(does a 360-degree spin) I have finally updated! And now I'm probably on everybody's hit list… --; Sorry… for being such a tardy author, I can't seem to meet even my own deadlines. I've also got a mouthful of end notes, so I'd really appreciate it if you guys could read it… let's just say, if you don't read it, don't blame me for a few lapses in the near future. But anyways, enough with this, you'll get another dose of my untimely rants at the end anyway. So on with thy fic!

Oh yeah, please… review! . So many hits and yet so little comments… C'mon, I'm having a major mental lag and frankly speaking… I'm running out of ideas. Between work and all, it's a miracle I actually managed to squeeze something out of nothing for this chapter.

------------------------------------------------------------

Title: Blood Pact

Author: Blitz Magnus

Chapter: 6?

Status: completed

Pairings: future Kuroro x Kurapika

Genre: Humor/Romance + a bit of Drama/Adventure

Warnings: This fic contains shounen-ai (male x male relationship). So if you don't and can't stomach this kind of genre, don't read. Characters are major OOC. This is a product of boredom, an endless spiral of empty space, and a lame attempt at making fiction. You have been forewarned, so no flames regarding these matters.

This is also Kuroro and Kurapika centered chapter, so… it'll be a tad bit short on the humor and delving more into serious matters. But no sweat, I'll find a way to wedge in a pinch of humor in their… uhh… tense and uptight atmosphere. (dodges Kurapika-sama's nen chains)

Rating: PG-13 (T)

Disclaimer: Hunter x Hunter© original story and characters belong not to me, but to the legendary Yoshihiro Togashi.

Author's Notes: The timeline is set at the end of the OVA, right after Kuroro's capture by Kurapika, and picks up in between the OVA and the Greed Island arc. The events of the story take place after the negotiations between Pakunoda and Kurapika are over, as well as the exchange of hostages. Changes made in the actual series for the purpose of writing this fic are as follows: 1.) Kurapika was not able to seal Kuroro's nen during Kuroro's confinement, 2.) Kurapika did not take off his disguise as a female hotel receptionist during the entire confrontation between him and the Danchou, 3.) Pakunoda never revealed Kurapika's weakness to the spiders (meaning she didn't die), 4.) Hisoka has yet to uncover his betrayal to the Genei Ryodan (meaning he didn't show up during the hostage exchange).

Summary: With Gon and Killua safely back into the fold and out of harm's way after negotiations with the Genei Ryodan were concluded, Kuroro Lucifer makes his move on the unsuspecting Kurapika and roped him into becoming a part of them, indirectly, on the aftermath of their encounter. Kurapika, in turn, manages to learn more about the Kuruta Red-Eyes in his stay with the Genei Ryodan and he's less than happy with the results as he got more than what he'd bargained for. Never did he dream that he'd turn into one of them, and things get more complicated when he realized he'd fallen for the enemy.

-----------------------------------------------

Chapter Six: Secret Sorrow

If either Killua or Gon had asked him whether or not he'd gone ballistic when he'd actually agreed to willingly enter the fray by fraternizing with the Spiders, he was dead certain he would've answered a vehement 'no'. After all, what was the sense of hunting for his prey when he couldn't even manage to keep an eye on them? Now that he'd been given this opportunity, he sure as hell wasn't going to let it pass by him.

But as of the moment, Kurapika was certain he had lost his mind, sanity and all, down the drain as he stared open-mouthed at the gigantic personification of a crossbreed between a gorging hulk of a wannabe mushroom and the bullfrog mutation his companion held out at him.

One day into their journey together, the Kuruta was already seriously considering jumping off the nearest cliff and breaking his neck just to end this endless torture, binding nen contract can go to hell for all he cared and all thoughts of revenge be damned to perdition.

Dazed, his mind took him back into what transpired before he ended up in the mess he was currently stuck waist-deep in.

Thirty minutes into travel during the first day and Kuroro had led them directly into a murky swamp literally infested with bee-slugs the size of a bulky ten-year-old child. The disgusting insects looked so revolting that Kurapika had to avert his gaze into a less disgusting scene—green spiders with abdomens the size of a dodge ball. The sight of the alien-looking arachnids looked so pathetic that his automated aversion towards spiders seemed to have gone into a temporary drawback at the hapless sight—though his stomach protested violently at the scenario that he had to resist the urge to throw up like a woman during the first few stages of her pregnancy. The sad-looking vines and trees were virtually covered in moss and poison ivy as thick as an armadillo's hide. The blonde looked at the filthy swamp in horror and whipped his face back to turn the full blast of his blazing eyes to his raven-haired companion.

"You have got to be joking." It took a tremendous amount of self-control for Kurapika to address the statement in a deadpanned manner as he kept his eyes glued to the slime-covered arachnids prattling along the branches of the trees.

The head of the infamous Genei Ryodan gave him a blank stare and shrugged, facial expression carefully schooled into a pokerfaced mask—though he'd been internally surprised at the stricken look on Kurapika's face as the blonde took into inventory his current surrounding. Good heavens, the blonde looked about ready to cut his guts open and cast him slowly over a pit of hot coals while he turned cartwheels.

