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Requiem of Fate

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Requiem of Fate

 

Chapter one: Extirpating Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

It’s that dream again. Cold and callous eyes, a chafing and caustic laugh, along with swirling shadows twisting in hideous tendrils form a treacherous and morbid scene, leaving elongated, merciless fingers to grip deep into one’s being. A silent scream grips the heart, and it leaves only a breathless remnant. It’s always the same vision. Repetitive, despairing, the coiling darkness like elongated shadows that seem to reach consistently, and its dismal call forever haunting one nearly into the depths of eternity.

 

The experience is suffocating, which causes the throat to cinch and burn, leaving that sense of paralysis, and unable to move as those calculating, burning eyes dig abyssal into the very soul.  

 

It always starts out the same with someone standing just outside the entrance to a grand archway, though its surface had long since cracked and chipped away by the wicked hands of time. Crawling vines and ivy had long since overtaken its intricate surface, a proclamation of its initiation into the surrounding lush forest. A lone figure surveys its remnants, observing what had degraded so long ago while bathed in the slowly setting sun looking taken aback. For a moment, the person is hesitant and appears reluctant to proceed forth past the beckoning archway, seemingly terrified of what lies beyond.

 

A whisper echoes through the canopy of trees, its gentle caress like that of the frigid wind as it whisked through short, aurulent locks and swept them back to reveal vibrant cerulean eyes that harbored uncertainty, almost as if they caught within the budding throes of utter dread.

 

Moments tick to what feels like an eternity and soon the figure motions forth, though the canter is unhurried, steps slow and indecisive while moving towards a destination the person knows will most surely cause an upsurge of more suppressed and unforgotten pain.

 

Still, onward they press, traversing the winding path of a marble stairway which had collapsed through the years, the luster fading away and leaving behind only but a distant memory. The figure clutched their chest as a heavy laden sensation caused them to seize momentarily before sharply exhaling while gripping to the trunk of a tree for support. A soft whimper faltered into the silence as if life had ceased to exist and it took moments before the person was stable enough to progress forward, finally reaching the apex of what destiny seemed to have proclaimed so long ago.

 

Shells. So many of them, empty and charred, hollow foundations with jutted and broken timber, corrosion and decay having staked its claim, leaving nothing but washed away dilapidated remains in its wake. The vision of despair was clear in within the imagery which painted a scene of something horrific, something maligned, the ending disaster only wove a tale of the catastrophic event that took place.

 

Slowly the figure was treading forward, eyes seeming to harbor a baleful sadness as revisions of unwanted and torturous memories came flooding back to mind, and their fists clenched in an almost white-knuckled grip while crystalline droplets threatened to fall unbidden from now sheltered eyes. Almost as if in mirrored connection, the sky turned a sudden ashen gray, covering up the once vibrant beauty of the setting sun to deploy angry thunderheads, as the earth appears to feel the figures growing dolor. Its outcry almost matched the emotion displayed as a soft deluge began to tumble down upon the person who had collapsed to the ground, seeming to have lost all strength and composure.

 

Soft cries and weeping could be heard echoing throughout the surrounding foliage, and the mournful din was a constant reminder of the pain and suffering long since endured. Even the remembrances of that one fateful night when the revelation had finally come to pass where realization struck like a mallet to an anvil brought an understanding that coming back only reopened so many old wounds. It was then, however, the person found the strength to move on.

 

Even as the wracking sobs tore through the intemperate figure as they remained crumbled upon the ground, shoulders trembling with each shaky breath taken; there was no denying the aspect of unrequited lament that they were forced to endure. Everything around them was a constant reminder of just what had been ripped away and so callously taken without so much as remorse or care. Even as their head arose, blond tresses swaying within the chilled breeze, it was apparent that there was no happiness or solace to be found, only shattered memories of what could have been. Slowly the figure stood up on shaky legs and progressed forward, though albeit erratic, and stopped just short of a large building decorated in gaudy appearing colors, its thatched roofing had given in and caved so long ago.

 

It was almost insufferable, even as the flashbacks replayed to happier times of a lush and vibrant garden where bountiful varieties of food had begun to grow while a gentle and pretty woman with a tranquil aura about her was tending to the plants as if they were her very own children. She had fathomless and loving eyes with a tender smile adorning pure lips, the vision of utter grace while she hummed a familiar tune. It was almost as if it was yesterday when those eyes had landed upon them, though her attention was on a small child who ran about the field while giggling and jaunting around happily. Large sapphire blue eyes regarded the woman with complete and utter joy.

 

It was a forlorn memory, even as the very essence of it seemed to bring back nothing but remembrances of exactly what could have been. Every notion of that vital knowledge seemed to entice only seething rage and trepidation, bordering again on the verge of total relapse as so many years of pent up hostility and disgust came raging to the surface and one of the figure’s hands balled into a fist.

 

The thunderheads clapped in the sky above causing the brew to become more prevalent, and the sound of melancholy reverberated through the area. It was a dismal portrayal of something so far gone, so lost, that such was gone forever.

 

Even as the figure kneeled, tension and reluctance evaporating long enough to permit one hand to ghost over the once desecrated garden with trembling fingers, those vibrant and beautiful flowers long extinguished, it was the one thing of which would always be a constant reminder. It was an etching forever bound eternally within the mind of why they harbored so much desire for revenge and held an eschew for any semblance of a normal life. The fires burned so strong, realization long since delivering its decisive blow, and leaving behind a reality that nothing was left.

 

Shedding so many tears, wallowing in grief, feeling lost and torn asunder, to simper within an endless assault of indescribable loneliness only did nothing but to serve as a conduit for despondency.

 

It seemed endless to know you were all alone in the world and the last of your kind. Such was painful to bear, even while the figure retracted and another pitiful sob rose dismally into the air, a sudden directional shift in the wind which invoked a change in pressure jolted the person upright and snagged their attention. The whispering of voices swept through the swaying trees, and an ominous feeling hung in the air. Worry clutched at the figure as their head shifted from left to right while attentively surveying the area around them. Their hackles quickly arose as something foreboding had forced their guard to raise and become highly alert, while another voice, this time more menacing in nature wafted around the figure, the chuckle taunting and mocking.

 

Instinctively, their right hand rose as something silvery materialized out of thin air around slender digits as it glinted off the fading sun, darkness invoking as it descended, and encapsulated the forest around them. For a moment time seemed to stand still, everything going pin-drop quiet and the figure breathed heavily, pants laden within their ears, though a sense of dread clung adamantly to their heart.

 

Silence ensued as nothing appeared to move, then something nefarious crept forward as piceous tendrils slunk across the floor, their intimidating presence wandering towards the oblivious figure, rising almost viciously towards them. It wavered like monstrous, gnarled fingers, disgusting and horrific, coiling viperously at the person’s sides, taking them by surprise. Long, elongated chains suddenly lashed out, attacking the encroaching mass, only temporarily dissipating it before the inky blackness returned, and resumed its assault.  


Quickly, the appendages began to curl around the figure’s legs as they rose up around the person's body and in their panicked state, they began attacking blindly, though every attempt to ward off the malevolent entity from trapping them within its nightmarish grasp was in vain.

 

Fear elicited a vibrant, piercing shade of red to the figure’s eyes and desperation became the focal point of their survival. The chains whipped erratically around them, clashing and lunging in a fruitless attempt, though the valiant effort hadn’t gone unnoticed.

 

Little by little the tendrils crawled over them, twisting and clutching, almost entirely amassing as the things eventually reached the figure’s shoulders, and a deep voice rang out amiss the din, its heartless tone criticizing the person’s useless attempt at saving themselves. Their eyes widened in sheer apprehension which deepened the vibrancy of the figure’s eyes as realization seemed to strike once again and fear washed over their once steeled visage.  

 

Dismay soon laced those defiant and endless red depths as the somber creature constricted further around them, almost encasing the person in complete darkness. That odious voice was inevitably crushing their will, ending all hope and just before unconsciousness claimed them, two loathsome gray eyes bored impishly down into their own, laughter trailing them into eternity.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Kurapika jolted awake and sat up ramrod straight in bed while breathing hard as thick beads of sweat rolled off his slender flame. His clothes clung tightly to his body, and the bedding was completely disheveled. It had been that dream again, the very same one he had the unfortunate encounter with on an almost nightly basis. Each and every time it occurred, he would always find himself back within the forests of Lusko and the village he was once raised in but had also abandoned.


He had returned after learning of his family’s massacre, looking over the remains of his home and weeping for what was lost. Though while he grieved, something horrific would clutch to him, practically suffocating as a thick and twining mass would encircle his body that threatened to kill him each time. Right before he would wake in a raging sweat, shock and fear would grip his soul as an incorrigible laugh tore through his heart, and he would find himself staring up into two cold and emotionless gray eyes.

 

Each and every time it was exactly the same; the remembrance of it seemed to burn deep into his very being. For months the dream had been recurring, and to where he was getting very little sleep anymore. The repercussions had started taking its toll, affecting him during his daily processes; even his friends had noticed the changes and had expressed their concerns.

 

Slowly Kurapika lifted a hand to clutch his chest as he tried to calm down. His golden locks had become matted and tousled and stuck to his face, almost concealing the fact that his eyes had turned briefly scarlet before resuming their normal chilling blue.

 

When his breathing finally evened out, the Kurta disentangled himself from the sheets and climbed out of bed, realizing it wasn't yet dawn outside and headed towards the restroom, deciding a nice warm shower would be the remedy to his nerve-wracking experience. After plodding into the small room and standing before the vanity, the reflection that stared back was startling.


Dark circles had accentuated his usually vibrant cerulean eyes and were rimmed slightly in red with puffy spots beneath. It was clear to tell he hadn’t slept properly in days. Sighing dejectedly, Kurapika went over to the large porcelain basin and stepped into it after doffing his damp clothes upon the tiled flooring. He turned the knobs and then stood beneath the warm spray which soon washed his bare, lithe form in a soothing caress.

 

For some time he had been trying to analyze the meaning behind the dream as each event always occurred the same way, though he felt it had to be something significant. Whatever it was though, Kurapika wasn't entirely sure of.

 

One thing was for certain – every time he closed his eyes, he was transported back to that night, and to the same tragic scene that haunted him for so long. His entire village had been plundered, everything burned, all his memories, everyone he knew, it had all vanished in the wisps of smoke that arose from the still smoldering shells that had been left behind. Even the home he had grown up in was nothing but shattered remains. It brought him to his knees, and Kurapika knew that deep within his own heart, he was weak, despite all his vows and convictions. Constantly reliving the tragedy was slowly causing him to crumble and come undone.

 

Kurapika felt tears threaten to break the dams that so desperately tried to forbade their release, and he fell against the cold tile of the shower wall. The water that soaked his tresses ran off the silky tips while rivulets drew sinuous patterns down his fame as his shoulders quaked with ebbing control.


He couldn’t do this; every part of him was just so tired of dealing with the constant pain. He had long since made peace with himself, and with his past ever since he entrapped the leader of the Genei Ryodan and sealed his Nen, leaving him upon that barren plateau. That was the very moment he decided it was time to let go, and move on to find a different path in life.

 

Or was it?

 

For so long he had walked a path laden with thorns that only led into the bowels of destruction and the desecration of his very soul. It was something Kurapika didn’t like to think of, much less dwell on. For him, it was a chained reality, much like the binding his own Nen chains created, even when he contrived them, their sole reasoning for existence was the extraction of vengeance. Yet, when he gazed down upon them now, there was a sense of listlessness when he tried to feel their connection and their silvery presence offered no semblance of comfort.

 

Now all the chains seemed to hold was a constant reminder of the painful life he led.

 

Would he ever be able to extricate himself from the desolate path that fate has so cruelly chosen for him, or what it had destined for him?

 

It was difficult, almost unbearable. Although Kurapika had settled on just finding the remaining missing pairs of Scarlet Eyes so he could give his brethren eternal rest, it seemed that no matter how hard he tried or how far the distance, he simply couldn’t evade his past. Its ever-present hold on him perpetually reinforced just how dismal his life had become and was always a constant reminder that he may never escape it. The solace he had always sought always seemed so far out of reach.

 

Sighing in abjuration, Kurapika exhaled sharply and banished the very notion of his thoughts to the furthest depths of his mind as he was wasting too much energy wallowing in it. He straightened within the warm spray as it continued to pour over him, and Kurapika took the opportunity to thoroughly wash as his focus deviated towards his current agenda for the day. He had plans to meet up with Gon, and the rest of his friends for a long, overdue get together they had long since neglected to do or had just been too ridiculously busy to find the time for.

 

In any regard, Kurapika didn’t have the time to waste on such frivolities. If one could really call it that? Perhaps it wasn’t entirely nonsensical; but for now, he would have to push the feelings aside, as much as the lulling pull to seek answers retained strong, it wasn’t really priority.

 

Though it would eventually prove just how wrong he really was.

 

“There has to be some meaning or an answer for what it means. But at the moment…” Kurapika's train of thought was cut off when he stepped out of the shower to dry off, and the blond caught a fleeting glimpse of himself in the adjacent mirror. For the breadth of a moment, his eyes must have attempted their legendary change – flecks of garnet hue graced the vibrancy of wistful ceruleans, although the flash was gone as quickly as it appeared, and left Kurapika pondering exactly why such an abrupt transformation took place. There was just so much colliding upon him all at once; it was overwhelming.

 

Life sure has a funny way of doling out punishment, doesn’t it?

 

Once Kurapika finished, he exited the bathroom and returned to the bedroom of the little apartment he lived alone in – which he preferred to be that way despite his friends insisted on residing together. Having the privacy was nice. Especially considering just how hyperactive Gon and Killua could be, and Leorio’s snoring which resembled way too much of a freight train ramming through any dwelling, putting up with that daily would have practically driven him crazy. He chuckled at the thought; it was one of many fond memories he had of his friends, and even though he had vowed so long ago never to get too close to anyone, they had quickly wormed their way into his once steel imbued heart. The fond reminiscing only furthered the excitement to see them, especially after so long; he was epinephrine to learn about their most recent exploits since the last time together.

 

Completely ignoring the still disheveled bed that only seemed to incite the emergence of those superfluous memories, the blond padded over towards the large cherry oak dresser to find something to wear, and opted for something casual, but comfortable. For a while, Kurapika had been donning crisp business suits due to his job as a bodyguard while in Nostrade’s employ. Throughout that time, he had been coaxed into aiding the audacious man with his ploys to regain his lost fortune or during his own objectives as he used the connections Nostrade had with the Mafia to track down the remaining Scarlet Eyes. Both aspects were taxing, and the Kurta was quite frankly just mentally exhausted. It was nice for a chance to take a break and simply breathe.

 

Or what he could be classified as being able to breathe.

 

Opening up one of the topmost drawers, he pulled out a plain, soft red t-shirt and khaki shorts, noting how long it had been since he was able to wear something that didn’t feel like it was bathed in about fifty gallons of starch. Kurapika quickly changed, then quietly exited the bedroom and wasted no time slipping through the quaint living room with its mediocre décor and furnishings, which the blond had always been modest and never really delved into the more posh things in life. Everything was simplistic, just as Kurapika liked it and for him, it was enough to remain in contentment.

 

All his life he had been taught to enjoy the basics and to cherish the value of the little things, that nothing should ever be taken for granted. Though such standards weren’t exactly the easiest things to uphold, he had managed quite well, and never attempted to go above his means as his living space clearly denoted.

 

Modesty was something the Kurta refused to let go of while trying to retain his sense of a moral compass, but during the most trying times, it was something that got tested. There we even times where those limits revealed that his resolve, determination, and tenacity would waver or crumble and open doorways to places Kurapika never wished to venture. Some of those instances he wanted to forget where he caught himself faltering past the boundaries of what he considered acceptable in favor of more heinous crimes, or indulging in random acts of thievery to ascertain his personal goals. It was that part of himself Kurapika hated the most.

 

Was it possible, however, that he could be seen as superficial?

 

Pushing his way into the kitchen, the blond wasted no time making a beeline towards the coffee maker to get his much-needed dose of caffeine. Since he knew what kind of events he was going to be dealing with, friends or no, he was going to need something to kick start with, as it was plain as the day was long that sleep deprivation was catching up and beginning to make itself known. Kurapika made a disgruntled sound in the back of his throat and noticed the faint auric glow streaming through the alabaster curtains that adorned the wall next to the kitchen, and the warmth of its placating allure gave him a welcoming sense of comfort.

 

Sighing contentedly, Kurapika retreated long enough to pour himself a hot cup of java, sweetening it mildly before returning to bask within the inviting rays of the sun as it washed over his lithe frame. The glow flourished around him, and it made his skin seem to shine as the vibrancy of his golden which appeared to be reflective, formed a halo around his head, making him appear angelic.

 

It was hard to believe that something as simple as the presence of the morning sun and its the caress of its rays could prompt such an invocating calm and diminish his tension. Kurapika felt himself slowly loosen up, his muscles growing somewhat lax, as the Kurta found he wasn’t as stiff as he was before. It was nice for a change, especially considering the current events of the morning. Shaking his head, the blond grunted and finished off the remaining fluid within his cup then deposited it in the sink. He took note of the time on the small wall clock that sat next to the fridge. Seven am.

 

Kurapika paused a moment, remembering that he agreed to meet his friends in town for breakfast. Deciding he’d rather not deal with any lip service in regards to punctuality – especially from Leorio, the blond decided it was time to exit his abode, and headed towards his rendezvous point. Besides, he needed to enjoy himself a little.

 

After putting on his shoes and grabbing his keys from the writing desk by the front door, he exited his apartment, then quickly locked up.

 

 

~*~

 

 

“KURAPIKA!” The resonance of the familiar voice rang clearly in his ears, and the blond turned around to be nearly toppled over by a spiky-haired youth barreling at him as large, amber eyes stared up at him in sheer delight. As usual, the boy had a daffy grin spread upon his face.

 

“Gon,” Kurapika responded as he attempted to pry himself from the boy’s vice-like grip, though he wasn’t completely opposed to Gon’s rather crushing hugs. “It’s been a while.”

 

“Yo.” Another boy, about the same age as Gon with silver-hued locks styled in the same motif as the other boy came forth, hands resting casually behind his head. “Long time no see.” He continued as those steel blue eyes hard focused upon the blond.

 

“It’s good to see you both.” Kurapika let his own lips curl into one of those scarce, infinitive smiles, always finding that being in the presence of the two energetic youths had a rather lenitive effect upon him. “You two have been rather well I see?”

 

“Of course. Unless you want to count the numerous times Gon has decided to push his limits during his skill tests while training. A few times he passed out from sheer exhaustion.” Killua mused, a whimsical expression crossing his usually stoic features.

 

“Hey! I don’t always expect things like that to happen!” Gon retorted and pouted.

 

Kurapika couldn’t help but be enthralled by the two’s antics, just like the days when they were traveling during their time at the Hunter Exam, how their banter would eventually liven the mood of any adverse effects, giving the group a reason to dissuade from retaining anger or distress – especially Gon. He had such a bright, infectious personality and knew how to diffuse almost any terrible situation while turning it on its head to bring about the best from generally the worst. Then there was Killua, the former assassin who had a relative dark history. Although it was bloodstained and the fact he was a Zoldyck mattered not to the weighing prospect of what he meant to their wayward group of misfits. Killua was more the brawn of their group, though it was not far from the truth the silver-haired boy also retained his own substance when it came to smart decision making, more often than not, analyzing situations thoroughly and devising a plan before pushing forth, which held its own advantages. Such a ragtag bunch they were, and it was of no mystery why Kurapika felt such an affinity for them.

 

Though someone he realized was missing.

 

“Where is Leorio? Is he with you guys?”

 

Gon looked up to face Kurapika, a cheery expression upon his subtle features, “Of course he is! He insisted on coming! Kept mumbling on how he figured you’d be angry with him if he didn’t.”

 

The blond couldn’t help but laugh; he knew Leorio’s hot, explosive temper was something which had gotten the bewildered man into more trouble than not. Though one thing that held the oldest of their group in high renown was his generosity as he strove to become a doctor to help those who were considered less fortunate. The drive was so instilled, so strong and impellent, Kurapika knew one day his friend would succeed.

 

“Don’t tell me you honestly thought I wouldn’t be here.” A sudden loud and boisterous voice nearly chided from behind him, and Kurapika turned to see a tall man wearing a crisp blue suit with a tie, small glasses perched on the bridge of his nose along with short, cropped hair staring at him, a mischievous grin upon his lips. “There is no way I would have missed this for the world!” It wasn’t long before Leorio had gathered them all up into a ruthless, strangulating hug to which the Kurta found himself wasting no time extricating himself from.

 

“It’s good to see you too, Leorio.” Kurapika choked out as he stood watching the older man with a slightly aggravated stare, hands sweeping almost flawlessly over his clothing to eliminate any further wrinkling.

 

“Yeah, you don’t need to suffocate us, old man.” Killua blurted out as he had also wriggled away from Leorio’s grasp, huffing in exasperation. “Not like we really want you crushing us to death.”

 

The older man couldn’t help but continue to smirk as he enjoyed rousing his friends just as much as they tried to differ from his jabbing and ribbing. The expressions on their visages were priceless, but he was sure that if he continued to push his luck any further, they might decide to drop him on his head.

 

Leorio let the idealism fade away, and his expression turned more serious as his eyes landed almost harshly on the blond, “And what is with the silence all the sudden, Kurapika? It’s been at least a month since we left Yorknew City, and yet, you hadn’t said so much as boo to really any of us.” The rigid tone of the older man’s voice almost struck hard, and the Kurta’s eyes turned downcast, refusing to meet Leorio’s accusatory stare. Of course, Kurapika had a good reason for the extended radio silence, and the fact remained that since he had been working on his own agendas while continuing his job for the Nostrade family, it left little room for recreational activities.

 

Still, couldn’t help but feel that wavering pull of guilt which rolled through his gut and the notion that he had been willfully neglecting those who meant the most to him within the dastardly and unforgiving world only reinforced that feeling. Kurapika sighed, eyes falling closed briefly before reopening and the young man rose to face his friend, glittering sapphires returning with their own resolution. “I’ve had my reasons. Not that I wished to refrain from any form of contact, Leorio, it’s just my job keeps me away and immorally busy, though you most of all I figured would understand that.” Kurapika blinked at the abrasive, stoic undertones crossing his own voice and let the features of his countenance soften while retaining some of his lost composure. “It is most unfortunate I lack the time necessary for indulging in relaxation and fun. Light Nostrade makes damn sure he keeps all of us as busy as possible, and I for one don’t mind the deterrence.” The blond cut his words off, realizing that none of them had actually ordered anything; he inconspicuously plucked the menu off the table, and attempted to immerse himself amidst its contents to avoid any further heated conversation with Leorio, knowing in the long run, it was really just going nowhere. The Kurta had long since made his choices, and as harsh a reality as that was, he just inwardly wished that his friends would be able to come to grips with that and understand.

 

Knowing his luck recently that would be about as farfetched as the Genei Ryodan showing up and professing their retribution to him.

 

“Guys, let’s not fight.” Gon whined as he shifted his worried look between Kurapika and Leorio as he attempted to appease them, “Besides, everything will work out in the end, won’t it?” The boy continued, though his tone resumed its cheeriness almost seamlessly, “It always does.”

 

Kurapika had to admit it, but Gon was right. He usually was.

 

“Alright, alright.” Leorio relented easily, holding his hands up defensively. “It’s not like I don’t realize that Kurapika has a job to do. Of course, he can’t always just up and leave whenever he pleases, but it would be nice if he attempted to at least keep in better contact with us then he has been. I mean… Sometimes I wonder if he is dead or alive!” Leorio quickly balked at the abrupt attempt, but a chilly stare delivered by Killua ceased his tirade and he slid back in his chair petulantly.

 

“Don’t worry Kurapika, he doesn’t mean anything by it.” The silver-haired boy concluded, hoping to keep the blond from getting anymore frustrated than he already was.

 

Truthfully, Kurta had already become unexpectedly detached, his expression going practically blank, and void, his mind wandering back upon a phrasing that he used just moments before Leorio’s submission. For some reason, a single word stuck out in his mind. Genei Ryodan. Why of all things, would the Spiders suddenly become the forefront of his thought processes? As far as he was concerned, he had deviated from his prior conviction of extracting complete and total revenge against the Genei Ryodan the day he sealed their leader’s Nen away and concluded that with their head severed, the rest of the group would be pushed into eventual dispersion.

 

So what purpose would it serve by mulling over what was happening with them at the current?

 

For some odd reason, however, Kurapika's mind was defecting, and those visions shimmered through his mind in near clarity as he saw himself once again standing encompassed by the crumbling and charred ruins of his village. That ubiquitous voice drove hard into his skull, into his being, and down to his very soul as that vicious, nefarious mass of ink-like threads sinuated around him, and nearly cinched the breath in his chest. And just like before, as his consciousness began to face, he saw two emotionless, bitter gray eyes that seemed to hunger for his demise before falling into nothingness.

 

Even as the images replayed over and over within his mind like a broken record, Kurapika started to believe he was reliving his nightmares and was vaguely aware that someone had been tugging hard on his sleeve while concerned voices tried in desperation to reach him.

 

Kurapika clutched his head as he attempted to stave off a bout of nausea, his head feeling like it was in a vice and his eyes closed in sheer attempt to keep his wavering stability.

 

“Huh? What happened?” The blond managed to blurt out, eyes slowly opening once he was confident the dizziness he was experiencing had begun to subside and his gaze landed on three sets of eyes all staring in concern at him. It took him a moment to realize something happened and it became conclusive he temporarily blacked out for he only remembered all of them talking while listening to Leorio’s fussing before everything became a wild blur, the fragments of what transpired after that flitted about his mind. Images came flooding back of black, sinister coils wrapping around his body, and the ungodly sense of dread as the air was being torn from his lungs while those eyes… Always those eyes filled with malice and mirth that bore into his own along with bone-chilling familiarity of it – he knew those eyes, but from where?

 

“What the hell? Are you suddenly going all cationic on us, Kurapika?” Leorio blurted out after a long, awkward silence before Killua clobbered him on the head, the silver-haired boy muttering something about insensitivity before returning his concerned focus back on the troubled blond. “I was only curious if that was the case, sheesh.”

 

Killua shot Leorio another warning look before sighing; something was definitely going on, and he could tell that Kurapika wasn’t telling them something, though he was quite aware the blond had his reasons for generally being closed in. Whatever was causing their friend unease was definitely not something he would have considered keeping as a formal secret.

 

“You suddenly went all weird on us, as if your mind had lapsed or something…” Killua spoke after realizing no one else had decided to answer Kurapika’s question. It was evident the young blond man had no idea what had happened to him; he could see it in the other’s eyes. They were almost glassy as if he had been drunk. “You also began muttering. Something about being watched and that you thought you knew who it was.”

 

Gon who was curious by Killua’s statement, tilted his head as he attempted to process the information, though wasn’t exactly sure what the reference to. Something was definitely off, and well, he couldn’t sit back and let his friend deal with whatever it was all on his own. The black-haired boy sidled closer the blond as his large eyes focused on Kurapika’s distraught visage.

 

“Something is definitely wrong. You can tell us.” Gon tried to encourage, knowing Kurapika was definitely distressed. “We’re your friends and always here for you. There is no need to suffer from this alone.” However, the Kurta sighed, almost in exasperation and his shoulders slouched. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust them; quite to the contrary. He was just saddled with the paranoia of involving them with things he felt wasn't necessary.

 

If anything, Kurapika struggled with himself, and always pondered over what if’s, while constantly torn between wanting to rely on them, and not wanting to burden them. These were his problems and his alone.

 

Yet, he could tell that so long as he bottled up his plights, it would continue to plague him until he relented.

 

“It’s not that I didn’t want to tell you – I do trust you guys, but it’s something I wanted to try and handle on my own. “ Kurapika admitted, albeit ruefully, his depthless eyes landing on Gon’s pleading ones and all the young blond could do was groan abjectly. It burned him down to the core to tell them about those inexorable dreams, as Kurapika feared if they ever discovered the meaning – which he intended to do, it could set them off onto a downward spiral of dangers that could end up haunting them for the rest of his life.

 

He knew just how reckless Gon could be, which sounded very akin to how he was and unfortunately, Killua and Leorio would just follow by default. Kurapika couldn’t live with the knowledge of being responsible for placing them into unnecessary danger. It was quite the conundrum. Either he would be perpetually hounded to divulge the things he had been plagued with or inevitably put them down a dubious path he didn’t want to think about.

 

The blond Kurta drew in a much-needed breath, his lungs were agonizing for what he realized was him withholding from breathing. “I’ve been having these dreams.”

 

“Dreams?” Leorio cut in immediately, shock instantly mirroring over his features.

 

“Yes, dreams. Well. More like nightmares. It’s been the same one.” He began as everyone stilled, only the soft conversation of the other restaurant patrons seemed to penetrate the heavy silence. It was unsettling, and it caused Kurapika to shift in his seat uncomfortably. He could almost feel the barrage of questions that were being concocted to fire in his direction and the Kurta winced.

 

There was just no way he was entirely ready for was about to happen. Another sigh expelled from his throat as Kurapika released a long, laden breath, his chest having felt tight for quite some time now. “The problem is,” The blond continued before any of them had the chance to react, mentally steeling himself for the incoming onslaught, “This dream, I’ve had it almost nightly, and it pretty much happens the exact same way. Starts the same and ends the same.”

 

Kurapika could sense their weighted stares, almost as if they were attempting to bore down into his very soul, their auras slightly flaring and then dissipating. Again the actions pricked at his awareness, heightening his perception and the young blond seized another sharp breath as he attempted to brace himself. If anything, the one person who concerned him the most was Leorio. Just the amount of pressure the other young man was generating made him flinch. He knew his friend was worried for him, but he had a tendency to get carried away and very quickly. The blond sighed again.

 

“What kind of dream is it?” This time it was Killua who spoke, his icy blue eyes focused inquisitively on Kurapika.

 

“Honestly… I don’t know. Though what I do remember about it is that I end up back at my village each time, though everyone is gone.” It was plain as day the recounting of such painful memories was definitely problematic for their friend, and Gon laid a consoling hand on Kurapika’s arm, his expression soft and caring. Nodding from the reassurance he continued, “The place, it had been ransacked. Everything had been burned and left to be buried under years of flora growth. However, the one thing I remember more than anything is this twisted, black mass of hatred and iniquity wrapping itself around my body, almost as if it was trying to drag me under, and preventing me from fighting back. Though right before I’d wake up,” Kurapika breathed in harshly, shaking almost visibly. Then he realized it was all Leorio could do not to leap to his side, but he held up a placating hand, “I am fine.” Of course, reliving the horrors one experienced without any cessation only provoked a higher form of anxiety, and for once, Kurapika could have sworn it was like suffocating. Still, he didn’t want to worry the others much, especially Leorio. That man had liked to leap too quickly, often working himself up needlessly.

 

“It’s okay, Kurapika, we are here for you. Don’t have to continue if you don’t want to.” Gon affirmed, his hand patting the young blond’s arm consolingly. “If it is too painful for you to talk about it we understand.”

 

“No, it’s quite alright. I can continue.” Kurapika closed his eyes momentarily and slowly calmed himself as he invoked placidity back into his mind, finding his composure once more. “As I was saying, the one thing that I noticed right before I’d wake up would be these fathomless gray eyes that seemed to stare endlessly at me, and even though I never realize them right away, each time the dream starts, I would always see them right before waking. What is more disturbing is the familiarity of those eyes.”

 

Kurapika felt haunted, even as he delved back into the aspects of describing those eyes once more. He wasn’t able to shake the odd feeling that he knew more than his mind would let on as if his subconscious had repressed a specific aspect as a type of safety mechanism. For the life of him, Kurapika couldn’t place a finger on what meaning those eyes had or just who they belonged to, but one thing was for sure, aside the wicked entity that would constantly coil around him with its desperation to end his life, those eyes were the only other thing of importance to those dreams. There was significance behind them Kurapika was sure. As to what? Well, that was something he intended to find out.

 

“Eyes, huh?” The silver-haired boy chimed in, expression thoughtful, “Sounds like someone either has or had been watching you. Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary, lately?”

 

Kurapika thought back and really couldn’t pinpoint anything of relative significance. The only thing that had any real connective point was the fact it had to do with his village and kin. It was upsetting and troubling all rolled into one since he was no close to the answers now as he was when the visions first started.

 

“There isn’t anything that I have noticed to be quite honest. As I’ve said, the only thing I can see any relation to is the fact that it may have something to do with my clan, but aside that, nothing.”

 

The prudent look which seemed to cross Killua’s face brought about a sense of shock almost instantaneously for Kurapika knew the young boy was relatively astute and could find the meaning behind nearly anything and without a second thought. It was hard to believe that Killua held such a high intelligence at his age, but he was really about as smart and profound as Kurapika was himself. Not that his other two friends weren’t. But he had to admit, out of them all, Gon appeared to be the most coalesced.

 

Regardless of circumstance or reason, the spiky-haired boy always managed to retain the affinity they had for one another.

 

Killua held up one finger as he looked thoughtful, “There is definitely significance behind it, that much I am certain. It’s just finding out exactly what." Whatever it was, Killua was sure it would become apparent with time. For now, all they could do was analyze the information they had so far. “One thing I will ask though is when did these dreams start? I think that is where we need to start looking."

 

That was definitely one thing Kurapika hadn’t taken into consideration. It wasn’t something he had figured would hold any relevance. Obviously, despite the minor oversight, the silver-haired boy was on the right track it seemed. Though he wasn’t exactly sure on the date specifically of when the dreams had begun, one thing he was confident on was the fact that he had been experiencing them for roughly a little over a month. It had just come out of the blue, for no reason in particular and each night he’d awake from the dream in a cold sweat and shaking. Kurapika wasn’t sure why or what triggered such a nerve-wracking dream sequence, but it was something that he hoped would end soon. The Kurta wasn’t sure how much more of it he could take.

 

Placing a hand on his chin, he tried to wander back to an exact starting point, “If anything I’d have to say the dream started about a month or so ago. I believe not too long after I moved into the current place I am staying at.” Surely that had to mean something, right? Nothing else Kurapika could think of seemed to house any pertinence to his current predicament. “From what I can remember it seemed to initiate a few nights after I had settled in. But I have no idea what would have caused it in the first place.” Kurapika was indeed frustrated as he felt no close to finding out the constant nagging questions that held no answers. If anything, they were right back at the beginning where they started. He raked his fingers through his golden locks, the chains on his right hand melodiously clinking as he did so. “Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin.” The blond added, his voice filled with uncertainty.

 

“I say that actually helps.” Killua blurted out suddenly, much to Kurapika’s dismay and Leorio and Gon’s surprise.

 

“Do you actually have an idea of what it may be?” Gon questioned, his inquisitive nature easily piqued as his focus snapped towards the other boy. “I honestly don’t know what to make of it.”

 

“That’s because,” two slender fingers nearly as pale as snow rose before Killua, the young boy’s lips seeming to curl into a knowing smile, “the significance resides within the relevance of one of the most important aspects of the dream.” He continued, almost seamlessly and quickly provided Leorio a look of warning in case the tall man decided to interject since he looked as if he was preparing to fire back with a retort, though he quickly deflated and slunk back into his chair, a smoldering gaze flickering inside brown eyes. “Kurapika, you said that one of the things you remember vividly more than anything else was these inky like creatures restraining you, which in hindsight was more than likely not being done to drag you into unconsciousness or force you to wake up, but to ensure you witnessed something that would put a persuasive hold on you. Or should I say something which would remain encumbering and influential?“

 

“You don’t mean…?” Shock instantly hit Leorio as realization sunk in. Most times, he wasn’t even remotely astute as the others, but he seemed to grasp what Killua was trying to convey. Though if what the young boy was trying to say was true… He didn’t want to think about it. The thought of it was horrific enough that it was the last thing he would have even wanted to entertain.

 

How something like that could even possibly be the case… He thought they were past that situation, and that Kurapika had long since laid the entire fiasco to rest. Now that it was resurfacing again, Leorio couldn’t help but feel troubled, and a shiver rolled up his spine.

 

“That is what I mean exactly,” Killua confirmed.

 

Silence descended around them, and no one made a move to talk. They sat there staring in contemplation, the awkwardness of it only ambled on, leaving the laden heaviness hanging in the air.

 

“But what exactly are you saying?” Gon was beyond curious at this point, he felt more lost than ever, his gaze flicking from between Leorio to Killua as he wracked his mind for an answer.

 

“Think back, Gon. Think back to Yorknew only about a month and a half ago. You do remember what transpired then, right?” Killua furthered.

 

It was almost as if the spiky-haired youth had been suddenly hit with an epiphany, amber-hued eyes going wide with realization and all three of them regarded Kurapika again with an equal amalgam of uneasiness and dread.

 

The blond simply blinked, startled by their quick and abrupt motions and cocked his head askance, “What? Don’t tell me…” He began, letting his even gaze fall on Killua, knowing his friend obviously had his suspicions, but judging from the conversation and subsequently their collective reactions, it was obvious they had reached a conclusion. “You think you know what it means, then?”

 

“The eyes.” The silver headed boy answered coolly, not missing a heartbeat, though he kept his focus on their blond friend, gauging his reaction, weighing in to see if recognition would hit. “You mentioned seeing eyes right before waking up. The color too is what had me really thinking and to be frank, where do we remember those eyes from? Or should I say who?”

 

It only took a span of a moment before the magnitude of what Killua said struck him hard as it weighed on him like a ton of bricks. Kurapika cursed beneath his breath; never had he thought in a lifetime that his past would just continue to haunt him and drive him deeper into anguish and lament.

 

The very thing which had dogged him for the majority of his life and made him constantly miserable was the very same thing he thought had finally been put behind him, yet, his was coming back to wreak havoc upon his life once again. The very notion brought about an instant surge of disgust and vexation. Kurapika's right hand balled instantaneously into a white-knuckled fist, the chains biting into his blanched flesh. He hissed vehemently between his teeth, causing his friends to jump at the sudden action. Without hesitation or warning, his eyes flashed a deadly, incandescent scarlet.

 

It was as if sin came looking for him, trying to reclaim his soul once again. It left a bitter, vile taste in his mouth and on his tongue.

 

For a split moment, Kurapika felt like his life was beginning to come undone. That everything he had worked so hard for, that all his sacrifices and resignation would have been enough to taper the continuation of his suffering. He had made peace with himself, appealed to a different path and amended his convictions. This he thought was the conclusion after he succeeded in cinching the very source of all his pain and malaise so he could finally move on.

 

But here he was, facing his own demons, facing that monster once again. The Kurta could still feel that his Nen binding on the man remained intact, and was keeping the suppression in place. How that phantom was still able to harrow him, Kurapika intended to find out. It had gone so far that this hateful person was now invading his dreams. It was utter blasphemy.

 

After everything, and all he endured, the blond was beginning to wonder exactly why he was being forced to face such a plaguing entity again.

 

No, he would not let everything he had worked so hard for to be for naught.

 

“I am going to put an end to this once and for all.”

Chapter Text

Dry. It was so dry. Chrollo slowly licked his lips; dealing with the arid city which was strikingly in the middle of the Gordeau Desert that he had taken refuge in wasn’t something he considered easy to contend with. The daily biting winds and unbearable heat and without his Nen as a buffer, just the aspect of the thick sweat clinging to his skin had caused his clothing to practically stick to his body, which was becoming more than annoying.

 

He pulled the sable hued coat that hung upon his frame tight against himself; the arctic fur lining around his neck had long since become matted and damp.  Another bout of wind rustled through the streets and whisked swiftly between the stone and clay buildings, the jagged shards of the desert heavy within its currents.  It was like sandpaper across the skin; another aspect of the city of which he came to hate.

 

Chrollo grumbled and raked his fingers through his raven locks which had become disheveled, long since loose of the gel that was used at one point to hold it back. Specks of sand and dust coated the strands, falling away as his hand retracted, causing him to sigh in exasperation. For weeks now he had dealt with the growing difficulties of his current situation, quickly realizing that regardless of the fact he had placed so much confidence in rectifying the predicament he was forced into, the waiting process for the solution was starting to become less tolerable.

 

It wasn’t quite what he expected. Granted, he had people practically toiling away night and day searching for the one solution that would allow him to return to his former glory, but in the meantime, Chrollo saw each day in essence pass while he did absolutely nothing.

 

Sitting around playing the waiting game wasn’t something that made him any more pleased with his circumstance.

 

How Chrollo Lucifer had come to this, he had really no idea.

 

Another round of fierce wind raged violently through the city, kicking up coarse sand in its wake and the Spider leader hissed in annoyance; dealing with the storms on practically a daily basis was becoming quite problematic.

 

He hissed between his teeth as the sharp particles raked abrasively over the exposed parts of his body and chaffing his skin. The howling sound of the desert storm echoed in his ears; the warning had come quickly, just as every other resident who had decided to brave the harsh conditions instead sought shelter, the streets becoming devoid of any signs of life. Chrollo wasted no time ducking into the nearest building of which he happened to be astride. As luck had it, he found himself inside a dimly lit bar.

 

So many energies all coalesced into one area. A few were even Nen users. Just the amount of aura – Chrollo had to ignore the bombardment of the ebb and flow that washed over his masculine frame and strode casually to an empty seat at the bar.

 

Dark eyes regarded a burly fellow in dusty hued clothing as he was wiping a glass clean with a tinged washcloth and thick eyebrows furrowed in the Spider head’s direction as he settled in. “Don’t see many outsiders in these parts. Suppose you’re just passing through?” The man drawled as hazel eyes creased with age regarded Chrollo questioningly. He readily surmised his choice of attire made him stand out to the locals like a sore thumb. Not that he had any choice really.

 

“You could say that.” He responded smoothly, that ever-present charming smile crossing his lips. Of course, he didn’t intend to reside longer in Ti’alma then necessary; he already had his fill of the place. For now, he simply would deal.

 

“So, can I get you anything?” In all retrospect, the Spider head felt he could actually use something to quiet his twitching nerves. Normally he didn’t feel the necessity to delve into such simplicities, but for the moment, Chrollo was stuck where he was while waiting for the dreadful storm outside to eventually break.

 

At the moment he could have gone for a glass of sweet red wine. But judging from the type of establishment and available commodities, he severely doubted wine would have been one considered a popular enough item to warrant selling. Chrollo settled for Ale instead.

 

It wasn’t long before he was nursing a glass of dark amber liquid, the taste was rather delightful and sharp, its flavor pliable enough that the leader of the Spider regarded the alcoholic beverage was worthy of his regard. Of course, Chrollo wasted no time relishing in the finer things in life and anything that even remotely piqued his attention he felt was deemed worthy as part of his rather particular tastes. This was no exception. Yet his thoughts wandered once again, back towards his current predicament.

 

The thrum of conversations in the room started to dim, and he became vaguely aware of what was transpiring around him. Even the watchful gaze of the wizened old man who stood close by and cast fleeting glances in his direction was something Chrollo wasn’t completely unaware of.

 

He swirled the liquid within the glass and stared contemplatively into its depths.

 

Again his mind wallowed over every event that led up to the exact moment in time which had brought him to where he was now.

 

No, he definitely had an idea. Chrollo knew his cause for the current standing he was in. It wasn’t something that he particularly liked thinking about. How he was so simply bested the way he was, tricked and fooled due to his imprudence, then trussed up like a holiday turkey and the blow it had dealt his pride wasn’t something he had taken very lightly. Every aspect of that entire scenario gripped at him down to his very soul, Chrollo’s mind falling back on the events that had lead up to his inexorable capture.

 

However, the one thing that stood out the most within that folly was the one thing he had thought was long since defunct from the world but had returned in karmic form.

 

The Chain User.

 

He was like the wind, expeditious and decisive, each precious second was down to the most accurate detail and exceptionally cunning, which had effectively given him the upper hand. In a split second, Chrollo had fallen into the hands of the very person he learned had wanted him dead with an unabated passion. The look in those eyes – even after that ridiculous disguise had been removed, he remembered burned with such an ethereal glow, they were like scintillating embers within heated depths.

 

Something about the resolution which seemed to flash beneath the animosity the blond man held quickly had caught Chrollo’s attention. Despite the fact he had stared down a possibility of facing his own death, those eyes lingered invariably in his mind, even if they held such aberrant disgust when they focused on him, the burning desire that sought his own demise and held such conviction and obstinacy was only befitting of someone as elegant and steadfast as the blond was.

 

It was the same one of whom he learned was the last of a civilization he and his spiders had eliminated with their own hands. The Kurta.

 

Such beauty and grace, delicate and radiant, the young man was perfection at its finest. Just like a living relic, a walking piece of history, the magnificence and the ferocity, such a being Chrollo found was indeed, a rarity, like fine art that was meant to be savored and admired. Those golden tresses and transfixing eyes in their sapphire allure, Chrollo couldn’t get it out of his mind. He knew the blond was a capable fighter and had the strength of will, though he was far from his full potential, yet, there was room for advancement.

 

However, one thing the Spider leader wanted to be sure of was just how much the Kurta could take before he would inevitably crack beneath induced pressure.

 

Kurapika. The name had so easily rolled off his tongue. So many times he found himself repeating it, determined to memorize it, ingrain it into his mind, and affix it into permanent knowledge as he fully intended to capture such an exceptional creature. His hand gripped tighter around the glass, the strain nearly casing the fragile material to shatter. Chrollo snorted; the prospect seemed almost too perfect, just the very thought of having something so prized, so unique, it was superlative, and the Genei Ryodan leader wasn’t about to let something so opportune slip past his fingers. Not this time.

 

“You look troubled.” The statement broke him from his reverie, and Chrollo’s focus landed on the old man who was watching him quizzically. “I can see it in your eyes.”

 

“Yeah, I just have a lot on my mind. It’s nothing I can’t handle, however.” Chrollo returned his attention back to his drink, though he was pretty sure his answer hadn’t convinced the old man. He simply let the edges of his lips curl into a smile; regardless this was something he decided he would assuage on his own.

 

The bartender had shaken his head; either way, he figured whatever the young man was dealing with, he didn’t want to harass him over it and simply returned to the task of watching over the patronage which attended his tavern, leaving the dark-eyed customer to his thoughts.

 

For a moment, Chrollo drifted, wrapped up in the calm the alcohol was providing him with before settling again. He would make sure to see his little problem was handled and without any interference. It was a promise. One he made silently to himself and would accomplish once he managed to get the Chain User’s accursed Nen binding off his heart.

 

Yes, it would be a reckoning indeed.

 

~*~

 

“It’s something I have to do,” Kurapika responded vehemently as he stood at the edge of his kitchen with his back to his friends as they had been arguing with him for practically the last hour. “There are answers I need to exactly why I have been constantly plagued as I have and I believe that there is only one way to find out.”

 

The blond rubbed his temples – he was tired.  For weeks now he had been tapped, running on practical fumes from the lack of sleep and the exhaustion from dealing with from his workload constantly pilling up. Between the two outlets, he was left with little reprieve. Now that they had finally made some headway as to what may be the source of his unwanted dreams, Kurapika felt the only solution to his ongoing plight would be to seek out the one person whom he was certain was the cause of it all.

 

Not that he was keen on meeting the older man. Quite to the contrary, Chrollo Lucifer was one of the last people he ever wanted to see again. But Kurapika had since settled with the fact that if he wanted to find out exactly why he was going through the suffering he had, the best recourse was to track down the Spider head and at least question him. Or beat him utterly senseless.

 

“Still, I don’t think you should do this alone!” A man with small glasses and cropped hair blurted out angrily, “Who knows what possible traps that maniac could have waiting for you! I just don’t trust it!”

 

“Don’t you think I am not already aware of those facts, Leorio?!” Kurapika retorted as he rounded, eyes flashing briefly crimson before returning to their normal state. “I know what I could be potentially walking into. It’s still something I cannot avoid; no matter how much we discuss it.”

 

“Doesn’t mean I like it! I mean come on Kurapika! For all that we know Lucifer could have planned this out all along. At least I think that would be a reason for caution.”

 

The blond sighed – this was becoming tiresome. Of course, Kurapika understood the reasoning for his friend’s concerns, but it was unavoidable. The dreams had been growing in intensity, and the toll they were waging upon him wasn’t something he wished to allow to continue. He had pondered over so many other probabilities of handling the situation without resorting to the very last one he didn’t want to do, but no matter what other circumstances they entertained as a potential solution, it became null before it even started.

 

There was just no other way of dealing with his rather ambiguous problem.

 

“He is right Kurapika, this could be a trap.” A younger voice broke in; dark honey colored eyes landing on the distraught blond with worry, “At least let us come with you. We can help!”

 

The Kurta sighed in exasperation; he had expected no less from them, especially Gon. Still, he had already placed them onto the pathway of danger before, and the idealism of doing it again only wrenched painfully in his gut.  Shaking his head, he closed the gap between him and the young boy, placing the cup he had been drinking from down on the dark Formica countertop.

 

Lithe digits came to rest upon short, brunette tresses, mussing them gently. “Gallant as ever,” Kurapika smiled, head tilting slightly angular, “You never cease to amaze me, Gon. Still,” The blond trailed off, his once faded serious look having returned, “I cannot live with myself should something happen to you,” The surprised looks returned to greet the obdurate blond; Leorio’s jaw had slackened, falling open as if he wanted to say something, but he raised a hand to silence whatever it was. “Any of you.”

 

A deafening silence befell the room, lingering on for what felt like an eternity as Kurapika settled within himself the basis for his decisions. Too many times had he endured the repercussions of his disordered actions, being too brash and quick to react which would ultimately incite grave consequences he wasn’t comfortable with allowing to happen again. Almost each and every time someone he cared about would end up the victim as was proven just recently when he allowed Gon and Killua to go after the Genei Ryodan which very well could have cost them their lives. No. He wouldn’t let someone else suffer for his own impertinence. This was his fight and his alone.

 

“I just simply cannot live with myself if something were to happen to either of you. Not after... Not after last time.” Kurapika finalized, tone firm.

 

This time it was Leorio’s turn to express sympathy and compassion – the older man’s hand clasped Kurapika’s shoulder consolingly, “You understand we are here for you, right?” For a moment, shock laced the blond’s eyes, slightly becoming wider at the epiphany, “Even if we don’t agree with the decisions you make, we will support you regardless. That doesn’t mean we have to like it, though.”

 

It was in moments like these was where he appreciated his friends. Even if he had considered so many times in the past that relationships such as these were nothing but a setback. There were just times where he needed the mental support and stability, which could only be given by those who were there for him unconditionally and regardless of the points when he was rough and stubborn. They saw past his outward flaws and shortcomings. In a way, it was nice to know that they appreciated him enough to stick with him through thick and thin and sometimes he questioned where he would have ended up if it were not for them.

 

Even in light of such alluring facts, the end result remained the same. It was something he had to do alone. Kurapika couldn’t afford any outside interference.

 

“I am not comfortable with it, either. Something doesn’t seem right with the entire situation. But…” This time another voice rang out, clear eyes like that of liquid blue with indiscrete intensity landing on the Kurta, drawing the other’s attention without hesitation. Kurapika flinched slightly at the zeal in the young Zoldyck’s stare. He held one slender finger up, “I believe you know what you are doing and thus I feel you should be alright. However, to ease the tension and concern I know we will have over you doing this, I think it’s for the best you at least keep us updated regularly on your status.”

 

It was good to know at least they had faith in his capabilities. While the blond wouldn’t have put it past them to still come after him at any given time, Kurapika felt that at least they wouldn’t jump the instant he left to try and track him down. The last thing he wanted was for them to get involved in his plans. He knew what he was going to do the moment he tracked Chrollo Lucifer down, and them getting involved would only serve to complicate matters or lest, put them into unnecessary danger.

 

The insight was good, however. Keeping them informed of his status was something that was at least feasible. “Don’t worry. I will check in regularly if that helps you guys feel any better.” At least the situation was beginning to look positive despite the fact he was about to track down one of the most dangerous people in the world. But he dealt a heavy blow once, which was to say he couldn’t again? Kurapika could feel his Judgment Chain still held steadfast around the Spider leader’s heart; the presence was unchanged, so the man was still within forced Zetsu.  In his current state, he shouldn’t be that difficult to handle. Right?

