"The chain of vengeance... is over "
- Kurapika to Leorio
The metropolitan loop line station was jam packed with people as usual. The trains were bustling from different directions with its waiting passengers on each stations leaning forward every now and then to see if their train was coming.
Standing on one of the platforms was a mother and her five year old son. She was clutching his tiny hand in hers while busily paying attention for the train. Meanwhile, the little boy was watching another person standing close to him. The boy watched the strange person with gaping mouth and wonder in his eyes. It was clear that he was intrigued by the stranger beside him. He noted the stranger's blonde hair, green eyes hidden in a pair of glasses and peculiar dress. The stranger seemed to notice him finally and decided to look down at him with his emerald eyes and gave him a small smile. The boy was awed even more by this, especially when he noticed the person's dangling ear pierce glinting into that afternoon sunlight.
"Wow…" he muttered with eyes shining. His mother looked down at him and then up at the person beside her, then tugged on her son's hand.
"Yuuchi, stop staring at people, that's very rude," she whispered at him as she gently pulled him on the other side of the platform.
"But mom, did you see her earring? Why is she wearing only one? Aren't girls supposed to wear two?"
"I'm sure she lost it somewhere darling…"
The blonde person who was none other than Kurapika watched them go with silent eyes. He blinked at them thoughtfully, wondering what on earth the boy meant by 'her'. After awhile, he clutched the bag he was holding, then looked ahead of him again and watched as the train glided before him.
As he boarded the train, he chose the last car and sat with a small book at hand. He read silently but not so oblivious as to what was happening around him. He knew and can count without looking the number of eyes watching him curiously. He knew the number of glances the people were throwing at him and still he can turn a page and understand what he was reading.
It was like that for the rest of the trip.
Kurapika had been sitting there inside, immobilize for some time now, when he suddenly turned a page and folded papers came off. Picking it up from the floor, the blond boy stared at papers and then his eyes softened. That was when the train began to slowly stop. The blonde boy put the folded papers in his pocket and shut his book close with a snap. Everyone around the car shifted in surprise as he stood up but it was to their relief when the 'strange' blond boy quietly picked up his bag, and stood at the door. The train slowly stopped and Kurapika left the car with an air of indifference for he had finally reach his destination.
Looking up, he read the sign of the station: Yorknew City
Kurapika's eyes glinted. He was back to where it all began.
Half an hour later, we see the same blonde boy standing outside a condominium. He looked up at the building quietly and then walked inside the complex where he inquired for information. The next thing, he was following a bell boy who was willingly showing him the room he was looking for.
Room number 404.
Kurapika stared at the room number and then used the card key the bell boy left in his possession. They told him the previous owner who had bought the apartment never returned two and a half years ago. Whether he was alive or not, they did not know. But the room has been kept the way it was.
Opening the room door, Kurapika switched on the lights and there before him appeared an empty room. He went in and quietly surveyed the area. The room was cold from being unused but there was no visible sign of dust nor cobwebs. Kurapika was sure the condominium manager made sure that it was clean else its previous owner returns. The books were compiled in one corner and the bed was properly made. The blonde boy then noticed a picture frame by the table as he looked around. Looking closely, he recognized that it was a photo of him and his three other friends.
Kurapika's eyes flickered.
Walking toward it, his last meeting with his two younger friends five months ago came back to his memory.
Inside a hotel's lounge sat three boys. They were facing each other in a small round table with serious expressions, most particularly was the one with the blonde hair. They hadn't seen each other for eight months after Kurapika told them of Leorio's disappearance. For those eight months, the three had never forgotten to keep in touch, and though they may be on their own way—devoting themselves on anything regarding about their missing friend had always been their utmost concern.
As he surveyed the boys, he realized Gon and Killua have changed–both boys have grown a few inches over the months that made Kurapika ask himself if he had ever imagined a world with them as men. Adolescents as they were, both were still emitting confident auras of grown up and extreme self awareness. Gon was sitting with a straight back with Killua sitting with hands at the back of his head beside him.
"It's been a while, Kurapika," Gon started. "How are you doing?"
There was a worried look behind Gon's eyes and Kurapika knew that the boy was worried about him ever since he told them he lost his nen ability. Truth be told, Kurapika also didn't know how he came to terms of losing his ability. It was probably because he had more pressing matter at hands.
"Don't worry," he answered, "I'm fine the way I am, though it's a bit troublesome somehow, but I don't want to focus on that. Hunter or not… I've still got one person to hunt."
Gon gave him a smile.
