then again it was early and he wasn’t known to be as alert as Gon.

 

When their practice had finally ended another thirty minutes later, Gon made a beeline for the bleachers, receiving some eye rolls on the way. Killua braced himself for the sweaty hug he was about to get.

 

“Gross…” Killua said pushing him off, “So are we going with them?”

 

He blinked at the question, “Huh? You mean dinner?”

 

Killua nodded as if it were obvious, but he didn’t seem to get it. Gon sent a skeptical look at the team below them, as if sizing them up.

 

“Nah… I’d rather hang out with you!”

 

Normally Killua would be easily swayed by such a response, but it seemed like there was some other reason Gon didn’t want to go this time.   

 

“If you say so…”

 

It wasn’t often Killua was the one to catch Gon being dishonest. There was normally no reason to hide what he was feeling, and he always liked to cut through the bullshit. This time however  the heistation was clear.

 

“Okay well… I wanted to talk to you about something…”

 

“What is it?” Killua asked, a little confused by his attitude shift.

 

Gon sighed, “I guess it’s something that’s been weighing on me ever since that vow thing… I just don’t know how to bring it up without being rude.”

 

He laughed at that, if anyone was the rude one between them it was Killua. His blunt responses got him into trouble more often than not. Gon didn’t have anything to worry about there.

 

The thing that did worry him though was the mention of the vow renewal. Luckily him and Gon had been able to stayed out of the crossfire, so nothing really happened to them.

 

“I’m self aware enough to admit I can say some shitty things without thinking,” he joked, “You’re not going to offend me, don’t worry.”

 

“I don’t know…..”

 

“Just tell me Gon!”

 

“You’re family sucks!”

 

“Huh.”

 

Killua tried to process what Gon said, that was not what he was expecting at all. He knew they came from different worlds, but it didn’t matter most of the time. Was meeting his family that much of a shock? Worst of all he couldn’t bring himself to disagree…

 

“Shit I didn’t mean to say it like that,” Gon stressed, looking away, “It’s just… I mean I didn’t realize you had to deal with such…. The things your family think are important are just…

 

It’s all very superficial.”


A silence passed between them.

 

“Well duh.”

 

Gon blinked, not sure what to say to that.

 

“I mean obviously… and yea it does suck. That’s just how it’s always been with them, I don’t really know anything else…”

 

“Right! That’s why I was thinking….” Gon stopped for a moment considering, “...You should come with me to visit my aunt for dinner this weekend.”

 

Killua had been getting a better handle on his nerves, but the thought of meeting Gon’s family had him reeling. He was going to be introduced to his aunt? Was he even ready for that? While he didn’t give a shit about what his family thought about Gon…. if it was the other way around…

 

He would be devastated if Gon’s aunt didn’t approve of him.

 

Leorio liked him though, so at least he had that going for him. Would he be coming to? If so maybe he could convince Kurapika or Melody to come so he wasn’t alone….

 

Apparently Killua forgot to actually give Gon an answer because now he was looking at him panicked, probably worried he actually did offend Killua.

 

“Oh sorry! Yea of course I’ll go.. I was just thinking..”

 

“Yea I noticed… It looked like you were planning for every possible disaster,” he laughed, “Don’t worry, Mito is going to love you...

 

Sure so easy for you to say….

 

...because I do!”

 

“You can’t just say stuff like that all of sudden!”

 

----


That coming weekend Killua would be going with Gon to a family dinner. He had been low key panicking ever since. Gon assured him there was nothing to worry about, but of course he would feel that way. It was his family after all.

 

Killua now understood the stress of it all now, and felt a little bad for not being more sympathetic to Gon during the vow renewal. He couldn’t imagine how overwhelming it must have been if he was freaking out over a simple dinner.

 

To calm his nerves he had decided to visit Kurapika at work. He wanted to talk to him about Leorio anyways. The last time they had hung out together Kurapika had dropped that bomb about how he had met the doctor before when he was still dating his ex.

 

At the time Killua didn’t want to press him for more details, he was just glad Kurapika was opening up to him. Now that it had been a little while since then he thought it was a good time to see how the older boy was feeling.

 

He hoped at this point the three of them were back in contact again. While it seemed like Kurapika and Melody might be getting more official, Leorio had pulled himself out of the picture when he found out Kurapika’s ex was actually Chrollo.

 

College really was just an overpriced hot mess when you got down to it.

 

Once he got to the cafe he sent Kurapika a quick text since he wasn’t at the front. They had plans to meet after his shift so they wouldn’t have to worry about him going on his break. Killua was surprised to see that Melody wasn’t there today.

 

Lately she would come to the cafe to meet Kurapika after work, but maybe she was busy.

 

Before he had time to dwell on that any longer the blonde barista had taken a seat next to him, along with two coffees and two scones.

“How much?”

 

“Nothing, they are throwing the scones out and the coffee here is terrible.”

 

“Don’t you… make the coffee?” Killua asked, taking a bite of the scone.

 

“Yea that’s how I know it’s bad.”

It was nice to have an actual stress free moment to see Kurapika. He had almost forgotten the reason they became friends in the first place… their apathetic humor.

 

“Where’s Melody?” he asked, feeling brave. Everything seemed fine when he came over the last time, but when it came to this trio who knew.

 

“She’s practicing for the recital at the end of the month,” he explained, pulling out a small banner, “Actually I was going to ask if you and Gon wanted to go with me.”

 

“Oh sure! Oh wow it’s the day before halloween, are they going to be playing anything spooky?”

 

“Sadly no, believe me Melody is more upset about it than anyone.”

 

Killua laughed, “What a wasted opportunity… I actually wanted to ask her about her club. Are they doing anything creepy for halloween?”

 

Kurapika explained that they plan to have a big seance by this cemetary on the other side of town. Anyone would be allowed to come if they knew someone in the club or wanted to join. It seemed a little jarring to picture someone as sweet as Melody being so into this occult stuff.

 

Having a seance seemed like a better use of the holiday rather than going to a stupid party. While he had an alright time at that fraternity bash with Gon, he wasn’t going to go out of his way to go to another…

 

Hopefully Gon would be interested in this as well, if not it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. The one thing Killua liked about dating Gon was there was no pressure to be attached at the hip. If one of them wanted to do something with a different group of people it wasn’t a big deal.

 

“So are you and Leorio going?”

 

Kurapika gave him an unimpressed look. He seemed to catch on that this was the real subject Killua was interested in.

 

“He isn’t returning either of our messages…”

 

Killua sighed, “Sorry man… that sucks. Is it about that whole thing with Chrollo?”

 

“I guess so… If he’s doing what I think he’s doing then he probably doesn’t want us to get wrapped up in Chrollo’s business,” Kurapika explained, “To a point it’s the very respectable thing to do…. But I don’t care about that and I’m sick of Chrollo still ruining things for me… it pisses me off.”

 

“What exactly…. Do you think Leorio is doing?”

 

“Don’t. Worry. About. It.”

 

It seemed like if the subject didn’t change for the better Kurapika was going to get fed up and leave. Killua didn’t blame him, but he did actually want to leave things on a good note for once.

 

“If it makes you feel any better apparently Kite knows someone who can help Leorio get out of this shit… it’s just about how they present it to him. At least that’s what Gon says.. I don’t know a lot about what’s going on.”

 

That seemed to be the right thing to say, Kurapika actually looked pretty hopeful.

 

“Well I know less than you, but that is interesting,” he admitted, “Please let me know if you find out more or need me to do anything. Lately all I can think about is picking a fight with one of them and that’s.. Probably not for the best.”

 

Killua assumed he was referring to Chrollo and Leorio but he wasn’t sure why he’d want to fight the doctor. Of course this situation was messy and there was no good way to go about things, but was Kurpika really that mad?

 

“You want to pick a fight with Leorio?”

 

“Yes! I don’t care about this shit with that group and him but he promised Melody he was going to go to her recital and if he’s not there I’m going to --I don’t know.”

 

That made sense. Kurapika was pretty protective over the people he cared about, so if Leorio did hurt Melody’s feelings there would be hell to pay. It seemed like Melody could take care of herself though and probably wouldn’t be too mad…

 

Kurapika probably just wanted more reason to be mad at Leorio when it came down to it. It had to suck knowing that the person you liked was spending more time with your ex than with you.

 

“Sorry I feel like I have been such a one track record lately, you never told me how the vow renewal was?”

 

Killua groaned, he was hoping that wouldn’t come up. At first he didn’t mind, but after Gon’s comment he was a little more self conscious about things concerning his family. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing or give people the wrong idea about them…

 

Even so he told Kurapika what happened which from his perspective was a whole lot of nothing. If anything interesting happened it was actually to Kalluto, but he figured Kurapika wouldn’t be interested in that for certain reasons.

 

Somewhere along the line he accidently mentioned Feitan’s name and after that the rest of the story came along. Kurapika wasn’t nearly as offput as Killua thought he would be. If anything he actually seemed interested.

 

It led him to wonder if he actually liked some of Chrollo’s friends after all? The feeling was probably not mutual. Regaudless he apologized for bringing them up, knowing that Machi and Feitan weren’t his favorite people in the world.

 

“It’s fine,” he waved him off, “I never really had issues with either of them... I’m glad to know Machi is making decisions for herself. Never thought I would say that but here we are..”

 

“Well you never know, Kalluto is convinced something is going on with her and Illumi too,” Killua explained, “Maybe she will be my new sister in law…”

 

Kurapika looked a little overwhelmed at the thought so he figured it was time to move on. He decided to get into the real reason he needed to speak to Kurapika in the first place, Gon.

 

“I’m supposed to meet Gon’s aunt… it might be a little selfish but I was hoping you and Leorio were… on good terms again, so that maybe… you’d also be there.”

 

The older boy looked sympathetic, but there was nothing he could do. Leorio was the one freezing him out, not the other way around for once.

 

“If I could I would… it sounds nice to be around family,” he admitted, “I mean even if it’s someone else's.”

 

Killua dare not ask about the connotations of that comment, he knew Kurapika was very private about his past. The most he knew was he left his family when he ran off with Chrollo, and that was it.

 

He didn’t realize that this subject might upset him. Not only was Killua going to this family dinner, but he would be spending time with Leorio, something the blond hadn’t been able to do in a while.

 

“Hey I’m sure it won’t be like this for too long..I mean who knows, we’ll all probably be together by the holidays.”

 

That did not help the increasingly sadder look on Kurapika’s face, but the intention was nice. If there was one thing Kurapika didn’t want to think about it was december… or anything to do with what he left behind.

 

“Yea maybe..”

 

Before Killua could try to remedy the disaster he had started he got a rather distressing flurry of texts from gon.

 

GF- Hey don’t freak out or anything

GF- I broke my arm at practice… so … yeaaaaa.

GF- I mean it’s probably fine.

GF- Okay I mean it’s broken so not fine

 

KZ- WHAT THE HELL ??

KZ- ARE YOU AT THE HOSPITAL??

 

GF- yea! my coach gave me a ride, I just got here.

GF- thank god leorio is a doctor basically

 

KZ- OKAY WELL IM ON MY WAY YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT

 

GF- wait weren’t you supposed to hang out with Kurapika?

 

KZ- WHO CAREssss

 

GF- oh I just meant…

GF- you should bring him with you ;)

 

KZ- OHhhhhhhh

KZ- haha yes ;)

 

“Killua is everything alright you just went through about five different emotions?”

 

He tried to keep his expression neutral as to not give away this new plan him and Gon just concocted. However he was not as skilled as Kalluto or Illumi so he probably still looked rather sinister.

 

“Gon broke his arm.”

 

“Oh god what! Is he okay? Why do you seem weirdly happy about this….”

 

Yea he was definitely not good at hiding his emotions. Sure he was worried about Gon, but the fact he got hurt wasn’t too surprising. He was always running into things headfirst so it was only a matter of time.

 

“We’re going to the hospital.”

 

“We?”

 

Killua nodded, “You and Me.”

 

There was a pause.

 

“Which hospital?


----


When Killua and Kurapika finally got to the hospital and found Gon’s room, the injured boy was already propped up in a sling. One of his coaches was there, Bisky, but Leorio was nowhere to be found.

 

Killua immediately made his way over to Gon. The other boy’s good arm was outstretched for a hug, but instead he was met with smack on the head.

 

“What the hell happened!”

 

Gon looked deflated, “Well that’s the third smack I’ve gotten in the past hour, I thought you of all people would be more compassionate!”

 

“What have I ever done in my entire life to give you that impression.”

 

“Hey you came!” he exclaimed, ignoring Killua’s comment.

He motioned for Kurapika to come over, but there was some hesitation on the other’s end. Even so the older boy in question finally relented and came over to join the small group forming by the bedside.

 

“How are you feeling?” Kurapika asked, reaching around to give him a hug.

 

Gon shrugged, “It’s whatever, don’t gotta use my arms to play soccer.”

 

To that Bisky jumped up from her seat. She had been idly scrolling on her phone for the past few minutes, but obviously she was listening.

 

“Gon! You better give yourself time to fully heal, regardless of how the game is played  you’re going to get throw down to the ground more than once!”

 

The boy looked visibly scolded, “Fine fine I know… I just meant it’s not as important as my legs…”

 

She scoffed at that, “Every limb is important, Gon. Anyways, I better get back. I just want to talk to Leorio one more time so we’re on the same page.”

