Title: A Friend's Wish [3/?]
Description: Leorio encounters a little girl suffering from the same disease that killed his friend Pietro. Now that he has become a Hunter and a fully-licensed doctor, will he be able to save this girl, or commit the same mistake again?
Disclaimer: Hunter X Hunter belongs to Yoshihiro Togashi.
What Do You Wish For?
The room was dark, with only a small amount of light peering through the venetian blinds hanging on the windows. On its left wall was a small bed and a night table. Across the room was a study table, supposedly piled up with books but now as neat as a secretary's. Beside it was a small closet that would seem to wreck upon a single touch. The trademark murky smell of the university's dorm rooms lurked across giving a person nausea if he ain't used to it. In addition to this gloomy atmosphere, a sad aura floated around the room. Its inhabitant must have given it off. Luckily, a person would feel it only if he was by the front door.
Leorio took a final look at his dorm room closet and tried to see if he had missed to pack up anything else. He was finally going to leave the university after six months, which was the last semester he failed to take when Pietro died.
He wasn't only going to leave the university. He would also leave Miala as well. The voice had made him give up. How could he forget that he was so powerless once? What made him think that he could do something now? The burdens of the past weighed heavily on his shoulder, like a heavy rock being lifted to the top of a mountain.
//I can't do it.//
He had been inside the dorm room for two straight weeks, only coming out when he's hungry or when he needed to go to the bathroom. While inside, he laid out his plans and thought of them one by one. He had reflected on being a doctor for long enough. He just couldn't fulfill his dream. He wasn't good enough. All he could do was give up.
//And wish for something good to happen.//
He took a look at the medical license lying on the table. //After Miala, I'll probably go to some big city and find work.//
//Home? Naaahh... I promised then that I'd only go home after I become a doctor. I haven't become one.//
//And I probably never will.//
At the moment that thought went in his head, the door of his dorm room opened.
"There you are," Kurapika said upon finding Leorio inside his room. He quickly panted as Gon and Killua followed close behind.
"Oi, Leorio," Killua called him with an annoyed tone. "Get outta there, will ya? Ugh, what's that smell?"
"What're you guys doin' here?" Leorio asked them.
"Leorio, Jen's in trouble. Her disease is starting to get worse," Gon told him.
"How did you know about Jen?"
"We met this waitress looking for you earlier and she told us the whole story," Kurapika informed him.
"Hurry Leorio. Meila-san told us that Jen was starting to have pain in her chest," nagged Killua.
Leorio picked up his duffel bag and slinged it across his shoulder. He had a grin on his face. The three's faces lit up, hoping that Leorio was coming with them. They knew their doctor friend wouldn't let anybody down, as they have known him during the Hunter Exam.
"Tell her to look for another doctor."
They were all silent for a while. Their hopes which have risen greatly, fell. Kurapika, Gon, and Killua couldn't believe what they just heard from Leorio. It was not like him to break his promises. How could he just walk away from a dying child like that?
"What do you mean?" Gon asked, making sure to block the doorway to keep Leorio from leaving.
"I'm leaving. Get out of the way, Gon."
Gon looked at Leorio with fierce eyes, filled with determination that could last somebody's lifetime. They penetrated deeply into Leorio's eyes, which in turn were filled with sadness and despair.
"Just let me pass, Gon. This isn't any of your business. I brought this upon myself. Go away."
His words fired up Gon's determination even more. Both Killua and Kurapika knew that. This time, though, they weren't sure if Gon was right about what he was doing. It was Leorio's problem, after all. Maybe he had other reasons that even the three of them couldn't interfere with and he can't cure the little girl. It was probably too personal that Leorio had to break a promise this time.
Gon continued to speak. "Why Leorio? Why are you giving up right now?"
"I'm not giving up. I'm just facing the facts."
Kurapika spoke up. "This girl's disease. It's the same as your friend's, right?"
Leorio didn't reply to Kurapika's question. He was right, as usual.
"Then, Leorio, I think you should cure her."
"Aw, c'mon, Leorio. Stop acting like a wuss and get to that girl. You've got a Hunter's license, and a medical license. What's keepin' ya from curing her?" Killua added.
