Warnings: This fic is rated for language and occasional adult content. Familiarity with Hunter x Hunter and its nen concepts are necessary.
Author's Notes: I USE THE HUNTER'S GUIDE SPELLINGS FOR THE CHARACTERS' NAMES (see my bio page for details), and my characters are based on the comic, NOT the animated series, so Kurapika does not have blue/green eyes in my fics. This fic takes place a few months after Yorkshin and ignores most of the Greed Island arc and beyond. Basically, an AU fic. I'd also like to point out that Lynlyn inspired me to begin writing this. Thanks, Lynlyn!
This has been edited and re-posted 2/7/07 due to an error on my part... (see my LJ for details)
Standard disclaimers apply...
Hunt for the Intangible - Chapter 1
Nobunaga stared at the phone in shock. He let it ring one more time before hitting the button and holding the device to his ear.
"Nobunaga? Why have I been having so much trouble reaching the Ryodan? I've tried Phynkss, Syarnorke, Phalcnothdk,..."
"Dancho?" Nobunaga interrupted in disbelief. Matiy was immediately by his side, trying to grab the phone from his hand. Fulunkln and Vonnornoth stared at him from across the room.
"Yes, it's I," came the impatient reply. "Now what's going on? Why can't I reach the others?"
"Dancho?" Nobunaga repeated. "How are you calling us? I thought the Chain Guy bound you with nen..."
There was a pause. "I'm not certain." Quwrof's voice was contemplative. "But I was suddenly aware that the nen had been lifted."
"So the Chain Guy is dead?"
Another pause. "I doubt it. I would probably be dead as well, if that were the case."
"I don't get it," Nobunaga said. "But does this mean you're coming back to us?"
"Not just yet. This could be a trap. He may have lifted the restriction so that I would lead him to the rest of the Ryodan."
"...Oh..." Nobunaga twisted away from Matiy who was mouthing the words, Let me talk with him!
"I'm going to try and locate the Chain Guy and find out what this is about. Once I know it's safe, or I've killed him, I'll rejoin you," Quwrof said.
"How will you find him, Dancho?"
"I'll start with the Nostrads. Even if he's no longer with them, someone may know where he's gone."
Nobunaga nodded to himself. "Good plan."
"Back to my question, though, Nobunaga. Where are the others?" Quwrof sounded slightly annoyed. Which was unusual in itself and an indication of the normally unflappable man's agitated state.
"Oh, Heytun and Phynkss stole this nen game and went into it. And Syar, Chzzck, and Colhtophy went as well. You can't reach them by phone while they're in the game, I guess. And..." Nobunaga hesitated. "Phalc is dead. She revealed the Chain Guy's identity and secrets to us..."
Yet another pause. "I see," their leader responded. "You can inform them of the situation once the others return, I suppose. I'll be in touch."
"Wait! Dancho! Where are you right now? Are you going to be alright alone?"
"Nobunaga, who do you think you're talking to? I've been fine thus far, even without nen. And now I have access to my powers once more."
Right... "Well, be careful, Dancho," Nobunaga couldn't help adding. The leader hung up without responding. Nobunaga tucked his phone away and turned to face the other three who were staring at him with expectant looks.
"Well?" Matiy demanded, arms crossed.
"It... uh... the situation has changed..."
Sneaking onto the Nostrad property had been easy. Quwrof sat on the roof, looking out over the trees and lawn. He watched the dogs prowling, completely oblivious to his presence. He smiled. It was good to be able to use nen once more...
The Chain Guy didn't seem to be within the mansion. It was possible that the boy was using zetsu, but Quwrof doubted it. There was no reason for him to, unless he was expecting someone to be seeking him out. Quwrof could sense that woman's aura, however - that woman with the super-sensitive hearing. She was currently in the room immediately below him. But she was with Neon, and Quwrof preferred to not be seen by the girl, just in case she was bright enough to figure out that he was the reason she could no longer call upon her nen ability.
So he waited.
And he continued thinking about his situation.
He had been sitting in a cafe, waiting for the waiter to bring his coffee, when he had suddenly felt a change within him. It had taken a few moments to figure out what the change was.
The Judgement Chain had disappeared.
