windroars: (killua; wicked in red)
Wind ([personal profile] windroars) wrote2012-03-13 04:59 pm

Fanfiction || Saints and Sinners 02

Title: Saints and Sinners
Fandom: Hunter x Hunter
Main Characters: Killua Zoldyck, Gon Freecss, Kurapika Kurta, Leorio Paladiknight
Rating: PG-16
Genre: Alternate Universe/General/Crime/Friendship/Drama
Warnings: Language, violence, abuse
Setting: A modern day world in the city of Yorkshin, which, as it turns out, is not exactly the best neighborhood to live in. Especially since it houses the territory border between the Phantom and Chimera gangs.
Summary: With a turf war on the horizon, four unlikely friends band together, determined to survive at all costs. This proves easier said than done when enemies arise at every turn. Even in the mirror.


~*~

"You are the thunder and I am the lightning
I love the way you know who you are
And to me it's exciting"

Naturally, Selena Gomez


~*~

Chapter Two

Peanut Butter and Jelly

~*~


"And when I woke up, I was the only one there," sighed the tired student from his slumped position over his desk. His head ached, and the cool wood did wonders for his swollen cheek. "There weren't any signs of a struggle, but there weren't any signs of anything else either."

"So that's why I caught you on my roof this morning?" questioned the girl next to him.

He nodded lazily. He would have chosen different words to describe what had happened though. Something like 'attacked you' or 'accosted you.' Yeah, those sounded right. "Mmhm, sorry. I've been going up there every day in case he comes back, but he hasn't yet."

It had been three weeks since the day he tamed his stray. Three slow, frustrating weeks. A lot had happened in that time: returning to Leorio's clinic, taking care of Kon, letting him go, and getting ready for school. Even so, he'd never gotten that night out of his head, and it drove him crazy. Gon Freecss was an extremely gifted boy with numerous talents, skills, and virtues, but patience had never been one of them. Apparently, he also did not fare well with being woken at 5:00AM by an umbrella to his face. The things one could learn.

"Oooh, is that all?" the girl huffed haughtily, crossing her legs on Gon's desk and subsequently pushing him right off. "And here you had me all worked up over nothing! I thought I had rats, you know! Big, horrid rats crawling all over my apartment roof!" Her pony tail bounced as she illustrated just how large she thought these rats were, another stab to her companion's ego. Killua had been so quiet...

If Gon didn't know any better, he would have sworn she was mocking him on purpose.

"You should've known I wasn't a rat when you saw me!" he protested. His brows ticked in frustration as he forced her shoes off of his desk.

After a moment, she obliged, and Gon caught the satisfied smirk she tried to hide behind a gloved hand. As he glared, she dusted off the skirt of her school uniform. "Of course I knew. That was why I hit you. What kind of girl would I be, running around whacking rats with an umbrella?"

The talented, skilled, and virtuous Gon promptly gave up, allowing the girl a first class view of his impending faceplant. Confident in her victory and deciding that she had punished her cute, little apprentice enough for the morning, she leaned excitedly forward and got down to the important business.

"Soooo?" she grinned wickedly. "Did you two kiss each other goodbye?"

Gon's head shot back up, beet red and blustering. "What're you-?"

"Oh, come on! You don't need to hide it from me!" She gestured wildly before ending with a grand slap over her heart. "I am Biscuit Krueger, and I can spot a quality BL moment from a mile a-!"

Gon hastily wrapped his hand around her mouth, shushing her loudly. Other people were starting to stare, and that was too weird of a subject to be talking about right before class!

"It was nothing like that! There were no moments!"

Rather than stem the attention they were getting, however, he only succeeded in garnering more.

"Don't give me that," she scolded after having removed Gon's hand. "You've come back to the same spot every day for three weeks waiting for him. You even fell asleep up there last night. You're pining! It's not embarrassing, it's romantic!"

