Chapter 3: The most tangled of all motives

"Hello, Illumi. Missed me?"

Illumi's face remained impassive at Hisoka's greeting. That's good, Illumi, he told himself. Remain calm, act your normal self so he won't suspect anything. He was doing a good job of it until Hisoka sat on the couch that Machi had recently vacated. Illumi winced, remembering the less than pleasant task before him.

"Want anything to drink?" Illumi knew he was stalling for time but Hisoka came straight to the point.

"Where's my fiancée?"

"You sure you don't want anything to drink? Anyway, I'll just fix you up a screwdriver." Then before Illumi could stop himself, he said, "I certainly need one."

Hisoka raised an eyebrow mockingly, "My, my, you certainly seem agitated." Illumi suddenly thought of making up a story of how he wasn't feeling well when Hisoka persisted. "Where is Biscuit, Illumi?"

"Oh, she's probably with Machi," Illumi said a little airily as he gave Hisoka his drink. Then thought that after all, it wasn't a lie, Machi was probably with Biscuit now. That is, if Machi can fly at a 100 miles an hour.

"Ah yes, the ever reliable Machi." Illumi's eyebrows rose at the mockery in Hisoka's tone. "What a good friend of mine she turned out to be. Biscuit has told me all the good things Machi had said about me."

Illumi frowned at his friend's sarcasm. Of course he knew that Hisoka had less than sterling qualities but he wasn't mean and ungrateful. Besides, this was his own idea after all.

"I suppose Machi is helping Biscuit with the wedding flowers and what color to pick for the gown," Hisoka said in the same sarcastic tone as he swirled the contents of the drink in his hand. "Who knew Machi could be this accommodating?"

Illumi now scowled at Hisoka. "I know you have a defective personality my friend," he said matching Hisoka's tone, "But what is your problem? You were the one who put her up to this." Then knowing that this was better dealt with sooner or later, he added, "Alright, do you really want to know where Biscuit is right now? She's on an airship eloping with somebody else, and really, no one can blame her if you ask me. But hopefully, Machi is now with them."

Illumi was slightly surprised when Hisoka just smiled albeit a little nastily, "Ah, so the truth comes out. I must say, Machi has lost her touch. She should have helped Biscuit flee earlier rather than wait for me to come here."

Illumi shook his head and said in a dangerous voice, "You should be a lot nicer to Machi. Your distrust of her is really uncalled for after all the things she did for you." Hisoka just shrugged. Illumi now calmly sipped his drink as he added in a flat but chiding tone, "If you must know, Machi is stopping that elopement and hopes to bring Biscuit back to you!"

Hisoka bolted upright in his seat just as one of the servants knocked and peered inside the room. "Forgive me for the intrusion, master Illumi," the young footman said, "But Miss Machi has called and requests that you come to her house immediately."

Illumi frowned but nodded. The footman however, had something else to say, "Erm, Miss Biscuit is also out in the hall now and she has someone with her." The young servant bowed before going out of the room.

Hisoka had already stood up and was about to also leave when Illumi stopped him. "Not so fast. I advise you to calm yourself first before confronting your fiancée."

"Who said I was going to talk to Biscuit?" Hisoka retorted, his face like a thundercloud.

"Huh? Then where are you going?"

"I'm going to see that little witch, Machi," Hisoka darkly said as he reached the door then he told Illumi before closing the door behind him, "Do something right this time and see to Biscuit and her friend."

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Machi sat a little wearily. She was back in her own living room after making sure Biscuit and Wing were on their way back to the Zoaldyeck mansion. She had made a mad dash to the airfield after Illumi told her about the elopement. She had been willing to charter her own airship just so she could get to Biscuit in time but it seemed that the gods above sensed her predicament and were quite willing to help her.

Machi had found Biscuit and Wing in the airfield and the two were arguing. It turned out that Biscuit had told Wing that Hisoka had broken off the engagement so she was free to marry him. Unluckily for Biscuit (but luckily for Machi), one of the passengers knew her as Illumi's guest and the fiancée of his friend. She had congratulated Biscuit and so Wing, realizing that Biscuit was lying, refused to board the airship with her. They were arguing the matter when Machi found them.

