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affection fought the cold (you were all I've ever known)

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Being a Zoldyck, Killua has learned how to mask his emotions. He wasn’t the best at it (no, that title went to his brother Illumi for sure), but he wasn’t bad at it. Except for a few instances.

 

One was whenever he got to even see or play with Alluka.

 

One was very briefly when he talked to his acquaintance and butler, Canary.

 

Another was when he felt anything from his soulmate.

 

Killua remembers a time when he was talking to Canary, before he asked if they were friends. They were actually talking about soulmates. Killua felt terrible a lot of the time for his soulmate, since he knew that he was just a ball of negative energy. Canary had joked with a serious tone that Killua’s soulmate must be extremely happy, going by most people’s stories on how your soulmate had what you lacked, as they were considered your other half. Killua had chuckled a little bit, and felt the warmth from his soulmate of extreme happiness. Killua then remembered that just a few hours before he was in one of the ‘torture sessions’ for him to be the best assassin he could be. He inadvertently sent back more joy, and smiled to himself, before bring his attention back to Canary.

 

“Do you have a soulmate, too?” Killua had asked, still pretty young, and not knowing that it could be considered childish and sometimes even rude to ask about someone else’s soulmate that’s not even yours to begin with. But Canary had taken things in stride, just like she always did when it came to Killua, because believe it or not, the butlers at the Zoldyck manner all had something like a soft spot for Killua Zoldyck. It was hard not to. Killua didn’t see it, but it was true.

 

“I did.” Canary spoke softly, like she was desperate not to let anyone hear but herself and the recipient to the sound of her voice.

 

Killua just hummed questioningly, and felt his soulmate’s confusion alongside his, tinted with that content that it usually contained as well. It soothed Killua enough to make his bruises not seem as important or noticeable as usual.

 

“I did.” Canary’s voice, while still quiet, was more firm. “Not anymore.”

 

Oh.

 

Killua felt terrible. He couldn’t even begin to think of how empty it felt, to not feel the emotions of the person made for you right alongside your own, like a ray of sunshine through the darker moments in life (still so many for just a pair of young kids). “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

 

“No, Master Killua, it’s really okay.” Canary shook her head, still standing in the same position as before, straight and proper, just in case anyone was watching them somehow, as the older Zoldyck’s are obviously sneaky people by nature. “I’m glad you still have yours.”

 

Killua nods, knowing when to let her gain her composure on the inside, and went through his own emotions, as well as his soulmates. His soulmate, it seemed, was always happy. His soulmate especially liked to cheer him up whenever he had a negative thought, which was a lot. Right now, in fact, there was such a ray of happiness and content that Killua couldn’t help but close his eyes and let the warmth overtake his whole body, pleasantly over his nerves, starting from the top of his head and ending in his toes and fingers. It felt just like the sun, the heat not burning but being the kind of pleasant that made you want to be in the embrace-like feeling for a long time to come. Killua thought for a moment that Canary was probably right, that his soulmate was truly a happy person. But Killua thought it had to be more than that, as there was almost a childlike purity to his soulmate’s emotions. His soulmate felt warm and comfortable, and even though his soulmate was technically still a stranger, Killua just loved the feeling.

 

His soulmate was truly amazing.

 

Killua had decided to treasure his soulmate even more than he already did, because they had to be so pure, so endlessly forgiving , to not even have a hint of negativity towards Killua for all of those rough times (which happened a lot for an assassin in the making). Killua wondered what his soulmate thought of him, with his daily tortures to get him to be resistant to most pain. He wondered how his soulmate felt everyday at those times. Actually, Killua could remember the first time they started happening, his soulmate’s emotions had felt like they had cried for him, the sadness and pain that overflowed Killua in the form of his soulmate’s own feelings overtook him and drove him to make sure that they never felt like that again.

 

He had known about soulmates for a long time, no thanks to his parents talking about it with him. When he had tried talking about it with them they had explained most details, but also said that the soulmate factor didn’t matter at all to their family, which just confirmed that Silva and Kikyou probably weren’t soulmates. Ever since then, Killua had been determined to not follow in those footsteps, as he personally felt that soulmates should be treasured. But they also meant more than that. It meant he had a chance. A chance to meet someone especially for him, and god , if that didn’t make Killua happy at all to get out of here someday, what would?

 

------

 

In actuality, Killua only remembered a few incidents of his soulmate’s emotions being far from something without the happy tone that lingered underneath. One was actually pretty recently before Killua had decided to test his skills in the Hunter Exam. He had actually been a few days before he planned to leave, when he suddenly felt this… downpour of negative energy.