He stuck his nose in the air as she cooed and fawned. "I told you it wasn't like that. I took him to Leorio's like all the other stray cats I've found, but he ran off again. I just want to make sure he didn't get run over or wind up in another fight."

"...Like a cat."

"Yeah! He was quiet and fast and flexible like one, and he kind of looked like one too." Gon held his hands up in his hair and wiggled them like cat ears to emphasize his point.

"Really?" Biscuit cocked her head in interest and dropped her chin into her palm as she contemplated this new development. "What kind of animal am I?"

Gon didn't hesitate, grinning proudly as he gave his answer. "An anglerfish!"

She had him in a headlock before anyone could even laugh. "You horrible, little-! Unforgivable! It is unforgivable to talk to an innocent girl like that! I oughtta-!"

A resounding cough immediately drew all eyes to the front of the room where their homeroom teacher was now standing, fist over his mouth. His primly curled mustache twitched in light of the man's sudden popularity, but his dry expression remained unchanged. Even though he didn't raise his voice, no one missed a word.

"If you're quite done, Ms. Krueger?"

Biscuit threw in one last noogie before letting go and readjusting her uniform. "Aw, Satotz. You never let me have my fun."

"You're welcome to have all the fun you'd like in your own classroom with your own students."

"But I like your students!" she chimed as she skipped up to the front of the classroom with her fellow staff member. "You always have the best eye. You grab all the good ones before I can."

"That likely has more to do with your tendency toward being late, Ms. Krueger. As you are now."

She patted his shoulder, stiff as it ever was, before waving goodbye and heading out. "I know, I know. Students need their daily dose of discipline~"

"I'd also advise you not to wear that outfit at the staff meeting during lunch."

Biscuit stopped short, turning back around with watery eyes. Her pony tail and pleated skirt rustled with the movement, and she looked exactly the part of a heartbroken high school girl in a television drama. "What's wrong with it? It fits all of the school's regulations, and it's so cute! The perfect sailor fuku!"

"Our school has no uniform."

"So? I'm not a student."

Another mustache twitch. "Your class, Ms. Krueger."

"Ta ta!" she waved before shutting the door behind her with a bow.

Hee! She couldn't hold in the smile that enveloped her lips as she heard Satotz begin speaking through the door, something about a late student. She wasn't kidding when she teased him about his eye for students, even if none of them had any actual say about who ended up in their respective classes. Gon Freecss was quite a gem, and when Satotz had mentioned him to her after orientation, she'd known right away that he was made of different stuff than everyone else. Finding him on her roof had been a marvelous opportunity, and she'd taken it without a second thought.

Yes, children, sometimes violence was indeed the answer. And boy, was it a satisfying one. A whack to the head had done nothing to keep him from escorting her to school and telling her the whole story. And what a story it was! From the mysterious boy being chased by mysterious forces to the man who ran the free clinic to the cute antique store owner with one eye locked on the local gang activity. Gon Freecss was a veritable networking genius, and he didn't even know it.

Most people in Yorkshin had long since realized that the less one knew about one's neighbors, the safer one was. People like Gon, who went around speaking to everyone as if they were pals, were a rare breed, and most of them proved to be shady as hell once the curtains closed. This crazy kid was as sincere as a puppy and wasn't the least bit thrown off by Biscuit's obnoxious actions. Either he was already aware that she had no ulterior motives or the idea of ulterior motives had never even crossed his mind. The former was infinitely more interesting than the latter.

Now, all Biscuit wanted to find out was whether Gon truly understood what type of person he was chasing. A boy who had that sort of endurance, that immeasurable pain tolerance, who wasn't afraid to threaten others with a knife... From what little information she had, she could deduce he was likely a gang member. The situation, however, led her to believe he'd betrayed or quit his gang. From the story Gon had told, he obviously didn't want anyone else involved in his problems, so having quit was the more plausible of the two above options. No normal person would relax long enough to have such a carefree conversation in the midst of being pursued. Either the boy sensed an inherent kinship or he had desperately needed the comfort. It could very well have been both. If her assumptions were correct, then Gon had done everything right, even to the point of letting the boy leave alone. One wrong word, one further attempt to convince the mysterious boy to stay, could have resulted in him losing all interest. But if Gon himself didn't realize how well he'd traversed that fine line, Biscuit Krueger wanted nothing to do with him.

