Series: Hunter X Hunter
Title: The Game
Rating: PG
Pairing/ Characters: Leorio/Kurapika, Leorio/Neon
Word Count: 1545
Warning/s: You should know who Neon is. That's about it. Um… angst.
Disclaimer: Yeah. If only I were rich.
AN: My first Hunter x Hunter one-shot, and it's Leopika? My god, what am I thinking.

Ludicrous. It was absolutely ludicrous. They did not fit each other, you see. They were not meant to be.

Kurapika did not know exactly how they had met. Undoubtedly, however, it had been because of some foolish action of his; they were only tied together through him, after all. Maybe at a party, one of those ridiculously formal events, or when Leorio had been visiting.

He could not fault Leorio. Leorio had always been emotionally weak, and easily swayed by young, pretty females.

Pretty. Yes, Kurapika would acknowledge that much. He wasn't that far gone, yet.

But it was such a horrible match. Because Leorio was completely and impossible in love with Neon. And Neon was only bored.

Kurapika's bishop moved forward, and Neon took it with her rook. Kurapika retaliated, taking her second knight.

"I'm surprised you know how to play," Neon commented glibly, inching a pawn forward. "You don't seem the type for games."

Kurapika only nodded, not insulted because she was not smart enough to insult. He matched her pawn with one of his own, thinking logic.

She paused, hand hovering over her rook, and drew her eyes up to his. There was no mocking joy in them, no emotion of any sort as she spoke.

"You love him, don't you?" Forward. "Check."

Kurapika wanted to pretend he had no idea who she was talking about. He moved his knight to block, keeping his voice calm.

"I do not make attachments."

She takes his knight quickly, not needing to think. Her hands move swiftly, manipulating the pieces as if she can read his next move. "Liar. I see the way you glance at him, when you think no one is looking. You've always loved him."

Kurapika is silent. He moves a pawn; there is not much else he can do.

Neon plays her rook again, sliding sideways. "Check. He's just another one, you know. Someone new to pass the time with. He's much like you, only you're paid."

This time it's his queen he must sacrifice, but he has to protect the king.

"I think he loves me," she drones on, and Kurapika reminds himself that he is dead inside. That what Leorio does is not his business. That there is no reason to feel hurt, when Neon couldn't physically hurt his if her life depended on it.

"Checkmate," she slays the queen, and by the rules, she has won. And, stupidly, Kurapika feels like he is losing So Much More than a silly board game. He almost feels like crying, or at the very least, strangling something. Someone.

She reads him well. "Relax, it's just a game," she soothes, but does not intend to reassure him.

He reminds himself that she is his employer, and that despite her wretched existence, he cannot slit her throat. But he thinks that he just might hate her.

Kurapika wants to tell Leorio that she does not care. He wants to tell him that to her, it is just entertainment.

He can't do it, in the end. Because Leorio, the fool, is just too happy. And who is Kurapika to shatter that happiness?

"He still loves me," Neon says, and she is drinking a cup of tea. There is a steaming cup in front of Kurapika, too, but it is untouched. "He does; technically, you lost a long time ago. Just give up, it's too late for another game."

"I know he doesn't love me," Kurapika says, his voice calm and heavy. "It doesn't matter if he doesn't love me. It's not something that will change anything."

She quirks an eyebrow, sipping daintily, and Kurapika wishes spitefully that she would burn her tongue. "Then why are you still here?"

"I am still in your employ," Kurapika replies immediately, like an answering machine. But they both know the words are hollow.

Kurapika waits because there is little else that he can do.

It would be unfair to call the situation a fight, or a struggle.

Kurapika is not a real competitor, after all.

Sometimes he wonders if it might be a good thing. Leorio is happy, after all, and Neon at least seems willing to keep up the charade.

But then why, as he gazes upon them, does he feel such a sense of impending doom?

Surely it could not completely be due to the fact that his heart feels like it is slowly eroding away.

Leorio's smiles kept his quiet.

