Part Two

"Unbelievable! Now he and Gon are dancing. And he had the nerve to make fun of me for asking you!"

Kurapika glanced over his shoulder. He supposed one could call what Gon and Killua were doing dancing, if one was in a generous mood. They were so enthused about it that everyone in the vicinity was giving them a wide berth to avoid being hit by a stray elbow or foot. They actually shouldn't have even been in this club, being underage, but Hunter licenses and intimidating expressions could work wonders.

Kurapika shrugged and turned back to Leorio. The two of them were dancing in a much calmer and more normal fashion. Kurapika had been planning on holing up in a corner once they finally arrived at a dinner club Leorio found suitable--feasting and dancing, after all, being the evening's agenda--but after awhile had given up resistance and let himself be swept along by Leorio's antics, enjoying the foolery. Leorio had been most adamant that the bringer of spring had to dance, or the whole celebration would need to be redone. Killua'd had much to say on the subject.

"You know Killua's not really teasing you," Kurapika commented, giving the younger two another glance.

"What else do you call that?! He was snickering and saying I should just take you back to the hotel and--"

"Oh Leorio, isn't it obvious?" Kurapika interrupted impatiently, turning his full attention back to him. "Irritating you is just a bonus right now. What Killua really wants is to see how Gon reacts to the thought of two men being together."

That distracted Leorio from his indignation. "Gon?" He looked at Kurapika appraisingly.

Kurapika shrugged. "Well, what do you expect? They're sixteen. And their attachment to each other hasn't lessened over the years; if anything, I'd say it's gotten stronger. It's sort of inevitable at this point." Thoughtfully, he added, "It's a shame that Gon's the bold one, because he still seems clueless and I think Killua's starting to pine for him. But I'm sure Gon will catch up to him soon."

Leorio was momentarily speechless at this concise summation of his friends' relationship. He looked over Kurapika's shoulder, watching them, clearly deep in thought.

Kurapika let him think. He had his own thinking to do, about the day's events and about something he had to say that he really, truly, wished he didn't have to. Most of the time he managed to get along with Leorio on the basis of teasing and irritation and competitiveness, and it was so much easier that way than acknowledging the deeper feelings that were so rarely spoken of. Having to say something sincere made it--harder. Harder to ignore. He hoped he could get through it quickly.

"I think you're right," Leorio said suddenly, effectively derailing Kurapika's train of thought. He gave Gon and Killua one more look, and then snickered. "Oh, am I ever going to get back at Killua..."

"Don't," Kurapika said sharply. "Don't make it any harder on him."

"But he made fun of me!"

"The number of things you've done today that can be made fun of, Leorio, and you're complaining that he did so once?"

Leorio wilted slightly, and didn't answer. It made Kurapika furious that he felt guilty. Just say it and get it over with, he told himself furiously. "Leorio?"

Leorio blinked at the sudden uncertainty in Kurapika's voice. "Hm?"

"Ah--" Kurapika looked away and lowered his voice slightly, but he knew it was still loud enough to be clear to Leorio. "Thank you."

Leorio didn't say anything. Kurapika glanced back and found himself the subject of an intent and inquiring look. He shrugged awkwardly. "What you--I mean, today was--nice," he admitted softly. He looked away again quickly, fully aware he was blushing and wishing dancing was more difficult so he could justify focusing more of his attention on it. "I've never--I haven't celebrated anything since my people died. And even though you were acting like an idiot and embarrassing me I know you were doing it to make me laugh and I--appreciate it." Not good enough--tell him what you're thinking. "I think," Kurapika added quietly, determinedly looking elsewhere, "that it might be the most anyone's ever gone out of their way to be nice to me."

Kurapika could feel how intently Leorio was looking at him, but didn't look back. "Are you trying to say," Leorio said after a long pause, sounding amused at Kurapika's predicament, "that it's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you?"

So cliché--but something only became cliché if it held an element of truth. "Yes, I am," Kurapika said defiantly, finally meeting Leorio's eyes and daring him to laugh.