"You're serious about this! We're going in there!" the blonde's horrified voice rose a notch higher than usual as he couldn't manage to tear his eyes away from the loathsome scenery. His active imagination worked out scenes of trudging through the germ-infested swamp, and that were all that occupied his current state of mind.

Kuroro smirked knowingly behind the appalled blonde. So, the touchy Kuruta did have one more Achilles' heel. He was dreadfully scared out of his wits when encountering substances involving the concept of dirt and anything else that went against the natural phenomena of impeccable personal hygiene.

Kurapika slowly turned to look at his companion, and upon seeing the sober look on his face, the blonde sucked in his breath before gawking openly at the bubbling moss-covered surface of the murky, filthy excuse for a body of water with a vein ticking viciously at his forehead, "You really aren't joking, are you?"

"I'm afraid so. So, shall we proceed?"

"When hell freezes over, asshole." The blonde braced his legs steadily on solid ground, a determined scowl plastered on his face while he kept chanting a mental mantra that nothing his raven-haired companion could and would say would be able to make him budge from that spot.

"Don't be stubborn, we have to get past this marsh to trek into the woods."

The look on Kurapika's face was enough to tell the exasperated Spider leader that the only way he was going to be able to get the blonde to budge from his determined position was by sole exertion of physical force. And from the looks of it, it was going to be no simple job either.

Letting out a defeated sigh, Kuroro stealthily snaked a steady arm around the unsuspecting Kuruta's waist and firmly held the petite frame against his own body.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!" Kurapika spluttered out as he tried to jerk himself out of the death grip Kuroro had held him in.

But even before the blonde could start spewing out his usual contempt through a recently acquired colourful vocabulary, the raven-haired man had already further tightened his grip on Kurapika's waist and plunged down—feet first—into the deep ravine right beside the moss-covered swamp.

The sound of breaking twigs and branches drowned out the rest of the razor-sharp curses and obscenities hurled at him by the struggling and obviously pissed-off blonde as they picked up speed on their fall.

The fall seemed to last forever to Kurapika, as endless seas of green overwhelmed his senses as they fell headlong into the swirling vortex of woodland oblivion. The blonde gritted his teeth as, finally, they fell forward into a bushy nest of dried leaves heaped right below the pit cushioning their fall.

"What the hell were you trying to pull back there! Are you trying to get us both killed!" Kurapika managed to sputter out as he disentangled himself from Kuroro's clutches and tried to stand upright, making his human cushion grunt in acute discomfort when he accidentally wedged an elbow into the raven-haired man's abused ribs.

Performing a spectacular nosedive into one murky swamp-filled ravine infested with the filthiest and foul-reeking creatures he'd ever seen in his entire lifetime was definitely not on his to-do list, and Kurapika was more than ready to lash out his fury at the culprit who'd literally coerced him into doing exactly that.

The Spider head had fortunately managed to land squarely on the leaf pile on his back, butt first. However, he also caught the brunt of the fall since he had maneuvered their positions during their freefall so that Kurapika would land atop him—at the risk of breaking his own backside and neck, apparently.

Slowly and deliberately, he eased himself up from his prone position to sit up and stare blearily at his fuming partner.

A string of curses was already threatening to roll off the tip of Kurapika's tongue, his suicidal companion was definitely not going to get off free. The man did, after all, manage to scare a decade off his lifespan when they'd literally taken the dive into an endless pit of leafy oblivion. The blonde was on the verge of giving the worst verbal lashing of the lifetime when he finally noticed Kuroro's awkward position. Normally, the man ought to be standing on his own two feet and most probably dragging him by the heels by now if necessary just to get him to move. So why the hell was the jerk still sprawled out on the damp ground?

Blessedly, the blonde suddenly quietened when he noticed the position Kuroro was in and had finally realized that the raven-haired man had gallantly used his own body to shield him from the impact of their fall.

Still slightly winded from the fall, Kuroro caught the troubled look on the Kuruta's face as he slowly regained his strength to stand on his own wobbling feet, "Are you alright?"

Kurapika's brows furrowed, "Yes, I'm fine." Catching the raven-haired man's sudden discomfort, his eyes zeroed in on the tear at the knee of Kuroro's leather pants, "You're wounded."

"So it would seem," the wretched man had actually sounded more amused than irritated at the discovery that blood was indeed running down the gaping gash on his kneecap. "It's a good thing those leaves broke our fall, or else I would've broken my neck as well."

"You could've easily landed on your feet," Kurapika quietly pointed out, hating the guilt that was riding on his conscience and eating at it.

"And you would've broken your neck on those boulders if I did so." Kuroro gestured towards the intimidating pile of rocks and rubble behind the blonde. Harmless as the rocks looked, the jagged edges jutting out in between the spaces were definitely not to be taken lightly.

"If you hadn't caught me by surprise, I wouldn't have. I'm not accustomed to people snagging me up by the waist just for the sake of committing mock suicide," replied Kurapika testily as Kuroro stated the obvious.

"If I hadn't caught you by surprise, we could never have gone this far."

True enough, it had been a long drop, as Kurapika craned his head up to look for the top of the grassy cliff they'd fallen from. It was barely seen from the distance he was standing from. In layman's terms, it was a far cry from having fun since it involved risking their own bloody necks to get past that nauseating height.

