Jiei (Bodyguard)

Notes: The events here follow the last few episodes of HxH as I remembered it when I watched the anime some years ago. Please forgive my inconsistency with the real plot, as well as OOC-ness (I told you, it had been quite awhile since I last saw an episode ^^). It goes without saying that Neon-chan, Kura-chan, and the rest of my tomodachi-tachi in the anime are copyrighted by Yoshihiro Togashi.

It was a rainy night for the York New City, and the young man with flaxen hair was walking down the streets purposefully. He was restrained many times by his friends, asking him to leave for tomorrow his mission.

But he couldn't.

He simply could not bear the thought of resting when his heart wouldn't.

So here he was, walking under the rain, protected by a mere hood. Of course, he stood out from the crowd- the people who had grown wary of the security of the world's biggest auction market, and he was certainly a conspicuous character in his get-up. It couldn't be helped; Leorio and the others remembered to shop for a six-can pack of beer, a bag of potato chips, and a pack of what seemed like Killua's favorite chocolate snack, but for the love of Hades, they forgot to buy an umbrella.

He gathered his hood closer to his body. His contact lenses-shielded eyes darted back and forth across the streets. This was the only road left that he had not yet uncovered in the city map.

He flicked a wet strand of his hair behind his ear. No, she couldn't have gone very far. As far as Neon Nostrad was concerned, the only ground her sensitive, rosy soft heels could take were marbled hotel floors and lush carpeting of her limousine. It goes without saying that he was sure a few hours of delay could not hinder him from seeing her as soon as possible.

He had earlier went to check on Elaiza and the other maids, but they helplessly replied that the Nostrad lass was able to escape from them, telling that she was just going to the bathroom. Earlier, the young girl had been throwing tantrums, demanding to see her father, or whoever could tell her where her Papa was.

Anxiety, uncharacteristic for someone like him who had no reason for that because his moves were always smooth and well planned, crept into his system. The streetlights were either dim or unlit at all- and that was bothersome. In a place like York New City, simple things like that are promptly taken care of. But not for tonight, or the coming nights. Everyone still had to snap out of the nightmare brought by the Ginei Ryodan.

"Damn, where is she?" he heard himself muttering, not without a touch of urgency. A young unescorted woman who had no previous experiences in dealing with people other than her maids and bodyguards and her selfish father, Neon was in trouble.

His nen then picked up a familiar aura. His eyes crossed over to the other side of the streets, and there he found the familiar backside of his boss. She was leaning on a display glass window of a dress shop, soaked to the skin.

Without thinking twice, he went towards her. She still had not noticed his presence, and would have continued to be oblivious if her eyes had not caught his reflection on the window.

She turned to him slowly. "K-Kurapika?"

 He promptly took off his hood and wrapped it around her tiny figure. "Let's go. Elaiza and the others are very worried about you already."

She stepped back, shivering. "Kurapika, I don't want them. They won't tell me where Papa is…"

He inhaled deeply, then in the calmest voice he could muster, he broke the news. "Your father, my boss, is gone. He's dead."

"L-Like Daltzorne?" she whispered, trembling.

"Yes," he replied monotonously.

"That's…too bad," she whispered, eyes shaking. He could feel his heart going out to her. The young lady before her was not equipped to deal with the darker side of life, obviously. And perhaps, she was at lost with what to feel for her father who had never been really a father to her.

Her eyes, confused as a lost kitten, looked up to him. "So where am I going now? What will I do?"

"I will take you to Elaiza," he said. "You will get a fresh change of clothes so you won't get a cold."

"And get a cup of hot chocolate?" she asked.

He nodded and smiled. "And that too."

She blinked at the first smile she ever received since everyone was sent to chaos by the people she heard her maids call the "Spiders". His smile was enough to warm her whole body up that had been particularly sensitive to the bitter chill of the mourning York New City.

She followed him quickly, like a duckling trailing behind its mother. She was too tired to even think; too many things had happened too fast. It seemed just like yesterday when she was greatly upset by the news of her shopping trip to the auction site cancelled. It was then that she met an enigmatic young man who promised to smuggle her into the auction. Naturally, she was thrilled, especially since she wanted to rebel on her father who was a chronic promise breaker. The next thing she knew, her most precious nen was stolen- it was the scariest thing that ever happened to her. It was the only thing that her father would get excited about when they were together. Now that she lost it, how was she going to face him?

Then one thing happened after the other. She was asked by a swollen-eyed Elaiza to leave the hotel with her, and pitying her favorite maid, she did as told.

But then, she suddenly thought of her Papa. As much as she fears to face him, she still wanted to know where he was. No one could answer her questions, and so, she decided to go out and find her father herself.

She sneezed, breaking her train of thoughts. This prompted her bodyguard to turn around and face her, frowning in concern. "Neon-sama, daijoubu ka?"

She shook her head, for she was reared to be honest and to always state what she wants. "I am cold."

Kurapika took his eyes off the girl and looked around the streets. Strangely, no store was open in the city that never sleeps. He turned to her again apologetically. "Gomen nasai, Neon-sama. We'll have to make it to the hotel so you can sit by the fireplace."

She frowned. "Naze? I want something warm! It's too cold, I don't want this." She sat down the sidewalk, pouting. "I'm tired too."

Kurapika sighed, then knelt down. "Put your arms around my neck and kneel down behind me."

"Why, does your back itch?" she asked, wide-eyed.

"You said you want something warm and you are tired. So go do as I say," he ordered.

She quickly followed him. It felt strange, having someone tell her what to do. But she found it refreshing; she knew and trusted this young man. He lent her his only shawl, and he was walking under the rain unprotected because of her. These simple things tell her that he meant her no harm.