Kurapika is a spirit, a ghost. He floats around Neon and Leorio, not truly visible. This way, nothing he does will really have any effect. He is a formality. His presence only wards off Leorio's questions. Because if Kurapika leaves, Leorio will ask why, and Kurapika is not sure he can lie.

He is more afraid that Neon, when asked, will tell the truth.

Kurapika is a ghost, so although he sees and understands everything, he cannot speak.

She's not doing much of anything, this time, just sitting on the couch, hands folded demurely in her lap. She's not so gentle, Kurapika thinks, despite all appearances. A little smarter, yes, but still so childishly greedy.

If she had been anyone else, then a man like Leorio would surely have softened her. But she is Neon, and she will not be changed.

"I'll make a deal with you," Neon says, her voice soft, because she is used to being cared for. "Anything you want," she promises.

Anything. Kurapika knows she is just bored, but still the word rings enticingly in his ears. Anything. And with that, millions of suppressed what-ifs are allowed to bubble to the surface. A moment of weakness, and Kurapika almost believes that things will turn out alright for him.

Anything. Leorio's novelty, to Neon, must have worn think. Expired. And she wanted a new game to play. And Kurapika wanted to give her one so much, to give her anything so that this cruel masquerade would not continue.

No. Never.

"My salary is already sufficient," Kurapika answers to her offer, but they both know that is not what she is talking about. "A raise will not be necessary."

She is still for a moment, and then unwinds herself, flowing gracefully off the couch and towards him, a wraith. Her arms encircle his neck weakly and she smiles, coyly. She leans in and giggles: airy, ridiculous giggles. Kurapika does not flinch, but feels his skin crawling, as if she were something unclean.

She is.

Neon rests her chin on his shoulder, and whispers. "I means about saving him. He will get hurt, you know," she exhales, a tiny puff of breath.

"Aren't you supposed to be smart?" And Neon unwraps him, flows out of the room.

Isn't he?

"She cries around me," Leorio says pathetically. "How can I make her stop?"

Kurapika does not have the heart to tell him that Neon cries around everyone, and that her tears are worthless. That they do not make him special.

Kurapika can only move his pawn.

"Check," he hears a phantom voice call.

He shields the king.


He sacrifices the queen.


One more move – will it really matter in the end?


He is of so little substance that Kurapika believes that he can see right through his own hand, and into the future.

Checkmate, and he has lost. But he is not defeated.

"You could always quit, you know," Neon says to him, half of her attention caught in a book. "I would probably let him go if you did."

There is a sort of ironic truth to that; to Neon, it is not Leorio who fascinates her, but Kurapika's reactions. If Kurapika were to give up completely, then she would no longer have use for Leorio, and she would leave.

A choice that haunted. Leorio would be devastated if she were to leave. But would drawing out something so pointless actually be better? And as it was, Kurapika could not stand much more.

That was not it. That could not be it. It wasn't a solution at all. There is a reason, remember the reason. The Crimson Eyes. The Crimson Eyes. He must remember the Crimson Eyes. That was his original goal, and Leorio would not be enough distraction. The Crimson Eyes.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.


Kurapika does not quit, despite all logic.

Leorio's not blissfully happy, now, as he once was. Neon's cracking, in small ways. Not enough to break to mask, only enough to chip the porcelain.

He's been watching for two years now, and it's a pity that he hasn't completely faded away. Kurapika is so tired of caring, but he can't bring himself to stop. Because Leorio's stayed constant all the while, even though Neon's warped parts of him into cold cruelty. A contradiction, but Leorio's smiles are the same, even if his eyes are darker.

It had always been the smiles. His downfall lay in the smiles.

It's ok. Kurapika knew that this game, Neon's game, would be vicious. Love it a trap. But Kurapika is no fool, and he won't fall for the same trick twice.

Kurapika is there when Leorio falls.

He catches him, but does not care if Leorio is hurt. Because Kurapika was hurt before, and he knows wounds will heal.