His first thought, like Nobunaga's, had been that the Chain Guy had died. But he immediately let that thought go, knowing that the boy's strong hatred of him would have manifested itself as an all-consuming power and destroyed Quwrof instantly, had the boy died. So his next thought was that the Chain Guy had lifted it voluntarily, possibly with the hope that Quwrof would go straight to the Ryodan and lead him to them. Asking the Chain Guy for the real reason probably wasn't going to get him the truth, but Quwrof still felt that he should try talking with the boy before rejoining the Ryodan. Which put him in his current location, on the roof of the Nostrad mansion.
He crossed his legs and rested his elbows on his knees. So Phalc is dead. He wasn't surprised. What had surprised him was that she had come alone to meet with the Chain Guy and had agreed to the Judgement Chain restrictions. He had been disappointed at that time as he stood and watched her ignore the Ryodan's beliefs and policies. There was no way that the Chain Guy would have killed him; he cared too much for his friends. It seemed, however, that Phalc had shared that trait as well... And so she died to make up for that lapse in judgement.
Quwrof sighed. If only she had waited for someone who could remove the Judgement Chain. But she had made her choice. In the end, she had been able to choose the Ryodan over her personal feelings. Quwrof should be pleased.
But he would miss that woman.
He stopped his musings as he felt the aura beneath him move. She, was her name Senritsu? was leaving the room by herself. Quwrof stepped across the roof easily, coming to a halt when he sensed the woman stopping. He walked to the end of the roof, knelt, grabbed the edge, and flipped down to the window ledge immediately below. He could see the woman standing by the dresser, opening a long, flat case. The window was locked, but Quwrof forced it open easily and stepped into the room. The diminutive woman whipped around to face him, nearly dropping the flute she had taken out of its case.
She stared at him wide-eyed. "What are you doing here?"
Quwrof sat on the bed and crossed his legs. "I was hoping you could tell me where the Chain Guy is."
The woman gave him an odd look. "Why? What do you want with Curarpikt?"
"I just want to speak with him," he responded smoothly. "Ask him a few questions."
"Well, he left a few days ago, and I don't know where he is," she said. For a brief moment, Quwrof saw worry flash across her face. He stared at her, interpreting her expression and body language. She was telling the truth
"When will he be back?"
"...I don't think that he'll be coming back. He said that he'd be in touch, but..." she murmured, looking away. Abruptly, she turned back. "And don't even try going to his other friends."
Quwrof tilted his head at the small woman. "He just packed up and left?"
She didn't respond.
"I didn't think he was the type to run."
Amazingly, the woman yelled at him. "And why shouldn't he want to run? After what you and your people did to his life! Do you have any idea how horrible it is to listen to his heartbeat? He has the worst nightmares imaginable, every night! And he's not like you people! He has nightmares about the deaths he's caused as well!"
Quwrof stared at her, a bit taken aback by her tirade. "Okay," he said simply. He stood. "I'd like to take a look at his room, if you'd be so kind as to direct me."
She blinked in surprise. "There's nothing there. He's taken his things with him. Not that he had that much to begin with..."
"Nevertheless, I'd like to see," the man said, gesturing for the woman to lead the way. She didn't move. Quwrof sighed. "I don't want to have to take drastic measures..."
The tiny woman flinched. "...This way," she said softly. Quwrof followed her into the empty hallway.
It's good to have useful acquaintances. Using a small piece of bedding that Quwrof had procured from the Chain Guy's bedroom in the mansion, one such acquaintance was able to dowse for the Chain Guy's general location. He was apparently in the northeastern section of Sonisco City, a large coastal city less than day's drive from the Nostrad's mansion.
Thus, Quwrof found himself walking down a busy street of the city, trying to locate the Chain Guy's aura. After several hours of walking, however, he was beginning to wish that he had brought his acquaintance so that she could dowse more accurately. It was mid-afternoon by the time he finally sensed a familiar aura. Quwrof sharpened his senses and followed the aura. He eventually found himself on a street corner. He looked at the building before him. A bookstore.
Why am I not surprised?