 

He expelled a long, withheld breath and faltered back into the rising, calming waves of his resolve. The comfort it exuded helped him retain a form of quietude; something Kurapika surely needed. Mentally the Kurta braced himself, serene waves enveloping him once again after such a long withstanding interlude – the void had left such an empty feeling, and it allowed him to feel some sort of normalcy once again.

 

A grin peeled over the blond’s lips, replacing the indeterminate frown he held and soon Kurapika found that he was being felled as three bodies landed on top of him in a clumsy, rough hug.



~*~

 

It was quiet. Finally, silence had descended around the room as moonlight filtered in, washing over the area in a phantasmal glow. The soft, resonating sounds of the night had echoed through the surrounding area, filtering in through the open window, the curtains billowing with each gust of wind. Such peace, the tranquility, the ever presence of stillness, Kurapika found such in its lull was a way for him actually to relax, and reach a level of beatitude where he could finally exude all the stresses and negativity he had been holding for so long. Even if it was temporary, it was a welcome change.

 

He closed the book he had been reading, the enriching material was enough of a distraction from the days earlier events, which gave him peace of mind. How easily the blond was able to immerse himself within the confines of literature, and become transfixed by the pages of scripture that held so much valuable information and just how intriguing a lot of the writing was. Reading became a calling of his, finding that it was one of the few indulgences he had within his chaotic life that he could readily enjoy. How easy it was to get lost with each and every book he delved into.

 

Kurapika set it aside, and vibrant ceruleans focused almost absently at the ceiling above him as the bland staccato lining its surface somehow held his idle attention. Ths soft tinkling of his chains seemed to ring melodiously with his unconscious movements and intoned his mood. Kurapika sighed heavily. With the distraction now gone; all he was able to do was focus on his upcoming objective.

 

So many scenarios ran through his mind, so many outcomes.  All the plans he had derived for when he finally encountered Lucifer, and what would be done when such happens, it seemed so overwhelming. Kurapika’s breath hitched in his throat, and a momentary lapse in thoughts drove him back to those events that lead up to that fateful night in Yorknew City. The very one that seemed to change everything and where he felt that his life got upended for the second time. It was somehow, instigated continuously by the very same source.

 

The Genei Ryodan. Somehow it always led back to them and its leader.

 

Just the very thought caused Kurapika to clench his right hand, almost knuckle white, the chains rattling in melancholy, reflective of his sudden change in mood. Why were they, this murderous band of notorious thieves always being a fixture – and a horrible one at that – in his life? It felt as if no matter what he did, the Kurta seemed as if he just could not escape it. Escape them. He even attempted to acquiescence in making peace with himself after he realized what damage the radical blow he dealt the Spiders had caused by killing two of their members and sealing their leader’s Nen. But even then he found no armistice. All that was left behind was mental anguish and an indescribable emptiness.

 

No matter how far, how long, whatever the circumstance, or the change, the end result always concluded the same. Kurapika had been chained, dragged down by some cruel hand of fate and interlocked with the one thing he wished he could permanently remove from his life.

 

How long his mental acuity would be able to hold out, was something Kurapika definitely wasn’t sure on. One thing was for certain; he had to put an end to it, and soon.

 

“Whatever it is you have done to me, or what hold you think you have, I intend to sever it. I will not allow this to continue.” Kurapika thought as his mind ran over the turmoil of emotions that raged through him, feeling all the anxiety and disquietness at once, which left him feeling more confused and depressed.

 

“I will find you, and I will put an end to the constant suffering you have put me through. I will finish what I started. This I swear.”

 

No more games. No more mercy. He was tired of running, tired of enduring. Every aspect of his life had been entirely encompassed and controlled by his past, by the current which he had come to loathe, and the fret that such would follow into the future.

 

A hiss tore from between Kurapika’s clenched teeth, unconscious of the fact that his lithe hands had balled themselves within the silken sheets of his bed. His slender frame shook from the wracking tremors of disgust, of scorn. The once placid and amiable nature the blond had so desperately clung to was now becoming evanescent as anger and contempt, disdain and hatred began to crawl to the surface. Its hold, its grip was growing strong and almost crushing.

 

It was only a matter of time.

 

He would be free, Kurapika was sure of it. No matter what it took, or the price he had to pay to ensure his freedom. No longer would he continue to remain tethered to the dictating flow fate had so easily laid out for him. For once Kurapika would decide for himself on how he wished to live and not by any set of standards but his own. Enough was enough.

 

Such a thought wavered at the edges of his consciousness as his eyes became heavy, the bidding of sleep slowly drawing him toward its gentle caress. Even after the revelation suddenly hit and the Kurta fell into that moment of grandeur, he knew. For so long he had walked such a fine line. But no more. Finally, he would see ablation and no longer be rendered or torn asunder. The final notations peaked, and he made his silent promise before fading into rejoiced slumber.

 

Kurapika would take everything back that had been so horrendously taken from him and seek the retribution he so justly deserved.

Chapter Text

The early morning wind whipped his golden locks around and rumpled his clothing as he stood on the platform clutching his ticket. Kurapika lifted a hand to shield half-lidded blue eyes from the blinding light that had shone brightly with its warm illumination, highlighting the many airships that dotted the horizon. It had been a few hours since he left his home on the outskirts of Yorknew, following the vague direction towards his destination, towards where his quarry would be. Earlier that day, Kurapika had consulted his Dowsing Chain; its prominence had that indicated his search would lead him out of the province and towards the northeast just a few scant hours away. From his observation and knowledge of the surrounding country, he would be heading into the Gordeau Desert.

 

Why there of all places remained a mystery. The desert had very little to offer with its treacherous and dangerous terrain, fierce winds and daily storms that anyone not diverse with handling the unpredictable conditions would most like either suffer being led astray by its mystifying mirages or even worse, never to return alive. Only the longtime locals who resided within the city of Ti’alma were bold enough to venture across its desolate sands and brave its harsh conditions.

 

Kurapika had, indeed, come prepared. One thing for him was the blond had long since been conditioned to handle rough terrain and unforgivable weather conditions. For so long, he had traversed many different lands and crossed through so many countries and cities. He was even used to living it rough. In reality, it would only be a test towards his physical integrity and stability, which Kurapika was confident it wouldn’t be a problem. Though dealing with the constant shifting sands and the high-velocity winds was something the blond wasn’t looking forward to.

 

Mentally. Kurapika ground himself. If he wanted to ascertain the answers he sought and put to cessation his plaguing nightmares, then he had to do regardless of the awaiting dangers.

 

Sighing resolutely, Kurapika checked the time and noted he had a few hours before departure and settled on getting something to eat as a late breakfast. After settling down at a local café with a much-needed cup of coffee and a warm plate of food, the Kurta began running over his course of action for when he would finally encounter the head of the Genei Ryodan.

 

One thing was certain; even now, his Judgment Chain remained active and unabated. At that very moment, he could sense that its conditions had been preserved and unaltered.

 

That would mean the man wouldn’t be as hefty a threat like before his capture and binding. Still, that didn’t mean there wasn’t a warrant for caution. It was a delicate situation that required a precise way of addressing it. Being rash and brazen definitely wouldn’t be a proper recourse. Even with the prospect of the entire thing being a trap.

 

Kurapika shook his head and took a long draw from his mug, welcoming the caffeine into his veins. The entire scenario was becoming more or less convoluted. Kurapika knew what he wanted to do. Or at least he had an idea. The seething choler that wrestled within his gut was always there, and the threat of it pushed on a desire just to deliver swift justice and end it all within one blow. Seeing his longtime adversary lying defeated on the ground, felled and broken, prepared for deliverance in comeuppance for every wrong, every atrocity, and every painful hand Kurapika was delivered was nearly enough to pull him into a maniacal state of mind. The very idealism made Kurapika want just to toss aside any hints of warning and practically choke the man once he saw him until he turned blue. It was the very least he deserved, at least to Kurapika.

 

For all the hellish nightmares and damnation of which he had suffered, and his clan had suffered, the remembrance of their broken and battered bodies, eyes gouged and long gone, their final resting place desecrated by the very evils that still roamed the earth, it brought more turmoil to the young man than any other. One thing Kurapika couldn’t ever suppress, even in his dreams was the perpetual wails, the tormented screams of those he had lost while in the throes of their final moments.

 

He stifled a sob as his shoulders trembled, and Kurapika managed to choke down the last of his drink, having lost his appetite while struggling to regain his composure. He couldn’t continue on like this. It was too much. Just the burden alone, the trials of carrying such weight, and the toll it took on his mentality along with the void it left, Kurapika wasn’t even sure anymore where he gathered the strength to carry on. Granted, he had wonderful friends who were always supportive and caring, but even then, it wasn’t enough to entirely quell the rage that burned deep. Oh, so deep. The fine line he walked, continually teetering on the razor’s edge, it wasn’t something that anyone could ever save him from. Kurapika had his own demons to battle, and it was something he had to do alone.

 

Bearing the weight of being the last of his clan, of the Kurtas wasn’t an easy one to carry.

 

He wasn’t even sure when it happened, or how it did, but the next thing Kurapika knew was he had found himself within a bathroom staring into a mirror, the vision looking back at him was filled with utter grief and sorrow, the edges of pure ceruleans had become tainted by crimson. Kurapika’s body trembled, and shivers rolled down over his lithe frame as he was vaguely aware of the white-knuckled vice-like grip he had upon the porcelain basin. His heart palpitated roughly in his chest, thudding against his rib cage as every emotion, every feeling, all his pent up frustrations finally ambled to the surface.

 

“No more. Just… No more.” He murmured to no one in particular, crystalline white droplets had lined the corners of his lids, rolling in thin rivulets down his flushed cheeks to pool on the porcelain surface beneath. Kurapika stifled another sob; every ounce of strength was gathered in an attempt to push back the welling force, not wanting to break down. Not here, not now. “I won’t… I can’t give in. Not this time. I will see it through. I won’t be swayed.”

 

With silent resolution, Kurapika straightened his back and faced his reflection once more; ferocity replacing the once gripping dolor that had lined stricken features, and suddenly a flash brought him back to his senses as he caught a twinkle of bright red, the ruby from his earring was swinging from its long, elongated chain. Gingerly, Kurapika’s fingers came to rest against it, and he smiled affectionately at the memory of the day when he had received it. The small amount of comfort it gave him, it was enough to fortify his stature. He would press forth and absolve his current predicament.

 

Exiting the bathroom, Kurapika breathed in sharply and decidedly made his way back to the airport, knowing it was time to prepare and face his choices while facing his destiny.

 

 

~*~

 

 

The storm had finally died down as sand and debris littered the streets, cobblestoned pathways sat cluttered and disrupted, making it was easy to tell that the desert had recently assaulted the city. Though navigating its strewn paths wasn’t all that difficult for the tall man who swept along them with graceful ease, his long, ebony coat swaying behind him in the gentle breeze. Aimless he trudged, delving further into the heart of the city, surveying everything that occurred around him while mapping it out despite nothing of great interest captivated his attention. For the place had been unfortunately a border town, mostly dealing in basic necessities and the wares were limited. It made him disgruntled that he was forced to reside in such a drab place, but the current circumstances decreed otherwise.

 

It was unbelievable. The days brought about endless droves of locals going about their usual routines while milling about or hurrying on in an unaided rush to whatever destination they had. For Chrollo, it was merely an ample luxury – or what one could call luxury amiss a city surrounded by desert and terrible storms. Such a ridiculous idea; he snorted at the thought. This wasn’t exactly something he would consider a getaway point.  Only someone not in their right mind would have ever thought the place was a point of potential prospect – wait, was he really that crazy to be there himself?

 

Shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather-bound trench, Chrollo descended towards the main promenade, the Arabian style motif that nearly outfitted everything in something grandiose was almost outlandish, through the intricacies such displayed was amicable for the type of city that Ti’alma was. In truth, it could have been seen as gaudy despite its charming appeal.

 

As he passed by the countless stalls in the marketplace, Chrollo simply observed the hawkers with mild interest. So many of them tried fruitlessly to garner his attention as he swept along the crowd, though very little could pique his interests with particular tastes such as his. Most he considered were either useless or unprofitable. There was simply not much there for a master thief to designate a reaction for. It was pretty much a waste of his time.

 

“What the fuck am I still doing here?” He inwardly chided himself, still irritated with the fact that the entire farce he had to conglomerate with while sitting there waiting for his comrades to locate a Nen exorcist was becoming quite distressing. Of course, maintaining a regal air while being level-headed was something that generally came with ease as it was a trait he possessed from early on. But now, that very same patience was starting to wane. Living without Nen while being left with half of what he used to be – nay, more like an empty shell of his former self, was beginning to take its toll. Living like a normal human being, or what could be considered normal, it was something he was far from used to.

 

Chrollo felt everything and was sensitive to everything which quite frankly left him a victim of his surroundings. Even the elements had wracked their fury upon him. It was downright despicable. One could also say the comparison was quite laughable.   Here he was, someone who had done rather atrocious, rueful things and was scathing about being a victim, one that was ultimately done by his own hand.

 

It was downright hypocritical, even ludicrous, and yet, the end result still remained the same.

 

Foolish, indeed.  A mistake Chrollo would not make a second time. It was a reticent dictum, contrived and unleashed. Next time he came across that man, the Chain User, things would be different.

 

Much, much different.

 

Almost instinctively, one of his hands lashed out, quickly, and viperously to snatch an apple off the cart of a fruit vendor he casually went past, the spindly man barely aware he had been stolen from. Bringing the sweet fruit to his lips, Chrollo paused, and its gleaming surface brought a sudden cognizance - red. It was gleaming while covered in condensation despite the dry air and lush with a tantalizing sweetness that tickled his senses, yet the entirety of it beheld a different meaning. Just the color alone brought about a separate analysis altogether. It only served as a reminder, and he carefully studied it.

 

Such a vibrant hue, it was almost like a ruby. The word flitted across his mind, and Chrollo grinned. The contrast was nearly striking, and he wavered, finding himself musing over one thing that seemed to occupy his thoughts as of late, drawing him, even if it was considered unhealthy to near obsession. Turning the apple over in his hand, Chrollo licked the seam of his lips, moistening them almost idly. Yes, that is what it reminded him of. Rubies. Yet, it was not of the inanimate kind, but the living kind, the very same which was held by a very special blond.

 

This time, his thoughts seemed to take an entirely different turn.

 

For a brief moment, Chrollo was perturbed, having almost forgotten the apple that he held and found himself staring forward, grey eyes nearly falling into a blank expression before returning to their dark, haunting, and fathomless glamour. Sadistic, perverse ideas began to edge at the corners of his mind, taking over the once maniacal, diabolical plans he had initially laid out. Those lips upturned into more of a conniving smile – oh yes, things have definitely changed now, the concept was just too perfect, the opportunity too great to even consider passing up.

 

Taking a bite out of the momentarily abandoned fruit, he savored the delectable flavor, the juices rolling down his tongue, just as the honeyed visions of a beautiful, tapered creature standing before him, broken and subdued, forcing away every last ounce of will and becoming attached to him permanently crept into his mind.

 

As the idealism sunk further into his thoughts, Chrollo grew eager, waiting to drink in every aspect, every sinewy of perfection, golden locks framing an unblemished countenance that beheld the most captivating thing which still held a burning, seething hatred. It was the very same thing of which shone brighter than anything else he had ever seen, even against the very those of which he and his Spiders had mercilessly slaughtered to obtain. To have a living specimen, a practical a relic of the past would be so much better than the dull, lifeless orbs that floated within the preservation fluid they were kept in as they hung within their glass canisters. Yes, he wouldn’t kill the blond now. Doing so would be such an enormous waste. The boy was too pretty, too valuable, and capable of having falter by the wayside. Chrollo would tame the wild beast, make him heal, and eternally bind him.

 

He took a few more bites off the apple, finishing it and discarding the remains, becoming so complacent within his own thoughts that he practically ignored the flow of life around him. Those translucent images which ran through his mind only seemed to draw Chrollo in deeper as more devious, lecherous intentions began to form.

 

Such lustrous sensations and feelings, of his fingers trailing down along milky white skin that was satiny and oh so soft, just the very notion caused Chrollo to shiver amply. Slowly, he began exploring the darker corners of his mind. Images of how that lithe, yet redefined body would look beneath him as his hands trailed along the plains of each muscle, each cord while inciting gasps from every sweep over those shoulders and neck, then down the young man’s back while the look of humiliation flowed beneath succulent, flaring rubies made Chrollo smile.

 

It was a beautiful, delectable vision, and Chrollo couldn’t get enough. How he had never thought of something so enticing, so tempting and provocative was utterly elusive to him. But one thing remained for certain; he now had even more reason to reel the blond in. Chrollo would do more now than just forcibly bind the young man to him. More and more, it became evident that his little prize held more value above the surface level, garnering an even deeper meaning. He would make full use of the blond’s abilities, but not just so, he also wanted to consecrate and defile him, exacerbate that repose then completely shatter his will. Eventually, the young man would submit everything to him, all of him and without contest.

 

Disappearing nearly elusive into the thickening crowd, Chrollo patiently decided to wait for the now fated meeting he was sure would transpire. Once he managed to lift the current restraints, he would be sure to seek out the blond first, and from there, everything would fall conveniently into place, wherein the tides would finally shift and tip in his favor.  Now it was just a matter of time.

 

“I will make you mine, Kurapika.” The utterance flowed along with the wind like a nondescript pledge, certain and prophetic, “That is a promise.”

 

 

~*~

 

 

The air was hot and stifling as it nearly knocked the wind from his lungs the moment he stepped off the airship platform. With the lack of humidity, dry and practically desiccant, it was plain to see why only certain people ever chose to live in a location like this. There was no way he wouldn’t ever be able to commit or adapt to such an exhausting type of lifestyle. However, the choice was non-existent as it was where his tracking had led him to. A place where very little traveled to. It was a perfect place to lay low and avoid detection on a mass scale. At least, if you considered such a city as T’alma the last place to look for someone in.

 

After he exited through the arrival gate and got through security, Kurapika swept a hand through his bangs, pushing the stray ends from his eyes as he departed through the entrance to the airport and into the blinding sunlight. His eyes narrowed, and he lifted a hand to shield them from the abnormal brightness before deciding to find a secluded place; he needed to consult his Dowsing Chain once again.

 

Once he found sanctuary beneath one of the very few trees that were scattered throughout the barren landscape, Kurapika exhaled slowly as a long an elongated trail of silver dropped from his ring finger, snaking and twisting, the small metallic ball at the end moving like a pendulum before rising and pointing almost directly forward in front of him. “North.” It was a simplistic, and practically impassive response to slip past his lips. The blond resigned and gathered up what meager belongings he had decided to bring along and began his intrepid crossing through the imposing desert.

 

 

~*~

 

 

The gates to Ti’alma were ornate, almost gilded with their elegant stone archways; the mason work clearly showed that a lot of delicate and intricate thought went into their construct. It was awe inspiring for such a minor city that sat practically in the middle of a vast desert. It was the last location of civilization for miles, cast so far that supply runs were virtually limited, even the weather conditions played a significant part on the city’s functionality. All considering, however, the place seemed to flourish, which was in stark contrast to so many other sites.

 

Letting the magnificent sight pass over his head, Kurapika slipped into the bustle within the streets, watching as so many people pushed and wove through the promenade and around each other, like a vast sea moving with purpose, with unity. The low rumbling of the din was a proclamation of hawkers with their wares, while storefronts sat open while awaiting customers. It was almost unbelievable how lively and harmonious the atmosphere seemed to ring all around him; the concept was nearly lost to his mind, and yet, he still remained genuinely amazed. Gathering his remaining moxie, Kurapika pushed through the milling crowd, finally ready to face the one reason for venturing to such a remote location.

 

 

~*~

 

 

A beep indicated the ending of a call as the LED screen faded to black, the object being slipped haphazardly into a pants pocket. Straightening, the tall man squared his jaw as dark eyes fell over his two younger companions, though a slight frown adorned his lips. “Well. He arrived safely. Said he was en route towards the city of Ti’alma, though had to double check his  Dowsing Chain to be sure.”

 

“At least that is a plus.” The flat response came, though stormy blue eyes betrayed any overt proclamation of confidence. One thing that Killua was always sure on was his instincts. This was no exception. “Now we can be certain he isn’t dead at least.”

 

“Killua!” The snap came, and Leorio practically bolted out of the chair he had been sitting upon, fists clenched. “You damn well know Kurapika wouldn’t allow himself to be so easily killed! We should have more faith in him than that.”

 

“You don’t think I do old man? I am simply stating that at least we know for certain he’s alive.” The young boy shoved his hands into his pockets, shoulders slumping, “Though I will still admit I am not entirely pleased with this scenario – I just get a bad feeling about the whole thing.”

 

Silence descended between, the tension building to almost a clear boiling point, neither of them sure how they wished to proceed in handling their current predicament although they knew Kurapika had instructed explicitly that none of them were to interfere regardless of circumstance or outcome.

 

Leorio hated it and was confident it was the same for Gon and Killua. The younger boys were twitching to do something, clearly wanting to go after their friend, but they knew it would simply be going against the blond’s wishes. Plus it would be an affirmation that they didn’t believe in Kurapika’s skills or abilities, something else they wished not to invoke wrath over.  The older man ground his teeth – it was inconceivable that Kurapika would want to do something so dangerous, so incorrigible on his own, especially knowing who exactly his target was. It was so damned difficult holding resistance against ultimately saying fuck it and going after the blond, but in reality, such just wasn’t the case, nor was it in their right to do so.

 

Grunting, he reclined back in his chair with reluctance, hands clasping each other on his lap. “As much as I know we want to go after him, we need to have faith. It’s the most we can do for now.”

 

Gon looked down at his own hands which seemed to slightly tremble on his own lap, as much as the boy had always kept positive and optimistic, he couldn’t help but feel a slight semblance of uselessness. Sitting there doing nothing while they all thought their friend was practically walking into a viper’s den, was almost too much to handle. “Do… Do you really think he will be okay?”

 

It was one of those rare moments where the young, spiky-haired boy had his doubts, all the conflicting emotions embroiling within his mind and causing him to have trouble placing that faith. Despite all the numerous times where Kurapika had easily proven he was capable, it was still inexplicable that the current situation was anything but. Especially knowing how delicate and fragile his mentality was, more so when it came down to the Genei Ryodan, specifically Chrollo Lucifer.

 

Would Kurapika really be able to handle himself without actually breaking?

 

“I know it’s difficult, but it’s about as much as we can expect. At this point, we just have to believe that Kurapika knows what he is doing and can handle himself.” Leorio closed his eyes, inhaling, through the breath was sharp, sending a pang down into his chest. As much as he refused to admit, he was worried, scared, fretting beneath all those layers of calm that the worst was going to happen. But he wished not to show that kind of emotion in front of the two boys. The last thing he wanted to do was heighten their already budding concerns. “Man, I really, really hate this.” He thought.

“As much as I don’t want to admit it, I think you’re right. But if there is any inkling at any time that things are taking a turn for the worst, then that promise becomes nullified.” Killua interjected, voice low and steady.

 

“I agree, if it looks like at any time Kurapika is in serious danger, then we will go after him, whether he likes it or not.” Leorio conceded fist clutched and drawing through the air, “If he thinks we will abandon him in a time of need, he has another thing coming.”

 

“You guys are right; I think we are worrying too much. We should at least believe in Kurapika and that he can handle the situation on his own. If things get too bad, then we will be there to help him.” The cheery tone had returned to Gon’s voice, a smile crossing his young, tender face. Never for too long was the boy able to keep his usually jovial nature suppressed. He had been wrong and should have placed more faith then he did in their friend. Kurapika was far from weak – he could take care of himself and didn’t need them to hold his hand through everything. “I think it will all work out.”

 

“Yeah, you just may be right, Gon.” In an attempt to share the other boy’s enthusiasm, the young Zoldyck’s expression changed from annoyance to confidence, his stature becoming less stiff in the process, “For now, we need to wait and see what happens, or for any indication from Kurapika that he is in trouble.”

 

In aphonic conclusion, it was decided they wouldn’t interfere, not now at least, lest their efforts could turn out disastrous or adverse. The last thing any of them wished to do was cause more trouble or make anything more problematic for their friend, even if the decision was less than inadmissible. It was all they could do aside from that was sit back and just wait.

Kurapika would prevail. He wouldn’t break and would come out on top.

 

 

~*~

 

 

It was around midday, and the heat was slowly becoming less temperate, the air seemed stifling as the dust carried along the currents was growing thicker, more prominent, which nearly choked the wind right from his lungs. Kurapika raised a scarf to wind around his nose and mouth, the protective barrier between him and the sand was a welcomed sensation. Inwardly he was glad he had worn his Tribal clothing – it was something he concluded would be the best garb to handle the type of weather conditions the city was plagued with almost daily, praising how it guarded him against the continuous onslaught.

 

However, he had managed to obtain something called a cloak – the fabric was airy yet silken with a dull array of browns and tans and efficiently helped ward off the elements. He situated the new article along his shoulders which was in stark contrast to the color of his current attire as another gust surged through the narrow alleyway and whipped his golden hair wildly around his head while he pressed his way forward. Grunting, he pulled the cloak tighter around him and continued following the trajectory of which his Dowsing Chain had pointed in.

 

For hours he had been tracking down his mark, and so far there was no sign of him. With his Nen sealed, locking onto his signature was proving to be difficult, on top of the fact that it seemed the other was on the move. How utterly infuriating it was trying to locate the one person who was the last thing he wanted to see, but doing so while threading through an endless sea of people, it was proving to be stressful. Not only that but relying solely on his chains which could only pinpoint to a certain extent wasn’t exactly helping, either. Since the Spider’s leader was not exuding a constant flow of aura or potentially had left behind any residue to follow, it was becoming increasingly difficult to track the man down. Kurapika could only hope that Lady Luck would smile upon him.

 

Exiting the alleyway he pushed into the main concourse, falling into the very heart of the city. At the center there was a marble statue surrounded by a ring, the structure looked to be of horses with mermaid tails twining upwards, streams of water flowing from their open muzzles and down into the basin. His eyes wandered over the delicate surface, taking in each and every detail, admiring the grandeur of such a thing which sat amid such a dull place. It was magnificent, just the chisel work alone – Hippocampus he thought as he remembered reading something about them in mythology textbooks, but seeing something replicated, it was marvelous. Kurapika had always appreciated things that were done with great effort.

 

Tearing his eyes away from the great statue, he resumed scanning the crowd, watching each passerby with intense scrutiny, his lips had tipped into a frown. Surely his objective wasn’t becoming tedious, was it? He was having a rather arduous time considering his current situation but was presently mulling over taking a break for the time being in favor of scrounging up some lunch when a flash of movement suddenly caught his attention.

 

Pulling the hood of the cloak up over his head, he threaded through the moving crowd towards the source of the disruption.  At the edge of an adjacent alleyway across the concourse, he spotted that unmistakably obsidian coat with its ivory fur lining, and a head full of raven-hued hair. Kurapika clenched his teeth and balled his fists, the chains tinkling somberly in mimic of his mood.

 

Wasting no time, he shrouded himself within a cloud of In and completely concealing his presence before slowly stalking forth, his movement becoming precise and calculating, moving with almost feline-like grace. Slowly he closed the gap, though only retaining enough distance to keep from getting too close but also to keep the other man clearly within his sights, not wanting to lose him within the horde. Anxiety began to swell within his gut, the intensity boding only caused him to resist wanting to rush after the Spider head and pummel him right then and there. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. Time was of the essence, and he had to handle the matter fastidiously; being bullheaded and not following his plan inevitably would cause this entire escapade to unravel and fall apart.

 

But damn it was difficult.

 

Conceding, Kurapika pulled out his cell phone and quickly typed, ‘I found him’ before hitting the send button and placing the phone away once more.

 

For the time being, he would keep tabs on the older man; watch his every move, his every action and figure out what he was up to. Granted, Kurapika wanted answers as he had many questions but now was not the time. He had a distinct feeling the Spider’s leader was up to something, and he intended to find out what exactly.

 

Quickly he dipped behind a stack of crates next to an unmanned stall just as the raven-haired man rounded a corner and slipped out of the main promenade. The blond stiffened and followed, staying only within the other’s shadow. No, he would not fail, not this time.

 

“You will not get away from me, not again. I will be sure of that.”

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chrollo hated large gatherings of people. Something about the congestion, the constant daunting buzz of voices and combined noises tended to get to him, even give him a headache at times. It wasn’t hard to decipher the conversations between people, but without his Nen to aid him, the cacophony was only an uneven reverberating of noises, and the dissonance only aggravated him. Such proved to be the case when he swept into the vast barrio where the density of people only thickened, making it harder to traverse. He attempted to tune out as much of the clamor as possible, shouldering his way through without much care of consideration. Swiftly he passed by a rather elegant looking statue – a fountain he surmised, though barely paying much attention to it despite the rather impressive art and opting to cross through the heart of the city as expeditiously as possible. The wail of the daily activities was enough to drive him into near madness.

 

As he neared a line of stalls that sat at the far corner of the barrio, he felt a rather strange twinge crawl over his skin, like the sensation that he was being watched. His head tilted slightly, inconspicuously gazing over his shoulder, dark, unblinking eyes running over the sea of bodies and looking for anything out of place, out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until he funneled into a nearby alley that his attention was finally perked. At first, he thought it was a mere illusion, or what they call in the desert, a mirage. But he saw it in his peripheral vision a figure that appeared clad in rugged, dark colors, though the face was hooded, and something about the figure spoke it was no mirage. The movements were too concise, to deliberate.

 

He was being followed, no doubt about it.

 

Chrollo relaxed, keeping the tension out of his shoulders. The last thing he wanted to do was alert the person that he was aware of them tailing him.

 

So he kept on his current trek, rounding the corner and into another thoroughfare, this time much narrower and harboring fewer people. Shoveling his hands casually into the pockets of his trench, he kept up his farce, reminding himself that sooner or later his pursuer would eventually slip up and their identity would be revealed. It was only a matter of time.

 

For hours it seemed that his stalker continued to relentlessly follow him, staying just far away enough that Chrollo couldn’t get a good look at their face beneath the hood, but just close enough to mirror his steps move for move.

 

Though, it wasn’t until he found himself driving into another large area of the city that his diligence finally paid off. Just when he was about to stop to perfidiously admire a stall keeper’s assortment of old appearing artifacts did a rather unexpected burst of wind cascade through the area, sand whisking riotously over everything and instantaneously caught his pursuer off guard. The momentary lapse in focus caused the rim of the other’s hood to be swept back, even if for a split second and Chrollo caught a glimpse of golden strands of hair along with the shimmer of a garnet like-gem swinging from the tip of an earring before the hood was quickly replaced.

 

It was in that moment Chrollo’s lips formed into a sardonic grin.

 

Everything became so much easier, so much more convenient, and how fate had so cruelly, so derisively; yet so favorably bore her fortune upon him. Not only was he able to now nix the need to track down his quarry, but the blond had also come seeking him out. It was just too perfect an opportunity to pass up. Whatever the young man’s reasoning was for tracking him down was something he didn’t quite know or understand, but at that point, it wasn’t something he found necessary to facilitate. In all due time would he find out, but he decided to let this particular situation play out. For now, he would allow the young man to follow him. The pretense behind it only furthered to solidify his decision. If Kurapika wanted to play this little game of cat and mouse, Chrollo saw no reason to not give the blond what he wanted, though they would play by his terms and by his rules. However, he would not allow his guard to slip and give Kurapika the upper hand a second time.

 

Satisfied with his ploy, he resumed his aimless excursion, a smile never wavering from his lips as the blond dutifully and expectantly mirrored his every move.

Chapter Text

For what seemed like unfathomable minutes, he stared at the lit screen, its backdrop almost mocking as the message continued to reside across the front, though his gaze seemed to look right through the phone. Moments later he sighed, letting the light fade and the screen turned to black before setting it aside. Apprehension rolled heavily through the young man, though it was difficult not to feel a foreboding sense of dread. Still, he managed to suppress the bubbling nausea that rolled around in his gut and rose off the couch, sauntering into the connective bedroom where his two companions resided, disrupting their moment of antics once he slid through the doorway.

 

“So what’s new, old man?” The boy with white hair questioned as he looked up from the game that was spread out between him and the boy across from him, “Any word from Kurapika?”

 

“Yeah. Apparently he managed to locate him. But he hasn’t said much else aside that.” The taller man, Leorio felt his shoulders slump; it was clear he was concerned. “Still cannot help but feel like something bad is going to happen. Even if we think Kurapika can handle himself.”

 

“I agree with you,” Dark, amber hued eyes adamantly regarded Leorio, yet the positive tone in the boy’s voice instantly drew his attention, “But we have to keep believing that everything will work out.” Gon reminded, his expression beheld nothing but ferocity and yet, the zeal was as strong as ever. He tended to be the one with the greatest and most faithful outlook of the four of them. There was something about the young boy who spent most of his life in the wood around animals with a penchant for nature and animals, yet the same was said when it came to defusing negative situations between people. Gon truly was a prodigy by his own right.

 

The boy arose from his placement upon the floor, facing their older friend with firm confidence, “We have to keep in mind that Kurapika is strong enough to handle this on his own! I believe he will be fine. Besides, isn’t the leader’s Nen still sealed by Kurapika’s chains?”

 

For a moment they looked at each other, remembering that the blond had confirmed that his Judgment Chain hadn’t differed and remained firmly intact. Luckily, that also confirmed the fact of which the rest of the Roydan had not managed to locate a Nen exorcist in order to expunge the chains of which were curled and bound around the Spider head’s heart.

 

“Kurapika did mention that he could feel his chain was still in place, so I believe it’s safe to say that is still the case.” Killua inputted gaze landing on the other two in the small room with him, though his own confidence in the situation retained nearly the same level as Gon’s. “That isn’t to say the Roydan’s leader isn’t still dangerous, but at least that notion gives Kurapika an edge.” Without access to his Nen, the head of the Spider would be at a severe disadvantage when came to a battle of skill. However, in a battle of whit, well that was an entirely different matter.

 

“That could mean Kurapika should be able to take him down without much a problem.” Of course that still meant handling the situation in a judicious and concise manner, hopefully of which the young blond Kurta would be able to do without letting his temperament get the better of him.

 

Leorio thought for a minute, analyzing their current predicament and the options they had; so many pointed to a relative conclusive outcome, though it was the uncertainty that lend to debacle on whether to act or continue to wait and see how Kurapika faired on his own. The one thing that was of the highest concern was how easily the blond was goaded and exploited and aside his friends, one thing that easily exasperated him more than anything else was the mention of the Geneiryodan. Especially if that name was used in conjunction with any mention of his clan.

 

It was hard to be very confident knowing those facts, especially with the knowledge that Kurapika was temperamental to begin with.

 

“It does seem if that would be the most likely scenario, but the one thing I question is would Kurapika be able to maintain composure while under pressure?” It was a question that ran through Leorio’s mind, as he was one of the most knowledgeable of the three of them regarding their blond friend’s temperament.  Granted they were all equally aware of how naturally hotheaded Kurapika was, but under the right conditions, he could easily be controlled. Knowing that, the tables could be turned and at a moment’s notice.

 

The three of them pondered the new facts of which were presented to them as they decided on a current course of action. Between curiosity and concern, they stood at a crossroads, purely ambivalent between doing nothing and taking matters into their own hands, promise be damned.

 

“There is that chance. Since we know how treacherous and diabolical the Spider’s leader can really be, we can’t put it past him that he may try some sneaky or underhanded tactics to get at Kurapika. Or even really try and get beneath his skin.” Killua’s hand had come to rest upon his chin as he paused in thought, taking into deliberation that there are unforeseen circumstances that could potentially arise. Being a trained assassin for most of his young life, he knew to never leave any stone unturned and always be wary of any possible threats. To let one’s guard down could spell instant death. “I wouldn’t put it past the bastard to try something like that, but in reality, Kurapika has to know when to not let someone antagonize him. Doing so only shifts the tides in a delicate situation.”

 

The seriousness of Killua’s voice although elicited frowns from his two companions, the energy that wavered off of them seemed to emulate in a way that they all felt the same. “That makes sense.” Gon finally said, ambivalence still heavy in his expression, though he was trying to keep the positive outlook that everything will turn out for the greater good, “So long as Kurapika can keep his cool I think he should have no problem keeping everything going in his favor.”

 

Both Killua and Leorio turned to the young boy, realizing yet again, he had another good point. As always, Gon had the best rationale to counterbalance their little motley crew. “You may be right. Hopefully Kurapika knows that and doesn’t allow the man to try and control his emotions, well then he shouldn’t have a problem. It just worries me that the bastard will know how to push Kurapika’s buttons and do anything to make him crack.” Leorio added, though he tried not to show his skepticism.

 

A soft hum resonated between them, each quietly hoping that the Kurapika wouldn’t falter, that he would do what it was necessary to ensure that in no way would the Geneiryodan leader ever be able to surpass him and that Kurapika would be strong enough mentally to withstand any assault the man could possibly try to use against him.

 

“Well, I suppose it’s decided then. We continue to wait.”

 

§§§§§§§

 

It had been a few days since he had began taking charge; diligently following his target, staying nearly glued to the man’s every move as he went about his daily activities within the desert city. So far, the young man had witnessed nothing out of the ordinary, if you count spending the time either reading a book or sitting at the local tavern and drinking, the older man was confounding! Kurapika couldn’t understand it, couldn’t digest it. Everything about the man, the fact that he was acting so normal tended to infuriate the blond. He had to be up to something. Anything. It was hard to believe he was just taking leisurely strolls on a warm afternoon as if he was just any regular person going about their daily lives. He tugged irritably on the hood of his cloak and sighed heavily as he watched the Spider head just sitting at fountain in the city square as he casually drank a cup of coffee with a book in hand.

 

He spent the last hour as he had sat there watching the man, the anxiety, the anticipation, just the very edge to his impatience that his target was going to enact, make a move or actually do something worth of the blond’s attention only caused him to hiss – how much longer did he actually plan on sitting there?

 

For a bandit that was so indifferent, so caustic and far from impeccable, had slaughtered countless, pilfered anything not nailed down, watching him walk so casually among the general innocents as if this was simply a normal day for him only added to the blond’s confusion and chagrin.

 

Unbelievable! It is as if it is nothing to him. Like it’s so simple that he can meander as if he lacks a care in the world! How can he be so nonchalant about it? Like this is nothing but a game to him! It’s just… Just so outlandish!

 

Kurapika couldn’t abscond despite things were looking rather pointless; the Roydan leader was blatantly refusing to do anything even remotely questionable and his current actions were nothing but placid, but he didn’t want to renitent, not after he had come so far and had placed so much of his time already into an effort to seek the truth. This man knew something about the nightmares which were plaguing him on a nightly basis and he wouldn’t rescind until he knew for certain the answers he sought. Moreover, an added boon would be he could extract the revenge he had once started but failed to complete in favor of a binding deal to save his friends. Now that they were completely out of harm’s way, he could settle his full focus on completing what he had started.

 

Unfortunately he had to bid his time. Even if that meant following this heartless, mass murderer for however long was necessary to achieve his goals. Going back now was no option, and he would see this through, even if it meant sacrificing his own pride to do so.

 

§§§§§§§

 

Chrollo sat poised at the rim of the basin of the fountain which sat at the heart of the city, causally indulging in an old book he had recently acquired that beheld his interest. The weather was actually pleasant for once, considering his location and that Ti’alma was practically surrounded by desert, but it was easy to discount the heat considering the air was rather dry. At best the lack of sand in the atmosphere made it at the very least, tolerable. Raising the mug that sat beside him he took a generous pull from the caffeinated liquid that swirled within before setting the cup aside to briefly set his gaze out over the flow of people as they strode past.

 

For days now he had been just ambling around the city – it wasn’t something he was precisely keen on doing, but he knew he had a rather persistent shadow constantly tailing him and even though he was still practically waiting to make his general move, to give the little Kurta any reason to jump at him willy-nilly wasn’t something he found of too high an interest.

 

In fact, he was having fun indirectly compelling the blond to dog him. The more and more he consternates the boy, watching the look of haggard disquietude cross his features with continued uncertainty, the easier it was becoming to wrap control around the situation. He wanted to keep Kurapika second guessing his own judgment. The more he toyed with the boy’s emotions, the easier it would be for him to make the last surviving Kurta easily fall to his every whim.

 

Playing this game, watching his opponent as they begin to slowly lose their mind, it was enthralling. No matter what it took, he would bring the blond under his command, regardless of how long it would take. The youth was just too valuable to continue to allow running loose and sooner or later, he would find the sanctuary in the very thing he so desperately loathes. These beautiful eyes, the very same with so much vibrancy, so much luster that were constantly filled with disgust and yet life, would become one of the most valued treasures Chrollo had ever had. Those that he had proffered so ago had long since lost their appeal, having become dull and stagnant. But Kurapika’s… Chrollo shuddered at the thought of just how magnificent they looked when at their brightest. Nothing was better than a pair of living rubies that he could permanently conserve and admire. He would nix the root of the problem, excavate every shred of will and dignity the boy had left until all that remained was a battered and broken soul he would personally nurture and mold. Slowly, ever so slowly he would liquidate all that hate from the blond that he resolutely held for the Geneiryodan and turn him into a powerful asset and if he was successful, perhaps, just perhaps he could find a further use for the boy besides just the benefit he could provide his gang. The Kurta was indeed, very beautiful.

 

Perhaps, Chrollo had thought, he could even make the boy into something of a potential lover. Though the abrupt notion of such a lavish, erotic idea brought a fugacious moment of shock, slight bewilderment on where such a thought had come from. But a miniscule pang of desire welled deep inside his gut and the very concept of such a prospect didn’t seem entirely farfetched. Though clearly, he didn’t understand why all of the sudden his mind had wandered to such a notion.

 

For now, he dismissed it. In the here and now, Chrollo was more focused on quelling the blond’s rampage and laying siege to him before anything could get out of hand. Later he would focus on his random, errant emotions. Settling on his current objective, he closed the book that had come to rest in his lap and stowed it away within the pocket of his coat and lifted off the basin’s rim. Discarding the plastic mug in a nearby receptacle, he decided it was time to put Kurapika to the test and see just how far and willing the blond would go.

 

 §§§§§§§

 

Kurapika blinked and he slid around the corner of the dust colored building he had resided behind, taking note of the many stalls that lined the walls, yet none one was manned as most were out in the main promenade or in the city square. Snorting, he scanned the crowed as each passerby shuttled through the dust covered streets, those intent blue eyes retaining a semblance of hold on his quarry as the man had suddenly closed his book and arose from his perch on the statue’s rim. About time. I was about to pass out from boredom standing here watching you do nothing. The blond clutched the edges of the cloak and pulled its silken fabric around him to conceal him better from view. He watched as the older man had started to shoulder his way through the waves of people and soon mix into the continuous flow. Breathing in deeply despite the arid composition of the air had strained his lungs for the last few days; he readied himself and ducked out into the street, following the leader of the Spider into the throng.

 

Following the older man’s movements, he ducked into the alleyway after him, taking note of the faint scent of spice and cologne that lingered on the wind. That was something he hadn’t noticed before.

 

Every aspect of the city was like a bloody labyrinth which made navigation excessively difficult. Pressing into another connecting alleyway he found himself exiting into a rather dank, poor and rundown section of the city. Cautiously he tread past the broken down carts and stalls, people in bedraggled clothing formed in small groups off to the sides, their eyes scrutinizing him as he slowly walked past despite his feelings of sympathy and pity for those less fortunate had excreted from him amply. As much as his heart went out to people, he knew there was nothing he could do and pressed on with his objective.

 

The amount of people that riddled the pathways made it difficult to tell which direction the man was going in; his energy signature was faint and almost non-existent. Holding a firm lock was proving to be difficult as the blond had noticed over the last few days he had been following the other. Pushing his way past a group of people who appeared to be loitering during a round of gossip, his eyes had landed across a brief flick of ebony as it rounded a corner into another alleyway, though it quickly disappeared from view.  How tedious this was becoming. Kurapika was really finding it difficult to keep and maintain focus as he just simply felt that by some off chance, he was being led astray, as if he was being placed on a wild goose chase. He uttered a few unsavory colorful words and made another silent vow to his deceased kin that he would follow through with what he started. Letting those of who had been so unjustly ripped away deserved to find their own peace in the afterlife and thus as such, Kurapika would not yield.

 

Fires burned in makeshift braziers, offering what little light was available to him, though he had to use Gyo to enhance his eyes, giving him a sort of edge in the dim, caliginous pathways. The twinge of that spice and cologne wafted to his nose again and it captivated his senses, drawing him in as he followed the trail it seemed to have left behind. With uncertainty, he followed the convenient trail and slowly, gradually he shifted his way through the tattered and rundown area before reaching a section where light was filtering through.

 

The walls started to part and soon the area opened up slowly, almost cavernous as light was beginning to stream through, bathing the area in its life giving glow into a sort of ancient promenade, though it was easy to tell that wasn’t exactly what it was.

 

It was a large area had once been a trading market. Old, broken down carts and dismantled stalls littered the area. There were even crates and boxes of many kinds along with wooden barrels that had been unceremoniously tossed about the area.  At the far end was another alleyway that wound its way back into the main parts of the city.

 

The scent of the cologne started to fade as he entered and Kurapika moved through the area uneasily; something about the location struck a chord and unsettled him. A sharp wind blew through the area and jostled his cloak, causing it to billow around him, allowing the sand to bite at his skin. The pain was minute, but it left a few superficial cuts along what little exposed skin he had; a small trickle of blood slipped down his cheek.

 

What the hell is he doing? The area was vast and so far there was no sign of his quarry. Carefully he made his way into the center of the area, gaze intent and profusely scanning the area. It was almost as if the Spider’s leader had suddenly vanished, but then his attention was instantly piqued when a strange, bemused laugh resounded through the area and off the walls.

 

“Who is there? Show yourself!” Kurapika’s demand went unanswered as a still, nearly dead silence filled the area. Again that sense of foreboding gripped the blond’s heart and he enhanced the Gyo within his eyes, using its revealing power to see if any Nen was involved and yet, nothing.

 

The young Kurta couldn’t understand what exactly was transpiring. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. Inch by inch he pressed forward, scanning the area with complete and indiscriminate scrutiny, knowing that somewhere there someone was behind the anomalies going on.

 

This time, he felt something cold, frigid, like ice across his back, up his spine and for a split second, fear nearly exploded in his mind. Abruptly, the blond turned with precision on his heal to face the area behind him, eyes fusing without conscious into their scarlet state. Another echoing laugh resounded, mocking, jeering and belittling him. Grinding his teeth, the blond materialized his silver chains, the metallic clinking making it prominently known as his patience was beginning to wane.

 

“I said who is there? Come out and face me!”

 

A hum greeted him, though nothing aside that made itself known, “I really didn’t think you’d actually come all this way, Kurta.”

 

The voice seemed to practically reverberate off the very walls in the massive area, keeping the blond from being able to tell exactly where it was originating. He turned left and right without thought, quickly and concisely surveying every inch of his environment as he persisted in locating the source of the voice.

 

“Who are you?” Kurapika demanded, though the prickling, cringing feeling of being watched caused a shiver to work its way down his spine. Whoever it was obviously had a vantage point. It bothered him since he knew they could see him but he couldn’t in turn, see them.

 

“Well. I must say you are in no real position to make demands. Let’s just say that I find it rather interesting for you to be this far out. If I was to wager a guess, you came here because you are after someone?” The voice continued to heckle, easily poking at the blond’s buttons, as the aura around that lithe body infused and rose, the power and intensity becoming suffocating.

 

Whoever this, it seems they have a rather large amount of information on me. However I will not grant them the satisfaction.

 

“And why should I answer you? Coming from someone who prepositions from the shadows but in cowardice then expects concession, I don’t think you are the one who should be questioning just who is in the appropriate position for making demands.”

 

Evidently the young Kurta’s patience was wearing thin. For a moment silence ensued before the voice answered, though this time the jovial, derisive tone was changed to a more sneering, outraged  and dangerous upheaval. That snapping, cruel and bitter cold raked at his back once more, causing Kurapika to spin around once again to face absolutely nothing.

 

“You should really watch your tongue; it could very well land you in way more trouble then you really anticipated.” For a second the voice faltered into reticence and Kurapika couldn’t help but become more agitated, his chains now having extended into elegant, metallic coils like vipers as they snaked around the Kurta’s body, ready to lash out at any given moment, “But I must say my dear Kurta, I am thoroughly intrigued by your persistence and diligence. Can’t say I anticipated you coming all this way on a whim but I must admit I am impressed.”

 

The words took moments to sink in before reality hit him nearly like a ton of bricks. The fury within his eyes appeared as if they were glowing, burning like furnaces as Kurapika suspected that his cover may have been blown and he knew. If such was the case, then all his careful planning would have been for naught and the blond would have to facilitate a change in plans. The chains felt his mood and were continuously whipping around him in volatile motion, the level of his own temperament becoming stronger then Kurapika was able to handle.

 

There was no other answer – he had to get himself under control. Regardless of exactly who the actual source of the voice was, he couldn’t let them get to him, lest he would be to lose control.

 

I won’t let you get to me. There is no way I will submit in any way. That is a bloody promise!

 

Eyes slipped close as he focused in wordless resolute, energy focusing in a collective, unified stance, each ounce poured into his chains as his aura still beckoned but the rage that was there before it quieted into the flow of an unobstructed river. When his vision returned to his surroundings, the confidence was clear upon Kurapika’s visage. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. I highly advise you to remember I am not one so easily manipulated, nor will I allow you to jockey me. Either you come here and face me or we are done here.”

 

This time it was the mysterious person’s turn to be shocked. Indubitably this was a shocking and twisted turn of events. The situation was undoubtedly turning into an impasse and weighing the options on whether to push one’s luck this early in the game was certainly questionable. This just wasn’t the time to take events to the next level, “It seems kitty has claws, hm? Currently, I do not think it is approbate to allow you any further knowledge then you already have. It’s too fun watching as you spin your wheels and fluster so easily at the uncertainty you have generated for yourself. I find it rather amusing to watch you push yourself practically to your limits. No, I don’t think I will reveal myself to you just yet. Perhaps when things have gotten more interesting, don’t you think?”

 

Kurapika narrowed his eyes, obviously not pleased with the answer he received. Moments passed by and everything became dismal before stunting off into utter silence. The wavering scent of that cologne also completely faded and disappeared as if it hadn’t ever been there in the first place. “Where are you? Come back here and stand before me you coward!” He looked around as he shifted around the area with determination to cinch off the person’s escape before they could get out of the area, or at least find them before they could get too far. But by the time he was able to perform a thorough search of the area, whoever it had been was long gone. The conclusion only caused Kurapika’s anger to resurface.  “Goddamnit!” He hissed, not happy with how his situation had turned out. Not only had he lost sight of the Geneiryodan leader, he was intervened by someone unknown who seemed to know too much.  Either he was being toyed with or there was someone else out here aside his quarry that had it out for him.

 

One way or the other he would find out.

 

§§§§§§§

 

He sat poised, concealed in shadows and watched bemusedly. Oh how simple it was to work up the young blond and watch him seethe. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Chrollo smiled; even as he knew the boy was almost practically on the right trail, he was so easily thwarted. Throw the dog a bone and how quickly it’s snatched up. However, he had thought better of the sharp and intuitive Kurta. But as he watched him there within his confliction with those chains winding and snapping around him, he was as radiant as ever. It left a pang in Chrollo’s heart and for a few moments while he sat there and watched the situation unfurl, something crawled deep inside of him, something he didn’t quite understand. He knew that there was still a bit of malicious intent that he held towards the blond, but something else so foreign laid just beneath his skin.