"Are you afraid that the same thing might happen again, Leorio?" Kurapika, looked at him worriedly. Leorio looked away from them. Kurapika guessed it right. He was worried that he wouldn't be unable to do anything once more, just like what happened to Pietro. Back then, he could only watch his best friend slowly die away. He blamed himself, then, and he was filled with regrets. The medical license was nothing but a joke. He was kidding himself that he could do it and be a doctor, that he could atone for what happened to Pietro.
//Give up, Leo.// It was Pietro's voice once more. Again, he felt himself being swirled into the events of the past. //Pietro... Pietro...//
At the same time, the dream flashed across his mind. He had figured out that if he try to reach Jen, she would surely die, as if he would be the one to cause her death. He didn't want that. He just wished that someone better than him, someone that would truly be able to cure Jen would pass by and give her proper medication.
"If you don't do anything now, then the same thing *will* happen again." Gon's voice shook him out of his thoughts. "Back then, you weren't able to do anything, but now, you can. I mean, you already are a doctor, after all. That's the reason why we came all the way here to Miala to celebrate with you, because we believe you can do it."
"Pietro doesn't," Leorio answered quietly. They almost didn't hear him. "He just told me in my dream."
"Baka," Killua said. "He's friggin' dead. How can he talk to you? D-uh, have you ever seen a talking corpse?"
Leorio's eyes flickered with anger upon hearing Killua's words. He couldn't accept the way Killua talked of Pietro. He raised his fist to give the silver-haired boy a punch. Kurapika caught the fist, though.
"He's quite right, Leorio. Pietro's all in the past. It's different now."
Leorio put his fist down. "Kurapika, didn't you know that I worked so hard to make up for the past, as well? But then, I thought that maybe I was suffering to much for the past, forcing myself to do things that I can't just for that. I just have to forget about Pietro, and being a doctor."
"Wrong." Kurapika then gave him a punch in the stomach which made Leorio lurch in pain.
"If you give up on her, that means you let the past defeat you. I know you want your friend to be very much alive, and curing Jen won't bring him back. But come to think of it, Leorio, you'll have more regrets if you just let this one pass. Do something. Even if she dies, at least you tried."
They didn't know that Kurapika's punch woke Leorio up. It awakened the sleeping demon inside him. "How dare you punch me like that, you bastard..." Leorio said. "I get your point, damnit. I don't need a punch like that." After saying this, Leorio gave Kurapika a punch on the face.
"Hey, no fighting!" Gon said, trying to stop the two. Killua just stood and watched. He knew that Leorio was finally coming to his senses.
"Then, are you coming with us?" Kurapika asked, smiling as he wiped the blood from his lips.
Leorio nodded then grabbed the medical license on the table.
"C'mon, Jen..." Meila urged her little sister as she sat beside her bed. The old woman who took care of Jen called her from work, saying that Jen was starting to pant heavily. Meila had rushed out of the bar in hurry to see her sister. The old lady missed some details, though. Jen's skin had turned into a ghostly color, with beads of sweat falling on her forehead. All the while, she held tightly onto the stuffed rabbit.
It had been three hours since she started to watch her sister. She felt so helpless. She couldn't call for the town doctor because he would surely ignore them. The doctor knew that they wouldn't be able to pay up and at the same time, their parents' reputation still dwelled.
A knock came from the door. Meila changed the towel on Jen's forehead then opened the door. It was Leorio and his three friends.
"Oh, thank God you finally came, Leorio-san," Meila cried, as if she would hug Leorio. She then led them inside.
"How is she?" Leorio asked as they entered Jen's room. Meila described the situation as Leorio quickly took out some tools from his bag. Killua, Kurapika, and Gon watched in awe. Leorio was acting so professionally, that they couldn't believe that he was still their money-hungry friend.
Leorio went beside Jen's bed and examined her pulse. "Damn..." He looked around and fixed his gaze at Killua. "Yo, Kill. You're the fastest here." He grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled somehting down. "Get this from the university's hospital, from the pharmacy there." He got out his wallet and took out several bills that amounted to a large amount of money.
"Oh, sure..." Killua was overwhelmed at the way Leorio was acting, he actually thought it was cool. He quickly ran out of the house.