 

Now it was Kurapika’s turn to shy away. It seemed like even the mention of his name gave him nerves. Normally he was pretty confident and rarely got bothered, but Killua could only imagine how unnerving it was to be there.

 

Leorio could walk in at any moment, and then what would happen… Would there be a conflict or a happy reunion. Killua figured they probably wouldn’t be so lucky. After getting Kurapika to the hospital they didn’t have much of a plan figured out.

 

He hoped Kurapika would know what to do.

 

“Hey Gon…” Kurapika started, “I think maybe… I should just go. This isn’t a very--”

 

“Alright Kiddo-- oh.”

 

As if on que the doctor himself entered the room, now at a loss of words. Out of all the people he thought would be in here visiting Gon, Kurapika was not one of them. Apparently the blond was just as shocked, locking eyes with the man before turning back around to Gon and Killua.

 

Thankfully Biscuit was there to be some kind of buffer and remind them that the reason they were in that crowded hospital room was because of Gon. She immediately went into a rant about how Gon couldn’t play soccer until he was fully healed.

 

To Leorio’s credit he was able to put the elephant in the room aside and answer all of her questions about Gon’s condition and treatment.

 

The other three however were even more huddled together, whispering among themselves. While Kurapika wanted make a quick get away while Leorio was distracted, the younger boys insisted he stayed.

 

When Bisky finally made her leave the air was tense again. Gon and Killua suddenly looked like kids who were caught red handed. Kurapika’s back was turned, but he could tell that the doctor was no doubt glaring at the boys.

 

“I didn’t know you and Gon were close,” Leorio finally said, his tone annoyed, “at least close enough to rush over to the hospital at a moments notice.”

 

“I needed a ride,” Killua defended, earning an unimpressed look from the man.

 

“I can’t belie--”

 

“--You’re right I shouldn’t have come here,” Kurapika interrupted, rushing past the doctor before he had a chance to stop him.

 

The older man sighed, obviously already exhausted from his shift on top of this encounter. He gave another disappointed look to the ones a fault.

 

“I swear I just-- can’t you two mind your own business?”

 

---

 

I really, really can’t catch a break…

 

He had taken off  to find Kurapika after all. Leorio felt bad about the way he been treating him and Melody, but it was the safest option right now. He still shouldn’t have been so harsh in the hospital room….

 

Thankfully he hadn’t gone far, and Leorio was able to catch him in the lobby. Kurapika was stopped by the doors, just looking straight ahead. He didn’t notice the doctor had caught up with him until a minute after the fact.

 

Finally Leorio broke the silence.

 

“Hey.”

 

A grimace appeared on Kurapika’s face suddenly, as if all of his emotions came flooding back at once. He didn’t give the doctor anytime before he broke out into a rant about everything he had been feeling.

 

“You can’t just pretend we don’t exist and try move on with your life it’s not fair!--”

 

“--I know--”

 

“--Because we can’t move on! You are just going to let him control your life until he’s done with you?”

 

A few people were looking at them now after the blond had raised his voice. Leorio sighed and led them to a more secluded hallway.

 

“I don’t really have a choice--”

 

“--Fuck you, if you would just talk to me we could figure out a solution. The way you’re going about things is going to get you  killed. I know it doesn’t seem that dangerous because Chrollo is keeping you at arms length, but that’s the worst place you can be with him.

 

You’re not part of his family, so when he’s done with you…. Let’s just say if you showed up dead in an alley Chrollo wouldn’t blink twice.”

 

Leorio didn’t have anything to say to that. He knew every word was true, but having it thrown in his face made it seem more real. Still, what could he do? There was no way he could just stop supplying him, and suffer no consequences. Then there was the money…

 

If he stopped his work with Chrollo how could he support Gon? He would never ask Mito for help. She had done enough, and Leorio made the boy his responsibility now. He couldn’t stand it if he let them both down.

 

But then Kurapika was touching his arm and he felt like he couldn’t breath. Suddenly nothing mattered, but at the same time it mattered so much more.

 

“Listen.. I know it’s a lot but… you’re allowed to ask for help sometimes..”

 

Leorio wasn’t about to point out how ironic that was coming from him. Kurapika was usually the person trying to shoulder all of the burdens. How did he end up in the same situation?

 

“I just… I don’t know what to do anymore.”

 

Kurapika cupped his face,  rubbing his fingers on the sharp lines of his cheekbones. It had been the first time in months Leorio felt like maybe everything might turn out okay.

 

“Just let me take care of it.”

 

Chapter Text

  It was almost Halloween, and it was obvious the person the most excited about this  fact was Melody. To be fair she had been celebrating the holiday since September, not that Kurapika minded. Leorio was a different story altogether.

 

While he had no say in how they decorated the apartment since he didn’t live there, he did have a few opinions about the notion of the supernatural. A subject Melody definitely knew more about.

 

Kurapika had been tuning them out for the most part. This goodnatured argument on when and how to celebrate Halloween had started to take a more serious route. Well maybe serious wasn’t the word… a more personal one.

 

He finally tuned in when he heard Melody’s normally light voice go down an octave.

 

“What do you mean you don’t believe in ghosts, Leorio?

 

The other man scoffed, “I’m a man of science, if there’s no evidence I don’t believe in it.”

 

Kurapika decided to chime in after that, “Oh really? You seem to believe in a lot of things that you’ve shown no evidence of.”

 

“Like what?”

 

The blonde raised a brow, “A sense of style for one.”

 

“Excuse me?” his voice raised in shock, “I’ll have you know there is evidence of that actually, I was voted best dressed in the student superlatives.”

 

“Wow student superlatives… what an argument.”

 

This was how a lot of their conversations went these days, though it was not unwanted. In the beginning Kurapika had definitely romanticized a relationship with the two of them. He was now starting to realize the three of them ended up being more volatile than he imagined.

 

It made for some very entertaining moments, especially since they all had very hard opinions on mundane things. He couldn’t count the times he got heated over something as ridiculous as how high to turn the toaster up.

 

If it was just two them hanging out things normally were pretty tame, but apparently they had all gotten into this mindset of challenging each other if they were all three together. Yet again he didn’t really mind it.

 

“Stop flirting, I’m trying to tell you why you’re wrong,” Melody said, flipping through an occult looking book, “Look there are so many accounts, maybe most of them aren’t dramatic as you’d like but its still valid.”

 

Leorio leaned over her chair to read over the smaller girl’s shoulder, “Okay but what’s the source?”

 

“The source—? These are witness accoun—“

 

“Not buying it!” he exclaimed, jumping back with his arms up.

 

Melody rolled her eyes and closed the book sharply.

 

“You better not embarrass me at the seance on the 31st…..”

 

Kurapika perked up, “Oh thank god, does that mean I can stay home?”

 

While the other two had their stubborn beliefs on ghosts and spirits Kurapika was kind of on the fence either way. Even so it didn’t mean he wanted to mess with anything that could be on the other side. To him that was just asking for trouble…

 

“I figured you were anyways, you’ve never been a fan of first hand contact…”

 

He knew she was referring to the one and only time she had thrown a seance at their apartment. Kurapika had come home in the middle of it and was severely creeped out. It got to the point he wouldn’t leave his room after it got dark for at least a week.

 

“Come on not you too!” Leorio whined falling back onto the couch next to the blonde, “You of all people think ghosts and shit are real?”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

He gave him a side glance, “I just figured you were the practical one here.”

 

Kurapika crossed his arms, “Well I do believe in an afterlife, so I’d rather not go digging around where I don’t belong.”

 

“Digging around? What exactly do you think I do?” Melody spoke up

 

“Yea are you implying she’s a gravedigger?”

 

That unimpressed look was back on Kurapika’s face, when did he become the bad guy during this dumb fight. He didn’t care either way….

 

“I would never imply such a thing.. Leorio however I mean it would make more since, you are a doctor

 

....Kind of.”

 

“How on earth does that make any sense, why would I go around digging up graves?”

The other two shrugged innocently, leaving Leorio to believe he lost this one. Then again, when it came to Melody and Kurapika he didn’t win many debates no matter how ridiculous.

 

It would be nice to go with Melody to her big seance though. He was a big fan of the contrast between her and the scary things she enjoyed.

 

Kurapika could stay home fore once, it was only fair since he got to see her whenever he wanted.

 

Leorio and Melody both saw Kurapika pretty often since they could just go to his work and see him on his break. At the same time their schedules didn’t line up as easily so the two of them didn’t see each other nearly enough.

 

It bothered him to think that Melody might feel like the only reason he stuck around was for Kurapika. Sometimes it did feel like he was the bridge between them, but that wasn’t really the case.

 

He remembered the first time he met her. He had just started going to that cafe because he had a crush on a certain barista.

 

At the time he didn’t know they knew each other. She just asked him about a rather morbid book he was reading for class, and they hit off from there.

 

It was only when Kurapika got on his break did he join them, giving Leorio a very cold shoulder. At the time he must have thought Leorio was competition, not understanding the real reason he had come to the cafe in the first place.

 

To be fair Leorio was a huge flirt so he couldn’t blame him for being upset.

 

Gon wasn't the only charismatic one in their family. The real difference was Leorio’s charisma was only charming until he got too nervous and flustered. Gon never seemed to get nervous.

 

“Well regardless of who’s right--”

“--I am,” Melody reminded him.

 

“I’m looking forward to it.”



-----

 

It was the night of the seance and Killua was actually getting pretty excited. Gon had even agreed to go with him instead some obnoxious party on campus. When he found out that Melody and Leorio were going together Gon couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

 

It seemed like everyone was getting settled down now which was nice. Killua hoped there would be more moments like this as it got closer to the end of the year.

 

They were currently making their way to towards the park next to the graveyard where the seance would be held. From where they were walking he could already make out a fairly big group of people. It seemed like the occult club’s event had gotten out around campus.

 

“Wow looks like a good crowd,” Leorio whistled, “Then again it is an occult club party in October.”

 

Melody snorted, “It’s not a party?”

 

“Looks like one.”

 

Gon paled five shades greener, and started tapping Melody on the shoulder rapidly with his good hand, “What? What is this club called?”

 

The group stopped, confused by his weird behavior. They were only a few steps outside from the park, and it looked like some people were starting to come towards them at the sight of Melody.

 

“Hey what’s wrong man?” Killua asked, putting an arm around his shoulder.

 

Melody decided to answer his question, hoping to put him at ease, “It’s the supernatural and occult findings club?”   

 

“Oh. Great.”

 

It seemed like Melody realized why Gon was suddenly behaving so weirdly. There was someone who would be there, that he didn’t want to see…

 

“It’s Palm right?” she asked.

 

He just nodded, looking away. It seemed like he didn’t want to confront this in front of Killua, but there was no getting around it. If they were going to do this it would surely come up, and it should be from him and not from a confrontation with said girl.

 

“Palm?” Killua asked, not sure if they were talking about a person or the body part.

 

“Yea my ex….”

 

“Oh.”

 

Everyone seemed uncomfortable except for Leorio who was trying to hold in his laughter to no avail. Of course he would think this is funny.

 

“Looks like you’re past finally caught up with you, I’ve been waiting for this day,” Leorio teased, “I’m sure it will be fine, didn’t you say she was obsessed with that other guy anyways?”

 

That didn’t seem to make the younger boy feel any better. Palm was one of those people that never forgot and never forgave. Things had ended badly, and Gon wasn't sure how she would react to seeing him. She was kind of a loose cannon.

 

He liked that about her at first. When they were dating he was a senior in high school, so he wanted to have an open relationship so neither of them felt tied down. He figured it was the right move when it came to dating an older woman… Apparently not this woman.  

 

She ‘caught’ him on a date with some other guy one day it had been downhill from there. Gon felt he had been as up front with her as possible, but regardless Palm didn’t take it well.

 

Ever since he started at the same university as her he had been trying to avoid her at all costs.

 

“You don’t have to stay,” Killua assured him, “I mean I’ve never really had an ex to deal with but I imagine by the way you’re acting it’s not fun.”

 

Gon looked conflicted, “But I told you I would go…”

 

“Well yea, but I’m not going to force you to do something you don’t want to……”

 

Killua stopped what he was saying to squint into the crowd.

 

“....Is that?”

 

Gon turned around too, but couldn’t see whoever Killua saw. Melody and Leorio decided to go into the mouth of the beast and leave the boys to their own devices.

 

Killua nodded taking a few steps closer to get a better look.

 

“Who are you--” Gon tried to ask, but it was too late.

 

“--It is him! How the hell did he get here?”

 

With that the white haired boy took off running towards the park leaving Gon in the dust. That was unexpected… He walked over to the edge of the park to hear the reason Killua ditched him, and he couldn’t be mad after that.

 

In the distance there was a very sharp, “Kalluto!” that could be heard from where he was standing.

 

Well now what do I do?

 

Gon looked around, moving closer towards the group. It didn’t look like Palm was here… but then again she was always changing her look, would he even recognize her?

 

Before he had chance to explore more there was a tap on his shoulder.

 

“Gon… what are you doing here?”

 

He turned around to face the music.

 

“Hey Palm….. Would you believe me if I said I have an in with the club’s founder?”

 

“No.”



-------



“How the hell did you get here?”

 

Oh god is that who I think it is?

 

“Kalluto!”

 

Yep.

In an attempt to make up for his lack of self preservation at the vow renewal, Kalluto bolted towards the graveyard. As if reading his mind Feitan ran after him, grabbing his arm before he got too far.

