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 storyline and beyond.
Standard disclaimers apply…
Hunt for the Intangible - Chapter 16
What did he just say?
"We should probably go up to your apartment for this," Syarnorke pointed out.
Curarpikt stared at the other man for a long moment before nodding silently and stepping out of the car. He walked in a daze, the taller man following a few steps behind. Once they were in the apartment, he gestured vaguely towards the table, and Syarnorke stepped past to sit in the further chair. Curarpikt stood at a loss before finally sitting across from the other man.
Syarnorke regarded him seriously for nearly a minute before sighing heavily. "I'm guessing by your reaction that you are at least familiar with the Genei Ryodan."
"That's good," Syarnorke said with a slight smile. "We were concerned by how much you've forgotten, but knowing the Genei Ryodan isn't too bad a start."
"We've been watching you. So, yes, we know about your memory loss."
Curarpikt wasn't certain what to think or feel anymore, but he had a feeling that panic might not be the most productive reaction. He took a deep breath, preparing for the worst.
"Why have you been watching me? …Who are you?"
"…What do you know of the Genei Ryodan?"
Curarpikt had a moment of déjà vu, recalling his conversation with Quwrof. "…Just what I've been able to research. Nothing is from my memory." He hesitated, but Syarnorke nodded encouragingly. "They are not as… evil? as public perception… But, a lot of the positive details sounded like propaganda. I can't believe that a group that kills can be that good, regardless of any charitable acts."
The older man chuckled at that. "Propaganda, huh? Well, all groups have some sort of an agenda, you know. The Genei Ryodan does have a secret agenda known only to its members."
"Who are you?" Curarpikt repeated more insistently.
Because by now, there was no way that he was going to believe that Syarnorke was the person he had been projecting.
Syarnorke grinned. "My name really is Syarnorke."
"Yes, but who…"
"I," the man interrupted, friendly grin gone, "am the leader of the Genei Ryodan."
Which was exactly the worst thing that Curarpikt had been fearing.
"And we've been watching you because we needed to be certain that your memory loss was genuine, and not part of some ploy."
Syarnorke tilted his head slightly. "Well, if someone had gotten to you to infiltrate our ranks, or you'd decided we were your enemy, we would have had to kill you."
Curarpikt took a deep breath before asking, "…And why would 'someone have gotten' to me?"
The other man raised a brow and smirked. "You were in the middle of a trial period to join the Ryodan."
That was exactly the worst thing that Curarpikt had been fearing.
"Don't look so horrified," Syarnorke chuckled. "I'll have to be seriously offended."
"…I… How do you expect me to react?" Curarpikt asked irritatedly. "You've just told me that I was trying to join a group of killers!"
"Only when necessary," Syarnorke pointed our reasonably.
"When is it ever necessary?"
"You know," Syarnorke said slowly, crossing his arms, "you were a good judge of that yourself at one point."
Curarpikt closed his eyes. The simple little world he had been living in for the past few weeks was being revealed as the sham it was. Everything about him had been a lie. He was an experienced killer.
"You know I'm right."
He nodded slowly. "I… A few days ago, I remembered something. From my past. I… I had killed a man," he admitted miserably.
Syarnorke looked pleased. "So you are recovering your memory."
"No. Not exactly. I've only remembered that one incident."
"So you don't remember everything." He shrugged slightly. "But you remember that at one point, you made the decision to take a life."
Curarpikt nodded again, sinking into his chair and wishing he could disappear. "Why?" he asked in a whisper.
"Why, what? Why did you kill? Only you can answer that."
"No," he shook his head. "Why was I trying to join you? Did I tell you why?"
Syarnorke gave him a long look. "Curarpikt, you only ever join the Genei Ryodan if you believe in the Ryodan's ultimate goal."
"And that would be?"
The man shook his head with a slight smile. "No, you need to remember that for yourself."
Curarpikt sighed. "I was afraid you'd say that."
"Don't be mad," Syarnorke chuckled. "The fact that you've already remembered something is a step in the right direction."
He couldn't help the glare he gave the older man. "What do you expect of me?" he nearly whined.
"Nothing much," Syarnorke smiled. "How about we start with you meeting the other members?"