 

It rolled through his gut, low and electrified. The impulses briefly surged through him and he had a compulsion that he didn’t realize was there before. As the boy moved around and threatened him, as his body poised with its prominence, from what curves and shapes Chrollo was able to see or make out through the cloak that covered him and about the splendid way he looked had brought a strange level of emotions fluctuating through him. For something so unknown to him caused his mind to settle a bit uneasy once again. Chrollo realized the same experience he was going through now was the same exact one he felt prior to this encounter and the pull that Kurapika was inadvertently having on him made him concerned. Yet by the same token, he was also enthralled. Was he experiencing… Attraction? Could it even be possible? It was unbelievable even to him. Yet, he couldn’t totally dismiss the idea.

 

 There was just something about the blond that for some reason was reeling him in. That body, the way he moved with such grace and accuracy, the golden crop of hair that splayed about his head like a halo and those fascinating rubies. Kurapika was oh so beautiful and Chrollo just couldn’t help himself. It seemed anytime he was in close proximity to the Kurta his emotions ran rampant and awry.

 

For now, however, he decided he would let this continue to play out and see where it took him. If he was truly developing an attraction – albeit physical, then he would have to change the course of his plans. This was an entirely new development and as disconcerting as it seemed, he was implored enough to want to see exactly how far he could go with it. For the young blond to retain such a hold on him in that particular mannerism was definitely something he did not wish to let go unexplored. Perhaps there was something truly special about the boy after all.

 

An impish grin formed over Chrollo’s lips as he had slipped away from the area to leave Kurapika with his vexation and he made his way back towards the business district of the city to find an inn with a room he could stay in for the night. He had a lot to ponder over.

 

§§§§§§

 

Grumbling, Kurapika threw what scant amount of his belongings that he came with upon the single chair that resided in the room aside the loveseat that sat adjacent from it. Untying the cloak from around his neck, he peeled it away and placed it on the bed and shook out what little sand had managed to get into his hair during his expedition. Disgusted, he sat on the edge of the single bed that sat in the center of the room and began removing his shoes. He needed a shower after all that. Everything ached. His muscles were tired and he was mentally exhausted. That little escapade proved to end up in failure and Kurapika was agitated with himself. Of all things he managed to lose sight of his target which only served to further his unprecedented self berating. How he could have been so foolish to allow himself to be so easily distracted to the point his focus was practically skewered he couldn’t entirely understand.

 

Expelling a sigh, he ambled over to the bathroom and began disrobing, gingerly peeling off his dusty tabard and training suit, letting the articles pool on the tiled floor beneath his feet and he stepped into the tub, pulling the curtain to close off the area. Turning the knobs, he adjusted the temperature of the water and stepped beneath it.

 

Falling back against the cool tiling, he let the gentle caress of the warm water cascade over his sore and tired body, eyes falling closed as he enjoyed the lull the spray was giving him. Time seemed to ebb away as he stood there lost within his own thoughts, mulling over everything that happened as he tried to figure out exactly what went wrong and where. Groaning from the stiffness inside his right arm, he reached over and grabbed the shampoo then applied it, generously raking it through his hair and lathering it thoroughly. Then he reached over and picked up the soap and the shower puff – it was a something new he found while shopping one day, a blue thing made of mesh that was supposed to be good at exfoliating and cleansing. For a moment he eyed it and took note of the apparent girly nature of the object but decided to give it a shot, anyway. He upturned the soap and poured a fair amount upon the surface and started rolling it over his screaming shoulders, letting the surface of the puff glide along his skin, slowly coating his body in suds as he worked lower, down over his chest, abdomen and towards his bottom half.

 

When he reached his waist, going below his belly button his hand slipped a little too casually between his legs, the puff gliding over his groin, lingering hesitantly before stilling as a shudder abruptly raced through him. His eyes slipped closed without him realizing it, and the puff dropped from his hands as they trekked inward, dusting over his inner thighs, the sensation electing a moan to lift past his now parted lips. Images of a dark haired man with equally dark eyes flittered through his mind and he found his hand curling around himself, the pressure only adding to the strange, mounting sensations that was encapsulating him.  Little by little his fingers slid along the length of his now growing need, mind becoming addled as those visions continued to play over and over in his head, the very same ones that were of the one person whom had stemmed all his animosity and dolor was now the image of fixation, his body now betraying him. Kurapika had lost all control and every action preformed was not of his own accord as his hand continued its unrestrained stroking, breathes quickening as heat began to pool in his groin. Another moan tore from his throat and he suffused crimson in embarrassment at himself, feeling downright besmirched, completely stupefied at how he could allow himself to be corrupted as he was.

 

Before he knew it, his body had tensed up, groin tightening as every ounce of electricity and calescence surged to the very center of his being and his head tossed back against the wall while his hand jerked roughly along himself one last time as those dark and gorgeous eyes bore down into his very soul. Stars exploded before his own eyes and thick ropes of warmth started to spill over his fingers, body trembling harshly and then his knees caved beneath him as he found himself collapsed at the bottom of the tub, breath coming in ragged pace.

 

It felt like he had lain there motionless for a long time before he mustered the strength to pull himself up so he could finish washing and get out of the tub. Wrapping up in one of the downy towels that the inn provided, he placed himself on the side of bed, staring practically absent and listless, not wanting to move. Kurapika was completely lost, his mind wallowing in near misery at what had just happened, fully shell-shocked and disgusted that he had actually let himself be sexually pleasured by the very thoughts of that man, the same one of which had caused him so much pain and grief to become the object of fantasy was appalling!

 

The magnitude of his current situation hit hard and heavy, and in horror he placed his face into his hands and just sobbed, unable to contend with the notion.

 

Once the stricken blond was able to gather his thoughts, he walked numbly over to his duffle bag and pulled out a change of clothes, slipping on a pair of blue boxers and a white t-shirt. In his current state, Kurapika figured the best thing for him now was to try and forget the burning, insufferable memories running through his mind and try to sleep.

 

Slipping beneath the sheets, he curled in on himself and slowly fell into a restless, fitful slumber. 

Chapter Text

A gentle stream of light poured through the slightly parted curtains that resided against the window as its warm rays washed over the small room and across the face of the sleeping figure that remained bundled beneath the blankets of the bed that sat at the very center.  Softly the figure groaned and shifted, hand coming up to shield eyes that were being assaulted by the offending sun. After a few minutes, the blankets were pushed back to reveal a crop of golden hair and the figure sat up, attempting to stifle a yawn.

 

Kurapika felt as if he had been in a collision with a train; his head was pounding and a heavy wave of grogginess along with a bout of nausea hit, causing him to clutch his head in a desperate attempt to steady himself. Bile rose within his throat, the taste bitter and vile as he felt like he was close to disgorging, the rolling in his tormented gut only a profession of his indisposed state. The upended Kurta remained there; completely ectopic as he tried to recollect himself, body revolting as his thoughts were plagued by harrowing memories as the previous night’s events was still fresh in his mind. Even sleep had not brought about any sense of relief – what he endured continued to remain a product of his distress, his situation only becoming more and more troubled.

 

When the simmering ebullition finally began to seep away, releasing the seize it had upon his stomach, Kurapika managed to force himself out from the sanctity of the bed and made his way wobbly over into the bathroom to relieve himself.

 

He was still stricken; unable to process or discern exactly what had transpired the night before, every part of it was still a blur, and had came in a rush, making it excessively onerous  and nerve wracking.

 

Again he found himself at the mirror, just as he had once prior and as his own eyes looked back at him, it was almost impossible to tell that the reflection was of his own – somehow those virile blues had become dull, lackluster, faltering into an overcast with grey tingeing their edges. It was almost as if he didn’t even recognize the person staring back and the image on the other side was somebody completely different. It was nonplusing and it perturbed the blond to the point of any recognition.

 

Silence descended and Kurapika stilled as if he had become completely frozen, paralyzed, and unable to move while the anomalous reflection seemed to watch him with intense scrutiny. He flinched sensing the heat swell and amplify with deep, vehement red glowing back almost apathetic and the sudden realization jolted him from his temporary entrance. The shock luxated down to the very core, his breathing coming in strained and laborious. For unrequited moments, where confusion and disparaging thoughts bled into his unfortunate reality, it was all Kurapika could do to keep for nearly loosing every stable part of his mind, incapable of coming to grips with the recent odium he felt. Just the notion was beyond fathomable, inconceivable, and it left him in complete disgust with himself. The fact in lieu only burned into the very essence of his being, leaving him hollow.

 

A few stray tears managed to sneak from their barriers and down almost pallid cheeks as he tore his gaze from the calculating and weighing stare that only wanted to burn him alive and eat him whole, managing to draw away from the small room and into the kitchenette, arm snaking across his face to oust the offending tears adorning his skin. He needed a drink. Alcohol would have been sufficient if it wasn’t so early and he didn’t relish the idea of getting inebriated before he even had a chance to begin the day. Settling before the small coffee maker, he decided on a cup of hot java to get him through this rather trying time.

 

Waiting for the brew to finalize its completion, he settled on attempting to enshroud his conflictions over his poignant situation and tried to replace it with a new sense of vigor and determination – if anything, the blond’s own resentment revitalized his enmity. He would make Chrollo Lucifer pay for sure for whatever spell was cast upon him and remove at least one pawn from the board if it meant getting back some form of his dignity, or at the very least, a simple peace of mind.

 

No, he would not let go of something so arduous, so heinous and pernicious. It was a huge injustice to him and such he couldn’t just simply ignore. In due time, he would dish out multiple counts of retribution for every dastardly act that had been bestowed upon him.

 

Enough was definitely enough and after how much those wicked, cruel and malignant criminals had gouged and ripped away from him it was time to put an end to it. Kurapika was being turned into a mockery, a plaything at the behest of the one who was harbinger behind it all. Darker intentions, more sinister and impudent wandered into his thoughts as he grabbed the full cup of heated liquid and after sweetening it minutely, took a long swig from its contents before letting his mind wander back to his furtive ideas, finding that his psyche had gone from intrepid and accusatory to perverse and nefarious. But beneath the surface, just underneath the layers of tumult emotions pricked something more primal, more venereal that remained almost completely ignored though its creeping persistence was still there. Always there.  However, Kurapika was unaware of its significance, even as he waged war with himself.

 

One thing that was apparent; he was going to confront Chrollo Lucifer when the time was right, at the exact moment when conditions were favorable and force the answers out of the man even if it meant Kurapika would have to practically pummel him to do so. Whatever it took, he would see to it that he would get the results he was so determined to receive.

 

Draining the last bits of the coffee, he figured today would be the day he would find the man and take it a step further. Kurapika needed to raise the stakes, increase his chances and take some risks. Granted, it wasn’t the exact idea he had in mind, but with the sudden and new change in events, it was becoming unavoidable. The longer he did nothing, the worse the situation would become. If he was to find any ease or solace in life, if he was to ever move on, he had to tie up these few loose ends before doing so. Leaving it unattended would only allow it to fester.

 

Quickly he got dressed, grabbed his cloak, placing it around his shoulders and exited the room and leaving the inn, finding himself back in the desert city’s streets once more. With newfound vigor, he set off to find the leader of the incorrigible Geniroydan leader.

 

§§§§§§§

 

It was unbelievable; the trail had practically gone cold. Faint traces lingered, but the main presence had long since faded, leaving behind only a vague direction of where it had gone. Kurapika stood nearly aghast as he watched the conjectural direction his Dowsing Chain was pointing in. It fluctuated, shifting in unstable motion although it did seem to gravitate towards one destination in general. The blond’s eyes narrowed – how the man could have so easily have fled the city in such an ignoble way only irked him further. Such an egregious inconvenience; now he was going to have to go through the painstaking trouble of tracking him down again. Why did he feel as if this was done intentionally?

 

The Kurta sighed in exasperation; if that bastard was indeed trying to run him on a wild goose chase he would be sure to make him suffer for that one as well. Just what else was the incogitable head of the Spider going to do to him, now?

 

For a fleeting moment his knew his eyes flashed scarlet before he willed them back to their normal state, right hand steadying itself and settling on following his chains for now. Losing control would not bode well, even considering everything he had been so erroneously put through.

 

Straightening the cloak around him, and replacing its hood, he followed the direction his Dowsing Chain was pulling him in, making his way through the winding flows of people and streets before finding himself back at the platform leading towards the Airport. Great, just great. So not only did the insufferable man’s trail practically dissolve into nothing, leaving Kurapika nearly second guessing as to where he went, the fucker up and practically left the city altogether. He seethed. It just couldn’t get any better as the entire scenario was only dragging him further into loathing. This wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when he had made the decision to seek the Geneiryodan leader out and he had practically hoped for a swift end to the entire escapade, but at the current rate things were going, Kurapika realized that unfortunately, such wasn’t going to end up being the case.

 

Trying to get a better pinpoint from the direction his acute chain was shivering in as its general direction seemed to focus north with no predetermined destination, Kurapika expelled a heavily laden breath and settled on the fact that he was just going to have to meander his way practically blind if he had any hopes of locating his quarry. Though this time, he vowed that he wouldn’t let the damnable man escape his grasp a second time.

 

Squaring his shoulders, lips pursed into a rather fine line, Kurapika amassed himself, mentally steeling in preparation for his long and laborious journey, though albeit his second one, and returned back to the inn to gather his belongings before returning to purchase his ticket and leave the city of Ti’alma behind.

 

§§§§§§§

 

He hated to do it; just the very aspect that he deviated from his plans to start anew, even if the prospect would more than likely garner a much different much more opulent outcome, it was still a difficult decision he had to conclude in doing. In the middle of the night he left, ever so prudently, taking special, deliberate care to ensure that no trail, no warning, no evidence was left behind as he wanted to set the gambit much higher and give his shadow a much needed task in finding him. Surely it was a game he was prospecting using subterfuge, but the end results would bring about something so much bigger, more auspicious which to him, was something too good to really pass up.

 

The change in pace and creating a little strife along the way, he was confident in his abilities and in his snap decisions.

 

Chrollo was never one for keeping things in the exact same context as always, thoroughly reveling in the aspect of the thrill, as living on the edge was an ever present thing he was used to in his precarious life. To which, such could be said not only about him, but the entire Geniroydan.

 

Every day was a constant fight, living on the streets, endeavoring to survive, toiling away through whatever meager things they could scrounge or steal, never really indulging in the lavish unless it was a heist worth putting the effort in for, there was nothing grand about the lives each and everyone one of them chose.

 

The leader of their little maundering organization was no different.

 

It was something Chrollo had long since come to accept. One he did accept with graciously open arms.

 

He was a merciless criminal, pilfering and extorting anything he could get his hands on, glorifying with ease how tactile he was with his abilities, yet never hiding that he was comfortable with his chosen path, making it wildly known of the strength and sovereignty that they held, and that the very name of the Spider would always be a prevalent whisper on the wind.

 

So many sacrifices, so much had he elicited by unsavory, abominable means and then there were those that had to be done just in the sake of ensuring their survival, preserving the Spider as a whole, even at the expense of one.

 

Everything had always gone as on normal, or what one could designate as normal for a group of maniacal, impious and aberrant wolves clandestine in sheep’s clothing. For Chrollo, it was an impeccable prelude to any anarchic situation. Sowing calamity and ruination was something that they propagated, while everything else they never held any regard or remorse for.

 

Or so he had thought. For Chrollo was unaware that things in what he always thought was his foreordained life would eventually come to a head and change.

 

For hours he sat within his room that he rented at a rather luxurious hotel trying to engross himself with one of the many books he happened to carry with him. Skill Hunter had always come in handy, especially one of the many skills he managed to procure over his time traveling the world and collecting anything he deemed worth of interest or having. There were quite a few Hatsu techniques that he eagerly and impenitently took, never paying a second thought to those he so ruthlessly stole from. Whenever Chrollo Lucifer saw something he wanted, he inexorably took it, irregardless of the damage done.

 

This wasn’t going to be any different. At least, in the bigger scheme of things that he had planned out. Still, those wavering doubts caused Chrollo to question his own affairs when it came down to his involvement with a certain temperamental bond Kurta that he seemed to have generated a recent obsession with, still trying to understand the salacious feelings he had been having towards the young man.

 

Now it was like every thought no matter how minute it was, came laced with debauched visions of the blond standing exposed before him, submissive expression upon his crippled and defeated visage with those blue eyes transfixed on his own as Chrollo would let his fingers trail possessively over each and every muscle and cord that lined the Kurta’s lithe, yet powerful body, slowly drawing them over those shoulders, down the boy’s sides and along those girlish like hips. The very idea caused him to shiver and the way it made him feel, the stirring it gave, those very reasons were making it definitely hard to ignore.  Understanding the basis behind these strange notions was nearly unexplainable, but the more Chrollo sat and thought on it, the longer he dwelled on every possible aspect of it, the greater he felt the allure. Curiosity started to prove it was a more dominate part of his raging indecision and for him, he was beginning to like this new sensation.

 

Down to his core, Chrollo was a thief and he took whatever it was he desired. Kurapika would be no exception.

 

The only question remained was the fact of exactly the depth of his feelings. He began to ruminate again over the prospect of turning the beautiful Kurta into a viable lover, even if the boy was unwilling, Chrollo would ensure that there was no other way and compel the blond into it. One way or another.

 

A hubristic grin crossed his lips and it was then the finalization to his plans had been set into stone. He was indeed more than interested in the blond then before and whether or not they were for his own selfish, twisted ways, the end result stayed the same. He wanted Kurapika and with a passion that seemed to burn brighter then the sun itself. However, it was a delicate process and would take time to concoct. Getting the blond to come to him willfully, if by choice or not was his preferred method for addressing the situation. The last thing Chrollo wanted to do was cause Kurapika to run off and then he would have to hunt the boy down again and by that point things could be far worse than when he started. Earning the blond’s trust was at the forefront of his mind. He was too valuable for Chrollo to allow slip away, so keeping the precious Kurta close was top priority.

 

Picking his book back up, Chrollo reopened it to resume his reading, succumbing back to its calming pages as all he could was wait now for the predisposed blond to find him.

 

§§§§§§§

 

Kurapika stretched his legs, every muscle was relatively stiff, unfortunately having spent the better part of six hours cooped up and confined in the inadequate seat he had to remain in for the duration of his trip to the Arukan Continent which was an absurdly long distance from Ti’alma. Exiting the landing pad and gathering his belongings , the blond heaved a pent up sigh – these trips were becoming rather tedious and he wasn’t sure exactly how much his patience would hold out if Chrollo Lucifer really thought he was going to continue to impel him on this ridiculous chase.

 

Pulling out his cell phone, he quickly tapped up a message that was primed to be sent to Leorio, and sending it before wandering off into a secluded corner, taking a moment to collect himself and finally breathe.

 

“So where the in the hell are you now, damn bastard?” He questioned spitefully, though he expected no answer as he materialized his chains once again, relying on their ability to establish a feasible direction that he could consequently work with and locate his elusive target. Dowsing Chain this time had a better read on which way Kurapika should proceed in as the length of silver with its metallic ball on the end held a steady position that pointed in the direction of east, which was where the city of Patalor resided, the one that from what memory he had of it, was a place renowned in its vast array of trade and high class civilization. Truly, if that was where the man had gone off to, Kurapika wasn’t surprised. Just like someone who gasconades everything they proffered through unjust means and then embellish on it. The man really was preposterous and the blond just could not get his brain around it, no matter the presentation.

 

Shaking his head, he started towards the bustling lot where people were arriving and departing to hail a cab, knowing that the distance between here and Patalor was longer then he cared to walk and after duration of time he spent pent up on that airship, he did not relish the idea of placing more stress on his legs the need be. Kurapika was really beginning to execrate the entire circumstance.

 

It was a rather warm summer afternoon, especially for a city that resided so close to the tropical region of the map and the humidity Kurapika surmised was already elevated for the early time of the day. Brushing his hand deftly over his forehead he removed the sweat that was beginning to bloom upon his brow and flagged down a nearby cab, and after sliding into the back seat, he spent pretty much the entire trip in silence.

 

His thoughts aberrated, falling back over the distressing plight of his current situation, especially the abstract interests that his body seemed to be having towards his inimical enemy, which Kurapika could still not even begin to fathom why he’d be having. He hated being conflicted and unsure, hated the fact that he was being torn from nearly the inside out and that the unpleasantries were only stemming his further confusion. Slowly it was defining him, trying to controvert against his own morals and ideals, corralling him into swaggering to a completely different point of view. It was an incessant stream of frivolities raging like a tempest within his mind and the longer such continued to happen, the more and more Kurapika was finding it difficult to contend. The knots in his shoulders had returned and the tension that assaulted his body only served to prove that the inward struggle was very real. His fingers came up to rub attentively at his temples; the minute respite granted him a temporary moment to at least complete the taxi ride without wanting to practically rip his head off.

 

Once he reached the downtown area of Patalor, he kindly thanked the driver and paid the man before returning his focus to the imposing sights of the flashy and glamorous city. There was so much activity, easily triple to the populace of Ti’alma and the flowing throng of people moved with definitive purpose. Kurapika tightened the cloak around his effeminate form – he had grown rather found of the velvety piece of fabric which had made him feel so secure aside the sentimentality of his tribal clothing, and continued his trek in the direction his chains were once again, guiding him towards, using In once more to veil his presence.

 

Hours ticked by, the light of the day had began its descent into that of late afternoon and it seemed like he was not getting any closer to finding the man amiss such a enormous place that was filled with long, streamlined buildings which stretched into the vast and rapacious sky. There was so much area to cover and only so many hours left in the day; the Kurta was beginning to grow weary. If his situation did not alter, the chance of locating his target while it was still light out was becoming slim to nil. Close to resigning, he trudged through the winding streets which were filled with the low humming tenor generated by the hustle of city life; even the lights accentuated the majesty that Patalor certainly held. There was nothing insipid about the place; quite to the contrary, it was quite boisterous, flamboyant and ostentatious as he expected as such. Even the people that milled through the streets made no attempt to even conceal that fact. Kurapika was sure he stood out in stark contrast to the attire that most of the locals wore.

 

The sound of low rumbling snapped his partially dazed attention and he realized that he had not eaten in hours – to be frank, not since before he boarded the airship to leave Ti’alma. Groaning irascibility, he settled on trying to assuage his growing hunger and started searching for an interesting place to grab a meal. Kurapika didn’t even know where to begin and just settled into an aimless canter until he ran across something that came off as eye appealing. It didn’t take long before a quaint little curbside café came into view and relinquished into entering the place, taking in the soothing and relaxing atmosphere that it at least offered. Finding a table relatively far enough to place a comfortable distance between himself and the other patrons, the blond lowered the hood of his cloak and picked up the menu which rested on top of a red tablecloth.

 

He was just about to look over its contents when a familiar voice captivated his attention, the tenor and depth of it held way more familiarity then it should and he glanced over to his immediate left, catching the sight of a dark, raven-haired man sitting just a few feet away with his back towards him, an upside golden cross adorning the back of his midnight hued coat.

 

Instantly the blond Kurta hissed between his teeth and jerked up the hood of his cloak, hoping that he hadn’t been noticed.

 

Unconsciously his hands curled into fists, the chains upon his right hand tinkled in acrimony, his blood starting to boil.

 

It took every ounce of self-control and determination not to practically leap up from his seat and assail the man. Kurapika closed his eyes in regret, but he could tell that the immediate fluctuation in his emotions instigated the change their color and the last thing he needed was for that to give him away. Calm, he had to remain calm and taper his emotions; enacting now would only instill adverse repercussions that he simply did not need.

 

Being so close to the older man and the ignominy he generated only provoked at his restrained anguish, and the one thing that affrighted Kurapika down to the center of his very being was losing his hatred and animosity.  Which the lack there of in its usual intensity worried him. Grated, he still harbored languish over wanting to extract his insatiable revenge against the other, but the height of its fervency wasn’t really there like it was.

 

It was a realization that petrified him. Never had he ever envisioned slacking on bringing about desistance of the very thing that had haunted him for most of his life.

 

What in the hell is happening to me?

 

Kurapika stiffened and maintained his focus on retaining hold on In; one slipup and his entire cover up could be blown.

 

Quietly he sat and observed the man with intense scrutiny, the menu had returned to his hands as he tried to deviate his focus enough to scan its contents while trying to feign the appearance he was just any other regular patron and to secure the chances of not being detected, Kurapika pulled the hood over his face a little more, making sure a good portion of his face was shrouded.

 

Such an attempt was futile, however. Just as the blond was about to resume his browsing of the list of food choices, the sensation of being observed washed over him and Kurapika lifted his gaze to come nearly head on with unblinking, dark and mesmerizing eyes, the abyssal pull they instantly had caused the Kurta’s breath to hitch in his throat and suddenly his heart went to palpitating in his chest. Without any warning, a squall of heat rode its way through his abdomen and the hue of his skin turned to a defining shade of pink.

 

Kurapika swiftly averted his eyes, having noticed that the Spider’s leader was staring over his shoulder back at him, the weight in those eyes was judging and calculating, drawing and beckoning and Kurapika was finding it almost impossible to sever the hold it was having. He began to breathe rapidly, lungs straining and chest constricting as his entire world obfuscated like it was caving in on him.

 

Whatever was happening to him it was dragging him down into a besetting storm, like a raging sea engulfing him and pulling him under which left Kurapika feeling like he was drowning. Every part of him twisted and harried the longer he remained close to the bewitching man. The very thought of those eyes watching over him, burning into him, eating him alive and the humiliation he was suffering from his own emotions bidding towards the allure and enticement of those eyes only made he feel like he was losing a part of himself. This wasn’t right, nothing about it was, and yet, something kept nagging at the back of Kurapika’s mind to walk over to the dark-haired man, grab him by the shoulders and as opposed to delivering a series of laden punches to that gorgeous face, instead, capture those ample lips with his own and draw the other into a passionate kiss.

 

All the fury, the paroxysm and the despondency he had been carrying for the majority of his life coalesced into one flooding rush of emotions and Kurapika just couldn’t take it anymore. For so long he had endured, and endured and endured just to end up like this? Clutching his head in a poor attempt to steady himself he bit back the welling tears, knowing that he was on the verge of complete and utter, collapse.

 

Why was he being continuously tortured like this?

 

§§§§§§§

 

Patalor held a vast promise that could nearly be offered to anyone, but its greater semblance of prospect were held towards those of vast wealth, though wasn’t such to say that the less fortunate couldn’t find their niche within the grand city.

 

But for someone like Chrollo, it was abundant with riches and treasures beyond comprehension. One of the landmarks he had planned on eventually visiting during his group’s many places to rapine was Patalor, itself. For a city filled with so much glamour and so glorified, it was hard to resist the temptation of descending chaos and despoil upon the magnificent city. Such wasn’t the case, now. The Geneiryodan leader had other plans, other prospects and invoking a raid upon the land of fame and gold would have to come later; for now, Chrollo had set his sights elsewhere.

 

The tall, encapsulating man found himself seated at a rather eccentric café, though the furnishings weren’t gaudy as they were quite lavish for such a city as Patalor, but oddly enough, the ambient music and atmosphere that arouse from around the building was enough to importune a sense of relaxation and calm.  Even the low resound of the chatter around him wasn’t enough of a distraction to procure him away from his involvement with the cup of tea – Chrollo usually never wavered from his daily habitual activities, but the difference in pace was actually nice for a change. The herbal blend of rose and honey added to the smooth taste and aroma that the tea held. It certainly was different from coffee, but the deliverance of caffeine wasn’t completely absent from the brew, so he indulged in the luxuriant sensation the liquid had to offer.

 

Everything around the city slowly started to come even more alive as the sun had begun to lower in the horizon, falling into late afternoon. People rushed about their own daily routines without hesitation, flowing almost concurrently like ants moving through a hive and it was amazing to watch as the cogs in the machine continued to turn and tenaciously. Chrollo also had simplistic tastes as well; watching people and observing their habits was not unusual.

 

Fingers clasped around the handle of the tea cup and he brought the rim to his lips when a intermittent flux in pressure captivated his attention and he gazed back over his shoulder to catch sight of someone sitting at a table behind him, that same dusty colored cloak he so remembered a certain blond was wearing back in Ti’alma had miraculously – and finally made his way to Patalor. Now Chrollo was thoroughly amused. The man was beginning to have his doubts after the third day had passed uneventfully but as luck beholden, there was the very person whom had been dogging him for weeks now. He could sense the young blond’s eyes upon him despite he was attempting conceal his presence – inadequately at that, even though Chrollo felt no aura emanating off of him. Apparently, which made sense, the witty Kurta was veiling his presence behind In, the same he did back in Ti’alma as well. Difference was; Chrollo was already aware of Kurapika’s propinquity just by his sheer disguise alone which he was sure the boy hadn’t realized was blown back in the desert city. The other reason was due to the Kurta being excessively obvious.

 

How the boy really had concluded that he wasn’t drawing any attention was not only bewildering but highly gratifying.

 

It wasn’t long before Kurapika’s avaricious curiosity got to the better of him and for eternal moments, their eyes locked and Chrollo could instantly see the inner turmoil the pretty Kurta was wallowing through. 

 

Every barrier that his advantageous and studious blond thought he had carefully enacted was slowly starting to deteriorate. He could clearly see that the young hunter was gravely conflicted, torn and haunted by his own emotions, and the beginnings of his own requiem was starting to form.

 

Adamantly, Chrollo surveyed the war torn blond, even as the indisposed hunter tried to temperate the desperation that flickered over his beautiful face. It was the very same he could tell was clutching the boy so tightly, so mercilessly, even amiss the faint recognition of desire and need, such wasn’t annulled from the Kurta’s eyes as Chrollo saw the flash of prurience beneath those captivating blues before the boy unfortunately averted his eyes.

 

How intriguing it was. Indeed, the tides were turning and Chrollo could see that his precious blond was beginning to feel the same pull of attraction that he himself had already begin to experience. Oddly enough, it was like the two of them were connected, intertwined and perhaps fate was playing some rather cruel and perplexing game with them. Not that the notorious criminal minded, quite to the contrary.

 

Things were going over rather well, despite it was still quandary. He would have to continue to extract caution if he wished to keep nurturing and goading the blond into the exact situation he wanted him in. Chrollo was sure the Kurta was still going to blatantly keep following him no matter the circumstance as such has already been proven due to the boy’s continuous persistence, which the reason for the initiation he still had yet to learn. But considering the recent outcome of events, Chrollo figured the time to find out was getting close.

 

Indeed it appeared as if everything was ready to advance it again to the next level. For everything was efficiently coming together, practically all wrapped up in a neat little package. Such a delicious endeavor and Chrollo had complete and total control. It was titillating, and the thrill of being oh so close to ensnaring that unique and prodigious butterfly didn’t seem to satiate his growing appetite. In fact, it only encouraged it.

 

Just a little bit longer and the overzealous Kurta would fall easily and willingly right into his open arms, leaving the blond so malleable in changing that quixotic nature of his Chrollo could almost taste it. All he had to do was quench that derisive and burning hate the blond clutched so ferociously to if he was to make complete progress. So long as that remained, it would eventually end at an impasse. Something Chrollo wasn’t going to allow.

 

Kurapika just need a little more nudging and once he started to see that his current ways were only eliciting more grief then not, everything else Chrollo noted, should fall readily into place. Consequently it was just merely a matter of time before he would reach the desired outcome with his Kurta.

Chapter Text

There was so little leads. So minuscule the information had been on the one thing of which was considered elusive and scarce, it was becoming rigorous, yet incumbent to track down a copy of what was said to be one most valuable items to ever exist. It was also one thing that the highly exuberant and ingenious youth, Gon Freecs was adamantly seeking - the game his father created, Greed Island.

 

For weeks they had been searching, turning up only the most vague amounts of knowledge on the game had left Gon and his friends with the most painstaking task of using more offhanded methods and speculative theories to obtain such a elusory item. Yet, at the current even as they poured over the copious amounts of websites that claimed to house copies for purchase, most were disingenuous and too fluctuant to warrant the justification in placing too much attention onto them. It was definitely a tedious and distressing situation.

 

For hours it felt, they had sat pouring over the material they had managed to gather, weighing and calculating their options, scrutinizing and measuring every outlet they had managed to upturn or what had been proffered to them. It had been attenuating, especially after the crushing blow of the Yorknew auctions, it felt as if they were no closer to prevailing then they had when they initially started.

 

“Aw, I am really beginning to wonder if we will ever locate an actual copy.” For a moment the emblematic youth focused over a few equivocal advertisements for the game, though he wasn’t entirely confident in placing much trust in them, “The amount of Jenny that most of these sellers want is astronomical.” He whined, the clicking of keys reverberated beside him as he knew Killua was furiously working away at his own computer, conscientious of the information being presented in front of him.

 

“So many of these people seem faulty.” Killua chided finally, a bit disparaged by the fact that a good amount of the results they managed to churn out looked nothing remotely trustworthy, which in reality, were only getting them practically nowhere . Only one viable outlet they had which looked promising, which only fueled their invariable training to prove their worth of entering the game was becoming more like their sole recourse. “It continues to look like our best bet would be going with Battera’s offer.” The young Zoldyck exhaled; not that he was objectionable as their only stress would be infusing depth and tenacity into their abilities with Nen, which was a plus in its own right. Since practically every other offer was looking exhausted, they were going to have to settle for playing at someone else’s game.

 

“Yeah I guess you are right.” Gon conceded and pulling away from the computer to inadvertently stretch his constringed muscles, the cramp he had in his legs from sitting for the extensive length of time he had was rather anent and he groaned at the ache from of pulling the ligaments back to their normal positions. “Besides, I don’t think we will ever be able to gather enough Jenny to even come close to buying a copy. Everything else we have already tried really only got us nowhere.”

 

For so long, Gon had been tracking down every lead, every clue and breadcrumb possible in his undaunted goal to find his father, Ging, which has drawn the young, energetic youth down a rather amassed and dangerous exodus. Though such isn’t to say he didn’t find so much benefit along the way.  He had encountered so many stupendous people along his path, and forged what few friendships he held that were of the utmost valuable to him. All his adventures certainly retained their perks that he wasn’t ever in repentance of.

 

Forgetting the aspect of their current task at hand, he nudged Killua, his friend having long since cast aside any notion of continuing their ineffectual search.

 

“Say, shall we go check on Leorio? Perhaps he has gotten an update from Kurapika or something.”

 

Grinning, an underlying flash and a hint of slyness crossed beneath the surface of his electric blue eyes, and the ever adroit Zoldyck nodded in agreement, feeling rather confident they would obtain some positive news on their Kurta friend. Considerably it had been some time since they had heard from the blond - the last known status was his arrival at Ti’alma and that he had managed to track Chrollo Lucifer down. Other than that, aside the fact that Kurapika had been strenuous about trailing the impulsive man who was far from trustworthy, not much else was known about the blond’s circumstance.

 

It was difficult to hide their intrinsic apprehension at the entirety of the situation; especially for Gon who always had the tendency to see the worst in scenarios when it came down to either impulse or what looked grim, causing him to sometimes react rather tumultuously then rationally. Sometimes it was worrisome, especially for Killua who more often than not, would have to pull Gon’s ‘fat from the fire’ per se, lest the young boy would have more than likely gotten himself killed.

 

Killua exhaled shallowly; it was relatively the same story here. Even though he had repressed his already growing qualms in regards to Kurapika’s decisions, he was more hard pressed on the fact that all of them had long since been vacillated in their collective decision on what to do, but deep down, he was still feeling something really was going to unfortunately go amiss.

 

Meeting up with Leorio for their afternoon get together, the two of them sat reposed lackadaisically upon a ramshackle bench within the park down in central Yorknew as they awaited their current meeting time, knowing that sometimes the older man could be what was considered ‘fashionably late’. Killua had to remind himself that at some point, he would need to chide the would be doctor about punctuality himself. As much as their oldest friend like to caw and grouse about efficiency and productivity, he didn’t exactly always practice what he preached.

 

Such was proven when Killua noticed that of course, as he surmised, their friend was over ten minutes late.

 

“Sorry!” The strained voice game laden with heavy panting, assertion clear in the man’s obvious posture. “There was just so much traffic. I swear it’s like everyone crawls out of the wormwood at this time of the day!” It didn’t take long for Leorio to regain his composure, but not without extensive effort. “Didn’t think I was ever going to make it.”

 

Of course for Killua, he knew the more reasonable riposte towards the man’s statement would have been more of a gesture to heckle the other for his lack concentration. But, rather than falter towards that likely outcome, he simply regarded Leorio with a droll smile and hopped off the bench, the sound of plodding not long after professed that Gon mimicked his movements.

 

“Sure, sure old man. We believe you. It is around midday of course, tends to get busy around this time.”

 

“Jeeze Killua, you don’t have to so blunt about it.” Leorio grumbled, obviously chasten by the laconic response the younger boy gave him. As always, such caused him to feel depreciated to a fault. He simply muttered beneath his breath about Killua always being on his case worse the Kurapika ever was as he shoved his hands into his pockets out of irritation. For a moment the heavy silence ensued between them before Gon chimed in, as always in attempt to lighten the mood.

 

“Hey Leorio, any word from Kurapika? It’s been a while since we last heard from him, and we’re a bit worried.”  

 

For a moment, the taller man looked considerably dejected as a frown crawled over his inadmissible expression, designating their answer was practically cut and dry.

 

“Unfortunately, I know about as much as you, guys. Honestly, I expected better of Kurapika as he knows how we already feel about this little escapade of his, but to go this long without contact, well it’s inexcusable!” The sudden outburst exhibited by Leorio summarily caused both boys to flinch as their collective stares transfixed upon their friend with impart scrutiny, though it was the young Zoldyck who made emphasis on inducing a glare to further add the point. Without hesitation the taller man suddenly backed down at the extremity of the situation, realizing he had gotten worked up again needlessly. “Still… It isn’t good he hasn’t let us know of his recent circumstances. He knows we worry.”

 

“This may be true, but you need to calm down Leorio. This isn’t a time for losing your head.” Didn't take long for Gon to intervene, knowing how strenuous both his friends could get, especially when it came to Kurapika’s welfare. But now wasn’t such a time for imprudence or frivolities.

 

Leorio simply huffed his discontent and slunk onto the bench the two young boys had claimed as a perch early, looking absolutely acidulated. For a breadth of a moment, Leorio looked lost in thought - a thousand questions racing through his haggard mind as he practically fermented in his own stewing emotions, nearly forgetting that two concerned faces were boring down into his own when an abrupt chime broke him from his distrait and he reached into his pocket to retrieve his phone, checking the caller ID before shock temporarily bewildered his expression, “It’s from Kurapika…” Leorio responded without hesitation, promptly answering the call, “Kurapika…” The man breathed, not bothering to hide the slight acerbity in his tone, though suppressed it thereafter, “What has taken you so long to call us?” He wasted no time getting straight to the point.

 

“Before anything, I do apologize for the discrepancies in my attentiveness and being forthwith in checking in, but I had… Some rather unexpected delays…”

 

“Delays?!” The older man’s voice cut in nearly like a viper, though he wasted no time lowering the baritone of his voice down to a dull roar at the admonishing look Killua reinforced with, “Seriously Kurapika, what is going on?”

 

There was an intermediate pause that seemed to stem for an extensive amount of time before the voice on the other line drew the energy to continue, “Unfortunately I was forced to relocate to the Arukan Continent. That damn bastard managed to slip away during the night recently and I consequently had to track him down again. Which turned out to be an utter inconvenience.” The besetment in his voice caused Leorio to blink for a moment; such venom and animus, never had he remembered the blond being so heated, the vehemence nearly seethed through the phone. But the one thing stood which out was the sheer dissidence that seemed to underline in his voice, something he didn’t recollect ever hearing before.

 

Something was definitely… Different , but he wasn’t sure exactly what.

 

“I have just made it to the city of Patalor. The place is indeed huge as I’ve heard, so I am quite confident it will take some time to find him again.” Kurapika’s voice continued over the phone, though more monotone this time.

 

“Are you sure this is still wise? I mean c’mon Kurapika! It seems like this monster is doing nothing but leading you around, and by the nose I might add!” Leorio’s aura suddenly flared.

 

Immediately Gon and Killua exchanged looks in bewilderment, privy to only part of the conversation, curious by Leorio’s sudden conniption. “Uh Leorio,” The honey-eyed youth began though was swiftly cut off as their older friend continued to prattle on as if he never heard the voice call to him in the first place.

 

“I still say something isn’t entirely right with this whole thing! You know we’ve been worried about you and we don’t want you just going off and getting yourself killed!”

 

“Leorio... I,” The taciturnity that ensued thereafter seemed to strewn on, neither of them talking, causing Gon and Killua to shuffle uncomfortably. For some reason, to the two young boys, this unusual banter was something completely inverse from anything they were used to. Such astriction was nearly suffocating.

 

“Hey old man, no need to be so cocky!” The silver-haired youth hissed, depth of his electric blue eyes practically boring holes into the older man. “We are all concerned for Kurapika but no need to practically rip his head off over it!”

 

Clicking his tongue in outward discomfiture, aura starting to dissipate as it returned to its normal swelling, Leorio amended, “I am sorry, Kurapika. Didn’t mean to get so extraneous.”

 

“No, it’s quite alright, I understand. Your concern is justified, but I cannot just simply turn back now, Leorio. I have to see this through. I promise to be more considerate with keeping you updated on my condition, however.”

 

“So I assume there is no way we can dissuade you from this mission of yours, then?” There was a hopeful undertone lacing within Leorio’s voice, though underneath the rising upheaval that was growing ostentatiously between them, he pretty much already knew the answer. He just couldn’t help but hold onto a shred of credence that Kurapika would turn away from this little folly and actually return back home and back to some similarity of normalcy. Or what one could even designate as normal. Though for Leorio, the realization was very, very real. Once their blond-headed friend got his mind set, there was just no coaxing him to do otherwise, which only furthered the older man’s malcontent.

 

“I have told you, this is something I feel I must do for myself. I am sorry, but there is just no changing my mind.” There was a brief interlude before Kurapika spoke up once again, “Also because I know you are thinking it, don’t. Please do not interfere, Leorio. I know how badly you, Gon and Killua - especially Gon, want to come after me, as bullheaded as that is thinking you are rescuing me from some catastrophic situation, but it will only complicate things and make matters worse.”

 

Instantly all the air funneled from his lungs and Leorio sighed in abject defeat. He could feel the heavily weighted stares boring into him by his two companions, choosing to inwardly chide himself for being so humbled and irresolute, that suffocating feeling of uselessness only a gateway into baleful insignificance. It burned him down to the very core.

 

“I understand, despite I still don’t like this. Something really isn’t right. Just… Promise me you will be careful.”

 

“Don’t worry, I will.”

 

It was all that filtered through the line before the call was ceased and for a moment, Leorio felt hollow.

 

“There will just be no changing his mind.” The words came, lugubrious and contused, facing towards the two boys who stood impatiently beside him, the phone sliding back almost aimlessly into his pocket, “He will just have none of it.”

 

“What happened?” Gon chimed in, trepidation clear in the kid’s honey-hued eyes. “You sounded awfully angry. Tell us what Kurapika had to say.”

 

For the span of what felt like an eternity, Leorio struggled to amass his squalling emotions and was nearly beside himself from the foregone conclusion, still unable to settle with the outward circumstances. No matter how much Kurapika beseeched and requisitioned him into just standing on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing he would never come to full terms with such a fact. For the Kurta to be so brazen and stolid only succeeded in infuriating him. It was taking all he had managed to muster to not go after Kurapika and nearly beat the blond, senseless.

 

“Apparently the Ryodan head managed to escape Kurapika not long ago and skipped town. But he managed to track him down again… But…” Leorio paused mid sentence, obviously still choleric about what had transpired - through the lack in continuation only earned him another heated gaze from Killua.

 

“Out with it old man!” The boy rebuked, flaring hues warning of lack of patience.

 

“Okay, okay, I am getting to it, alright? He grumbled before adding, “The trail led him to the Arukan Continent. To a city called Patalor.”

 

“The Arukan Continent?” Both younger boys enunciated simultaneously, shock riddling their faces, “But isn’t that across the Great Barren Sea? Back relatively towards where we took the Hunter Exam?”

 

“Apparently so. As to why that crazy fool ran there in the first place, even I don’t understand. It just seems as if the head of the Ryodan is just messing around with Kurapika at this point.” Leorio concluded as all three of them look positively expended and beyond any comprehension to the conundrum that was presented before them. From their standpoint, this was turning out to be nothing but a game of cat and mouse, one that Kurapika was easily playing right into, the manipulation clear which only demonstrated that the witty, yet ingenious leader of the Geneiryodan had their blond friend practically wound around his finger and being lead astray. The outcome appeared somber and unfortunately, absolute.

 

“This… This isn’t good.” The amber-eyed boy spoke, dread edging the tone in his voice, “I think we should go after him.”

 

“I agree,” Leorio added, though he knew what the end result would ultimately be. The words Kurapika spoke echoed on virtual replay over and over through his mind, “But, as much as I want to - as we want to, Kurapika practically insisted that we don’t. The tenor he initiated when it was spoken; he sounded pretty damn serious about it.”

 

It was a tough, enervating decision, one that left them unfounded from when they began. Deep down they knew of the insurrection that raged in an unremitting war within their friend’s own rattled mind. His mental barriers were unstable, emotions in havoc and his pride preventing him from seeing clearly. It was indeed, a very dangerous path Kurapika was walking and for them, for those who really cared about him the most within this horrific, dark and tenebrous world were left feeling as if they could do only the very least.

 

As unpropitious, forlorn and futile the situation seemed, as much as they were plagued with incertitude and mistrust, they knew that regrettably, there was nothing they could do. Kurapika was adamant on finishing what he started, on seeing an ending to his own plights and bringing about denouement to everything he had so long suffered and all they could do, was sit back and watch it all unfold.

 

 
                                                                                                                                 §§§§§§§

 

 

For so long, Chrollo had never imagined that such life changing event would actually be the very thing which had come in the form of something he had thought was long since gone from the world. Like a phantom, something so bygone yet ethereal, a physical manifestation of the very entities that had long since followed his mind into eternity had appeared to him on that fateful day, back when he had let slip his own guard in a moment of impertinence. It was almost like a dream, a surreal image formed from something considered a mere delusion, and yet, every aspect only evoked the very real culmination such a being wasn’t any fabrication at all, but an actual personification of revanche, like an angel of deliverance.

 

He remembered it as if it was yesterday, the way the person looked, those effervescent eyes, so deep, so blue, the way those golden locks swayed nearly in time to the wind’s coercive gusts, almost a perfect echo to those inexplicable emotions that raged unbridled, and the breathtaking way that body moved – such a memory only imbued deep within, fueling remembrances almost long forgotten.

 

But no, he would never forget, for that very same person of whom had captivated his attention back then, had done so now and at the moment, was constantly watching his every move, his every action, mirroring him nearly perfectly like that of a replica; his constant shadow. It brought about a pleased smile to pale lips. Even now as he had sat bathed in the afternoon sun, its caressing rays washing over him while he had situated himself at a rather eloquent restaurant with a cup of coffee and a plate of food that sat upon the pristine white table cloth upon the round table he was situated at, he could still feel that ever present energy of him, those eyes lade and practically boring down into what he thought was his very soul.

 

It had been nearly a month since his arrival at Patalor and on an almost daily basis – despite the few days of absence he had realized the boy had taken, it was a constant supervening, never once wavering in remaining just close enough to maintain observation, but held the distance necessary that he couldn’t ever really catch the sight of other’s face. He was always wondering what was going through that pretty little head since that night when their paths crossed again within the magnificent city of fame and gold.

 

Though one thing was for certain – the amplification of current circumstance regarding his decision on handling such a rather troublesome, yet wondrous situation had slowly continued to change its outcome over the passing days. To which even he had noticed within himself, that his own mindset was altering its once harried state into something more pensive, more contemplative. Even for him, just the very aspect of something so enthralling, so resplendent and so compelling was able to implore him as it had was enough to be a continuous push in furthering the very idea of seeing exactly where it would lead him. The very fact that the pull was so great – albeit the drastic change in his emotions, only seemed to further add the fuel into his perspicuous exploits.

 

It as one of the very reasons why he allowed the circumstances to drag on as long as it had.

 

Chrollo could sense it – no he practically knew exactly why things were playing to the very song and dance that it was. But for him, it was merely another way to explore the newly developed sensations that he was experiencing, which were the very same ones he had been undergoing for weeks now. For him, being ambitious was the way to ensure things paid off. There was no way he would allow something this opportune, and indefectible to escape his grasp. Especially with the way circumstances were developing.

 

He wasted no time allowing a fleeting glance to draw over towards where he knew the blond was still intermingled as he attempted to look casual while the great flowing sea of people ebbed and moved around him. Though as usual, that state of obviousness caused by the obstinate hunter only further served as a distraction for him as Chrollo had long since realized that being in such close proximity to that fastidious Kurta only initiated a stirring within him that he had found on so many counts terribly difficult to resist. Even the faint scents of sandalwood mixed with the airy hints of a forest only gnawed at his senses, the perennial hold it had upon him only frustrated him further as the desire to enact on his feelings brewed strong. But no, he wouldn’t, he couldn’t. Such a delicate thing would need time to cultivate, time to prepare and cure and being too impetuous could easily unravel everything he had carefully and meticulously planned out thus far.

 

No. He would take more time to place careful thought into everything he was working towards. So far Chrollo had not allowed himself to go beyond any set limitations that could possibly give the blond more reason to suspect his cover had long since been blown and kept the illusionary pretense that he was blissfully unaware of the Kurta’s striddling advances. Casually, he took another draw of the remaining liquid which was in the cup he dexterously held and finished its contents, deciding to consume the last of the meal sitting on his plate and feeling it was time to actually move on. Perhaps he would give his little alluring kitty something else as an incentive. Maybe Kurapika needed another nudge to coax him even more down the pathway Chrollo wanted him on. Since the raven-head’s unrelenting emotions were only steadily intensifying; the attraction he noticed had only become even more apparent over the last few weeks since his arrival in Patalor. His growing need and the ever present wave of something more, something superlative resided just beneath the surface. For him, the reality of it was even if such was in question, he suspected his attention towards the Kurta shifted from being predominate to a covet interest.

 

Or perhaps, just perhaps he was experiencing something more akin to that of a romantic desire.

 

As strange as that even sounded to him, judging from his current range of erratic feelings and the dramatic shift of thoughts that wound through his mind, such wasn’t to be so easily dismissed. The blond definitely had some kind of hold on him, even if it Chrollo didn’t quite understand its exact meaning or the dialectic behind it. Though one thing remained certain; he was still exigent on the fact that the ultimate outcome of all his efforts was to see the beautiful little Kurta finally become his.

 

Whatever Chrollo had to do in order to accomplish this, he wouldn’t stop until he saw his plans reach fruition.

 

Resolute, the infamous leader of the renowned Geneiryodan pushed his chair away from the table and arose, sparing one last fleeting glance behind him to ensure that his shadow was still milling about before leaving discreetly once satisfied that the blond hadn’t budged from his observation spot.

 

Chrollo strode into the swelling throng, easily blending in with the rivers of people as they hustled about towards their destinations, keeping just enough pace to guarantee that he wouldn’t lose his pursuer amiss the growing waves of passerby as he thread his way down one of the main, busy streets. The clamor of voices intertwining with one another along with the bustling of the city itself began to reach its pinnacle as it started to fall into the busiest part of the day. So much activity occurring around him and it only reminded Chrollo of why he was so adverse to extended stays in such superfluous places like Patalor. But he repressed his nagging irritation in favor of holding his focus on that the one person who remained the most important. Letting his attention deviate now would only serve no real purpose and end up causing the current situation to become problematic. Things were adjusting and slowly falling into place, there was no need for him to generate any upset now.

 

In a split decision when he was confident in those undaunted footfalls echoing deftly behind him did he duck into a nearby side street, expeditiously rounding another corner that fell instantly before him, trekking the short length of pathway before finding himself facing a dead end of the alleyway of which he had chosen to make his way through. Knowing that the blond was only mere kilometers behind him, Chrollo decided to enact on the plan he had recently concocted, wasting no time to elicit his momentum and nearly vaulted up the planate brick walls of the buildings which resided around him, making sure to leave his incentive behind. Letting the object fall inconspicuously onto the stone ground, he rounded with exactitude towards the roof, clamoring over the edge just as he heard the blond enter the alleyway. Silently, he poised himself at the edge of what he assumed was a clothing store and sat, waiting with intrigue for when the boy would finally realize that he lost his quarry once again and become distraught with the notion that Chrollo was seamlessly giving him the slip.