 

How annoying…

 

“Oh so now you run off? Where was this thought process a few weeks ago?” he asked, just in time for Killua to catch up with them.

 

He looked pissed, but not as mad as Illumi would have probably been. So at least Kalluto could be thankful for that. He figured Feitan would have let go of his arm by now since his older brother was there, but then again he probably assumed Kalluto would have used that as a chance to run off again.

 

He wouldn’t be wrong…

 

“What the hell?” Killua asked, a little out of breath, “How’d you get here?”

 

Kalluto looked anywhere but him, having this happen a second time was somehow even more humiliating. Their dad let him go, and he liked Feitan so why was he still getting shit about this?

 

Thankfully Feitan answered for him.

 

“I drove him.”

 

“Did you?”

 

“Yea?”

 

Killua scoffed and addressed Kalluto, “Does anyone else know you ran off again?”

 

The expression on Kalluto’s face could well be mirrored straight from Illumi’s which was not easy to do. Even so the older brother tried not to seem too intimidated.

 

“Yes, you idiot. I asked dad and he said I could go.”

 

“Oh.”

 

That pointed look was still on his face, but suddenly Killua didn’t have a reason so call him out. When in doubt blame Illumi…

 

“Well sorry, I have to be the one to give you shit since you and Illumi are ignoring each other.”

 

The mention of Illumi seemed to unnerve them both, but Kalluto recovered first.

 

“Not my problem.”

 

What a Zoldyck things to say….

 

Killua sighed, there was nothing he could really do if their dad said it was fine. Still he felt like he should side with Illumi on this to show some kind of solidarity.  Even more so he wished everyone would just make up and move on.

 

It seemed like Kalluto wasn’t going to shake this guy anytime soon. The only thing that really concerned him was the fact that Feitan hung around Chrollo. He didn’t want Kalluto to get pulled into whatever that group was doing.

 

The more he learned about their leader the less he wanted to have ties with him. Or anybody in his family for that matter.. And right now that was Kalluto and Leorio.

 

“Fine, I guess if you’re ‘allowed’ to be here then there’s no reason for me to embarrass you any longer…” he relented.

 

Kalluto seemed to relax as well but it was short lived.

 

Killua was suddenly in Feitan’s face now, having a few inches of height on the shorter guy.

 

“You better not get him wrapped up in your bullshit or I’ll kill you myself. Illumi might have a soft spot for some of you, but I don’t.”

 

In response Feitan used a hand to press him back a few steps out of his space. He looked unbothered, but did seem to understand what Killua was implying. Kalluto was suddenly confused, why was he in the dark?

 

“Fair enough.”

 

“What’s wrong with you?” Kalluto asked pusing Killua’s shoulder, “Stop acting like such an ass.”

 

He ignored him, still glaring at Feitan.

 

“I’m serious.”

 

“I know.”

 

Finally Killua turned around walking off to his friends leaving without another word to him or Kalluto. He didn’t realize the middle Zoldyck could be so threatening. It was something to consider in the long run.

 

“What was he going on about?” Kalluto finally asked.

 

“Don’t worry about it.”

 

Coming from Feitan that meant the conversation was over. He didn’t like to be caught off guard, so Kalluto decided to ask him about again later.

 

“Fine then…

 

Why don’t you ever look at me like that?”

 

The older boy coughed, obviously shaken, “Like what?”

 

“Like you want to kill me.”

 

“What is wrong with you?”




--------



GF- Hey so I had to split..

GF- sorry, bumped into her and it was not pretty

KZ- I’m sorry :(

KZ- What are you going to do instead?

 

GF- Knuckle invited me to a thing, I might check it out since its on campus

GF- is that okay? I feel bad ditching you

 

KZ- of course its fine!! It’s not like I don’t know people here anyways

 

GF- oh yea I heard… Kalluto is here?

 

KZ- yea… dad let him come so I guess its okay :/

 

GF- Hey at least this way you can keep an eye on him

 

KZ- True!

KZ- Have fun at ur party!

 

GF- Thanks! Don’t get possessed by any ghosts tonight

 

KZ- ghost aren’t real :P

 

GF- DONT LET MELODY KNOW YOU THINK THAT !!!!

 

Killua silenced his phone after he made sure Gon was okay, and took a seat next to Melody. They had a circular blanket spread out that the main club members were seated around, along with the people they brought.

 

It seemed like the other people who weren’t invited or part of the club had to observe from outside the circle. Some had come prepared and brought their own blankets with things to do.

 

After Melody had prepared the main spirit board, her and a few others started lighting candles and setting up various crystals and other occult things. Killua was impressed with the amount of detail that went into this whole event.

 

Once everything was set up and the were ready to begin, Melody stepped outside of the circle to inform the spectators about the rules. Apparently they were free to do whatever activities they wanted as long as they didn’t use a spirit board themselves. She explained that multiple boards could confuse or anger any spirits who want to participate.

 

“Alright,” she began, back at the head of their circle, “Normally we only allow people who actually believe in this sort of thing to participate in the main contact but….

 

She sent Leorio a look.

 

It seems there are a few skeptics among us. Everything should go fine as long as everyone keeps an open mind regardless of your initial beliefs.”

After everyone agreed she poured a couple glasses of water in some ornate chalices and put them next to the board. She explained that the water was for spirits that might not want to speak with them but still want to connect by disturbing the liquid.

 

Then the person next to Killua, Shoot, got out a recording device  and explained the differences between theirs and a normal device not meant to contact the supernatural. Recording their session would add another layer to explore later. The device was designed to pick up sounds they wouldn’t be able to hear to on their own.

 

After his speech Killua nudged the taller man, trying to get his attention.

 

“Hey I think I know your friend Knuckle,” he whispered.

 

That perked up the gloomy looking man, “Oh yea? He’s actually throwing a party right now… too scared to do anything like this I’m afraid.”

 

“Yea I know! My boyfriend is actually going to that instead.”

 

Shoot nodded, “Huh, who is he? I might know him.”

 

“Gon, ya know Leorio’s cousin,” Killua made sure to say that particularly soft in case a certain someone overhead.

 

Apparently that was the right decision, since Shoot’s eyes bulged at his answer for a second. He regained his composure and continued.

 

“That makes since, I can see why he would be scared to come here… and it’s not because of any ghosts.”

 

Killua laughed at that, “Yea I heard.”

 

“If you’re curious… she’s the one sitting next to that goth couple.”

 

‘That goth couple’ being his brother and Feitan. Killua felt a little ill in that moment but took a look at the girl sitting next to Feitan. He was suddenly very intimidated. Palm was hot. Way too hot. Even though he wasn’t interested in girls that way, he could definitely see why someone like Gon would be interested in her.

 

She must have noticed him staring because they locked eyes a second later. Instead of looking curious like a normal response she immediately glared at him.

 

Well she’s definitely heard about who I am…

 

Thankfully Melody was talking again so the attention was back on her.

 

“Alright the peak time to make contact is from 11:30 to 12:30, so we have fifteen minutes. In that  time prepare any questions or make any calls because we will have to turn off our phones once it’s time to begin.”

 

After that everyone began talking among themselves. Killua tried to just keep his eyes focused on his side of the circle not on the people sitting across from him.

 

“So Gon left huh?” Melody asked sympathetically.

 

Killua nodded, “Yea but that’s okay. I’m just glad he’s having fun tonight. He actually headed off to Knuckle’s party.”

 

“Oh yea? Small world! We should go after this, I’m sure it will still be going on.”

 

Leorio looked surprised at that, “ You   want to go to a house party? On Halloween?”

 

“It could be fun, and then maybe Kurapika would leave the apartment.”

 

He didn’t look convinced, “Maybe… we just have to make sure it’s clear of any spiders.”

 

“Spiders?” Killua asked confused.

 

“Yea that’s what he calls those assholes,” he said pointing at Feitan.

 

The other boy in question obviously heard him from Leorio’s big mouth, and flipped them off. The icy glare never leaving his face.

 

“Don’t worry Lurch, everyone’s too tired from the orchards to go to any dumb parties,” he shouted back, “Also that was not for you, Melody. You’re perfect aside from your taste in men.”

Melody put a hand on Leorio’s shoulder to hold him back, but Killua could tell she was annoyed despite her kind facade. The proof was in the way she was clutching the doctor’s shoulder in warning.

 

“The spirits will not come if there is fighting....”

Both of them shaped up after that, and the white haired boy couldn’t be more impressed. The way she was able to stop them reminded him of how Illumi would handle them when they were kids.

 

He looked over at Kalluto to see that he was talking to some blue haired girl. Or rather some blue haired girl was talking at him and waving her phone in his face. The apathetic expression on his face seemed to tell it all. He was not having it.

 

Suddenly Kalluto was looking at him almost pleadingly. The next thing he knew he had a text from said brother.

 

(note: KZ-Kalluto/ ZK-Killua)

 

KZ- help.
KZ- this girl is one of Alluka’s followers and she recognized me.

 

ZK- yikes!!!
ZK- what’s she saying to you?

 

KZ-  apparently she is supposed to do a video with Alluka on her channel next week…

KZ- I know this girl! Neon! Alluka hates her!!!

 

ZK- oh yea that weird chick who is ‘instagram famous’ too?

 

KZ- well now Feitan knows about my VERY EMBARRASSING origami tutorials.

KZ- scariest shit to happen all night.  

 

ZK- hahahahahahahahha

ZK- the true test is: will he stay now that he knows you’re a huge nerd?

 

KZ- fuck off, you’re supposed to feel bad for me!

 

ZK- you’re supposed to be at home, asshole!

 

Apparently that was the last straw. Kalluto threw a crumpled up piece of paper at him, and then made a show of shutting off his phone once he had his attention.

 

Killua had to admit it was all pretty funny. At least Kalluto had to deal with some kind of reckoning. He wanted to let Illumi know, but then that would involve telling them that Kalluto was here in the first place so he let it go.

 

He would definitely talk to Alluka about his later though.

 

It was 11:30 when he checked the time. Right on cue Melody sat up to the board and alerting everyone the seance was starting.

 

“Alright everyone, let’s begin.”



Chapter Text

Since they had moved to this town there had been a long standing tradition of going to the orchards every Halloween. Chrollo wasn’t sure why or how this started, but with nothing to do their first Halloween at the university they found themselves at a pumpkin patch.

 

Or rather they found it cathartic hitting rotten apples with tree branches. That first time had been so much fun they decided to go every year after that.

 

The only difference this year was that Kortopi wouldn’t be able to make it, but at least the boys were in town to go with them. Well technically it wasn’t just Kortopi that wouldn’t be there but he tried not to think about it that much.

 

It had almost been two years, he really should move on.

 

There would be someone new this year, Kalluto. Feitan had wanted to bring him along, and it seemed like the others were looking forward to it too.

 

Chrollo hadn’t been paying much attention to the younger boy when he had come over during cards. He had been too drunk or something at the time. Either way he was glad Feitan actually found someone who might be able to level with him.

 

When Machi had told him what happened at that renewal it had been a shock. He was pretty sure Feitan wasn’t the type of person to have any relationship unless it was forced on him like their friendship had been.

 

It was nice to see him somewhat content for once. Even if he pretended to be indifferent, Kalluto didn’t seem to mind.

 

Things were slowly changing. He wasn’t sure if it was for the better, but then again if the others were happy then… maybe it was. He could feel his time running out, so it was better to enjoy this facade he created for as long as possible.

 

“We’re finally here!” came Shalnark’s voice as he kicked opened the door.

 

Uvo let out an annoyed sigh, “You’re late.”

 

“The apples will still be there!”

 

 The blonde didn’t seem deterred in the slightest, instead opting to take a seat next to him. The other two, Feitan and Kalluto, filtered in from behind him sitting on the floor of the already crowded room.

 

Almost everyone was here in Feitan’s cramped apartment. Even though most of them had been together at the poker night, it felt like this was the first time in a while they had all done something together sober.

 

“Who else is coming?” Paku asked next to him, her arm draped behind him on the couch.

 

Nobu shrugged, taking out his phone, “Machi is on her way… she’s not bringing those two is she?”

 

Kalluto and Feitan seemed to stiffen at the thought of Illumi joining them. He suddenly remembered that the siblings weren’t getting along since things had turned sour at the reception. That could throw a wrench into their nice day…

 

“Oh don’t worry she said it’s just her,” Shalnark said putting everyone’s mind at ease, “I think the way I put it was … ‘We already have a Zoldyck, don’t bring another one or--

 

“--they’ll cancel each other out and disappear,” Feitan finished.

 

Paku groaned, “God you two are such nerds.”

 

Regardless Chrollo was glad Illumi and Hisoka weren’t coming. These days when it came to outsiders he preferred Kalluto much more. To be fair he didn’t know a lot about the kid, but he seemed  low maintenance compared to the other two.

 

MK- IM HERE IM OUTSIDE JUST COME DOWN.

MK- sorry im late, models are so infuriating sometimes.

 

CL- working on your mid term?

 

MK- yea fittings, and they are trying to change my stuff.

MK- can you believe it???

 

CL- just have Illumi take care of it, I’m sure they can instill the fear of God into them

 

MK- i don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not

MK- but that’s like… a really good idea.

 

CL- of course it is, someone else is doing the work

 

MK- exactly
MK- lets go smack some apples around while theres still daylight

 

He had grown to accept the fact that Illumi, and Hisoka for that matter,  were going to be constants in Machi’s life. It was better than picking fights with them and upsetting her. He had moved on anyways. Realizing now that his feelings and intentions with them had been vapid and selfish.