"W-what?" Curarpikt stuttered. "No! I'm…"
"Not ready?" Syarnorke offered. He sighed when Curarpikt nodded. "You know, waiting isn't going to make you any more ready."
He had a point. But… "I… just need some time to think about this."
The man shrugged. "What is there to think about? If you decide you want nothing to do with us now, you realize it puts us in a difficult position."
Curarpikt inhaled sharply. Of course. "I… I wouldn't reveal your identity or location."
"And how can we be certain of that?"
Surprisingly, Syarnorke smiled. "Well, I'm a good judge of character, so I'd say that we can."
The blond blinked. "…Oh. …Thank you. So…?"
"So," the Ryodan leader said, leaning closer, "how about in exchange for my faith in you, you meet with us? You won't even have to meet all of us at once. We could start with two or three of us."
Put that way, so reasonably, it was hard to refuse. But still, if something were to go wrong, he would be outnumbered.
Syarnorke, sensing his obvious reluctance, said frankly, "We wouldn't ambush and kill someone who had agreed to meet with us, Curarpikt."
"But if you don't like the way things go, you'll hunt me down after?" Curarpikt asked wryly.
The man laughed. "See, you know how we think."
That wasn't entirely encouraging. But, Curarpikt had to admit that the man was being honest with him.
What was there to lose? If he didn't meet with them, he could become a target. If he did meet with them, he could still become a target, but he would at least know some of the identities of those who would be pursuing him.
And… meeting them could provide another trigger for retrieving his memories.
"Of course, I'm going to have to trust you that I'll be allowed to leave this meeting alive," he pointed how.
"True," Syarnorke agreed. "And do you?"
Curarpikt regarded the man in front of him for a long moment. He had to be honest here as well.
Again, the man laughed. "Smart of you. I wouldn't either."
"But," Curarpikt added, "I like you. Which isn't exactly fair, you know."
Syarnorke just laughed more heartily.
They decided to meet in a neutral place at a time that others would be in the vicinity. So two hours later, Curarpikt found himself sitting next to Syarnorke on a bench in a park a few minutes' drive from his apartment.
"Relax, Curarpikt," Syarnorke chuckled.
"Right," he muttered, giving the man a dirty look. "Easy for you to say."
"These are all people you once planned on working with."
"…Right," he muttered more quietly.
"Don't look so glum." Syarnorke paused and stood. "Besides, you don't have a choice. They're here."
Curarpikt stood and faced the same direction as Syarnorke.
And his day abruptly got worse.
"…I should have known," he groaned.
Approaching them was a familiar-looking trio: a short man with dark, shoulder-length hair, a tall man with no eyebrows, and a young woman with her nose in a book even as she walked.
"Hey, now don't look that way, kiddo," the brow-less man said with a grin. "You aren't still mad about that time on the beach, are you?"
Curarpikt turned on Syarnorke. "You weren't kidding, were you, when you said that you've been watching me?"
The man smiled charmingly.
"This is Phynkss." The tall man flashed a grin at him "This is Heytun." The dark-haired man stared expressionlessly at Curarpikt. "And this is Chzzck."
The young woman finally looked up from the book. "Hi, again."
Curarpikt sighed heavily. Who else would end up being Ryodan members? Should he start suspecting everyone around him?
"So… you're all Genei Ryodan." He gave the young woman a careful look. She didn't look like someone capable of killing, but he knew by now not to judge by appearance.
He, himself, had killed a man, after all…
"Surprised?" Phynkss asked, still grinning.
"Of you? Hardly," Curarpikt snorted. "Of the others, maybe a little."
The tall man laughed. "I just might like you, kid."
Ignoring the annoying man, Curarpikt turned to Syarnorke again. "I was hoping that meeting some of the members would help trigger my lost memories," he admitted. "But this isn't going to help. I've already met them all before."
He didn't seem concerned. "Give it time. You've already remembered some things, you've said, so you're bound to remember more eventually."
"Yeah, kid, it just breaks my heart that you've forgotten what great friends we were," Phynkss threw in.
Curarpikt ignored the man. He heard Heytun snort a laugh.
"And even if you don't remember," Syarnorke continued, "there's nothing stopping you from making the decision as the present Curarpikt to join us."
"Nothing stopping me?" Curarpikt stared at the man incredulously. "Regardless of what my research has told me about possible philanthropy, you're still killers!"