Though the blonde was tempted to deny the raven-haired man's observation of his earlier predicament heatedly, he chose to painfully swallow his sarcastic retorts and instead grabbed the startled Kuroro by the arm and shoved him gently but firmly towards a nearby loose boulder, "Sit down on that rock and stay put."

More surprised than confused, the Spider head went along with Kurapika's curt command and obediently sat down on the makeshift stool.

Seconds later, he realized that Kurapika's nen chains had materialized and the Holy Chain was hovering right above his wounded knee.

"Stay still." The blonde spoke without bothering to look at him and concentrated on healing the flesh wound with his healing chain. The cut of the wound wasn't actually deep, but it was enough to cause a rather serious case of external hemorrhage.

"Well, look at the bright side. We've gotten past the first obstacle."

The fulminating look of indignation on the blonde's scowling face was enough to make a sensible man shut up, and Kuroro was no fool to ignore the warning. Sensing the situation to be similar to an uncomfortable feeling of being properly chastised by a displeased schoolmarm, the raven-haired patient opted to silently watch the healing process of his kneecap and observe the emotions wash over his companion's troubled face.

Kuroro was startled out of his trance when he felt the insistent nudge on his shoulder, in automation, his eyes lifted to Kurapika's confused ones in question.

"You spaced out."

Covering up his sudden slip, the Spider head pulled himself to his feet and gestured towards a nearby shade of trees, "We'd better get going, you wouldn't want to be in this part of the boundary once nightfall comes."

The blonde nodded silently, though he still kept a watchful eye on his companion's injury as he trudged behind the latter.

-----------------------------------------------

Half an hour later, Kurapika was no longer feeling guilty about the ruptured knee, nor was he feeling the least bit sympathetic or concerned about the scrapes and bruises suffered by his companion during their earlier fall, as he was currently in the miserable situation of being covered in an inch thick coating of combined grime, sweat, lichen and God-knows-what-else concoction of nature's excess.

Hell, and he actually thought nothing would feel much worse than having Leorio as lunch companion while he literally barfed and inhaled his food as though it were a life support system—never mind the fact that having a leering Hisoka stare at you for a whole minute also scared the shit out of anyone.

An eerie sensation buzzed behind his left ear, and as his skin prickled, he warily averted his eyes from the object of his current murderous thoughts and focused on the annoying culprit. As it turned out, a bulging insect the size of a grown man's fist had unknowingly perched on his shoulder, making the already fuming Kuruta turn the full blast of his ire at the offensive insect as he whipped out his dowsing chain in full swing.

Goosebumps covered his already moss-covered skin as he devised several painful ways of torturing and murdering his unsuspecting fiend of a companion, preferably by using the same kind of filth he was currently covered in, that would definitely serve as an appropriate form of revenge.

Ten minutes ago, they'd been brutally ambushed by a colony of the largest bees he'd ever seen in his entire life—they managed to get out alive, but not after being viciously stung in the neck repeatedly.

No more than two minutes later, an entire herd of grease-covered weasel-hogs—of which its fumes alone could kill anyone who dared to breathe—trampled past them, kicking up a cyclone of sticky and stinky dust.

And just what the hell did that infernal Kuroro Lucifer do? He'd actually used him as a human shield to ward off the poisonous fumes of the hogs. When the approaching rumble of the stampeding pigs reached their ears, the Spider leader had switched positions with him immediately. The nerve of the man!

Which was also the reason why his once clean face was now covered in a sticky sheet of combined grease and whatever else he'd managed to pick up from their travel.

While the fuming blonde trudged behind him, Kuroro kept unusually silent throughout their travel, though he did turn to check on his partner once in a while, but otherwise, he carefully kept his own thoughts to himself. So engrossed he was in his own inner musings that he missed the startled look aimed at him by his irritated companion.

"Stop."

The Spider leader's train of thoughts halted the same time he stilled his descent on the murky terrain of moss-composed swamps as he turned his head to address a reply to the sudden command.

"What is it?"

"Can't you smell it?" Kurapika asked tersely. The blonde's entire body arched and tensed up like a stringed bow as he slowly crouched into a battle position.

"Smell what, ourselves?" Kuroro countered even as his gaze immediately redirected into examining his surroundings thoroughly—considering the fact that they both stank like a couple of greasy pigs tumbling in mud.

At the very same instant, the Kuruta's eyes shifted from a wary shade of cloudy sea green to a turbulent shade of hardened ice blue sapphires as they darted back and forth from the cluster of trees encompassing them. From the Spider head's distance, he could already make out shadows forming behind him from the reflection in those ice shards.

On a heightened level of adrenaline coursing through his veins, he immediately leapt out of the way even as a maul the size of Franklin's hefty biceps cut across the trees behind him. Kuroro landed gracefully behind the battle-poised form of the blonde and held out his left arm in a horizontal axis, palm face-up in preparation to summon his Book of Skills.

"Don't bother."

The Genei Ryodan leader's startled gaze shifted from his unseen enemy to Kurapika, and was forced to discreetly take a step back when his eyes landed on the blonde's face. It was enough to turn blood into frozen ice within the blink of an eye.