Leorio seemed torn between glee at Kurapika's embarrassment and sincere emotion in response to his statement. He didn't speak. The tension mounted until Kurapika found himself speaking rapidly to cut through it. "I mean, you really ran with it. I was fighting you the whole time and you didn't have to do it or anything but you kept going, and it's not something most people would have done, and I know I have a temper and it took guts to do it and to keep doing it and--"

Leorio laid a finger over Kurapika's lips in a "hush" gesture; Kurapika blinked. "You're welcome," Leorio said simply.

Kurapika continued blinking at him. "You spend so much time sad," Leorio elaborated. His tone was both gentler and more genuine than Kurapika usually heard it. "I thought it might make you happy."

And that was that. The boy had jumped through seventeen kinds of hoops and made idiots out of all of them on the off chance it would make him happy. Kurapika looked at him wordlessly. It was Leorio's turn to flush. "Can I say something serious?" he asked awkwardly.

Kurapika nodded. Leorio fidgeted for a moment, readjusting his glasses and his tie, before taking a breath and looking Kurapika straight in the eye. "It's just--I've been thinking about it. And--well, from the moment I met you you've been focused on revenge. On killing for your people. I just wondered if you ever considered living for them instead."

Kurapika stared at him blankly. Leorio seemed to be bracing himself for some sort of explosion of temper. He was not prepared for it when Kurapika suddenly moved forward and kissed him.

Leorio came up from the kiss spluttering and wearing an expression of extreme bewilderment. The bewilderment only increased when Kurapika's first words were a fierce, "I hate you." Kurapika's fingers were digging so deeply into his shoulders that he might, indeed, have been trying to kill him. "I really do," Kurapika continued, his voice full of emotion. "You pretend to be stupid and you act so irritating and immature and then you just say things like that to me and--"

Kurapika could not find the words to continue explaining Leorio's offenses, so he kissed him again, more fiercely. Leorio was better prepared for the second kiss and thus able to return it with enough intensity to make up for his shock during the first one. In fact, he returned it with so much intensity that they stopped dancing, and had begun garnering stares before they were able to pull back from each other long enough to agree it was time to get off the dance floor.

"Ow! Gon, that was my foot!"

Gon was staring over Killua's shoulder, a wondering expression on his face. "Leorio and Kurapika are kissing," he noted.

Killua whipped his head around. Leorio and Kurapika were indeed kissing. Rather deeply. And intensely. Killua was surprised by own reaction: envy. Envy, sweeping through his body and then settling painfully in the pit of his stomach.

Gon laughed. Killua looked back at him, again so fast he might have gotten whiplash. "I'm happy for them," Gon explained simply, smiling.

"You think Kurapika's drunk?" Killua offered, trying to make light of things.

"No," Gon said, with the kind of amused affection Killua had recently noticed him using when he thought Killua was being cute or clueless. Privately, Killua thought Gon had no business ever thinking of anyone else as cute or clueless. "I think they've always liked each other a lot. I'm glad they're letting themselves do something about it."

"Do they have to do something about it in front of us?"

"They're going outside," Gon said, with a nod over Killua's shoulder. "And anyway, why does it bother you?"

CaughtTime for evasion."I guess it doesn't. I just like making fun of them."

Gon smiled. "I know. You're happy for them too, right?"

"Right," Killua said vaguely.

They subsided into silence after that--comfortable silence, for they had spent long enough in each other's company that they didn't really need to talk. Killua was suffering a mild state of shock. Of course he'd been aware of Kurapika and Leorio's attraction to each other--if he'd been unobservant enough to not notice something that obvious, he would have been dead long ago--but he had never thought they would act on it. And thinking that had given him a sense of security. Or perhaps justification was a better word. If those two, who were older and more experienced, couldn't manage to admit their attraction, then it was alright for Killua and Gon to stay the way they were. The way they'd always been. After all, Killua could remember when he hadn't harbored these kinds of feelings, so maybe it was supposed to be that way... of course, he had been twelve...

It wasn't just the status quo that made Killua reluctant to act. Part of him knew that Gon would never leave him, over anything--that had been proven over the years. But another part, that spoke in voices other than his own, knew with equal certainty that he did not deserve Gon's friendship. Making anything past friendship a moot point.