 

After he saw Kurapika at that party, he realized he was still lonely. None of them could change that, he just had to either live with it or move on.

 

Since this revelation he figured it would be best to talk to Illumi seriously for once. That had never really happened, and if they were important to Machi he would have to suck it up.



Just not today.

 

----

 

It was well into the afternoon when they finally arrived to the orchard outside of town. They had split themselves into groups and piled into the three cars the best they could. It was always an awkward fit when Franklin and Uvo were concerned but since Shalnark and Feitan were smaller it ended up working out.

 

Of course Machi and Paku ended up in the smaller mustang, throwing Bono and Nobu in with them. Meanwhile he was driving the Porsche with Franklin, Feitan and Shizuku in the back. Surprisingly Kalluto opted for the front seat next to him, which was not what Chrollo had been expecting.

 

Kalluto didn’t seem to be too possessive which had been his initial worry. This thing wasn’t going to last if Feitan felt trapped, he was always one to bolt when he felt overwhelmed. It seemed liked the younger boy was able to read this or was similar in that way at least.

 

If he was being honest with himself Chrollo was just hoping he wouldn’t have to deal with another Illumi. Then again he was also the person to make things weird and then hostile between them so maybe Illumi wasn’t really the problem….

 

He pushed those thoughts away though. Today wasn’t meant to dwell on the his mistakes or worry about the future.

 

“Hey how many wheelbarrows should we bring?” Shizuku called over by the front.

 

Uvo scoffed, stretching out his arms for show.

 

“Wheelbarrows? Ha! I can just carry them!” the big man boasted.

 

“You’re going to carry thirteen pumpkins….” she deadpanned.

 

“You better fucking believe it!”

 

Instead of being impressed she unlatched at least one of the carts and made her way towards the hay stacks.

 

“Why thirteen? There’s only twelve of us?” Kalluto asked him.

 

“It’s for our friend Kortopi, she couldn’t make it this year,” Chrollo explained, “We figured we’d surprise her since she wasn’t able to visit.”

 

He hummed in response, understanding the sentiment.

 

“Ironically enough we always get thirteen pumpkins actually…” he suddenly realized.

 

“Ohhhh spooky.”

 

It really was.

 

As they were talking Uvo raced by them after Shizuku. He picked up the girl and plopped her into the wheelbarrow, and then ran deeper into the orchard.

 

“Don’t get lost you guys!” Shalnark called after them, “Of course the biggest idiots go barreling off…”

 

“Yea.. didn’t they get lost in the corn maze two years in a row,” Machi reminded them.

 

“Good god…”

 

They decided to break off into smaller groups in the meantime before they set out to grab their pumpkins and play their more eccentric game of baseball. Kalluto broke off to hang out with Franklin and Feitan who were already throwing punches at each other.

 

That was fine at home but in public…. Before he could yell at them he was distracted by Paku who had bought him some warm cider. By the time he looked over again the two of them looked… scolded… by Kalluto?

 

“Come on they’re fine, let’s go inside for a bit,” Paku assured him, leading him to the makeshift store in a hollowed out barn

 

Some of the others were huddled inside together, trying to avoid the cold. It was a lot harsher out than it had been in the previous years. Machi had already stolen Phink’s coat, probably forgetting her own in the rush to get there.

He wasn’t surprised, it seemed like Phinks was ever the pushover lately.

 

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked the taller man, “You’re just as bad as Machi when it comes to the weather.”

 

“It’s fine--”

 

“Here,” he said, sliding off his jacket to give him.

 

Oddly enough the Phinks seemed rather shaken at the gesture, but accepted the jacket anyways. That was weird, did something happen….

 

Oh right I forgot about the party.

 

Chrollo hadn’t been that inebriated when Nobu let it slip that Phinks was into him. Even so that felt like it was so long ago, he a totally forgotten. He decided to play dumb since that’s what he had been doing the past month anyways.

 

This isn’t my problem right?

 

Well now he just sounded like an asshole. He loved Phinks, or else he wouldn’t be with them right now, but he had never thought about him in that way. No one in their group was straight, so why had he just assumed Phinks was?

 

Machi broke him from his thoughts.

 

“How are we going to last out there? I swear it’s at least ten degrees colder here than it is on campus.”

 

Nobu sighed, “Well we at least need to make sure the idiots outside don’t get lost and freeze to death.”

 

He could agree with that. Chrollo was surprised when Shalnark didn’t run after them, now they’d have to hope one of them had their phone on them. Shizuku was more likely to even though she was pretty forgetful.

 

Bono came around and started to lightly punch Machi in the back.

“You all are so weak! It’s just like a pool, you’ll get used to it if you actually go out there.”

 

“I’d rather stay in here with my hot drink while you give me the weirdest massage ever. I have been hunched over a sewing machine for so long, even this feels great.”

 

UG- COME ON BOSSS WHEN ARE YOU GONNA MEET US

UG- We actually found the pumpkins this time!

 

CL- on our way.

CL- we have a few stragglers.

 

UG- LEAVE THEM IF THEY’RE TOO WEAK



“What’s so funny?” Paku asked, when he started to laugh at Uvo’s texts.

 

He showed the others and received a mix of responses. It seemed like Machi didn’t want to leave the barn, but they’d carry her out if they had to. This was a tradition after all.

 

The only people exempt were the ones not invited.

 

----




UG- HEY YOU BIG IDIOT

UG- [image]

 

“Looks like Uvogin and Shizuku are having fun?” Franklin snorted, showing them the picture he was sent.

 

It was Shizuku sitting in the wheelbarrow buried in apples holding up a pumpkin in victory, while Uvo had his signature grin shown off in the corner from how the selfie was taken. Feitan would have paid to see how stupid they looked trying to take that photo.

 

Uvo was lucky he was huge meat head, because the guy could be a real dork sometimes. To be fair that wasn’t really a bad thing. If anything it was refreshing to have him around to take the edge off of all the bullshit that followed their group around.

 

“Where are the others anyways?”

 

Kalluto took out his phone, “Machi says she is being held against her will so I’m guessing they’re on their way over.”

 

The three of them had decided to chill out by the haystacks and wait for them since the two older boys wanted to smoke. Well at first it had started out as a more of a  ...physical fight, but that ended soon after it began.

 

“You look like idiots. Didn’t you flirt enough on the drive over?” Kalluto had asked them mid punch.

 

After that comment Feitan immediately took a step back, trying not to seem affected by his words. Franklin thought it was funny, and tried to chase after him which was apparently more acceptable to the younger boy than a fist fight.

 

To his credit, the comment didn’t seem to be malicious or made out of spite. He seemed to genuinely be teasing them. Kalluto had a certain chilling tone they shared with their older sibling whenever they was actually upset.

 

The only reason why he had been a little shaken by the comment was because that was definitely not the first time similar things had been said to them. Before Feitan had shown interest in Kalluto, a lot of the others swore up and down he had a crush on Franklin.

 

Of course neither of them had those kind of feelings for anyone, let alone each other. Feitan just liked that the older man took him seriously, and Franklin liked that there was someone who could keep up with him.

 

“How late can you stay out?”

 

Kalluto blinked, not expecting the question. He sent a text to someone, who responded immediately. The response didn’t seem like one he wanted though.

 

“Midnight, unless I want to tell Illumi I’m here… because I’d have to stay over there.”

 

Feitan was starting understand Chrollo’s frustration with the older Zoldyck, they really did get in the way of a lot.

 

“There’s a seance at 11:30--”

 

Kalluto’s eyes widened.

 

“--A seance? Like a real one? Where you contact the dead?” he asked rapidly, “Where is it?”

“It’s at a cemetary--”

 

“--A cemetary?”

 

He wasn’t expecting him to be so interested. Feitan had actually half hoped he wouldn’t be just because he’d have to introduce him to the people in his club. While he liked Melody and Shoot was okay, the other two girls were a little eccentric.

 

He didn’t really talk about his personal life with them either, so would be weird if he brought… his… whatever they were?

 

“I’m definitely going, I’ve always wanted to go to a seance.”

 

“So you’re telling Illumi?”

 

Kalluto actually laughed at that, “Ha! No way, are you kidding me? I’m just going to lie. I’ve never really gotten into to trouble until recently, so I owe my family at least three years or torment.”

 

Franklin nudged him, “Yea didn’t Illumi try to throw you off a balcony, where’s your self preservation?”

 

“I went over that balcony willingly.”

 

Thankfully Chrollo and the others finally caught up to them at the haystacks before Franklin and Kalluto could comment on that. He didn’t like to talk about that night.

 

Shalnark scooped him up in a side hug, dragging Feitan away towards the path leading towards the pumpkins. He was a true friend in times of crisis.

 

Still he felt kind of bad running off with him, and leaving Kalluto with people he didn’t know that well. He turned around to see what if he was okay to see that he was already attached to Machi’s hip.

 

It seemed like the girl was trying to leech the warmth off anyone she could find, but Kalluto didn’t seem to mind and was actually talking to Chrollo of all people.

 

He wasn't sure if he should be concerned or impressed…

 

I still have to set ground rules with the boss.

 

Kalluto came from a family with more money than him, the last thing he wanted was for the younger boy to get wrapped him in all of this shit with Chrollo too. Feitan didn’t regret what he decided to do with his life, but Kalluto was better than the both of them in his opinion.

 

He had to make sure he didn’t drag Kalluto down with them.

 

“What’s up long face? Not having fun?” Shalnark asked, catching on to his more solemn attitude.

 

“Oh no it’s been great.. Just thinking about stuff,” he explained.

 

Shalnark hummed, tightening his grip around the other boy's shoulders. 

 

“Save those thoughts for tomorrow, today is supposed to be a break!"

 

 

 

-----

 

It seemed like Uvo and Shizuku had scared off anyone else trying to pick a pumpkin, because they were alone in the patch when the rest of them finally got there. The big man was laying in the middle of pumpkins, napping from what it seemed. Meanwhile Shizuku was still buried in the cart of apples, scrolling through her phone.

 

She looked relieved when they finally arrived, waving them over.

“Uvo passed out, and I’m stuck,” she explained, only half concerned as a normal person would be in this situation.

 

She held her arms up like a child wanting to be picked up, and Phinks lifted her from the apple prison. Most of them were actually rotten, probably rounded up to hit with sticks later.

 

“Nice jacket,” she commented, to which Phinks immediately dropped her on her butt.

 

He walked off away from the group towards the man sleeping in the dirt. Apparently this was a sensitive subject to the blonde. Machi finally let go of Kalluto and ran over to catch up with him.

 

When she got to them, Phinks was nudging Uvo with his boot.

 

“Come on man, you can’t actually be asleep,” he sighed.

 

Before Machi had a chance to confront him Shalnark was racing over to their little circle. He threw himself hard on top of the ‘sleeping’ man. Uvo coughed from the impact, sitting up and using the position to his advantage to squeeze his attacker closer.

 

“Let go of me! I don’t want to get covered in dirt!”

 

“You made your decision!” Uvo’s voice boomed.

 

Phinks looked unimpressed and shifted off to take a seat on a pumpkin a little farther away. Machi followed him trying not to draw too much attention to them.

 

“What’s eating you?” she asked, sitting on a gourd of her own, “You’ve been weird ever since we got here.”

 

His permanent scowl deepened, “Oh I’m surprised Nobu didn’t tell you too.”

 

“Yea no, I’m the one who told him you were hot for the boss, get your information straight,” she joked, before turning a little more serious, “Hey don’t be so down about it, you’re a dead give away.”

 

“I know.”

 

She sighed, not knowing what to say to make the situation better. Machi had been tied up with their leader before and it didn’t do either of them a lot of good. That’s just how it was with him though, it wasn’t Chrollo’s fault he just wasn’t able to be casual about things… no matter how much he liked to be pretend to be.

 

Phinks was coming at this all wrong too. He hadn’t even talked to Chrollo, and he was already acting like he’d been rejected. That wasn’t very attractive. Then again did she even know who Chrollo was into right now?

 

She knew he was hooking up with Paku, and that seemed to be going pretty well. Both of them were actually chill about everything, especially since Paku went out with a different girl every other night. Chrollo hadn’t seemed the least bit possessive or hurt about it so maybe he was getting better.

 

It was hard to tell these days. Their boss had been a bit more closed off with her lately, not that she could blame him.

 

“All I gotta say is… don’t give up before you even try.”

 

“Easy to say,” he scoffed.

 

She laughed at that, “Yea I know, and everyone’s been in love with him at some point. It’s kind of like an initiation, but… honestly I don’t want to lie to you. I have a hunch he’s still hung up on … you know who.”

 

Phinks didn’t seem surprised by that, “Yea I know, and I get it.”

 

“You do?”

 

He shrugged, “Maybe not fully, but… I mean I’ve been gone for him since the minute I joined. It only gets worse before it gets better… if it ever does.”

 

“That long huh?” she really did sympathize with him, “Ya know sometimes you want more than you get but… I don’t know it sounds dumb…

 

I just think we should be happy we are all together right now. It’s enough for me.”

 

There was a pause, and then he actually smiled at her. 

 

“Me too.”





Chapter Text

It had been ten minutes since they sat down, but Kalluto already wanted to leave. Not because they didn’t want to contact the dead, but because of that blue haired girl looking over every other minute trying to get his attention.