"I need to operate on her," Leorio said. "The bacterium feeds on the carbon dioxide that she breathes in. It has formed an infected area that blocks oxygen from getting into her system. I have to remove that infected area to let some air in. I asked Kill to get the medicine called helia to kill the bacterium inside after the operation."
"Wow, you're amazing Leorio. How did you know all that?" Gon asked in amazement.
"He didn't study for nothing," Kurapika answered with a smile and approached Leorio to help him. Leorio smiled back at them as a sign of gratitude for waking him up. He knew he could make it now. He wouldn't fail this time. He would surely cure Jen and he would show Pietro, wherever he was then, that he would never commit the same mistake again.
Six hours had passed. Killua, Gon and Meila anxiously waited outside the room while Leorio operated on Jen. The operation started late afternoon. It was already deep in the night. None of them were talking, for they knew how grave the situation was. A heavy air of worry hung over them.
Killua yawned a little, but forced himself to stay awake despite his tired body. Gon played with a piece of string to pass the time. Meila just sat there, looking worriedly at the door, waiting for either Leorio or Kurapika to come out. They hadn't heard much from inside, thus, they were clueless on what was going on.
After a few more minutes, they heard the door knob click. Kurapika's blonde head popped out of the door, then the rest of his body followed.
"Kurapika-san, what happened?" Meila asked.
Kurapika avoided her gaze. He had a glum look on his face. "May I ask where your washroom is?" Meila pointed to the other door on the left wall. Kurapika simply walked towards it and went inside.
"What could have happened?" Gon asked. He knocked on the door of the room where the operation was supposedly going on. There was no answer.
"No..." Meila whispered in horror. Killua only looked at her. He was also worried, but he didn't show it.
"Don't worry, Meila-san. Leorio can do it," Gon said, trying to comfort it, though he seemed quite unsure of it, too. Kurapika's look didn't seem to assuring. Had they failed? Maybe he still couldn't tell.
Kurapika walked out of the washroom. "The operation is finished. All we can do is wait for now. I think we should all take a rest."
"How is Jen?" Meila asked.
"We really couldn't say for now. Leorio as successful in removing the infected area, and he was able to use the extact from the herb. We'll find out tomorrow if it is effective. Leorio would be watching her until tomorrow."
The sunlight passed through the glass windows giving light to the small, dim room. Leorio was gently shaken awake by the soft, warm rays. He yawned a bit. He realized that he was lying down on a soft bed complete with a warm blanket and pillows. He was supposed to monitor Jen's condition throughout the night, yet, here he was. He quickly got out of the room and went to Jen.
"Leorio." Everybody was standing around Jen's bed, except for Meila, who was kneeling down on the floor, holding Jen's right hand, crying.
Kurapika gave him a weak smile. "You did well, Leorio... but, I guess, it just wasn't meant to be..."
Leorio walked towards the bed and looked at Jen. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Leorio took her left hand. It felt cold. He moved his fingers around to search for a pulse. He found none. Horror wrote itself on his face. Jen died. The operation failed.
Gon and Killua simply looked away, pretending that they weren't affected by what happened.
Tears started to form around Leorio's eyes, but he wiped them away in a flash. "I-I'm s-sorry..." he managed to say. Leorio tired to review what he did last night in his mind, hoping to find what had gone wrong, but found nothing. His tools were sterilized, there was no error in the procedure, he gave the right amount of the extract and he patched the wound well. He couldn't blame his assistant, Kurapika, for he didn't commint any mistake.
The stuffed rabbit sat beside Jen.
Leorio took a step to walk away. he couldn't stand the sight. He had failed once more.
"Wait." It was Meila. She stood up and went to Leorio, wiping her tears away. Her eyes were swollen and so was her nose. "Thank you, Leorio-san."
"You shouldn't thank me," Leorio said and opened the door to go outside.
"No. I should thank you. At least, you tried to save her. I think that's enough."
"I failed, Meila-san. That's all there is to it."
"I don't think so."