If Kuroro had been asked whether he'd ever seen an angel of death about ten seconds ago, he would've answered an immediate negative reply to the question, but if he were asked right now, he wasn't even sure if his throat would work up the strength to utter a proper response.

The look on Kurapika's otherwise calm features was enough to make his blood run cold, even under the layer of smudge and dirt, his angelic features spelled death over and over again as those ice cold eyes never wavered from their cautious observation of the moving shadows.

"Don't move," was the only explanation the blonde provided as he slapped a gentle but firm hand on Kuroro's chest before disappearing right in front of the shocked man in a blur, nen chains materializing in his wake as its tinkling sounds trailed behind its owner's swift movements.

Seconds later, agonized sounds of mercy and agony could be heard from behind the thick mass of gnarled trees. The muffled rustle of fallen leaves and twigs echoed softly from the inner depths of the woods, and as groans and shrieks drowned out any other sound, Kuroro could only stare in stupefied amazement as cloaked bodies literally flew from behind the bushes and landed smartly in simultaneous thuds in front of him.

The death toll rose to an alarming amount of ten from his last count amidst the narrow space they were currently trapped in, as Kuroro only caught glimpses of the criss-crossing pattern of glints of metal grinding against metal from his frozen position in the willowy shade he was standing in.

The shadowed frame of his Kuruta companion suddenly emerged from the trees and swiftly moved forward from the shelter of the dark tresses.

The Spider leader's eyes narrowed fractionally when he saw the smudge of freshly spilt blood on the blonde's left boot and the continuous drip of the coppery red liquid from the Kuruta's fingertips. He frowned in reflex, even as Kurapika steadily moved towards him despite the amount of blood that was shed at his expense.

"I thought you were against, and I quote, the 'brutal slaughter' of human beings," Kuroro's aloof voice withered against the cold breeze of the frigid wind slapping behind him as he confronted his companion.

Kurapika stood unmoving in front of him, head slightly bowed with his long bangs shielding the dark features on his face. And when the blonde tilted his face up to stare at him, the fearless leader of the Spiders sucked in a harsh breath.

"They aren't human," Kurapika started in a low tone, "At least, not anymore."

"Is there something you know that I don't?" It was frustrating to him, Kuroro Lucifer, a harbinger of death and the infamous leader of the Spiders, to ask that degrading question, as he had always prided himself to know anything mysterious happening in their world.

The Kuruta gave him a cold but blank stare, before dropping his tensed stance and bent down on one knee by the grass-covered glade, "This place used to be the hunting ground for a certain Rukuso tribe."

"Rukuso? You mean your tribe's territory?" Kuroro felt the hair at his nape start to prickle sharply, as though in response to exercise caution in anticipated danger. The area they were standing in was dangerous ground, and the topic was an ultra-sensitive one as well. Though to tread on unfamiliar waters seemed like a bad idea right now, it was still inevitable as he forced his throat to drum up the energy to talk.

"The Kuruta tribe wasn't the only one occupying that region. There are other tribes roaming that land, those that are far more shrouded… that lurk in the darkness. More precisely, those who feed on the darkness."

Kuroro frowned visibly now as he dropped down to sit on a rock so that he would be eye-level with the blonde, "Elaborate."

"Don't tell me you didn't feel their presence when you—" Kurapika started sharply as he battled against another surge of bloodlust that was threatening to overwhelm his heightened senses.

"I did," Kuroro cut in abruptly to evade further provocation, "But we dismissed it as ancient spirits lurking in the area."

Surprisingly, the blonde was in no mood to argue as well. He just looked tired and wary as he explained, "In a way, they are, but the reason why they hide in the shadows is because it is the only way for them to survive."

"That's not much of an explanation. And you are being evasive."

Kurapika's gaze levelled with Kuroro's intense ones as he reluctantly continued, "They are creatures of the Shadow Legion, those who thrive in the shadows, the pain and sorrows of others, and most of all, in death. This vicinity," he gestured towards the massive trees, "became their hunting grounds when they ran out of prospective victims."

His clouded blue-green eyes kept steady watch over the denser part of the clearing, "This part of the forest is also known as the Cloaked Path. Not many people venture out to the Rukuso region, that's why the Legion had to look for other grounds to feed from." Kurapika added in explanation.

"Why choose an area this far from Rukuso?"

The Kuruta's voice dropped several decibels lower, "They don't travel the normal way. They can manage to travel anywhere they want to just by trailing the smell of death."

"And?"

"They don't technically 'kill' their hosts, but rather, they feed on them until they become shells of their former existence. The victims turn into one of them, devoid of any human emotion until they become thoroughly consumed by despair and darkness. Those 'shadows' we encountered a while ago, are no longer human, but are already completely swallowed up by darkness. You can even call them an embodiment of darkness."

"So you killed it?"

At that analogy, Kurapika once again bowed his head and hid his eyes behind the shelter of his hair, "To kill them is to set them free. They are hollow, empty shells of a former life, turned into the most horrid creatures to walk this land because they no longer have their own free will and have succumbed to the pits of darkness; they exist solely to appease their desire to spread darkness. The only way to free them from the confinement of the shadows is to end their 'lives'."