Kurapika'a expression softened to his young friend's genuine smile. He smiled back, knowing that Gon meant it by heart.
"We are here because of him, right? Leorio." He continued, quiet still.
He eyed Killua pointedly. Kurapika noticed the black haired boy throw a worried look at his companion with white silver hair. Killua, who had his eyes closed and was sitting quietly beside Gon, opened his eyes and gave Kurapika a very long look. Gon bit his lower lip when he noticed Killua moving and then turned to the blonde haired boy.
"Kurapika—" he started but Killua cut him off.
"There's no point in dawdling things, Gon," the Zoldyick boy said as Gon watched him put papers on the table, "I want to make my point after all the greetings, I'm sorry Kurapika. Regardless of that, I guess we all know the reason why we're really here. "
Kurapika remained still as Killua presented papers of what look like newspaper prints in front of him. The blonde boy frowned as he read the titles of the news.
"What are these?" he asked quietly.
Killua's eyes glinted as he put both hands together and levelled it to his lips.
"As what I have previously told you eight months ago, my theory why Leorio left is because of his sudden withdrawal from his activities. The fact that his mind was triggered to kill—"
"We've already agreed on that," Kurapika muttered firmly, "so why are you bringing this news up?"
He looked up sharply at Killua, in time to see the boy's eyes hardened.
"You know my theory, Kurapika," he answered darkly, "… those news... are living proof to that…"
Kurapika's eyes slightly widened as he read each titles of the newspaper clippings Killua had brought. There were different titles but they all go the same way: Gruesome Death Met Three at Suburb Area, One found dead at market, Man Cut to Dead, Five Children Amputated, Woman Strangled to Death.
Kurapika's hand shook and his lips thinned as he read all the title.
"Kurapika," Gon started with a worried look but Killua remained determined.
"I've been collaborating with Hanzo for quite some time now and he's been working with a crime hunter. Their target has been this mysterious person whose been killing innocent people on the loose. As what Hanzo told me, the Hunter's Association has already marked this mysterious case as something under their power… they are already aware that Leorio has become a Lost one so they have already sent a Lost Hunter after him and gave the order to arrest him… with Hanzo, the crime hunter and the lost hunter on his track, Kurapika, the result they told me all comes to one thing…"
Kurapika listened all through Killua's information with his hands turning into fists.
"There was no question. It was Leorio."
Kurapika's eyes flickered.
-end of flash back-
Kurapika put the picture down the table and studied the room. The medical books Leorio used were stacked on one corner. Some of the pages were barely touched. Walking toward the study table, Kurapika noticed the untouched desk. Tracing his fingers on top of it, he recalled the last time he saw Hanzo which was a week ago.
It was barely an hour meeting, but it was all Kurapika had feared.
"There were four women victims this morning," Hanzo said quietly as the two stood on a bridge and watched the sunset, "All were killed by hands… with what Killua told me about how his power was stolen, I cannot imagine how he could still do it."
"It wasn't him," Kurapika said firmly that made the Information Hunter look at him, "no matter what you guys say…I know in my heart that it wasn't my friend."
Hanzo gazed at Kurapika, before looking back at the sunset with a small smile.
"That's what Gon said too," the bald hunter said, "and even though he knew he was contradicting himself, Killua was also cynical about the evidence I showed him. He didn't stop nagging me until I gave him a full witness' account of the murder and the witness' description of the murderer."
Hanzo's voice became grim. Kurapika looked away.
"I'll update you for any developments. Loupe Highland, the Lost Hunter, have not yet reported to me for quite some time now. It's his job to find Leorio in the beginning anyways while Mizaistom Nana is responsible for Crime Hunters. So... when the time comes that we capture him… the Hunter's Association will be the one to judge him," the ninja continued, "it's no longer in your hands, Kurapika. I'm sorry."
Kurapika's eyes were hidden behind his hair.
"It wasn't him…" he repeated firmy, "I believe Leorio."
Yet what if it was the truth? What if Leorio had really lost himself despite the fact that his power was gone? What if Killua's theory was correct—that the abused mind, once triggered, cannot be healed? What if that was the case with Leorio? What was he supposed to do?