He saw the familiar figure as soon as he entered the store. The blonde was standing behind the registers, turning away from Quwrof and reaching for a book on the shelf against the wall. He was holding a clipboard in his free hand. He was no longer dressed in tribal attire, instead wearing a dark blue store apron over a grey shirt and black pants.
What the hell is going on?
The man approached the registers warily and waited for the boy to turn around. The boy turned slowly, eyes moving between the book and the notations on the clipboard. He glanced upward, eyes meeting Quwrof's, then shocked the man by giving him a friendly smile.
"May I help you?" he asked and set both items upon the counter.
Quwrof gaped. He could see no sign of shock, fury, or recognition in those eyes.
"Sir?" the blond continued.
There was no doubt that the figure before him was the same one who had trapped him in nen chains, punched him brutally, and placed the Judgement Chain in his heart. Same pretty face, same large eyes, albeit not crimson at present, and the same hanging earrings peeking out from behind chin-length hair. But now, the boy completely lacked the previous hostility, anger, and deadliness.
Before he could stop himself, Quwrof blurted out, "What the hell are you doing here?"
The boy blinked twice. Then his eyes widened, and he leaned against the counter. "Do you know me?" He sounded excited.
The man stared back, absorbing the statement. "Uh... yes..."
The boy glanced at the clock on the wall behind him. "Listen, I'm off in twenty minutes. Could we talk? Do you have time?"
Quwrof nodded, too surprised to refuse. He left the counter and walked outside. He found a bench against the storefront and sat down, pulling out his phone as he did so. He punched in the speed dial for Nobunaga.
"Dancho?" came the man's voice.
"Nobunaga," Quwrof responded, "I've located the Chain Guy."
"Great! Did you kill him?"
Quwrof paused, uncertain of what to say. "...He doesn't know me."
"What the hell are you talking about, Dancho?"
"Exactly what I said. He seems to have lost his memory." He ran a hand through his dark hair. He hadn't bothered to style it, so his bangs hid the tattoo on his forehead.
"Well, kill him anyway." Quwrof grinned. He'd expected Nobunaga to say that.
"Nobunaga, it's not a proper revenge unless he knows who is killing him and why. Otherwise, it's just a plain murder, and where's the artistry in that?" Not that he hadn't committed his share of "plain murders"...
"...I suppose..." Nobunaga responded reluctantly. "So what are you going to do?"
Quwrof grinned again, anticipating the other's response. "We have a date."
"What?! What the hell are you doing, Dancho? Have you lost your mind?" the man exploded.
"Sorry, Dancho." Nobunaga paused. "It's just... well, uh, what should I tell the others?"
"Tell them I'll be in touch."
Quwrof couldn't help but stare at the figure before him. The blonde was perusing the menu, one slim hand fidgeting with the salt shaker. His right hand. The hand that, last time he saw, had rings and dangerous chains on it. Quwrof used gyou to confirm that, while the boy still emitted aura, it was nowhere near what it had been the last time they met.
"So, Quwrof Lucifer?" the blonde confirmed as he closed the menu. He regarded the dark-haired man curiously and with a hint of hope.
"Right," the man responded automatically, then belatedly wondered if he should have given a pseudonym. "And I never learned your last name, Curarpikt."
"I couldn't find one either," Curarpikt responded. Quwrof inclined his head, encouraging further explanation. "Well, I had a bag with me, and I found the name 'Curarpikt' in there..." the boy explained after a slight pause. "So, unless I have a bag that doesn't belong to me, I assumed that the name was mine. But no last name."
"I see..." Quwrof leaned back in his chair. "So you really don't remember who you are."
Curarpikt shook his head.
"For how long?"
The blonde tilted his head. "About a week. The first thing I remember is finding myself in an empty building."
"No, about two day's walk from here." The boy leaned against the table. "So, how do we know each other?"
Quwrof furrowed his brows. What do I tell him? Well, kid, we're enemies determined to kill each other. I drove your tribe into extinction, and you killed one of my men in retaliation. He sighed. "We're... friends. I don't know you that well, though, since we'd only just met a few months ago and hadn't spent much time together."
Curarpikt gave a disappointed sigh. "Oh. Well, it's better than nothing," he grinned.