The problem in all of this was that she couldn't very well just ask Gon. The best way to discern how much Gon understood would be to reunite the kids. A boy like that would have long since learned to never return to the scene of the crime though. Gon wasn't going to find him like that. He would turn up on his own time, in a way that was more discreet and socially acceptable so that he could be in control of what happened.

But that wasn't fair! That wasn't fair at all! She didn't want to wait for someone else. She wanted to be in control of the situation!

And then something slammed into her shoulder.

"Oh, sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going," she quickly apologized. Damn, had she nearly just plowed over a student?

"S'cool. I wasn't really paying attention either."

He still wasn't, the woman noted with a quirk of her lips. The kid was casual to the point of sloth, hands in his pockets and gaze coasting the wall to his left, even though Biscuit was on his right. He was lost, she realized, and looking for room numbers.

"Which room?"

That seemed to snap him out of his lethargic daze, and he finally turned to look at her. He had blue eyes, almost violet under the shade of his shaggy, bleached bangs, and his shirt proclaimed that it was in fact wearing him, at least in Soviet Russia. "Oh, room 254. That means second floor, right?"

"Yup! Actually, it's just around the corner, that way," she pointed back the way she had come. "Satotz is your homeroom teacher, hm? You'll like him. He doesn't care if students fall asleep in class as long as they turn in the assignments."

"Really?" He seemed rather surprised by this information, and she smirked.

"Really really. He offers extra credit assignments every month too, but never let him catch you chewing gum in class."

"I never let anyone catch me," was the smug reply before he offered her a salute.

She followed suit, and the two went on their merry ways. Until Biscuit came to a shuddering halt.

White hair. Blue eyes. Smug attitude. About fourteen years of age.

Slowly, she tiptoed backward, and just when she made it within a meter of Satotz's door, she heard a resounding "Killua!" echo forth into the hallway. With that, she bolted, smiling like she hadn't smiled for months.

Students! She'd found real students again! She had to make them hers!

~*~


Killua mentally cursed as he rounded the corner and left that weird ass chick behind. She seemed fine when she was talking, he guessed, but he didn't want anything to do with that cosplay thing she had going. Not only that, but she'd caught him off guard. How could that have happened? He hadn't run into anyone for years. How did he not sense her presence?

He would just have to keep an eye out for her. There wasn't much he could do on school grounds, and he sure as hell wasn't about to follow her anywhere else. What he should be focusing on now was Gon.

Gon went to school here. In fact, he was right on the other side of this door. Killua had pulled out all the stops. As long as he was allowed to do this, he wasn't going to do it halfway. This was a game in which the stakes were all or nothing, but there was no sense in getting nervous before he even got to play.

With a deep breath, he knocked on the door.

It was answered by a man whom he could only assume was Satotz. Really, knowing his name, Killua suddenly felt that no other name could have described him. He raised an arm to show the new student he was allowed to enter, and Killua did so.

"Killua!"

The boy's eyes widened, and he whirled around to find none other than Gon Freecss standing at his desk with a wide open smile that would have better fit a whale. The boy at the front of the classroom tried to act like it didn't concern him, but he failed miserably, unable to halt the warm grin that overtook his lips. Gon remembered his name.

"Ahem," Satotz coughed. Gon hastily sat back down. "This is the student I was speaking of earlier. He was not allowed to attend the first few days of school due to registration issues, but those have now been cleared. Class, please welcome Killua Zoldyck."