 

Of course, he knew such actions even as ridiculous and incommodious as his decisions may seem, he continued to bet that regardless of process or transition, the outcome would end the same as he predicted. He only hoped that his young objective was astute enough to connect the dots that were being laid out for him. One thing though that Chrollo was most assured of was the fact that he was certain Kurapika hadn’t noticed the gradual shifting in positions and who the blond thought he was stalking was certainly turning out to not be the case. Such was an amusing notion how the initial predator was now becoming the prey. Chrollo chuckled inwardly to himself – oh how he was enjoying this little game that his valorous Kurta was conforming to. Such vitality and fortitude, the magnetism was unbelievable. He knew the the blond had quite an affluent flow of spunk, but this, this was beyond his expectations. Yes indeed, he could envision the potential of making an apt partner out of the young hunter, there was no reason to doubt that, now. Again he felt that latent sense of longing pang inside of his heart once more and slowly he licked his lips, nugatory in withstanding the effects it had on him as he continued to descend further and further into the unknown.

 

In essence it was maddening.

 

Excited. Chrollo felt riveted just by the mere idea alone, every aspect was another nail driving itself firmly in place as he revealed in the undulating waves of his own surging passion. Even as extrinsic such was to him, he couldn’t deny its rapt calling. So many thoughts crossed through his mind, so many avenues of contingency, the possibilities he concluded were endless.

 

It certainly was turning out to be something he deemed highly worthy of his time and efforts. Even in light of the probability this was in part for his own avaricious needs.

 

Chrollo knew he was eccentric, but this took on an entirely different meaning.

 

Exhaling sharply, unblinking gray eyes watched with unscrupulous ambition as his mental preparation wound over the next steps he planned in making towards his goal. Such an implication and the very idealism of exactly what he had in mind only furthered that coy grin which spread eagerly over his lips.

 

A grunt made in exasperation broke Chrollo from his reverie as he gazed down at the blond on the ground below him. Kurapika’s back was facing his direction as he appeared hunched over, the boy looking as if was examining something. This piqued Chrollo’s interest and a flickering surge of energy pricked at his skin, which he assumed the boy’s aura had abruptly amassed. Good. The tactile Kurta had found his little item. Finally his plot ensued as he would implant the seed that would subsequently germinate perplexity and doubt, hopefully driving the boy deep enough into a state of inner conflict that he would soon enough start to question his own precessions. If Chrollo could just instill enough diffidence towards Kurapika’s convictions…

 

Leaving the distraught hunter behind, the raven-haired man slunk away, a soft, amused snicker was left fading in his wake, another foretelling of what he now felt was the beginning of something preordained.

 


                                                                                                                                      §§§§§§§

 

 

Hours. That is what it had felt like. The eternal movement of time, though consequently decelerated, the amount expended was something more than what was really cared to actually lose. However, remaining at his perch, sitting astride a rather hectic street; the cacophony of people as they ran about their daily productivity was enough to distract him from his current engagement.

 

It was like practically observing a stone statue. Immotile, becalm, the placidity in his composure, just how calm he looked, even from the distance Kurapika stood at, just the air of confidence the man exerted, such only arose his own state of perturbation. The Kurta exhaled a strained sigh; he was beginning to wonder just how much longer Chrollo Lucifer planned on superficially dragging him around the city as if he was some dog on a leash? Everything the man had done aside having him practically taking a leisurely stroll through one of the most lavish cities in existence left him questioning what the exact motives were. Something felt incongruous about the entire scenario; for weeks he had been relentlessly tailing the man and for the same length of time with no such corollary. Everything appeared normal, quintessential, as if this was his usual standard of life.

 

That kind of knowledge along with the fact that his entire scheme was practically getting Kurapika nowhere only increased his agitation. The insipidity of it left the blond feeling as if his entire desideratum was becoming merely nil.

 

Kurapika breathed as he gently pulled habitually at the rim of his cloak, the hood vastly obscuring his vision, and yet, his line of sight wasn’t hindered in any way as he could clearly see his quarry positioned at a small restaurant across the street as the man indulged in an afternoon meal. Just the due process, how the act tarried on, as if the delay was intentional, made Kurapika begin to feel as if he was being deliberately made to wait, that the man was taking his time only to ensure that he would become frustrated from having to stand there for the ludicrous length that he was.

 

Abstractedly, he clutched his right hand into a fist – it was unbelievable! Which the worst part; somehow, in a way that Kurapika couldn’t remotely comprehend or understand, the man was indirectly – or perhaps directly, effecting him emotionally. Ever since the night before he left Ti’alma, when he had that execrable loss of control over himself, over his own body and committed to a grave act of sin, he had been experiencing forthcoming continuations of wayward sensations being inflicted upon his mindset, libertine thoughts that invaded his conscious and dreams, ones that had started to make him feel enfeebled only added to the vast swell of contention that he was caught within. Every aspect only made him start to question his own sanity and made him petrified down to his very being.

 

He didn’t want to lose his hate, his resolution or his way. The fear that such may be starting to slip made Kurapika worry beyond rationale, for it was his execration that gave him incentive to carry on, to progress, to breathe. Losing that now, forgetting his real reason for why he existed would be giving in and reneging on the promise and vows he made to his kin. It wasn’t something he was willing to so easily let go of.

 

Keeping the flame alive was a constant reminder of what he had suffered all his life and for what he will eventually take back.

 

Still… Something else burned deep within and just the inclination it gave him, how twisted and stricken it left him, it was within these embroiling innervations, Kurapika just didn’t know how to deal. He felt like he was caught in an ambiguous pull between holding onto what he forged in the depths of his heart, the moral axioms he committed to and letting go of everything that made him who he was. The verity of it only reinforced his wracked state of mine that much more.

 

Something about him was changing and it was in that very change that left him terrified beyond prehension.

 

Without realizing it, his chains had materialized, the links glittering under the vibrant glow of the warming sun, their melodious tinkling chimed in tintinnabulation before they dissipated and the Kurta’s attention suddenly perked as he noticed his target had stood up and was proceeding towards the restaurant’s exit.

 

Suppressing his bidding emotions for now, he slid around the edge of a street corner, attempting to easily conceal himself along with the unhindered flow of people, shrouding himself as quickly and efficiently as possible to avoid detection.

 

Kurapika waited with ambition as the raven-haired man meshed into the throng in front of him, waiting for just the right moment to supervene after him, keeping just enough distance so the other wouldn’t be able to sense his presence. Though for a while, the blond had started to wonder if for some insane reason that the older man somehow knew he was there.

 

No, it was preposterous! There was no way that his enemy could possibly know he was nearby. He had been meticulous, precise, and attentive to each and every thing he had done thus far. It wasn’t likely that his nemesis was aware of his presence, was it?

 

But then again, considering the recent turn of events, all the strange and disconcerting things that had been taking place lately; there was definitely something strange going on.

 

Staving off his connotations, Kurapika wove through the milling throng, maintaining pace with the criminal mastermind, retaining hope that perhaps this time the man would actually lead him towards something worthwhile of his attention and warrant illation for him to finally act. Drawing unwanted attention at this point wasn’t something the blond was thrilled to do, especially while surrounded by a vast collective of innocents. But the moment he was given a practical or logical reason to attack…

 

Eyes widened at the sudden sharp turn the raven-haired man had taken, ducking into a nearby alleyway as it seemed his target was attempting to lose him. The concise turnabout aroused his suspicions once again, but as such, he couldn’t afford to be circumvented.

 

Gritting his teeth, he rounded the corner and retained his pursuing, enforcing Gyo into his ears, aggrandizing them. Instantaneously he captured the filtering, echoing footfalls of his target and followed in the direction of which they were coming from.

 

He panted, his stamina becoming taxed the longer their chase took place, his chest constricting with his labored breaths, his physique straining. During his escapade he had not realized that his Scarlet Eyes were impelled, the enervation of their use only added to the slowly waning energy flow. The exerting of his aura was taking its toll and for Kurapika, their embodiment worse than that of hewing weakness.

 

The Kurta pooled on his reserves, suffusing every conduit of aura flow possible into necessitating his ability to continue maintaining his strength – if he was to even consider facing what potentially may lie in wait, doing so in an impaired state would only prove detrimental to his entire cause.

 

Down another narrow alleyway the sound of movement reverberated and the blond hastily followed as a dank and malodorous odor wafted into the air causing Kurapika to suddenly recoil in revulsion, the pugnancy of it enough to make him feel as if he wanted to retch. Where ever that bastard was leading him surely didn’t seem to be affecting the man worse than it was affecting him.

 

What the hell is that smell?” He uttered in pure disgust, left hand coming up to clasp over his nose in a feeble attempt to ward off the offending stench. Even the walls looked as if they had become stained by years of mildew and mold, thick piceous blotches clung to the surface, adding to the rather begrimed scene before him. Kurapika growled and pushed his way through the filthy stretch before emerging into a wide area which appeared to be a dead end.

 

Empty, the entire area was practically devoid of any signs of life, nothing was left in existence aside the vast amounts of discarded offscourings; litter, old articles, piles of lumber offset by piles of debris, it was obvious that the alleyway was practically used as a partial dumpsite. Why that infernal man would have decided to pass through here was practically incomprehensible. Then it literally dawned on him – inanition, there was no one else in the blind alley but him.

 

His gaze inherently darted around the dimmed area as he slowly traversed inward, breaths coming in shallow pace, the heat copiously arising around him and the educing flow of his aura reminded him that his Scarlet Eyes were still in use.

 

Vexation boiled to the surface and without thought as his right hand curled into a fist and slammed against the closest wall, recognition began to sink in that once again, he had somehow managed to lose the bastard a second time. How this kept happening was something beyond even his apperception.

 

“I swear to God I am going to kill that asshole the next time I see him,” Kurapika growled, the emotional squall hammering through him was enough to defuse any inessential feelings from before. At the moment, his primary focus fell on the fact that again for the second time since he had began trailing the Geneiryodan leader that he somehow managed to evade the stalwart Kurta. “And put an end to whatever game he’s trying to execute.”

 

Just as he was about to turn, something brushed against his foot and the blond bent down to reconnoiter a rather small, colorful stone laying fornent to all the filth and putrescence, its beauty almost being insulted due to its awful surroundings. Fingers curled around it as Kurapika salvaged it from a rather despicable fate, turning the smooth object around his palm. Flecks of gold sat inlaid within splashes of red and yellow, a hue of underlying green accented its surface. He scrutinized the object momentarily, digits absently stroking the stone, exploring every inch, taking note after mere moments that it was shaped like a heart.

 

Inquisitive by finding such a rather pure item surrounded by dirt and grime which seemed so out of place, he couldn’t help but find his situation even more startling then it was prior. Hand fully encompassing the stone, the blond reluctantly withdrew from his chevying, disgruntled by the fact that he had been abdicated by the very man he sought and ceded to the fact that it was practically inutile to continue on in his efforts. For now.

 

Even as much as it unnerved him that this new outcome was essentially a repeat of history once again, it was also a rather moot point – that damnable monster managed to dissuade him and, left him behind to stew in his own failure.

 

Something to this caliber surely didn’t sit too well with the blond; it was just another added strike against his enemy that Kurapika would seek reparation for.

 

He decided it was best to reconvene on his current matters after he had the time to collect himself for there was much to ruminate over. So much had transpired in the last month since arriving in Patalor – really since he gone on this undertaking, and it was just too obvious to ignore. There was just too many conjectural incidents and encounters that had taken place which only yielded more questions than he had in answers. Then there was the matter regarding the rather strange and troublesome influx of emotions he had been subjected to, which in his mind’s eye, had taken more precedence above anything else he could have merely attributed to simple happenstance, but the sudden change in his emotional state was definitely a cause for concern. Especially after the mental sway had caused some rather unwanted thoughts regarding the very last person he should ever have romantic feelings about.

 

The last word left a vitriolic taste in his mouth. There was just no way. None that he could even rationalize. It was appalling that even such a thing would dare cross his mind. The hatred he held for his clan’s executioners was ingrained so deep, so meshed with is entire being that entertaining something so blasphemous only caused him to grunt in sheer disgust. Especially for that stoic, heartless bastard who lead them all.

 

It was the very last thing in the world he would ever allow to happen to himself and Kurapika took comfort in knowing that the vein of his anger continued to pulsate within his very being. He would see this to the very end even if it killed him.

 

However, beneath the surface, just underneath the outer layers of the carefully concocted barriers Kurapika had erected, the very he had so obstinately woven as a cage from reality, something stirred inner, something currently minuscule, but perpetuating. One that awareness has not yet acknowledged, but would eventually and lead the blond towards something more tangible, more eliciting.

 

The tides were turning indeed. Just not in a way Kurapika realized quite yet.

 


                                                                                                                           §§§§§§§

 

 

Grousing, he unceremoniously flung the door open to his hotel room, still ectopic by the lack of success the day held. Each and every turn of events ended negatively and it only served as another reason to goad the blond further with his ventures. He wouldn’t allow himself to be divagated, quite to the contrary; his determination only flared. In light of everything that occurred, all that he endured, just the fact that he was still suffering, now in more ways than one, was enough to instill his insatiable fervor.

 

Kurapika ambled into the room, quickly flicking on the light switch to illuminate the area and balk the darkness that had claimed it in his absence. Hissing at the brightness, his hand reflexively came up to shield his tired eyes as they slowly adjusted, the execution of the day’s cavort had claimed its price; every part of him ached, the burning in his legs only added to the cognizance that he was beyond fatigued, and was coming under the influence of exhaustion. He hadn’t slept properly in weeks, it was longer than he could even remember. Even the weight of his eyes felt like lead, the swelling he could easily tell was affecting him; how long he held onto the state of his Scarlet Eyes while in that blind alley only piled on the stress that was causing affliction to his body. Perhaps he should rest. He knew it was something he desperately needed.

 

He had been avoiding sleep due to the conflicting and haunting dreams he had been experiencing. First the despairing nightmare which plagued him, the very one that prompted his current excursion had bled away into other dreams that caused him to question his own sanity. There were so many variations, but each one was about the very same thing. All his emotions, sentimentality, conscious and awareness faltered back to the very same thing he had dedicated his entire life to seeing surceased from existence. Yet, all those visions, all the outcomes from each one found him not extracting revenge, but entertaining the idea of a different propriety all together. Happiness. It was one thing that had been devoid from his life for so long, yet it was not in the facet of completion of his goals or the joyous times with friends, but something much deeper, something more frightening. Each time in those dreams he established the prospect of a different life, such without sorrow, without pain, and most of all, without hate. That happiness was exponential, encouraging, proffering and offered him the peace he had so longed for. Yet, it was found astride the very same person that Kurapika harbored such a burning contempt for. How that man, the one bore of such a wicked and hiemal nature could ever show him happiness was beyond even his ability to rationalize.

 

It was those very same dreams; declarations of compassion, love and understanding followed by tranquility that abolished all the darkness from his life which granted such a strong allure, and by the same token, made him also feel it was mere illusion.

 

Kurapika was torn.

 

Constantly he remained disharmonious, battling an internal war that only razed his mind and influenced his judgement. Each incident only descended him further into inner conflict, adding to his already polarized emotions. He hated it. Hated being tormented. Hated being at odds with himself. The uncertainty only inflicted depression, and the very aspect, the very thought he could foster sensations like that for his enemy sicked him. There was just no way possible. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. In the end, he would rather terminate his own life then allow something like that ever see the light of day.

 

He just couldn’t handle it.

 

Capitulating, he walked towards the bed, deciding that sleep would be needed to facilitate proper judgement, dreams or no, as his mind was beginning to addle from the deprivation he was starting to suffer from. Fumbling with the strings to his cloak, Kurapika was just about to set the velvety article aside when something caught his eye. At first he speculated he was seeing things, looking again to be certain that what he saw wasn’t a mere figment of his imagination.

 

There on the nightstand was a glass vase encasing about a dozen blood red colored roses, freshly cut and fully bloomed. It took mere moments before he was struck.

 

Numbly, he strode around the bed and placed himself before the flowers, one hand coming up to stroke over the blooms to ensure that they were real. How something like this got into his room only perturbed him further, though it wasn’t until he realized the small square box sitting upon the pillows that really had the blond on the verge of unhinging completely.

 

Slender fingers shakily converged on the object, pulling it to towards him as he lifted it, scrutinizing what he held before positioning himself on the side of the bed, stripping the paper surrounding the box and dispensing with its lid. Warily, he reached inside, fingers curling around something only to remove a length of fabric infused in deep blue. Running his hand over it, he realized the surface was silken and soft, thin and practically sheer, making it appear dainty. Removing it completely from the box, Kurapika gave it a once over, recognizing it as a rather elegant scarf. The lace work done in vines and leaves was impressive, even as his fingertips caressed the material, he couldn’t help but wonder where such a lavish and beautiful piece came from.

 

Briefly setting the garment aside, reflexively his hand plunged into the box again to retrieve another item, a book.

 

That caught the Kurta completely unawares.

 

Turning the book over between his shaky palms, his eyes roved over the cover, digits stroking along the leather bound cover and its inscriptions as he realized the book was rather old and one he didn’t recall physically ever coming across. Gingerly he opened the cover and began leafing through the pages, taking in the contents with expect grace as intrigue started to settle in. After skimming through the contents he recognized the works as something he had heard of, but never seen. It was a documentary on the histories of past civilizations that were said to have been existent long before their current time, one of which was a recordings of several vast empires and cultures that had once been embroiled in war, where creatures of terrible and abominable likeness roved the lands, consuming souls and slaughtering innocents by the droves. It was also noted that at the center of it all was a maligned force that sought to control and destroy the world, where it was also said magic had existed and despite it was rumored to have been tainted, it was believed to have  become the very catalyst for Nen usage today.

 

Kurapika was utterly enthralled by what he had found. Never in his lifetime did he think he would ever come by such a prized piece of literature. He had only heard whispers of its construct and that there were very few copies in circulation, but to actually hold one… The blond Kurt had to pinch himself to remind him he wasn’t really dreaming this.

 

Speculative, he gingerly put the book aside on the nightstand next to the vase containing the roses and canvassed the box once again, noticing a white envelope at the bottom. Extracting it, he carefully pulled the slip of paper from its encasing and unfolded it, reading over the nondescript words that seemed done in rather elegant handwriting.

 

I know this may come off as a rather strange surprise, and you may be questioning exactly where these items came from, but worry not, for let’s just say they are from and admirer that finds you rather interesting. Please accept these gifts and I do hope you enjoy them.’

 

There was no signature nor was there any indication of who wrote the letter or sent him the gifts he now possessed. One thing was for certain, or at least he cogitated was the fact that this was someone who obviously knew him, or impartially considering the book and how it appealed to his tastes in particular literature. The roses however, in conjunction with the letter saying that someone held interest in him spoke more of a personal level that clearly arose a little concern in him.

 

The entirety of occurrences that have happened to him that day left feeling slightly narcotized; every part of him felt the weight of emotional disturbance and just the aspect of how confused and solicitous he was, only brood deeper into his already neurotic state of mind. Kurapika didn’t know what to do or in reality, how to really go about his more than strange situation. First, all his contretemps involving Chrollo Lucifer, down to the most recent occurrence that lead him into that blind alley where he consequently found that mysterious stone, to the wracking and conglomerate surging of his emotions and feelings which have left him conflicted and disturbed, down to finding a strange package on his bed along with roses with no indication of their origin have certainly caused him to feel less than sufficient in his own self confidence. He didn’t know what to do, how to handle everything that has barraged him much less manage his own mentality. It was as if he was slowly coming apart at the seams and was slowly losing grip on sanity.

 

The very notion only rose trepidation further to the surface, causing his own nerves to flux within his body and he realized that his own hands were shaking. “What the hell is happening to me?” The words trembled off his lips as he struggled in every route possible to parse exactly why he was enduring all the atrocities that it seemed the world – nay, that fate seemed to enjoy forcing him to go through. So much pain lay within his heart, constricting and delivering crushing blow after crushing blow and he wondered how much longer, even after six long years of vile hell, would have have to go through before he could finally put all his sorrow and despair to rest. Even as the very thought of being consistently tortured by his own instability, unable to even retain his own acumen was enough to throw Kurapika into a downward spiral.

 

Practically forgetting the book, scarf even the roses, he managed to change clothes - albeit awkwardly, legs trembling as they attempted to carry his weight around the room before returning to the bed, where he grabbed the small leather pouch he had toted around with him and plucked out the small, colorful stone, fingers wrapping around it. He didn’t know why or comprehend, but for reasons unknown he found some sort of comfort from it.

 

Releasing a withheld breath, one that caused an ache in his lungs, Kurapika reluctantly capitulated to finally getting the rest he so desperately needed. He was under way too much duress and if he continued on as is, eventually he would inadvertently be called to pay the piper.

 

Suppressing the urge to cry, the threat of tears extravasating through the barriers that tried so feebly to hold them back, watery blues fell behind their curtain of darkness and Kurapika woefully slid between the sheets, head slumping into the downy pillows. Small, clear beads soon formed and leaked unbidden down blanched cheeks as he closed in on himself, finding inability to contend at the moment.

 

For so long he laid there, trembling as his silent sobs left him feeling empty as his energy just ebbed away. Eventually he fell under as he cried himself to sleep, lithe fingers still clutching tightly to that heart shaped stone.

Chapter Text

A soft, caressing wind aerated through the nearby open window, its gentle brush dusting over the sleeping figure that lay surrounded by the copious bundles of blankets he had interwoven around him, shifting slightly to the assonance of the birds that were perched just outside which indicated it was morning. Groaning in turbulence, he extricated himself from the protective cocoon which he had sought comfort in and found himself sitting on the side of the bed soon thereafter. Eyes were heavily lidded, riddled with dark, puffy splotches, indicating the lack of proper sleep for an extended length of time, though the vibrancy of serene ceruleans still retained their semblance of life energy. Attempting to steady himself, Kurapika poised both hands at his temples, attempting to dispel the slight growing ache he was still feeling. For him, the sensation as if he had been tromped did not aid in how he was currently feeling.

 

Far too long he hadn’t gotten the proper rest he needed; even though his slumber last night was virtually idyll with a lack of distressing dreams, the amount wasn’t sufficient enough for a full recovery. Yet, he was far better off than he had been in weeks.

 

Breathing in deeply and steadying himself, the bond lifted and ambled into the bathroom, clearly predisposed for a long, and needed to shower. He cast a perusing glance at the roses which sat elegantly within their glass vase as he went past, snorting cynically then closing the door to the small room.

 

After relieving himself and denuding his sleepwear, he carefully slipped into the porcelain basin, circumventing the mirror in attempt to forego seeing his own reflection. Just the very idealism of seeing his own constrained features, especially his eyes, just the way they would return with a heated, heavy arbitrary gaze wasn’t something he needed, nor wanted. To see himself in the current state he was in, the very notion only caused him to twitch in dysphoria.

 

Shaking his head he inclined over and flipped the water on, expelling a laden sign and revealing in the temporary appeal of the water brushing over his delicate, pale skin as rivulets fell off his golden tresses and trailed down his lithe body. The blond groaned again, letting the water massage into his still tired and expended muscles. Melting into the sensation, his mind began to meander.

 

Kurapika still couldn’t quite comprehend everything he had been forced to endure the last few grueling weeks, his mind reeling from the continued, unrelenting onslaught of his errant and shifting emotions. None of which made any sense to him. His dreams. His failures. His mixed, flummoxed feelings. Then there were the mysterious gifts. Their sudden appearance and how consequential they were on a more personal level. Ones that seemed to appeal to his nature. The blond Kurta had his suspicions on their origin - for him of all people; it was just too unlikely to be fortuitous that some complete stranger had taken a liking to him. But the very aspect of said items is what lead him towards the fusillading questions that he was unfortunately, riddled with.

 

The biggest thing which stood out eminently was the roses. The remembrance of the ruby colored blooms flitted through his mind and Kurapika sniffed in disdain; such a thing was only given to someone as a profession of love, often handed to those who felt strongly for one another that would silently speak their affirmation of devotion and loyalty. How such an idea could even be a feasible thing in regards to himself, that someone - or rather, a particular person who had seemed to rather enjoy dodging him rather habitually lately could harbor feelings of that caliber for him only made Kurapika more afflicted. It just wasn’t possible that someone as cold and callous such as him was capable of expressing that level of emotions.

 

Or was it?

 

“There is just no way!” The Kurta suddenly blurted out, hissing indignantly through bared teeth. “Just what the fuck is that bastard doing to me?”

 

Leaning back against the wall, he felt no closer to achieving his goals and left with more questions than he had in answers.

 

It was poignant, making him grief stricken with his current circumstance, unable to sort out everything he had been made to wallow through, leaving him devoid and hollow. Especially with the notion that if his suspicions bade true, then the absolute worst person in the world was harboring the very last thing for him that Kurapika wanted to think about.

 

Envisioning that monster ever exhibiting love and compassion for another human being was so implausible it made the blond laugh bitterly; whatever that man was playing at, Kurapika wasn’t going to allow the most notorious thief ever to have the repletion of reeling him in.

 

Briefly rescinding in his thoughts, the young Kurta finished washing when he realized his extended time in the shower while lost within himself allowed the water to turn frigid and he fleetly got out.

 

After toweling off, he schlepped back into the bedroom to retrieve his luggage, delving into the modest sized suitcase and retrieved a simple, unadorned white t-shirt and a pair faded, etiolated blue jeans.

 

Kurapika grunted as he tugged the shirt on over his head, the strain in his arms still apparent from the exertion of his previous night’s caper, the stiffness that riddled his frame only reminded him of what he had grievously suffered through. The blond hadn’t realized exactly the ambit of his situation. He had been so caught up in all his presages that he neglected to heed his own personal needs.



Resigning, the guileful Kurta decided that he should scrounge up something to eat, deciding that the nourishment would help abade his slowly ailing health. Closing his eyes momentarily in attempt to still the slight nausea he was experiencing, the blond readily composed himself and exited the small bedroom, emerging out into a decorous sitting room and reached over to pluck the room service menu off its surface.

 

After excogitating over the vast amounts of items and options to choose from, Kurapika settled on Chicken Florentine with a small salad on the side for lunch. After calling the order in, the Kurta wasted no time dragging himself into the bantam sized kitchenette to where the coffee maker sat and prepared himself a cup of much needed caffeine. Perhaps the influx of that in conjunction with a decent meal would allow the blond to actually cerebrate properly.

 

Once the maker finished brewing and he filled his cup with the steaming liquid, he added cream and mild sugar, and then made his way back into the bedroom to grab the book he had found as one of the gifts left behind for him. Taking a sip from the mug, he reached over to pick up the book when something glossy and colorful caught his attention.

 

Letting a slender hand linger over the object, Kurapika drew it into his fist, blue eyes wasting no time looking the item over. He frowned, realizing it was that stone he had found, the very same one of which had given him a sense of amenity which subsequently allowed him to find peace and sanctity while in slumber. He didn’t quite understand exactly want the allure about the stone was, but every time he held it - as he was now, for reasons unknown all his emotional turbulence began to wane, leaving him feel more complacent then he had felt prior. Kurapika sighed heavily, still in complete disbelief to anything that he was dealing with but didn’t refute the stone as it kept him from feeling all the pain and misery that he had been harrowed by. Coiling his fingers tightly around the stone, the young blond snapped up the book and resided in the living room, settling into one of the soft armchairs that sat in the center of the room and across from an oak wood coffee table.

 

Reading, he figured, may add some reprieve from his daunting circumstances, allowing him to forget - even if only momentarily, from all the enormities wreaking havoc in his life. One thing Kurapika wanted was to escape.

 

He knew that he had to keep diligence with his objective regarding Chrollo Lucifer, but for now, just for this very moment, he wanted to relax. Kurapika’s mind had been forced to endure so much and he really had no clue how much more abuse he could really take.

 

There had been lapses in his pursuits before; this wouldn’t be the first time over the course of the last month since he had been dealing with his problem while in Patalor that he had deferred from his exploits to rest and recoup. Such wouldn’t be any different now.

 

Licking his lips thoughtfully, his hand traced over the etchings within the leather cover once more, taking in the wording and images that were crafted so elegantly into the volume, though the edges were worn which definitely indicated that it was very, very old. Kurapika still mused over how he was inevitably this lucky to come into possession a book this rare, all considering the lack of resources to see one, much less hold it.

 

He began to thumb carefully along its pages, yellow tingeing its once white, pristine surface as he found himself starting to get immersed into the content which it beheld, slowly losing himself within its vast wealth of knowledge before a robust knock came at the door.

 

Respiring, Kurapika charily put the book aside and lifted up from his seat and over to the door, answering it without hesitation.

 

Immediately he realized that the meal he had ordered was sitting outside his door ferried by hotel staff and he instantly bid the person thank you before promptly pulling the cart inside.

 

“Suppose I should really attempt to eat something.” He murmured concurringly, lifting the rather heavily polished tray off the cart to place it on the small table that sat off to the right side of the room. Settling the intricate dishes onto the thick, wooden table, Kurapika reposed into the seat after pulling it out from beneath.

 

Almost adroitly, slender fingers encircled the handle which resided upon the top of the silver domed lid and removed it, setting it aside. Once his eyes lay upon the succulent looking meal which sat before him, he reluctantly had to agree that this was something he really needed. For so long prior he hadn’t taken the necessary recourse, constantly eating perfunctorily, usually skipping meals or just eating on the go, which he attributed were more than likely adding to the cause of his recently debilitating health. Kurapika had been so hard pressed on retaining his abiding focusing on keeping a firm lock on the leader of the Geneiryodan that practically everything else was falling below the line of becoming secondary.

 

In retrospect, his attention towards the man who had left him with so little left of value in the world was becoming the focal point of unmitigated obsession.

 

It wasn’t good on any account, though it was the forefront of Kurapika’s mind which only furthered to solidify the fact that he was beyond invested. But the blond didn’t have anyone around him to help keep him in check or to gauge and maintain his level of acuity, which was only adverse to his situation. Wistfully, he knew such was the path he chose, and did so without contrition.

 

Casting aside his rather circuitous thoughts, the blond Kurta focused on the meal before him but was finicky as he picked at it, finding that he wasn’t as indulgent with the fact that even though the food tasted rather amazing, he just didn’t house the mindset to enjoy something as delicious as it was despite the circumstances. He practically ate out of necessity, not on account that having a good meal should have been a welcomed distraction from the predicaments that had become the center of his entire life.

 

After wheedling himself to down about three quarters of the plate, Kurapika found he just couldn’t endure another bite, the taste which began dedicate, became vapid. Dismayed, he arose to clean up, storing what little was left within the small refrigerator that the room held, opting to make himself a cup of warm tea and deplane into the armchair for a few hours of reading.

 

Once the weary blond fixed the warm brew into an inordinate cup and seized the leather bound book, his small body descended haphazardly upon the velvety cushions, feeling the slight dull throb that still lambasted his muscles, though Kurapika grunted instantly from the lancination that flared then dulled, just barely registering the tenderness that the entirety of his body was experiencing. He sighed, steeling his being just long enough to repatriation himself before laying the book upon his lap and opening its cover, letting himself soon get immersed inside its mesmerizing lexicon.

 

It was profound and intriguing; the enriching material gave him such a vast source of knowledge as he learned of the extent of histories that lay shrouded in mystery regarding the societies and civilizations that existed long before his own time. Especially the myth of how exactly Nen transubstantiated from an ancient source of energy that it was said humans were able to draw from that could be used to bend and control at will. What even captivated Kurapika’s attention further was the chronicle of gruesome, twisted creatures’ bore of shade and penumbra, filled with vile and wicked malevolence, often depicting hideous abominations derived of human likeness with animal heads or gruesome, sinister winged beasts that would haunt the skies. He was even taken aback by the depictions of large hounds that were said to be so deadly and infernal their saliva was considered so potent; it was able to kill a fully grown person in mere hours.

 

Kurapika was fixated - it was beyond comprehension that such a vast world such as this, one so sophisticated, so intricate, yet was laid completely enmeshed in perdurable conflict, warring factions that ravished and brought destruction to so many nations while fending off an invariable iniquitous force that was pestilent, riddling chaos, disease and corruption in its wake even existed. The blond Kurta couldn’t believe what his eyes beheld; even as his lissome fingers gingerly slid over the pages, it was undoubted that he was benetted, not realizing he had spent nearly the last few hours completely lost within the enamoring material that for so long, gripped his attention.

 

It was those very same eyes that had become unfocused from practically ogling the pages for the lengthy consecutive amount of time he had and morosely set the book aside, deciding to stretch his stiff legs.

 

Even as he had realized once the long shadows cast within the room had indicated, hours had crept by; the sky had began to slowly turn an opulent shade of purple mixed with splashes of oranges, yellows and reds, Kurapika settled on relinquishing to getting himself dinner before calling his magnanimous friends, the very same who have always been there for him, even when the young Kurta had not always been at his best. Why he ever thought such wonderful people ever deserved an ingrate such as himself, he didn’t think he’d ever know.

 

So much he had done - the impertinent acts committed; refractory, flagitious, nonsensical and downright cretinous, it was a true wonder that they had stuck by him for so long. There were times he knew he definitely wasn’t in the correct state of mind and more often than not, settled on doing things he knew was not in the best interests of his friends, much less, himself. It was even during those moments where situations escalated in becoming internecine on such a grand scale, Kurapika had really thought that he was the sole proprietor in sealing all their fates. It was always the reason why he had swore he would never allow anyone close to him, for it was only seen as a rudimentary weakness. Everyone who ever entered his life it seemed became nothing but intermediate while he waged war with his own demons, with himself. They always became collateral damage. Yet, he couldn’t ever bring himself, or even find the heart to sever the bonds, even if they were truly considered a setback. When it boiled down to the nitty gritty, they were all he really had left within this ruthless world.

 

A sharp jab that reverberated through him caused him to jolt back to his senses and the young blond Kurta realized he had been retaining a breath that only agonized his lungs before releasing the air that was causing his chest to constrict, feeling that his own mind had began reeling once again.

 

Murmuring to himself, Kurapika ratiocinated that he had been thinking too hard, his mind wandering as he just continuously spun his wheels and was ending up in the same rut over and over again. How he kept ending up in these types of deplorable situations the blond figured was relatively done by his own hand. The more and more he pushed to keep walking down the same dangerous path that he so inherently chose, the greater the residuum would be. Yet, in spite of such bifurcations, Kurapika couldn’t seem to change is course of action.

 

Or was it just indisposition?

 

Change. It was one of his greatest fears that caused him to practically shun anything that imperiled the chances of altering his own profligate standards. In reality, he only propagated within the same vicious cycle.

 

In the end, if such wasn’t going to change, it would ultimately be his downfall.

 

It was a very precarious gambit indeed, one that the Kurta placed way too much trust in, and with an outcome that would become absolute. Irreparable and irreversible.

 

Apathy was really a very strong and powerful emotion. One that if Kurapika didn’t break the bonds on would only cause him to see the world and everything in it through phlegmatic eyes.

 

Without much discernment, that small stone he had found such an affinity towards he realized was betwixt his fingers again, that same veneer of comfort making him feel a little less luxated. Still unable to capiche the reasons for why the stone brought about such a sensation, he still couldn’t help but feel some sort of alluring pull by it. Even with as mysterious as its origins much less its purpose for the time being, mattered not. His eyes drew over the surface, in taking such pulchritude, still enthralled by how elegant it really was.

 

Where exactly did you come from?

 

Kurapika had asked himself a few times that very same question, yet he was no closer to the answer then when he originally started at. As much as the stone did in diminishing his careworn mind, it wasn’t exactly enough to stop the squall that constantly plagued his thoughts. Though as much as he wasn’t sure why, he did even without fully admitting it that he was grateful for the stone, for at least he had some peace of mind when he kept it with him. For a few seconds, his hand clasped around the smooth object, eyes slipping shut as the Kurta breathed in deeply, letting the wash of calm bid over him before gently sliding the stone back into the pocket of his pants.

 

Temporarily abrogating his dissension in favor of finally scrounging up some food, Kurapika plucked the menu up off the coffee table and quickly scanned the contents. After a few lingering minutes, he settled on something as simple as a nice leafy salad and a hearty bowl of soup. In the same fluid motion, he picked up the hotel phone and called in room service before deciding to retire back to the living room once more. But this time, as opposed to settling on the huge armchair he was sitting in prior, the blond decidedly sprawled out on the plush sofa, book back in his delicate hands once more.

 

He would inundate himself once again within the enthralling descriptions of the book’s alluring pages. It was at the moment where Kurapika found the greatest form of solace. At least while he read, he didn’t have to think about his inconclusive emotions, which for him if such was only interim it was still a welcomed reprieve.

 



                                                                                                                                  §§§§§§           

                                              

 

Serene. That was the one word which transversed through his mind as he sat cross-legged upon the chair which was poised at one of the grand bay windows within his suite, strong fingers curled around a ceramic cup that held dark, heated liquid as he graciously took a sip. For quite some time he sat there, observing the one thing that had been the quintessence of his attention, watching as the very object of his desires was flitting studiously about the spacious hotel room they were staying at, obvious from the posture and body language, it was safe to assume the person in question was in part, unsettled.

 

Chrollo had his suspicions on exactly why the blond was acting practically erratic - he knew for certain that his gifts had indeed, been received and that such as far as he can tell, hadn’t entirely been refuted. But such was only mere conjecture as he was only able to see so far into the young hunter’s room from his standpoint, having been lucky enough to procure a room from the grand hotel just across the street from where the blond was staying, the suite he was renting aligned perfectly, which gave a direct line of sight right into the Kurta’s own room.

 

The older man sat at such a angle that he could espy the boy without interception, even once the younger had capitulated to the plush chair with a book in hand; the very same Chrollo had realized was the one he had left behind for the boy to find, he couldn’t help but relish in just how radiant he looked. Just the way the reflective glow of the midday sun held against that golden crop of hair, it made him appear as something palatial, something akin to heavenly. Even while the sun continued to slowly dip as the hours progressed, that resplendence the younger man exuded around him formed the appearance of a halo. The Ryodan head bit his lip; something on such an illustrious scale as which the blond held only seemed to choate the raven-head that much more. For him, the slowly arising attraction day by day was becoming great, even while he sat back straining with patience to little by little evoke the reactions and outcomes he was hoping for, it still wasn’t to say such was easy to manage.

 

However, Chrollo didn’t controvert that he did indeed, rather luxuriate in watching the blond move about his hotel room; it was intriguing, yet bewitching watching as the boy went about his daily activities, even in light of the fact it was one of those infrequent occurrences where the pertinacious hunter didn’t actually take the time to seek the older man out. Such didn’t nettle him, quite to the contrary, the thief knew rest was essential, even if it was satiating knowing that blond was so desperate in staying close to him, that the oppugnancy he generated caused the boy some formal distress, Chrollo still harbored some concern for the boy’s health.

 

While he didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of his concern, at the basic level the man knew that if Kurapika’s welfare was to debilitate, the younger would only dilute, and further mar the worth he held. Not only that, the thought of the Kurta faltering to avertable illness disquieted him. From his observation spot, he was able to tell that at least the boy was taking time to see to his basic needs, something that had sat in the back of Chrollo’s mind for some time. Though, he was glad to note that such was being done.

 

It was definitely atypical of him to exhibit care for anyone outside his Spiders, but the ever present lingering pull that the Kurta had upon him had stirred some relative changes in him as of late. One’s that the raven-haired man never thought he would ever find himself ever conforming to.

 

As difficult as such was to openly confess to, one thing Chrollo easily regarded was the fact that, even if the reasons weren’t as clear as he would have liked them to be, one thing he knew was for certain was that his feelings towards the prestigious hunter, that the very special blond who, even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it straight forward, was causing him to become further and further inveigled by. It was by that very notion alone that Chrollo knew he was slowly becoming entangled inside of his very own web and being held captive by the very same person of whom he had long since in essence, captured himself. This in reality he didn’t try to expostulate against.

 

By God, Kurapika was beautiful.

 

Even as the thought flicked through his mind, it didn’t warrant a change in his heart. There was a time, practically at the beginning of this little excursion he would have never envisaged or even considered something like this, much less enacted on it, but his once baleful outlook had bled into something much more tangible, some more emotive. The expectation of such a notion only assured that all his efforts were in part, for his benefit, but where the oddity arose which danced slowly through his conscious, such became evident, even contrived that it too, was also for the blond’s benefit as well.

 

He raised an eyebrow at the notion, questioning the words as they echoed in his mind, but as strange as it seemed, thinking of someone else for once aside himself only felt like the right thing to do. Moreover, if he really wanted to continue instituting that connection of trust, then being selfish would only in the end, be counterproductive. Undermining everything he had accomplished thus far, well perish the thought. It most definitely wasn’t something that Chrollo wanted to even think of.

 

Those dark eyes once again returned to the window as the light had started to wane, paving its way into evening. Colors splashed in intermingled and hybridized variants of flowing oranges, reds and yellows canvassed the sky, the introspective array gripping and appealing, as if an artist’s paintbrush had swept across the clouds in a fantastical display. Such encompassed the seraphic blond and the luminosity only made him look that much more graceful and elegant. Once again just the refined nature of something so innate the boy held caused Chrollo’s heart to stop for nearly a beat.

 

Damn his emotions were running rampant once again and he was finding that he didn’t really care anymore.

 

Something caught his attention that struck him suddenly and inclining forward, Chrollo realized that the young Kurta held something glossy within his spindly fingers, flecks of gold twinned with yellow and red in the shape of a heart and he soon found himself grinning.

 

It seemed that the hunter had taken a liking to more than just one of his precious gifts - this completely grasped the older man’s focus as he caught the momentary turn of the boy’s head and the contemplative look in those invigorating blue eyes of his. For the ephemeral amount of time he was able to get a good look at the Kurta’s flawless visage was enough for him to conclude that the little stone was falling completely into play as it was supposed to. What infinitesimal energy he was able to permeate into the object it seemed was just enough to induce an effect upon the blond’s mentality. This thoroughly pleased him.

 

Its primary function, well he surmised that Kurapika had yet to decipher that. Judging from the way he toyed and clutched the stone, how punctilious it sat within that slender hand and the way it appeared his eyes swept over its smooth and sheen surface only spoke of a fondness that the boy held for it. This was something that furthered Chrollo’s faith that all his plans were moving forward according to how he constructed them, allowing him little room for error, though he was disbelieving that such would even end up being the case. So far, all he had carefully articulated was going over impeccably and to him, there wasn’t a cause for very much concern. Just as his feelings were altering the longer this played out, he was confident such was practically the same for the Kurta. Even if the boy would more than likely need more coaxing and assurance that the direction he was being guided down would be the envoy to something cogent, something prosperous, Chrollo was a patient man. As difficult as it was retaining hold on his dissolute emotions, the constant reminder that something good was surely to come of all his efforts was enough to keep him tied down in his place. Once he was sure that Kurapika had shifted enough from his inveterate pedestal would be the moment when he would act, commencing the final steps of his project and draw the very thing he had been avid on for so long.

 

Chrollo had settled on with continuing operations as he had been normally doing. Bit by bit he let his ambitions grow, adding new and lively incentives for his pretty little Kurta, each one another step down the path he now walked that soon, with the right amount of cogency, would find the blond following right behind him on. The only thing that stood obstruent was the boy’s displaced hate, which was an entirely separate matter altogether. However, given enough time and with the right nurturing, even that could be liberated. Nothing was perduring.

 

Trust. The one factor of which could make or break everything. Yes, he would continue to found that bridge; to prove his worth and that the blond could safely entrust his faith in the older man was at the top of his list of goals. Without any of that, well, he knew exactly where this would go.

 

Those dark, rooted eyes found their way back to the boy once more, having noticed he resumed immersing himself within the confines of the book, his face obscured by his curtain of golden tresses, the only other thing visible besides the tanned parchment pages that were being leafed through.

 

Inwardly, Chrollo felt confident enough that he could proceed forward with the next step in his course of action. One of which he hoped would be enough to impel the blond to question his motives, further. So far he had been successful in instilling enough ambiguity, now it was time to engender curiosity, give cause to the young hunter reason to seek him out further, to evince on the interests Chrollo had made physically known. He was ready to show Kurapika just how deeply invested he was, no matter the cost. He had already conceded to the fact he was becoming increasingly attracted to the Kurta, and in more ways than one, the very which had him in a vice almost on a daily basis. Now was the time to show just how committed he really was.

 

Motioning away from the window and from the view of the boy, the Geneiryodan leader strode over to the plush chair which sat astride a rather sizable couch and sat, broad hand sweeping over a large, yet, thin red box that housed the next instrument in his quest to win the blond’s heart. Tips dusted the edges of the cover, knowing that what was encased inside would more than likely find itself on par with a deeper, emotional connection with the intractable young man, something he was sure would instantly profess his intentions once the Kurta realized exactly what was inside. Setting the box carefully back down upon the small table which sat astride his perch, Chrollo picked back up the mug he had been drinking from and drained the remaining contents of which it held, finding that he was becoming more lost within his own nomadic thoughts. For days now to a fault he had been restless, his mind constantly preoccupied on the very thing that gripped him so tightly now. Even his sleep had been invaded by visions of a future where things were much, much different; ones that involved an entire scenario of which he had only believed would be achieved in some absurd fantasy. But now, now things were panning out to be much different. What felt so distant, so impassable and dubious was becoming legitimate. It gave Chrollo the reliance he needed, and the necessary fortification to assemble the exact motive in his advancement. He just had to be patient, regardless of how crucial or onerous the situation may seem. Backing down was not an option.

 

Content with his next recourse, the raven-haired man decided it was best to go get a rather nice meal, considering that after all, things were proceeding on and quite nicely. It was the least he deserved for all his efforts. Perhaps tonight he would sleep soundly, knowing that tomorrow may very well, bring about a much anticipated and radical change.

 


                                                                                                                                   §§§§§§       

                                                   

 

Once he finished his dinner and cleaned up the dishes, Kurapika had taken up residence in the armchair once again, his cell phone sitting between twitching fingers as he had sat for extensive minutes debating on calling Leorio - he knew that it had been a while since his last update and he had strenuously promised to retain a regular check in schedule, but with everything that had transpired lately, it made for keeping updates rather difficult. Such wasn’t to say he didn’t feel censurable for not being more adamant as he had, but there was always something trammel with him maintaining punctuality, which wasn’t to say Leorio wasn’t practically guilty of himself. But that relatively was no excuse.

 

There was no avoiding the issue that much the blond was aware of - he was going to have to call them sooner or later. It was just the fact that Kurapika didn't want to have to deal with arguing with his aspiring doctor friend and the fact remained that he couldn't simply abdicate in being the responsible party; as well as a respectable friend and checking in with the older man, even if it meant dealing with Leorio's boisterous and contentious nature.

 

He flipped the phone around between his hands once more before tapping the address book and scrolling through the short list of contacts, finding Leorio's number. Thumb hung steadily over the send button before finally hitting it after several long, drawn out moments. It rang for what felt like an eternity before that versant voice came over the speaker. "Kurapika?" For a moment the blond sighed; it was still good to hear his friend's voice.

 

"Yeah, how is it going?" He finally added, feeling a bit tepid.

 

"You know it has been a while again Kurapika, what gives? You swore the last time you would be more attentive with checking in."

 

The austral note to rise off Leorio's voice was enough to cause Kurapika to blink, "Yes, I know I did Leorio, but this mission has been relatively... Taxing to say the least and there have been far too many times where daily tracking has become rather... Cumbersome."

 

"Cumbersome? You still haven't handled the situation to the fullest extent? Seriously Kurapika, we were beginning to think you wouldn't ever call!"

 

The young Kurta fell into a momentary lapse of silence; the chiding in the other man's tone caused him to chasten knowing that his actions again as of late had been less than optimal, falling into the category of errable, something that the blond knew he couldn't entirely fault his friend on. As much as it pained the young hunter to distress those whom shown so much care for him, to be acting as if it beheld no value, it made Kurapika feel culpable. "It's a rather... Delicate situation. One that cannot be rushed. I have my reasons for why it is taking the extensive amount of time that it has."

 

He could hear the exasperation resound through the line and knew that Leorio was indeed, stymied. It was just something that as much as it pained him to admit, just couldn't be bolstered. "Kurapika..." The other man's words came practically strained - it was easy to tell his friend wasn't contending very well, if at all, "You do realize that we are all still highly uncertain of this? As much as we support you, it still is enervating that you are still chasing after him of all people. I still think that bastard is just leading you around by the nose!"

 

It was becoming increasingly difficult not to feel inherent antipathy; just like he had always done, the maltreatment of anyone and everyone whom he had ever allowed to slip into his life and here he was the process of history ingeminating itself. Why did this always seem to happen to him? "Leorio I understand your concern, I really do, but as I have stated this countless times I need to do this for myself. No matter the circumstances or the amount of time it takes." The Kurta cringed at the sound of the treble of his own voice - just the fractious response he gave was enough to make Kurapika think twice, "I am sorry." He quickly atoned.

 

"Don't be." The lambasted and aggrieved words hit the blond and hard, just knowing that it was all invoked by his own doing, by his own megalomania was enough to bring about a sense of self castigation. He hated this, hated feeling this way and committing to such inattentive acts only left him feeling cold. Just the way his friend was acting...

 

Loud, vociferous sounds broke Kurapika from his listless trance, "Hey old man! What did we tell you about being so crass?" Killua. Of course it wasn't beyond the ingenious youth to step in when things got disorderly. "Hand that over!" There was a quick sound of static over the line before a much younger voice echoed into the blond's ears, "Kurapika?" The question came, though along with relief despite he could still hear Leorio's blustering in the background. "Also don't worry about him; he's been crowing about you chasing after the Spider's leader since he last spoke to you. He's just being a hothead as usual."

 

He had to suppress a slight chuckle at the convivial jabbing by the young Zoldyck before his ethos returned to his previous state, "It's good to hear your voice." Kurapika finally exhaled sharply, not realizing that his chest had constricted in the process, "How are you and Gon?"

 

There was an instant of laconism before Killua's speech came over the phone, "The same as usual, though we had continued our search for a copy of Greed Island in case Bretta decides to not wait for us before pushing the candidate players into entering the game."

 

The matter-of-fact tone in the young boy's voice was enough bring a flash of acknowledgement through the blond's effete mind, "I see." Kurapika started out slowly; aptly curious as to why they would delay in their pursuits for the Kurta's own sake. That was always something else that weighted in the back of his mind - being the hinge that would serve as nothing but a driving spike to wedge into everyone else's aspirations, including his friends. The very sentiment only made him feel even more embittered. "Is Gon with you?" Of course he would be; Kurapika knew it was a rather discernible fact as the cheerful and vivacious boy was never far from Killua. The two were just highly inseparable.

 

"Yeah he's here. Been waiting to talk to you as well." The static resumed over the line for a second time before that buoyant, jaunty voice of the most zealous person he had ever known finally called to his ears, which in itself, aside from just hearing from his other two friends, was a welcomed abeyance from everything he had recently been through. As much as it stung down into the reaches of his heart that his decisions had to a fault, adversely affected and strained the boundaries of their friendship with him, how allegiant they have been through all his exploits only made the blond hunter smile.

 

"Kurapika!" Gon's clamorous yet titillated voice was the next to come over the line, which only piqued the Kurta's slightly circuitous attention, "It's been a long time! How have you been! You okay, right?" It didn't take long for the spiky-haired youth's tone to waste no time faltering to one that was more serious, more unambiguous; clearly Gon was just as concerned for their friend's health as the other two were. "We've been worried about you, especially knowing you've been chasing the leader of the Spiders around."

 

It was indeed, questions that he knew were ones in coming - all three of them had not been thrilled with his decisions or too ebullient in his indefatigability regarding the maintaining of his pursuing of Chrollo Lucifer. Against even his own better judgment, Kurapika committed to this very act of aberration. Still, there was simply no turning back now. He had way too much invested in his mission and so many questions he lacked answers to. Then there was the problem regarding his abrupt change in emotions as of late. The fact that he had been having a physical and now a mental attraction to the one being in this world that he would and could never objectify such a situation with. And yet...