The dark-haired man raised an eyebrow. He could not imagine the Chain Guy being so… easygoing. "You're taking this awfully well. You remember nothing, right?"
"No point in stressing. I'm hoping that I'll eventually remember. I don't think that I was in an accident, though," the blonde said lightly, looking out the window.
He's lying... About what, though, Quwrof couldn't be certain.
"So, talk to me," Curarpikt said. He looked at Quwrof expectantly. "How do we know each other?"
"We... met in Yorkshin. At one of the outdoor auctions," Quwrof said, thinking quickly. "We bid on the same book. I won the bid, we talked a little, we had lunch. That's about it, I suppose."
"And you remembered me from just that?"
"...You left an impression, I suppose," Quwrof said wryly. A dagger-shaped impression...
Oddly, Quwrof hadn't been angry with the Chain Guy after he'd been left behind with the Judgement Chain binding his nen. He wasn't about to sit around and do nothing about it, and had, in fact, been following a lead on a nen curse-remover when the Judgement Chain had disappeared on its own. Still, Quwrof had actually been secretly impressed with the Chain Guy for doing something that no one had ever succeeded in doing: capturing the leader of the Genei Ryodan. And the Chain Guy had ended up being a mere boy! After Wbererguin's failure to return, he had built up an image of a fearsome nen-user, so Quwrof had been shocked to find himself captive to a thin, teenaged boy who had easily passed as a girl.
"So I was in Yorkshin a few months ago... I wonder how I ended up here, almost on the other side of the continent."
"Can't answer that," Quwrof replied. "You have a place of your own here now?"
Curarpikt smiled. "Fortunately, the owner of the bookstore also owns some rental property, so I'm living in one of his apartments. He was impressed with me and desperate to fill the position, so I get the place for practically free. Today was my second day there." He sighed. "All things considered, I've been quite fortunate."
Well, you do come across as being tremendously competent. Quwrof shook his head slightly. "I see you retained your knowledge, if not your memory."
The boy nodded. "You mentioned I was bidding on a book. It's good to know there is one constant in my life." He paused as the waitress approached. They placed their orders, then sat staring at each other for a few moments.
"You... are working on getting your memory back, I assume?" Quwrof eventually asked.
Curarpikt shook his head and looked away.
"Can I ask why not?"
The boy's eyes flickered towards the man briefly. "You just did."
Surprisingly, the boy had a sense of humor… "Okay. And?" Quwrof waited for the blonde to answer. Curarpikt remained silent, once again looking out the window. "You don't know where to begin? Do you need help?"
He shook his head again. Then he sighed, facing Quwrof. "It would be nice to remember who I am, and to remember people from my past. But, I lost my past for a reason, and I think it might be best to leave well enough alone. If it's in my best interest to remember, I probably will eventually."
"But," Quwrof began, not understanding the boy. "But your past determines who you are. You've lost your identity, Curarpikt." Memories make up so much of a person. Memories are... Briefly, Quwrof saw Phalcnothdk's face, eyes calm, and lips curved in a confident smile beneath her prominent nose, as she prepared to fire a Memory Bomb at him.
"I have my name."
"That's nothing. You can change your name as easily as you change clothing." He paused, thinking back to the night his life was exchanged for the lives of the two boys. "What about your friends?"
Curarpikt's face clouded momentarily. The expression passed, and he was smiling once more. "I'll just need to become reacquainted with them. You found me, after all. If we became friends once before, there's no reason why we can't do it again."
"But, Curarpikt," Quwrof said, starting to feel frustrated. How can I get his memory back if he doesn't want it?
The boy sighed. "Look, if you really must know, I was advised against trying to retrieve my memories."
"Who the hell gave you such shitty advice?" Quwrof asked, too flabbergasted to keep from swearing.
Author's Notes: I USE THE HUNTER'S GUIDE SPELLINGS FOR THE CHARACTERS' NAMES (see my bio page for details), and my characters are based on the comic, NOT the animated series, so Kurapika does not have blue/green eyes in my fics. (Yes, I know this same note is found at the beginning of this chapter, but I've received reviews pointing out the "bad" or "weird" spellings, showing me that not everyone is reading the Author's Note at the beginning, so here it is again.).