This revelation was followed first by dead silence, then a flurry of whispers. Killua didn't mind; he'd been expecting it. He wasn't even surprised that Gon didn't get it. What he wasn't expecting was for the teacher to remain impassive. He only gestured toward the last empty seat near the back of the room.

Killua ignored it, walking pointedly to the desk next to Gon's. The guy sitting there was an obvious delinquent, dark hair styled and greased in typical, clich├ęd fashion. Well, typical fashion for a decade or two ago, maybe. He was tall, muscular, and his face seemed to have been run over one too many times, landing him with a perpetually angry expression.

"This is my seat," Killua calmly informed him.

The delinquent looked up at him, then to the empty desk. "Whatever," he croaked, gathering his things and moving to the back without any fuss.

This only drew more stares and louder whispers, as if the entire population of the classroom was daring him to look their way and prove their speculations correct, but he continued to ignore them with ease. His attention was solely on Gon, who was vibrating in excitement.

"After school, 'kay?" he reassured the other boy. Gon seemed disappointed but nodded and tried to calm himself when Satotz began the morning's lesson.

After school. He could explain then. When they weren't surrounded by prying eyes and ears. When they weren't bound by suffocating desks and walls and rules.

When he calmed down enough to do it properly.

~*~


Killua slid down the railing with carefully calculated reckless abandon. Hands were forced to jerk out of harm's way, their hasty movements accompanied by a harmony of startled gasps. Once he finished his perilous plunge from second to ground floor, he took off running, looking back just long enough to catch Gon leaping over a rolling backpack at the base of the stairway.

With a last ditch explosion of effort, he bulleted through the entrance, around decorative foliage, and right into the front gate. When he felt more than heard a second body slam into the gate next to him, he smirked at his huffing companion.

"I win."

Then Gon smirked back. "First one to the park!" he shouted before taking off yet again, through the open gate and out into the parking lot.

"I don't know where the park is!" Killua countered in frustration.

None-the-less, he chased after Gon, keeping pace with him until the open grassy area came into view. Another rocket boost in speed earned him his second victory. When Gon opened his mouth to complain, however, Yorkshin High School's newest student slapped the boy upside the head. "If I let you announce another race, we'll spend the rest of the day doing nothing but running!"

"What's wrong with that?" Gon asked with a grin. His boundless energy was obvious, his excitement barely containable. He probably could have run the rest of the day and still had more in him.

Killua, however, was the opposite. All the fretting he'd done while waiting until the school day ended had worn him down significantly. "What's wrong is that I don't wanna do it!"

"No faaair! Just to the slide, come on!"

"Just to the slide?"

"Just to the slide."

"Fine. On your mark..."

"Get set..."

"Go!"

And Killua watched from his spot, smirking wickedly as Gon ran off. After a few seconds, he began a casual stroll over the hill that separated them from the small playground. Gon was standing in front of the slide, pouting back at him.

"You win," Killua smugly proclaimed to a dissatisfied snort.

He hopped up onto the metal slide with ease and hiked his way to the top before settling comfortably across it, hands behind his head supported by one railing and knees crossed over the other. His new found friend was no less sulky, but he joined Killua by climbing the ladder and nestling himself on the top step.

The two boys were quiet for a few minutes as Gon got over his undeserved win (that didn't even count as a "win," he'd have to ask Killua for a do-over sometime when he was more interested), but it wasn't long before he came to realize exactly why Killua didn't want to keep racing. After school, he remembered. That was what Killua had told him. The way the other boy threw over himself a hastily made cloak of nonchalance, pretending to be bored even as his vision occasionally darted toward Gon and then back up to the sky and his crossed legs traded spots with undue frequency, was a show of anxiety. It had been the same when they had been talking on the roof, when Killua kept looking out at the horizon even though nothing was there.

Suddenly it made sense, and Gon found himself smiling at a very confused Killua.

"...What?"

"You're not a cat at all," Gon concluded through a toothy grin. "You're a mouse."