 

He didn’t know her of course, but she probably knew him. While he wasn’t a huge presence on social media like Alluka, people still knew who he was because he would show up in her videos and get tagged in things with her. At this point it was pretty useless to pretend he was elusive, so he had even joined her on a few live streams recently.

 

There was a chance this random girl didn’t know who he was and just … thought he was cute? He didn’t know which would be worse.

 

“You’re Kalluto Zoldyck right?”

 

Nope. This is worse.

 

 

“Never heard of her.”

 

Instead of listening to him, the girl leaned into his space trying to get a look at his face. While Kalluto was used to his siblings getting into his personal space, he did not appreciate when strangers did. Especially strangers who were probably social media stalkers.

 

“I knew it was you! You have the beauty mark!” she exclaimed in a shallow victory, pointing to the same spot on her chin.

 

Feitan pushed the girl back, “Cut it out Neon, this is why I don’t come to meetings anymore.”  

 

“You came to that one last month!” she pouted, “We talked about our boys problems, remember?”

 

Kalluto tried to hold in his laughter to know avail, “Last month?”

 

Instead of responding he sent an icy look towards the younger boy.

 

“Yes!” Kalluto teased, ignoring Neon, “Like that! That’s the look I was talking about.”

 

His own shallow victory was also short lived. Apparently Neon had found whatever she’d been looking for on her phone and shoved it in his face, pulling him closer. He blinked at the bright light in his face, contrasting to the darkness.

 

The post she was showing him looked like a picture of Alluka she had put on her story. The tag was for what he assumed was Neon’s handle and a promise to do a video together…

 

Now I remember this girl….

 

Alluka had been complaining about another vlogger for a few weeks now. Apparently when she refused to acknowledge Neon online, the brat cried to her dad and they paid off some company.

 

It all boiled down to Alluka having to do at least one video with this girl so she could continued getting paid by one of the social media companies she was working with. He was surprised that actually worked, not many people got things from the Zoldyck family unless they were given.

 

“I’m going over to your house next week!” she informed him, “I can’t wait to see all of your origami from Alluka’s craft video! I started watching your tutorials you know!”

 

“You’re what now?” Feitan snorted.

 

Kalluto ignored him aside from a not so subtle elbow jab, “Well that’s just great, I know Alluka has been going on about filming with you for weeks…”

 

That’s not technically a lie right?

 

He had already been texting Killua for the past few minutes during all of this, as a way of an outlet. Normally he’d text Illumi but…

 

Unsurprisingly he did not get the response he wanted from his older brother, and shut his phone off early. If he was able to talk to Illumi it would have been a lot more. He missed talking to them, he knew they would have had something truly horrible to say about all of this.

 

Neon had been talking for a little while now, but he hadn’t registered a thing she was saying. Feitan had picked up on his more downcast behavior, and leaned over to whisper something.

 

“It’s Franklin’s birthday next week, I guess you’re going to be busy.”

 

Kalluto sighed, “Oh thank god, yep can’t believe I’m going to be so busy on whatever day she comes over.”

 

“It is his birthday though.”

 

“Wow what a coincidence.”

 

----



“Alright everyone, let’s begin.”

 

The air around them grew a little more tense, but that was fine. Once things actually started up Melody knew everyone would start to relax. Even though the main club had done their fair share of senaces and contact with the other side, most of the people who joined them haven’t had a lot of experience.

 

Normally it would be harder for spirits to connect with them if they could feel that tenseness in the air, but she had a remedy for that. Even though she was technically leading the event, Palm would be leading the actual senace.

 

While she talked everyone through the process, Melody thought it would be a good idea for her to play the flute. They always got a better response when there was music involved and it also helped calm the others participating.

 

At least in the beginning…

 

Her plan was to start with pieces that were pleasant and inviting to the group to put their minds at ease. Then as the hour progressed she was going to start playing more and more unsettling pieces she had composed until everyone was absolutely terrified-- on edge.

 

It was Halloween after all.

 

She took out her flute and started setting it up while Palm leaned into start lighting the incense set up by the boards. The other girl then began to instruct the group on what they would do next.

 

“Wait you’re not going to be in the circle?” Leorio asked, eyeing the flute.

 

She gave him a confused look, “Not technically, but I will be right outside of it playing the pieces I wrote.”

 

He looked deflated, “So we aren’t going to hold hands?”

 

Killua kicked the him lightly in the leg, “Don’t be such a sap, I don’t want to hold hands with you either.”

 

“No fighting….” Melody warned, as Palm sent a pointed look at the Killua for interrupting her.

 

The air grew even more tense as Palm and Killua were held in some kind of staring contest or rather a glaring contest… Finally remembering where she was Palm abruptly began her instructions again, which might have been more unsettling than any song Melody would play that night.

 

Once she was finished, she pulled out an ornate looking book and flipped to a page. She explained that she’d be reading a few exerts and prayers in latin to welcome any well meaning spirits, and protect them from any demons who would want to disrupt their contact.

 

“Do any outsiders have a request? Someone they want to contact that has crossed over?” she asked the circle.

 

Melody forgot they were going to do that.. She normally didn’t try to contact specific people when there were new people present. It could to lead to a more emotional seance that might isolate others.

 

It didn’t seem like anyone had a person they wanted to contact though, which was probably for the best.

 

She remembered the first time she tried to contact a friend of hers who passed away she was so upset at the response. Not in a bad way, but she had been overcome with emotion, and couldn’t bring herself to speak for a few days after.

 

“Alright then,” Palm responded to the silence, “I will warn that even if you don’t specifically call out to someone in particular… they may still find you.”

 

Leorio leaned over towards her again and whispered, “She’s not serious right?”

 

“Of course she is… but you don’t--”

 

“--I’m keeping an open mind.”

 

Melody blinked, she wasn’t sure what he was trying to ask her. Was there someone he wanted to talk to who passed away? Or maybe someone he wasn’t ready to talk to?

 

“If you’re uncomfortable with that, you don’t have to participate,” she assured him, “but once they start, you can’t break the circle until it’s over.”

 

He looked thoughtful for a minute, but shook his head.

 

“No it’s fine, I’ll be okay.”

 

“Alright, if you’re sure….”

 

She tried to be practical, and convince him to sit it out if he was still unsure… But the reassuring smile he gave her made it a little hard to concentrate.

 

“Alright if no one has any more questions I’m going to start recording and Palm will begin by reading her selections,” Shoot explained, waiting for any last minute disturbances.

 

When none came for the second time they began. Palm read from her book expertly, her pronunciation as consistent and clear as ever. After her prayers she instructed everyone to take hands, and Melody began playing her first piece.

 

As intended everyone in the circle seem to relax. Palm took a moment of silence to make sure everyone was calm enough to begin.

 

We gather here tonight in hope that we'll receive a sign of your presence. Please feel welcome in our circle and join us,” Palm welcomed, after waiting a few moments she continued, “If you are here with us, please let us know by disturbing the water or giving us a sign you want to communicate.”

 

A few seconds passed with no response, but then a gust of came threw disrupting the glasses on either side of the board. It could easily be chalked up to bad weather and good timing, but regardless the group proceeded, taking this as an answer.

 

The air around them felt increasingly colder, again not a sure sign of anything, but it was taken as a response as well.

 

“Is there someone here you wish to reach out to?” she asked, eying the rest of the circle, “If anyone feels a new presence, please share with us.”

 

No one made a sign to move, but there was a flinch among some of the people in circle at an unnerving note played by Melody.

 

They continued liked this for a few minutes, dragging out the questions to give any spirits a chance to answer. It didn’t seem like anything was reaching out to a particular person, but there was a shift in energy among circle.

 

The water had been disturbed quite a few times since they began twenty minutes ago, so Palm decided to take it to the next level.

 

She address the group this time instead of the spirits, “Alright we will be breaking the circle soon to use the spirit board, does anyone have anything to ask or say while in the safety of the circle? If so feel free to make any parting words now.”

 

Melody didn’t expect any of the new people to have anything to say since it was hard to speak up without a lot of experiences with contacting the other side, but someone surprised her.

 

“Do any spirits know someone here?” Killua asked suddenly.

 

“Give us a sign if you do,” Palm instructed, to her credit she was completely neutral to Killua’s request. Melody was worried any bad energy between them could throw things off, but this was going better than she had expected.

 

Suddenly one of the glasses tipped over completely, spilling water on the board before it hit the ground. A few people gasped inside and outside of the circle, but thankfully no one broke the circle in surprise.

 

This was amazing, Melody wasn’t expecting to get any good responses because of how many people were present spectating, but their proximity to the graveyard must have offset that.

 

“Would you like to ask anything else?” Palm questioned him.

 

Killua shook his head, not at all expecting to get the response he did in the first place. It must have been shocking since he wasn’t even well versed in the supernatural.

 

“Alright, well this seems like the perfect time to break off and use the board,” she concluded, “Obviously that is their intention, from the response we got.”

 

She glanced down at the water that had splashed onto the board in the middle of the circle. Everyone’s eyes were on it now too, some people looking truly shaken.

 

Of course the music getting more and more unsettling was not helping the mood.

 

Palm recited a closing prayer thanking the spirits for coming to speak with them, and requested any stay after they broke the circle because their seance had not yet concluded. They would need to break off to use to board.

As Melody finished her last piece for the night, Palm instructed everyone to slowly let go of their partners hands in the circle. Shoot hit pause on the recorder

 

“We got some great responses everyone, this was one of most successful seances, with the amount of people with have,” Melody told them, “We are going to take a short break, and then use the spirit board for any lingering ones who have something to say.”

 

After that everyone broke off into their own conversations. Killua was still holding Leorio’s hand, with both of his now. He still looked pretty startled.

 

“Are you okay, man?” Leorio asked, rubbing his shoulder.

 

“I don’t know, that was crazy!” he gasped, “I mean this is so cool, who do you think it knows?”

 

“The spirit?”

 

“Yea! It can’t be me or Kalluto… I mean unless our great grandmother if trying to talk to us. That’s pretty unlikely since she’s not even buried in this country.”

 

Leorio shrugged, but didn’t answer. He seemed to be a little off too, but compared to Killua he had a better handle on what happened.

 

“It could be anyone,” Melody explained, “The other side isn’t as concrete as ours, the deceased doesn’t have to physically be close by for you connect with them.”

 

Killua finally let go of Leorio’s hand, not realizing he had it in the first place.

 

“Does that ever happen?” he asked, referring to the glass tipping over.

 

“Sometimes! I’m surprised we got such a reaction with so many people here tonight.”

 

“Wow… I never really believed in this sort of thing… but I’m definitely being swayed,” he laughed shakily.

Melody nudged Leorio, who seemed to jump at her touch. He may seem alright on the outside, but there was definitely something going on with him.

 

“What about you?” she asked, gently, “Are you a believer now?”

 

He snorted, “I believe that I am severely creeped out, mainly by whatever the fuck that was you were playing.”

 

“Did you like it? It was inspired another piece,’Danse Macabre’” she explained, not deterred by his comment.

 

“Of course it is….”

 

Before they could continue, someone else joined them from across the circle. The person seem to zoom straight over to Killua, excitement brimming in their eyes.

 

“What a great question!” they said, grasping his shoulders, “Do you think you’re going to be haunted now?”

 

Killua blinked, the color draining from his face.

 

“No but now I do…

 

This is my little brother Kalluto by the way,” he introduced them, “This is Melody and Leorio, they are some of my cool college friends. Well Melody is at least.”

 

Leorio scoffed, but didn’t make a biting comment like he normally would. Another sign something was up.

 

Kalluto politely greeted them, but then turned serious on Killua.

 

“Listen I know you said you weren’t going to help me out anymore, but it’s a small request. If anything you won’t even have to--”

 

“--What is it now?” Killua deadpanned.

 

“If dad asks… I’m staying at your place.”

 

“Nope.”

 

“But I’m passed curfew and I already told him I was!”

 

The white haired boy smiled something sinister, and then spoke in a tone neither Melody or Leorio had heard from him before.

 

“Then I guess you’re staying with us tonight.”

 

Kalluto groaned, “Noooo please have a heart, I can’t face Illumi.”

 

Killua pushed the younger boy off, “Well I’m on their side. If dad says it’s fine then fine, but I’m not gonna let you run off with those guys when you’re said you were staying at our place.”

 

A silence went by, both boys glaring at each other.

 

“Fine.”

 

With that, he made his back to sit next to Feitan. Melody and Leorio glanced at each other before looking back at Killua, who was just idly scrolling through his phone.

 

“I get it now…” Leorio said, “You Zoldycks can be pretty scary.”

 

Killua looked up innocently, “What do you mean?”



KZ- hey so you’ll never guess whos here

 

IZ- Oh did you summon grandmother?

 

KZ- no…. But someone did summon Kalluto.

 

IZ- Yes, father called me to make sure he came home tonight.

 

KZ-  you guys need to makeup or something!
KZ-  he practically begged me not to tell you he was here and let him stay with those oh so classy friends of yours.

 

IZ- I appreciate you keeping an eye on him.
IZ- Drag him back screaming if you have to.

 

KZ- will do…
KZ- what are you even doing tonight? It is halloween

 

IZ- Giving myself the greatest gift.

IZ- Peace and quiet.

 

KZ- you’ve got a few more hours left then.