She had taken one look at Wing and knew at once that he was an honorable man. Machi had a hard time convincing Biscuit to return and face Hisoka but Wing also helped her. He was quite willing to bring Biscuit back personally and apologize to Hisoka if necessary about the misunderstanding. Biscuit, knowing she was outnumbered, finally gave in but threatened that nothing was going to stop her breaking off the engagement if Hisoka still acted lukewarm towards her.

Machi rubbed her temples. Well, she had done the best she could. It was up to Hisoka if he wanted to win back his fiancée. I hope Illumi gets here quickly so I could coach him on what to do to persuade Hisoka to be cooperative, Machi thought. She stood up, about to get a cup of coffee, when the doors to the living room suddenly swung open with a crash.

"Hisoka! You're here?!?"

"Yes and quite a bit late too," Hisoka informed her nastily as he took a threatening step towards her.

Machi stiffened and crossed her arms, "What are you talking about?" Then she unbended a little, "Oh, alright. There was a slight problem but I don't know why you have to blame me. Biscuit was feeling just a little insecure and I hope you've already talked to her."

"No, she's back in the mansion but I still haven't seen her."

"Then that's just as well with your odd mood." Machi proceeded to coldly lecture Hisoka. "I don't know what game you're playing but I've done the best I could. As I've told you, Biscuit is just feeling a little insecure. She apparently thinks that you don't care for her the way a fiancée should and to tell you frankly, I can't blame her if she chooses Wing over you. Anyway, I've managed to convince her that your being this… unnaturally cool towards her could only mean that you're quite serious this time."

Hisoka bowed his head and covered his face with his hands so Machi added more kindly. "I think she's willing to give you a second chance. She's really quite an affectionate girl, Hisoka and I think if you just act more thoughtfully towards her, everything will be alright." Hisoka still stayed silent so Machi continued although she didn't know why a lump was forming in her throat, "Gomen, but that's the best I can do. I do hope you settle this alright."

"Aaaaargh!" Hisoka suddenly cried clutching his hair then demanded angrily, "What do you have in that beautiful head of yours? Cotton balls?!?"

Machi was stunned, "E-…Excuse me?"

"Gah!" Hisoka cried out angrily then he began to pace the floor gesticulating wildly with his hands. "How could you be this unpredictable?!! Chotto matte! Maybe you did this on purpose!"

Machi frowned in confusion as Hisoka continued his tirade. "I only had this one favor to ask you, Machi. Just this one but no, you just had to fail me!"

"What are you talking about?!?" Machi was now sufficiently bewildered to ask.

Hisoka glaringly faced her, hands on his hips. "As if you didn't know! I purposely sent Biscuit to you so you could discourage her from marrying me. If there was one woman I know who could successfully convince any girl that marrying me was the biggest mistake of her life, it was you!"

"I did all I could so she would have second thoughts but what did you do?!" Hisoka demanded as he resumed his angry pacing, "You praised me to her! You gave me virtues that you knew I didn't possess! Generous? Kind? Helpful? Me?!! What were you thinking?!?"

Machi had been still all the while Hisoka ranted at her but she now managed to also demand angrily, "Do you mean to say that you sent Biscuit to me so I could help her break off her engagement to you?!? Are you insane? Oh wait, stupid question."

Hisoka glared at her but Machi was now also angry at him but she tried to ask calmly even as she rubbed her aching forehead, "Then tell me, just tell me this. Why did you even ask her to marry you?"

Hisoka threw up his hands in exasperation and replied brusquely, "Why do you think? You were marrying Illumi. My best friend, nonetheless. And I had to marry somebody…anybody…eventually. Biscuit was the one available when I decided."

"What?!?" Machi cried in complete bewilderment. "You were going to marry Biscuit because I was… I was going to marry Illumi?!? We're not even engaged! Much less dating!"

Hisoka managed to look a little ashamed although he still scowled at her. "Yeah well, you know that's the problem with living in a town like Kukuru Mt. Gossip has a way of…" he shrugged and continued, "Anyway, three reliable sources had told me that you and Illumi were engaged."

Machi could instantly guess who they were. Kororo had visited once in the spring while Feitan and Shizuku had made a brief stop in Kukuru Mt. before going on their honeymoon last month. Machi shook her head, who knew that her friends were actually gullible to gossip.

Hisoka had his hands in his pockets and was contemplating the floor as he explained, "It was only when I met Killua in the city that I found out that it was only gossip and nothing more. By then however, I was already engaged to Biscuit."