Killua didn't wait for further explanation before kicking him right off the slide.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow! Killua!"

"What the hell was that, huh? I'm a human, a human!" the light haired boy interrupted without remorse. The smallest spark of something more, something dangerous, flashed for an instant across his eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. "Besides, even if I wasn't, I'd be something cool like a panther or a wolf."

"You're fast and quiet like a mouse, only seen in a person's peripheral vision for a moment before darting out of sight. You're small, but you can get around high places like you were born there. And you're always looking everywhere, making sure the coast is clear and keeping track of the exits, even at school," Gon insisted, meeting Killua's gaze from the ground. Just as Killua was about to jump down, however, Gon's next sentence transfixed him in place. "That definitely wasn't the first time you were chased by those guys."

Killua pulled back and sat down, and Gon thought it rather looked as if his limbs had been weighed down by rocks. "Well, mostly. That's the first time it ever happened seriously. I've trained with them though."

"Trained?" That was an odd word choice. Sports training? Career training?

"In the family business."

Gon's chapped lips formed a hard, thin line. "Then the person who did that to your arm..."

"Oh, yeah. That was my older brother." Killua smiled as he said it, though it wasn't a happy smile. It was smug and defiant, as if he was spiting his brother just by admitting it. "Sucks, huh?"

When his friend didn't reply, Killua did finally join him on the ground. He rolled up his sleeve to reveal his elbow. There was a small, circular scar on either side of the joint where the needle had penetrated, but it was healing nicely. "Look, it's fine. See? No need to worry," he shoved the arm in front of Gon, knocking it against his forehead so the other boy couldn't avoid it. "So wipe that stupid look off your face."

Somehow that didn't help, and Killua noted that Gon's strained frown only tightened. He opened his mouth to ask, but before he could say anything, Gon's own hands shot out to grab the sleeve of Killua's other arm. He didn't stop Gon from rolling the sleeve up to reveal an identical scar in the same spot. Only afterward did he pull away, chuckling weakly as he clasped his hand over the second scar.

He couldn't look Gon in the eye. "Did I hold out the wrong arm, was that it? I couldn't remember which it was at first, but I was sure I'd gotten it right in the end..."

"No," Gon affirmed off with a shake of his head, equally as unsure of his position. He didn't reach for Killua again, instead wrapping his arms behind his back. "It was the right arm, but the scar was too big."

"The scar was...? Seriously? That's how you-"

"Your knees too?"

Killua hesitated a moment, then nodded.

And yet he'd still been running as much as he had. Had that also contributed to his not wanting to race? It bothered Gon that he hadn't noticed something like that sooner, even though Killua seemed surprised that he'd noticed at all. It wasn't enough. Definitely wasn't enough when it came to something like this. Gon would have to change that in the future.

This was only their second day of hanging out. He had a lot to learn.

"Will it happen again?"

Killua was taken aback by that. No "What sort of crazy family does that?" or "What insane kind of training is that?" Just "Will it happen again?"

"Nope," he assured. "This way, I don't have to run away again. I've got permission to go to school and hang out afterward until they need me."

"Okay!" Gon nodded stiffly before approaching Killua again. "Then you have to make it up to me now!"

For several seconds, Killua Zoldyck could not comprehend what Gon could possibly mean. Several seconds later, he still didn't have a clue. "Make what up to you?" he puffed.

"I helped you, and then you ruined it! It's not fair!"

The tension scattered like children from a plate of vegetables, and Killua erupted in giggles. "That's- You- Really-" The undecipherable attempt to communicate only made him laugh harder, leaving Gon rather confused as to how, exactly, he should feel about the whole mess. Finally, Killua wiped the tears from his eyes and breathed deeply enough to speak. "I have an idea."

He waved for Gon to follow him, still chuckling, and the two boys left the park, pushing each other back and forth the whole way.