"Euthanasia…?" the raven-haired Spider leader murmured thoughtfully in contemplation.

The blonde shook his head, "There is no mercy in the act, for only in death will they be able to become free again."

"You do not pity them then?"

"They are not worthy of anyone's pity anymore." Though it was delivered in a hollow voice, the underlying traces of resentment and bitterness could still be seen on the blonde's face.

Kuroro said nothing in reply.

"It would be best not to encounter more of them, so we'd better get going." Kurapika started as he stood up from his kneeling position and had already started to weave through the mass of trees when his companion spoke behind him.

"You didn't have to come to rescue back there, you know. It's not that I'm being ungrateful, but I'm fully capable of protecting myself."

"You don't stand a chance against them."

Kuroro's eyes narrowed into slits, "What do you mean?"

"The scent of death lingers on the very ground you tread upon, and your hands are soiled by the same stench. You're like honeysuckle left out in the open to hungry grizzly bears."

"I'm afraid I don't understand what you're trying to imply," the Spider leader muttered out irritably. It was one thing to speak in riddles, but it was another to ridicule a Spider's capabilities in combat, especially his.

"The scent of death drives them into a frenzy," Kurapika elaborated, "You've killed so many lives, that the essence of death lingers in your aura… hovering around you no matter where you go. You draw their attention like blood attracting a pool of sharks."

"And yet the Kuruta, being warriors who shed blood in battle, managed to survive amongst them, why is that?"

The Kuruta survivor froze in mid-step, and underneath the concealment of his shadowed face, his eyes burned bright crimson as he replied in a near-whisper so low that if the wind were to blow, it would remain unheard, "Because they can never lay harm upon us. The Kuruta are deviants of the Legion."

And yet, with a keen sense of sharpened hearing, Kuroro managed to hear the muffled reply. "Deviants?"

After the briefest of seconds, Kurapika graced his companion with a precise, albeit reluctant, reply, "Our ancestor was one of them, but he defected from the Legion because his darkness formed him a will of his own. In other words, the Kuruta's forefather came from that stem of the Legion, and we are a 'diluted' form of the Legion itself—which is why we cannot be affected by the Legion's thirst for darkness, no matter how strong it becomes—because whenever it gains a new power, we also acquire it."

"From the legion of endless darkness sprung forth another's will… interesting," Kuroro murmured thoughtfully once again.

The speculation was too ridiculous to bother trying to decipher it, or so the blonde thought, and he didn't have the stamina to make any attempt at it.

"Our ancestor never questioned his descent, therefore he acknowledged that death would always accompany him. And so in honor of his ancestry, he made a pact in blood—that the eyes of the Kuruta descendants would forever burn crimson whenever they feel strong emotions—a symbol that the color of blood will always go hand in hand with death, and should they die, that vivid color would burn brighter than ever."

The Spider leader's face was a mask of blank astonishment, "Then the Scarlet Eyes are—"

An irritated scowl marred Kurapika's otherwise ethereal features as he bit out scathingly, "If you think they are freak accidents caused by defective genes, you've gone mental."

At the Kuruta's sudden burst of anger, Kuroro managed a smirk as he continued his unfinished statement, "As I was about to say before you interrupted, I thought the Scarlet Eyes were either gifts of nature or an indication of a higher attainment of power."

Feeling a bit abashed by the reprimand but not completely put-off, Kurapika snapped, "Well, they're not, so get your mind off the gutter and back into track."

A delicate eyebrow rose in response, though he didn't comment on the 'gutter' part of the blonde's statement. "But that short bit of history explains a lot about your heritage… as well as your nen capabilities."

This time, it was Kurapika who cocked his head in confusion as he tried to decipher Kuroro's spontaneous musings that came seem to just pop out of nowhere in existence, "My capabilities?"

"You did say you can acquire a higher level of power whenever the 'Legion' becomes stronger."

"What are you trying to say?" the blonde bit out angrily. Obviously, the topic about the Legion involved dredging up the Kuruta tribe again, and it was, to say in the least, not high on Kuroro's priority list either, as it nearly came as close as getting his head lopped off the last time one of the other Spiders managed to do.

But some things just cannot be dismissed that easily, and Kuroro was damn sure he was halfway to tightening an invisible noose around his neck when he prodded on, "That the stronger the Legion becomes, the stronger your nen abilities become, especially now that you're the only survivor left."

Kurapika clenched his jaw in a spur of the moment as his fist curled into a tight ball, before relaxing both body parts again and shrugged, "I guess. We'd better leave, there would be more of them coming."

"And I, being one of those who annihilated their descendants, will suffer the consequences."

The cryptic conclusion was delivered in a frigid tone of voice, and Kurapika stiffened in response even as he tried to fight down the sudden urge to turn tail and flee from the darkening aura of the area.

But innate pride kept him from succumbing to that temptation, "The Kuruta had long ago severed its ties with the Legion when the elders discovered our hideous lineage, but should the Legion choose to ignore the separation and still honour the former pact… then yes, you will suffer the consequences. You and the rest of the Spiders."

Kuroro's eyes gleamed, "Death against darkness, it would be a challenging match."