"So are you," Phynkss pointed out.
"I know that!" Curarpikt exclaimed, expression pained. "And do I look happy or proud of it?"
"And you think we enjoy it?"
"You, absolutely," Curarpikt said frankly to the tall man.
"He's got you there," Heytun chuckled, and Phynkss laughed heartily, saying once again that he might end up really liking Curarpikt.
The blond groaned in frustration.
"Syarnorke, I've met them, as you requested. I really don't think that I'm going to suddenly want to join you, not without knowing why I would have wanted to in the first place. And the fact that they're members," he gestured towards Heytun and Phynkss, "makes it even less likely that I'd ever want to!"
"Fair enough." The man tilted his head slightly and raised a brow at Curarpikt. "But we're going to be sticking around and continuing to watch you."
"Why?" he asked in frustration. "Can't you just forget I was ever interested and leave me be?"
Syarnorke shook his head firmly. "I don't think so."
That's what he'd figured, but he'd had to ask.
"So… where does that leave us?"
Well, wasn't this a bit of a moral dilemma.
Having parted with the Ryodan members, Curarpikt had been sitting in his living room, staring at nothing. Syarnorke had given him a day to think about his offer.
Accompany the Ryodan on a mission, doing nothing but observing.
No matter what he saw occur, he would not intervene.
And what he saw would hopefully help him make his decision.
With another sigh, Curarpikt leaned forward and placed his head into his hands. He didn't think that he could stand around and watch if anyone in the Ryodan were to take an innocent life. Or even a not-so-innocent life.
And yet, if he didn't accompany them on this mission, what next? Syarnorke had made it clear that they would continue to watch him, and that should he decide to "abandon" the Ryodan, Curarpikt would most likely not live to regret the decision for long.
Was he willing to die without really knowing why?
…About as much as he was willing to watch an innocent die.
And, there was his damned… curiosity. Why had he wanted to give up part of his memories in the first place? What had happened to him? Or worse yet, what had he done?
Curarpikt was afraid that the only way to learn the truth would be to agree to Syarnorke's suggestion.
"What am I supposed to do?"
Maybe he needed a second opinion.
Or some reassurance, at least?
And there was only one person he could share this with.
He leaned back and tilted his head back, feeling his hair brush against the wall. At least one decision made, he closed his eyes to wait for Quwrof to return.
Fortunately, he'd spent so long sitting on the sofa and wracking his brain that he didn't have long to wait. He eventually heard the key and then the creaking of the front door.
After a moment, he heard Quwrof's puzzled voice. "Um, Curarpikt, would you care to tell me why you're sitting here in the dark?"
Curarpikt opened his eyes. He'd been so preoccupied that he hadn't noticed evening approaching.
"…It's not that dark."
The man snorted. "Right. You're nothing but a dark grey lump on the sofa, Curarpikt." He stepped towards the light switch. "I'm turning on the light."
Curarpikt blinked several times at the sudden brightness. "…Thanks."
Quwrof set down a full plastic bag – it looked like he'd picked up dinner – and moved over to sit next to Curarpikt on the sofa.
"Okay, Curarpikt, talk to me."
He regarded the dark-haired man for a long moment, thinking how fortunate he was to have been found by someone who was so good at being a friend to him.
"I… I need your advice."
"I…" Curarpikt hesitated. "I had lunch with Syarnorke today."
Quwrof tilted his head slightly in thought. "…Ah, the man who drove you home from the bookstore. I didn't know you'd made plans."
"We hadn't. He found a place I might enjoy, so he came to invite me."
At Curarpikt's pause, he prompted with,"Did you?"
"Did I what?"
"Enjoy the place," Quwrof responded, slightly exasperated.
"…Yes, but that's not the point!" Curarpikt threw his head back, cringing as he hit it against the wall behind him.
After a moment, Quwrof sighed and said, "Are you going to tell me the point? You said that you wanted my advice."
He lifted his head and looked at Quwrof. "…I do want your advice." Still, he continued to hesitate.
The man rolled his eyes after another long moment. "So… Syarnorke wants to date you, and you're having a sexual identity crisis?"
"What? No! I'm not having some sort of identity crisis!" Curarpikt bit down as he realized what he'd said.