~*~


"Kurapika, it's for you."

The melodious voice pulled the blond from his intense focus, and he turned to the open door. A young woman, disfigured but glowing, stood in the way of the light from the other room. One hand clasped the phone in an attempt to muffle anything said between the two of them.

"It's the doctor."

Kurapika nodded and stood, accepting the phone with a quiet thank you so that Senritsu could leave the office and return to manning their shop.

"Hello?"

"Yo," returned Leorio's familiar baritone. Something about his voice struck Kurapika as odd, however. Even though it was familiar, it was definitely distracted.

"Did something happen?"

"You mean besides the fact that I took a lousy job on your lousy reccomendation?" the man snorted.

Kurapika rolled his eyes as he picked up the book he'd been reading and settled against the wall. It was always easier to speak to Leorio when he was on his feet, easier to think as well. "Yes, actually."

Silence followed, the shuffling of papers, then: "You don't have to keep looking for that kid."

He nearly dropped his book. "You found him?"

"Not exactly," the other man sighed. The sound of crumpling paper again. "It's more like he found Gon."

Kurapika contemplated this for a moment. "Are you still... at the school?"

"Yeah," the doctor confirmed. "They want me staying for club activities. But I'm also preparing for a physical that's scheduled for tomorrow morning. Actually, that's not a bad segue."

"What do you mean-"

"Kid who's been homeschooled his whole life is being transferred into the system. Official records claim his name's Killua Zoldyck."

This time Kurapika did drop his book. He didn't bother picking it up, instead moving back to the table to snag a pad and a pen. "You said Zoldyck?"

"That's the one. Older brother helped with filling out paperwork. Creepy guy. None of the staff were willing to say anything against him. Obviously from a rich family, an old one too, with influence. Any idea why a kid from a family like that would be running from a hit?"

"Leorio." The frustrated blond massaged his forehead once he'd managed to shut the older man up long enough to get a word in. "The Zoldycks are widely renowned as an organization of hit men."

The papers on the other end of the phone line ceased their shuffling.

"Gon's stray... is an assassin."

"Or simply taking the name of one," Kurapika corrected stiffly.

"The only reason he'd do something like that would be to get their attention," the dumbfounded man trailed. "But his papers were legit enough for the school to accept them..."

"His intimidating brother and the name itself may well have been sufficient distractions from any signs of forgery."

"So... he's not an assassin."

"He could be."

"Well, which is it?"

"Leorio, I'm only listing possibilities," the blond interjected before any tables could be flipped. "If you must know, why not ask him tomorrow morning?"

"Ah..."

The response made it clear to Kurapika that Leorio hadn't even thought of that possibility. Well, it wasn't surprising. People in their situations rarely came to conclusions like that because they had secrets they had to hide. Huge, debilitating secrets. They assumed that others would want to keep their own secrets as much as they needed to keep theirs.

"He registered for public school under the name Zoldyck. If that isn't a declaration of intent, nothing is," Kurapika explained, his pen flying across the pad of paper. Notations on their conversation were quickly scrawled in small, curvy print. "Those aren't the actions of someone trying to stay under the radar. If you ask, he'll probably answer. You can decide whether you believe him from there."

"Kurapika..."

"Mm?"

"Exactly how renowned are we talking about here?"

That was a tricky question. There was no concrete scale used to measure infamy.

"They have been accused of over five hundred murders in the last twenty years, yet no one has ever built up a strong enough case to send even one of them to court. A single picture of one Zoldyck with proof of authenticity would be worth enough to decently sustain you through age seventy."

It was another few seconds before Kurapika heard breathing again.

"This is going to be one hell of a rich high school."

"Leorio, they can't-"

"I know, I know," the doctor waved him off as he finally went back to his preparations in the school's infirmary. "Just trying to make a point. Why the hell would the kid put himself at risk like that? Well, whatever."