 

Everything he had concocted around his own heart to ward off such intendments were beginning to crumble and leaving behind the effectuation of pacifying his own ire.

 

Kurapika was terrified, but by the same token, emboldened. How he could even feel this way only added to the causatums he was dealing with.

 

Sighing, he snapped from his musings, not wishing to cause further worry to his friends who were still on the phone, "Yes it has, please forgive me for my continued lapses in communication. I've been well," The blond was always amicable, especially around Gon. The boy's light hearted nature never ceased to jaunt away, even if momentarily, any negativity. Kurapika never understood how he was ever so lucky, "I do apologize for making you worry; things have been going decently on my end. I have maintained my pursuits of the Geneiryodan leader. Though I do understand such has been occuring over a rather extensive period, but I cannot be hasty with such a thing. Also, he has not given me any reason to enact... Yet."

 

"Really? Someone as terrible as he is hasn't done anything crazy enough for you to enact?" The perplexity in the boy's words accentuated the fact that he seemed more in wonderment. Or was it incogitability? Kurapika wasn't certain. But Gon sounded almost disappointed. "I would have thought you would have confronted him by now."

 

Even if the young, energetic hunter was encouraging, there was still a very set of particular steps the blond had delineated that he would follow in order of handling the situation as efficiently and precisely as possible. Granted it was starting to draw out, much to Kurapika's dismay, but one thing he had started to learn was patience. Without it he would only become derelict.

 

"So far, no. Which I am just as amazed by. Aside the few times the bastard managed to evade me, nothing much else that is eventful is noteworthy."

 

Mendacity. It was so easy to do, yet the mental repercussions; it was another thing that Kurapika hated doing. It was against his moral character, but the last thing he wanted to do was engraft worry. If he divulged the full extent of what he had been enduring, more than likely it would only spur them to come after him, which would only complicate matters more than they already were.

 

He would chide himself later for such an atrocity - for now he had to keep the veil of simplicity if they were to remain as nonpartisan as possible.

 

"However," The Kurta decided to tout de suite on the subject, knowing it would only lead to more questions should it be allowed to continue, "How is your search in locating your father coming along? Also, Killua mentioned that you had continued scouring for a copy of the game apparently Ging created?"

 

"Yeah, Killua and I decided that we should concoct a backup plan just in case the one we have set up with Bretta were to fall through. But he seemed understanding when we told him that we had to hold off until we were certain you were okay."

 

It was exactly what he didn't want to here. While he eulogized their efforts and was eternally beholden for all their compassion and concern, the last thing he wanted was for Gon, for any of them to circumlocute from their own personal goals. Especially for his sake. "Don't worry Gon, I am perfectly fine. It would make me happy if you would actually focus on finding your father. Don't stop just because of me."

 

The young Kurta could hear the click of Gon's tongue as the boy prepared to retort, which he instantly defused, "I will also have none of it Gon, and believe me. I really want you and Killua to resume your search. Trust me, I will be alright." Kurapika knew that one way to interject his impetuous friend from just rushing in headlong after him was to lay it all down, simply and firmly. The honey-eyed hunter was one that would always precipitate into a situation without planning. Which the blond noted sounded uncannily similar.

 

"Aw, but I am worried that if we leave now something may happen to you while we are away." Kurapika should have known Gon would attempt to push the envelope, but withal, he wasn't surprised. He could hear the disappointment edge the boy's tense voice.

 

Again there was a bit of ruckus in the background; obvious by the caterwauling from Leorio, it caused him wince, pulling the phone away from his ear. The amalgamating of their voices was boisterous enough that he could hear them clearly without the phone close to his face. Kurapika groaned at the puerile act; just like his friends to do something as ridiculous as this. However, he couldn't help but chuckle at their bewilderment. Killua's voice returning to the line after everything finally settled brought back the blond's attention, "Kurapika, Gon told me what you had relayed to him - just be certain in your confidence that you will be fine. It's not like we don't have faith in your abilities or anything, but just want to make sure that you can get along without us. Even as much as I dislike saying that."

 

"Don't worry Killua; I am very confident I will be just fine."

 

There was another intermission before the silver-haired boy spoke up again, "Leorio wants to talk to you one more time. I’m going to hand him the phone before he continues repining."

 

Kurapika mentally steeled himself against the incoming onslaught.

 

"What the hell, Kurapika?! You can't just go and send us away like that! What if you need us?" Yes, he knew it; the barrage was expected, moreover knowing Leorio's temperament.

 

"Calm down Leorio! I will be just fine. Do you not have any faith in my abilities? I would have thought you had more confidence in me then that." Loud rumbling indicated that Kurapika had struck a nerve, countering exactly the implications which the older man was presupposing, "Besides, you have your own pursuits that you should be focused on. You should really go back to med school, Leorio, and I won't take no for an answer," For the auspicious blond, placing priorities where they needed to be was the at the top of his list, even if such came off as contradicting wherein his own circumstances lie, "The next time I see you, I hope that is after you've officially become a doctor."

 

Reinforcing the vocation of others as opposed to seeing those worry about his own was something that Kurapika always found equanimity in. Such was his nature to want others to persevere whereupon; his own life was constantly brewing in entropy. Regardless, it's was something he took comfort in.

 

"Kurapika," The oldest of their group began, but the blond was quick to cut him off. "I said no, Leorio! Please. Take care of yourself and continue to aspire. The next time we see each other things will be much different."

 

"Alright," Leorio conceded, not bothering to conceal his dejection, "Just please take care of yourself as well. Don't go dying on us!"

 

"Don't worry, I won't give in so easily," He resuscitated, instilling consolation once again. "Till we meet again." Was the last thing he spoke before letting the line go dead and he stared at the blank screen of the phone before abjuring for the night. Kurapika was mentally exhausted and had practically enough for one day.

 

 

                                                                                                                                  §§§§§§   

                                         

 

Cast within the moon's opalescent glow, he strode forward towards the sleeping figure, a gentle wind flourishing the curtains of the window of which he made entrance from as his dark, cinereal eyes swept over the peaceful countenance of the boy. Shadows had cast heavily over his face, yet that didn't stop Chrollo from admiring the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on. Even as the blond slumbered on, looking so angelic, so transcendent, the renowned thief couldn't tear his gaze away. Just the way the pearl light cast its own stretch over those aurulent tresses, how it emphasized the effulgence, the perfect luster that it held, such caused the breath to hitch in Chrollo's throat. Something calcined deep within and that ache he had felt so long ago, recrudesced.

 

Perfect, pronounced lips, soft looking, pale and immaculate skin framed by those that gorgeous crop of hair; the older man itched to card his fingers through the delicate locks, but refrained. Everything about the succulent Kurta, all his beauty, the purity he held, the frangible shape to his effeminate body that was still powerful, just the way his eyes would focus with that indeterminate gaze, but would become oh so refined and splendiferous when they turned that incandescent scarlet, just the mere thought of it made Chrollo become even more enticed then he had been before.

 

Everything that made the boy who he was, from the first time he encountered this phantom of his past to the present as he stood over the slumbering embodiment of the very avenger that sought his own demise was now the focal point of his desires. Never had Chrollo ever thought that such like this would come to pass. Yet, here he was, yearning for the one thing he that was akin to the forbidden fruit. Kurapika was everything he could have ever wanted, the very last in the world that was just as precious as that of fragile glass, and despite being a practical living artifact, the blond was unique in his own way. But it went beyond even that. The clutch it had on him, just the indirect way the precious Kurta caused his heart to palpitate from his sheer alacrity alone was enough to enamor the capacitated leader of the Geneiryodan.

 

It was surreal. So hypnotic. So calmative. Chrollo still didn't quite contemplate exactly what it was about the blond that drew him in the way he had, but one thing's for certain, the feeling it gave, the change in pace it held was something he wasn't appetent in letting go of. He quite enjoyed these newfound sensations.

 

Letting his attention wander over the boy's concealed frame, eyes landed on something shining beneath the moonlight as it washed over the other and took notice that within his open hand sat that very same stone of which Chrollo had attributed the blond had taken a relative shining to. Instantly the remembrance of it caused a smile to spawn upon his lips. Circumspectly, he gently and imperceptibly closed the Kurta's lithe fingers around the stone before stepping back and agilely sweeping the bangs away from the boy's face. A breath hitched again within Chrollo's throat and he had to occlude himself. Just touching the young hunter rose sentiments in him that wasn't as profound as before. It was difficult as is resisting the urge just to pull the blond into his arms and never let go. Snorting, the older man stepped back towards the open window, allowing one last glance at the beautiful Kurta before bracing himself upon the sill of the window frame, "Soon Kurapika, soon." He whispered and was gone as quickly as he appeared.

Chapter Text

Vapors. Twisted and coiling tendrils erratically wisped around the area and into the very reaches of the sky like a tremulant beast. Its thin transparent filaments began creeping along in a ominous, flagrant warning, slowly filtered their way towards him like a thick fog, shrouding his vision momentarily and encapsulated him within the curtain of darkness as he was kneeling on the ground. Consternation ensued, and he felt every muscle and nerve inevitably cinch, chest becoming bound and constrained, lungs frozen as they labored for air. Hackles rose; he could feel it, the kinesthesia, just the way the brume swelled around him, almost as if he was asphyxiating and his eyes grew wide, the avoirdupois in the atmosphere suddenly caused an abrupt change in the barometric pressure, inducing his awareness to soon became elevated and fortuitously he became hyper sensitive.

 

Such had proliferated the only reaction he knew; apprehension. It was because of this, of the unknown that it was intrinsic, boring abyssal down to his very soul, even when he felt that all hope, all sanctity had been lost. That everything was finally coming to stake its claim upon his soul and the end was falling nigh, every ounce of credence evanesced, leaving him feeling nothing but forlorn.

 

It wasn't until after an incipient warmth had environed his visage that he soon came to raise up, crystalline white now adorning blanched flesh. Through blurred vision, amiss the rising effluvium and interminable pother that raged around him, his sole focus was on that feeling, its ataractic state making him forget the malignancy that only seemed to howl upon the winds in its affirmation to consume him whole. Though something vibrated within its dismal call...

 

Slender, gentle and loving fingers slowly began to materialize, the ethereal glow which surrounded them had cupped his cheeks within its incandescence and brought about a sense of serenity that soon conciliated all his fears and for a moment, he became rapt just by their tender nature alone. Something so familiar, so perceptible had pricked at his awareness, drawing his eyes to those hands which connected to something tangible yet pellucid, apparitional image comprised into form and soon his eyes met with those of equal facsimile. The cognizance caused a near fanatical reaction.

 

“Kurapika...”

 

That voice... He knew exactly who it belonged to.

 

It was implausible, not concedable or just some duplicity of the mind, just a mere figment generated to instill doubt and madness. He just couldn't... There was no way...

 

“Kurapika...”

 

He lifted up further, eyes now shrouded by a curtain of salty liquid that had long since defied the odds and began streaking down his face, its limpid movements drawing rivulets along his cool flesh and off his jaw. How... Could this be...? He searched for the source of the voice that sounded to clarion.

 

The imagery, it was so hypnagogic, as if his mind was playing tricks upon him. Yet, the very same picturesque likeness that he remembered so well encapsulated his entire vision. It was like staring into an almost perfect reflection of himself.

 

Yet, those dark, enchanting eyes, those that beheld so much adoration and benevolence was staring back into his own, and for unrequited moments all he could do was remain locked, unable to move as all his memories, everything that had haunted him for so long came back in a turbulent alluvium. What he was seeing, the very effigy of who he had long since accepted as defunct from the world, was the very thing who practically gripped his very soul. That smile, how could he have ever forgotten that?

 

“Mother...”

 

The words glissaded off his lips before he was even aware, every part of him aching from the pain. From the bereavement he endured, his own arms reaching out for the very thing he had so suspired to touch.

 

“Is it really you?”

 

Every part of him burned, as if he was on fire, but a lingering coolness was retained on his flesh, even as those amorous hands continued to cup his face and kept a hold on him that seemed to extend through the variants of time. Though for him, just being in close proximity, even if such was excessively hard to presuppose that the very imagery before him was that of his long deceased mother, just to see her again, even if such was pseudo, for once it eased the tempest in his heart just to hear that melodious voice once more.

 

“Yes my son, it is really me. I have missed you.”

 

So hard it was, knowing that in reality, the person before him wasn't explicitly corporeal, but seeing the embodiment of the one whom had meant the most to him in his life only brought back a complete sense of paucity, that the emptiness he had felt for a good portion of his existence came rushing back, leaving him in a state of nearly faltering. Slowly he breathed and those ambiguous blue eyes resided on those browns he remembered oh so vividly, just the lucidity of it nearly startled him and he was taken aback, left to construe the meaning of the sight which stood before him. Oh how she seemed to glow with a metaphysical light. Faster those tears came; it was as if everything from his past was catching up to him and slowly, he was breaking.

 

“I have missed you too, mother. It's so good to see your face, oh how I have longed for this day.”

 

Like waves crashing upon the shore, everything came upon him at all once, the instant crash of emotions, the castigation he had long since felt levy to had all come down in a puissant tempest and as such, his life was finding its conclusion. But yet, the being before him could sense this, which caused him to withhold the objection he was feeling and divert his wayward mind as it transitioned to that of perspicuity which left him with a better sense of understanding under the current circumstances. It was just so hard to parse everything that he was going through.

 

“As have I my sweet boy, you look almost the same as I last remember.”

 

Those phantasmal fingers never left his face, their warmth only pullulating fondness and altruism, the permeation of it into his very being bolstered a sense of allay to his underlying torment. He could see that smile only broaden on the ghost's translucent lips, though she was prominent to his mind's eye. Instinctively, as if her touch was indeed, real, he leaned into it, the small rivers evident upon his skin.

 

“You are as I remember you too, mother. Just like the very last time I saw you, right before everything that happened.”

 

It was in that moment where the figure's awareness perked his own and his gaze met the eidolon's own, though only that softness to her expression fostered in abiding his mitigation and repose. Though he was unable to retract, the pull too prodigious for him to avulse himself from, his focus retained on that of the efferent being, the words knelling in the air around him. It was so ambrosial.

 

“Kurapika...”

 

The words echoed, soothing his crucified spirit, bringing attention towards the manifestation of his mother.

 

"Kurapika my son, you are anguished, I can see it in your eyes, even your soul, it's not at somnolence. Why are you allowing yourself to remain so afflicted?"

 

For a moment he fell into reticence, trying to find the will to compose himself, to formulate an explanation. He didn’t easily comprise an answer; the catechism in her eyes was enough to seize his own heart. The fear of making her feel disappointed and penitent sat in the back of his mind. His auroral eyes soon dulled, becoming lackluster as his buoyancy waned.

 

"Because I cannot seem to let go of all the pain in my heart, nor all the misery and purgatory I've been forced to endure. The knowledge of your death, our clan's slaughter has left me hollow. I... I can't move on. I have to see you and everyone else avenged."

 

As the words left his lips, the affable hue to her eyes spoke only of sadness and those fingers slipped beneath his chin, gently lifting his head up to meet completely at eye level, though the comity in those pacifying eyes; he couldn't help but feel mollified.

 

"Oh Kurapika, how it pains me to watch you so as you have lost your way and have found yourself astray in the darkness. This is definitely not what has been destined for you."

 

The affirmation only soon brought him about from his jaundiced state of mind, his expression becoming that of stupefaction; the very thought that his own mother who was murdered in cold blood could have such a equitable outlook on what happened to her, to everyone he had ever loved. Such only mystified him, left him struck with the contemplation of her own words and practically inquisitive on how such could have ever been considered. For him, it was beyond any illation.

 

"But mother, how can I simply ignore the fact that you and everyone else had been so callously taken away from me and that I have to live with the images, the horrification and atrocities which have been forever incised into my mind? Just the very aspect of how I found you... Found everyone else... Your eyes missing... Oh mother... I just don't have it in me to forgive..."

 

Faster the tears came; pools of crystalline began to form along the ridges of achromatic fingers as the thumbs were gingerly swiping away at the falling droplets that were leaving rivers down his pale cheeks. Without vacillation, he tilted into the touches, eyes having since fallen shut and become obscured from the world. Just the predilection and loving touches drew him down into a sort of vacuous stupor despite the apparition of his mother was determinate in soothing his interminable plights. It was just so hard knowing that even though she was currently there, it was for the interim and he would inescapably lose her again.

 

Fear of that wove deep into his heart - he didn't want to have to endure that all over again.

 

"My son, I know that resentment and bitterness laces your heart, but it worries me that you are allowing it to completely consume you and inexorably you will succumb to tenebrosity, which I fear will cause you to meet your own demise."

 

The air around them began to drop in temperature, slowly becoming hyperborean and he opened his eyes, though vision was blurred by the sheen of tears that assailed them, and allowed a vague glimpse at her. Soon he was met with anguish and distress, the revenant's expression having drastically changed and the sudden realization struck him down to the very core, feeling the culpability and stigma weave its way into his mind and he couldn't help but fluctuate beneath its burdens and weight.

 

"Still... How am I supposed to be able to do that knowing those who murdered you... And everyone else is still out there? Tell me how can I go on with my life with that kind of discernment?"

 

Saturninity descended around them and for that moment, he found the aptitude to notice the subjacent look in the spirit's eyes and were abyssal into the very core, finding that the same emotional turmoil of which wracked him did the same for her, though such was not due to her extirpation from the world, but for that of his own martyrdom. He could practically hear her pleas, their pleas, and those combined voices suddenly entreating him to stop in his vocation, in his condemnation. All the pain and lamenting and waves of sorrow emanated into the air around them and struck him again. But this time, he felt as he may crumble, body growing feeble from just the sounds of heartache alone. Was his clan really trying to convince him obviate?

 

"Kurapika, do you really think you can continue on like this and expect to still preside when it’s all said and done? Do you really believe this is what I want for you? What the rest of us want for you? It's never what we had wanted. I understand your pain and grief at having us taken away so suddenly from you and the burden of subjection you must feel because of it. But we don't want you to seek retribution for our deaths; we just want you to live."

 

Her very words, just the pronouncement which echoed like chimes upon the wind carried tried and true, though such was paramount, he found the notion hard to believe. Though the urgency of their will and their wish was stringent, he couldn't help but wonder why they would feel as such and why they wouldn't seek to aid his fortitude towards finding them peace through requital. It was disconcerting. And yet...

 

"After all that happened, especially knowing the very cause for your nihility still walks the face of the Earth, everyone one of you would find it acceptable of me to just let go of everything without seeking any form of justice? I mean... How can any of you be simply complacent with the fact that ultimately nothing is being recalibrated as a result?"

 

Those eyes, though diaphanous with their ever present altruism seemed to harbor a softness that he couldn't quite describe, though it was the same he remembered seeing in her express when she was... Alive. For a breadth of a moment, he was drawn in by her harmonious state, finding his mind abating from the amalgamated sensations that he was enduring. Something about her countenance, the look upon it spoke of a silent invocation, one he surmised was in hope of swaying his mindset, to innervate him onto a different path, one that he knew would be polar opposite of which he has long since now, traveled on. Though the intensity of such a lugubrious gaze caused his own heart to twinge; how he could remain so selfish, the very idea caused him to be sullen with himself. He already blamed himself for the probability of his clan's demise, for not being there when he made his iniquitous decision to leave the village, and now to permeate such again when they were practically imploring him to alter his ways, and not just for his sake, how could he simply ignore it?

 

"My son, we never wanted nor expected you to avenge our deaths. Granted, the circumstances that lead up to such events, or even thereafter, I took consolation in knowing you survived. To be honest, we all did and knowing that you were alive, that regardless of you being the sole survivor, you are the last of our people. If you was to die now and forego everything just for one moment of satiety in sake of extracting the very same that was done to us, then all will be lost. It is a dark and desolate path you now walk, and I fear for your soul. What you propose is a great sin, done in the very same light by the very same means. You truly have so much to hope for. So much to live for."

 

The limpidity of the situation, the efficacy of her words, just how true the meaning and coherence they held, it bore deep into his very being and he couldn't help but feel coercion behind it. The cacophony which arose around him had piqued his attention and caused him to feel an abrupt sense of infirmity, his mind reeling once again from his lack of concentration and all the bile started to rise in his throat. Once again he allowed his eyes to lock with the specter's own, and this time, he couldn't help but feel abashed.

 

"I... Am sorry mother. I never meant to make you think of me as such. All I ever wanted was to give you... All of you peace after everything that had happened. Never had I thought of what you would have wanted or desired, for all I sought was just a means to an end. But..." He began, practically choking on his own speech, his weeping only growing in severity, "There is still the fact of my... Feelings. These strange and errable sensations I have been experiencing. They are ones that I have been erroneously harboring for the very one who led the group which committed that heinous act against you. I... Don't know what to do anymore... I have been so flummoxed by it."

 

Those perspicuous digits, after clearing a majority of the glassy trails from the surface of his cheeks, now swept beneath his chin, raising his head up to be more level with her own gaze, those piercing browns now seemed to perforate down into his very soul. For a moment he was taken aback, his golden tresses being swept back by her other hand, though the admission was nothing but tender. Everything about the way his mother looked, just her seraphic nature alone; nothing had changed from what he once knew and remembered her as. The simple gesture made him propitiate and he quietly abdicated.

 

"Let me ask you this; do you believe what you may be feeling could be for any particular reason? That maybe, just maybe Moirai may be trying to acquaint for all the infelicity and misery you have suffered? It's pained all of us to watch you as you have, and yet, perhaps divinity may be presenting a different outcome for you that would prove to be much greater and constructive than ever before? As much as those sentiments and feelings may be foreign and or idiosyncratic, we will never renounce or disown you, should you enact upon them. So long as you're happy, that is all I could ever want for you Kurapika. All any of us could ever want."

 

It was so much information to process, so much to take in and accede to. Though his mother had never once led him astray, just hearing the confession that she would support him in all his endeavors, down to the very one of which he had nothing but asperity towards, not only stunned him, but left him divaricated from belief such was the case. Still, was it possible that, not only did they wish for him to live, but to find happiness wherever possible? Even if that meant doing so in the one thing he had despised for so long?

 

"But... How can you say that? After all that has been done, and continues to be done, can someone like him even be capable of fostering sympathy, compassion and or love for anyone aside himself? Do you realize what you are saying?"

 

The clamor of his own voice and the underlying rancor etching his words caused him to wince and he instantly retracted under her still loving gaze. "I... I am sorry mother; I didn't mean to be so harsh towards you."

 

Again, those genial fingers of hers continued to remain almost feather light beneath his chin, keeping his leveled position so that he could see down into the very depths of her alluring eyes. One thumb began to stroke delicately along the side of his jaw, its sweeping motion doing nothing but appease his growing fears.

 

"You do not have to worry. I understand your fears, your concerns and your reluctance. Such is normal and I could never fault you for it. At the current, from the look in your eyes to what I feel that resides down in your soul, to which you cannot hide from me my son, I am your mother after all," Such a jovial smile graced her lips, her translucid frame, though incorporeal, came close to his own and her embodiment brought him to her and embraced him, one hand now carding through his blond locks, "I can tell there has been a recent surge of emotions within you. Despite you are in contest with it, from what I can sense, you have began to question if what you have been experiencing is indeed, potentially real or tangible. Again as I have stated, perchance what you could be going through, all those innervations and experiences could just very well be divine intervention. Just as such could be said about me."

 

As she allowed her words to process, such was the same for her as she took in the very real distinction that her son was struggling with the notion of her asseverations. But, decidedly it was time to intercede, revealing the truths to him for hope of impeding from following down his current path which would surely lead him towards nothing but death and destruction. The insight as such would be the case if he wasn't culled from persisting with his uncouth decisions. This inlaid not only apt concern, but unease with the fact that it was only a matter of time before the prediction would come to pass. Surely the last thing she or the rest of the deceased Kurtas wished was for their last of their kind to egress from the world and repudiate their legacy. If saving his life meant committing him to the one thing which she knew currently went against his standards, then so be it. So long as his survival and happiness was ensured, everything else was irrelevant.

 

Utilizing his taciturnity, she pressed on, "Don't refute what you are experiencing just yet my son. Let things unfurl as they may and the winds guide you upon your journey. Mourn not for us as we have already found our peace, but you still have yet to find that ataraxia in your life, and until you do, you will never find the solace you so deserve. The very thing which may give you that outlet may just be right before you and ask yourself; are you able to hold esteem for that which you value if you cannot envision clearly? I have seen his recent proclamations towards my son; such isn’t as execrable as it may seem."

 

Even as he stood, practically leaning listless against her chiffon frame despite her cadaverous like appearance, there was something concretizing about her touch, about her embodiment. It felt so palpable, so genuine. Just like the words spoken. He apperceived no deception or farce from what she had spoke and the emotions perceived also felt forthright, as if he was standing before her for real and not a mere simulacrum projecting her likeness, emotions and mindset. Still something about it... About her... Could it be possible that perhaps she had indeed, come back from the grave just to see him one last time? That her love was so strong, so infused with vivacity and esprit that it gave her enough verve to be able and materialize before him in hopes of saving his life, his soul? So many possibilities and yet, the only thing he could rely on was the fact that even if such was mimeo or authentic, one thing was for certain - his mother was here and now. It was an indubitable fact that gave him a semblance of comfort.

 

Despite being weakened, filled with dejection at her loss while he stood in her presence, the latent meaning that it conveyed was enough to garner insouciance in his own state of mind and soon he found himself becoming quixotic.

 

"It's just hard, so hard to comprehend, to understand, and even accept that such is permissible, even by your standards. I know the path I have chosen is a desolate and tragic one; but if such is your wish and the wish of our people that I... I find a way to move on then, I will. I just don't know if I can really allow myself to find happiness in the root of the cause, however. I just... Really do not know if that is something I can ever learn to accede to."

 

Fingers swept so imperturbably through his tresses, pushing them back and away from his blue eyes, her own searching intently within his, militating the authenticity of her merit, only wanting what she knew was best for him. It was almost as if he could sense this just by the gesture alone, and as such, he easily capitulated.

 

"Do not rush things my precious boy; things will happen in their own time if you allow it. Given the chance, everything will work itself out and for your mind to calm and achieve that level of resolution; it can only be ascertained within empathy and tranquility. Forcing things will only create a negative backlash that will not extrapolate the desired results."

 

It was hard to resist. Nay, he couldn't and didn't want to resist. As much as it petrified him that he could or would lose all his volition and tenacity, the very aspect of everything finally coming about full circle, of conciliating and ending his perpetually demoralizing situation left a bit of an inveigling pull that he was finding was slowly winning him over. Just the nature of the situation, the constant behest of his mother's own voice and how she wanted to intercession in hopes of stopping the vicious cycle of which he was recurring in was enough to warrant the justification of potential change. Regardless of the fact that such terms was still something he was finding it rather difficult to accede, knowing that she and the rest of his clan were in joint ratification of his survival had began to lead him towards the same sentiment. Perhaps this was what he really needed and that maybe it really was time to put his weary mind to rest.

 

"I wish I could formulate a complete understanding for this request, but I won't deny as such and because I don't want you or the rest of our clan to be incensed with me and or my choices, I will accept renunciation. For once, it will be nice to not have to live in constant entropy."

 

Her smile broadened, obviously ameliorated by his words. Slowly she backed away, her head tilted as she admired the vision of her son, taking in all his grace and valor, noting that he was still growing into a rather fine young man. Lucent digits unraveled from his frame and pulled away and her form began to gradually evanesce as her light started to fade, leaving him surrounded by shadows once more, though the angelus sound of her voice echoed through the night.

 

"I am glad to hear. Never forget what I have told you and know that I will always love you. Always face toward the future and never look back. Live, my son. Just... Live and be happy."

 

With the finality of her words, she was gone. For what felt like an eternity, he stood amid the ebonized scene were nothing existed, not even the vapors he remembered that surrounded him before his mother materialized. Silently, the tears fell as her voice rang clear and loud within his mind. It was at that point when adumbration had struck.

 

His heart had began to pestle within the confines of his chest; even his lungs agonized for air as the vividness of his dream came back in a unconstrained flood, leaving him nearly in complete distress. Kurapika sat completely buckram straight, the forced awakening from midst his slumber only caused him to reel, mind nearly neurotic from the practical catalepsy of the dream. Lithe hands came up and obscured his visage, leaving him almost wracked as the thought of his mother drifted through his mind. It was a lot to take in, so much to process and just the very notion of what was bestowed, the very prospect - the thought of potentially allowing the reception of his emotions, especially the ones he had been contrarian with in actually letting go of everything he had long since committed and vowed to see reach its culmination nearly broke his mentality. But at the beckon of his mother... And of his clan, all those voices and how they clamored for his will to live, to carry on and de novo within a new life, a new standing, he couldn't help but want to dedition to it.

 

For so long he sat there and ruminated over the very words of which his mother had spoken to him, remembering the perspicuity of her professions along with her pleas for him to dissuade from his current choices; never had he ever experienced such a vision that left him feeling so rattled so disabused and for once, just perhaps for once, he had finally began to see the portent outcome of the path he now traveled.

 

Even if such could be said was done amid a moment of clarity, for him, it would take time to be able to come to terms with, for he knew that the current tasks he had taken on, the very same of which had given him so much reason to live would now be the ultimate cause for his downfall.

 

How it had come to this, Kurapika wasn't certain.

 

However the Kurta didn't want to refute or impinge on the wishes by both his mother and his clan. Just having heard their desires for him to simply surmount their passing and his own dogma gave him the reasoning he so desperately needed.

 

Moving on and finding a different walk in life, tossing away all he had ever come to know or learn would not be easy. For so long all he had known was the choler in his heart, which had been ingrained so deep, it would take time to negate. Change was good, change was necessary, but for one of this caliber, of this magnitude wouldn't come without patience and diligence, one he knew he had to foment if he was to succeed.

 

Reaching that point, well that was the key. The blond knew he needed the presidio if he was to even place the idealism into effect, which on the opposing side, would prove to be the most difficult as he was still perplexed with exactly on how to proceed, and on his own. He was nearly terrified at the notion, not only of the fact it was an insurmountable change, but also of garnering disappointment from his mother and his clan.

 

Then there was the fact that, even as much as he didn't wish to admit to it, but the admission she had made towards his recent erratic emotions, ones that harbored an entirely different meaning towards the one person of whom he had devoted to seeing condemned into purgatory like he was, had taken him aback. Her confession as well as her encouragement in him to see if anything developed between him and Chrollo Lucifer aside the nagging dissention left him feeling oddly conjectural.

 

Was it even possible that he was able to find love and or happiness in a person such as the leader of the Geneiryodan, himself?

 

It really was just so much to take in that Kurapika couldn't deal. Not at the moment. The world around him seemed to sway and for the time being, while he was attempting to allow everything he had just experienced to sink into his unsettled mind, the blond concluded it'd be best to sleep on it. Due to his current state, he was just in no real state to try and assess everything that had happened. There was just too much at the current to even attempt to really try and focus.

 

For how could he do so with knowing what could potentially end up becoming the inevitable? 

 

With that notion, Kurapika settled on postponing his deliberation until he was in a better mindset to better rationalize and process all the information he had before settling on a final decision. There was a lot to think over, and considering all he had recently gone through and with how tense he had been, now was not the time for him to make a judgment call, that much he knew. For now, it would have to wait until knew for certain he could come to a proper conclusion without being completely inveigled.

 

 

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He knew couldn't help the contention that flowed around him. Even for Chrollo it was a source of inner disunity, knowing that there was so much presumption of events turning sour that the raven-haired man couldn't think of anything astride the fact that protecting his own ventures was top priority. Granted he didn't want to sacrifice integrity just for the same of his own gratification. No. It was beyond that. Seeing all he's striven for, everything he worked so hard towards and that his current standpoint was becoming that of near absolution, the only thing that mattered most was seeing all his efforts come to fruition and succession.

 

For him, it was a matter of continuing to construct that foundation and enhancing the believability of connecting trust, even if the ultimate goal was to win the boy's heart despite a master thief such as himself he could have easily stolen it. But such was fornenst to the actual point; even if he wished to display a semblance of honesty, substantiating that idea would only further solidify the fact that he was only seeking to integrate the young Kurta into his life with earnest, while attempting to provide him with another more viable reason to come into the fold and find another more satisfying life then which he currently held. This was something Chrollo had long since noted had only filled with sorrow and despair. Not only would it be an insurmountable loss and a great pity if the last remaining Kurta in the world was to perish and by his own hand, but also to lose such great potential as well as a likely valuable partner, such was to say it was something the Geneiryodan leader wasn't willing to risk.

 

Then there was the prospect of his emotional attachment and romantic feelings which was beginning to manifest. Such was to say he was finding himself becoming more and more entrenched with the blond by the day. Granted he had more than one reason for his objective in attempting to persuade the blond into coming to his side - it wasn't just for the sake of his own benefit or for the Geneiryodan, but also for that of the boy's own welfare. At the current, Kurapika was parlous, not only to himself but to his Spiders as well. Though such didn't even end there; for some reason unbeknownst to him, Chrollo felt the compulsion to protect the blond as a strong budding sensation to prevent any calamitous effects from bestowing itself upon the boy seemed to reign strong. Perhaps it had to do with his recent emotional sway, as he had noticed the alteration with his outlook towards the Kurta had been a drastic innovation.

 

Not that such a change nonplussed him in any way. Quite to the contrary it only heightened his determination.

 

Considering who he was and how most of his entire life had been laid out, the good, the bad, though widely accepted this was a newfound sensation that Chrollo thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, he had partners in the past, though none of which were ever worth mentioning or held their merit to him in any way and the one thing that he had never found with any of them was a latent connection of any kind. Because of that, he had become contented in his own idiosyncrasy, which was satiating at the time. But now, with this new development between him and Kurapika, he couldn't vouch such was the case. For Chrollo was beginning to realize the novelty behind the new transpiration, which was something he only wanted to see the ontogenesis of.

 

It was in laconic resolution which Chrollo had made the certitude of his decision; he would see his plans through, there was no turning back. Something inside himself clawed with determinate fervency, the voice too assonant for him to simply ignore, even as the notion of his own heart fluttering in conjunction with the impetus drive such a voice was concussing him into and the fanatical need that soon followed was enough to enforce the raven-haired man to push forward in his endeavor. He simply couldn't get the beautiful young Kurta out of his mind.

 

Never had he felt this way before - even considering the fact of what partners he had in the past, none of which amounted to much of anything or even held a candle to the very transcendence that the blond possessed. The boy was truly blessed in more ways than one, though Chrollo was certain it was something that he was sure Kurapika was completely oblivious towards. No matter, one way or another, he would open up the blond's eyes and show the boy just how serious, how intent he was, even if it meant sacrificing the means necessary to reach such a consummation.

 

Even now as he knew that the precarious Kurta was close by, his presence not entirely well esoteric, the resolute man continued on as if he was still unawares, and enjoying the thrill of this hunt that the bond had initiated what seemed so long ago. It had been quite a few months since this grandiose venture had started and in the measured amount of time the two had spent engaged within this game of cat and mouse had given enough time that was prerequisite for Chrollo to have adequately changed his entire perspective on the given situation and for his desires to vastly change towards the Kurta.

 

It was like night and day, just was the same between them. Even as he watched the robust young hunter out of his peripheral vision, calculating and excogitating, those eyes focused so intently on him as he sat quietly upon a park bench amid a flourished and palatial garden, the blooms having attracted an astronomic gathering of people who had more than likely came to see the luscious efflorescent display had gone almost unnoticed by the Geneiryodan leader, as he was too immersed in the book of which rested in his lap and that the fact the decisive blond he so eagerly sought was only a few mere kilometers away.

 

Despite the milling crowd around him, the feeling of how the Kurta's eyes roved over his body, the heat and temerity, yet a thin vein of venereal astriction which left an overtone just beneath had caused a faint grin to evince over the older man's lips. Good. It seemed that Kurapika was beginning to feel the same dynamic pull that he was. Just a few more steps and Chrollo was fairly confident he would be able to convince the Kurta to his side. Just the rewards, the predilection of it, the very notion that the most ravishing and seductive creature he had ever laid his eyes on could very well be his was enough that the older man could almost taste it.

 

With that in mind and the simple fact that he was so close to implementing the last steps towards his objective was enough to facilitate his adjudicature in proceeding with that sooner than expected. The results of his past attempts were already strumming along and quite nicely. Chrollo had noted he was making sufficient and eminent progress with the blond, such that was seen currently as satisfactory. It was enough in his mind to advance the next step in his objective.

 

He had already mapped out in great detail the outline of his progress and design long ago, having since predicted in rough estimation exactly on how and where this was going to play out. Considering how smoothly and efficiently the situation was progressing and at a faster rate than was expected, Chrollo noted that his plan had been turning out better than he expected. The idea only added to his confidence that the inevitable would occur where he would find the boy willfully coming to his side and with hopefully the desire to be something more than just a comrade. But such didn't worry the raven-head as much as he thought it would for he was fairly confident that despite the ongoing dissonance the boy was going through, there was an overture, an exordium beginning to facilitate something more passionate, more physical, and possibly emotional in the young Kurta. Chrollo was able to sense it just recently and even now as the blond was relatively close enough that he could feel the boy's presence, such continued to reign true. Despite there was that slight possible backlash his acts as of late may have produced, it was still countervail to which again, seemed to prompt a more positive response to his implications then not.

 

This only furthered Chrollo’s drive, for as fortuitous as the situation was presenting, he knew there was still a need to be meticulous and breviloquent but it was still promising. He just knew to keep the situation from becoming too convoluted as such could put a strain on all his efforts and axiomatically drive Kurapika away.

 

Chrollo abstractedly stroked his digits over the long, but thin box which sat beside him, cogitating over the many possible outcomes his next step could conceivably bring. He knew it was in part, risky with his next chosen gift to present to the blond, considering the nature of item in question. But at this point, with how incomparably far he had come, well, there was just no going back. Not that Chrollo actually wanted to as the kismet of his desired outcome was just too monumental. If he didn't place any faith in his own wagers then he would have lost from the get go. Gambling as such like he was now was most definitely something that the master thief was not new to and this was just another venture like any other, but with way more invested.

 

Thoroughly satiated and finally growing narcoleptic of dealing with the increasing crowd of people that were still proliferating around him, Chrollo firmly closed the book that peculiarly enough, he had deviated from reading when he had succumbed to his musings and expeditiously glanced off to his side to see that the blond was still studiously watching him. Though still superimposed with that strange dusty hooded article he had seen the blond wearing nearly constantly since finding him in Ti'alma, which as usual was meretricious, it didn't conceal the boy as well as he thought it did, but no matter. He simply stowed away his book and stood, though his eyes never wavered from the blond's figure as to track his reactions and of course as predicted, the Kurta bristled, posture having changed from being more reposed to taunt and rigid.

 

Smiling confidently, the Geneiryodan leader casually picked up the red lipped box and turned, waiting for the crowd to inspissate, knowing that yet again, he was going to have to ditch his stalker if he was going to be able to acquire the time necessary to make the delivery he needed to without being detected, lest he wished to add direct confrontation to the list of things he didn't want to occur. At least, not at this point, anyway. Still, it was safe to say it would be a fair assessment that such an outcome could happen if he allowed any of his actions to become fallible from negligence. It was definitely a position he had to consider avoiding.

 

Imperceptibly, the flow of people continued to swell and increase, giving Chrollo the aril necessary to merge into the throng, but the amplitude needed to maneuver around without the threat of being trampled. As he backed into the overflow, he could see the blond try to decussate the distance needed to stay in close enough proximity, but the raven-head was faster and more nimble then his precious Kurta was and easily surpassed the other. As he slowly faded into the masses, the older man watched in amusement as the boy's face became constrained with frustration as he realized that he was losing his quarry again. Chrollo just simply evanished without a trace, leaving the boy behind to vacillate on what happened and for the criminal mastermind to proceed with his plan unhindered.

 

 

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Kurapika grunted - the midday sun alongside the barometric pressure and the high temperature had caused him some incommodiousness, and he shifted awkwardly within the spot which he stood. It also didn't help that he had eaten not long prior to taking his vantage point and the torridity of the day was making him a bit nauseous. Though gratefully, it wasn't enough to make him throw up the contents of his stomach, but the swelter certainly didn't help. There was just too much amassed moisture in the air for him to simply ignore the humidity.

 

But like any other day, he had to embark on what was becoming or rather had become a practical daily routine for him to seek out and supervene his mark, Chrollo Lucifer, who was leisurely mitigating on a bench within a park designated to showcasing a rather lush garden, one that the Kurta had acknowledged was uncannily evocative of back home in the Lusko Province. There were so many flora that he recognized which was unequivocal to those that grew in the forests he remembered from when he was a child, and seeing the landscape was almost analeptic. Though as much as the young Kurta wished to reveal in past anamneses, there was still his objective at hand, one of which, even if being here now held now more than one reason, he still had to retain some form of focus. However, it was hard by its own right to not peregrinate, his thoughts still revolving over the events of the prior night and the emotional dream where his own mother came to visit him and just how much of an impact it left on him.

 

Everything she had spoken, through a lot of what was intoned had been uplifting, even down to the very fact that she had interceded that not just her, but with the rest of his clan there was a collective desire for him to continue on living. However, such meant annulling everything that he had long since resolutely committed to in order to find his niche in the world wherein he could pursue happiness. It was something he still fluctuated on, but how beset her prayer was, just the desperation and fear she held for his own wellbeing and the fact that he really was traveling down a path towards ultimate destruction was enough for him to severely consider her words, for it had been her wish as well as the wish of his kin for him to not expire and leave their existence to fade into a shadow of a memory.

 

Although, one thing he found prominent was the fact that his mother had alluded towards that of his wavering emotional discordance he was having towards the one person of which had been the focal point for all his troubles. Though as of late, that very same opinion had become questionable despite the fact that the implication was becoming worrisome. He was still having a difficult time processing the fact that his mother had more than just implied his connectivity to the older man, but it seemed as if there was adumbration behind the meaning, almost as if such an outcome had long since been delineated for him. Whether or not it was verity was an entirely separate matter. In any regard, he was still having a hard time processing the very notion despite his mother's reassuring wisdom. How she believed he would be able to find happiness with someone like Chrollo Lucifer was something he still found incomprehensible. But there was a small part of him to discept over the idea, not completely rebutting it.

 

Kurapika shivered at the thought, in both adversity and curiosity.

 

Ever since he experienced that vision, his mind had been itinerant over exactly what kind of life could be attained with someone like the raven-haired man he had been so expectantly stalking for practically three months now. Thinking back on it, just the type of person Chrollo Lucifer was and the kind of lifestyle the man led as he requisitioned a group of thieves to marauder, pilferage, ransack and murder only made the idealism that much more insane. What he didn't realize was the darker voices that had recently hypostatized within his mental state had become impelling, one again trying to invoke a fracas amid his thoughts. Both his subconscious and awareness once again began to quarrel and Kurapika was finding it difficult once again to concentrate. While he tried to focus on maintaining attentiveness to the head Spider's actions, he also found himself embroiled in conflict, the more nefarious aspects of his mentality indulging on the very concept that there very well may be a prospect to be had by becoming involved with the older man and that regardless of the erratic lifestyle he chose, the boons could certainly outweighed any cons.

 

"It doesn't matter what his status is, he could offer you so much more than anyone else can! Can't you see that?"

 

"Of course there may be blood stained on his hands, but you could potentially change that. Your influence should be enough along with your determination."

 

"You've got to let go! You will die otherwise! Don't you want to live like your clan wants you to?"

 

"He has offered so many incentives and given so many reasons to be considerate of the fact he may potentially have a genuine interest in you."

 

"His gorgeous eyes and that alluring smile, by the Gods don't you feel the pull he has upon you?"

 

"You wouldn't have to be lonely anymore. Granted your friends have given you their camaraderie, but I know that hasn't been enough. You still want more, so much more. There is a yearning in your heart and you crave for his love, don't you?"

 

Kurapika closed his eyes, his body becoming tremulous as the voices continued their clamor, the vociferation echoed in his ears and the upended Kurta was finding himself becoming less and less cohesive, every part of him feeling as if he was coming undone at the seams. For some time now he had been battling with his own subconscious and he was at the point of becoming totally unsure of what to do anymore.

 

For Kurapika, he felt as if he was becoming lost amid a sea of consternation and tribulation.

 

Clutching at his chest once he realized that his lungs had begun to agonize for air as he panted heavily, the Kurta attempted to push back all the arduous thoughts plaguing his mind along with the persistent voices as he once again attempted to regain his lost composure. For now, he concluded that perhaps it was best to reconstitute his objective and resume his efforts at a later time, conceding to the fact he probably needed rest when suddenly realization struck and he caught sight of the older man having already stood from his perch and began merging into the amassed throng of people that had converged on the beautiful and verdant garden.

 

In the time it took the blond to hew through the confluence, the other man was gone. He had just simply evanesced and Kurapika found himself placing his face into his own hands in exasperation.

 

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Ambling into his hotel room, Kurapika was still distraught over the events that had just taken place. Such left him rattled, enervated. First it was dealing with the aspect of enciphering exactly what his mother had been trying to entail him with her reassurance in finding happiness and will to live, yet insinuated that she nor the rest of his clan would renounce him if he actually found said happiness with the very one he considered his enemy. Something about what she had stated which hit the young blond  considerably hard was her cognition on his recent interplay with the head Spider and the fact that her mention of the man's possible care for him may have been something he had actually been exhibiting towards Kurapika. Especially in the notation of the gifts that had been left for him not long ago. But even in light of such plausibility, the blond was still unable to come fully to terms with the revelation.

 

The very aspect had left him vertiginous; most of him had fallen completely anesthetized, finding it very difficult to cope with the most recent turn of events. Frankly, he had been struggling with the entirety of his situation and all subsequent outcomes since he began this little escapade, just now realizing that it felt as if his situation was just progressively getting worse. There were times - such could even be said now, where he questioned why he continued on with this fatuity of his, almost deciding that this entire endeavor was nothing but a farce and was turning out to be more trouble then it seemed to be worth. He was almost to the point of considering seceding from the entire mess and just being done with it so he could just go back to his normal stature and daily capering with his friends. It was also the very same thing that he had begun to realize was an aspect he really start to miss from his life.

 

Those very aspects were just another strike against his reasoning for just gallivanting off on a farcical exploit that he had really no true idea of exactly what he was getting himself into. This in the end had entailed much more than he actually bargained for.

 

Each time however, when he tried to rationalize that continuing to proceed on with his objectives was offering no restitution, each and every time his conscious would awaken with nothing but rebuttal, constantly giving him confutation that only ended up staying his hand. Such was the same now, even as he still pondered over why he continued to remain.

 

The more and more he thought on it, the further Kurapika delved into believing that underneath it all that Chrollo Lucifer had something to do with it. Every time the situation came back full circle it always seemed like that infernal man was always the one who intercepted it. How this went from the blond who when he began this little venture as the predator, the challenger was now an accessory, the prey.

 

Kurapika shivered at the notion. The very aspect that the stalker had become the stalked, and how every idea, every thought, every sensation, just the outlook of it had nearly brought the young blond to his knees. Yet as always, something continuously staunched his ability to abandon his position.

 

As such, he stayed and persisted on in hopes of a peripety where things would finally tip in his favor. All he could do was hope.

 

Sighing ingloriously, he meandered through the moderately sized living room and into the bedroom, settling on a warm shower to clear his head before turning in. The aridity he was experiencing, especially from the lack of proper rest had began to catch up and left Kurapika feeling unstable. For a moment, through unfocused eyes, he managed to come abreast the bed and began loosening the cords to his cloak, casually tossing the favored item upon the sole chair within the room and settled down upon the mattress when he caught sight of something out of the outermost range of his vision, it having easily grasped his attention.

 

What he saw caused him to esprit descalier because it was almost unbelievable, even for him.

 

There upon his meticulously made bed sat another gift, though this time it was just a single, square and unadorned box with a red lid. With trembling hands, Kurapika picked up the box and hesitantly removed the lid, though what soon followed caused all the air to expend from his lungs, his eyes going wide with complete shock and for a fleeting moment, the blond felt benumbed.

 

"It... Cannot be..." Was all the stupefied blond was able to utter.

 

A tremulous hand slipped down inside and what ended up sitting betwixt digits was one thing that had sent such a violent spasm through him and leaving him virtually breathless was one object that he would have never expected to ever see again, much less possess. But what struck him with such ferocity was the meaning behind the very item which he now held.

 

Kurapika's mind just seized as he brought the object close, instantly recognizing its authenticity. Breathing heavily, chest tight and constrictive, fingers curled around an intricately woven gold necklace that coiled and twisted with knots separating from a few inset red crystals, the very same which sat in the sole earring he wore. They were lined within spaced portions amid one section of the necklace while three hung from delicate gold chains between. The lone Kurta stared at the piece of jewelry for an indeterminate amount of time as he tried to process the situation before him, turning the fragile item from his past, his heritage over in his quivery hands, unable to desistance the now raging emotions he was experiencing. Not only was he disconcerted, Kurapika also felt a stab of anguish at just the very proposition he received the necklace – which was obviously stolen but was a clear profession of one reason and one alone. Not only was it an artifact from his clan, but it was also given between people in his village as a declaration of love.

 

How something like this could be happening to him, the blond was unable to parse or comprehend in any way. At the point which he was transfixed in, all that he was able to differentiate between was the simple fact that Chrollo Lucifer was behind this newest ontogeny, and just like he knew the very same recidivist criminal that caused him to battle incessantly with his emotions over was definitely the source of the last gifts he had received. Though the prior ones were more mundane, this... This was completely staggering.

 

Whatever optimism the egregious man was trying to incur, Kurapika would have none of it. At first he passed off the thought of the bastard's intentions as mere infatuation. But now it was becoming borderline obsessive and lubricous.

 

Although, within the back of his mind, the voices raised in clangor once again, astringent in their biting denigration. Between his consciousness and awareness, the dissension on whether or not the Geneiryodan leader's intentions were true, that his incentives weren't laced with prevarication and he was simply relaying an expression of romantic desire was still left for deliberation. Once again, the words of his mother echoed through his mind and Kurapika was simply at a loss for words. He was just too afflicted and drained to even process his circumstances anymore.

 

Expelling a laden sigh, the blond replaced the one piece he had left from his past aside his tribal clothing carefully back in the box and placed it gently on the nightstand. Though as he backed away, preparing to turn and recrudesce in his attempt to finally shower and wash away everything that had interminably plagued him, deep ceruleans landed on the vase of roses that the young Kurta hadn't been able to bring himself to dispose of. For a long moment and what seemed like a ticking to eternity, he stared at those vibrant and beautiful blooms, almost ensorcelled by them and for a split second all his cynicism and indignation succinctly abated where the blond soon found himself reaching out towards those flowers, stroking them almost reminiscently, fondly as a few streaks of crystalline began to leak from the corners of his eyes. Moments later, Kurapika retracted, though collected once more and with salience, he stood, only glancing back momentarily at the vibrant red roses before finally making his way into the bathroom.

 

At this point and in aphonic obstinacy, Kurapika knew what he had to do.

Chapter Text

He knew this would be a day he'd remember well. It had been a rather quiescent day, the tranquil air had made for wonderful pleasantries, and such was indulgent as the lack of fervor from the city's usual hustle and bustle made the place seem more subdued then it was considered quotidian, finding that for once, the atmosphere wasn't as stifling as it had been for him as of late.

 

For a few days Kurapika had taken time to pounder, spending nearly every waking moment possible thinking about his current situation, controverting over everything that he had been experiencing, down to the night when that projected dream he experienced, so vivid, so emotive and propelling, it had practically startled him, to receiving one thing that the blond never thought would become another of his greatest reasons for pushing him nearly past the breaking point. At the beginning of his excursion, his only intention was seeking out a form of desistance to all his predicaments and to form a sense of rapport with the one person of whom he had designated as the reason for all his suffering and misfortunes. It was in that very idea Kurapika held onto hope of driving away the remnants of his misery, even if the very aspect of the idea brought about a clear feeling of repugnance.

