A/N: Warning that this fic includes a character having a panic attack
The city of Yorknew was abuzz with excitement, potential buyers and sellers from all across the globe littering the strees and filling it with the constant hum of chatter. Among the thousands, two children walked with smiles alight on their faces, both relishing in every brief point in time in which they could forget about their worries and past traumas and enjoy their time together as they focused on their goal at hand. The boy walking slightly in the lead laughed as he joked and bantered with the other: his first and best friend. His heart swelled with happiness and pride every time that word crossed his mind.
Yes, he had friends now. He had people who loved and supported him. He had people who cared about him.
Everone he loved was with him.
He stopped in his tracks, looking behind himself but finding only amber eyes gazing back at him with a mixture of surprise and confusion.
The white haired boy stared at him for a moment before forcing a lighthearted smile on his face, putting his arms behind his head, and saying "No, it's nothing."
Without giving another thought to the matter, he turned around and resumed walking, the two's conversation quickly becoming cheery once more.
"You certainly do smell like Gon!" spoke one of the shapeshifting creatures that currently received the boy, now thirteen, with open arms. Did he really? A small blush played on his cheeks as he raised a hand to his nose and sniffed at it, but he could detect no scent other than his own. Well, that wasn't surprising, he surmised. The kiriko would in all probability have senses far superior to his own.
Still, the very fact that these guides could notice Gon's smell on him with such certainty made his chest bubble with warmth. He needed to pass the exam as quickly as he could so that he could return to Greed Island. To Gon.
"Isn't there something you're forgetting?"
He froze, his head whipping around as he searched for the source of the voice.
"Is something wrong, Killua?" asked the kiriko whom he guessed to be the wife.
"…No. I'm just imagining things."
Trees rushed by on either side as he ran at a speed that should have been impossible, two repeating sentences alternating in his thoughts.
"Please be okay! Please let me make it in time!"
The foliage gave way to a clearing and he steeled himself for what he was about to come upon, expecting to see a shell of what had once been his best friend though unsure what form that shell would take. Would it be his body bloody and broken, laying limp against a tree? Or would it be the opposite, Gon having become something akin to a monster in his rage and anguish?
What his eyes fell upon in the clearing was neither of these. It was something different entirely.
Fear had engulfed him before the name had left his lips.
Barely three meters away, Alluka sat against the tree, her eyes wide as scared as countless needles shined in the dim light of the moon above, each embedded into her skin. "Onii-san…!" Her voice was barely above a whisper, strained by pain.
Killua shot forward, reaching her in an instant and pulling her into an embrace. "Onii-san… Why…?"
"I'm sorry, Alluka. Ill-nii did this, didn't he? I'll help you! I'll save you, I promise!" He leaned back again and began pulling the needles from her as quickly as he could without hurting her more. There were so many, not just on her face, but covering her entire body.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
"…Why didn't you save me… Killua…?"
His eyes, which before had been fixed on her torso as he removed the needles there, returned to her face only to meet with hollow black holes where eyes should have been.
"I'm sorry, Nanika! I'm going to save you! Both you and Alluka!"
"It's too late, Kil."
The blood running through Killua's veins felt as if it had turned to ice. He slowly turned his head to look behind him, suddenly terrified of moving at all, and found his older brother standing behind him, staring down at him with his usually emotionless face stretched into a grotesque grin.
"He's mine now. It's too late." Saying that, Illumi raised his gaze slightly to land on Nanika and issue her a short command: "Kill Kil."
Killua's head shot back to look at Nanika, who was wearing that same unsettling smile as always.
Killua's eyes opened to darkness, panting heavily from fear as he slowly took in the room around him. Closed blinds, a soft bed, and his sister breathing softly as she slept beside him.
That's right. He had saved Alluka, and Alluka had in turn saved Gon. Everything was okay. Illumi hadn't gotten to her. Everything was okay. Everything was okay.
As he repeated it over and over to himself, tears started falling from in steady streams down his face and his breath hitched, becoming ragged as he gasped in short quick spurts of air. Calm down, calm down, you're okay, Illumi's far away, you're going to be okay. Over and over he tried to calm himself only to find it was achieving the opposite.
He stood quickly and half ran to the bathroom of the small hotel room. He wanted to wail, to cry, to break things, but he didn't want to wake Alluka. He had to try to remain as her strong brother. She couldn't see him as weak.
I should have gotten to you faster. I shouldn't have left you there until I had a use for you. I'm a bad big brother. I'm disgusting. I'm no better than they are. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
When Alluka awoke a few hours later, the first rays of dawn were peaking in through the window and her beloved brother was holding her in his arms, protecting her just as he always had.
A/N:I need to stop writing so many fics where characters have nightmares; I'm running out of ways to write them waking up. Also I kind of hate English for the fact that it made me write the sentence "Kill Kil."