Kurapika frowned on his end when Leorio hastily cut off the approaching conversation before he could answer. "You aren't thinking of...?"

"This line still as secure as always?"

"Of course."

"Think I'll be grabbing a few supplies for the clinic then. Save you the hassle," Leorio intoned dryly. "I'll keep you updated on that ancient pottery fiasco too. I might be able to snag a few pieces cheap while they're hot, then hand them over to you once they've cooled down. See ya."

With a click, Kurapika was left sighing into the silence. He set the phone down and eyed the notes he'd taken before setting them down as well.

That investigation would have to wait until his current one was complete. Fortunately for Killua Zoldyck, a Spider sighting two blocks away was an infinitely more pressing matter than some new kid in town with a death wish.

~*~


"Here it is!"

Gon looked up. He didn't get it.

Killua only shook his head. He grabbed Gon's hand and dragged him the last few steps.

The two boys were now standing in front of a construction zone blocked off from the public by a criss-crossed wire fence. The old building had been condemned some time ago: an extravagant hotel in its day, now nothing more than a patch job gone bad. Five stories of rooms put to shame by the merciless whims of time. Supposedly they were going to build a new hotel in its place, one that wasn't a ridiculous fire hazard, but demolishing the old building had been put on hold when financial issues arose. If Gon remembered correctly, those issues had recently been solved, and the demolishing would take place next week. He passed by workers every day on his way to school, watching them set up framework around the exterior.

He looked on silently as one of those workers surveyed the front of the building before meandering to the side. The moment the man was out of sight, Killua began climbing the fence.

"H-Hey-"

"Sh!"

The light haired boy raised a finger to his mouth and promptly dropped to the ground on the other side. He motioned to the opposite side of the building with his head and sneaked off. Gon took one last look around before hastily catching up.

"Killuaaa, we're gonna get in trouble," he whispered into the boy's ear, but Killua wasn't having any of it.

"Only if you get us caught. You can outrun a lazy, fat construction worker, can't you?" he quietly hissed in return, ducking around the metal framework.

"Monta's not lazy!" Gon huffed. "He has a glandular problem!"

"...You know his name?"

Gon shrugged, and Killua was forced to just accept that the crazy guy knew everybody in the whole damn city, names and health problems alike.

With a shake of his head, Killua led Gon through a window, and the two boys followed the wall to a dumbwaiter. He crawled in and grinned, patting the bottom of the dumbwaiter next to him. "There's room for two." While Gon squeezed in, Killua reached out to tinker with the control pad. In seconds, they were heading down.

"I had to hide out here for a little while about two months ago. I figured I'd just hole up in the dumbwaiter until the coast was clear, but..."

Killua didn't need to elaborate. He only opened the door and revealed their destination. Untouched by the construction was a basement floor. A doorway on the other end of the room made way for stairs, but the door at the top was boarded up. Other than that, the room was virtually empty. Dusty shelves and wine racks lined the walls. One could find where furniture used to sit by watching for rectangles on the floor where the layers of gray were thin enough to actually see the wood's color below. A mouse hole was visible in the far corner of the room, but despite neglect, the wood itself seemed sturdy and free of damage.

"So?" Killua smiled, stretching his arms behind his head. "Is the secret base a sufficient apology, captain?"

"But isn't this place...?"

Killua could tell how difficult it was for Gon to stay in one spot. He wanted to shoot off like a bullet, ricocheting off of every surface, but instead he forced himself to remain still and quiet. He didn't want to get too excited over something that might not be there in a week. That only added to Killua's smugness. He was so awesome; this really was the perfect choice.

"They're not bothering with the basement. The dumbwaiter's going with the rest of the old hotel, but the new one they're building in its place is just going to be unattached. Those stairs? Lead up to a separate building that's being used as storage. They're not demolishing that secondary building, so there's no point in demolishing the basement."

"So..." Gon trailed off, eyes gradually widening in realization. "So nobody's ever going to come down here!"