Idiot, you are having an identity crisis! That's the whole problem here!
He nearly laughed, but he stopped himself, afraid that it would turn hysterical.
Quwrof raised an amused brow at him, clearly realizing where Curarpikt's thoughts had gone.
"I'm not having a personal crisis over my orientation," Curarpikt corrected in a mutter, glaring half-heartedly at Quwrof's soft chuckle.
"So you're afraid of breaking my heart if you agree to date Syarnorke?"
"Syarnorke does not want to date me! He's…!" Curarpikt nearly groaned out loud in frustration. Why did this have to be so difficult?
"…He's…?" Quwrof prompted.
"He's… the leader of the Genei Ryodan." Curarpikt finally admitted, his voice nearly a whisper.
Quwrof's eyes widened briefly. He pursed his lips slightly and said. "But I'm guessing this is not the main point that's bothering you."
Curarpikt's shoulders slumped. "…Yes."
Having gotten the first big fact out, he found it easier to continue with the rest. Quwrof did not look surprised at Curarpikt's revelation that he had apparently been in a trial period for the Ryodan. But then, he hadn't seemed surprised or upset that Curarpikt had killed a man. He'd been quite practical about that, actually.
And that was why Curarpikt wanted Quwrof's advice.
"What should I do?"
"Do you want to go?"
"But if you don't go, you might be giving up your only lead."
And learning about himself was what had driven him to agree to the meeting in the first place. Knowing of his past involvement with the Ryodan, it seemed even more important now to learn some truths.
"There's also the fact that they'll probably kill you," Quwrof added casually.
Curarpikt chuckled at the man's tone. "Yes, there is that."
"So you should go."
He sighed. "That's what I figured, too. It's just… What if they do things I want to stop?"
Quwrof leaned back and quirked a smile. "Curarpikt, you're going to do what you feel is right."
He sighed again. "Yeah, I know…"
"Just know that you'll need to run for your life if you end up interfering."
Oh, I know…
"Or, you could take them on and destroy them?" Quwrof suggested with a mischievous grin.
Curarpikt just snorted.
"Yes, he has." Syarnorke looked pleased.
Matiy could see why. It meant that they were one step closer to getting Curarpikt to willingly join the Ryodan. But…
Syarnorke regarded Matiy shrewdly. "What's on your mind?"
She shrugged. "Nothing specific. I just see… so many things going wrong with this."
The man had the gall to laugh. "Of course you do!"
Matiy stared at him in disbelief. "You…! You're enjoying this, aren't you? You think this is… some kind of challenge!"
She would expect that of Quwrof, but from Syarnorke, it was a bit of a surprise. He was more the type to get serious satisfaction from having everything planned perfectly and executed smoothly. Well, Quwrof was like that as well, but the leader also had an appreciation for the unexpected and for the irony found in situations.
"Well, you have to admit, it is," Syarnorke grinned.
She pointed a finger at the knuckleheads sitting against the far wall. "They!" she emphasized, "are going to ruin everything! There's no way that they can follow the script."
Phynkss and Heytun grinned at her. Phynkss waggled his brow ridges as well, making Matiy want to stride over and bash his face in.
"What script?" Chzzck asked from her corner, briefly looking up from her latest book.
Matiy raised her arms in frustration. "That one, too!"
"Maybe, but you agree that it's better for you to continue to hide your identity from Curarpikt," Syarnorke pointed out.
"Yes, I agreed," Matiy growled, "but that doesn't mean I'm not going to worry about how the 'mission' goes."
"Don't worry. Things will be fine," the man reassured her.
"And if they're not," Phynkss added, "we could still just kill the brat."
"We voted not to," Matiy pointed out loudly.
Phynkss gave her a rather creepy smile. "No need to take it personally."
Matiy frowned, realizing that she had just glared at Phynkss for mentioning killing Curarpikt. She smoothed her expression, though, as she noticed Syarnorke giving her a knowing look.
Damnit, how did things get to be so complicated?
[A note from Mist]
Here is the way-overdue next chapter. As always, thank you, thank you, thank you to my readers! I've been negligent about responding to reviews this past year, but I read and appreciate each one! It's your reviews that keep me struggling with this, and it was the most recent review I received that lit the fire again and got me to finish the chapter. Thank you! I will finish this!