Warnings: I use the Hunter's Guide spellings for characters' names (see my bio page for details). Also, this fic is rated for language and occasional adult content.

Author's Notes: This takes place during the fifty hours that the quartet (plus Tompa) were confined in the Trick Tower.

Standard disclaimers apply...

Waiting x Watching x Warring?

This is going to be a long, long 50 hours...

The tall, dark-haired man sat on the low sofa, elbows resting on his knees. He still felt guilty about losing the fifty hours, and it might end up costing them their chances of earning their licenses, but... He glanced at the slim figure perusing the well-stocked bookshelf in one corner of the room. Annoyingly knowledgeable, it made perfect sense that the blond would be looking for something to read to help pass the time. Knowledgeable, but stubborn and proud. After all, it was really Curarpikt's fault that Leorio ended up losing the fifty hours. If Curarpikt had just gone back to finish off the huge opponent, Leorio wouldn't have had to gamble with their hours...

"We'll manage, Leorio. We just have to make our way down a little faster. We'll still have almost nine hours," Curarpikt said.

Leorio started. He hadn't noticed the younger man turn to look at him. He must have been scowling to have gotten such a comment from the blonde.

Stubborn, proud, and confident, Leorio amended.

The taller man sighed. He couldn't really blame Curarpikt for not wanting to kill that hideous oaf, not with the knowledge that the young man's own clan had been killed pointlessly and brutally. Of course Curarpikt would be against unnecessary killing... But did he have to be so... moralistically stubborn?

"Yeah, Leorio," Gon's energetic voice intruded into his thoughts, "we'll be just fine. And this gives us a chance to just hang out together."

"Gon..." Killua's exasperated tone matched Leorio's own reaction to the annoyingly positive statement.

"I suppose you're right," Leorio responded, simply to reassure Gon that he was okay. He picked the remote control off of the glass table and pointed it at the television.

"What do you want to do, Killua?" asked Gon from his position on the floor.

"There's nothing to do here, Gon," the white-haired boy answered. "And not much to eat, either," he complained, rummaging through the small refrigerator. He opened the paper bag sitting on top of it. It was full of dried goods and candy bars. Well, now, what have we here? He discreetly snagged three bars and walked back to Gon. He dropped one of the bars in Gon's lap as he joined him on the floor. Gon smiled at the offering.

Curarpikt sat against the far wall, a book in hand. "There's an interesting selection of books," he pointed out. The two younger boys made faces. "Well, suit yourself." He started to open the book, then paused, looking at Killua.

"What?" the younger boy asked.

"How did you do that... trick... back there?" asked Curarpikt.

"Oh, it's not a trick. I just pulled out his heart," Killua said. He held up his right hand. "But I did tamper with my hand a bit to make it easier to pull things out." He moved and cracked his joints a few times, making dagger-like claws appear at the tips of his fingers.

Leorio gulped.

"My dad's much better at it than I am. No blood escapes after he pulls out the heart." Killua glanced around the room at the others. They were staring at him warily. ...Except for Gon, who simply looked impressed. Killua watched as Leorio gulped once more, and Tompa wiped sweat off of his brow. Great, are they going to be all jumpy and nervous around me now? He sighed.

This is going to be a loooooong confinement.

They soon learned that Tompa snored like a bear. Finding it difficult to fall asleep at the same time as the short man, the other four remained awake. Curarpikt continued to read, an act that perplexed the two younger boys.

"Don't you want to watch TV?" asked Gon.

Curarpikt looked up briefly. "What are you watching?"

"It looks like a comedy," responded Killua. "Kind of lame, though."

"No, thank you," Curarpikt said, eyes returning to the book.

"What are you reading?" Gon crawled over to where the blonde was seated against the wall.

"This? It's a collection of writings by an anthropologist written during his..."

"Woah, sounds boring!" Killua interrupted.

"It's not. It's quite fascinating," Curarpikt responded. "You two would do better reading as well, rather than watching that mindless program."

"Nah, I don't like reading. I was never really a good student. Mito-san always had a hard time getting me to do my schoolwork," Gon said.

"Who's Mito-san?" asked Leorio.

"My aunt. I studied through distance learning, so she was like my teacher. I think I was always frustrating her..." admitted the spiky-haired boy.

"I didn't like studying either," Killua said, turning to face Gon and Curarpikt. "But then, I wasn't required to do too much of it. Most of my education was in assassination techniques."

Leorio gulped nervously, and Curarpikt paled slightly. "I see," the blond young man said.