 

Still, Kurapika wasn't entirely assured with his current objective or that of his increasingly perplexing and incommodious situation. What had started out as something that was supposed to be relatively guileless, univocal, turned out to be more convoluted, deplorable and exasperating. What was worse was the fact that when the Kurta began this little impolitic excursion, he had only planned on confronting Chrollo Lucifer in hopes of detaining the man and interrogating him into finally and adjunctly getting what he had been so desperately seeking to fixing his shattered existence.

 

However, such wasn't what the blond had expected and now he found himself enwrapped in a game of a painful and enrooted war that Kurapika wasn't too keen or pleased to be participating in.

 

He snorted; just the idea of where this was potentially going, the very direction of whatever impellent force was attempting to rowel him in was enough to rouse a greater infusion of verdure and preservation. Although the clarity of his mother's words and the very etchings of his clan's indignation over all his inequitable actions which continued to ring loudly within his mind, the blond was still unable to find sanctity within their calls, their pleas. As much as it pained him that all their beckoning and prayers for him to concede from his estranged way of life and all his unethical choices, the immotile Kurta had settled on his denouement so long ago. Just the recent events that transpired in his life was the biggest driving spike needed to finally induce what should have happened so long ago.

 

There was no further need to bandy or harbor general discourse considering his stance in regards to the focal point of all his contention. Kurapika had concluded that he should have finished what he started back in Yorknew.

 

The longer he cogitated over the aspect of the new and enrooting mentality that was trying to implant itself in order to extrude his old way of life, his only way of life he had long since accepted and grown acclimatized to only made it that much more frustrating and agonizing. It wasn't something that Kurapika had been too ebullient or admissible on, even if there were points where certain prospects were indeed, tempting.

 

One thing that he was stringent on was the fact that for Kurapika, he had a hard time letting go of the fact that deep down, his heart was still scared from all he was forced to endure over the last seven years of his young life, making it rather difficult as well as complex, which caused the blond more skepticism then not when it came to fully deciding on actually changing his concurrent way of mind.

 

Such was to say he wasn't entirely opposed to the notion as the Kurta couldn't breathe, sleep or even eat lately without his mother's words unremittingly reiterating inside his mind. It was just the idealism of renouncing everything he's lived by in favor of seeking understanding and equanimity in his most intolerable adversary was enough to keep Kurapika from entirely embracing the idea.

 

As much as he wanted to, even though with how pressing the notion really was, he just couldn't seem to accede to it.

 

Was he really letting his own selfishness occlude his ability from actually moving forward with living in the present as opposed to his past?

 

No matter. There was just no way he could allow something so preposterous to actually occur or come to fruition. As much as the voices from beyond of his beloved clan - even that of his loving mother who had been privy to the head Spider's actions, even as genuine or legitimate as those acts may seem, had tried to dissuade him from his vengeful pursuits of the older man, for Kurapika, there was just too much of a odium left behind for the Kurta to simply ignore.

 

If only such enormities could be erased...


Never! Kurapika found himself breathing hard, his panting came in at a rapid, labored pace, eyes having long since gone wide, irises momentarily flashing scarlet before returning to their natal state. A sudden bout of nausea arose the bile to the back of his throat and the blond found himself nearly appalled by the very thought that he had nearly been swayed. Was his thought processes and mental acuity actually changing? Had his entire perspective really began to alter itself in favor of acceding in dispelling everything he held of value? That he held so dear?


The very inclination left the blond pell-mell and completely mortified that his creed was wavering, molding and conforming into an entirely new, diacritic mindset. The whole thing left him unsettled and apprehensive.

 

With unsteady hands, he proceeded in tying the straps of his cloak around his shoulders, situating it properly before the tips of those adept, lithe fingers brushed across something cold, absently tracing idle patterns along its smooth, chatoyant surface. For a moment his mind lulled as his thoughts began to drift, finding himself ideating once again over everything that had happened over the course of his little expenditure, each and every little detail now becoming the theorem behind his rationale. Now all his decisions, negative or positive were finally coming under full scrutiny.

 

Perhaps it was in that very moment when everything cohered in one instance of distinctness that left Kurapika rattled to the sense of the sudden stimulation he was being forced into.

 

He froze, body stilling as every part of him went completely numb, paralytic in time.

 

It was a premonition of the highest form; definitive, rudiment and unmitigated. Everything that had occurred up to this point had paved way for what he was experiencing, now. The predilection, the occurrences, just how every event that ensued, each and every carefully and meticulously laid out plan had incipiently led him to his current position. Whether or not such was methodically and deliberately concocted by his adversary or if it had been precogitated by fate herself, Kurapika could only surmise as such. The current knowledge however, only created a juncture that he found himself hesitantly deciding on.

 

For so long he had only been led to believe that for the better part of his life, that the majority of every experience he faced was all premeditated by his own hand, his own will. Never had it once occurred that he had been puppeteered by an outside source, regardless of exactly which one that was, the Kurta intended to find out.

 

Finding the capability to regain his awareness and focus, those dexterous digits swept one last time along the one cherished object which was now but a remnant of his origins and he finished tying the straps of the cloak. He grunted in chagrin knowing in great detail what he was about to do.

 

Stolidly, the young Kurta sighed in exaggeration, nimbly making a few last minute adjustments before turning to exit the room. However, he glanced back over his shoulder one last time, eyes landing on the vase with those ever present, lambent roses that retained their ample luster, almost illuminated by the morning rays of which had come to wash over them. He closed his eyes as he mustered all his nerve and exited the room, emerging into the commodious living room of the hotel he was staying at. Finding his way into the kitchen, he snatched up a cup of coffee to induce a much needed dosage of caffeine and a quick bite to eat before departing, the finality of his motions an acknowledgement in his meeting with what was surely imminent.

 

 

§§§§§§§

 

 

Although the city of Patalor was tremendous and vast, it didn't take Kurapika long to find his quarry, though this time, the boy kept a modicum amount of distance, having pulled the hood of his cloak up to obscure his face. He found a small niche beside the corner of a shop which had made as his vantage point, easily slipping into its concave opening that sustained in persevering his cover. This time, he had emphatically decided to stay within a different position, yet remain equidistant to the person he was targeting, taking into account all the other times when he wasted too much time trying to reach the man before the other was able to successfully give him the slip. Not this time, however. Kurapika had an intransigent amount of self-confidence in finally confronting the one person that he had unfortunately been dogging for so long now.

 

It had felt like such has been an eternity. For the extent of time that he had spent interlocked amid an encroaching battle of practical mental wit with the older man, Kurapika had finally conformed to the necessity of confronting and integrating the Spider’s leader into to finally getting the closure he was so deserving of.

 

Perhaps it was supposed for why it had been so painstaking due to the indefinite amount of time he had spent there dealing with the intemperate and rising heat of the day, even though the mediocre amount of shading he had been lucky enough get while perilously remaining crunched within the alcove he had pushed himself into, helped in keeping him from actually overheating. He waited expectantly for the other man to leave the establishment he had taken residence up within as it appeared the raven-head was enjoying a rather late meal so the blond could finally make his move. Kurapika ground his teeth in frustration; just how easy the bastard made it in grating his nerves from standing around like a loafer had only successfully alienated the aggrieved Kurta.

 

The persistence paid off however, as during one beat of a moment when Kurapika had decisively looked away to gander at something which had stolen his attention and in that span of the time he had become distracted, his target had left his seat and ambled out of the building without so much as a missed beat. The abrupt connotation suddenly jarred the blond back to his current objective as he slipped from his hiding spot to glissade among the throng, managing to easily keep pace with the older man, passively waiting for the instant he deviated from the sea of innocents for the exact point of opportunity when the blond would finally be able to seize the moment and announce his presence. From there he would  make it exactly known what he wanted from the raven-head.

 

 

§§§§§§§

 

 

Chrollo had always enjoyed theorizing. Speculating and contemplating over the changes in the world was a forte of his, which he had used in the past as a method to pass the time. However now, he was even more interested in the speculation over more recent events and how he had - and quite obviously, noticed that the one person which had been a constant intendance since this little junket began had for some odd reason, or for a more notoriously predictable reason, altered his positioning and changed his strategies. He could sense the presence of the blond as he was of course,  still proximal to Chrollo’s own location, though the biggest notion was the fact that the Kurta wasn't even remotely visible. Interesting. Generally the young hunter would have chosen his vantage point somewhere the older man would have easily espied him, since Chrollo had to admit, as impudent as the blond was, he never seemed to extract much practicality when it came to facilitating a solid and well calculated plan. But this time it seemed his precious Kurta decided to transpose things a bit, which had efficiently spurred the older man's attention.

 

The sensation of impatience and ardency was almost enough to practically innerve the raven-head - just feeling the rising tension oozing off the tempestuous Kurta had brought about a sense of regalement that Chrollo readily indulged in. For as long as he and the boy been partaking in this little game of theirs, not once had such earnestness and vehemence emanated from the blond with such a fanatical display before. It was so intense and regardless of wherever he was hiding, Chrollo couldn't help but sense it. The ponderosity of it the older man surmised had to be practically dripping from each and every pore, considering just how garroting the air was becoming.

 

He closed his eyes and a pleased grin formed across ample lips. So the boy was upping the ante eh? Chrollo hadn't anticipated such a change to happen within the Kurta this soon, but such had meant that all his predilections and incentives had begun to pay off.

 

Indeed, it appeared that everything was continuing to proceed forward as he had anticipated, though much more quickly and efficiently as the blond became more malleable and was falling readily into place as his mindset was more liken to Chrollo’s own. Even if his methods were considered more unorthodox and radical, the blond was already beginning to accept espousing the conception of his own changing ideals, and was slowly becoming mollified. It seemed the boy was finally realizing the problems of his own indisposition and how it was staunching his ability to see the benefits of just letting go. The undertones of romantic desire still remained amid all the rage and clamor Kurapika outwardly projected within his elaborate façade, yet Chrollo hoped to ease all the reluctance by offering encouragement in seeking the prospect of forming an exordium within a much more enriching and prosperous life. Even if such was difficult to perceive, he did exhibit a fair amount of concern and empathy towards the boy's wellbeing.

 

As much as it had once been strange, even perplexing for him to find himself deviating from his normal cognition and ideology, now the formidable leader of the Geneiryodan was finding that his entire perspective was changing, as well as his outlook. The very same he was nurturing within the brooding young Kurta; he was doing so with himself and welcoming the facilitating changes within his own mindset.

 

Perhaps for Chrollo, even though it may still have been considered possible conjecture that the older man was finally allowing himself the admission to partake in an aspect of his life which he never really had.

 

One could say the raven-head was indulgent, and maybe so, but this new, uncharted territory was producing such dissimilar sensations that he was finding it rather inexplicably beneficial.

 

Efficaciously, Chrollo vacated from his seat within the small restaurant he had chosen to have a late meal at and slipped casually from the establishment and into the thinning wave of people milling through the streets. It wasn't long until he felt that conventional wave of pressure aerating around him and he was certain that like always, the blond had fallen in step behind him, practically emulating his every move, through the designation of energy had altered, and to one the raven-head was speculative on. The usual sensation of anger and contempt still edged the boy's emotions, but something else intermingled within the Sturm und Drang, one that even he didn't realize had been as prevalent as it was now.

 

This unexpected change in the Kurta's behavior had Chrollo wondering if the scrimmage he was dealing with had become so intensated that the youth was finally giving in, realizing that what he had been feeling, and the outcome from all his past experiences were convincing him into just letting go of everything in favor of a greater propriety. The thought intrigued the older man and he was debating on confirming his theories, but was more inclined to ascertain if his speculation was the case as opposed to just settling on mere conjecture. Finding the answer to satisfy his curiosity in retrospect was vital to his future decisions on his proceedings regarding his current stance with the blond.

 

One thing he had never taken seriously in the entirety of his life was the concept of having an affinity or proclivity towards any particular relationship. Sure he had his comrades, but this was entirely different. Now he was finding himself intent on trying to court the blond, the desire to earn his heart reigned strong.

 

This became all the more reason Chrollo was obstinate with his inclinations and why he was fixed in his decisions. Knowing for certain how successful his efforts were he realized garnered top priority.

 

It was at this point with his newest revelation he wondered if he should once again, take things to the next level. Now was the time for finding the perfect, opportune moment to enact, for he still had to be circumspect with his motives and actions, for one wrong move and all his efforts could end up being in vain.

 

Nonchalantly, the raven-haired man shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat, insouciantly turning down a much smaller street as he rebudgeted from the bustle and attention of the main street which was something considerably much more discreet. However, this time he had no intention on averting the blond, for it was at this moment he wanted to see what the young hunter intended to do.

 

 

§§§§§§§

 

 

For so long it felt as if he had been exhaustingly trailing the older man. The unbidden saunter the other had taken to only sparked Kurapika's ire that much more. As studiously he attempted to keep his emotions under control, such was hard when dealing with the fact that his quarry kept at a leisurely pace, seemingly content with practically dragging the blond around the pythonic city. Patalor was vast, enormous and easily would take days to circumnavigate, something that the Kurta wasn't keen on enduring. As much as he would have enjoyed partaking in the city's benefits and propoundments, he had to stick to his main objective, for the current state of affairs was becoming too convoluted and drawn out.



There was so much Kurapika had undergone since taking on this little venture and so many times the discomfited Kurta had been left to deal with the increasing burdens that were so abrupt, yet flawless when it came altering his current standpoint. The positions between them was shifting and it left Kurapika's mental acumen to follow in the process. As much as he had been tenaciously trying to retain hold on his own faculties, weary of any change that would alter his mindset enough to sway him from his chosen path along with the only way of thinking he had ever known, the very fear that he would eventually lose control of what he so desperately wanted to hold onto was in fact, coming to pass.

 

This very aspect practically unnerved him and Kurapika was already beginning to assume that he had already been deprived all his abilities that kept himself sane as he continued to descend further into delirium.

 

One of the most frightening aspects was the empirical aspect of being willing to embrace that very darkness.

 

Though for Kurapika, he was in too deep to turn back now, even with the prospect of the situation possibly continuing to alter his own mentality from the norm.

 

During his personal deliberation, the blond almost didn't notice that the raven-haired man had taken a subito down into a rather cloistered bystreet, which the young hunter had realized was prominently off the main road and away from the main promenade.

 

Without reservation, Kurapika increased his pace and rounded the same junction the other had, slipping into the thruway supinely, the motions however, caused him to experience déjà vu due to a prior encounter with Chrollo Lucifer where he was left facing the empty end of a blind alley. It was then he had found the troglodytic, jilted stone that was left amid the crud and filth.

 

It was in that moment when unconsciously his fingers had found said object, curling around it as he retrieved it from the satchel he carried in perpetuum. During the brief interlude, his eyes roved over the one thing that seemed to harbor an unearthly feel, always keeping him from growing too capricious and keeping him sated enough that he had lost his fettle. There was still a fair amount of mystery surrounding such a beautiful and remarkable stone, from its origins to exactly how as Kurapika had noticed it seemed to have an effect on him, his own subversive emotions instantly becoming lenitive when he held it. Even now, despite the squall he felt which was beginning to rise within his own intemperate mind had quickly dispersed the moment he came into contact with the stone.

 

Kurapika sighed, though slightly dejected by the continued farce he had to participate in - the fact that it was just becoming awkward, was leaving the blond feeling less than adequate . It had seemed far too long; how long has it been now? that he had become so enmeshed with the entire thing that it was now only furthering his skepticism in exactly what facilitated his priorities regarding this irrational excursion he so adamantly decided to get himself involved in. For this is what had the blond really questioning in regards to his own stability when make proper or wise decisions.

 

Or perhaps he had just allowed himself to once again, be so easily manipulated by his unbridled and injudicious hated that had done nothing but constantly lead him down a path of ultimate grief and misery.

 

It was the very same rationale that the phantasm of his own mother had felt so poignant towards and crucial in swaying his decisions from following the very path that she knew - or had always known would surely see him to his own demise.

 

Why was he finding it so difficult to accept change? Had he really become so closed off that he was  inept in adapting anymore? Did his life really mean nothing? Or the wishes of his deceased brethren?

 

He had been constantly plagued. Even the voices that were relentless in their insurrection, in their stridency, had resumed their banter, the very tremor of their incessant prattling only furthered in agitating Kurapika. For days now, ever since his lucid vision, he had been hearing the onslaught of random murmurs inside his head.

 

It had gotten to the point that the blond had began to wonder if he was losing his mind and started going insane.

 

The sound of movement, of asymmetrical shuffling ahead of him had snapped his attention back to the present, having noticed that while he ambled inconscient within his own musings and reflections, that he had found himself standing within a large opening where crates, wooden boxes and other multifarious things were lining the cold, stone walls with no exit in sight. Again something niggled at the back of his mind despite the voices had dimmed to a simmering roar. The sound of shuffling continued and it drew his eyes towards the source, thought it was practically obscure, with what little light was present, but Kurapika was able to make out the silhouette of a figure standing amid some of the remaining sundries that had been discarded. Subduing his own incensed aura, he quickly and hastily shrouded himself with In, the lithe hunter then proceeded to crouch behind a cluster of boxes, letting his unfocused eyes to adjust to the low light in order to decipher exactly who was meandering around the area he was in.

 

His answer came in a cursory response when said figure had turned towards his general direction and those indefinite eyes flicked over to where he was positioned, and for a moment Kurapika felt every nerve within him seethe, yet he was unable to move, almost rheumatic just by that haunting gaze alone. What was worse was the fact that it appeared as if the older man had known he was there. The Kurta ground his teeth in vexation, cursing at himself for allowing the detestable man to encumber him and the vainglorious smile that soon followed upon his lips only enraged the hackneyed blond further.

 

Clutching his fists, Kurapika debated within himself for the span of a heartbeat with actually confronting his long time adversary before resolutely concluding that the time for pretexts was over and without hesitation, the blond stood, coming fully upright, those eyes meeting equally and coolly with the other man's own.

 

"Chrollo Lucifer." The hunter breathed, the lid upon his emotions just like the incessant voices which arose in clamor once again inside his head was starting to become difficult to control and could have easily burst at any given moment. "Didn't think I'd ever see you again."

 

The sound of his name being called so easily instigated a rather flatulent grin to crawl across the raven-head's lips, "Well if it isn't the ever pertinacious Kurta. I will say I could have said the same thing, but the fact being, I do believe you are the one who sought me out. Or am I not correct on this assumption?"

 

Kurapika stopped dead in his tracks, eyes practically growing wide from the immediate shock that hit him, jaw almost slacked and dropping open, "You... Knew?" How is that even possible? The blond had been particular and so methodic with his choices, even with his motives and acts and somehow the bastard had known all along he was being tailed?

 

"It's quite easy; in fact I will say I have always known you had been following me since before I left Ti'alma. Or I could say from practically day one." Instantly, the leader of the Geneiryoden had taken a few steps forward towards the flustered blond, and in response, Kurapika retroceded, expanding the gap between them once more. Damnit ! Those voices grew in pitch, and the Kurta tried to detrude them. Now wasn't the time for any redundant distractions as he was now face to face with the one person that had caused him so many problems and he didn't need extramural interferences.

 

A soft tinkling sound announced the materialization of his chains, the reverberation echoing off the walls of the extensive space they were in and Kurapika poised, looking the older man dead in the eye, "How?" The youth began slowly; the draw to his words amplified the fact that he was just as baffled as he was irked. "How could you have known?" However, the thunderous sound in the distance, along with the emergence and rise in those voices, and the dismay in the realization that he hadn't been as prudent as he thought had all weighed on his conscious, leaving him in pure astonishment with the lack of his abilities and skills. In retrospect, he had inevitably left himself wide open.

 

How could I have been so obtuse?

 

Chrollo snickered at the Kurta's bewilderment, taking note that obviously the young hunter really had no clue exactly how he had become so easily fooled or explicitly exposed, but one thing was clear, it was obvious the boy was still suffering within his own personal contention, the very same he had noticed had been slowly amassing the further the boy sunk into their little affair.

 

He took a few more steps towards the blond, his advancement equable, determinate, those unblinking eyes transfixed on the boy's own scintillating blues, and just how gorgeous they seemed, especially when they turned into that virulent scarlet, like the rubies he attributed them towards. Even though he had long since felt the pang of want and need harboring deep within his own heart, he still couldn't contravene the simple fact that he was beyond entranced by the gorgeous Kurta. He had long since admitted that those haunting eyes which shone so deep in their garnet hue looked much better attached to a living person, and one that was more beautiful than words could ever express.

 

As if on cue and in perfect unison to his motions, Kurapika had taken a few steps backwards again, his back coming closer to the implacable stone wall, and reflexively, the boy suddenly unleashed his aura, the active response incited his eyes to flash that indescribable scarlet.

 

"Well if you must know," Chrollo began, those steps continuing, both he and the young hunter ambulating with such precision it could have been considered daedal, like a balletic dance, though Kurapika made no bones about ensuring the distance between them remained equal as possible. However, he never realized just how limited his room was becoming as he was mere inches from the inauspicious stone, "You really allow yourself to be quite obvious. I must say though, for a brief moment that little guise of yours," The raven-head remarked, hand extending almost as if he wanted to reach out and run those digits over the boy's velvety cloak, "Almost worked. But that little mishap back in the desert city, that one momentary lapse was enough to easily and thoroughly blow your cover and give you away."

 

The sardonic expression that soon followed Chrollo's words caused Kurapika to become instantly stunned; the revelation was enough to force the knowledge of precisely where the boy's dissimulation was unfortunately laid bare. Just the notion that he was so easily found out did nothing but add to Kurapika's growing dismay.

 

"Damnit!" The blond imprecated, fists tightening and becoming almost white knuckled. "You knew all along and yet you led me to believe that I still had the upper hand? Then gave me a false pretense that I still had the chance of finishing what I started and to finally be free of this damnation that I have been eternally tormented with?!" The rage that undulated through the hunter's lithe body was enough to cause a disturbance in the air, suddenly afflicting the surrounding area as shards of brick and gypsum sprayed into a flurry around them, Kurapika's eyes suffusing crimson in its wake.

 

The older man took what was occurring before him in stride, the scene that Kurapika was presenting not only did it arride him, but just watching the brilliance that emanated off the radiant Kurta was enough to enamor Chrollo, his breath nearly taken away as he felt the ever present attraction only heightening between them, "What can I say," He whispered again and the temperate thief stepped forward, hands casually coming to rest within the pockets of his brunet hued coat, the thrumming of his footfalls amid Kurapika's whisking aura field generated dissonance, "I was rather enjoying the chase, not to mention," Chrollo paused, those eyes searching the blond's angelic visage, reveling in just how empyrean he looked, "I cannot help just how truly beautiful you really are."

 

Kurapika couldn't believe what he was hearing; the words caused an precipitating flush of shock to accentuate his countenance, jaw nearly hitting the ground as a result, "Wha-what?!" The Kurta stammered as he was finding himself in complete and utter incredulity, the bile rising up in the back of his throat at the very notion. Yet, something else writhed just beneath all the outward and ominous bedlam, something more persuading, appeasing... enticing. The very presence was enough to instill conflict that much more, even as the Kurta started to feel a budding attraction pulling from deep within when those heated scarlets started to bore subaqueously into Chrollo's own. It was that moment Kurapika found himself realizing just how magnificent they were, almost as if he could sense their gaze viewing down into his very soul. For a moment the boy seized, rived by just how gorgeous the older man actually was.

 

How had he never noticed this before?

 

No! He howled; the boy jarred himself back to his senses, shattering the beguiling hold that was thrust upon him, those irises flaring to their most relucent shade as elongated silver began to manifest, coils of metallic chains emerged around him, snapping around viperously and Kurapika's lips contorted into a malicious scowl, "There is no way I could ever love a monster like you!" The feral growl that proceeded enounced the Kurta's will to strike, those chains ready to finalize the job they should have so long ago.

 

Kurapika...

 

The hum was almost feather light, its call enough to startle the blond. However, the interlude was instantly abolished and Kurapika readied his Chain Jail, perfectly capable of using its savage potency to finally send the raven-haired man straight to purgatory.

 

Kurapika...

 

Again, it was like chimes on the wind and he heard his name called once more, its mellifluous sound captivating his attention; he knew that voice. It wasn't like the others that began to recently haunt him. The cognition of it…

 

My son, please do not continue on like this.”

 

That awareness, the stirring in his consciousness, the recurrence, it pricked at his senses and the familiarity bled into effectuation…

 

You still have so much to live for, so much reason to carry on.

 

Kurapika stilled, almost statuesque, his chains continued to whip and churn around him, lashing about like virulent tendrils, the rattling orotund in their violent frenzy. Scarlet eyes burned with the fervor that had once ignited them, yet, they were twinged with the undertone of prehension, of sorrow. "Mother..." He uttered, tone impeded by his own dolor.

 

Don't toss your life away for the sake of finding us justice, for there will be no peace for us if you were to only die.”

 

Shock gripped his heart and a few tears had broken free from their confinement, falling down over his cheeks as they were accented in red. Right hand abstractedly lowered towards his side, those volatile chains mimicking the movement and slowly began to allay, though they remained evinced despite their rampancy had began to subside. "You've returned..."

 

Only for the moment, but you must stop this. For your sake. For all our sakes. I just want you to live. Please. Move on, find your happiness.

 

For an ephemeral moment, that warmth he remembered from what again seemed so long ago washed over him and Kurapika found himself instantly surrendering, mind calming as his indignation receded and those genial fingers tenderly motioned over his cheeks, aiding him in the release he so desperately needed. The perfection, allure, the feeling of benevolence drew him beneath its welcoming blanket and for once, the Kurta felt at ease.

 

Please.”

 

Kurapika closed his eyes as he submersed himself into the placidly his mother was bequeathing him. "I will." He relented, capitulating to his mother's wishes, "I just want you to be proud of me."

 

I will always be proud of you. That will never change. Now go and find your real purpose in life. Where you really belong, and remember, I will always love you.”

 

Just as quickly as it had happened, such found its denouement and the visitant was gone, leaving the young hunter behind in the cold alleyway.

 

Though the spectacle hadn't gone unnoticed and Chrollo had tilted his head in inquisitiveness, noticing that there was an abrupt hesitation to the boy's unfiltered actions, his chains having since quelled in their aggression and came to rest around his feet. Though what struck the older man the most was the fact that for a few seconds, the blond seemed to be muttering to himself, one that Chrollo wasn't quite sure what the boy was speaking of. However, the contention seen in the other's eyes gave the time necessary to facilitate the raven-head's next move.

 

Even as Kurapika had been trying to contend with the throes of his own dissension, he had been mortally unaware of the sudden momentum forcing him astern until his back was shoved against the wall behind him and a firm hand had clinched his wrists, cogently pinning them above his head as a taunt body pressed intently against the blond's own lithe physique, "The hell... What do you think you are doing? Let me go!"

 

He couldn't believe it! How could he have been so imprudent? For one fugacious moment where he ultimately suffered a brief lapse in defenses, the damn bastard used it to his advantage. Now he was under siege, practically at the mercy of the very monster that he wished he could promptly and swiftly immolate. Kurapika ground his teeth as the older man's face was now mere inches from his own, the foray of his own personal space was enough to rise the bile to the back of his throat again at just the proximity the Kurta was to his most despised enemy. Unable to bear such an affront, Kurapika hastily turned his head, averting his gaze to keep from looking at those eyes that only seemed to weaken him. Though his demand was only met by reticence as fingers stolidly - but tepidly, cupped the boy's chin and drew his attention back towards Chrollo, "Look at me." He said sedately as he found himself once again fixed on those vibrant scarlet eyes.

 

Kurapika hissed as he was impelled to look at the man's face once again, the look in his eyes only smoldered, gaze judging and calculating, fulminating the older man's audacity to violate him as he had. Being this close to his enemy, feeling the stirring within as beneath the inner choler and indignation, were waves of something extraneous, strange, sensations that were becoming roused, and the closeness of their bodies only aggrandized these responses. Once again the Kurta was becoming aware of the physical pull he had experienced several times before, though the extremity such leverage had on him had been significantly elevated now that he was this close to the other.

 

"Why?!" He practically spat, the boy's effeminate frame twisting harshly within the older man's grasp, "Like I should ever give you the satisfaction of anything!" Chrollo inched closer, though just before speaking, he had noticed something glint from beneath the edges of Kurapika's garments, the sabulous cloak had long since raised up and off his shoulders, having exposed the one thing that Chrollo had to admit he was astounded to see.

 

"Because," Chrollo's voice was practically a purr, tips of his free hand had come to rest along the boy's right side and slowly began to glide upwards, "I want to look at you, I want to see into your eyes. Also because you have to admit," Further those digits crawled and Kurapika had to cinch an impinging groan that was threatening to break past his lips, though such parted as he merely gasped instead. The older man smiled at the elicited sound, "You have been feeling it, too. That very same pull I have, which has been incessantly drawing us together."

 

What the hell was he getting at? The Kurta was practically appalled that this murderer, the very entity that had brought about the extinction of an entire clan had the chutzpah to make such a ridiculous comparison. How he could have ever felt attracted to this horrible person was beyond any formation of words. "There is no way I could ever desire someone like you! After all you have done and you expect me to just abjure like that?" The nerve! Kurapika growled again, but it looked as if the Spider's leader was only fueled by his ongoing discomfiture.

 

Chrollo's hand continued its entrada as they caressed the Kurta's features through his clothing, each pass, touch, fondle, the way those digits delineated over the intermediate amount of muscles and sinews which resided beneath caused the young hunter to practically wither against him, tips steadily making their way up cast, but none too hurried as he was thoroughly enjoying watching the blond succumb to his advancements, "Are you so sure about that? Because your lies cannot betray what I see in your eyes. You may say you are not feeling any semblance of attraction, but," His unblinking, cinereal eyes fixed attentively to Kurapika's own and he was sure he felt the boy's beating heart flutter against his own chest, "I'd like to beg to differ." He would make the blond see for he was just in practical self-denial.

 

Regardless, if the young hunter believed him or not, his intent, his interests, all of them were nothing but genuine. There was nothing more than the desire to earn Kurapika's heart for the feared leader of the Geneirydon had never found himself ever wanting something this deep and in earnest, even though he was conditioned and accustomed to stealing whatever it was he wanted. But for now, as indurating as it may have sounded, Chrollo was content with just convincing the boy into admitting there was a physical attraction between them. The rest would come over time. His smile only broadened as digits finally slid over the golden, roped necklace with its clinquant ruby teardrops, "I see you are wearing this." He wasted no time enunciating on.

 

Kurapika couldn't believe what he was hearing. First, he lost his leverage, having found himself completely at the mercy of a virtual harbinger of death, then the allegations of there being some form of connectivity between them, down to averring there was an attraction - albeit it being physical, not only did it make him feel scandalized, but there was no way he was able to conventionalize himself allowing that man so close to him, down to touching him in an intimate way.

 

Still, amid it all monocracy, there was one undeniable fact, one that Kurapika had fought against so perilously was that even as inscrutable the notion seemed, he couldn't circumvent the actuality that he was indeed, feeling a draw towards the older man, or had been for quite some time, which was something the blond couldn't fathom or define.

 

"Why wouldn't I?" The blond retorted, eyes flashing dangerously, "And what would you know of it, anyway?" He already had a pretty good idea however, but to hear the concession straight from the man's mouth would only solidify his suspicions.

 

Though it was the only vindication Chrollo needed; he was enthralled by how much more emblazoned those contumacious eyes had gotten, as they were so stunning, which only served to bolster his drive. His assenting he had hoped would be enough to strike the blond with just how authentic his intentions are.

 

God he couldn't help but feel emasculated being this close to the prepossessing blond.

 

"Because," Chrollo's finger tips glossed over the surface of the golden adornment, lips hauntingly close to the boy's own, "Where do you think you got it from? Moreover, the reason you received it, anyway?" The raven-head smiled at the reaction such words earned, the blond's eyes going indescribably wide, as if he was suddenly hit by an epiphany, "There is a very particular reason it was given to you. Which I will assure you was done by genuine intent." Chrollo continued, but allowing his statement to sink in.

 

"You couldn't... Didn't... It's special to my people, which I am sure you stole... But, why?" Before Kurapika could speak any further, his elocution was cut off as the older man's lips suddenly crashed against his own. The shock at the adumbration caused his stomach to churn, a bitter taste rising from the back of his throat as he began to twitch against the older man, the urgency to break free apexing strong. The instant he tried to resist, those driving voices once again arose in demurral, the symphonic dissention annexed the blond, halting in his intransigence and all those sensations which he had been barraged by came back in a flood, weakening his mindset, yet, it was strangely placating. He found himself instantly growing lax, the feeling of those lips against his own, the taste of Chrollo, it was all unbeknownst to Kurapika, pleasing and he soon found himself returning the gesture. Before long he found himself kissing the older man back in earnest as his tongue prodded against his lips which the blond willingly accepted, his own instantly meeting the older man's appendage.

 

Something still caviled in the back of his mind, quipping at how wrong this was and that he was allowing himself to fraternize with the enemy. Though Kurapika suppressed the besieging litigant and banished that lone, forswearing voice into the furthest reaches of his consciousness, sole focus only on the current moment.

 

Even if he was still unsure how he managed to get himself tangled within something so dastardly and possibly controversial, for the moment, all he could react on was the growing conflagration that swept over him, slowly scorching and enveloping him, drawing him further into the ardent passion that soon began to replace the once gutless feeling. Kurapika couldn't rationalize; all ability to reason or contemplate had ebbed away, right along with his enmity. In a practical flash, all the emotions, all the proscribed feelings he had been so adamant to seal away had resurfaced, corresponding with the frenetic voices that chided and beckoned him, though the distant litany of his mother's own voice broke through the tumult, calling to him.

 

It was as melodious as ever, the carillon which vibrated through his very being and trembled on the wind, the concord it formed and the remembrance it brought about, every part of him simply gave way, those intercessions he so deeply memorized had so intently ceased any recessions he may had been having. His own body, even as rebellious as it could have been seen, easily melded into those passionate touches, hips languidly grinding against the older man's own. Chrollo was able to sense the same; the contention that the pretty blond was in a skirmish against seemed to dissipate, his body language suggested he had easily accepted what was happening, but moreover the boy seemed to be enjoying it. The way the younger man's hips began to slowly, yet intently gyrate against his own only furthered to suggest that his sweet angel had simply folded and Chrollo reciprocated as he ground back against the blond. The raven-head smiled in satisfaction against their shared lock, only pulling away from the Kurta long enough to draw in a few breaths before diving back in. His free hand had continued its trek to soon find itself winding within flaxen tresses, gently cupping the back of Kurapika's head, holding them firmly together.

 

Both of them soon became lost and abandoned within one another, and the time they spent interdigitated with the moment was another tick towards their combined undoing. Even Kurapika was realizing that he was no longer attempting to refute the older man, having embellished in the desire it was giving him, and for what had been so long devoid from his life was the sensation of feeling good. The notion of the entire situation being morally wrong was only repressed by the very declarations of his own mother and clan - his survival, prosperity and need to flourish, all were the very reasons for their own pertinacity in swaying the blond's stance, having sought to deviate the last Kurta from his volitional failure to thrive. Now, all that dissention bleed into elation, one Kurapika wasn't sure how he managed to falter into, but the feeling was something beyond comparison. Sure he wasn't used to it, but it was better in contrast to the pain and misery he had been dealing with.

 

It was like a dream. One built around vibrant, dynamic images, all were so lucid, so real, though as such it was actually being lived out, despite it felt like it was nothing more than a panoramic vision out of a fool's mind. Kurapika synthesized more into the sensation, as neoteric as the feelings were, having not been used to the caliber of what he was experiencing and folded without resistance. Both he and Chrollo were finding symmetry between them as the movement of their lips against one another fell into a near perfect unison.

 

For the capacious span of time they spent leisurely and wantonly enwrapped together, neither of them attempted to stop the other, the world having long since faded around them and the only thing either of them cared about was the rapture of the moment, both Chrollo and Kurapika only thinking about what could be derived from each other. It was like a treat, a grand reward, as both of them had never felt something so stimulating, commoving and invigorating, which left Kurapika innervated. All his nerves became strangely hypersensitive; even those fingertips as they caressed the back of his head tenderly only seemed to incite another soft moan to escape from the depths of his throat.

 

Once they separated, both of them flushed and panting heavily, it was then Chrollo realized just the exact magnitude regarding the weight of his own feelings towards Kurapika. As their eyes locked once more and beneath the half-lidded, lust glazed hues of the Kurta was the perforating view of scarlet, which caused the raven-head's breath to get nearly taken away. Just the awe inspiring and resplendent view of the boy's own eyes as ruby as ever caused Chrollo's own breath to hitch in his throat; never had the blond looked so angelic, so luminous, so beautiful, like a sensual butterfly caught within a shimmering web and the leader of the Geneiryodan found himself magnified by the Kurta's radiance.

 

"Damn you." Kurapika finally exhaled, still inebriated from the after effects of the intoxicating kiss and he could only see the faint grin cross over the older man's lips.

 

"You know you liked it." The sarcastic tone caused the blond to huff in recourse, but he couldn't rebuff the fact that the leader of the Spider was right. Even the taste of the older man lingered upon the blond's own lips, "Because it felt like you was getting awfully excited there, Kurapika." Chrollo leaned in to place a series of soft kisses along the blond's exposed neck, emphasizing the truth within the fact and causing Kurapika to gasp again, though this time, the raven-head trailed his lips all the way to the boy's ear before breathing huskily into it, "I could also say it seems very likely that you really want me as well."

 

Chrollo fell into reticence again, allowing time for the revelation to sink in, and his mouth continued to ghost over the shell of Kurapika's right ear, the sensation caused shivers to race up the blond's spine. He barely had time to register the fact that the older man had actually articulated his name, much less the sly remark about him being practically hung up and lusting after the raven-head, which was something again, he questioned if such was actually true. Could it have been possible that his own emotions were running awry, yet, he really had no inclination of putting a restrain upon? Kurapika was still bewildered by everything that had transpired, but he couldn't entirely repudiate the idea that perhaps, just perhaps everything the older man was saying and that the admissions of his own mother's words were ringing true. After all, it was foreign, unexplored territory and he still had to contend with the underlying hatred which nonetheless, crawled beneath the surface. As palpable as this new prospect seems, changing from who he was to who he could now become, and the simple fact that he still held some adversity to the man before him - but by God how lovely those eyes are and the skill of those lips, just how right they felt against his own, as much as the pull was upon him, Kurapika still struggled with his unrequiting morals.

 

Once again, Kurapika realized just how torn he was. But he wasn't about to allow that to stop him in progressing with exploring these new feelings and sensations.

 

Even as Chrollo's hand had slackened its hold on the blond's wrists and with no inclination of being threatened or possibly being threatened, he released his hold fully, though his own gaze remained firmly locked with those of the boy's own scarlets. There was no displeasure hinted within their depths, only genuine curiosity and desire. For seconds only stillness supervened between them, the sound of their breathing the only thing heard as they just look fixedly at one another before Kurapika abruptly and precipitously fisted the Spider leader's coat, drawing the older man close, "Perhaps you are right and I really do want you." Was the blond's only utterance before bringing Chrollo downward forcefully and seizing the older man's mouth with his own, riotously kissing the other as his tongue pushed adamantly against the raven-head's lips as it attempted to drive itself between. The very act caught Chrollo completely unawares as he wasn't expecting the Kurta to be so straightforward, yet instinctively his muscular arms encircled the blond's waist, pressing them both together as he reciprocated the act, kissing back eagerly.

 

Chrollo parted his own supple mounds, allowing the once timid boy to explore the inside of his cavern with alacrity, his own tongue darting out to dance and twine with Kurapika's, the sapidity between them made the Ryoden leader feel soused, his nostrils flaring as he drank in the redolence of the blond, such a blend of spice and floral only made the other that much more enticing. Though what solidified his reception of the idea were the proceeding gasps and soft moans that emanated from the boy and against their lock, the vibrations foretold of the sheer passion Kurapika must have been feeling. For Chrollo it was an incentive for him to deepen the kiss, his own chiseled physique leaning solidly against the Kurta's own lithe frame as he pressed the young hunter tighter against the wall. The blond reacted with tightening his own hold on the older man's coat, the execution caused the gap between them to close further and Kurapika could feel the Spider's heartbeat resounding against his own chest.

 

However, the struggle between them - the waging clash for dominance, both of them tussling against one another, Kurapika unrelenting in his onslaught, mouth aggressively working against the raven-head's own, and Chrollo pushing himself vivaciously against the Kurta, one knee slipping between the younger's legs and parting them, was primal, almost animalistic.

 

Kurapika was almost unable to control himself, part of him becoming lost amid the tempest and furor, the rudimentary functions within his instincts having since kicked in, letting him only become inconscient  once again, the older man's guidance and interplay only staunching any potential reasoning there may have been. It was so facile for him despite his inexperience, and Chrollo's incentives didn't serve any further reason for either of them to consider stopping.

 

Until the need to breathe came once again and in reluctance, they severed their contact, Kurapika's chest straining as his lungs burned from lack of oxygen while Chrollo simply drew into the moment, his own breathing labored. Both were suffused in crimson from the squalling heat flowing around them. "Damn you." Kurapika reiterated again, still flabbergasted by what just happened, but reveling in the euphoric sensation it gave him.

 

"Wasn't expecting that," Chrollo countered, cutting off the Kurta before he had a chance to continue, "But it solidifies what I had said earlier." He continued in a coy tone, though he retained his proximity to the boy, "I knew damn well you wanted me." Yes, he definitely wished to push his luck and stance with the now imbalanced hunter.

 

The blond's eyes narrowed; he knew for certain the older man was pushing his luck, as this little fracas between them gave him the incentive to necessitate in usurping control between them. There was no way, Kurapika thought, he would allow the older man to retain power in their newly formed communion, even if it was bordering on physical or intimate. The idealism of retaining prepotency between them would ensure that he wouldn't ever find himself coming to heel at Chrollo's own potential exertion. The blond wouldn't put it past the Spider's leader to try and repress him, "What if I do?" Kurapika replied coolly, as his eyes were not transposing back to their normal blue state and remained scarlet, the lingering effects of their ardent kiss hanging in the back of his mind, "Doesn't mean I am giving you the satisfaction, nor control of the situation between us. Perhaps it was something we both enjoyed, but that doesn't change the fact that you have not won or earned my heart," Kurapika inclined up and his right hand came to firmly cup the older man's chin, his chains still present as they rattled in typify to the blond's current disposition. "Even if perhaps I am willing to explore this new venue due to your persistent efforts, but also at the behest of those who I deeply care about that implored me seek a different path in life and to give you a chance, at the current, you haven't proven yourself worthy yet of my love."

 

Kurapika released his hold on the older man's chin, though his intense gaze never wavered. Chrollo still was bemused by the young Kurta's words and those beautiful eyes only instilled his own dedication and obstinacy in his pursuits of the boy. He made significant progress in getting Kurapika this far and to the point where now he avowed his own attraction towards him and the fact that during the course of their little physical excursion, he managed to convince the blond into exploring a potential romantic relationship between them. No matter what it took, he would do what he must, because in the end, he wanted to earn the boy's full trust and his heart.

 

"Oh I don't doubt that," Chrollo began, his voice low and sultry, "But I am not giving up on you. I want you to be mine, and I will prove it to you however I must. I will show you, convince you that I am worth it in the long run. I understand what happened between us isn't exactly favorable and that our pasts are not exactly unsullied, but if it means demonstrating to you that I can be trusted, that being with me is both beneficial and rewarding, then I will." The last words spoken, Chrollo affirmed with sincerity and laced with candidness. He watched attentively for the blond's reactions to his proclamation.

 

To his relief, the next thing to release from the boy's mouth settled his growing concerns in having lost his chance with Kurapika stating he would consider his prospect. Though only if Chrollo could prove his worth to Kurapika through sheer diligence, perseverance and humility. He was so close, so very close to incorporating the young blond into his life and finally earning his love. Chrollo had come too far to see it surcease now.

 

“Well, then we shall see." Kurapika concluded interested to see where this would go and if the proclamations by his mother and of his clan stand correct. But moreover, he was inclined to see if the one person who had caused him so much misery and grief, who had turned his life completely everted and managed to allay his hate, who also caused him to feel attraction and desire, the very same person who was now standing before him in adamant pursuit of his own heart, would live up to Kurapika's standards and provide his value and worth.

 

If not, if it turns out to be a farce or a fool's errand, then he will return to his committal in finishing what he started and end the older man's life. Which deep down, he hoped such wouldn't come to pass, because as how hard it was for Kurapika to admit it, he wanted this to work and find something permissible and worthwhile between them. But ultimately, he was tired and just so sick of the dejection in his life. For so long he had only been miserable and wary, constantly in perpetual dissonance and never at peace. Lingering in the same state he had been in for so long had finally taken its toll.

 

If moving forward and finding happiness in his war torn life meant doing so with the one person he never would have considered giving a second look at, then he would take it into consideration and give him the chance. Not only would he do anything necessary in sake of himself and for that of his deceased kin,  in the end, Kurapika had developed feelings for Chrollo, the very same he now wished to meliorate on and see grow, but no longer wanting to see abolished.

Chapter Text

The sound of footfalls echoed through the narrow hallway, the vibration resonating off the walls as he traveled through the length of passage that was oddly, devoid of life. The silence was hauntingly strange, giving him the sense of being perturbed and he shivered slightly. As he shuffled along the ludicrously drab carpet, the same kind of tacky furnishing that would adorn those types of cheap places despite the hotel being rather upscale, Kurapika took note of the sublime paintings and trinkets that bedecked the walls, many fancy enough to found inside posh homes and grandiose manors, but stood in stark contrast to the subfuscous material lining the flooring.

 

Kurapika still could not fathom why or for what reason that possessed him in coming here; his eyes flicked down to the piece of paper which sat betwixt his thumb and index of his right hand, the address and room number clearly written in elegant handwriting, symbolism of his own traitorous acceptance. Beneath it sat a brief message: Knock three times. He sighed. For unrequited moments he dwelled on everything that had occurred recently, down to the encounter and brief altercation he had in that alleyway with Chrollo Lucifer.

 

He still couldn't believe that he had allowed himself to be cornered and influenced, casting aside all his ethics and ideals in the spur of the moment just for the sake of possibly achieving reparation along with the prospect of garnering peace in life that he had long since, desired. But it was also in the piety of the moment, where the voices rang, both in dudgeon and sorrow where his morality swayed. Between the conflict of being rebuked along with the supplication of stress the faceless voices produced, even though one side of that mental altercation was from his worried clan and of his mother, he just wasn't sure how much more he could endure. Then there was the actual physical contact between him and the older man, how that sordid kiss left him bewildered, nonplussed and… Inveigled.

 

Without thinking, the fingertips of his other hand had come up and ghosted over those very same lips of which the striking man's own had come into contact with, and the remembrance of it left him feeling weakened. Just the intensity of it, how soft and warm, yet desperate, hungry and skillful it was; Kurapika exhaled. The feeling was just so strange and he was still unable to reason why he was willing to keep putting himself into situations like this.

 

But here he was, finally standing outside Chrollo's hotel room, hands now perspiring from just how nervous he was. For a moment, he hesitated and considered going back. The notion of being alone again with the criminal mastermind, the one who had torn his entire life asunder, the very same person that now encompassed his every thought, even into his dreams – he couldn't close his eyes without seeing Chrollo's gorgeous visage and those haunting, burning yet captivating grays had staunched his ability to even move. The very aspect was enough to practically seize his heart. Just how motivating the situation really was made it seem the Kurta couldn’t further resist.

 

Inhaling, Kurapika squared his shoulders and his finally raised his fist to deliver the series of three knocks that was described in the note Chrollo had given him. It didn't take long for it to be answered as the door to the room was immediately opened and the tall, encapsulating man stood in the doorway, eyes intent and boring down into the blond's own, "Well if this isn't surprising." He spoke in a mordant tone, though not terribly astonished to see the Kurta standing in front of his hotel room, "I thought your pride would have kept you from ever considering in visiting with me, but it seems I was mistaken."

 

The intended jest only caused the young hunter to frown, though for a moment, that sensation of turning around and reneging on his mental concession in actually visiting with Chrollo had flitted through his mind again. Of course his main intention in coming here was to delve into the reasons for what was happening to him and how he became so influenced by the older man, but to just be heckled like that? It didn’t sit too well with Kurapika. "I didn't come here for simple jokes Chrollo Lucifer. But if that is going to be your only focal point, I might as well-"

 

Chrollo's trouncing grin instantly subsided and faltered into a brief grimace, lips soon pursing into a thin line. It was one thing that he enjoyed prodding and teasing the Kurta casually, but not enough that would incidentally cause the boy to turn around and abjectly leave, "Wait." Chrollo cut him off and the blond turned back, looking at him sternly, "Why don't you come inside? We can at least talk."

 

As much as Kurapika wasn't entirely certain where this little venture would consequently end up, he shook his head in disbelief, but didn't refute the older man's offer. Though he simply slipped past the raven-head and into the spacious living area of the room he was staying in.

 

The area was quite large, decked out in varying lavish and posh items; even the furniture was ornate, down to the carpets being plush with Arabic patterning. The older man came up from behind him and gestured for Kurapika to take a seat while Chrollo prostrated himself upon the couch which appeared to be intricately woven with crushed velvet in a dark purple hue. Snorting, the blond cautiously lowered himself into the chair that sat adjacent from the older man as he kept his attention circumspect, though he couldn't help but analyze the surroundings of room the Geneiryodan head had easily garnered. Just like a criminal, and one of Chrollo Lucifer's panache to be so embellishing.  

 

But from what Kurapika knew of the older man was the fact that something of this magnitude was rather typical for him, as he was known for enjoying and reveling in spoils with grand flagrancy, often boasting or evincing his constantly building acquisitions. The very idea that someone like this was so prodigal only baffled him that much more. One thing the Kurta had learned from a very young age was to be conservative, just like the rest of his village where commodities weren't an ample thing and squandering was frowned upon. When you come from a world where supplies are not abundant, you quickly learn to ration what isn't so easily replaceable.

 

Seeing someone being so grandiose, careless and not frugal only seemed to baffle Kurapika as to be wasteful was one thing that would more often than not, make him feel a sense of pity. But then again, this was Chrollo Lucifer and someone like him had a tendency to be flamboyant.

 

How droll. Then again, the Kurta wagered he shouldn't have been anywhere near surprised all considering. Even as he eyed the man from across the heavy oaken coffee table that sat inlaid with baroque carvings, it was easy to tell that he was comfortable with his own surroundings. Kurapika readily noticed the substantial amount of confidence the other held, even with the knowledge that he was rendered Nenless, his current state still within Zetsu.

 

 

That didn't assure the blond, because as even without access to his Nen, it didn't make Lucifer any less dangerous. Still, the rational part of his mind told him to exude caution, while the other part of him cried to be more mollescent. Even amid that, in the furthest reaches of his consciousness were those ever unremitting voices. The very same that seemed to be constantly attempting to guide him, yet controlling him and every time any thought that was contrary or opposite of the new demeanor he'd been importuned into taking caused them to become more prominent. Kurapika briefly closed his eyes, returning his focus back to that of the other man in the room.

 

For now, he needed to focus on the main reason for him coming to visit the one person he now cannot seem to rouse his hatred towards.

 

"So," Kurapika's attention was fully captivated once he heard the older man's voice ring out amid the silence, those haunting, ashen eyes peered at him from practically beneath ebony lashes, something else that made the blond hunter squirm beneath Chrollo’s gaze, but at the same time his breath seemed to hitch. Kurapika swallowed hard. "I assume this visit wasn't meant for just idle chit chat," Chrollo began as he reposed, leaning back against the couch, hands lacing on his lap, "and that you came to discuss what happened a few days ago?"