"Bingo!"

The bullet shot off.

"Killua, this is so cool! We could put all sorts of stuff in here and hold secret meetings and hide animals and and- Killua! We'll never lose at hide and seek again!"

The pale haired boy watched in self-satisfied glee as Gon bounced around going on about what they could put where and how they would get it in, what it would be like while construction was happening and afterward, how to avoid being caught. He didn't even seem to stop for air, babbling a million miles a minute and enjoying every bit of it.

Yeah, it was "sufficient."

It had been floating around the back of his mind for a while. The idea that he could keep this place to himself, finally have one small section of the world in which he could be alone, away from prying eyes and judging glances. But when Gon had said that... When Gon had reacted as ridiculously as that, somehow this place was the first thing that had popped into his head. He had actually wanted to make it up to the other boy.

Those lame punishments were something he'd accepted as necessary. If you want something, you pay for it. If he wanted to run off, he'd have to pay up afterward. And yet when Gon outrightly demanded something of him, he didn't feel like he was paying anything at all. It felt the same as that night on the roof, except even better. This time he'd initiated it. All this excitement was his doing.

He'd killed people. He'd beaten down professional men three times his age and size. He was faster than Olympic runners, stronger than heavy lifters, and better educated than college graduates. Never before had he felt such accomplishment as he felt right then.

"Hey, Kiiiiiilluaaaa~?" Gon waved his hand back and forth in front of him. "Were you listening?"

"Yeah, sure," he waved the other boy off.

"Then what do you wanna bring in here? I've been saying all sorts of things, and you've just been quiet. It has to be able to fit through the door, but... it's not our secret base if only my stuff is here!"

Killua frowned momentarily. "Yeah?"

"Yeah! And I'm the captain, so what I say goes!" Gon commanded, sticking his tongue out as he did so.

Just like that, Killua's frown was replaced with a smirk. "Then I want some wine to fill up those racks."

"But we're underaged."

"We're also trespassing."

Gon took a moment to think about this.

"I guess one or two bottles wouldn't be so bad...."

That's the spirit!" Killua cackled, pouncing his friend armed with a noogie.

That was when Killua's cellphone began ringing. The two boys paused awkwardly, unsure of what to do, but finally Killua let go and picked up.

"Yeah." Silence. "Yeah." Silence. "Fine."

Without another word, he hung up, turning a hesitant bite of his lips toward Gon. "I... have to go."

Gon was obviously disappointed, that endless energy suddenly at its end. His shoulders slouched as he frowned deeply. They'd been having so much fun just a second ago.... But then a thought hit him, and he looked back up to Killua, hope settled like little stars in his big brown eyes.

"See you tomorrow?"

Killua tossed the phone in the air and caught it with a small smile. "Of course. I can't skip school on my first week, right?"

"We can figure out how to fix everything up at school this week and then come in on the weekend!" Gon exalted.

"Awesome."

A thumbs up sealed the deal, but Gon quickly rammed his own thumb up against Killua's before he could pull his hand away.

"It's a promise."

With that, the two boys parted ways, waving goodbye at the end of the block before scuttling off into the early evening.

The moment Gon was out of sight, however, Killua's cheeky grin vanished.

"You didn't tell him what we do."

The voice was calm and quiet, voiced from the shadows. Killua turned in that direction anyway, to indicate to the person speaking that he knew exactly where they were hiding.

"You couldn't hear what we were saying inside."

"But I know you didn't tell him."

Killua just shook his head with a snort and shoved his hands in his pockets. "No. He didn't ask. You just don't understand the difference."

Silence for another moment, then a small child came forth from behind a light pole. The child was dressed darkly to match the oncoming night, black hair reaching slender shoulders and traditional Japanese garments hanging down to a pair of sandals with ridiculous lift.

"Mother says it's important."

"She always says that."

Even so, he followed the smaller figure out of the area, homeward bound.

~*~

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