"So I guess that means Curarpikt's probably the only one who did well in school," Leorio pointed out, "since I never really liked to study, either."

"Are you sure you want to be a doctor?" teased Killua. Leorio made a face at the white-haired boy.

"Actually, I never went to school, at least not in the traditional sense," Curarpikt said.

Gon looked at the young man. "You did distance learning, too?"

Curarpikt shook his head. "No. But I didn't attend 'school,' since there weren't too many children among the Kuruta at the time." He sighed. "Fortunately, I've always enjoyed reading, or my education would have ended with my tribe..."

An uncomfortable silence followed. Gon broke the silence with an awed, "Wow, Curarpikt! So that means that a lot of what you know, you learned on your own?"

Curarpikt blinked. "Well, yes..."

"Just by reading?" continued Gon. The older boy nodded. Gon looked thoughtful. "Maybe I should read sometime..."

"You have to be able to remember what you read to be educated, Gon," Killua teased. Leorio laughed.

"Leorio!" Gon shouted. "Don't laugh! You didn't know about people wanting to take the left route, either!" That silenced Leorio immediately.

"Quiet, Gon. You'll wake Tompa," cautioned Curarpikt.

"Nothing's gonna wake him," Killua said. "He's still snoring loud enough to wake the dead."

"Maybe I should stuff something in his mouth so we can all sleep," said Leorio.

"How about one of your ties? You've got enough of them in that briefcase of yours," Killua snorted. "What are you, a tie salesman?"

Leorio ignored the white-haired boy and lay on his back. Abruptly, he sat up, looking at Curarpikt. "Wouldn't you be more comfortable reading over here?" he asked the blonde. "I don't want to hog the entire sofa."

The young man looked up and stared at Leorio for a moment, expression unreadable. "No, thanks. I'm fine right here. Go ahead and lie down." He returned to his book.

"What? You aren't going to offer us a seat?" Killua asked.

"You guys are watching TV."

"You were watching it from the sofa just moments ago!"

"There isn't room for three here."

"Come on, Killua, we're fine right here," interjected Gon.

Killua gave Leorio a knowing look. Leorio raised a questioning eyebrow. The white-haired boy grinned in response and turned back to the television. Leorio shook his head.

This is going to be a long, long confinement...

Leorio stretched his arms above his head before opening his eyes. He glanced at the clock. He'd only been asleep for a few hours. The tall man sat up and looked around. Curarpikt was seated against the same wall as earlier, light blanket wrapped around himself and head leaning against his knees. He appeared to be asleep. Briefly, Leorio wondered why the blonde still chose to sleep upright when they were obviously safe in the small room. Killua and Gon were seated way too close to the television, eyes glued to the screen. Tompa was... Leorio blinked. Tompa was still sitting on the huge cushions beside Leorio's sofa, but the fat man was looking intently across the room. Leorio followed the man's gaze to... Curarpikt.

"Why are you staring at Curarpikt, Tompa?" Leorio demanded after a while, somewhat irritated at the bizarre attention the short man was giving the blonde.

Tompa looked away from the slight figure, slightly embarrassed. "Oh, I was just... well, uh... it's... I thought Curarpikt was a girl when I first met you guys, but now that I've seen that fight with that scary-looking guy, and seen Curarpikt without all of those layers on... I know he's male now, or at least I'm pretty sure he is, but... maybe 95% sure... well, you know... I was just looking..." he finished lamely.

"You thought Curarpikt was a girl?!" Killua exclaimed. He started laughing. "If Curarpikt were a girl, Mister Pervert over there wouldn't be able to keep his hands off!"

"Hey!" Leorio yelled, although after his earlier display during his match, it was hard to deny Killua's accusation. Plus, it was true that he had initially thought that Curarpikt might be female and had gotten his hopes up just slightly...

"Why would you think Curarpikt was a girl?" Gon asked curiously, turning away from the television. "He's obviously male," he pointed out.

"Obvious?" Leorio blurted out before he could stop himself. Then he tilted his head slightly. Well, I guess this is a kid who could tell the difference between the male and female kiriko...

"Uh-huh," Gon nodded.

Killua shrugged beside the shorter boy. "I don't know about obvious visually, but Curarpikt doesn't act or talk like a girl at all."

"Well, that Menchi wasn't exactly feminine, either," Tompa pointed out.

"But remember the way she was dressed?" Leorio added. He and Tompa exchanged glances, both of them inadvertently imagining Curarpikt in a similar outfit. They laughed nervously.