Leorio quickly stepped out of the room. He needed to be alone, and to think things over. He tied his best to save Jen. This time he did something, but how come she died? Was Pietro right? Was he truly worthy to be a doctor, or was he just fooling himself and his friends? Maybe he should never have tried after all. He just wasted his time and effort. He just bothered his friends for something that woasn't even worth a single bead of sweat.
He didn't notice that as his thoughts flew by, he had walked into a small field of flowers near Meila's house. It was a nice patch of green with light pink spots scattered around it, bathed by the warm rays of the sun. It lay against the cerulean horizon. It was a beautiful day, there were barely any clouds. He sat down on the grass and felt the early morning wind on his face. An ant crawled on his finger, he ignored it and stared off into space. He wanted to think things over.
"Leorio-san," a voice interrupted from behind. leorio turned to see that it was Meila, holding Jen's stuffed rabbit. She had followed him form the house.
"May I join you?" she asked with a weak smile. Leorio nodded.
"Aren't you with your sister?" he asked.
Meila shook her head. "This was Jen's favorite and only toy. Our parents gave it to her as a birthday present the day before they were arrested." Sthen handed Leorio the stuffed rabbit. "This is for you."
Leorio waved his hand in refusal. "No, thanks. That's the only remembrance you have of your sister."
Meila pushed the toy into his face. "It's yours now. This is the only thing I can give you in return for what you did."
"What did I do? Your sister died. I wasn't able to do anything to prevent it." Leorio looked down at the grass and the ants sprawling on the soil.
"Please don't think that way, Leorio-san. I'm glad that you came. No one even tried to cure Jen before. Maybe because they knew we were poor, and we'd never be able to pay, anyway. I thought that I'd just have to give up on my sister and wait for her to die. I decided not to. Every night, I wished and prayed that someone would come and help my sister. And then, you came."
"But I wasn't the one to grant your wish."
"You still helped us. It was probably fate."
"I don't believe in fate."
Meila looked at him with concerned eyes. "But you did all that you can, right?"
"If I came right away, though... I was too late..."
Leorio then realized that if he hadn't doubted himself, then, maybe he could have done somehitng. Why was he so stupid to fall prey to his own demons? Why didn't he believe in himself, that he could save the little girl? Why did he let the past catch up with him? It wasn't Pietro who told him to give up. His best friend would always encourage him, no matter what. Leorio knew that ot was only himself only made those words up, and his own fears gave him that dream. In the end, he was still the only one to blame.
As if she read his mind, Meila interrupted Leorio's thoughts. "Don't blame yourself, Leorio-san."
"Who else is there to blame?"
"You don't have to blame it on somebody. You did your best. You probably had some problems so you weren't able to come right away, but I know you still did your best to overcome them. When somebody does their best, they shouldn't feel any blame or regrets."
Leorio recalled those two weeks he spent alone inside. He realized that he fought the thought of giving up. It almost won, but he was able to overcome it.
"Please don't feel guilty, Leorio-san." Meila offered the stuffed rabbit to him.
Leorio smiled. Meila had made him realize that there was nothing to regret. Blaming and feeling sorry would never undo what happened in the past. Although Jen died, he knew that he fought well. He may have lost hope at some point but during most of the time, it was with him. When Pietro was sick, he hoped that he would get well soon, despite that fact that they lacked money. When he took the Hunter Exam, he fervently hoped that he would pass, and he did. Now, he hoped that he would finally be able to do something, and he did.
He didn't fail to do something this time.
Leorio took the stuffed rabbit offered by Meila's hands. "Thank you."
Meila nooded and stood up. She knew she had to move on despite the death of her sister. Leorio, on the other had remained seated on the grass. He looked at the stuffed rabbit. It seemed to smile at him. Leorio simply smiled back.
//I did my best. I have no regrets.//
//Thank you, Pietro, my friend.//
P.S. I've finally finished my second fic: A Friend's Wish. I hope you like it.
killua: hey... i thought i was your favorite character. how come you're not writing anything about me?
kikiam: i have an idea about you.
killua: then write about it.
kikiam: errr... well, we'll see, kill-kun.
killua: awww... c'mon. the ryodan gets all the attention. what about me?
kikiam: well, look at poor leorio. if you say you get little attention, leorio gets less, okay?