 

It took a moment for Kurapika to compose himself. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the outward, projected calm the older man exuded or the weighing gaze along with the manifested and overconfident air that spoke of Chrollo's own certainty regarding the circumstances between them was enough to slightly disconcert the blond. Even knowing he had access to his own Nen and the pressure that squalled deep within him, the fact Kurapika couldn't seem to – or perhaps he didn't want to, transmit the will to even unlock its presence was something he couldn't fathom why, "Don't play coy with me; of course you know damn well why I am here," Kurapika quipped, his mood slightly shifting to a more aggressive state, posture becoming a hint more defensive, "I still want to know exactly what the hell happened between us back in the alleyway. Moreover, I want to know what kind of hold you have cast over me because ever since our little fracas back in Yorknew, I haven't been able to move on as I have not found any peace since you have been haunting my very existence."

 

For over five months the Kurta had been forced to essentially face the weighing notion that even when he committed to his decision of abandoning all his past convictions in favor of moving forward and towards a more propitious way of life, such was only wrenched away the moment those plaguing dreams began to haunt him. Ever since, he hadn't been able to get the older man out from inside his mind.

 

 

Hell, from what Kurapika could remember, the leader of the Geneiryodan had been a constant fixture in his life for as long as he had known the man. Or, at least for how long he had known of the man. But, ever since their deadlock in Yorknew, it seems that even then, Chrollo Lucifer had something of which had been an extrusive part of the Kurta’s very existence.

 

The blond clicked his tongue in exasperation. It was one thing he had neglected to even think about. Even before those intrusive dreams started, back to just mere days after delivering Chrollo upon that vacuous plateau, the older man had pervaded his mind, his thoughts, almost taking over him. That was, until the nightmares started.

 

So it seemed that Chrollo Lucifer had an even greater, more substantial hold on Kurapika then he really cared to realize. Much less, admit to.

 

Chrollo leaned forward, intrigued. So it appeared that his predictions had far exceeded his expectations. This was indeed a new development. He didn’t expected to hear that he had long since, even before the boy had decided to seek him out, had become the center point of the blond's practical existence. Chrollo hummed at the notion and a faint smile crossed his lips as the realization of this addition to the circumstance between them could also prove to be beneficial. It demonstrated that the Geneiryodan head had influence over the Kurta, and for quite some time now. Or, he had for longer than he originally anticipated.

 

"Well first things first," Chrollo had casually reached over towards two, long stemmed wine glasses that resided upon the elegant surface of the table, his other hand clasping the wine bottle that sat beside them and poured some of the contents into them. He then gently pushed one of the fragile glasses towards Kurapika, "This is a Pahlmeyer Merlot, a finely aged wine that is said to taste like berries. Personally, I find the contents smooth, pliable and enjoyable." Raising his own glass to his lips, Chrollo regarded the Kurta from over the rim, the expression that soon crossed over the younger man's immaculate visage spoke of true scrutiny. Such was to be expected, however. Yet, a small part of him held onto a perennial hope that Kurapika would actually fall into respite for once. The younger man was always perpetually on edge, "I am sure you may find it just as enjoyable as I do. Perhaps it will even help you relax for once."

 

The slowly deteriorating and unreadable mask that Kurapika tried to use in attempt to conceal his emotions soon fell away, replaced by a blatant, aghast expression, his eyes growing virtually wide. How the hell could he even consider allowing himself to let his guard down much less grow too complacent around the older man? It was something that the blond couldn’t even so much as entertain. Granted, he had conceded in actually allowing himself to visit Chrollo, down to being alone with the man in his hotel room of his own accord. But Kurapika wasn't about to give him too much credit even though he had begun to feel differently towards him.

 

Once again the studious hunter regained his lost composure, concluding in not allowing the older man to rile him and regained his cacographic mask. Though in attempt to give off some impression that he was remotely mellowing, his lithe digits curled around the stem of the glass which was proffered to him earlier and decided to take a sip of its contents, "Don't go and get too gratuitous, you just may find it backfiring." Kurapika warned, his own eyes narrowing as he watch the man coolly, "There are still matters of business to attend to and any frivolous pretenses will result in a nullifying of my visit. I surely didn't come here to have my time wasted."

 

"Right." Setting the glass down, Chrollo instantly began his explanation. Of course he had to keep the blond entertained enough to at least prevent him from attempting to leave, or at least wanting to leave. He had way too much at stake to lose. Small, flicking threads of emotion whisked off the younger man and indeed, Chrollo was able to tell that there was still an infinitesimal connection between them.

  

In the back of his awareness, Chrollo was certain that the Kurta's emotional standpoint had changed in regards to him. Though Kurapika attempted to contravene the fact that his mindset had indeed, began to alter, there was at least an iota of emotional connection between them. Even though the the majority of what had them linked was more physical, there was no denying the slowly forming mental connection germinating between them.

 

"Well, if you must know, I will say this; I know nothing of what had been occurring with you prior to your arrival in T'alma. Honestly, I am just as surprised as you by your little admission. I could say that I am flattered you thought of me so much after our initial meeting, but aside that, I have no knowledge of anything else. Also I genuinely have not cast any spell over you as you can see," In demonstration, Chrollo's arms extended wide in a mock, yet grand flourishing display, a smile crossing over his lips, "I still have no access to my Nen as I am quite sure you can easily confirm. So it's safe to assume that I in no way, have any direct control over your own motives or what has been happening to you."

 

Chrollo knew his own concessions weren’t entirely accurate, as he had omitted the more prevalent portions he knew would have surely agitated the Kurta and unraveled everything he had so poignantly worked towards. But moreover, to lose what fair amount of trust he was gaining with Kurapika would be a great misfortune.

 

Rolling his eyes in exasperation, Kurapika inclined forward, arms coming to rest upon his knees as his incrementally weighing gaze which was like liquescent fire, sat levelly on the older man, knowing damn well that he wasn't being completely honest with him. There was still that underlying deceit, as if Chrollo was indeed, holding something back.

 

 "You're terrible at lying, you know? While you may be mostly correct in your assumptions, I know for a fact you have had a vast and very heavy influence in my own emotional change as of late. One of which I want to know why. As for the other," He took another sip of the deep red contents within the glass – strangely enough, he found himself agreeing with the older man as he had become rather fond of the taste himself, and returned his attention back towards his adversary, "Is the fact that after our encounter at Yorknew, I began having dreams, which were equivalent and recrudescent, always beginning and ending the same. What is more, or as I should say, the rather interesting part," Kurapika reclined back again, eyes still firmly locked with Chrollo's own, though briefly, the young man found himself mesmerized by their visual allure, taking in their wondrous beauty before realizing he was fixated too deeply and returned his focus back on his speech, "Is how it ends. After being bitterly reminded of what happened to my clan, the last thing I would see is two haunting grey eyes, the very same that was later concluded which had to represent you."

 

For a moment, Chrollo was astonished. So the blond had openly admitted to having dreams about him? But moreover, he hadn't mentioned anything regarding a prompt that started all this. It didn't entirely faze him as he figured that because of the kind of life the Kurta led, it was enough to have incited many traumatizing effects, down to potentially pervading dreams. He knew that Kurapika had suffered a lot – which was in part by his own hand, and was something that Chrollo felt contrition for. All the insurmountable pain from everything the younger man endured surely had caused him a lot of adverse effects. So it was of no surprise to Chrollo that the other was probably suffering some form of PTSD. But then he ruminated over the fact that Kurapika noted he visualized his eyes boring into him at the end of his dream. Could that have been the prompt? Or to be more accurate, that he was the actual prompt?

 

It was something Chrollo then realized was just how much more connectivity he had to Kurapika than was originally perceived.

 

The raven-haired man stroked his chin thoughtfully; he attempted to approach this as diplomatically as possible, "Have you considered the fact that perhaps, you hadn't entirely let go of your convictions despite that I clearly remember you stating you would no longer peruse us? Or the possibility that you have not been able to move on because you had not made peace with your past, or to be more precise, not made peace with yourself because of it?"

 

He took another draw off his wine; it was still rich and fine, which aided in keeping his own nerves calm, and focused his attention on Kurapika. The shock or perhaps the achieved epiphany that seemed to flood to the surface of the blond's countenance was enough to bring about a small, faint smile and Chrollo believed that he had struck a chord considering the bewildering expression that soon followed.

 

However, as difficult as it was to - even if hesitantly, concur that Chrollo was more than likely correct, Kurapika was forced to accede to the truth. Slipping back to that day, the fateful one five months ago where he encountered the Ryoden member, Uvogin and their impending battle which had lead to the Spider's death at the Kurta's own hand and the soon, empty, impassive and ineffable feelings that was left in its wake, Kurapika realized he truly had never come to any sort of concession. Even then, he had continued to wallow in misery and loneliness, which had always been a part of his life and bringing about the cessation to even one of the people he swore vengeance against for all his tribulation hadn't garnered him any sort of release. It was then Kurapika concluded, was where he failed himself and his clan.

 

Everything his mother had spoken to him finally rang throughout his mind in utter clarity, for it was in those very averments that Kurapika realized exactly what she had meant.

 

"As much as I don't want to state you are right, you are. But this doesn't mean I am entirely accepting of everything else occurring between us. I am still perturbed by the fact that you... Had exploited a momentary weakness I had, which again, as much as I'd like to admit even less, was something I did not find totally detestable," Kurapika breathed slowly, his chest still feeling constricted as if he had been placed within a vice, heart beating at a rapid pace, "and something else I would like to admit the least, but won't, is the fact that," Once again he strained, voice cracking from the chaffing that seemed to be ensuing from the arid sensation which coated his mouth, "You are a good kisser."

 

Good kisser, indeed. For Kurapika, the older man had actually been his first kiss, one thing that the Kurta didn't let on but Chrollo possibly suspected was the case. A flush of crimson soon effloresced over the younger man's pallid cheeks, tinting them in a nearly deep color. Such didn't go completely unnoticed as the subito of Kurapika's accession caused the Geneiryodan leader to set down his glass and the look that accented within those unblinking eyes spoke of a predatory gaze. Yet, beneath the outer layer was something more enticing, more rakish. "So, you are at least accepting of the fact, or perhaps admitting to the fact," His back came to rest lackadaisical against the soft, downy cushions of the couch, posture speaking to the blacklist hunter that the older man was definitely hubristic which evoked a vein of irritation to well within the blond, "that you came here for reasons aside just seeking answers. For you to openly avow that you realize there is at least a physical attraction between us speaks for itself."

 

Chrollo let his demeanor soon betray the truth behind his words, putting up an easy front in attempt to convince the other man before him. Truth be told, he only wanted Kurapika to finally understand, or at least see that what had been transpiring between them now wasn't being done by his violation, alone. Granted, Chrollo had given the Kurta the tools necessary to derive is own conclusions and with enough incentives, was able to help in delivering the push and guidance necessary into him accepting the veracity of their current situation.

 

As strong as these facts were, Kurapika was still having difficulty coming to terms with the conception of his recently developed feelings for Chrollo. Something burned down within, almost drawing him like a moth to a flame and it frightened the young blond, but a part of him, the side which was stronger, wanted to explore this new venue and maturate on those feelings.

 

It was this very reason that Kurapika was now finding it extremely difficult to formulate a response to Chrollo's rather pragmatic response. On one hand, he still was unable to fully come to terms with just how nonchalant the older man was being in regards to this entire spiel, as the Kurta was finding out that he wasn't entirely certain on the circumstances between them. Especially considering that Kurapika was realizing it was becoming more and more prevalent that he was no longer able to conjure hatred towards him, even after all he and his Spiders had done, but he found himself becoming more receptive, more unbiased. On the other hand, Chrollo's ministrations and attentions which were so methodical and structured, yet extremely attentive towards his needs, was something that Kurapika found rather surprising, yet backed the theory that perhaps, the most notorious, ruthless, indifferent murderer and thief actually had some humanity to him. Or one could say, actually possessed a heart.

 

Kurapika however, was still conflicted. But the notion of actually giving this man a chance, just like his mother had so desperately beseeched of him and the fact of his newly manifested feelings towards the other was beginning to win him over.

 

However, he regarded Chrollo levelly, still working the nerve to actually attest just how right the bastard really was, "As much as I'd like to say you are completely wrong – as doing so would have been the perfect response to your rather emblematic gloating, I have decided to refrain as it would actually prove nothing. With that in mind, I will state that, yes you are correct," Kurapika swallowed thickly, though he didn't show his inquietude outright. Decisively he kept his composure, not wanting to give older man any edge over him despite that down in his consciousness, something was tugging at him and he had to resist the urge to actually allow himself to come any closer to Chrollo, "I am indeed, here for more than just answers. But I am not about to allow you to think that you will have control in this situation, Chrollo Lucifer."

 

So there you have it. Chrollo was literally delighted to have this mitigation, as the Kurta's concession was enough to alert him to the younger man's finality in accepting what was actually growing between them. How long the he awaited this day, "Oh do not worry for I have no intention of trying to force you into doing anything you wish not to do. I can say however, I am relieved to hear that you at least have come to terms, or at the very least, an agreement that you acknowledge the connection we both share." Adjusting his positioning, Chrollo turned his head away from the blond and towards the empty seat beside him, hand gingerly patting the vacant cushion. It was then he returned his attention to the restive youth across from him.

 

He felt his body become almost completely rigid, mind practically stupefied at the sudden revelation, and despite finding himself nearly going comatose, Kurapika's aura surged, rising around him and becoming ubiquitous as he had for the moment, lost control of his emotions. The air around them became menacing and the blond's stare grew in intensity. The luminosity of the boy's eyes flickered as scarlet permeated the once virulent blue and he tightly pursed his lips, "Just remember one thing; should you allow yourself to step out of bounds, I will not hesitate to retaliate." The Kurta warned, and just as quickly, as it happened, his aura seamlessly retreated, going back to its placid, dormant state. It was in that moment that Kurapika rose from his seat, still filled with ambiguity and skepticism, but ambled over to the empty spot on the couch and sat down, eyeing the older man warily 

 

Chrollo raised an eyebrow at Kurapika's intransigent threat, though his hands came up in a pacifying, yet defensive manner, "You do not have to worry, as I don’t plan on doing anything you do not approve of." The raven-haired man began, though he couldn't help but allow a fleeting smile of exultation to cross over his visage, "However, I will not bite Kurapika. Rest assured by that as well. You can come closer."

 

The sound of his name rolling off the lips of the older man caused Kurapika to bristle, but it quickly abated and he inched closer to Chrollo, though agonizingly slow before he was sitting practically against the man, and the moment their bodies actually brushed, the breath seized within the blond's throat as he struggled to retain hold on the gasp that imperiled to escape. It was then he felt two fingers slip beneath his chin, decisively lifting his head up to meet at eye level with the raven-head, "There, was that so bad?" The man practically cooed in a mollifying tone. He could see the ephemeral pause in Kurapika's calm demeanor and the sudden flash of ruby that tinged the edges of his eyes, but it instantly receded. Even then, Chrollo realized just how magnificent the Kurta really was. Kurapika was truly exquisite, but even there it did not stop.

 

Being in such close proximity to the younger man made his heart palpitate in his chest and that pull he felt so many times, the very same he knew the blond was sensing himself, tugged again at the back of his mind. Every time he was around Kurapika, he felt enervated and as much as that fact concerned him, Chrollo had no desire to change the effect it had on him. Quite to the contrary, he was beginning to realize just how much he enjoyed the blond's own hold on him as he knew it was going beyond just rudimentary physical attraction.

 

Chrollo found himself fixated on the young Kurta's eyes as he just drank in the artistry that composed the brilliant man before him, "You truly are beautiful."

 

Damn him. Even as the blond found that he was utterly allured by the older man's affectionate gaze, just the state Chrollo had him in had Kurapika's head pendulating and feeling as if he was within a drunken stupor, which left him completely entranced by the other’s presence alone. His nostrils flared and the scent of spice mixed with expensive cologne enlivened his senses, causing the beating of his own heart to steadily increase. Without cognizance, Kurapika slowly and wordlessly climbed onto Chrollo's lap, straddling the older man as lithe, fragile appearing hands came up to clasp upon both of his shoulders. He exhaled sharply, looking Chrollo dead in the eye.

 

The alteration in their positions had Chrollo instantly surprised, his eyebrow raising again curiously, "Well, this was unexpected-" He began in an amused tone as his own arms came to encircle the younger man now positioned on his lap, tips pressing into the skin through the Kurta's clothing. However, his affirmations were abruptly cut off.

 

“Just shut up and kiss me." Kurapika snapped, daring the older man to speak any further, and with a knowing grin, as if he was silently professing a yes sir at the blond's command, Chrollo inclined forward and captured the blond's lips with his own, instantly drawing them into a passionate kiss. Wasting no time, the raven-head let his tongue dart out to immediately delve inside Kurapika's mouth as it sought out the boy's own and began twining with it, the two appendages gliding along one another in an intricate, rhythmic dance.

 

It was like molten fire, temperate, yet soft and appealing. As Chrollo’s lips crushed against Kurapika’s own in hunger and wanting, the sensation only fomented the blond further, his own motions starting to match in practical equivalence while the symmetry between them grew as he was slowly finding his own balance. Despite it was briefly overwhelming, the natural sensation it produced easily coaxed him deeper into the sin he knew that at one time, he never would have allowed himself to become a part of. But just the way Chrollo's lips felt against his own, the proficiency of his movements and just how fervent, passionate and adamant the older man was as their kiss only served to deepen, was the same exact sensation he felt the first time they experienced something this intimate.

 

For Kurapika, this felt so perfect, so right.

 

Even as they both soon became lost and abandoned within the moment, Kurapika's mind had completely seized, all rationale submersing into the deepest reaches of his mind from the driving intoxication which was slowly consuming him. Languidly, his slender hands made their way up and into the crop of short raven colored hair, fingers twining amid the downy tresses. Time seemed to stand still, and for a breadth of a moment Kurapika faltered to the pleasure from the touches and motions of the older man, his mind going numb as he struggled to focus on the one person who was now the most important thing to him. Chrollo easily perceived this and his grip on the blond tightened due to it.

 

Seamlessly and without missing a beat, Chrollo gradually altered their positioning while he began to lower them down upon the couch, Kurapika's back soon resting against the cushions as Chrollo came to lay on top the younger man that was now beneath him. Severing the kiss, both of them flushed and impassioned from the vitality of the moment, Kurapika's eyes opened to find dark, impenetrable ones staring back at him, his own reflection cast within them and he was able to catch the glimpse of red that shone upon their surfaces. During their exchange, his eyes had shifted into scarlet which caused a breathless gasp to accent the silence. Chrollo had become nearly mesmerized by their luxuriance, the vibrancy he noted was so much more alive than those he remembered floating lifeless in their canisters, "Such beauty." He whispered huskily, mouth starting to trail warm kisses along the blond's shoulder, causing Kurapika to gasp haltingly in response.

 

"You really are amazing," He continued, lips deftly working their way over the expanse of Kurapika's delicate skin as Chrollo reached the base of his neck and instantly bit down knowing that his actions would surely leave a visible mark behind. But by God he couldn't help himself; the blond was just too enticing, too intoxicating and the way the Kurta below him panted and groaned, the heaviness to his breathing and the strained rising and falling of his chest, it was all Chrollo could do to resist the temptation to ravage Kurapika.

 

No, he would take it slow, let the blond set the pace, for lest he could unbalance the situation and fluster the younger man, which was the last thing Chrollo wanted to do. He simply suckled gently as he listened to Kurapika's intermittent gasps and felt the articulation of his unbidden motions, the blond's hands having shifted again during their alteration and came to rest against the planes of Chrollo's back, tips mindlessly kneading the flesh beneath the fabric of his sable top.

 

"Just... Keep going," Kurapika articulated almost breathlessly, back arching up and against Chrollo's muscular chest in sheer response to the adrenaline that surged through his much smaller body, "Don't talk so much."

 

He grinned against Kurapika's skin at the admission, having then lifted himself up to peer into those half-mast, lust glazed eyes that shone so brightly amongst the dimly lit room, "Are you so sure? Because I thought you'd love to hear my praises on just how perfect you really are." Chrollo didn't give the younger man any time to respond as he adroitly reclaimed those tender, soft lips, drawing Kurapika back into another prurient, but this time, much rougher kiss. Once again, their tongues instantly wrapped around one another as Chrollo had briskly invaded the blond's torrid mouth, wasting no time partaking in the honey and flavor that was being offered to him, and the very combination alone gripped Chrollo down to his very soul.

 

There was a possessive feeling to the impulsive nature in Chrollo’s deportment; just the way Kurapika felt his lips swell and bruise with how fiercely the older man was kissing him and the way his tongue forced itself into his mouth – it had taken the young blond by surprise. His eyes had opened and the verve that spun deep beneath the surface had captivated the raven-head's attention, catching a brief glimpse of those opulent scarlet hues before the blond fell into an even rhythm and finding unison with Chrollo's own movements.

 

Kurapika’s body trembled as the older man above him let his hands come to rest along his sides, fingers trailing the etches of his clothing in aimless patterns and causing the fabric to slowly ride up. Soon those tips had come into contact with bare skin as Chrollo let them slip beneath the hem, partaking in the contact that soon produced such an invigorating sensation.

 

Once again Kurapika gasped from the soft and gentle touches as every nerve and vein inside him seemed to thrum, making him feel alight from the way his skin seemed to grow in warmth along with the electrified impulses that sluiced through him. The mixture of emotions that instantly flourished between them coalesced into something so passionate and highly sensuous. It was as if he was getting carried away and was allowing himself to be liberated. He became wanton and lost in the moment, falling into abandon, giving into corruption as a victim of his own descent into delirium and sin.

 

Kurapika could barely think, much less discern exactly what was happening as his own instincts seemed to have strangely dominated. His body was acting of its own accord, and was becoming highly receptive to Chrollo's attention and touches. Just the way his hands slid and caressed over Kurapika’s bare skin, the calescence of his breath and the ardency of their kiss that was hungry and fierce, and the way Chrollo moved against him only made it that much more difficult to retain hold of his own emotions. Slowly the young hunter was losing control of himself and in conjunction with the ebbing of his will to resist – not that he wanted to or cared to along with the empowering flow of desire and need, it had easily kept him steady while he remained comfortable and content within Chrollo's loving charm.

 

Now Kurapika couldn't let go and he didn’t want to let go. Even though there was something in the furthest reaches of his subconscious screaming at him, it demanded that he cease this little folly, for he would surely find repercussions later on. However, the young man pushed the dissidence as far back as he could and discounted it. The outcome caused those darker much more pervasive voices to rise in triumph, clamoring loudly in his mind and the abrupt uprising momentary startled the blond.

 

Sensing this, Chrollo broke the kiss, gazing down into Kurapika's now startled eyes, though their ruby chroma remained. He hummed, "Are you alright? Did you want to stop?" He spoke, concern edging his tonality and words, one hand slipping away from the pretty blond's side and he gently cupped his chin, "I completely understand if you want to." As much as the very idea of suspending their little performance made Chrollo feel disappointed, he wasn't about to force Kurapika into continuing. He wanted to keep forging that binding of trust, and doing anything that could profusely violate that was something the older man adamantly repudiated against.

 

"No-no, I am fine. I just... Had a momentary lapse in focus. You don't have to stop." He exhaled discernibly and Kurapika tried to pull much needed oxygen into his agonizing lungs. Chrollo had watched him intently and the shaken Kurta wanted to pull away, to advert his eyes, to look at anything else aside the piercing gaze of the older man and the genuine concern housed within. But, he couldn't look away as he remained benumbed by the other and just how profound, yet somehow gentle expression that was upon Chrollo's countenance.

 

The older man simply hummed again in response and leaned in closer, "Are you sure?" This time the timbre of his voice was more sensual, more covetous. Kurapika simply nodded. Smiling once again, Chrollo dipped down to place a couple of much more tender kisses to the blond's now deep pink, but tumescent lips, "If at any time," he murmured, slowly trailing the younger man's skin once again, motioning intermittently over the Kurta's jaw line, paying attention to Kurapika's body language and the once again, irregularity of his breathing, "You want to stop, let me know."

 

So Chrollo wanted to be alerted if he wished to stop? Something made him think that the older man wouldn't allow that happen regardless if he was to permutate that decision or not. But the candor of his words kept Kurapika from completely settling upon that notion. Still, he was tightly wound within the moment and the pleasurable sensations that were being garnered off their little escapade had Kurapika in reluctance of stopping just by that alone.

 

"Don't worry, I will." Even through the admission was relatively truthful; Kurapika saw no reason to cause this moment, one that the blond was finding himself becoming more engrossed by, to a see a premature end. Instead, Kurapika let his eyes falter, lids partially covering the lustre of those bewitching rubies and he canted his head angular, exposing his neck further and giving Chrollo easier access to him. The younger man felt the warmth, the wetness, the torrid swell of hungry kisses and bites as the older man assaulted the exposed, tender flesh and left visible marks in his wake.

 

Chrollo grinned against porcelain hued skin as he kept trailing the planes of Kurapika’s neck with his tongue while placing soft kisses and intermittent bites along the way, each motion causing heavy, laden gasps to expel from Kurapika’s throat. Though much to the older man’s dismay, nothing was too deep or sonorous.

 

The sensation was great, enticing and it drew the Kurta further, as he cascaded down into the tempest that was passion and yearning. Such carnal need and animalistic desire, though beneath the surface wavered the vein of tenderness, love and softness. The amalgamation of these sensations, the synthesis it produced and what affect it ultimately had on Kurapika's own besotted mind left him feeling necrotic as Chrollo's own web spun tighter and tighter around him. Kurapika struggled to breath, each intake caused his chest to burn and it was like liquid heat burning through him as it surged down to his core, to the very center of his nucleus.

 

Just the way Chrollo’s body meshed with his own, fitting against one another almost perfectly as his hands were once again, firmly at the younger man's sides and tracing the mezzotint of Kurapika's muscles and sinews incited another soft gasp and he inclined into the touches. Slowly, Chrollo’s palms motioned upward, gliding effortlessly beneath the loose clothing which hung over the blond's slender frame, exploring and memorizing the expanse of his body and the way Kurapika's breaths hitched in his throat as he did so.

 

The Kurta's own hands had glissaded down and over the amplitude of Chrollo's biceps, taking his own time to marvel and admire at just how strong and chiseled the darker-haired man was, and the simple fact that even though he was inexperienced, having very rudimentary knowledge of the human body, just having explored what he could of Chrollo's own physique only enmeshed him further. The knowledge and revelation of exactly what was transpiring between them and the significance of what Kurapika was truly feeling, or exactly how Chrollo was making him feel only solidified further just how right this really was. A small part of him struggled with warming up to the fact that he really liked Chrollo, but it had definitely gone beyond anything that could have been considered merely superficial.

 

Because of this, the boy continued on without hesitation, even as once again, Chrollo's sweltering mouth hovered just over his parted, inviting lips, while Kurapika's lithe hands trailed back upwards and soon found their way back into the man's soft and silken tresses, "Gods, I just cannot get enough of you." Chrollo murmured huskily against the delicate blush of those supple mounds, and an expression of embarrassment caused the Kurta's cheeks to flush profusely. From this alone though, he had already suspected that the younger man who lay beneath him was still innocent. "I assume you have never been with anyone before?"

 

How unequivocal, wasting no time getting to the point. Once again, the allegation only caused the color along his neck to just deepen.

 

"I have not been with anyone, man or woman, prior to this as I still have my purity." The simple declaration evoked a brief look of surprise upon Chrollo's visage, but it soon melted into something much more mischievous and indecorous.

 

I will definitely have to correct that sometime in the near future.” It was such a perverse thought to cross his mind, though as much as he wanted to enact on those ravenous, carnal desires, once again he held back in favor of keeping the impression of control in Kurapika's hands. Well... As much as he hated to admit, he wasn't about to usurp the blond from such a position. Quite frankly, he was enjoying the pace the younger man had set, for granted, Chrollo wasn't inexperienced and had partners in the past, but none held a candle to the vitality and beauty of Kurapika.

 

The Kurta not only was a relic, but was unique in his own right and that alone made Chrollo cherish what he had that much more.

 

Strong fingers slipped beneath Kurapika's chin and gently elevated his face to be more level as he looked abyssal into those incandescent rubies he reveled in so much, "Well for me," Chrollo began, longing and yearning dripping off the edge of every word, "I am far from pure, as I am sure you have already guessed. However," Closer those lips came to Kurapika's and he could feel the older man's irriguous breath while the look in his eyes only intensified, making him shiver beneath their alloyed stare. The blond's grip slightly tightened within those raven locks, “I would love to be your first."

 

It took everything up to this point to keep from completely falling bidden to those much more innate and primal instincts; the sudden look of incredulity along with an overtone of interest and curiosity wavering just underneath the surface of those glowing eyes and the stillness of that alluring body - Chrollo swallowed hard, breathing in deeply. God he hated holding back, but he would for Kurapika's sake for he wouldn't defile the boy, because what was really important was for the fact of the blond to share his sentiment and desire, and he was only prepared to enact if Kurapika expressed the same want in going all the way with him as well.

 

Chrollo’s thumb gingerly stroked at the corner of Kurapika's lips, hoping to ease any tension and or reservations the younger man may've been having, as his own body remained stationary despite being rightly positioned between the Kurta's parted legs. Much of their anatomies were already pressed tightly against one another, the warmth and pulsation that vibrated through them felt like pure heaven, and even Kurapika had to admit that the sensation was strangely placating. Something stirred within, like an unremitting yearning that only continued to seize him amid its sweet and honeyed call and even though he basked in the splendor it produced, there was still a little vein of uncertainty.  

 

However, considering the circumstances had started to change between them and to the point where Kurapika no longer felt the compulsion to eliminate the Spider from existence, he readily admitted that being this close to Chrollo no longer angered him, or did he thoroughly wish to resist the man any longer. Hell, he even was enjoying their osculation as he still conceded that the raven-head was a damn good kisser.

 

But the prospect of going that far in such a short amount of time, especially with the one person he was still gradually coming to accept while trying to sort out his own emotional standpoint regarding his newly formed feelings left him completely tentative. Despite this along with his own instincts and desires urging him in continuing on at such a fervent pace, Kurapika let a soft smile cross his pallid lips and one of his hands slipped from its perch amid Chrollo's hair and cupped the man's cheek, "As much as I'd like to, I don't feel now is the time. I just... Want to take it slow." The blond intoned, cooing softly before lifting up to place a chaste kiss to Chrollo's own lips, "For now... I just want to enjoy the moment we have."

 

Chrollo retained his cacographic mask, not showing Kurapika his disgruntlement as he simply nodded, though he had surreptitiously hoped his precious blond would had been accepting in the partaking of something so much greater, exciting and for the chance to make the younger man feel good. But in the back of his mind, he knew Kurapika would eventually come around.

 

So for now he would wait and continue to cultivate the growing bond between them, the pad of his thumb making a general sweep over those plump lips before letting an affectionate smile finally cross over his face, “I understand." He whispered, just noticing that Kurapika's eyes had shifted back to their natural state. Those cherished blues looked up into his own with attrition and Chrollo could tell the Kurta either felt bad or was worried about disappointing him and it only solidified his reasons in hiding his consternation regarding the boy's decisions. He cared enough for the younger man that he didn't want to make him feel any worse about his decision. "Then we will just go slow and at your pace." Yes, slow and steady, for he wanted to make Kurapika feel as comfortable as possible.

 

Slowly, Chrollo breathed, through the essence of desire still hung in the air, he momentarily drew in on the special aroma that only Kurapika produced, indulging in the unique scent. The fact that even though things didn't go as he had hoped, Chrollo was still content with the notion that he had been able to experience what physical contact he could, while minimal, it was a major advancement between them. He just stared admiringly into those eyes, drinking in all he could for what time he had, "Do you wish to cease our little venture, then?" The older man questioned, though he had a more lucubratory expression on his face, "We can continue when you feel more comfortable."

 

The proclamation was enough to affright Kurapika, for he never expected the older man to be so veracious. He remained thoughtful, though a bit circumspect in the Geneiryodan leader's abrupt and sudden change of heart. Not that it was a bad thing, quite to the contrary, but the celerity in Chrollo's pace did make him retain some caution.

 

Regardless of circumstance, Kurapika wasn’t going to easily let go of what little enjoyment he was allowing for himself, austerity be damned.

 

The blond’s lips curled into a coquettish smile as his arms came up to encompass Chrollo’s shoulders, lacing his fingers behind the man’s neck. A soft hum vibrated from inside the blond's throat, "Oh, I see no need in stopping completely," Kurapika cantillated, pulling that much stronger body down and closer to his own while tightening his grip, "As I won't deny I have been at least been enjoying your proficiency in using those lips." This time Kurapika grinned and the raven-head could see the impish gleam reflective in those eyes. He really did like kissing Chrollo.

 

"Then your wish is my command." Chrollo whispered airily, capturing Kurapika's mouth once again, drawing the beautiful young blond into a swell of passion, ecstasy and ardency as he pulled their bodies even closer then the Kurta once had. His powerful hands had slid up and cupped the back of his head, gently twining his fingers within the golden strands as he slowly deepened the kiss, which Kurapika readily accepted as Chrollo's tongue met with his, the two appendages instantly curling around one another in a battle for dominance.

 

The eminence of his admission incited Chrollo's focus to fall solely on Kurapika’s own whims and desires as those soft gasps and heavy panting only served as confirmation of the younger man's approval of his current ministrations. Such affirmations added to the reason for him to continue on and, only wishing to keep evoking the sensation of feeling good for the Kurta, wanting nothing more than to take him into the grandeur of paradise.

 

 

 §§§§§§§

 

 

The cool night breeze whisked through the open window, its feather light caress rustled over the soft, niveous features of almost youthful imperfection and was like cradling fingers that whisked through the golden crop of hair which sat splayed against the arctic hued pillow. Light, quick breaths could be heard as slightly rosy lips sat parted, chest rising and falling beneath the velvety sheets from hampered, laborious breathing. Though eyes were not fully closed, their rutilant hue was practically haunting, yet mesmerizing beneath the pale, opalescent glow of the moon, the blue reflective in an almost glassy appearance. For a moment stillness enveloped the room, as if time had executed a vast end into nothingness, only the night's sounds proof that anything existed before a soft gasp, an almost exult sigh broke the silence.

 

Even as he lay there, lost between contemplative reasoning and riveting passion, the remembrance of the day's earlier events still lingered heavy in his mind. The variegated flow of images that slid into his consciousness only added to the building obsession of one particular object – or person that completely occupied his thoughts. He couldn't seem to relegate the appearances from invading inside his head, the very memories of what transpired, of those precious moments spent embraced within the arms of his enemy, his former enemy, and the calidity of their kiss, of those lips upon his own, made Kurapika gasp again. His own body seemed to tremor, nerves alight and pulsating as the gripping throes of elation slowly began to seize control even though the resistive part of him found his descent into sin and debauchery rather perturbing.

 

He couldn't fathom nor concoct any reasoning for how he had become so enraptured by the gorgeous raven-haired man. But somehow, just somehow, that bastard, that magnetic, provocative bastard managed to coax and entice him, effortlessly abolishing his once raging sea of hate and animus. The resentment and loathing which had been his primary reason for living was now ebbing away and becoming nothing but a faded memory. The very idealism that Kurapika would forget, that he would no longer hold fear towards the very man who was the anathema of his own existence had the wavering blond caught in the throes of dismay and surrender. It was a difficult choice, because the titillating feelings that he experienced when with Chrollo still clashed with his protracting convictions. God he hated being torn.

 

Such was the same now despite his body screamed otherwise. Like those bewitching grey eyes in their vast, captivating allure, just the way they would bore into Kurpaika's very soul and draw the enfeebled Kurta beneath their compelling gaze; the very thought of it caused his to breath hitched again as his lithe frame jerked roughly along with his unhindered motions. The fluidity of his actions while those fingers of his free hand trailed along bare skin as the other remained fixed in position, it was these very reasons that Kurapika realized just how captivated he really was. Chrollo had him thoroughly entrenched and he was finding more and more he didn't mind his current situation. In fact, he was realizing just how much more enjoyable his life was becoming.

 

Perhaps this was the significance of what his mother meant?

 

Or, the purport behind the need in finding that greater propriety in life?

 

Was this the correct path towards true happiness?

 

It was within these very sensations, and just the way everything integrated from all the varying sources, both positive and negative had become the embodiment of something beautiful and majestic. It was a wondrous and enigmatic creation that formed despite the variance of ugliness and wretchedness, which spoke of true succession within the power of harmony and love.

 

Even though achieving this level of serenity was vast and eminently distant as the ascension towards ataraxia was a long and onerous one, it was at times like this which made Kurapika feel as if he was just dust in the wind.

 

Kurapika didn't want to struggle – he had done so all his life, always living while dancing upon the razor's edge, never knowing from one minute to the next whether or not he would continue to breathe or cease to exist.

 

But now, things had taken a turn for the better. Not that he quite understood the actual meaning behind why he was being led up to this point, but slowly, ever so slowly it convinced Kurapika to let go. The reason for everything occurring as it had, remained shrouded in mystery. However, he wasn’t concerned with finding the answer. Never had he thought that such a day would ever come or that he would have been so willful in actually exonerating from everything he so adamantly vowed to see completed. Granted, what had been done could not be changed and the pain still lingered down in the very corners of his being, but the alleviation to his tribulation resided in the one thing that was now persistent in being the focal point of his attention. For Kurapika, Chrollo’s intentions seemed genuine and sincere. Every action, every attempt was benign and nothing he sensed was remotely malicious in the man's energy.

 

Of course the head Spider was without his Nen, but something in his motives only reinforced the will to remain at ease, even while in the older man's presence.

 

Like he how felt now, even though he was currently alone as he laid on the bed within his hotel room, Kurapika remained enwrapped amid the continuously fluctuating river of desire which had caused his emotions to run ramped as his need flowed vigorously through him. Tighter that hand gripped, cinching off the potential surge, delaying his impending completion as he indulged in the sensation just a little longer while his opposing hand continuing to wander over his bare skin as the combined touches precipitated another ample jerk from  his body and he released a vocal cry. Kurapika knew he was close. Oh so close.

 

How the raven-haired man was able to do this to him was something that perhaps he'd never fully understand. But the more he thought on it, maybe it was something he really didn't care to understand, for he was content with the current way his life was turning out. Kurapika would perpetuate his stance at his own pace, letting things develop as they may and in essence, be able to definitively conclude if he was truly meant to have a future with him, with Chrollo.

 

For now, he locked into the phantasms that played through his mind, each vision another that firmly bound and enamored him as the intensity of his growing want and need only proceeded with imploring the attraction that he was continuing to have towards Chrollo. The palpitating of his own heart fell into a rhythmic pace, nearly beating to the uttered impetuosity of the older man's name as it rolled off like honey from his supple lips. It was like saccharine, just how it sounded when he chanted it amid the sonority of his laden panting along with the soft gasps and moans that escaped the depth of his throat, its concession just another admission of the longing in which Kurapika harbored. Each stroke, each caress, the way his hand slid practically flawless along his swollen, and agonizing erection, just the way his back arched each time he crowned, how the imagery of those tantalizing eyes and that devious smile which he found had its own tempting charm; Kurapika was losing himself into wild abandon, and it was in those very moments when realization fully struck.

 

Kurapika was falling, and falling hard.

 

This time there was no adversity, no resistance, no bitterness, all that was left was the sheer compulsion to achieve something better, something greater and the dynamic pull it had on him as it sustained the connection he shared with Chrollo made him feel invigorated. Just the elation alone that was invoked from the indirect contact made it all the sweeter. Every thought made in regards to the tall, gloriously handsome man succeeded in him becoming more, and more hooked and without reservation as he allowed himself to keep descending into madness, one where Kurapika knew he was becoming submissive to the darker tendencies of his corrupted personality.

 

Such was said even now. The same lack of restraint he had as his pulse raced and his groin burned, the pressure continued to mount as he knew that soon, his need for release would be eminent. He heard the whispers that echoed in his ears as he delved back to the very words Chrollo uttered during their last moments of passion and the promises made, the momentum of his actions finally threatening to make Kurapika come completely undone. It was in this, upon the remembrance of those wondrous memories and the way the older man made him feel that was the final sonata as his body trembled, hips forcing upward and against that hand which constricted himself as waves of heat caused his skin to ripple and beads of sweat to form and roll off the surface. All his boundaries soon fell away and he heard himself call out the name of the very person that he was now bound to as he gave one final thrust and the molten warmth that spilled forth a the final proclamation that Kurapika was indeed, lost as he surrendered to the darkness.

 

His back came down and hard against the bed, breathing labored while he reveled in the aftermath of the bliss and rapture that gripped him, his entire body completely sensitized, limp and unable to move as he slowly started to descend from his euphoric high 

 

For what felt like boundless moments as he lay there, mind and body spent, crumbling from exhaustion, it took every last ounce of his fading energy to at least, be able to impel himself from the sweat soaked sheets and into the bathroom to wash up. The entire time his mind remained within an encumbering haze, movements minimal and precise and he barely avoided the possibility of meeting his own scrutinizing gaze that was reflective in the mirror as his glazed over eyes averted away, not wishing to deal with his own weighing stare at the moment. Doing so would evoke the odds of that tiny voice which he kept repressed from lashing out to judge him.

 

Sighing resolutely, he ambled back into the bedroom and slipped once again between the sheets, deciding it was best to think over and sort through everything he had been going through after some proper rest, as he has been through a lot over the last four months since leaving Yorknew.

 

But then again, even during his slumber, which was the one place he sought the refuge and sanctity of his dreams, the invasion of what relentlessly haunted and pursued him made Kurapika feel as if he could never escape what fate had truly wanted from him. Perhaps it was just his jaded perspective talking, but at the current, he wasn't completely at rest, even with the shifting of the tides. He hoped that over time, and with the reassurance of his mother's own testimony, he would no longer find the need to continue battling against his own inner demons, because for at once, Kurapika longed for that peace and tranquility which had been absent from his life. It was because of this he just wanted the happiness he so rightly deserved.

 

Before settling down, he reached for that precious, jilted stone which he now found that he cherished as much the precious relic which he wore constantly around his neck. As his digits closed around the yellow and red hued object, its smooth and cool surface pressing invitingly against his palm, a perfunctory thought on the stone's origin suddenly came to mind. Kurapika hummed, and a smile crossed his lips as he settled fully, eyes landing fleetingly on the vase of roses that seemed to glitter beneath the pale moon glow before finally slipping contentedly to sleep.

Chapter Text

Kurapika breathed in the heavy salty air as the gentle caress of the evening breeze whisked through his crop of aurulent locks, sweeping aside a few golden strands across his slightly pale visage. For a moment he closed his eyes, roistering in the calm, the serene and tranquil sounds of the night adding to the natural pacifying atmosphere that made him feel at ease. It had been quite a long time since he had been able to enjoy the relaxing sensation that the stillness of evening had offered, because for so long all the night had ever only brought about was painful and execrable memories. At least for once he thought this was a time where he could simply forget about everything he had endured and finally give in, allowing himself to actually lighten up and live a little.

 

He stepped purposely into the harbor that resided in the eastern quadrant of Patalor, the low and quiet resound of ships rocking in the bay drew his attention, many of the vessels were tied or anchored next to their respective docks and were accented in various colors, hues and designs. Briefly, he observed them, obviously fascinated by their structures and the architecture that went into each construct. Of course it wasn't the first time Kurapika had been on a ship as he had done so manifold, but none of what he had seen during his past ventures amounted up to the intricacy and complexity of what bobbed and rocked within the waters of the bay.

 

Stepping closer, he took a moment to appraise the ships which sat almost saliently amid the sublimity of the darkness, each one nearly basked within the cadaverous glow of the moon, awash the reflective and flickering lights that illuminated the surrounding area of the docks. It made the ships look almost hauntingly beautiful, as if ghostly and faux, giving him a sense of feeling dazed.

 

It had been rare that Kurapika had taken the time to admire things of artistry and elegance – last he remembered anything this breathtaking was the Hippogriff statue in T'alma, but even now, this was a sight to behold. For the blond simply had to focus on something other than the ever weighing abnormalities that hampered his rather mercurial life. Even then, amid the serenity of the moment, it was still difficult to process the fact that things had taken such a drastic turn, one that led him completely off the beaten path then what he was accustomed to. Kurapika was definitely still attempting to cope with the knowledge that his mentality was slowly falling to emendation.

 

He sighed; the expelling of air from his lungs caused the slight chill of the night to tighten his chest, his emotions still disarrayed, even though he was becoming much more certain on which direction he finally wished to proceed on. Or rather, which direction he was being compelled to take.

 

But then Kurapika realized just how capacious events in his life were becoming, drawing him further and further away from his own nomadic lifestyle where nothing was stable and every day was a roll of the dice. Each and every step taken was just another towards the finality of a more cataclysmal ending, one where there was no salvation and only perdition. Had he continued on as he was so predisposed in doing, then such may have very well been supervened.

 

It was due to that very result which began Kurapika’s trail down his darkened and suicidal path that those he had cherished the most in his life arose from the grave in clamor and had desperately endeavored against his dangerous choices.

 

Over the last few days since his latest encounter with Chrollo, the very one that importuned more nefarious thoughts and reactions out of him – the very same that within nearly dismayed reasoning which Kurapika had noticed he had not even attempted to refute or desist from, is where his mind had began to deviate from harboring any hate or animosity. Why he wasn't able to feel this way? Having grown so numb to martyrdom which had been his only way to live, to breathe since the day everything had been ruthlessly taken from him was something beyond his comprehension. However, yet again, it was something else Kurapika was finding that was beyond perplexing, completely at a loss in rationale for such a prodigious change. Even then, the darker, more iniquitous side of him, which continued to grow in intensity, had easily kept the decorous and principled opposition at bay and little by little it was ebbing away.

 

As much as it frightened him, as hard as it was in accepting these new found changes, Kurapika was slowly, ever so slowly embracing the new adaptations to his once, perilous life.

 

Once again, the assonance of the night with its clement and relaxing sounds, crickets echoing the gentleness and quietude of the moment brought him back from his brief interlude, finally coming to his senses of exactly where he was and what he was supposed to be doing. He experienced a flush of embarrassment for becoming so easily engrossed with something that readily left him spontaneous and imprudent which forced him to mentally castigate himself as he slipped back into his previously lost composure. It was then the blond realized the time.

 

Due to the distraction he had neglected the fact that he had an established meeting or more like a date to have dinner with Chrollo, one that he now realized which he was going to be late for.

 

"Oh great, that is all I need. Now I am going to get heckled for my lack of attendance. I can just see that smug bastard's face now."

 

Grumbling, the Kurta left the docks and made his way to the shopping district within the harbor, still distraught with himself for becoming so easily oblivious. It had gotten past the point where he was losing considerable amounts of time during his momentary lapse.

 

It didn't take him long – thankfully at least, to find the restaurant that Chrollo had designated for their rendezvous. It was a swanky, epicurean type of place, of which Kurapika knew he, much to his dismay, had to dress in much finer clothing for which was polar opposite of the normal attire that he was generally used to.

 

He adjusted the tie that resided around his neck, making sure the suit he wore which consisted of three pieces, was neat and readily in place. Even though in reality, the blond wasn't entirely prepared for this as he was still coming to grips with everything that had ensued between them, he found that his emotions were in a constant turbulent flurry. For so long he had been trying to reason and rationalize exactly what was transpiring between he and Chrollo. But that one part of him, the very same one that was recalcitrant and oppressive kept him from relapsing into his previous mindset.

 

Even in the grand scheme of things, there was no denying that Kurapika was facing one of his greatest challenges, of which would truly test his mettle, fortitude and heart.

 

In the back of his mind, though he was trying to, or was just afraid to admit, he was looking forward to seeing Chrollo again. Just the sound of his name made the blond's heart flutter within his chest. The sensation wasn't the first time he had experienced it – such only seemed to manifest anytime the older man embodied his thoughts. This had made things more incumbent recently, down to where it left him with perverse and physical desires. Despite Kurapika's last visit with the raven-haired man which had easily turned frisky, he had even found himself partaking in things that months ago, he would have never considered, much less, delved into.

 

The worst part? Kurapika was finding himself rather taken with these new, developing sensations. To the point he was actually enjoying it.

 

One thing Kurapika had noticed was how effortlessly Chrollo was in making him feel good. Every touch, every kiss, just the way the older man’s hands would glide across his skin when they caressed him with expert precision; the very remembrance of it caused the blond to shiver.

 

How was it that the one person he had considered the bane of his existence was now able to invoke such wondrous and pleasing sensations within him?

 

No matter. Kurapika resolutely concluded he would deal with everything – including his feelings, when the time would come. For now, he had an engagement he had to uphold, or rather, an obligation to fulfill and he would rather not leave an everlasting bad impression on his unlikely date.

 

Inhaling, the apprehensive Kurta stepped into the establishment, instantly becoming enveloped within an atmosphere full of opulent furnishings, rich, fine music and embellishing dignitaries. All of which instantly became overwhelming. Kurapika tried not to allow his physical imbalance show as the Maître d had caught sight of him and quickly came over to address Kurapika's presence. "Do you have a reservation?" The young man with light brown hair and firm, hard eyes quickly asked, though it took the bond a second to regain his lost equanimity, "I am actually here to meet with Chrollo Lucifer." He quickly responded, cerulean eyes roving over the sea of patrons seated around the enormous restaurant before spotting a familiar head of dark, ebony hair.

 

"Ah. Mr. Lucifer is it? He has told us he was expecting someone." The man responded, beckoning for Kurapika to follow, "Please, follow me if you will." Of course it didn't take long for the blond Kurta to be led through the maze of tables and chatting crowd to where the raven-haired man was actually seated, before the thin and wiry man finally bid his leave. It was then Kurapika turned his full attention onto the older man as Chrollo was intently watching him.

 

"I am pleased that you could make it." Chrollo intoned his voice smooth and collected. For a breadth of a moment, his eyes roved over the expanse of the blond's form, utterly taken by – like now, with how gorgeous he actually looked. The younger man was finely dressed in clean cut, formal attire, which made him look just as stunning and breathtaking as ever, "Please, won't you join me?" One hand gestured as he bid for Kurapika to take a seat across from him.

 

Without riving eye contact with the older man, Kurapika pulled the chair out from beneath the table and casually took a seat. Though just the intense, hungry look that was emanating from the depths of Chrollo's piercing gaze caused a shiver to race up the blond's spine, making him feel almost as if he was an animal caught within the sights of a predator. Yet, the sensation he got from the man's gaze didn't enervate him - much to his surprise, with the way those dark, abyssal eyes practically drank him in as he made himself comfortable in the chair. Even as Kurapika felt practically pinned by the weight of the older man's presence, once again, just being near Chrollo caused his mind and body to react in strange, anarchistic ways. As drastic the effect had in altering Kurapika's own mindset when it came to his regard towards Chrollo, it still sent a pang down into his heart and a vein excitement to trickle through him.

 

It was only worsening. Becoming stronger, more imminent.

 

The sea was raging, its tempest howling and as the waters were squalling with its unbridled savagery, coalescing into the torrent which bled down into whirlpools of calamity, Kurapika struggled to breathe, as if he was drowning and becoming consumed by the very storm, itself. He was trapped. Impeded. Chained. Just the way his heart throbbed against his ribcage and the way his breath would hitch in his throat as it became arid and words lost on his tongue - Kurapika was still miffed by how Chrollo retained such a tight grip on him and yet, by the same token, it made him feel captivated.

 

By reasons unknown, Kurapika was realizing his fate had been sealed, and perhaps it had been so long ago for as one thing he was starting to believe was by some twisted and maybe cruel sense of judgment, he and Chrollo had been fated, that their paths were destined to cross, and they were meant to be together. It was still a hard pill to swallow and one Kurapika was struggling with to accept – letting go was something he was doing slowly, even if it wasn't entirely by his own admission. So much had transpired between them, so many answers left unspoken and Kurapika still wondered how far Chrollo had really gotten when it came down to actual human emotion. He was aware the older man was feeling attraction and desire, but surely he felt empathy, remorse or even sadness? Maybe regret? Kurapika had to know.