"You guys are sick," Killua announced, following their trains of thought. "And this is pointless. Does it matter what Curarpikt is?"

"Well... uh..." Tompa stuttered.

"If you're so curious, why don't you just ask?" Gon chimed in.

The two older men turned on the short boy. "Ask?!" exclaimed Leorio. "Gon, you don't just go up to someone and ask them their gender!" Tompa nodded beside him vigorously, for once in accord with the taller man.

"Why not?" asked Gon. He stood and walked up to the sleeping blonde. He placed a hand on his shoulder.

"No! Stop!" Tompa and Leorio yelled, absolutely terrified.

"Curarpikt?" Gon shook the young man gently. Curarpikt's eyes flew open, instantly awake and alert. He eyed his surroundings warily, noting the strange tension in the two older men, and the odd look on Killua's face. The white-haired boy appeared to be holding in laughter.

"What's going on?" Curarpikt asked slowly, his words almost drowned out by Leorio's and Tompa's "Don't! Don't!"

"Well, even though I've given them the answer, Leorio and Tompa are doubtful, so I thought you could just tell them the truth," Gon said. He ignored the panicked tone in the two older men who were now trying to pry him away from Curarpikt. Killua had given up and was now laughing out loud.

"Tell them what?" Curarpikt asked, although he was starting to get an idea of what this was all about. He narrowed his eyes slightly.

"Whether you're male or female."

Curarpikt closed his eyes as the two older men let out loud yells of denial. They took nervous steps backward as the blonde young man stood, fists clenched against his side.

"You have nothing better to do than discuss my gender?" he asked tightly. He stepped past Killua who was now holding his stomach and rolling on the floor, howling. He pulled out his weapon and pointed it at Leorio. "And assuming I tell you, are you going to have me prove it like you did back there with that female convict?"

Leorio shook his head vehemently, hands held before him in protection. "No! No, Curarpikt! It was Tompa! He was staring at you while you were asleep because he wasn't sure what you are. I know which you are. Never a doubt," he lied.

"Hey!" Tompa protested. "I know, too, Curarpikt. I was just kidding around with them!"

"Really?" Curarpikt asked smoothly, one eyebrow arched. "And you two?" Curarpikt turned to face the two young boys.

"Obviously," Killua said, still chuckling.

"Uh-huh," said Gon.

Curarpikt swung back towards the older men. He lowered his weapon and sighed. "I didn't think my gender would still be an issue at this age," he said wearily. He walked back to his spot by the wall and sat down. He picked up the book he'd been reading earlier and began to read as if nothing had just happened.

The four others stared at him for several seconds.

"So... uh..." Leorio began.

"So, what?" Curarpikt asked innocently.

"You're... not going to say..."

"My gender?" inquired Curarpikt. "Well, you're all so certain, it seems, so there's no need for me to clarify," he said, smiling wickedly.

Killua burst out laughing again. Leorio and Tompa exchanged nervous glances.

Man, Curarpikt is really pissed off... Leorio glanced at the countdown clock above the exit door. This is going to be a long, long confinement...

Tompa was sawing logs once more, and amazingly, Leorio had joined him. The shorter man was leaned back against one large cushion, mouth hanging open, and the taller one was sprawled on his back on the sofa, one arm stretched above his head.

"They sound like a construction crew," Killua commented. Gon giggled. He glanced at Curarpikt who was sleeping silently again. Killua, noting the direction of the glance, continued, "They're like night and day, huh?" He, too, looked over at the older boy who had gathered himself into a ball once more, back against the wall and forehead against his knees. Blond bangs fanned across his knees, and an earring peeked out from between parted hair. The earring shook minutely as the boy inhaled and exhaled.

"Actually, now that I think about it, I guess I can see why they thought Curarpikt might be a girl," Gon said thoughtfully. "Not everyone can see the differences like I can, I suppose... And there is a big difference between Curarpikt and those two," he nodded towards Tompa and Leorio, "that most people would see instead."

"Really? What?" Killua asked, curious about what Gon would consider to be a big difference between the older three.

"Well... Curarpikt just seems more..." he paused, searching for the right word.

"Pretty?" Killua suggested. Gon shook his head. "Gentle?"

Gon tilted his head. "Sort of... but that's not it..." he said, recalling the blonde's fight with the giant.

Killua tried again. "Educated?"

"Well, yeah, but that's not why I can see why those two thought Curarpikt was a girl..."

The white-haired boy scratched his head. "Patient? Delicate?"

"Closer, I think, but that's not it, either."

"Skinny? Short? Eccentric? Annoyingly moral?" Killua threw out, getting frustrated.