"So knowing Illumi and I aren't really engaged, you sent Biscuit to me so I could help you become unengaged to her?" Machi asked disbelievingly. "I know this might be logical to you but most of us don't share your way of thinking so could you just please tell me…" her voice was rising in anger so she calmed herself before continuing, "…just tell me…what the he-…whatever for?!?"

"Aaaaahhh!" Hisoka cried again in exasperation and suddenly grabbed Machi's shoulders. From his expression, she knew that he badly wanted to shake her. "Are you really this dumb? Or do you just enjoy torturing me?!?"

Machi's face registered angry confusion so Hisoka collected himself although he didn't let go of her shoulders. He explained in a bitter tone, "I would have married Biscuit if it had been true that you and Illumi were getting married. But you're not so I had to get rid of her without being called an ungentleman." Machi was about to retort but Hisoka didn't let her, "You know perfectly well I wouldn't make her a good husband but I was going to try. But now, knowing you were free, I won't even attempt it."

Hisoka slowly pulled Machi to him and asked harshly, "Why did you do it?"

She roughly pushed him away, "What do you mean why? You may have had this twisted plan of proposing to any random, poor girl then indirectly dumping her but all I thought about was how I didn't want you to get jilted again. I was actually trying to avoid letting you get hurt…a momentary lapse of judgment, believe me. And you…you…," Machi's voice trailed off then she averted her face coldly and crossed her arms.

Hisoka smiled slowly as he took a step towards her, "Actually, what I meant was why didn't you even try to stop the rumors about you and Illumi?" Machi didn't reply but neither did she move away as Hisoka put his arms around her, "You let it spread knowing that it'll reach my ears sooner or later. You knew that and I believe you were counting on it. Why? So you could continue tormenting me, huh, you little witch."

Hisoka playfully ducked as Machi took a swing at him then she informed him coolly, "I don't know what you're implying but don't bother fooling me. You were actually relieved that I broke off our engagement."

Hisoka shook his head as he pulled Machi closer. "No, I wasn't." He told her a little less harshly, "I swore to myself that day you broke up with me that never again will I let you have that power over me. I promised myself that even if it was you, never would I come crawling, kneeling or begging you to take me back."

Machi looked up at him with a raised eyebrow, "Really? And what would you call this?" she asked dryly.

Hisoka chuckled as he said, "But I'm not crawling, kneeling or begging now, am I?" He ducked again as Machi tried to hit him again.

They were in this playful mood when somebody coughed for attention.

"I see, so this was your plan all along, wonder why I hadn't guessed," Illumi commented dryly as he surveyed them. He leaned easily at the doorway. "So do you mind telling me what you're going to say to your soon-to-be-ex-fiancée, Hisoka?"

"Oh no, Biscuit," Machi said as she struggled to escape from Hisoka's embrace. He didn't let her and he addressed Illumi cheerfully, "Don't worry. I'll come and assure her that she won't be expected to spend the rest of her life with me. I'm sure she'll be greatly relieved to hear that."

Illumi smiled wryly then Hisoka added slyly, "I seem to have given you some troubles, my friend. But don't worry, I'll properly compensate you for that."

"Ah, good. You'll receive the bill from me tomorrow."

Hisoka laughed, "Oh, but I'm not thinking of monetary compensation. Seeing that you're going to be my best man, I would have to return the favor and be your best man too." Illumi's eyebrows rose. "And you don't have to exert any effort, none at all. I already have someone in mind." Hisoka grinned enigmatically.

Illumi was about to retort when he saw Hisoka turn to Machi again. He hastily exited the room and made his way out of the house. Blech! But he didn't really care to see any displays of affection, he left all that to his amorous friend. I won't let that happen to me, Illumi stoutly assured himself. Then properly assured, he whistled 'Love is All Around Me' as he made his way home.

- O W A R U -

A/N: See? Really short and I finally got it out of my head. And Prizz-chan, hope you liked it!

Hmmm, as I think about it, I could have made this a sequel to 'A Hunter's Love Story'. But anyway, if only Hisoka wasn't psychotic, crazed and trisexual, and an anime character too, I would be really happy, heheh. I would also be happy for your reviews, comments or reactions. +wink, wink+

(trisexual: tries anything once)