"Never underestimate the Legion. It would be the gravest mistake of your life."

"Just like I should never underestimate you either. You are, after all, a descendant," Kuroro added soberly.

"And from the darkness, light was born." The enigmatic statement caught the blonde by surprise, but he didn't try to fathom it out anymore, as he was already mentally exhausted.

"Enough. We should leave. Now." Kurapika bit out harshly as gripped the strap of his carrying bag tightly and started to take the first step into leaving the ominous vicinity.

"Just one more question. You seem to know the place well, how come you acted as though you bore no recognition of the area throughout our journey?"

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Apparently, he'd already given away too much. Kurapika gave another indifferent shrug, hoping it would be enough to deceive the Spider head's probing, "No reason."

He was dead wrong about the perceptiveness of the blasted man. For when the Kuruta had started to walk past the raven-haired Spider leader, the latter grabbed hold of his arm in a vicelike grip. "Don't be evasive, if there's one thing I don't like, it's pretenses." The statement was uttered ominously despite the total lack of anger in Kuroro's cool voice.

"Why do you think I didn't want to enter this filth-infested sty in the first place? And don't start spouting sporadic words of outrage just because you've been duped. In case you've conveniently forgotten, you're a master at the art of masquerading." Kurapika shot back harshly as he jerked his arm away, his face pale with unleashed anger while his eyebrows knotted together into a vicious frown as he stalked past the stunned Kuroro.

"Just what the hell do you mean by that?"

"Neon Nostrad," came the short but steely reply. And it was enough to send Kuroro's whirling mind into yet another vortex of exasperation. The blonde obviously had a memory as strong as a herd of stampeding elephants.

Damn if that wasn't called a brush-off, the Spider head scowled darkly at Kurapika's back after the blonde had evidently finished ripping at his pride and ego. For the first time in his entire life, he didn't know what the hell to do with such impertinence, which is also why he'd even allowed a perfectly visible scowl to grace his features as he moved to catch up with the blonde.

Why is it that he'd just have to meet his match in a spunky, vengeance-fuelled Kuruta who couldn't care less if he were the spawn of the devil or even the devil incarnate himself so as long as he can spit at him in the eye and carve him from inside out? It was more frustrating to know, that he'd have an easier time chewing nails than getting a willing, sensible answer from the bull-headed blonde.

Damn if Lady Luck wasn't actually grinning from ear-to-ear for giving him such a hard time with his 'charge'.

Kurapika, though sensing his companion's presence beside him, didn't bother to turn his head but instead addressed a stiff and abrupt statement, "If we can make it to the clearing before the sun sets, we can set up camp near the stream and replenish our supply."

"Fine." Kuroro was waist-deep in his own version of sulking to bother rebuking the Kuruta's words.

The blonde very nearly raised an eyebrow in surprise, was the formidable leader of the Genei Ryodan actually allowing himself the privilege of showing a foreign side to his concealed humanity?

----------------------------------------

It was just one of those unlucky days that just clobbered you up from behind without warning, and it was also the reason why he was currently stuck waist-deep in a pile of muck holding a cross-mutation between a mushroom and bullfrog.

Back to things at hand… the blonde tilted his head as high as he could manage as he stared mournfully while silently seething at his companion. The Spider head was balancing atop a sturdy branch of a gnarled grandfather celburn1 tree and was trying to catch the vile-looking creatures.

"Are you trying to tell me we are going to eat that?"

Kuroro nodded as he held out the lump of abomination bound up in a thick cord of braided tree bark and gestured for the blonde to take it from him. Composure be damned as he stocked up on all pleasurable thoughts of gleefully skinning Kuroro down to the very last bone even as his gaze zeroed in on the bullfrog-mushroom mutation.

How in tarnation was he going to be able to digest the hideous thing let alone putting it inside his mouth when he couldn't even bear looking at it?

While he mulled over the satisfaction of seeing Kuroro slowly roasting over an open fire pit, he sulkily swiped at the disgusting organism and held it at arm's length before wrinkling his nose in open revulsion. Good lord, nearly everything in the jungle—him and Kuroro included—could use a week's worth of bath, and that wasn't exactly an exaggeration.

"Is this the part where you get to pull off the waterworks?" his companion suddenly asked amusedly from above him, making the already pissed-off Kuruta bristle at the taunt.

The blonde glared up at him, which wasn't exactly the least bit intimidating, considering that he was a good twelve feet below Kuroro holding a mushroom-bullfrog mutation in one hand while standing knee-high in the middle of a pool of bubbling mud.

"Not even in your dreams, you sadistic bastard."

Kurapika glared at the blob of mutated specie in disdain as he held it as far away as he could from himself.

The Genei Ryodan leader smirked knowingly as he enjoyed the view from his position, the simple thought of petty revenge was too sweet to resist. Hours ago, his ego had been torn into shreds by the scalding, razor-sharp tongue of the blonde, and so he felt he was entitled to hold the childish notion of indulging himself into holding a grudge. Kurapika had evidently succeeded in ripping apart the intactness of his ego and he was itching to get back at the wily blonde. And the satisfaction of seeing the red-faced Kuruta wading in a pool of nature's waste experiments was definitely worth his temporary loss of pride.