Gon rolled his eyes. "Killua..."

"Okay, okay," Killua said, and focused his attention on observing the three other occupants of the room. The two oldest were still snoring, mouths and limbs hanging. The third hadn't moved and continued to sleep silently, wrapped in the light blanket. Leorio muttered something about food and scratched his side. Killua smiled. "I got it. Curarpikt's more refined!"

Gon's eyes widened. "That's it!

Killua nodded. "And more serious and disciplined, too." He'd have to be, to maintain a sense of refinement after being orphaned...

"Yeah. He just doesn't seem like Leorio or Tompa at all," Gon said, "so I can see why some might think he was different from them."

"What about us?" asked Killua.

"Yeah, he's different from us, too," said Gon.

"Hey, I don't know about you, but I'm disciplined!"

"I am, too! Or, I can be..."

"But not refined," laughed Killua.


"What are you two arguing about?" asked a soft voice. The two boys looked guiltily at Curarpikt as he raised his head and rubbed his eyes. He straightened and cracked his neck before looking at the two younger boys.

"Uh, nothing really," responded Killua, wondering how much of the conversation Curarpikt had heard.

Curarpikt raised an eyebrow. "And you look guilty because...?"

"Guilty? We don't look guilty, do we, Gon?" Killua elbowed Gon who still looked obviously guilty. Gon shook his head vigorously.

Curarpikt sighed and stood up. He walked towards the bookshelf, shaking his head. This is going to be a long confinement...

Killua was bored. Gon had decided to get some sleep after all, but the white-haired boy wasn't ready to do so just yet. Tompa and Leorio were still echoing each other's snores. So that left the bookworm... He watched the blonde for several minutes before Curarpikt looked up with a sigh.

"What is it, Killua?"

"Nothing. Just bored," the boy said. "What are you reading now?" he asked, not really interested in the response.

"History," the older boy responded, nose back in the book.

Killua watched Curarpikt for a while longer before speaking up once more. "How old are you, Curarpikt?"

The blonde looked up, surprised. "... Why do you ask?" he asked warily.

The younger boy shrugged. "Just curious. You know, since Leorio shocked us with his revelation that he's still in his teens." He scooted closer to the other without standing up. "And you don't look that much older than Gon or me."

Curarpikt thought for a moment. "Gon mentioned that he's almost twelve."

"Yeah. Me, too. Well, in half a year, I'll be twelve."

"So you are the same age," Curarpikt observed. He turned back to his book. Killua cleared his throat. "What? Oh, my age? I'll be seventeen in just over two months."

Killua's eyes widened. "Really?"

"You're surprised?"

"You look younger."

Curarpikt shrugged in response. "Looks can be deceiving. Apparently, I'm frequently mistaken for a female as well, but you already know that," he sniffed, eyes narrowing slightly.

"You act older," Killua continued. "Much older. Like an old geezer."

The older boy rolled his eyes. "I prefer the term 'mature.'"

Killua laughed. He watched as Curarpikt returned to his book. "Do you really, honestly like reading?"

Curarpikt looked up again with a sigh. He closed the book, determining that Killua was not going to let him read quietly. "Yes, I do. Although it's much more enjoyable without frequent interruptions."

"Oh, right," Killua grinned. He scooted a few more feet so that he was seated right in front of the older boy. "Well, help me pass the time now, and you can read while I sleep."

"What do you suggest we do?"

"I don't know. Maybe just talk, since you don't want to watch TV?"

"I didn't think you were the talkative type," Curarpikt stated.

"You don't seem it, either," Killua smiled, "although you like to lecture us."

The blonde young man tilted his head. "Well, then, why don't I read you some passages from this text," he grinned mischievously. "Then you'll fall asleep from boredom, and I'll get to read in peace."

The younger boy groaned and backed away. "No, thanks! Fine, I'll watch TV. Maybe there's something interesting on now," he said doubtfully. He picked up the remote and pointed it at the TV. The older boy picked up the book and settled himself comfortably once more.

Killua was in luck this time. There was indeed something interesting on. He crossed his legs and stared at the screen, completely engrossed. Eventually, Curarpikt looked up, distracted by the sounds coming from the television. His eyes widened.

"Killua! Aren't you a little young to be watching that?" he exclaimed.

The white-haired boy glanced over his shoulder at the other boy. "If I'm old enough to kill, I'm old enough to watch people do it."

"...I could argue the first part of your statement," Curarpikt muttered, "...But that's not the point. Killua, please, I'm not comfortable with you watching that."

