disclaimer: hunter x hunter © yoshihiro togashi.

— suspiro
by breakable bird

It went like this:

"... Are you a girl?"

Killua stared. Hard. "What? No!" Frowning so deep it was almost a scowl, Killua crossed his arms and eyed the boy in front of him intently. He wore green and red and his eyes were kind, innocent, his hair black as ink and spiky as a knife. Almost petulantly, he said, "Are you a girl?"

"I don't think so," the boy said. "I have a boy's name, and Mito-san told me I was a boy. Besides, girls have..." He made a wavy movement with his hand, and then they both looked at each other because Killua knew what Gon was talking about and Gon knew what he was talking about and he also knew Killua knew what he was talking about.

Awkward. "Yeah," said Killua lamely, "I know. I'm Killua."

The boy smiled. He had a nice smile—pretty, if you were one for such words. Which Killua was not. At all. So he sort of scowled some more. "Hello, Killua. I'm Gon."

"Hey," he nodded sharply, and turned around to see if that loser Tonpa or whatever had more of that ridiculous orange juice, but of course he wasn't around. Probably trying to mind-fuck some other moron with his "friendliness."

And he was stuck with a boy who thought he was a girl. "But are you sure?" pressed Gon. "I mean..."

"What—do I look girly to you?"

"... Weeeell..."

Killua gawked. "You—you—that's not true!" he sputtered, and felt very silly. But Gon just sort of looked at him, and he had young, young eyes and tanned skin and he was smiling again and why was he always smiling, it was so freaking annoying—really. "I'm not girly. You're girly. Just look at you. Boys aren't supposed to smile so much."

Gon's smile widened slightly. "I had no idea. Mito-san never told me that."

"Who is Mito-san?" asked Killua, suddenly jealous. Two mentions were a pretty big number to him, and since he was going to be talking to this weird boy for most of the exam (unless he got killed or someone more interesting came along... but yeah, Killua doubted it) he figured he better got to know him.

If anything he could torture him a bit. (Or try.)

"She's my cousin," said Gon. Killua relaxed. "I like her a lot. Mito-san is the best cook in the world."

"That's not true," replied Killua, and Gon watched him with blank patience, obviously thinking something along the lines of poor lost soul. "If she was the best cook," he tried again, "she'd be famous. I've never heard of any «Mito-san», period."

"That's because Mito-san prefers to live in Whale Island," chirped Gon. "But she's the best!"

Killia harrumphed. Gon poked his ribs, fingers fast like a lightning, and Killua grabbed his wrist out of reflex. He didn't look scared, though. Just vaguely curious and naivë and... c... cu...

Stop, Killua told himself. Just stop. That was sick, he decided. That was a moment of madness. It had never happened. It wasn't the kind of madness his family liked, either. It was the kind that made you think about ice cream and orange juice (the un-poisoned kind, by the way. Thought you should know.) Gon laughed.

"Killua," he said, "you make funny faces."

Offended, Killua huffed but didn't bother to reply. The examiner appeared then, a thin, lanky man of purple hair and cool moustache (or Gon whispered so.) Checking his skateboard out of habit, the boys exchanged a look of excitement—it surprised him. Gon caught his hand to make him hurry, and Killua followed automatically, still staring at Gon's neck. It was dark, as the rest of him, sun-golden, and his hair seemed even blacker then.

"What are you waiting for, Killua?" said Gon. "We're gonna be left behind!"

Killua blinked. "Yeah," he muttered, "let's go."

Leorio stared. A long time. And sort of... gawked. Open-mouthed and wide-eyed and disgusting. Killua bit back a sneer because Gon was poking his knee with a warm finger and Killua disliked to make Gon unhappy, which he knew Gon would be if he broke Leorio's neck.

But it was so tempting.

Kurapika was subtler, and just coughed. Killua was almost sure he was a boy—but after that weird first conversation with Gon, he couldn't help but wonder sometimes, when he met new people (… more like Gon met new people and then he said "This is my best friend, Killua!" and he felt all mushy and stupid and he wanted to smack Gon so hard his eyes popped out of his head—). Leorio was an easy one. Mediocre, regular, he was the kind of man (teenager my ass, thought Killua) who had simple-minded women peeking at him through their lashes.

Killua disliked women. He disliked salty food, too, and the spicy ones—oh, those were the worst. He also happened to dislike gawking dorks (Leorio) and androgynous, short-haired boys. But apparently Gon liked them. And apparently Gon thought Killua was an androgynous, short-haired, sweet-addicted boy.

Oh, cheers. "But Killua would be a pretty girl," Gon finished saying, and Killua's head snapped towards him.

"What? That's not true!"

"It's true, Killua," said Gon, with that sort of irritating calmness he got sometimes, like when he was being super-boy and making himself hero-ish and lovable and god how Killua hated those moments. Gon did not need more suckers fawning and—and—adoring him when he had Killua and okay, so he didn't adore Gon but he was his best friend, right?

Right? "You'd be a very pretty girl," continued Gon, "I think everyone would like to marry you."

Leorio barked a laugh. "That's true—um, you're kinda girlish..."

Killua glared. It was bad enough to make Kurapika's eyelids lower and Leorio's grin forced, but Gon poked him in the ribs—where everyone could see, and Killua settled for glaring at Gon.

And of course, he was nonchalant. "I'm glad I met you two, Kurapika, Leorio." Gon's smile was beatific. Killua rolled his eyes. "Killua is my best friend—my first friend, because everyone in Whale Island was younger or older... or a girl..."

"Not much of a change, then," said Leorio eyeing Killua with distaste. It was clear he didn't approve, but Killua shot him a dark glare and he sniffed—sniffed, like an old woman or something, and sipped his beer.

Gon's orange juice was almost over, Killua noticed.

"I am glad I met you too, Gon," replied Kurapika, always diplomatic and warm. But Killua recognized what was behind his polite manners and soft voice and he swore to god if the psycho even tried to get too near to Gon...

Gon, who was beaming. "That's cool."

He couldn't resist. "And for the record..." No, really. "I'm not girly. I'm a boy. I'm a man, actually."

His best friend looked at him, confused. "But Killua, you're fourteen."

Kurapika poked Leorio's ribs to keep him of laughing. Killua arched an eyebrow. "So? I'm a young man. And men aren't feminine."

"I've never called you feminine," said Gon thoughtfully, "it sounds strange."

"Yeah. Anyway, I'm—not—I think you know. I think I made my point."

"It doesn't really matter, Killua," answered Gon, smiling again. He had dimples. Killua wanted to cover his eyes for fear of being burned by all his goodness and let's-save-the-world-ness and... stuff. He turned over to call the waitress, a pretty brown-haired girl who seemed all too eager to smile him and repeat that her name was something dumb like Aya or Aka and touch Gon's hair

Maybe he could rip her heart out. Killua brightened. He liked ripping hearts out.

"If it doesn't matter then why do you keep talking about it?" demanded Killua. "You tell this story to everyone we speak to! It's embarrassing."

"Killua, it only means you're pretty. I don't see the problem."

Pretty. Killua wanted to slap his forehead. "I'm not—I see the problem. And you didn't answer my question—if it doesn't matter then why do you keep talking about it?"

"It doesn't matter because I like you anyway."

Leorio looked smug. Way too smug. Hiding behind his cup of chocolate and wishing Gon could just grow some common sense, Killua wondered if Gon'd notice if he sort of ripped his heart out, too.