Kurapika closed his eyes and gritted his teeth as his mind returned inside Leorio's room. He can only remember Leorio as someone who was willing to go to any lengths for his friend as he did for him; the kind man who was not willing to show his good side so easily just to please people but was ready to help regardless of the situation. The kind of man who would dedicate his whole being for the sake of the people he calls his 'friends' in exchange of his own…
That stupid stubborn man…that brave and kind man…
Kurapika opened his eyes with a glint. He would have helped Leorio go through his darkness if he allowed him to. He would even sacrifice himself in order to stop him. He would never let Leorio harm anyone because Kurapika knew in the end it will be one of Leorio's regrets…
And that was it too… the feeling of remorse, regret, guilt upon shedding innocent blood… how can Leorio ever lived with that? The man who wants to save lives of people… his guilt for killing more… his hands that were stained by innocent blood… his hands which he can no longer save a life.
"That's not true," Kurapika found himself whispering with a sudden ache on his chest, "your bloody hands save me, Leorio… you saved me."
Large waves… strong storm… the first boat… a rude man in front of him…a lightning strikes… a boy jumping… then suddenly—the back of his loathed man leaving…
Kurapika didn't know the time when he became aware of his surroundings. Opening his eyes, he saw sunset through the closed window glass. He knew he was still inside Leorio's room with his head bent down his arms on the desk. He had fallen asleep.
Not feeling up to raising his head, he reflected on his dream. He dreamt about the time he first met Leorio and Gon and how in that stormy night he and Leorio faced each other…
He remembered loathing Leorio back then because he knew the man was all words… but then when Gon jumped into the ocean to save that one sailor—wasn't it Leorio who first reacted and willingly drop his guard to save Gon? Life was more important to him than pride—no—than anything!
How can Leorio be the murderer of those people?
Kurapika's eyes glinted and he immediately raised his head. Why was he hanging inside Leorio's room when the man itself could be facing a number of hunters? What if they had already captured Leorio—?
Jumping to his feet and with his heart beating fast, Kurapika grabbed his bag and went directly toward the door. That was when he stopped as he found himself face to face with a man who was standing by the entrance.
Kurapika's eyes widened.
"Who are you?"
The man in front of him was tall and well built. He was wearing a strange hat with patches of black and white like it was a cow's head—and he had two little horns on each side of it. The man eyed him with an innocent look and then gestured a hand to his breast. Kurapika saw the gesture and prepared himself to fight. Even without his nen abilities, he knew he was still capable of hand to hand combat.
Then the man spoke in his deep voice.
"I am Mizaistom Nana, a Crime Hunter."
Kurapika looked startled for a moment and he lowered his defences.
"Crime hunter…?" he muttered in sudden realization, "the man hunting Leorio…?"
The man gave him a look as an answer.
"I was sent here by Hanzo," he continued, "he wishes me to bring you up north."
Kurapika's heart thundered under his chest.
"You—have you found Leorio?"
Mizaistom didn't answer but he did blink.
"Where are we going?" Kurapika asked not for the first time as the car sharply drove toward the highlands. The Crime Hunter had kept his silence ever since the ride and Kurapika didn't like it. For the first time in his life he loathed silent people—especially if he was in badly needed of information.
Keeping a silent sigh to himself, he looked out of the window again. It was already nightfall. Wondering what on earth Hanzo was up to the blonde boy decided to be patient.
If they had found Leorio then Hanzo meant for him to do something. If he was to do something about it then fighting would not be a mean—not the way he was—but if the situation asks for it he will. No, violence won't help Leorio at all. Maybe Hanzo has a plan… if not, he, Kurapika, would do everything he can to stay by Leorio's side. Not even if the Hunter Association verdicts Leorio guilty. Kurapika would never let him suffer that.
Clutching his fists, Kurapika saw a flicker of red staring at him from the glass window. He realized his eyes were sparkling red again. It's been a long time.
To Kurapika's surprise, he was taken to an airship where he was met by Gon and Killua. The two boys have also been wondering about Hanzo's sudden call when they were called by Mizaistom to board the airship.
"They found Leorio," Killua said as they sat facing each other again after their last meeting, "but they're not saying anything which can only mean a bad news…"
Gon gazed at his best friend, before staring back at their blonde companion.
It seemed that Kurapika had already thought the same thing as he remained quiet on his chair.
The airship glided on and as night went, Kurapika remained in silent reverie with his eyes glinting from blue to red. Gon and Killua were already fast asleep in their own room while here he was standing in the middle of the dark.
He watched the night sky and the hundred tiny lights below them. He remembered that time when he first encountered Leorio's peculiar letter. He absentmindedly took the folded papers from his pocket and stared at it for awhile. Almost two years have passed and here he was again standing above the sky and reflecting just like that day… but this time he wasn't thinking about vengeance…
No… he was thinking of saving his friend… he made a pact that night… that no matter what happens in the morning, he would do everything on his power to help Leorio.