"Hmm," Killua responded, unconcerned and eyes back on the screen. "So pretend I'm not watching."

Curarpikt closed his eyes briefly. "I'm not comfortable with anyone watching that, including myself."

"Then ignore it." After a moment, he looked back at the older boy. "Woah, you really are uncomfortable," he said, noting the tension in Curarpikt's body. "Kinda prudish, huh? I mean, you're practically an adult. This shouldn't be any big deal to you."

"I didn't say that it's a big deal. I said I'm uncomfortable with it," the young man sighed.

"Still a virgin, huh?"

"Killua!" Curarpikt's voice went up an octave. "I don't think that that's any of your business!"

"Probably not, but that doesn't mean I can't guess." Killua tilted his head and stared at the older boy. Curarpikt's cheeks colored slightly. Killua crawled back to Curarpikt and knelt in front of him, leaning forward until his chest was resting against Curarpikt's bent legs and their noses were almost touching. The older boy flinched, and the young assassin could tell that Curarpikt was fighting to keep himself from shoving Killua away.

"Killua, please," Curarpikt said weakly. He looked away, cheeks still pink, but face also pale.

Killua stared at the side of Curarpikt's face for a long moment. His brows furrowed slightly as he read the look in the half-lidded eyes and the tension beneath the smooth skin. Hmph, not what I expected, but I'm not surprised. He sighed and backed away, much to Curarpikt's relief.

"Okay, I'll see if there's anything else on," Killua said abruptly and returned to his spot in front of the television.

Curarpikt stared at the boy in confusion. "Um, thank you," he said hesitantly. Killua nodded without turning around. Curarpikt continued to stare at Killua, unable to shake the feeling that the boy had just learned a few of his secrets.

"... Are we going to take turns staring at each other?" Killua asked as he flipped through the channels.

"No," Curarpikt said quickly and picked up his book once more. He flipped back to the page he had been reading, but found he could no longer focus. He let his head fall back against the wall and stared at a spot on the far wall.

This is going to be a long, long confinement...

Killua eventually gave up on the television and curled up on the floor beside Gon. However, Gon woke up shortly after Killua fell asleep. Gon sat up and looked around the room, wondering what woke him up. Tompa was still snoring, and Curarpikt was reading quietly. It was Leorio, then. He had stepped over Gon and was opening the door to the bathroom. Gon watched the tall man enter and close the door behind him.

"Killua?" he asked tentatively. The white-haired boy responded by curling into a tighter ball and muttering something about a tree. Gon sighed and looked at Curarpikt once more.

The blonde looked up. "He fell asleep about ten minutes ago," he informed the boy.

"That's no fun," Gon pouted.

"You did leave him and go to sleep yourself," Curarpikt said gently, a slight smile on his lips.

"Yeah, but..." Gon looked over at the door as Leorio stepped back into the room. "What did Killua do while I was asleep?"

"He watched TV," the older boy answered after a moment's hesitation. He decided against mentioning that Killua also tried to get Curarpikt to entertain him. No point in giving Gon ideas...

"Hmmm." Gon's lips were still pursed in a slight pout. "Leorio!" he said suddenly, attention fully on the tall young man who was settling back onto the sofa. "Let me teach you a trick for winning at Janken!"

The dark-haired man backed into the sofa, surprised by the boy's enthusiasm. "What?"

"Here, I know a way you're almost guaranteed to win every time!" Gon crawled across the floor to the sofa and sat beside Leorio. "A fisherman taught me a few years ago."

"Gon, I'm really not...."

"It's easy, Leorio! Let me show you," Gon said.

Curarpikt watched, mildly amused, as Gon explained the method to an unenthusiastic Leorio. Then, Gon began drilling the taller man on the technique. Curarpikt shook his head and returned to his book. In theory, Gon's method made perfect sense, but honestly, it wasn't one for the average person. It took Gon's super-sensitive sight, his ability to perceive infinitesimal movement, to pull off the technique. Leorio was by no means average in ability, but Curarpikt couldn't see the tall young man mastering the method.

Gon, however, wasn't so quick to dismiss the attempt. He stuck by Leorio and continued to drill him repeatedly. Leorio moaned, groaned, and whined, trying to get out of the training, but Gon persisted and continued for well over half of an hour.

Leorio whimpered to himself as Gon held up a fist for the umpteenth time.

This is going to be a long, long, long, long...

"Hey, wasn't there still a candy bar in here just awhile ago?" Killua's voice sounded muffled since he was peering into the paper bag sitting on top of the refrigerator. He turned around and glared at Gon.