Kurapika carried her in a piggyback. "Just hold tight, and we'll make it to the hotel."

She nodded and pressed her cheek on his hair. "I want to sleep."

"I'm not stopping you," he said simply.

She let out a small giggle and laid her head trustingly on his back. Soon enough, she had drifted off to a peaceful sleep.

"Wow, Kurapika, is that what I think it is?" asked Gon Freecs, eyes wide as he looked at the sleeping girl behind his shoulders.

"All right, Gon, what do you think it is then?" he asked, fairly amused by the surprise in the young boy's face that he didn't bother to conceal.


Killua was more candid. "A girl?! You left the hospital at a rainy night right after one hell of a battle with those monsters just so you can pick up a girl?!!"

Leorio smirked. "Your priorities had always boggled me anyhow, Kurapika."

"Thank you, Leorio," he said smoothly. "Actually, I would appreciate it more if you guys give way and let me find my boss a place to sleep in."

"Boss?!" The three chorused, eyes on the pink-haired girl.

"I work for her," he explained, as he laid down Neon on the only bed available, on his hospital bed.

 Leorio smiled wickedly. "You do know very well that the bed is your bed, don't you?"

"Of course," said the Kuruta male. "But I would be quite comfortable on the chair."

"B-But you're sick!" protested Gon in his usual display of naïveté. "Why don't we get another unit-"

"And who do you think would pay for it?" snapped Killua.

Gon rubbed his cheek. "Gee…um, Kurapika's health insurance?"

Kurapika smiled. "Gon, I never got around to picking one, but thanks to you, maybe I will do that soon."

Killua snorted. "Fine, fine. I'll pay for it."

Leorio smiled. "I don't know what the doctors will say when they find out that we're using their rooms like hotels."

Gon smiled. "They'll be grateful, especially since Killua here is a gracious tipper." He smiled at the sleeping girl. "But I have a feeling that Kurapika would still insist that he stays with her…uh, what's her name?"

"Neon. Neon Nostrad." He sat down on the visitor's chair, sighing. "It was a good thing that I decided to check on her. She did as I expected; she ran away from her maids."

"Wow, she looks really soaked," remarked Gon.

"Which reminds me, do you have a set of fresh clothes I can borrow? I want Neon…Neon-sama to change when she wakes up," said Kurapika.

Gon shrugged helplessly, then looked at Killua, who shrugged too. Leorio groaned. "Kurapika, we took you to the hospital right after you fainted, for Christ's sake. Do you think we had the time to pack our things?"

He reluctantly backed down. His friends had a point.

"But awhile ago, when we bought ammunition for tonight," said Killua, looking at the six-can pack of beer on the table. "We chanced upon Senritsu, and she had the presence of mind to bring you your remaining possessions…including your clothes. By the way, she asked us to inform her when you will be allowed to accept visitors. She's worried about you."

"Thanks," he said. "Where's my things?"

Gon pointed to the small bag in the corner of the room. He went to it and unzipped the bag. There it was, a long-sleeved shirt he used when he stained his own shirt with the blood of one of the Spiders he killed.

"OK, now that you are settled, maybe you can start resting already, don't you think?" asked Leorio.

He chuckled. "Fine."

Killua looked at his own soaked clothes that he was wearing. "Why don't you use that spare shirt yourself? You can just go buy your boss a new shirt tomorrow."

"No, I'm reserving this for Neon-sama, when she wakes up." He plopped down the visitor's chair.

"Told ya!" said Gon cheerfully.

"I am her bodyguard, and I have to look out for her," he said defensively.

"Even when she sleeps?" Killua was incredulous. "How much is she paying you?"

"It's her father who deals with me financially," he explained.

"Father? If she has a father, then you should have taken her to him," said Leorio.

He shrugged. "Right Nostrad is dead. He just died some days ago, actually."

"Oh," his friends chorused, then looked at the girl.

"If her father's dead, then who's paying you?" asked Killua.

"No one."

"But then…why did you still look for her?" asked Leorio. "It's not your job anymore."

"Right, but she has become my obligation." His eyes went to the slumbering girl. "I know that she has nowhere else to go. Like me." His voice softened.

"No way!" said Gon vehemently. "You're not going nowhere, Kurapika. You're going with us! Going to…uh… places! Yeah, that's it! You're going with us when we're going places!"

Killua snorted, then turned to the bodyguard again. "If you're serious with still insisting to be her keeper, then we would welcome her. We'll work out some kind of living arrangement, I hope."

Leorio looked reluctant. "A girl won't fit in with four grown men!" he whined.

"Then the four grown men will have to fit in with the girl," said Gon cheerfully. "Right, Kurapika?"

His eyes softened. "Yes."

Later, Kurapika was seated in the room, all alone. Gon and the others had decided to rent another room in the hospital. He still insisted to stay with Neon; he was afraid that she might wake up in the middle of the night and freak out when she discovers that she was all alone.

He thought about what Leorio proposed- instead of making hasty decisions, she would first join them in an indefinite vacation. Later on, they could decide if they would keep her.

"It's like adopting a pet dog," he mused. He laid the back of his head on the wall, savoring the feeling of finally, FINALLY, heaving off the heaviness in his chest. He was glad that he had realized that there was more to life than seeking vengeance on the Spiders. He still had his whole life to live with his best friends. And worrying about an issue like having a girl in the company was so deliciously trivial, a breath of fresh air from his usual grave thinking and planning. Reminiscent of his more carefree ways back when they were still taking the Hunter's exam.

He snuck a look at the still fast asleep Neon, and he smiled fondly at her. Why he did so, he was not able to dwell on. Pacifying sleep had overtaken him already.