Because Leorio was someone he could never turn his back on. Not anymore.
The airship glided down a hill where a car was waiting. Gon, Killua and Kurapika all went down and followed the Crime Hunter toward the car. Their environment was something nostalgic to Gon and Kurapika having been both raise in faraway lands. Killua, meanwhile, eyed the mountain and then look back towards the other mountains where he could not see even the tallest peak of his parent's territory.
"We've come far away," he told the group, "very far."
"You can complain to your friend about that," said a familiar voice that made the trio look at Hanzo who was coming up from the plain. Kurapika immediately met him with a frown.
"Hanzo, where's Leorio?"
"Why isn't that tall man telling us anything?" Gon went on.
"Do you plan to catch Leorio with us or you already had?" Killua's voice was loud.
Hanzo stopped in front of Kurapika—then he was startled to see the blonde boy looking very alarmed with two younger boys on his heels.
"Hang on a sec," he said with a sigh, "I know it was sudden, but I had to confirm it first with Loupe Highland… you can't imagine the trouble I went through just to have these guys collaborate with me!"
Gon and Killua blinked in surprise while Kurapika stared at Hanzo who was actually smiling.
"Follow me," he said.
They walked around the mountain for some time until they reach a small village. All the while they were walking in the middle of the village; Hanzo has been relaying his information to them…
"It was Loupe who found him here. He disregarded the information track notified to the Association about the murderer in the metropolitan and trusted his guts. After months of his manhunt he found him by accident. You can't imagine how, but Loupe encountered a strange beast on his way here and the villagers brought him to their village doctor. Loupe had known Leorio's profile since before so he could not be mistaken. Then he sent me a word a day ago that brought me all the way here—then I sent the Mizaistom to notify him about Leorio's innocence—only to realize they have captured the actual murderer. (cheers and laugh from Gon and Killua) I believe the criminal was saying something about a person speaking inside his head, but I need more information about that… Now…"
They stopped in front of a small bungalow house where a sign Doctor's In was hanging.
Kurapika gazed at the title with a sudden overwhelming feeling. He went forward with everyone behind him. The doorway had no door but a curtain was hanging in front of it. Upon entering the small vicinity, Kurapika looked around but it was with a disappointed heart to see that the house was empty.
"Leorio?" he couldn't help but call.
Someone moved on the side and came in from the doorless backdoor that made Kurapika hold his breath.
A tall man faced him but it wasn't Leorio. It was a tall guy with a pair of glasses over the bridge of his thick nose. He was supporting an injured arm which only meant one thing—he was Loupe, the Lost Hunter. He eyed Kurapika, and then shifted his attention to Hanzo and the rest. Then he understood.
"He's at the back trying to get some fresh air."
Kurapika didn't say anything but went pass the man in one swift movement with Gon and Killua at the rear. They were welcomed by the back garden with lots of trees and green grasses. There were plenty of different vegetables around and as dawn approached, the garden's beauty became visible to the eyes.
And then there he was—Kurapika saw him first. A tall man was standing by a tall tree with his back at them. He was stretching his arms upward and sighing loudly in the morning light which greeted them all.
Kurapika wanted to call him but his voice failed him.
Gon's voice was loud enough for them.
The man snapped in attention and look behind him sharply. His eyes were so big and full of question but it was too late when he realized what was happening for both Gon and Killua have jumped over his tall form and tackled him on the ground. The next scenes were a Merry Go Round.
The boys were laughing so loudly it was hard not to follow their examples. There were shouts of 'old man' 'don't touch that' 'oi' 'ugly old man' 'how?' 'brats' and lots more.
Leorio stopped pulling Killua's cheeks and headlocking Gon's neck when Kurapika came near them.
The two stared at each other. Kurapika noticed the scar on Leorio's face but it wasn't ominous anymore for the doctor's face was clear and humorous. Kurapika liked him that way.
There was a sweat drop at the side of Leorio's face as he stared meekly at Kurapika.
It was clear he knew his fault. But Kurapika had already forgiven him for everything.
"Leorio," he started with a quiet smile, "Finally… I found you."
A/N: 'Finding Leorio' thanks everyone for keeping up with the action!
I dedicate this story to all of Leorio's fans!
I believe you won't even read the title if you don't feel any inclination to his character!
So this is for you guys!
For the man whose not willing to stand at the side anymore~
Whose not willing to lose any friend~
The manliest Hunter around~
Thanks for Reading!