It was quiet. True, there was a soft echo of merriment near the cabin, laughter and voices spilling out of the windows along with the yellow light--but the noise was muffled by the snow that was falling heavily, lazily, down on the scene, and the forest was by and large silent.
That silence was disturbed as two figures left the cabin--running one moment, then prancing the next, then trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues, then pushing each other into the snow--but always, despite their roughhousing, keeping their eyes trained on the ground, looking for something. Laughter and conversation followed them into the woods.
"Th--oh, wait, that's not it. That's some other plant growing out of the ground. Damn!" Gon swore cheerfully, with the same intonation another person might say "excellent!" or "perfect!"
"Are you drunk?" Killua asked suspiciously.
"No! Leorio made me a drink without any alcohol in it."
"Hah! I bet he put twice as much as usual in it."
"Nu-uh! Why'd you ask, anyway?"
"Because for most people, not being able to tell one tiny green plant from another in the middle of a dark snowy forest is normal... but for you, it's cause for suspicion."
"There wasn't any alcohol!"
Killua only sighed and shook his head with exaggerated pity. Gon stuck his tongue out.
Neither spoke for a moment, remembering at apparently the same instant that they were supposed to be looking for something. The search continued in relative peace, the only interruption being when Killua knocked Gon into an irresistible snowdrift. Gon was still ruffling the snow out of his hair when he looked around and said, "You know what? I think we're looking too close to the house."
Killua paused to consider this. "He did throw it awfully hard," he agreed a minute later.
Without further discussion, they moved deeper into the woods. "I still don't get why he had to throw it at all," Gon commented, looking at the ground around them.
Killua rolled his eyes, his expression suggesting that surely, surely, his companion could not be that innocent. "Because Leorio kept messing with him and trying to push him under it. So, Kurapika got annoyed."
"And threw it five hundred feet?"
"...He's got good reflexes. And a good arm." Killua thought about it for a minute, then smiled, somewhat evilly. "I have better reflexes. If Leorio had done that to me he wouldn't have lived."
It was Gon's turn to roll his eyes in a suggestion that his friend could not possibly be that dumb. "He wouldn't have done it to you. He's just trying to cheer Kurapika up."
"And that's why we're out here burrowing through the snow looking for a plant that's smaller than my hand? Because it would cheer Kurapika up?"
"You did hear Kurapika say that if by some miracle we found it, he would incinerate it?"
"...Well, we'll give it back to Leorio then."
As hard as Gon tried, he could not maintain the illusion of innocence with that sentence; mischief was written all over his face. Killua grinned, suddenly more motivated than ever.
"Killua... I think this snow is taller than us?"
"Deeper than we are tall, you mean."
"Yeah, it is. So what?"
"So, what if we shouldn't be looking on the surface? What if it fell all the way down to the groun!"
"It's not heavy enough! Kurapika can't throw stuff that hard!"
"I dunno... it was pretty hard..."
"Look, doesn't any mistletoe grow around here? We could just take that back instead. Lots of it."
"I haven't seen any. Let's just keep looking for the first one. You don't think it went down to the ground?"
Killua was about to reply, but he paused, distracted by something on the ground. He reached down to a depressed in the snow a few feet away and, with an expression of incredulity, scooped up a small and battered-looking plant with a bit of crumpled ribbon attached. "Gon."
Gon was in the middle of a detailed defense of his sobriety and did not hear Killua's soft utterance. Killua repeated himself more loudly, turning to face Gon. "Gon!"
Gon turned back to him with a curious expression. Killua wordlessly held his hand out; he was already beginning to smile in anticipation of Gon's reaction. Gon did not disappoint him; his face lit up with delight. "Killua! You found it!" His tone suggested that only Killua, out of all the people in the world, could ever have accomplished such a feat.
Killua couldn't help returning Gon's grin. Gon crunched over the snow between them to take a good look at their quarry; the two of them stood with their heads together for a moment, staring at the plant in Killua's stiff and reddened fingers as though it were an egg that they were expecting to hatch. Then, having determined that it was indeed the original mistletoe, Gon smiled, kissed Killua on the cheek, and turned to go.
He stopped before he was finished turning; he had to, because he had tried to take the mistletoe with him but Killua hadn't let go of it. Gon turned back curiously. "Killua?"
There was a strange look on Killua's face--he looked suddenly off-balance, uncertain, a small frown on his lips. And he looked confused, like something had suddenly gone wrong but he didn't even know what it was, much less what to do.
They were still for a moment--silent under the snowfall, two figures facing each other with their hands stretched out between them, cradling a small plant, one face inquisitive and one perplexed. Then Gon kissed Killua again. Only this time he stepped forward and kissed him on the lips, and for longer, though with the same straightforward air. When he stepped back he didn't have to ask if that had fixed things, because Killua smiled for a few seconds--not his usual devious grin, but a smile. Then, the dilemma clearly resolved, Killua's expression switched back to mischief. Gon smiled too, and jerked his head back towards the cabin, and the two of them went running back to the noise and the warmth, the mistletoe clutched triumphantly in Gon's hand.