 

IZ- oh yes don’t worry, plan on waiting up for you two

 

KZ- im sure hes gonna love that -___-

 

—-



“I told Kurapika the party is ‘spider free’ but he still doesn’t want to go…”

 

They had just ended the seance for the night and made their goodbyes with the others. Killua had opted to call it an early night and drag his brother home, and Gon was still at that party, so it was just the two of them.

 

Leorio had decided not to participate in the spirit board activities, but he was still shaken from earlier. He didn’t want admit it but he did feel something… a very familiar something. It scared him to even acknowledge it though, he thought he was going crazy.

 

“Well you know I don’t think he’s ever been into that scene,” he explained, “I know the people he used to run around with and they can be very exhausting… he’s probably partied enough for a lifetime.”

 

“You think so? I only know Feitan from that group and he’s more reserved.”

He scoffed, “Oh yea maybe not for parties, but he’ll take your money in cards.”

 

“That happen to you?” she laughed.

 

The taller man shot up, his arms flailing as spoke, “No way! I have some self preservation. I watched them go for a few rounds and thought my head was going to explode.”

 

Melody paused, “You don’t … still hang around them though right?”

 

“No.. I’ve been ignoring all their calls, once I figure out what I’m going to do, I’ll block their numbers. I’m sure that will put more than one mind at ease…”

 

She took his hand as they walked back to her dorm, leaving any other thoughts of spiders for another time. Everything was still pretty new with them, and she wasn’t sure if that should be the thing they talk about when they actually get to see each other.

 

He seemed to relax after that, changing the subject back to what happened at their seance. She hoped he had a good time, even though it was a little more eccentric than what he was used to.

 

There was definitely something off about him after the initial contact they made with the spirits. When the water glass tipped over he looked absolutely stricken with something… She had seen that face before, but couldn’t place why he would feel… guilty after feeling a presence.

 

Guilt, that was what was in his eyes. The only thing that could explain it was if the spirit who answered Killua knew Leorio. That might be a stretch, but what else could it be?

 

She decided not to bring that up either though. He would face a lot of reckoning in the month. Melody didn’t want to add to that if she could help it.

 

“You had a good time right?” she asked when they made it to the door.

 

“Yea! It was great watching you work,” he seemed genuine, “You were really in your element, even that creepy song is still stuck in my head…”

 

“I just wanted to make sure you were alright, it can be a jarring experience the first time,” she said, jumping around the subject.

 

He leaned against the door and sighed, as if he was exhausted, “It was a lot, but I’m glad I did it, even though...

 

I still don’t believe in ghosts.

 

“What? How do explain the water? Or the timing? Were you even paying attention to the spirit board?”

 

He put his hands up, “It was a windy night, Melody.”

 

“Come on!”

 

The door Leorio was leaning on suddenly open, causing the taller man to fall through into the apartment. A very sleepy looking Kurapika had moved to the side, not bothering to catch the doctor.

 

“I could hear you two screaming from my room….”

 

Melody didn’t seem to care she he had woken him and continued her rant, “Leorio still doesn’t believe in ghosts!”

 

Kurapika looked down to see the doctor was glaring at him from the floor, the boy just waved them both off.

 

“It’s almost two in the morning, not even witching hour yet. Give it time.”

 

Leorio jumped up, now having a height advantage on him, “Witching hour? What’s that? Or … when is that?”

 

Uncharacteristically Kurapika pulled him down by the shoulders so they were eye to eye. His own were wide and unnerving, as if filled with fear.

 

“At three AM…” he began in a haunting voice, “The spirits, ghosts…. Even demons …. have  three whole minutes to … contact you.”

 

Leorio looked unimpressed, “And do what? Push over a vase? Tuck me in?”

 

“Fine make light of it…hopefully you’ll already be asleep by then,” the blonde sighed, releasing him, “I once woke up at 2:59 and at exactly 3:00 I heard a knock at my door, THREE TIMES. It was terrifying.”

 

“Oh…” Melody sucked in a breath, “That actually might have been me.”

 

“What?”

“Well I was mad at you at the time, and I thought it would be funny,” she admitted sheepishly.

 

Kurapika did not seem to find this as funny as the other two, “Fine then, I guess…

 

Ghosts aren’t real.”

 

“Not you too!”







Chapter Text

    This ‘group’ wasn’t what it seemed. It was more like a ‘family’ in a mafia sense. You had connections, you had your place, you had your favors you could call in. If you knew about the drug operation then you had certain responsibilities, but you also had perks.

 

If you didn’t know about the unsavory way money got made then you could sit pretty and get taken care of.

 

Kurapika had been on both sides of this family, and both were horrible in their own ways. The thing is even if you didn’t ‘know’ about the drugs or other activities.. You knew.

 

It was when you started asking questions or wanting information did things change. Depending on who you were it could change for better or worse. In his case it changed for the better.. Because he was the boss’s boyfriend.

 

No one could say or do anything to him in any group connected to Chrollo. He was basically untouchable. So once he found out about how things really worked nothing happened, other than Chrollo not being as cautious around him or ditching him in clubs.

 

At first it had been exciting.. Everything was always exciting with Chrollo, but it also had its consequences. At the end of the day it didn’t justify the means for him and everything he sacrificed to be there, so Kurapika left.

 

It was a lot messier than it sounds, but he tried to block out the painful things that were said.. The fight with Uvo… the restraining orders.

 

He didn’t even want to get a restraining order on Paku but it was Chrollo’s last request so she wouldn’t figure out that the only people he had one for were the ones dealing the drugs.

 

Naivie of him to think Paku, one of the smartest people he knew, had no idea about his side business… either way it was done. He never planned on actually enforcing the restraining orders anyways… he was untouchable after all.

 

It didn’t matter that they weren’t together anymore. It didn’t matter that Kurapika had drunkenly punched him in the side at that party and probably threatened him. Once you were in you were in. Even when you left, people still remembered who you were.

 

Since this still seemed true Kurapika was hoping to cash in his one favor and finally be done with it all.

 

In Chrollo’s main company, the ten to thirteen people he deemed worthy enough to be close to, everyone had one favor. This favor was a no questions asked, get whatever you want to the best of his abilities kind of deal. It made joining him very alluring to a lot of people.

 

Kurapika had never used his. There was nothing that extreme that he wanted, and when he left he never planned to talk to the boss again.

 

However there was something he wanted now, and he was pretty confident he would get it. After that party it was pretty obvious that Chrollo still had feelings for him, and after the reaction he got from Leorio he was certain.

 

Why else would the doctor be so terrified he was Chrollo’s ex? It obvious their leader still thought about him and talked about him if even Leorio knew to keep his distance.

 

Since that was the case, he was going to use it to his advantage. It was pretty risky, but if he actually did what Kurapika asked then it shouldn’t come back to bite him.

 

Even so it would involve actually talking to the man. Sober. In daylight.

 

That hadn’t happened for a while…

 

At first he thought about texting him, at least to set up a meeting or something. But the problem with that was then Chrollo had time to prepare and Kurapika wanted to catch him off guard.

If he went straight to the source though he ran the risk of seeing some of the others. He w as worried that with certain people around Chrollo wouldn’t be as lenient with him. technically he was  out of the group and that might affect the validity of this favor.

 

Once it was all said and done it was still better to catch Chrollo off guard than giving him time to think. If he had time to think then he had time to plan loopholes or change the agreement.

 

It was still dangerous so he had to tell someone what he was doing just in case. He couldn’t tell Leorio or Melody, they would try to stop him. He couldn’t tell Gon he was too close to Leorio and would probably want to come himself..

 

That just left Killua which was kind of perfect.

 

He already knew the jist of what Kurapika had gone through. He also knew where they lived, incase Kurapika needed a backup for some reason. Not only that but Killua might also have some liencey he wasn’t even aware of because he was related to Illumi and Kalluto who were close with members in the group.

 

KP- Hey I’ve got a plan and I need some help.

 

KZ- A plan for what?

 

KP- It’s gonna involve Chrollo.

 

KZ- Yikes. Say no more.

KZ- Obviously I’m not saying yes or no. Let’s talk first!

KZ- Come over in an hour!

KP- Sounds good thanks

 

KZ- Like I said… im not saying yes or no.

 

---------



    “Hey! Sorry I forgot I was going to video chat with Alluka, we’re almost done, and then we can talk,”  Killua explained at the door.

 

    Kurapika had heard of his sister and came across her online sometimes. He didn’t know much other than she was a social media star and activist. Even though he wasn’t as informed on her, he would be lying if he said he didn’t want to meet her.

 

    That was fine was Killua, he introduced him right away once they were seated in front of the laptop at the table. She seemed just as excited to meet him which a little shocking. Apparently she had already met Gon and Leorio and had heard alot about him.

 

    Killua seemed to be ever the gossip even with his own sister because one of the first questions she asked him was about Leorio.

 

    “Have you gotten with Leorio yet?” she asked, bouncing in her seat, “I’ve been invested in this since our fishing trip!”

 

    Kurapika laughed, not expected her to know anything about him let alone something this personal. He wasn’t offended in the slightest. She seemed to genuinely want to know.

 

    “I’m… working on it,” was all he could think to say, it wasn’t a lie but their relationship was a little weird right now. For good reason.

 

    “Good! Once everything is worked out we should do something fun together for the holidays!” she exclaimed, “It’s too cold to fish but we can do secret santa or something!”

 

    Killua also liked that idea, “Yea that would be awesome, we have a good amount of people to participate now.”

 

    Alluka hummed, “Let’s see… me, you two, Canary, Amane, Gon, Leorio, and Melody! I still haven’t met her yet, but you might have some competition Kurapika!”

 

    He blinked confused by her insinuation, “Competition for Melody? With who?”

 

    “Oh well I don’t want to put a rock between you two but Killua seems to like her!”

 

    In response the older brother seemed to go red in the face at the accusation.

 

“What! I don’t have a crush on Melody! I’m dating Gon,” he turned to Kurapika with his hands up, “I swear I don’t, I really don’t know what she’s talking about!”

 

    Kurapika couldn’t help but laugh hard at the boy’s defensive behavior. He knew Killua didn’t actually like any girls like that, but he obviously felt embarrassed as if he had been caught red handed.

 

    Alluka crossed her arms and huffed, “I know you’re in love with Gon, I’m just saying he really likes Melody, like Canary.”

 

    “Oh I guess that’s true… they’re both just very nice to me,” he admitted, “It’s hard not to be flustered sometimes.”

 

    Before they could go on the door opened to the apartment. Kurapika’s breath caught in his throat, it seemed the two of them forgot the reason they didn’t come over to Killua’s apartment often… Illumi. Well more so Illumi’s ‘friends.’

 

Thankfully it was just Illumi who came in. They had some bolts and rolls of fabric under their arms, along with a few bags looped on their wrists. Illumi didn’t even seem to notice them at the table, putting down all of their belongings in a frazzled manner.

 

“Who’s there?” Alluka asked, hearing the door open as well, “Illumi is back?”

 

Illumi looked up at their name, now noticing the new addition at the table. They gave him a curious look before zeroing in on the computer.    

 

“Oh you’re talking to Alluka?” they asked, “Give me a second.”

 

    “Yea we are about to head out though,” Killua said, on the spot.

 

Kurapika was thankful for the out. The last time Illumi saw him and recognized him was when they were at the cafe forever ago. Hopefully they didn’t know who he really was.

 

Illumi nodded, their back to them as they sorted through their things.

 

    “Not fair they just got here!” Alluka pouted, “Plus… Kalluto is still at school and I want to gossip!”

 

    “Oh do you now?” Illumi asked chillingly, making their way to the table, “When they leave call me and we can talk.”

 

    Alluka clapped in agreement, “Good!”

 

    Killua rolled his eyes, but Kurapika was a little on edge at the change of tone. It was then that Illumi finally sized him up, giving him a skeptical glance.

 

    “So it was you….” they began, causing Kurapika to hold his breath, “At the party, you said you didn’t know my brother though?”

 

    Kurapika let out a shaky laugh, “Oh well… I just didn’t want to talk to Hisoka.”

 

    That seemed to be the right answer, “Understandable.”

 

    With that they were gone, off to their room with the door shut.

 

    “Good lord…”

 

-----

 

    They decided to take Killua’s car to Chrollo’s apartment. It was better if they had a quick escape in an unrecognizable vehicle.

 

    Kurapika had explained his plan to the boy, and Killua thought it would be best if he went along too.  At least that way he had someone in his corner if need be. He wouldn’t actually be talking to anyone, just waiting in the car for when Kurapika was ready to go.

 

    To say Kurapika was grateful for the support would be an understatement.

 

    He had no idea what kind of emotional state he would be in after this confrontation. As they got closer to Chrollo’s place, his heart rate went up. By the time they got there, parked in the back, Kurapika was fully freaking out.

 

    “Hey it’s okay if you need to wait or think of something else,” Killua assured him.

 

    But he was wrong. There wasn’t a lot of time left, it had to be now. After he left the hospital that day Gon broke his arm he told Leorio to ignore all of Chrollo’s calls and stay away from campus until he told him otherwise.

 

    If he didn’t act fast it would be even more dangerous for Leorio, he was counting on him.

 

    “No it’s okay I can do this, just keep the car running.”

 

    With one last deep breath he got out of the car and made his way to the place he never thought he’d see again.

 

    It was surreal walking up the steps to his door. Kurapika remembered walking up these stairs many times before, the memories suddenly flooding his senses.

 

    By the time he was face to face with the door he couldn’t bring himself to knock. Everything suddenly felt too real, too familiar. He could hear them on the other side of the wall, talking and laughing.