"Once you're done daydreaming, you can start gathering the timber."

The raven-haired man's scowl moved back in place as he shook out of his reverie even before Kurapika had managed to finish delivering the last remnants of his speech. Nobody ordered him around, not even the demented Hisoka had the guts to do so.

"Now wait just a damn minute here—" he started before checking his use of words.

Kurapika's cheerfully deceptive voice dripped with barely concealed sarcasm coated in honey, "I'm the one making dinner, aren't I?"

"…"

"Break a leg." And with that, the blonde pulled himself out of the mud and slime concoction he was immersed in and sauntered off into the nearby stream.

The Spider leader could only glare at the blonde's retreating back as he stood immobile above the leafy branches of the sturdy tree he was positioned in.

"One more thing, you could also use a bath. A long one."

As if to rub it in his face, a firemoth2 started buzzing around him—which caused another darkening of the aura surrounding him. The poor insect didn't stand a chance, as it ungracefully did a spiral nosedive into the pool of mud Kurapika had recently abandoned.

An eyelid twitched visibly on Kuroro's face as he glared at the empty space under him while he fought the sudden urge to bang his head on the bark of the tree he was currently clinging on.

So much for getting back at him, the blonde was definitely a stubby thorn to any revenge-seeker's backside.

------------------------------------------

Kuroro had decided he wouldn't hold a grudge anymore, but it was easier said than done.

Good heavens, the blonde was grating on his nerves. Nearly a month in his stay with them at the warehouse, he'd already managed to get everyone's backs up, get under Nobunaga's skin so thoroughly that were any insane being cross the path between them, they'd be signing their own death contracts. Half a day into travel with him, Kurapika had already managed to break down nearly every colossal wall Kuroro had barricaded up around his heart, and as of now, he wasn't even sure if he wanted to do anything about it at all.

The both of them had indulged into a well-deserved scrubbing for the past hour by the nearby stream, and though they weren't exactly model material upon drying up, they looked a whole lot better than being covered in a thick coating of dried mud and grime while they traipsed across the rough woods.

The two had worked in companionable silence after their lengthy bath, with Kurapika prodding the starting embers of the fire as he finished buttoning up the sleeve of his forest green turtleneck while Kuroro shrugged on a clean pair of black denim trousers.

One good thing about the abilities he had managed to 'learn' was that one of them allowed him to store a truckload of spare clothing during long journeys travelled by foot—courtesy of one weak, but conveniently handy Injuu.

By the time the raven-haired Spider head had finished tugging down a clean, snowy-white shirt over his torso, his blonde companion had already started skinning their so-called dinner near the bonfire he'd started and was halfway done gutting out the poor creature's intestines.

And somehow, the ever-resourceful Kurapika had decided to make the best out of the provisions Kuroro had courteously provided for him. Though it wasn't much of a pretty sight, it looked a hell of a lot better than Coltopi's haphazard mop of tangled hair.

"I imagine that would be our dinner," he asked, deadpanned, as he stared at the unappetizing meal distastefully.

The blonde only gave him a shrug and continued stirring the yellow-brown concoction he'd managed to whip up with the less-than-edible ingredients he'd been entrusted with. He still hadn't gotten over the fact that the Spider leader managed to wheedle out that much information about the Kuruta tribe out of him when he practically swore he'd snuff out the very life out of the accursed man if he'd even dared to breathe one single word about his tribe again.

Kuroro's train of thought wasn't exactly pleasant either, but it was a hell of a lot more optimistic than his companion's, as his wasn't exactly harbouring the possibility of knocking the living daylights out of anyone in particular—although he was contemplating throttling his mule-headed companion into oblivion just for the heck of it. Out of a corner of his eye, he's suffered through the ordeal of carrying on an entire monologue only without so much as to receive an ambiguous grunt in response. So, he'd decided to use the silent treatment on him. Fine, he could deal with that, as he'd dealt out a few rounds of those himself.

Kuroro, sensing the blonde's telltale irritation, decided to keep silent for the moment. After all, he wasn't an idiot who invited a tongue-lashing just for the heck of it. And besides, the aroma of the simmering pot of last-minute-thrown-together stew didn't smell that bad, only if you ignored the fact that it looked more like horse manure mixed with a hefty helping of the remnants of a pigsty than a full-course meal.

"Dig in," Kurapika muttered silently as he scooped up a hefty portion of their dinner with a makeshift spoon made out of bamboo and heaped it on a similar form of cup before holding it out for Kuroro—who took the extended cup in silence.

"Cheers," the blonde's conversational partner murmured as he bravely shoveled down the less-than-appetizing ingredients of his evening meal, hoping that he'll live through the gruesome ordeal.

The blonde sighed almost inaudibly as he mirrored his companion's actions.

And very nearly wished the rest of the Spiders were suffering a hell of a lot worse than what he was experiencing now.