 

It was hard to describe, but Killua just felt a whole lot of confusion for a while, with that hint of content as usual along with familial love, until it just… went blank for a minute, which terrified Killua because what if something happened?! But after that same minute of Killua trying everything and sending his own confusion before he sent joy and happiness to soothe his soulmate in the same way that his soulmate always did to him without question, his soulmate’s emotions just.. spiked. It was so abruptly changed to anger and hurt and extreme sadness that Killua didn’t know what to do. His soulmate’s emotions felt like they were crying, sobbing loudly to him, begging for help, and it made Killua’s heart ache painfully in his chest. He immediately thought of what to do, as his soulmate always did the same. Killua would show that he wanted to help them too, and help he did. He sent his soulmate the intense feelings from different memories, like seeing Alluka on those rare times, even to the brief camaraderie with Canary, and especially the memories of Killua being cheered up by the same person that always helped him.

 

It must’ve worked, and Killua’s soulmate must’ve recognized what he was currently doing, as through the extreme hurt and confusion and hints of sadness there was gratefulness. Killua was extremely glad for this, as his soulmate’s despair and hurt all felt likes different kinds of cold; his hurt being the most frigid Killua had ever felt. He wanted his soulmate to stay that warm, happy person, and his gratefulness might’ve been insignificant warmth compared to the shuddering cold, but Killua would take that.

 

He had helped.

 

------

 

Of course his family wouldn’t let Killua leave easily when he decided to take the Hunter’s Exam.

 

His family didn’t understand how his soulmate made him feel, didn’t understand that he needed to leave on his own terms. He didn’t want to be an assassin anymore, it wasn’t fair to his soulmate to have to feel the negativity. So when he stabbed Milluki and slashed his mom’s eyes to get out, he had a smug kind of content to him as he left. His soulmate, in retaliation, beamed back, and Killua decided that he could take the time to bask in his soulmate’s warmth for the millionth time.

 

He wanted to meet them. Maybe they’d be at the exam.

 

------

 

The trek was long and exhausting, but he was finally here.

 

Of course, Killua had no real troubles getting here. He may only be 12 years old and still considered a child, but he was an ex-assassin.

 

He felt triumphant when he grasped the numbered circular badge. #99. He’d made it.

 

His soulmate might not’ve known why Killua was suddenly happier than he usually was, but evidently they were only the more happier for him, as they sent him a pleasant cocoon of happiness and intrigue.

 

Killua, for maybe one of the first times in his young life, knew what peace could be like.

 

------

 

One night, he felt the beginnings of an adrenaline rush coarse through his veins. Well, not exactly, but the feeling to Killua felt like how he imagined it felt to fly. Killua, of course, was curious about this. Was his soulmate okay? If this was adrenaline, was his soulmate the adventurous type? The reckless type? The kind that Killua would need to worry over constantly?

 

As if to answer his questions, his soulmate had sent a good amount of joy and even more relief over. He had responded by focussing on a memory (sending an almost completely genuine happiness), undoubtedly with Killua’s lingering curiosity about his soulmate.

 

------

 

There was this one guy who kept sending him looks, with a pig’s nose, known as the Rookie Crusher. Killua had heard people talking about him in passing, due to Killua’s ability to be sneaky when he wanted information. When the guy had come up to him and introduced himself, asking if he needed any questions answered, Killua had just raised an eyebrow in response and told Tonpa that he was okay, but he was persistent.

 

“Then how about a drink to good fortune for our Hunter’s Exam?” Tonpa, with a mask of friendliness, had pulled out a regular soda can that was just pure silver. Killua supposed it was smart, but dumb at the same time, as just a silver can of soda made the soda seem all the more suspicious. He snorted inwardly, but decided to himself that having the competition doubt someone as young as he is would be advantageous. So he drank it, all in a few gulps, with the most innocent look on his face as he pretended to make a face like he was confused, but on the inside he and his soulmate knew he was smug.

 

“Thanks for the drink!” Killua pseudo-cheerfully called, definitely noticing the evil smirk Tonpa had, before he plastered on a smile as he waved goodbye to Killua, and went towards what was undoubtedly other rookies.

 

------

 

There was another kid! Across the room! Honestly, Killua hadn’t seen any kids that looked to be around his age, so he was dreading being bored. He was curious, this kid didn’t have much of a fashion sense, if his all grass green outfit told Killua anything.

 

He sized him up, looking from the spiky black hair with green tips, to his calloused hands, to the green outfit that didn’t show if he was overly muscled for his age, to his very muscled calves on display, and his big green shoes, and back up, until he was looking into auburn eyes. Killua could feel something in the stare, but he just didn’t know why, or what. He was curious though, and knew it was sending to his soulmate. He sent a smirk to the kid, before walking away, yet he immediately felt a huge concentration of surprise, which to Killua felt it as a particularly windy experience, and he silently raised an eyebrow, feeling more emotions such as tentative relief (a fleeting feeling like finally catching your breath from running a marathon), curiosity (a semi-warm buzz in his forehead, sadness (much milder than usual, so it only felt a little like a thin sheet of cold rain had settled over his skin, mostly around his chest where his heart was), before finally, a sense of determination (a warmth that just took over his whole body, but had a different feel than the true sense of happiness. Killua didn’t know how to explain it).