 

For too long he made this whole experience with this group out to be a bad dream. It was like something that didn’t actually happen to him. Now he was coming back here to  the same place he had decided to abandon everything he was and start over.

 

Chrollo wouldn’t be the only one caught off guard.

 

Finally he knocked.

 

The room went silent. That wasn’t surprising, since everyone in their group had a key and made sure people texted before they came over. Normally if there was a knock at the door it meant trouble.

 

He was hoping for that, because if there was trouble Chrollo would be the one to answer the door.

 

The next thing he knew he was staring back at the man that had been plaguing not only his thoughts but his life. He looked just as surprised to see him there, eyes wide with nothing to say.

 

“Who is it, boss?” came what sounded like Uvo’s voice.

 

Chrollo didn’t respond, just stepped out shutting the door behind him.

 

“What are you--

 

“-- I need a favor,” Kurapika interrupted him, not wanting to get sidetracked.

 

His heart was beating a hundred miles a minute, but he tried to stay composed. So far so good. Chrollo was caught off guard, there weren’t any other spiders around, and he put his request on the table.

 

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad….

 

But why doesn’t this guy ever wear a shirt.

 

“A favor ?” he asked, emphasizing the difference.

 

Kurapika nodded, not wanting to say anything else yet. It seemed like Chrollo was still trying to register what was happening. Before he could respond there was pounding on the other side of the door.

   

“I see that bastard out there, what the hell are you doing, my man?” came Bono’s voice, muffled by the door, “You want me to throw a few punches for you?”

 

Chrollo didn’t say anything but instead hit the door behind him extremely hard, as if it was some kind of warning not come out. He motioned towards the stairs leading down towards the parking lot, and went back inside.

 

Kurapika couldn’t help but be curious and try to listen to what was being said on the other side before he went downstairs to wait for him.

 

He could hear his name said by a few other people, and then Chrollo’s voice, more serious than it had been just a minute ago.

 

“Don’t follow me.”

 

Before he had a chance to make his way down the stairs Chrollo was already opening the door again.

 

At least he put on a shirt.

 

“What are you— nevermind, let’s go before you get yourself killed,” he sighed, pushing past him towards the staircase.

 

They stood over by a bike rack not too far from where Killua was parked. This hadn’t been intentional at first, but Kurapika realized this spot was one they used to go to a lot…

 

When there was always at least five people in the loft at a time they used to sneak out here to… talk. He must had subconsciously led them there from some internalized muscle memory.

    Chrollo didn’t seem to notice or care. His expression was now less shocked and more unreadable. That was fine, he knew the other man was still reeling.

 

    “So you want to cash in your favor ,” he stated rather than asked.

 

    “That’s what I said.”

 

    He sighed in return, “You’re not even going to ask if you still get one? Or at least how I’m doing.”

 

    “I don’t want to know how you’re doing,” Kurapika scoffed, “If you don’t want to help me then I’ll find another way.”

 

    He turned to leave, but it was an act. He knew he would get what he came here for, and sure enough the hand on his shoulder stopping him confirmed it.

 

    “What do you want?”

 

    Oh thank god.

 

    Kurapika turned around, looking him in the eyes again. It was hard to do, but he had to seem unbothered. He just had to last a few minutes, and then it would be over for good.

 

    “There’s someone who works for you,” Kurapika started, “I want you to leave him alone.

 

And by ‘alone’ I mean no messing with his family and friends, no trying to spite him or find a way to fuck him over with some kind of loophole or excuse.”

 

    Chrollo didn’t seemed phased, “That’s it?”

 

    “That’s it.”

 

    “Well you must really like this guy if you’re going to waste your favor on that.   I have enough sources, I would have been fine with that anyways.” he shrugged,

 

“So who is it?”

 

    This would be the hard part. He knew Leorio was one of Chrollo’s favorite suppliers, just because he had been out with them so often. That was the second best thing to being in the group, in fact that’s how a lot of people got in.

 

    It would also be very transparent that once Chrollo found out who it was he would realize that Kurapika wasn’t just helping a friend out. He would see it was a lot more than that.

 

    “It’s Leorio.”

 

    That seemed to be a surprise to him, but he wasn’t angry. Instead he looked down, somewhat in thought. If Kurapika didn’t know any better he’d say Chrollo might have looked sad. For which reason it was unclear.

 

    “I didn’t think we’d be seeing him much longer anyways,” he finally said, “I’ll leave him alone, he’s a good guy. I do have a question for you however.

 

How do you expect him to make any money?”

 

    That had been a concern of his at first too, but once he saw how drained the doctor was that day he knew it didn’t matter anymore. They would figure something out. No amount of money was worth dying over.

 

    “We’ll figure it out.”

 

    That seemed to hit a nerve, “So you two are a thing then?”

 

    Kurapika didn’t respond, but gave him a pointed look. It wasn’t any of his business what they were, Chrollo said he’d cash in the favor. Nothing mattered anymore.

 

    “I just ask because.. I heard you liked some other girl.”

 

    How the hell did he know about Melody? Maybe through Feitan, but he had promised her he wouldn’t say anything to Chrollo about it. Feitan seemed to like Melody, and he wasn’t one to lie about things like this.

 

    Who else could have told him?

 

    “Whatever, someone just told me at that party that you were seeing someone, it doesn’t matter…”

 

    “Oh yea…” Kurapika trailed, “How’s your side?”

 

    The other blinked, surprised by the question. Kurapika was surprised too, he meant it to be a biting comment, but it came out sounding concerned. He should leave, this was getting weird.

 

    Chrollo absently touched the side where Kurapika had punched him. It felt like that was so long ago. It didn’t even seem real, just like everything else that concerned Chrollo. Every time he saw this man he felt like he was a different person.

 

    “Why did you even go to that party?”  he asked, ignoring the question.

 

    Kurapika shrugged, kicking up some dirt, “I don’t know--”

 

    “--Did you want to see me?”

 

    “No.”

 

    Chrollo didn’t seem convinced, “Do you think if I did something different… do you think we’d still be togeth--”

 

    “I don’t want to talk about this.”

 

    He stepped forward, coming into Kurapika’s space. He definitely should have left sooner, he was worried this would happen. Chrollo wanted some kind of closure still, something to hang onto, and he didn’t want to give it to him but he might have to now.

 

    Kurapika held up a hand and pressed him back when he got too close, surprisingly he backed off.

 

    “Tell me something. You just ran off after beating the crap out of Uvo, what was the last straw?”

 

    He finally relented. It was the only way to give him what he wanted, and make sure Leorio wouldn’t be bothered by this anymore.

 

    “There was no ‘last straw.’ And no, I don’t think we’d still be together because you wouldn’t do anything differently. Despite what I said back then, I know you care about the others. If you did something different, some of them… might not be here.

 

So stop wasting your time on me, and take care of the people you pulled into this mess that still want to stay. Those are the ones who deserve it.”

 

    His words hit hard with the older man. Chrollo wasn’t looking at him anymore, his eyes on the ground in thought, in pain. Kurapika knew he was right, but he didn’t think Chrollo deserved to hear what he had to say. It so obvious anyways. Why was he so hung up on him when he had ten other people that cared about him.

 

    “You’re right… but I just … we were in love.”

 

    Kurapika scoffed, “You sound like some teenager. Life moves on, people change.”

 

    “So what was it just me?” he asked, there was a hint of anger in his voice.

 

    Kurapika didn’t have to ask what he meant, he knew what he was asking… and it pissed him off to no end. How could he ask such a question? He knew he should just leave, there was no reason to answer him.

 

    But he couldn’t leave it there. He couldn’t let Chrollo walk around thinking he was the only one who got hurt, the only person who’s feelings mattered.

 

    Just you? I left it all for you, I left my family, my culture, everything and you think you can just ask me if ‘it was just you’?”

 

    He could feel himself start to loose it the more he went on.

 

    It felt like saying everything out loud for the first time made it more real, more painful. But he couldn’t stop. It just kept coming out in waves.

 

    “How do you think I felt when I realized that after I gave everything up to be here I still wasn’t enough for you? You hurt me so many times, long before I left, and you’re lucky I stayed as long as I did.

 

You only miss the idea of me, you don’t care about me . You’re just a child who’s upset because you lost a toy, and now you want to blame everyone but yourself.”

 

   

    “Kurapika I--”

 

    “You want to do something for me? You want to make me happy? Then leave me and everyone I care about alone.”

 

    This time he was the one in Chrollo’s space now. He had a few inches on him, so Kurapika had to look up at him to make his point. Even though he was shorter, he knew he was stronger, and so did Chrollo.

 

    Knowing this the man still didn’t back up, even when Kurapika gently took a hold of his arm before bending it back painfully. He figured out a while ago that you could say whatever you wanted, but the only thing Chrollo really respected was strength.

   

    “If I ever find out you as much as glanced at Leorio I will make you regret it.”

 

Once Chrollo nodded he let his arm go and turned around to leave. He didn’t try to stop him this time.



----



True to his word Killua was still there and the car was running. Kurapika had never felt so lucky to have friends like this. People he was truly comfortable with who would take care of him when he needed it.

 

Killua didn’t say anything, he just pulled out of the complex, taking the route to his apartment. He was thankful for that as well, he couldn’t bring himself to speak after all of that.

 

Taking out his phone, he blocked Chrollo’s number for the second time. Hopefully it would stay that way.  

 

    Suddenly he felt exhausted, and then his eyes started to hurt. He knew what was coming, but he didn’t want to break down in front of Killua.

 

It didn’t matter, before he knew it there were tears coming down his face in floods.

 

He tried to leave it at that, but it was too much. Not even a minute later he was sobbing so hard he couldn’t breath. He couldn’t remember the last time he had cried this hard.

 

    Kurapika didn’t even realize Killua had pulled off the on the side of the road until he heard the his door open and felt arms come around his back pulling him into a tight embrace. He cried harder, if that was possible. It was as if that comforting action, broke him even more.

 

    He had his regrets, but coming here was not one of them. Kurapika knew that he wouldn’t change anything either. He missed his real family everyday, but he could never give up the one he made.

 

    Maybe that was the one thing him and Chrollo had in common.

 

   

   

   

Chapter Text

GF- Hey you should come to dinner this weekend.

 

KT- It’s been a while since I saw a message like that come from these initials
KT- I almost had a heart attack.

 

GF- OH hahah

GF- ;)

 

KT- Please stop.

KT- That is your father you are pretending to be, and I am thoroughly grossed out.

 

GF- You started it!
GF- anyways you said you talked to that surgen lady and she wants to meet with Leorio right?

 

KT- Yep.

 

GF- So come to dinner and tell him then!

 

KT- I don’t know…

 

GF- I know, Kite.
GF- I can see the future, and I can assure you you’re going to have great time if you come over this weekend.

 

KT- God fine. Please just stop texting me like that.

 

GF- Dude I was not trying to text you like anything just now hahahaha

 

KT- Wow that’s even worse. You’re better than this.  

 

GF- See you at dinner this weekend :)

 

…..

 

GF- ;)

 

KT- Fine.



“Hey you texting Killua?”

 

Gon jumped at the comment, putting his phone away as casually as he could. The last thing he needed was Leorio finding out that Kite was coming over. It didn’t matter if he had good news or not, he would still have to put up with Leorio complaining about it.

 

“Yep, are we going to pick him up soon?”

 

Leorio gave him a skeptical look, but thankfully he made no other comments about his odd behavior. He just nodded, throwing more of their stuff by the door.

 

“So it’s just the three of us then?” Gon asked.

 

He knew this was a sensitive subject. Kurapika and him had only just started talking again, and he wasn’t even sure if Leorio had seen Melody yet. Even so it was worth asking, if just to figure out what was going on.

 

Leorio didn’t seem upset by the question. If anything he was just tired,  which had been his constant state lately. Even though Kurapika had taken care of things with Chrollo, there was still the issue of money.

 

Of course the older man hadn’t brought it up with Gon, but it had to be weighing on him. Especially since he broke his arm, and things with his scholarship were up in the air because of it.

 

Leorio finally responded, taking in a breath, “As far as I know. Well technically five.”

 

“Five?”

 

“Auntie and Granma,” he confirmed, “Ya know the people we are going to see.”

 

Gon sighed. He totally thought Leorio had somehow figured out he invited Kite. That wouldn’t make any sense, but his luck had been pretty shitty lately.

 

He was already preparing himself for the scolding he was going to get from Mito about breaking his arm. Apparently his coach called her already, and they were talking about other options if it took too long to heal before the season was over.

 

“I feel bad though…” Leorio started up again, “Killua mentioned Kurapika had been pretty down. Missing his family--”

 

“--wait you didn’t invite either of them?”

 

The older man groaned, “No I can’t bring them over….”

 

“Scared of Mito?”

 

“That’s not it….”

 

So it’s about Pietro then.

 

Gon didn’t pry anymore, leaving the subject alone. He knew Leorio had a hard time bringing anyone home since it usually led to that conversation. There were pictures of him and Pietro everywhere in the house since they had been best friends since they were kids.

 

Mito had asked if he wanted her to take them down,  but he was insistent they stay up. Even so this wasn’t an easy thing for him to explain to others.

 

Gon couldn’t blame him though. How could something like that ever be easy to talk about? He had always felt for Leorio, but since he started dating Killua he really understood the pain Leorio felt.  