(To be continued…)

-----------------------------------------------

Glossary:

1 a name of a tree … that I made up of course! (sorry, my 'creative' mind is not being productive right now, that's why I ended up with such a lousy name)

2 another made-up insect, just imagine a ping-pong sized firefly glowing red instead of its usual color

-----------------------------------------------

Notes: (avoids several sharp, pointed objects thrown) TT Hontou maji ni moushi wake arimasen! I'm terribly sorry for ignoring BP for all these months (cringes) if you go through the horror these past few months have been for me, I'm sure you'd understand. I've got NINE bloody seminars to prepare for and coordinate within one month… talk about living hell. Xx

Gomen nasai! (cringes) Sad to say, but this tardiness in updates will definitely be happening for a long, long time (or worse, maybe forever). My job's a killer… it demands about at least 15 hours a day from me as I go to work starting 6 in the morning and get home around 9 in the evening as the earliest… not counting the time I get up and my late night-ups doing take-home work. In simpler terms, I'm half dead, a zombie and a vampire at the least, and my brain cells aren't doing any better either (they're probably in dire need of oxygen by now).

I suspect this is worse than a full-blown case of writer's block, as I can't even drum up the energy of prying my eyes open when I get home, much less open this darn computer and start typing the next instalments. Gomen ne, but you could say… I'll be taking ages to finish what I'm writing… working in a Japanese government agency just plain kills a normal human being, these Nihonjin certainly aren't normal, I just hope they could spare one measly life… preferably mine.

This chapter's focusing solely on Kurapika and Kuroro… as you can see. I'll try to work on the rest of the cast for the upcoming…uh… hopefully, months and not years as what I've done for this chapter. TT Oh, and please read the companion fic entitled Arachnophobia, it's just plain humor set sometime between chapters two and three of BP. You'll see some of the implied pairings I'll be delving further on in future updates on Blood Pact.

I'm currently addicted to Saiyuki Reload's second ending theme, Fukisusabu Kaze no Naka de and Gunlock's opening Don't look back again. I mean it, literally… I practically played it over and over again the entire time I was working on this chapter. Let's just say… if you encounter a hopelessness case of LSS—that would be me.

----------------------------------------------------

Response to Reviews:

Many thanks to all my reviewers, especially to those who've added to me their favorites list! Hontou ni arigatou gozaimasu! I don't have the time to list all of you down, since…uhm… you guys are quite a number. I never thought BP would earn so much reviews… :) Sankyuu!

I'd also like to express my sincerest gratitude to Night-Owl123-san, mistressKC-san, kurapy-san, the simple mind-san, Vanice-san, and kuroro12-san for keeping up with my umm… lack of updates. ; Please don't horsewhip me for keeping you all waiting… (bows) Gomen nasai!

A bountiful truckload of thanks to Klappy-san, who has been in correspondence with me for quite some time, and who also contributed a lot of encouragement to the continuity of this godforsaken fic… I'm really glad to have gotten to know you better. Another bucket of thanks for the anime e-cards you've sent me, it really touches me that for someone who've just met a virtual stranger, you'd spend so much time dedicating encouraging e-cards to me, more so keeping in touch with me despite my uh… lack of communication. Sankyuu!

Lady CC Kagehoshi-san, thank you so much for reading my work and I'm really glad you liked it, it makes me ridiculously happy to know that you actually got you hooked into reading my fic. I do hope it will also inspire you to read other wonderful HxH fanfics out there, and I also hope that after reading this chapter, you won't be severely disappointed. I'm going to admit, I wasn't exactly what you could call 'inspired' while I was working on this chapter, but I do hope you've enjoyed reading it.

Delton-Ruu-san, thank you for the review, I must say I'm really short on words for now. Your praise got my brain cells all tied up into knots, let's just say I'm already threatening to indulge in a much deserved bout of gloating… but I'm duty-bound to suppress it as of now because as you've noticed… I'm driven myself up a solid wall of perdition finishing up this chapter! I do hope you'll still think highly of me after you've read this one. ; I'm not even sure if I was still in the right state of mind while I was writing this out… oh well. Thank you for putting up with me.

I'm truly sorry if I'm no longer able to acknowledge my gratitude to all of your reviews in detail, but this is the life of a part-time pathetic fanfic writer and a full-time corporate employee. It's a goddamn killer to any sane person's social life. (bawls) Please keep those reviews coming! I'd really, really appreciate it if you wonderful readers could take a few minutes of your time to hit that review button below and start listing down your comments.

Thank you for the lot of you who reviewed the comedy sidefic entitled Arachnophobia, it's really swell that you all liked it. At first I wasn't sure about how all of you would react to it though, and for a while there, I was certain I'd already misplaced my sanity. What am I saying? I've already lost it a long, long time ago! Glad to see insanity's contagious. I sure could use a good laugh… that's why I ended up writing that first instead of chapter six of BP (I want to slowly mutilate my boss).

And so, for those who demanded chapter six of Blood Pact, I've already answered the summons. Just bear with the lousiness of this chapter, I'll try to make it up on chapter seven—which I'm working on right now… and hopefully, will be able to finish.

I'm running out of ideas and time here so I need all the encouragement I can get. I can't believe it's already received 598 hits at the latest count, although I'm really disappointed in the lack of reviews, since I really, really need it. :(

But still, thanks a lot, guys, for supporting me until now, even when my tardiness is getting a bit out of hand.

Whew. (pant) There, I'm done ranting, so you can all go back to work, as what I'm doing right now. (forced smile)