"Don't look at me. It wasn't me."

"Leorio ate it, actually," Curarpikt said calmly, not looking up from his book.

Killua turned his glare on the tall figure, currently lying stretched out on the sofa, still exhausted from his Janken training with Gon. The white-haired boy toed Leorio with his right foot. "Hey, did you eat my candy bar?"

"Yours? I didn't see your name on it. Besides, you ate most of the contents of that bag anyway!" Leorio responded, rolling slightly to avoid the boy's foot.

"I'm a growing boy," Killua growled and approached Leorio in a predatory manner. Leorio let out a yelp, scrambled off of the sofa and took off across the room. Killua gave chase. The room wasn't that large, though, so Killua cornered Leorio against the opposite wall and leapt on top of him.

"Get him! Get him!" Gon cheered. He joined the wrestling pair and jumped on top of Leorio as well. The tall young man crumbled under the combined effort of the two boys.

Tompa rolled his eyes at the trio. He glanced over at Curarpikt who was completely ignoring the ruckus. "You seemed to know Leorio and Gon from before the exam. Are they always like this?"

"We only met on the ship to Doray. But I would guess that they're probably like this frequently," Curarpikt sighed. "Gon's only eleven, after all. Killua, too."

"So what's Leorio's excuse?" Tompa muttered.

Curarpikt gave the fat man a crooked grin. "Lack of maturity? Short temper?"

"Hey, I heard that!" Leorio exclaimed. "Don't forget that we fought, too, on the boat!" He struggled to get up but was promptly sat on again by Killua.

The blonde shrugged. "I had to defend my tribe's honor."

Leorio started to crawl across the floor, dragging Killua behind him since the boy refused to let go of his legs... "Yeah, well... OOF!" Gon sat on Leorio's shoulders, causing the young man to collapse onto his chin and chest. "OW!" He tried to raise himself up on his arms again and succeeded in unbalancing Gon. The boy tilted off of Leorio's shoulders and landed partially on Curarpikt's legs, his flailing arm knocking the book out of the older boy's hands.

"Sorry, Curarpikt!" Gon said, hastily righting himself.

The blond young man stood with his hands on his hips. "Okay, that's enough! There's not room enough for you three to be wrestling each other! Now, find a quieter activity, or I'll find one for you instead! And Killua, there are other things left to eat in the refrigerator. I should think that you've had enough sugar to pay for a dentist's retirement!"

The other four occupants of the room stared at Curarpikt with mouths hanging open. Finally, Killua said sheepishly, "Yes, Mother," and grinned at the blonde. The others erupted in laughter while Curarpikt gave the former assassin a mock glare.

"Curarpikt, how old are you?" Tompa laughed.

"Yeah, don't be such a peevish old hen," Leorio added.

"You sound like Mito-san," Gon added with an apologetic smile.

Curarpikt raised his hands in defeat and sat down. He glared at the countdown clock, willing it to move faster.

What a long, long confinement...

The last seconds were ticking away. Gon stood immediately in front of the door, head lifted towards the clock. He looked over his shoulder and glanced at his companions.

"This was actually fun. You know, hanging out together like this."

The others stared at him incredulously.

"Are you serious, Gon?" Leorio sputtered, almost at the same moment as Killua's, "You've got to be kidding, Gon!" and Tompa's, "Are you nuts, kid?"

Curarpikt merely closed his eyes and shook his head, not entirely surprised at the boy's opinion of the past fifty hours.

Gon tilted his head in puzzlement. "What? What do you guys mean?" The others just shook their heads.

The countdown hit "00:00:00" as the large metal door slid upon. Killua whooped and slid past Gon into the corridor beyond. Gon didn't move.

"Wait, guys. What do you mean? Didn't you guys have fun?" he asked as Tompa, then Leorio shoved past him. Tompa was muttering something under his breath as he walked past the boy, and Leorio was shaking his head. "Guys?"

"Let's go, Gon."

Gon looked over his shoulder at Curarpikt who had placed both hands on his upper back and was pushing him gently through the doorway. "Curarpikt? You had fun, right?"

The blond young man let out a long sigh before smiling weakly. "Yes, Gon, we did have fun."

The boy's face lit up in a smile. "Good!" he exclaimed, then ran ahead to catch up with Killua.

Leorio slowed down so that he was walking beside Curarpikt. "You're such a mom," Leorio whispered, elbowing the shorter young man.

Curarpikt sighed once again.

Nine more hours...