 

Even though he hadn’t known Killua as long, Gon would be devastated if he lost him. Sure he had dated other people before him, but he had never been in love until now.

 

Losing your best friend and your first love…

 

Gon didn’t want to imagine what that was like.

 

----



“I don’t why I’m asking you this but I need some kind of advice…”

 

Illumi had perked up immediately at the request, and Killua already regretted saying anything. He was just nervous about this weekend, he had never met anyone’s parents before.

 

Okay that was a lie he knew Canary’s family, but still. He wasn’t in love with Canary and they were already family friends before he was born so did it really count?

 

He just didn’t want to mess this up, and Illumi was basically dating two people right now. They must have some in-law experience.

 

“What kind of advice?” they asked, obviously trying be neutral, but it was easy to see Illumi was thrilled Killua needed help from them.

 

“Well I’m supposed to meet Gon’s family.. I don’t know how normal people act,” he explained, “We’re going to have dinner and stay for a couple of days…”

 

“Okay... what’s the question?”

 

Killua sighed, he really didn’t know what he should be asking. He just knew he was stressed out and needed something to hang on to. Some kind of instruction to keep in mind so he didn’t say the wrong thing or fuck something up.

 

“I mean you must have met Hisoka’s parents right? Or someone he’s close to?” he tried asking in a different way.

 

“Uh… his girlfriend.”

 

Killua blinked, “No not Machi.. Have you met either of their families?”

 

“They don’t really have families in a traditional sense… so no,” they concluded, not understanding the point Killua was trying to make.

 

He sighed, there was no easy way to get through this it seemed. Gon’s family would either like him or not. While Gon was never bothered by the more.. vapid things he said, he was worried his aunt and grandmother might be.

 

“You’re worried they won’t like you right?” Illumi asked.

 

He nodded, but couldn’t meet their eyes. It felt like such a dumb thing to be upset over when they said it out loud. It didn’t change the fact that he felt like he was going to make a fool of himself.

 

“You’re pretty down to earth by our standards… I don’t think you have to worry,” they assured him, “Gon likes you, so --

 

“Well actually.. It’s a little bit more serious than that.”

 

Illumi’s eyes widen, and they suddenly looked greener than usual. He had not been expecting that response to this news. He didn’t even say that they were in love, and Illumi was already sick to their stomach. What was he supposed to do with that?

 

“Are you okay….?”

 

They waved him off, “It’s fine… I was just reminded of something else..”

 

He grinned, finally understanding what was actually upsetting Illumi about all of this.

 

“Did Hisoka tell you he was in love with you?”

 

“Please don’t remind me,” they groaned, glaring at him from across the table.

 

“Gross.”

 

“Honestly.”

 

Killua laughed at that. While it was obvious Illumi felt the same way apparently they still were uncomfortable with admitting it. It was odd since they had no problem telling their family they loved them. It must be different for them when it came to the people they dated.

 

“Isn’t it you who wants to have a big family with kids? How’s that gonna happen when this makes you sick?”

 

They gave him an unimpressed look, “More like how’s that going to happen when Hisoka can’t even be in the same room as a crying baby….I don’t think I want that anymore anyways.”

 

“Yikes.”

 

“I wish you luck meeting this boy’s family, but honestly I think if I stew on this any longer I’m going to be sick.”

 

Yea me too…

 

He felt sick from nerves though, not at the thought of family in general. It seemed like Illumi’s priorities were changing, but they still had a hard time accepting certain things. He felt kind of bad sending them on a spiral.

 

Whether they meant to or not they did help him feel a little better. While he still had no idea how to act, it was nice to know someone else was just as terrified of commitment.

 

If anything he had a better handle on it that Illumi.



----



The ride over had been fine, with the steadily increase of nerves as they got closer. Leorio didn’t seem to mind they both decided to sit in the back on the way up either. If anything he seemed to relax more, since they mainly talked to each other.

 

The doctor had been on edge for the past couple of days, and Gon could only assume the reason why. All he knew was that the mess he was in with Chrollo was coming to an end. It put his mind at ease knowing his cousin wouldn’t be in danger anymore, but he wasn’t sure that was what Leorio was focusing on.

 

To be honest it was probably good for all of them to leave the university area for the weekend. Hopefully when Kite arrived he would have some good news for Leorio that would put his mind at ease too.

 

That is if Kite actually showed up.

 

While he appreciated everything he was doing to help Leorio without the doctor even knowing, Kite had still been aloof lately. Gon had even stopped pestering him about Pitou in hopes he would come out of his shell again.

 

Regardless, he’d have to see Gon every week next semester once he

started Kite’s entomology course.  Maybe then things would go back to normal with them again.

 

By the time they got to Mito’s house a few hours outside of the city, Killua had actually fallen asleep. That was good, hopefully he wouldn’t be too anxious. Gon could tell he had been stressed out about meeting her and his grandmother, which was the exact opposite of what he was trying to do.

 

From his what he saw at the vow renewal, Killua had anything but a normal family life at home. Gon figured it would be a nice change for him to see how real families acted, but then again it was a change. Killua didn’t do very well with that either.

 

“Alright kids we’re here,” Leorio announced as he pulled into the driveway.

 

His grandma was already outside on the porch swing knitting like she did during the fall time right before it got too cold. He still had all of the scarves and gloves she had knitted him when he was growing up, not caring if they were too small.

 

She saw them in the car still and waved to him from the swing. A very stark contrast to how Mito normally greeted him.

 

Killua still seemed hazy from sleep still not realizing where they were. Gon started shaking the other boy with his good arm until he got a slap in the face. He would have been nicer about waking him, but Gon was too excited to be home.

 

“Jeeze you’re hyper for someone whos been sitting down for three hours,” Killua yawned.

 

“That’s why I’m hyper, let’s go!!”

 

“But if we wait in here Leorio will take in our stuff for us…” he whined in return.

 

Gon wasn’t buying it, “You just want to hide in here for as long as possible.”

 

Too sleepy to disagree, Killua just put up his arms in surrender.

 

“Ya got me.”

 

“If anyone should be hiding it’s me. Once she sees my arm she’s gonna freak out….” Gon sighed, looking down at the cast, “Come on let’s face the music.”

 

Once he was able to pry Killua from the backseat, they saw that Leorio indeed had already taken in all of their stuff. The screen door was pushed open now, and from where he was standing he could already hear Mito’s voice.

 

A wave of nostalgia hit him hard. He had been living with Leorio for a couple years now, moving in when he was still in high school. So coming back here always made him feel reminiscent of his childhood.

 

“What now you’re getting cold feet? Let’s go,” Killua commented on his hesitation, pushing him up the driveway.

 

“Hey watch it! I’m in a very delicate state right now!”

 

“Yea I’ll say!” came a familiar voice.  

 

Gon looked up to see Mito standing on the porch with her hands on her hips in a false impression of anger. He broke off from Killua’s grasp, running up the driveway. He could feel the laughter bubbling up in his chest.

 

With his good arm Gon grabbed the woman by the waist lifting her up in strong embrace.

 

“Gon put me down, you’re going to hurt yourself!” she said hitting him on the back as he spun her around.

 

He reluctantly did as he was told, dropping her lightly back on the porch. She already looked upset with him, probably for being so reckless with a broken arm, but pulled him back into a real hug anyways.

 

“What are we going to do with you,” she muttered into his hair.

 

She let go of their embrace, and took a look at his arm. Her face screwed up in worry as she examined all sides of the cast. Mito knocked his wrist with her knuckle.

 

“At least it wasn’t your legs.”

 

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” Gon laughed turning around to give Killua a look.

 

When he did look back he suddenly felt bad, the boy in question looked a little shocked, not sure what to do with himself. Gon felt like an idiot, he always got way too caught up in the moment.

 

“You must be Killua,” Mito interjected, walking over to fill the space between them.

 

“Yea, nice to--”

 

Before Killua could saying anything else he was too getting pulled into a hug. It was shorter than Gon’s but left him feeling frazzled.

 

He wasn’t used to people being so open with each other. Of course he wished his family was. They had their moments, but he couldn’t imagine any of them hugging a stranger other than Alluka.

 

It was then he decided this dynamic was a lot better than the one he was used to.

 

“I’m sorry about your luck kid,” Mito said after breaking their hug, “I’m sure it hasn’t been easy dealing with this one.”

 

“Excuse me? Are you saying I’m bad luck?” Gon whined at the jab.

 

Killua wasn’t sure what was funnier, Gon’s face or Mito’s constant hassling.

 

“You are the one with the broken arm.”

 

Mito laughed, slapping Gon on the back, “He’s got a point.”

 

Gon didn’t seem to think either of them were that funny anymore, turning off on his heel to take a seat on the porch swing with his grandmother.

 

“We’re not even here for two minutes and they’re already ganging up on me,” he complained to the older woman.

 

The two in question just ignored him, starting another conversation between themselves. Every so often glancing over at him, and then turning back to laugh before going inside and abandoning him altogether.  

 

Gon knew they would get along but that was ridiculous. At least Killua seemed to be having a good time, which was what this whole thing was about. Even so he felt he should have prepared for this outcome.

 

“Can you believe that? Talking about me like I’m not here?”

 

His grandmother laughed, putting her needles and yarn away to go inside herself.

 

“That’s what you get for bringing home someone just like Mito.”

 

“Oh god you might be right…”

 

That was not a realization he was ready for.

 

----



“Hey Auntie?”

 

Mito glanced up at the taller man, leaning against the door to the dining room. She had a feeling she knew what this was about, but decided to play dumb.

 

“What is it Leorio?” she replied innocently.

 

He shifted towards her, catching on the act.

 

“Who’s the extra place setting for?”

 

She shrugged, “Not sure, one of Gon’s friends I think.”

 

Mito expected him to make a couple of snarky remarks and head off, but instead he had a panicked looking expression on his face. Did he not know Kite was coming? Or maybe he was worried it was someone else?

 

“You know which one?” he stressed, giving her a much too serious look.

 

She gave his shoulder a squeeze, concern written on her face. What on earth had him in such a mood?

 

“Sweetie, it’s just Kite,” she explained, “What’s going on?”

 

He seemed to relax after that, taking a seat at the empty table. She followed suit, pulling out the chair next to him, giving the man a look that he better explain.

 

It had been a while since they had really talked. She knew Leorio was busy at the hospital, but it seemed like something else was going on. There was no way of knowing what though when she lived this far away.

 

Of course when she checked in with Gon he acted like everything was fine. He never wanted to worry anyone.

 

“I just thought… there’s been a lot going on I guess,” he sighed, rubbing his face.

 

“I can tell. Are you actually going to tell me, or does it have to get worse before you can actually help yourself?”

 

That comment wasn’t meant to be that harsh, but what else was she supposed to do when neither of them would tell her the truth. She wasn’t stupid, it was obvious something was going on.

 

Why else would Kite be trying to get him another job or be coming to dinner. It seemed like he was the only one being real with her lately.

 

“I feel like such an idiot,” he said, still not making much sense, “I’m kind of ... seeing these people… one of them helped me out of some shit, and in return I act like such an ass.”

 

Seeing these people?

 

She didn’t expect that, and wasn’t sure if she should comment on that or not. It seemed like whatever happened between them was really eating him up though.

 

He let out an aggravated noise, “I’m not even really seeing them-- that’s not the point. I know I should have at least invited him here, but I can’t.

 

I don’t want to explain myself.”

 

Mito didn’t have to ask, it was obvious. One day he’d have to move on from this behavior, it wasn’t healthy to dwell on the past like this. She wondered if maybe it was time to take down some of those pictures.. At least for a little while.

 

“But if I did that I would bring both of them, but then that’s two people asking me about it--”

 

“We could take down the--”

 

“I can’t do that either.”

 

She let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Nothing would make it easier, but everyone had to move on eventually.

 

“Pietro wouldn’t want you to feel like this when you thought about him. You know it’s true,” she said rubbing his back.

 

“Yea.”

 

“What’s done is done, you made your decision to not invite them, but it’s not like this is the last time we’re all going to be together.

 

Next time you’ll do the right thing.”



“Yea.”

 

Trying to lighten the mood, Mito grabbed one of the glasses of water set up and threw it on the unsuspecting doctor.

 

“Hey what the hell?” he jumped up, trying in vain to dry himself off.

 

She cackled in his face, “Lighten up jeez, I wasn’t expecting you to be such a mood killer.”

 

“You’re the one who asked!” he reminded, taking the water next to her and doing the same.

 

“I’m also the one who’s wearing thirty dollar foundation you jerk!”

They both glared at each other for a few seconds, before breaking down in a fit of laughter. There was thirty minutes until they were supposed to eat and now they were both soaked,  along with half the table.

 

It didn’t really matter though. She was just relieved the man actually opened up for once. It seemed like since Pietro had passed it was harder and harder to get a real response from him.

 

Whatever had him talking now she couldn’t be more grateful for.

 

There was a knock at the door, breaking them from their laughing fit. Mito grabbed napkin from the edge of the table, and patted her face dry at least.

 

“That’s Kite I bet.”

 

Leorio rolled his eyes, “Oh great.”

 

She slapped him with the napkin, “Hey I hear he’s got some good news, so be polite.”

 

“Good news? That dreary asshole? He wouldn’t know good news if it hit him in the face.”

 

Mito blinked, it was clear he had no idea why Kite was here. Then it must be only him and Gon who were in on it. That was interesting…

 

“You’re not any better.”