 

------

 

Killua was bored.

 

When he had heard from most people that the test would be extremely difficult, he was excited. The first test though? Running was what it was, really? Wasn’t that too easy, considering what the test was supposed to stand for? He wouldn’t even break out in a light sweat from that!

 

So he decided to use his skateboard, if for nothing else to bother other people who didn’t think of bringing something like he did.

 

Less than a few minutes after he did, someone was yelling at him. Someone who already looked tired, carrying a pretty big briefcase. To Killua though, the guy looked like a bit of an idiot, and vaguely of a monkey if you squinted, even if he was wearing a suit. “OI, KID! SHOW THE HUNTER EXAM SOME RESPECT!”

 

Needless to say, Killua got fairly irritated, which was why he missed his soulmate’s response of surprise, even as it flowed all over him like a cool breeze. Killua decided to keep going with his ‘underestimate me’ idea he had going for him. “What do you mean?” Killua asked, with an indifferent tone he knew would piss off the guy.

 

“Why are you using a skateboard?!” Leorio narrowed his eyes to add to his anger, pointing at the boy’s yellow skateboard with a red arrow going through it. “That’s cheating!”

 

“Why..?” Killua asked, still annoyed but acting innocent. Killua then felt a little tingle in his throat he knew to be laughter from his soulmate, and quickly glanced around the room in surprise, before settling his eyes back on the other guy.

 

“HA?!” The guy looked floored. “This is an endurance test, that’s why!” Was this guy an idiot?

 

“No it’s not.” A kid’s voice, high pitched, caught Killua’s attention. The same guy he had been sizing up earlier appeared, and his brown eyes met Killua’s own royal blue, and it felt like there was something in the air, the longer Killua stared. What was this? What did it mean?

 

Killua wanted to know, so he rose an eyebrow as he unknowingly sent curiosity to his soulmate. He saw the light in the other boy’s eyes brighten momentarily, and wondered why.

 

The monkey guy, however, couldn’t feel what Killua was feeling with this random kid that basically stuck up for him. “Gon, what are you saying?!” Gon, huh?

 

Killua still didn’t look away, but neither did the other boy, Gon. Gon had responded with a knowing tone, still not even blinking as he stared into Killua’s eyes. For some reason, Killua felt warm, with that almost knowing gaze from the other boy. It made Killua wonder, and he didn’t want to get his hopes up. “The examiner only told us to follow him. He didn’t say how.”

 

“Who’s side are you on, eh?!” Honestly, could this guy not take a hint? Killua wanted to roll his eyes, but decided against it. He did, however, tear his gaze away by closing his own eyes and making a decision. He didn’t know there was going to be other kids here, he was just curious. That’s all.

 

So Killua slowed his skateboard’s pace, and when he was next to the other kid, he scuffed his shoes against the floor to make his skateboard’s wheels keep turning. First, he had to know… “Hey, how old are you?”

 

“I’m 12 years old.” So they were the same age! Maybe they had similar interests? Maybe.. He’d have a friend? His first real friend?

 

No, Killua, Killua thought to himself, trying to suppress his joy quickly. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

 

He didn’t realize he was just looking at the other boy until Gon let out a questioning hum, as he smiled at Killua.

 

Killua knew he was going to show off, as he flipped his skateboard into the air and eventually into his hand, keeping pace with Gon and running alongside him easily. “Guess I’ll run too.” He tried to be nonchalant about the whole thing.

 

A feeling of contented elation, a warm swirling feeling in his stomach area Killua knew to be admiration popped up, and Killua immediately met his blue with the other boy’s brown. “Wow, that was so cool!”

 

Killua felt his own eyes widen, the meaning of what just happened catching up with him and no wonder that stare felt like something--

 

The boy (Gon, his name is Gon and they were soulmates--) smiled wider at him, all cutely boyish and full of teeth, and it hit Killua that this was the boy that comforted him when he was sad, that sent him the blankets of warmth every time he felt his own emotions blank out, the boy he had comforted in return when this innocentpurewonderfulhappy person’s emotions had gotten so intensely sad and Killua, despite everything, had been able to help him and they helped each other--

 

Killua had to introduce himself.

 

“I’m Killua.” The words had blurted from Killua’s mouth, but he didn’t regret them, never would regret them, no matter what.

 

“I’m Gon!” Hell, Killua had already known his soulmate’s name for the past few minutes but he was so enthusiastic when he said it, so pure and innocently happy to just be in Killua’s presence…

 

He already knew, even if it was their first meeting, that this boy meant something dear to him.

 

Killua figured that if they were together, that everything he'd been through up to now would be worth it.