And yet... it was a silly thing to push it over the edge... but he couldn't cope with the thought of being less brave than Leorio. Leorio, of all people.

"Killua? Are you alright?"

Killua looked at Gon contemplatively. Gon looked back, radiating anxiety--apparently Killua was radiating "I Am Having Deep Thoughts" just as strongly. Caution's never gotten you anything worth having, Killua reminded himself. "Gon?"

"Yeah?" Gon looked even more anxious; Killua's voice had come out as an uncertain squeak.

Killua cleared his throat, trying to get a handle on his vocal chords. "Ah..." Gon just kept looking at him, eyes wide. "Ah... wanna try something?"


He didn't ask what it was--was that trust, or concern? Killua cleared his throat again. "I... I want to, ah..."

Gon looked at him expectantly, raising his eyebrows slightly. But the vocal chords Killua had been trying to reign in suddenly failed him completely; he couldn't even get air through his throat, much less shape it into words. Was there any way to back out now? Coward.

Killua had learned, over the years, a technique for stopping his thought processes completely when he was about to do something unsavory, so he wouldn't have to live through it. He took advantage of that technique now, not because the task ahead was unpleasant but because he knew he didn't have the guts. He stopped thinking, leaned forward, and kissed Gon, not particularly tentatively.

Gon kissed him back. Simply, and gently--there was no hesitation to it, but neither was there the bubbling over passion of someone who's been pleasantly surprised. Like they had kissed every day of their lives. Killua pulled back and looked at him, still as frightened as he'd ever been, and Gon regarded him with the same mildly inquisitive look he'd had before they kissed.

Killua waited. And waited. Until he grew angry. "Well?" he finally demanded.

"Well what?"

The genuine puzzlement with which he said that was unfathomable. "...I just kissed you!"

"Uh-huh." Gon continued to look at him curiously.


Gon gave a faint, apologetic smile. "Well what?"

How was it possible to go so quickly from wanting to kiss someone to wanting to kill them? "Did you like it?"

"Of course," Gon replied promptly.

"What do you mean of course?" Killua demanded, thrown by his nonchalance. "We never did that before, how would you know if you were going to like it or not?"

Gon looked even more confused than before. "But it's you."


"So I knew it would feel good," Gon explained. "Anything I do with you always feels right."

Killua was momentarily speechless. Gon cocked his head to one side. "Didn't you--didn't you know?" he asked, calmly. "Don't you feel that way about me? You can always touch me, Killua, if you want to. After all, you'll be the only person I touch that way my whole life, won't you? Unless one of us dies really early or something, but if we got killed we'd probably get killed together, don't you think?"

It all sounded so reasonable when he said it. Killua wanted to hit him. But he wanted to kiss him more, so he tried that again. Gon kissed back the same way he had before, and then smiled at him. "The only bad thing is your timing," he noted.


"Because we saw Leorio and Kurapika kissing, and then we started kissing. They're going to think we're copying them."

Killua stared at Gon. It was hard to remember sometimes how clueless he could really be. But then, Killua's trademark smirk began to form. "Well, why not? They should be ashamed of themselves, dragging innocent youngsters like us into an adult club and then setting such a bad example for us. We should go find out what they're doing now and keep copying them, just to show them."

Gon looked torn between mischief and conscience. "But..."

"C'mon." Killua was quite practiced at cutting off Gon's conscience. He grabbed Gon's hand and dragged him to the door he had seen Kurapika and Leorio exit by. They would be easy to track--Leorio wore a distinctive cologne, and too much of it.

He didn't have to track very far. A few minutes later he and Gon were stumbling back into the club, wide eyed and a bit shell-shocked. They made it safely inside and leaned against the wall for a moment. It was Gon who broke the silence, his voice weak. "Killua... we don't have to... do we? Not yet?"

"No. No, we're not... no."



"I mean, I guess I knew Leorio was pretty strong, but I didn't know Kurapika was so--"


"That's a good way to put it."

"Let's just go back and dance."