 

Reticence settled between he and Chrollo, the soft prattling of the clientele easily carried on around them as the people were so immersed with their own lives, their own trivialities, no one paid them a second look. Kurapika used the intermittent stagnancy of the moment to spare a glance at the menu, though he could feel the calculated questions which seemed to boil down in Chrollo's chest and he knew the older man was waiting for him to speak. The Kurta sighed.

 

However, deep down as much as he hasn't expressed as such, being here and around the gorgeous raven-head, the sinner and the sin only subjugated him further. Even as that little, rebellious voice tried to create dissension, it was easily dismissible. He was sinking further and further past the point of no return and perhaps, just perhaps, Kurapika really didn’t care.

 

"I never renege on my promises." The younger man said simply, the menu resting firmly within his adamant grip, lithe fingers twitching against the lamination. Even as it appeared that Kurapika wasn't completely insured, Chrollo's immediate responses took over, the look upon his countenance spoke in clarity the man's perceptible concern as seeing the blond in any form of distress or ataxia readily troubled him, and his hand waved in the air as a response. The figure of a stout, professionally dressed host appeared beside their table.

 

"Bring me a bottle of one of your finest wines. Perhaps Chateau Cos d'Estournel." Chrollo requested, voice sturdy, though charming. His eyes never left Kurapika's own, even as the inequality still resided beneath the waves of blue that tried with desperation to hold onto cohesion. Without hesitation, the thin host nodded, "Coming right up, sir." and turned to leave, a questioning look suddenly crawling over Kurapika's features.

 

"You seem a little distressed, so I figured you could use something to relax." He raised an inquisitive eyebrow before reclining back in his chair ever so slightly, though the connection wasn't as prevalent back then as it was now, Chrollo was surely able to tell when his pretty blond wasn't completely up to par, and just like now certainly was no exception. Of course, he expected the reaction from Kurapika in kind, but he didn't entirely refute the man's comment.

 

Kurapika snorted, "So improvident. But then again, I shouldn't have expected any less, especially from you, Chrollo." One thing that Kurapika had come to recognize was the simple fact that not everyone in the world was as frugal as he was, especially those who so readily embellished in whatever spoils were pilfered or requisitioned, falling almost without fail into the awaiting jaws of greed. Chrollo was no exception.

 

The grin which slid over that handsome face once again made Kurapika's heart nearly sing – damn him and his infernal grip, but the feeling was too amazing to ignore, and the blond simply shook his head incredulously. He was starting to question if he'd ever completely understand the older man, "You know me so well." The suavity of Chrollo's tone to the general posture that spoke of quality appeal pledged genuineness when it came down to the sincerity of his words. Nothing seemed inconspicuous by his statements, which to a fault, surprised Kurapika. For one of Chrollo's stature and renown, he half expected otherwise considering who the older man really was but, it something else the Kurta was slowly acclimating to. However, to see such outward concern; it definitely had him almost suspicious and thinking that there may have been some hidden agenda considering he had never known of Chrollo to be truly compassionate.

 

Or perhaps Kurapika was just thinking too hard.

 

"You're too kind. But don't be such a braggart; it just may make that nose on your face gain a few extra inches." Kurapika allowed his own lips to pull into smug grin at the response, figuring it'd be just as easy to match Chrollo at his own guile. One thing that the younger man wasn't about to do was become out witted by the impish raven-head. If he wanted to test a game of wits with him, well, then it was most assuredly that Chrollo would have met his match.

 

However, it didn't take long for Chrollo to be cognizant of exactly where the blond was going with this, finding it adorable of the younger man's current behavior. It was just another quality that he found rather attractive, "Oh I don't think that would precisely keep me from being expressive of myself. Besides, flaunting my acquisitions is something I rather enjoy doing. Especially," He leaned forward, a flash of esurience behind dark, grey eyes, "When I have the most beautiful person ever beside me."

 

The sudden adoration which dripped off the older man's every word had Kurapika jolting to reality. Of course, he had been thoroughly enjoying the older man's company – even those warm, malleable lips as their kissing sessions were just as irresistible. But moreover, something about Chrollo's very presence, as ridiculous as it seemed, was strangely abating. The older man was intelligent, philosophical and above all else, as the blond had found out, also enjoyed books as much as he did, finding literature just as fascinating. It was one quality that Kurapika could easily relate to. However, one problematic incidence he still tackled with was the circumstantial and general consensus regarding his standpoint with exactly how he felt for the older man.

 

On one hand, being in the other's company no longer seemed to rouse his anger or ire, which was one of the incidents in his life that raised the stringent beckon of his mother's imploration for change, despite the notion was still foreign to him. On the other, having been subjected - or rather conscripted into abdicating from everything he had vowed to, in heart and soul see culminated, left that tiny vein of resentment behind. That ever present, dissenting part of him was raising hell with his own indecision.

 

Kurapika couldn't contradict one thing; he was beginning to really like Chrollo – as much as his own fear for losing his hate was still an issue, there was undeniable attraction there. Even if he loathed admitting it, the man was physically stunning and those eyes – he had to remind himself to breath. One simple fact Kurapika was struggling with was amassing some form or semblance of an emotional connection with Chrollo as the Kurta was still at odds with the fact that the older man was in part, responsible for the decimation of his entire clan. Humanity or no, it still weighed on the back of his mind whether or not the bandit leader harbored any remorse or even regret for what had been done.

 

Forgiveness was one thing Kurapika was having a hard time contending with. Though deep down, the other part of him hoped that the older man truly felt sorrow for everything the unfortunate blond had ultimately suffered.

 

It was one reason Kurapika was reluctant or tentative in opening up his heart for him.

 

Crimson spread along the collar of the Kurta's clothing, rising arrantly over the planes of his neck as he found the comment rather dulcet, even for Chrollo. It was clear the older man was attempting to butter him up per se, and as laudatory as the comment seemed, he felt the older man was going out on a limb, "Vaunting as ever, eh Chrollo? Perhaps at another time, this would have been considered commendable, but flattery won't always get you everywhere." Kurapika quipped, a grin forming across blush lips in practical jest. As embarrassing as Chrollo's sentiments were – mainly due to public display, he didn't entirely rescind the older man's advancements, "Besides, you are making a grand spectacle of yourself."

 

The Kurta couldn't help but chuckle lightly – despite his earlier reservations, as he was becoming more relaxed and comfortable with the jaunty banter between them, he was almost nescient of their host returning with the wine Chrollo had ordered which seemed so long ago. It was something the older man had wasted no time distributing between them, a delicate wine glass sitting firmly betwixt Kurapika's lithe fingers as he was already sipping its ripe, smooth texture, the contents warming his body. For someone who had found an adversity to anything alcoholic in nature, the blond was adapting a penchant for wine. He would firmly indict Chrollo later for instilling such behavior in him.

 

"Are you so certain?" The raven-head followed in seamless pursuit; of course seeing Kurapika flustered and rutilant was quite delectable, the blond looking even more alluring while trying to retain his unwavering innocence. For a moment the color deepened around the edges of Kurapika's clothing and the older man couldn't help but smirk. This was just oh so easy as the younger man was effectively rattled and the demeanor that washed over his immaculate visage was enough to enliven Chrollo. It was something which he was beginning to find a slant for as watching the blond become nonplussed was rather fetching.

 

As always, the raven-head continued to push his luck. For some reason, even if the risk seemed high, there was an underlying feeling that no matter how much he toed the line, it wouldn't be enough to completely alienate the Kurta into leaving. Something about the younger man's current demeanor spoke of someone who had readily fallen into the lion's den and was apathetic towards ever escaping, even if that meant becoming ultimately consumed.

 

Chrollo was definitely in favor of these changes, intensively advocating for it to continue. The Kurta was coming around, even if such was being done gradually.

 

Kurapika huffed at the verbiage, knowing damn well that the older man was purposely avoiding a direct answer, choosing to circumvent speaking by using roundabout responses. Again, as the blond suspected, it was going to become another grandiose game of wits. As usual however, the blond planned on matching the raven-head's every move as it appeared he was indeed, attempting to make the other totter. The blond's lips pursed, a thin line forming upon their rosy exterior before casting upward into a nearly faint grin.

 

"Oh of course I am certain. It is definitive that you are indeed, trying to impress someone. Though," Kurapika paused, one hand having come to rest beneath his chin as he used it to support his head, the other curling almost daintily around the stem of the fragile wine glass as pulled the rim of it to his lips. Blue eyes regarded the older man over the rim almost derisively, "Who it is you are actually trying to impress, well that is what I am not quite sure of."

 

Touché. Once again, the ball was thrown back into Chrollo's court. He drew auspiciously on his wine, waiting for the next – though surely impeccable comment to flow from the older man's mouth.

 

This time it was Chrollo's turn. But once again, he knew it would be easy to corner the advantageous Kurta, for as casual as the younger man was and equivalent with his retorts during their little badinage, he was prepared to up the ante. Just like now. Damn Kurapika was just so precious, "Honestly I think I am making quite the impression," Chrollo practically responded nearly sing song, that cocksure smirk only widening, "Because it sure seems you have become pretty fascinated by our little topic. Not to mention," He leaned forward, partaking in his own wine as his dark, mesmerizing eyes bored down into Kurapika's own, "Judging from your reaction, and well, the physical denouement which has consequently followed, I'd have to say it speaks for itself."

 

Kurapika was nearly flabbergasted. Had he really become so absorbed by Chrollo's charm that he was unable to see the cleverly and perfectly laid out trap he so wistfully allowed himself to walk into? Once again he was being so facilely coerced by the man's own guile that he still couldn't seem to rouse his indignation. The Kurta simply frowned, practically disjointed he lost once again to the older man, and as much as he didn't want to admit, he was marginally admiring of Chrollo's prodigious skills.

 

It seemed that Kurapika was continuously becoming enwrapped within the older man's bewitching web. Such a beautiful butterfly, easily finding himself walking into the spider's welcoming parlor as he was falling to the threads of darkness, each move only furthering his entrapment. As those threads were slowly being spun tighter, little by little, it was cinching off any hope of ever escaping. Not that Kurapika really cared to cleave any path towards liberation, because he was already liberated.

 

Raising his hands in mock surrender, Kurapika spoke softly, "You got me there." He definitely had sunk down to new levels, all considering. But even now, despite Chrollo may have won their current exchange, the younger man was far from admitting defeat to the raven-head. That wonderful, conniving bastard may have pegged him this time, but Kurapika was indeed, prepared for the next moment Chrollo would expectantly try and attenuate him. He wouldn't let the man off so quickly or easily.

 

However, the notion was quickly rescinded when those hauntingly pale lips curled into a serpentine smile and the facet behind Chrollo's sudden change in demeanor promptly arose Kurapika's attention – which jaunted him out of his momentary reverie, as his eyes locked once again intently with those abyssal depths. The swell in the air forced the blond to swallow hard; something seemed out of place and yet, it as if nothing malicious was present. Still, it appeared Chrollo had unspoken words eagerly hanging practically off the tip of his tongue, something of which spoke to the Kurta he may or may not be keen on what he was about to hear.

 

What in the hell was the older man actually planning? Instantly the Kurta's hackles rose, not sure if he should be perturbed or not.

 

Chrollo hummed, his posture altering as he leaned forward adequately over the small expanse of their table, closing in part, the gap which resided between them and he could practically inhale the mixture of spices and forest scents that seemed to always commingle around the blond, "But you haven't given in, have you?" The older man questioned, his voice almost a practical purr, "In the back of your mind, or I should say, what lies beneath your eyes is a vivacity that burns deep within. Your tenacity, your strength and raw power along with your abiding will, not to mention your own innate beauty which I personally adore," Chrollo paused, taking note of the perplexity to intermittently crawl over Kurapika's features; though he was sure realization would eventually strike, "Is something I find highly valuable," Without a second thought, the older man out stretched his arm, hand extending to let his broad fingers slip beneath the blond's chin – oh how he enjoyed the feel of the younger man's skin against his own, the touch was unlike any other, and lifted the Kurta's face to meet fully with his penetrating eyes, Chrollo finding those swirling depths everlasting, "But also as something I'd like to acquisition."

 

Reality crashed down upon the unsuspecting blond as the magnitude of Chrollo's statement had struck like a hammer to an anvil. Those vibrant ceruleans widened to practical saucers and the blond's jaw nearly hit the table as a result, "A-are you..." The Kurta stammered, almost completely losing the ability to communicate. It just wasn't remotely possible, was it? Just the very idealism of it, the prospect, and the mere thought. Chrollo couldn't really even begin to postulate something like this, could he? Especially after everything, even down to the point that what was flourishing between was still new and embryonic but to even fathom that the younger man would potentially consider such a thing... Once again that frown returned to adorn the Kurta's pallid features, the temperance fighting in desperation to remain in place, "Propositioning me, Chrollo? Because if you think..."

 

The older man raised a placating hand, instantly cinching off the blond's errant spiel, "I know how it may seem and of course I am firmly aware of how fragile things are still between us because I do not wish to render what we currently have as invalid nor wish to evoke any harm but," His thumb idly swept along the Kurta's jaw line, hoping the touch would be at least be remotely soothing, "What I want you to understand is that, even though you may not fully trust me yet and are still be trying to accept the changes occurring between you and I, one way I am hoping to improve our relations is not only by proving my own worth through action, but also hoping that you will return the gesture in kind and perhaps join us? Because yes, I am in fact, offering you a position amongst the Spiders." Chrollo paused, searching the blonds deep, hollowed appearing gaze, though his thumb never ceased in its trek along the blond's soft, velvety skin, "However, before you decide to lose your composure and belittle me, consider this. If we are truly wishing to be accepting of one another in favor of setting aside differences, this would just be another step towards that."

 

With the finality of his words, Chrollo retained his own stature, completely prepared should the Kurta decide to bluster and annul everything up to this point. There was a poignancy that had always seemed to plague the younger man, those blue eyes squalling with all the pain he held and of all the atrocities he had seen, which caused Chrollo to feel a pang of sadness within his own heart. As the fires arose amid the tumult which remained down underneath the layers, the embroilment which Kurapika had struggled with so long in vanquishing arose to the surface and a few tears abruptly poured over the blond's blush hued cheeks.

 

"H-how could you even propose such a thing...?" Was his immediate response, the consternation he felt was becoming almost overwhelming. It was relatively a practical insult and one that rose to the brim full of unbelievably, leaving Kurapika feeling flounced, his insides inflating like hot air balloons. If his jaw didn't hit the table prior, it did now, "I-I mean... Granted I do like you and quite a lot as I've been waging war with my own emotions in hopes of elucidating over a possibility of something actually forming between us – despite I've given you a chance due to the bidding from people I love." For a moment, Kurapika fell into a deafening, nerve wracking silence, the continued prattle humming about the room was the only thing to keep the unspoken words between them from becoming too afflictive, "But to ask me to join the very same group who had taken and quite literally everything away from me, it's just... How can you even conceive such a thing? Are you truly willing to subvert everything for the sake of that?"

 

Kurapika thought if his lungs could tighten anymore they would have collapsed entirely. The air grew dense, thick, stagnant as his chest burned, constricted from lack of being able to breathe. It had hit him, fast and hard, his mind sibilating just from the sheer blow the very aspect of it had delivered. Every part of him was seared down to the core; the fluctuating pulses surging through his veins had flared alight and its blistering touch made his insides all the way to his skin feel as if he was completely on fire.

 

Those voices arose once more, screaming, howling, ululating, their skirmish making Kurapika flinch again, the motion forcing him to instantly pull from Chrollo's grasp, and the cold air that accented his flesh left a faint sensation of compunction. The blond felt as if he could literally shrivel away, crumble and fade. Yet, there was a trickle of tenacity which kept that from coming fully to pass, even as those crystalline streaks rolled off the surface of his cheeks, their expunging was a sign of the ever present light he held firmly within, which kept him from complete and total surrender.

 

Again, Kurapika was torn, caught between his desires and the beckon for justice. The strum of his mother's own intercession still weighted heavily upon him, adding to the indecisiveness that was wavering through him. His feelings for Chrollo hadn't altered or changed; there was still that definitive pull which had connected him to the older man, tugging on him like an imperceptible chain, though closer and closer he was becoming towards who had ultimately been the reason for his entire life nearly falling apart. But in turn, it was also the very same that founded his reasoning for deciding against the continuation down his once forsworn and destructive path.

 

Chrollo looked thoughtful, the older man caught between wanting to show empathy towards the Kurta, who was the last in the world that he felt strongly for and the urge to impel the younger man as an opportunity like this was too good to pass up.

 

Still, pushing too hard could upset Kurapika enough that in ultimatum may see Chrollo losing out. Just the mere thought of it and with how far he had already come was enough to grant him pause, "Wait," his thoughts were staunched  as his full attention centered on trying to quell the already rising fire, knowing quite well the blond was definitely not in the best disposition, "I understand your hesitation despite I think you may be reacting too quickly," He winced as soon as the words left his lips and his dark eyes searched Kurapika's own for any sort of immediate response, but the younger man was as stoic as ever and he continued on, "But you have yet to hear everything I am actually proposing." There. Now that he made clear there was further reason behind his current offer, Chrollo hoped it would tempt the blond and upon hearing exactly what he was offering, that the other would reconsider.

 

It was definitely a long shot, but it was a chance Chrollo was willing to take.

 

"O-Offer? Are you actually trying to use ulterior motives in hopes of changing my mind?" Kurapika was suspicious and his blue eyes narrowed, the calculating stare he gave Chrollo made him freeze inwardly, yet something else was awoken, something bordering along admiration. If looks could actually kill... "Because if so, then this is a complete waste of time," The sound of scrapping echoed so loud, louder than it should have as Kurapika had pushed his chair backwards, prepared to stand when something interrupted his movement in doing so.

 

"I wouldn't call it an ulterior motive when I think what I am about to suggest is something I believe would not only benefit us both, but would also be a show towards good faith or further building of trust." The leader of the Spider let his words trail, falling into a momentary lull with intention of allowing Kurapika the time to parse everything he just said. Sure, it was a lot to take in, but perhaps spoon feeding the information was necessary. Encumbering the blond now surely would only end with both of them losing out. However, his suspicions were cast aside when he saw no overt changes and he exhaled a breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding onto.

 

Treading carefully, as if he was walking on eggshells was definitely exhausting. But in reality, he had no other choice.

 

Kurapika canted his head askance at the sudden proclamation, though his attention had been perked, there was still that underlying suspicion. It was hard not to think that this some sort of stratagem, especially coming from someone such as Chrollo. Crossing his arms, he reclined back, deciding to hear what the older man had to say, "Alright. You have me interested in this proposal. I am listening."

 

Yes, he would hear the older man out, giving him the chance to explain himself and exactly what type of idea he concluded would ultimately be beneficial to them both. If it turned out to be something that would aid in the completion of his goals, then perhaps it may be worth considering. If not, and it was some sort of nonsensical tomfoolery, well then he would be finding himself the exit. As much as he was enjoying Chrollo's company, such became fordone the moment the topic of him becoming a Spider was brought up.

 

He hoped the latter wasn't the case.

 

For a moment, the raven-haired man composed himself, knowing he was treading into dangerous territory and that at any given time it could potentially set the blond off. The Kurta was a capricious variable, one that was steadfast and immotile. Yet was also powerful and adept. It was those very same qualities he wanted to bring into the Geneiryodan for not only did he see the blond's potential, but such would provide a valuable asset to the Spider as a whole. However, there was also the thought of keeping the younger man close, for which he felt would aid in their slowly developing relationship. If he was to foment the desired results and see what little they now had between them grow, expand and mature into something more, so much more, than keeping Kurapika close where he could retain better hold on circumstances seemed the best recourse. And what better way to accomplish that then inducting him into the Spider?

 

It seemed farfetched, like a fairy tale. Yet he still retained hope.

 

"To be perfectly honest and I will say this, I am well aware of what you have been searching for, and of the fact that reaching this particular goal hasn't been going rather well for you. Because of this," Chrollo paused as he reached beneath the table to produce a leather bound briefcase, placing it flat upon the pristine table cloth before Kurapika and pushing it towards the younger man after moving aside the wine glasses for him to inspect. "I feel it should provide enough reason in its own right. Also consider it yours as a demonstration of faith and hopefully as a sign of trust."

 

He stared at the ebony case for fleeting moments before with shaking hands, flipped the latches and with a creak of the hinges that seemed to pierce into his ears, lifted the lid. The sudden gasp that resounded into the air nearly shattered the ensuing silence and Kurapika's lithe hands suddenly shot up to clasp over his nearly dry mouth, "It-It cannot be," He stammered, staring down at the unadorned container with two ruby-hued eyes floating in the fluids that contained it, though their luster had worn away over time, "How?"

 

Chrollo wasn't surprised at the Kurta's reaction – he expected it to be perfectly honest, and kept his gaze intently on the younger man's visage, carefully observing his demeanor, "Let's just say I had acquired this pair some time ago. Not with the intention of keeping it out of your hands, mind you, but more so with the intent of using it as one avenue to convey my honesty. As I've stressed, one of my goals is to earn your trust and I am willing to go the length to prove that."

 

He let silence ensue between them while his admissions were slowly absorbed. Chrollo’s gray eyes, though firmly locked on Kurapika’s own, held an intermittence of his prior compassion and understanding as he tried to keep his gaze soft, refraining from appearing interposing, “With that in mind, I also want to extend that offer to include helping you in retrieving the remainder of the missing Scarlet Eyes which I also hope will be symbolic of my honesty as well.”

 

Chrollo knew though that such would be a much harder goal to achieve knowing that Kurapika was fully aware of the kind of person he really was. Being equitable and commendable were definitely not the traits for someone who lived the life as a murderer and thief. But, this was different. Ever since his outlook and stance had changed in regards to the Kurta, he couldn't help but feel the need to alter his disposition, even if it was just for the idea of showing the younger man that he was adaptable and subject to change. That he was... Human. Also of course there was the fact of his feelings towards the younger man which Chrollo had realized were starting to go beyond just the superficial.

 

Something always seemed to tug heavily at his heart when he was around the blond, one of which he couldn't explain in simple words. The very idea of envisioning Kurapika in such a way had been constantly pervading his thoughts. Just like how he would reminisce of that night back to their first actual encounter in that alleyway since Yorknew and the eventual kisses that ensued thereafter. How those soft, velvety lips had felt against his and the taste that still seems to linger upon his tongue. Or the way the Kurta had become easily pliable as he nearly melted into his arms. Then there was the unexpectant turn of events where Kurapika took his own liberties and caught Chrollo completely unawares when their lips met the second time. Each of these visuals constantly flashed through his mind, sending traces of desire and hunger, but also yearning and need through his entire being. Even the following encounter within his hotel room didn't seem to exit his consciousness, either.

 

Even though he could still sense the wavering contention that seemed to persist within the younger man and his struggle to find stable ground, there was that ever present draw that kept Kurapika close to the older man. He knew that, with given enough time and incentive, eventually Kurapika would be able to completely set aside his own indifference and see the benefits that could be incurred between them. Especially given the fact that Chrollo's ultimate goal was to win the younger man's heart.

 

"You are actually willing to give these to me, without expecting anything in return?" Kurapika finally responded as he tore his eyes away from the canister which sat before him – as difficult as that was, to face the older man, though there was still a bit of scrutiny in his gaze, "Even though you are claiming they are mine to keep, I am still having a hard time believing that this is coming without a price." Kurapika wasn't one to consider most charitable gifts as something without strings attached, especially from a man like Chrollo. However, something in the back of his mind tried to reason with the more rational part of his brain that he was looking too deep into this and that perhaps, what the older man was saying was actually truthful for once.

 

“I especially find it rather perplexing, yet concerning by your willingness to aid me in my search of retrieving the rest of the eyes. Something even to that context has me feeling reluctant. Why would you be so eager in seeing me complete that goal knowing that the chances you are only going to commit to it if there is something in it for you will make me less likely to agree?” For once, Kurapika found himself in a difficult position. Granted he was wary – as he very well should be, but the notion that he couldn’t find all the eyes on his own weighed heavily on his mind, but he knew Chrollo had the resources which he definitely could use.

 

Once again, those past experiences from everything that Kurapika had endured since being forcibly and staggeringly thrown into such a cruel, impenitent and heartless world came flooding back to the surface. All those times where he had to learn trust wasn't – or rather shouldn't be such a gracious commodity made him painfully aware that even in a circumstance such as this, scrutiny made for caution, and exuding caution saved from horrible regret later on. It was because of this, his gaze turned almost icy, those deep-set ceruleans like sapphires became almost glacial, "Because for some reason – or I should say that I already should expect nothing coming from you would ever be free. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was just your horrible attempt in trying to procure me into joining the very same group of thieves and murders you damn well know I wouldn’t ever consider becoming a part of.”

 

It was one thing when he trying to be teasing, jiving and playful. But to invoke the ire of a one pissed off Kurta was something that Chrollo was beginning to have second thoughts on.

 

This definitely was such a time.

 

"If you will just give me the chance to explain, I believe things will become quite clear," He began, the tone of his voice was meek and subdued, which he hated hearing the sound of. Just about as much as he hated feeling enfeebled, suppressed and infringed upon by the oppressive blond. More and more Chrollo was realizing just how occluding he was becoming the further he fell into those incensed waters, falling victim to the very person that he had for so long, wished to possess. Now, he couldn't help how far or how deep he had gone, and it had gotten to the point that he never wanted to look back, although he hated it.

 

Even now, Kurapika was as beautiful as ever, even when enmeshed by his own temperament and though quelling such a vivacious creature would indeed, take time; he had to handle the situation delicately like drinking a fine wine. His goals were ever present, unchanging and ones he would see through if it indeed, killed him. Not only were the interests of the Spider in his mind, he had his own personal investments as well. Making Kurapika his – though the idealism of the Kurta willfully giving himself over only made Chrollo crave for it in practical hunger. For having the younger man eternally bound to him, even as a potential lover or even a life partner inflamed his desires that much more.

 

His eyes matched the near intensity of the blond's own, though he retained his patience as rousing his own acrimony would only succeed in exacerbating the situation more than it already was, "What I have presented to you is merely a peace offering if you will. The offer I had made in conjunction was only done in hopes of your consideration of becoming a part of us because in retrospect – even though I would like you to stay close to me due our recent circumstance, your skills, mettle, and obstinacy make you a fine candidate. I have witnessed your potential and feel you would be a perfect addition. Also, you have earned the right for defeating Uvogin, after all." Chrollo let his voice trail, carefully planning out his exact phrasing, “However, in regards to my willingness to help you retrieve the Scarlet Eyes isn’t due to any secret strings attached, Kurapika, but just another affirmation towards showing you that I am willing to prove to you just how far I am willing to go with proving my worth to you.”

 

It was at this point all Kurapika could do to keep his indignation from literally exploding from the depths of his very core. Not only was it the fact that he felt the older man was using the Scarlet Eyes - which was the very same thing he and the rest of the Spiders had avulsed upon the eradication of his clan as potential collateral in his plan to coax him into joining that very same group, but also the fact he couldn’t seem to look past Chrollo’s apparent honesty to see the truth behind his words. Even though his feelings for the older man were still present and strong, and that he really wanted to give Chrollo the chance, not just because of how he felt, but also at very behest of those they surceased from the world had raised the contention within him once again. For him, this was like a practical slap to the proverbial face. One that saw his cheeks heating to the point of nearly suffusing completely crimson and not from embarrassment.

 

At this point, Kurapika wasn't sure if he really cared to wait around and continue listening to this ineffectual drivel that was only succeeding in upsetting him or actually waiting to see if this was all possibly some kind of twisted joke.

 

"You never just give anything away, Chrollo Lucifer. Especially when the benefits outweigh any potential opportunity there may be for someone else," Kurapika rounded on him full force this time, having stood completely from his seat and drawing the attention of the other customers around them. He completely ignored them, his sole focus was that on the older man who had remained seated still across from him, those eyes ephemerally flashing scarlet, his ominous gaze just daring Chrollo to continue on with this little potential farce, "And here you had me believing that you was indeed, capable of change. But I suppose I was wrong in that as well? Just like everything else I had in regards to you." Kurapika breathed, the strain to his lungs only added to the mounting pain and pressure he was dealing with, every part of him practically burning with urgency to just be done with this entire scenario. Perhaps his mother had been wrong about the Geneiryodan leader? The blond ground his teeth in frustration.

 

Now, it seemed the weight of the world was crashing upon him once again, just like it had when he lost everything. At the very moment Kurapika felt as if he was suffocating, his lungs on fire, body acting as if it was inundating. His legs moved of their own accord, and he backed up. One step, two steps. His mind was whirring from the clashing of sudden emotions, his thoughts racing and confusion gripping him as the memories of gentle touches and sweet kisses flashed through his mind, echoed by the confessions of his mother placing all her faith in the one chance Kurapika had which would be the answer to finally stopping all his pain and torment. To believe it could all potentially be nothing but deception – Kurapika choked back a sob, tears streaming off now cold cheeks, his heart beating to the same rhythm as his undulating sorrow.

 

Even when he found himself outside, completely unaware that he had exited the establishment and inadvertently left Chrollo behind, the thrumming inside his chest caused his ribs to agonize as the outcome of everything which had occurred seemed to leave an acetic taste in his mouth. He shuddered, not realizing it had started to rain and despite his clothes was becoming drenched, even then he couldn't seem invoke his will, much less think. He still tried to cope with that stretch of reality, and that perhaps he really had been a fool to believe something truly good could have actually come from rescinding his vows in seeking revenge as opposed to vying for peace and happiness, instead.

 

It was a cold and bitter reality, one that Kurapika was just not ready for. But unfortunately, much to his dismay, he may have to become accepting of.

 

In his haste, Kurapika realized that he had left behind the only other pair of Scarlet Eyes which he had managed to fortunately get his hands on. The lament of such a causatum only left him feeling distressed that much more.

 

"Goddamnit!" He howled, and stopped beside an alleyway, damp tresses clinging to his hampered visage as the rain trickled off the short, blond tips, "How could I have been such a fool!? Once again I am at the mercy of fate's own whims. I just..." Kurapika felt as if his knees could have buckled at any time, his shoulders trembling from his unbidden sobs and he tried to support himself on the nearest wall, tears now mixing with the water from the rain. The world felt as if it began to wane, life evanescing into disparagement and his entire being went completely numb, dulling his senses which left him completely unaware of the environment around him; even when a broad, firm hand had finally gripped his arm.

 

Eyes blurry, unfocused, uncertainty swimming just beneath the surface and even then, realization didn't completely strike when he was spun around and brought to face who he knew that even in his abjection, had come after him. Though he couldn’t bring himself to confront him, much less meet the man's penetrating gaze. So Kurapika simply stood there, eyes looking downcast.

 

"Why did you run like that?" The question was soft, tender... Compassionate. Despite clearly the reaction to exude from Kurapika may have been considered less then commendable, Chrollo still exhibited patience. The gap between them was instantly closed as the older man pulled him close, their bodies instantly being pressed together as protective arms came around his slender waist. For a moment, as the warmth and closeness of each other seemed to – even if temporarily, quell his wildly beating heart, Kurapika allowed his head to rest against Chrollo's chest and the feel of the man's own rhythmic beating heart added to the welcoming lull along with the sensation of being able to touch. Kurapika exhaled, sighing heavily, contentedly.

 

"I was... Frightened." He said simply, burying his face into Chrollo's clothed torso, mind still wandering as his own thoughts lingered and were permeated by the confusion and distress. The older man's scent offered him a sense of calm, the mild aroma of spice mixed with cologne drew the Kurta down into a relaxed state even though his nerves still seemed to burn with an electrified charge, "I had really begun to believe that you had only cared for me so you could just persuade me into becoming a Spider and that the Scarlet Eyes were just being used as a bargaining chip."

 

The sudden admission nearly knocked Chrollo off kilter as he didn't expect to have become the sole reason for the Kurta's sudden outburst before absconding to leave him practically high and dry. Slipping two fingers beneath the young hunter's chin, he lifted it up until the blond's eyes met with his own, "That... Was never my intention. Yes I did offer you a position within the Spider because I deemed you worthy, but I never planned on ever attempting to force you. Like I told you before," Chrollo leaned in closer, his lips hovering distractingly close to Kurapika's own, "I would never make you do anything you were not comfortable with, and I meant it."

 

He could feel the man’s breath dusting over his tender flesh, prickling at his skin and the desire that he had felt so many times before suddenly welled to the surface. It made him nearly forgot his anger from before, "I... Believe you." The blond stammered, his eyes becoming transfixed by Chrollo's own deep and familiar grays, "I just... Cannot accept your offer. It would go against all of my principals." One of his own lithe hands lifted up to find its way to reside along Chrollo’s jaw line, tips barely touching the skin beneath, "But that doesn't change how I feel about you."

 

For once, as much as Chrollo failed to admit, this was one time when the blond, his precious and enigmatic blond looked so angelic. Just like a heavenly angel, "I understand." He whispered before inclining in to kiss the Kurta softly, the warmth of their breaths now mingling, "But the Scarlet Eyes are still yours and without any strings attached. I want you to have them." He spoke against the younger man's lips, his hand now cupping the blond's cheek, thumbs swiping away the offending tears. It really did bother him when Kurapika was like this – even if he wasn't quite certain why. Something about seeing the blond like this flummoxed and distressed only roused concern within him. The look which stirred within Kurapika's eyes only invoked these feelings that much more.

 

 It was from seeing this that motivated Chrollo in ensuring that, even if it took an eternity, he would one day one day abolish all the pain and malaise from Kurapika’s life. For now, even in the midst of his devotion and admission, he swore an oath, one that he vowed to see through and ultimately, give the blond what he justly deserved – peace, “However, I still want to see you achieve your goal, Kurapika. Please, let me help you.” He sighed; God how he loved being this close to the younger man. For Chrollo, despite Hell was truly on Earth, he found some beauty within the ugliness and excavated that diamond in the rough. Kurapika was truly the epitome of purity and radiance.

 

 "I am relieved, and glad to hear that because," This time it was Kurapika's turn to take the lead as he tipped upward, closing the gap between them as his mouth met Chrollo's fully, "I don't want to... Have to hate you." He murmured into the slowly deepening kiss that soon followed, and almost instinctively, he pressed tighter against the older man, practically feeling every muscle and sinew through the suit he wore. Neither the moisture nor the heavily falling deluge that seemed to dampen the sensation Kurapika was being rewarded with, had affected his ministrations. Even as he was slowly being guided while Chrollo’s tongue pervaded his mouth which he readily accepted only engulfed him further into the very etchings of his own sinful, yet, inescapable destiny. “I also suppose I could… Accept your help then.” Kurapika exhaled, though the breathless gasp which soon followed only pledged his loss of control as he let himself fall completely to surrender.

 

"And I don't want you to hate me." Was the intrinsic response, Kurapika soon finding himself pressed up against a nearby damp wall which was conveniently tucked away, the soft caress of the rain continuing to soak their bodies as Chrollo now firmly against him, their passions rising while need and hunger only burned. The older man growled against their lock, the kiss deepening further as he drew the blond into a frenzied onslaught, tongues gliding and twisting in equivalence as wandering hands in swift, precipitating caresses, only made the desire continue to grow stronger.

 

 Perhaps, just perhaps Kurapika was finally ready to be accepting of exactly what Moirai had in store for him. After so long of living on the proverbial razors edge where his life would have surely concluded and sent him into the depths of eternal sleep, the Kurta had finally seen precisely the reason to carry on. Even amid the torrid swell of passionate kisses, fervent hands as they explored one another with the blond locking a leg around the older man's waist, such was the very incentive for Kurapika to find his true purpose, even if that meant extruding his past in favor of adopting a new, greater state of being. Because Kurapika knew in the end, he simply just needed to, live.

 

"Don't ever leave me, or stray from my side." It was in abeyance that Kurapika was bequeathed the finality of acceptance, Chrollo's own body settling into its perfect niche against his own and between the hearty gasps, pants and ardent moans; the older man gave into the Kurta’s need for validation, their lips working against each other vehemently as a result.

 

"I won't, I promise."

 

Even as they remained there, locked within their prurience, the rain pummeling them with its cold, yet gentle embrace as they kissed, it was then, in the very moment when everything rang with sheer clarity that Kurapika realized he truly didn't ever want to let go.

Chapter Text

It had been in the early hours when Kurapika stirred from his slumber. Thankfully, it had been one of the few nights he recalled actually getting decent sleep. For most nights he had been contending with restlessness or indescribable dreams which often pervaded his mind, but for once, the blond felt equitably rested.

 

After extricating himself from the bedding which was now rumpled from the length of time he spent wrapped up within the silken fabric, he ambled into the bathroom to shower and wash up. However, he did not remember a time he felt so animated. Perhaps this was due to the fact was actually able to face himself in the mirror without feeling vindicated or scrutinized.

 

But then again, Kurapika realized so much had changed in the last four months since he left Yorknew City to begin this little junket. To be quite honest, the Kurta didn’t really expect things to have taken the unlikely turn it had but who was always completely aware of life and its vast, erratic changes? As Kurapika gazed at himself in the mirror, reflection staring right back, he mused over how easily he managed to end up in this position.

 

So many predictable outcomes, so many opportunities. Yet, the one he least expected to occur was the one that ultimately happened.

 

Kurapika sighed. For a moment he closed his eyes, obviously still perplexed that his life had taken the dramatic turn it had. But still, though the outcome was one he would have never considered at a different point in time, he now found himself accepting it with open, welcoming arms.

 

The Kurta, who was the very last of his kind, always devoted his entire life to ascertaining revenge, vowing to bring forth justice to those who had been unjustly taken from this world. He was now finding his heart beating to that of a completely different tune. It was one that seemed to come in almost abject fear, yet it also made the blond feel positively elated. The question seemed to burn like acid on his tongue, dripping off the very tip as if it had the taste of poison upon it, yet its honeyed flavor left a tingling sensation that also invoked a more salutary reaction. For him, it was something unbelievable, nearly inconceivable, yet in reality, he couldn’t help but wonder was he actually falling in love?

 

For a moment it seemed to burn, the idea of it slipped across his mind in fetid aversion and Kurapika found that he was almost completely aghast at the notion. “There is just no way it could possible. Could I really be harboring feelings of love... Towards “him”? Yet something deeper, something foreign, something much more novel tugged at his awareness, enlivening his senses, and it caused Kurapika to nearly flinch at the realization.

 

Even within his memories he began to slip back to those moments, reminiscing of those few times where splendor held strong and the sensation of being embraced coddled his slowly agonizing heart. The feeling of gentle touches and soft kisses, when their lips met in undulating passion as hands roved in exploration upon their bodies – something in those very recollection of thoughts brought back a sense of assuagement, and the young Kurta was instantly reminded of just how desirous the connection between them really was. Or, what it was truly becoming.

 

He sighed and slipped back into pacification. It really was what his family had wanted. But was it what he really wanted? Kurapika searched within himself for the correct answer, one that he could feel completely satisfied with and could be the very reasoning he found himself now on this new and current trek of his. It was not only because of the pleas by those who had long since departed, yet wished to see him live, but also of his own changing morality. Kurapika was coming to reason with himself that finally it was time to stop living in the past and to continue living in the present.

 

It was a resolution, one that was so long in coming, and in the end, Kurapika ended up coming to accept it. There was just no escaping fate was there?

 

But then again, did he really want to?

 

As easy as it was to invariably question the very reasoning for why he was were exactly where he was, nothing was changing the fact that there was just no going back. There was just was no option. But yet, his feelings were changing  gradually, which was undeniable, and the building attraction kept him coming back. However it wasn't even just that. There was the connection that had inevitably formed between them, the very one that had conclusively brought them together.

 

So then what exactly was Chrollo to him? Companion? Boyfriend? Lover?

 

There was still no ability to rouse the anger and enmity which seemed to remain buried so deep beneath the layers, the gates having long since been slammed shut on those very emotions.

 

"Kurapika, do you really think you can continue on like this and expect to still preside when it’s all said and done? Do you really believe this is what I want for you? What the rest of us want for you? It's never what we had wanted. I understand your pain and grief at having us taken away so suddenly from you and the burden of subjection you must feel because of it. But we don't want you to seek retribution for our deaths; we just want you to live."

 

His mother's voice once again reiterated loud and with clarity within his mind, the tone he remembered as it was laced with concern and imploration finally struck hard and true, giving Kurapika the ability to fully see the implication which resided within those very words she had spoken.

 

Yet he was slowly warming up to the idea, even though for Kurapika, the finality in acceptance of his current situation without any hesitation was in one simple fact: Did Chrollo truly house any contrition or regret for what he had done? It was something that at this point, Kurapika now had wanted to know.

 

It was then and only then he would completely accede to his emotions. As strong as they were becoming, the desire, the want, just with how Chrollo made him  feel, it was something he simply could not ignore. Or, did not want to ignore. But if he was to truly allow himself to see this through, to give the older man that chance he so desperately wished to see happen and nurture this budding relationship to long term, then there was no getting around the unquenchable need for the truth.

 

Kurapika legitimately just wanted to feel validated.

 

He dressed, albeit lost partially in thought, and began pulling on a powder blue tank top along with black pants that conformed to his frame before threading a belt through the loops. Once done, the Kurta peered at himself in the full length mirror that made up the closet doors within his hotel room, his fingers ghosting over the etchings of the necklace that resided beneath his clothing. Once satisfied, he turned away from his image, focusing on the suitcase that rested upon the mattress. Today he was leaving and meeting with Chrollo as the both of them had agreed to begin their search for the Scarlet Eyes, which was one of the promises the raven-haired man vowed to fulfill. As the last pieces of his possessions filtered into his luggage, something caught his eye.

 

Instinctively, his hand dipped into the corner of the suitcase, brushing over something silken, tips sweeping over its delicate surface before curling around it and extracting it from beneath his clothing. His eyes soon roved over the intricate patterns which were interwoven within its light blue surface. For a moment, his thumb stroked over the flowers which sat etched in lace. Holding it caused him to remember the day he originally laid eyes upon this beautiful piece. Kurapika was taken aback; as he remembered this day, his hands first clutched around the scarf which now lay upon his palm, and the very thought strangely calmed him.

 

Without much thought, he wrapped it around his neck, securing the tails amid the neckline of his shirt and smiled. He hadn't worn it of course since receiving it, and figured it was time he should. Once again, he glanced at himself in the mirror not perturbed by the slightly girly appearance the elaborate article gave and ran his hand once move over its smooth texture before resuming his task of packing.

 

Once he finished packing all essentials, Kurapika found himself double checking his efforts, assuring that nothing had been missed or, forgotten. How simple it was to miss things, getting passed over, often or cursory without noticing. Getting left behind or being abandoned was a feeling the blond had known all too well. Having been subjected so many times to rejection or being shunned left a long lasting acrid taste in his mouth which only gave him such a jaded perspective on his life. This was in part, a conducive reason for why he had such a poor outlook as he did. But slowly, that mindset was altering the longer he remained within Chrollo Lucifer's company.

 

Kurapika snorted; before too long, and at the rate he was going, he was sure the man would be successful in rewriting his entire way of thinking. It was still something that he found nonplussing just as equally as he found it admiring. “Whatever Chrollo has been doing definitely held a substantial amount of influence on my own mentality. Half the time it seems like I cannot even think straight because of it.” But then again, such an impression only continued to leave Kurapika astounded - it was of no wonder why he was successively taken with the head of the Genei Ryodan.

 

It was confounding, but now things didn't seem as bad as he originally perceived them as. Still... Kurapika knew that in verity, the older man was attempting to court him. He was determined to win his heart to which the Kurta felt a plethora of emotions towards, especially considering his recent developing attraction to the other.

 

Whatever mess he knew he had gotten himself into, there was one thing he was certain of, and that he was going to see this through to the very end, regardless of outcome. Though deep down, Kurapika wasn't entirely opposed to a relationship with Chrollo as he had been considering the idea.

 

Don't refute what you are experiencing just yet my son. Let things unfurl as they may and the winds guide you upon your journey.

 

Once again, his mother's words whispered in his ears, making him realize the exactitude behind the very meaning she was trying to convey. For so long he had lived just believing that there was nothing beyond the pain and loss, that his destiny had been foreordained to conclude by falling to oblivion. Now with unclouded eyes, with full clarion, Kurapika could see the truth and reason to his actual purpose and that there was more to life than what he had been led to believe. No longer did he wish to seek out requital, burying his title as a crimson avenger in favor of just continuing on and seeing where life takes him. Even if that meant involving the one person in his life who at one time was seen as his worst enemy that he desired to slay. But now, he viewed Chrollo almost as an equal. As strange as it sounded, Kurapika was finding this particular type of conformity, one not instigated but guided and fused by his own hand, as something he could grow to get used to. Kurapika just needed vindication. Or he really already had.

 

He meandered into the small kitchen despite his wandering thoughts and retrieved himself a warm cup of coffee, feeling the need to consume a bit of caffeine to jumpstart his brain before completely checking out of the hotel and meeting up with Chrollo. At least one thing the blond had full confidence in and that was the fact that the older man had been determinate in assisting him with his search in retrieving the remainder of the Scarlet Eyes. As much as it dug into Kurapika's craw in regards to accepting help, he in the end, acquiesced and accepted Chrollo's offer. At least with the older man's cooperation it would make the searches much easier. Aside the pair that had been consequently given to him by Chrollo, it had been nearly impossible to track down any of the other pairs, which in turn, frustrated the Kurta profusely. He just didn't house the resources, or the proper funding to fundamentally support his search which meant falling back on Chrollo and replying on the man.

 

As much as he wasn't keen on the idea, there was no other choice. The thought of potentially owing the raven-head anything from such a junket caused the blond to frown as it was one of the last things he wanted for keeping him connected to Chrollo - even though they were intertwined in so many other ways, this was one thing he didn't want linking him to the other. Last thing Kurapika wanted was any prospect of the older man using the charity against him, even if that outcome may not ever happen. As much as the blond tried to keep himself from descending into that mindset, his best bet was to focus on the immediate task at hand, and that was collecting the rest of the eyes.

 

After downing the last of the dregs from his mug, Kurapika strode back towards his luggage, making sure everything was secure – his hand stroking gingerly over the surface of the clear canisters which contained the only pair he had thus far and made sure it was anchored down before sealing the lid and pulling it off the bed. It landed with a rather dramatic thud before coming to rest completely on the dull carpeting, Kurapika groaning at how much in superfluous items he brought with him which ended up only weighing him down. For someone who was frugal, he even amazed himself.

 

Perhaps next time, Kurapika thought, he would learn to consolidate and be less indulgent. He chuckled at the idea and exited the room for the final time.

 

 

§§§§§§§

 

 

They were standing in the lobby of the hotel Chrollo had been staying at, bags packed and preparations already made for their upcoming trip. Around them, people milled about like the calm flow of a river. Not one person paid them a second glance as they passed by. No one could have suspected the leader of the infamous Genei Ryodan was among them; the bandana he had tied around his forehead to conceal his cross tattoo ensured that.

 

Turning his attention away from his blond companion, the raven-head dug into the pocket of the jacket he wore – both of them had opted for casual clothes to remain discrete, limiting their chances of detection – and pulled out his cell phone, tapping at it as he brought information onto its screen.

 

"I had actually had Shalnark track down the location of the closest pair to our current position. Apparently there is a pair not too far from here to the north in a small town called Bathas, which will take about a day to reach." Chrollo paused, gauging Kurapika’s reaction, then continued, “Yes he is aware of our circumstance and the fact that we are co-oping in finding the Scarlet Eyes.”

 

Bathas, definitely a place Kurapika recalled not being particular knowledgeable about. But if it meant finally ascertaining his goal of collecting another set of the Scarlet Eyes, then so be it. As much to his dismay it was about constant travel, he was used to roughing it, especially after spending many years living on the streets following the decimation of his home. Though, the memories weren't exactly...  pleasant, and there were times Kurapika wished he could erase them from existence. Needless to say, he was no stranger to a lack of amenities. This would definitely be no exception.

 

More so, Kurapika had been forced into learning to fight for practical survival for the better part of his life, and in light of that, the very notion that he would be without the standards for conventional living – even if the time was undetermined, it wasn't something that perturbed the Kurta very much. He grew up around nature, was a child of the wood and was more than accustomed to the lack of modern living. Even if he had grown a penchant for its bonuses; a warm bed and a roof over his head was nice, but if it meant sacrificing that for the sake of what little was left of his goals, then that was what must be done. He had already given up so much already, what were a few extra commodities?

 

"You actually told one of your Spiders about us?" Kurapika suddenly felt astonished, but a thread of worry bubbled in pit of his stomach, invoking a semblance of trepidation to quietly well to the surface, "I mean... Was that wise? Don't they still want to kill me?" Would the wonders never cease? For Kurapika, he even questioned Chrollo's methods at this point as it came off completely outlandish, which had him believing that the raven-head wasn't really thinking this situation through entirely.

 

Granted, he needed every resource currently at the older man's disposal, but letting the rest of the Ryodan know that the Chain User was teaming up with their leader seemed quite foolhardy. Also, it wasn't as if he and Chrollo were a couple. Were they? Of course they had partaken in a few torrid kisses and erotic caresses, but it never went beyond that. It wasn't as if they had been intimate, or allowed it to go as far as actual sex even though Chrollo had once asked him if they could. But such didn't make them lovers, did it? Kurapika frowned.

 

One thing Kurapika did have to admit - he enjoyed every modicum of time he spent with Chrollo, even down to the more licentious moments they both seemed to indulge in, even if the very notion of it still in part, challenged his still lingering morals. For whatever reason Kurapika had yet to decipher, the pull remained strong and he lacked any will in bringing about a cessation to it. Just the very thought of Chrollo's lips against his own seemed to be enough to keep him coming back for more. It was like a drug, a high, the honey so strong and he was too far gone, even if he waged war within, questioned his own standards, Kurapika was still like a moth drawn to a flame.

 

In the end, Kurapika really was a butterfly caught within the spider's web.

 

It was all so confusing and yet, here he was, with his - former? enemy, ready to embark on a journey to find the rest of the Scarlet Eyes while Kurapika was still trying to ponder over his feelings in regards to the older man. But every time Chrollo looked at him with those dark, illimitable appearing eyes, he couldn't help the hitch of his breath or the rapid beating of his heart. The older man was truly attractive.

 

"Don't worry; I made sure he was not to repeat the fact of our arrangement to the rest of my Spiders. He knows of the agreement we made regarding the eyes, but does not know of our more... Personal relations." He reached out and carded his fingers through the younger man's golden crop of hair, stroking the silken tresses gingerly before leaning down to place a chaste kiss to the side of Kurapika's lips, "There shouldn't be any complications, so don't stress yourself over it."

 

For some reason, Kurapika was struggling with presuming that nothing adverse could come out of their current situation since someone else inside the Genei Ryodan was privy to their circumstances now. It made the Kurta leery, but he attempted to place trust and faith Chrollo's judgment. "I sincerely hope you are right about this. I know you are not out for my blood anymore – the same goes for me as well, but I know that I cannot speak for the rest of the Ryodan, however." For the first time, Kurapika actually was able to finally admit that his desires no longer included seeing the older man's head on a pike. As strange as the admission seemed, vocalizing it was... rather easy, he had to admit, and in a bizarre way it was oddly comforting.

 

Chrollo couldn't help but allow those lips to curl into a rather pleased smile at the confession – it wasn't often that Kurapika was quick to admit, or rather, admit at all when he was wrong, but actually hearing the words spill from the blond’s lips was enough to prove to the older man that indeed, the Kurta was changing. Even if it took practically an eternity, he would surely win the younger man over.

 

However, he was pleasantly surprised when the blond leaned up and placed a soft kiss to his lips, which he graciously accepted. The depths of his blues were gentle, nearly luminous as his expression briefly mitigated and for once Chrollo was thoroughly reminded why he wanted Kurapika in his life, "I won't. Even though I feel it wasn’t the wisest of decisions, but if you feel you can trust him not to relay the information to the other Spiders, then I won't allow myself to be bothered by it."

 

It may have been against Kurapika's intuition, but letting it bother him now would only make matters worse and possibly inhibit progress. For now he had to focus on his goals.

 

With that settled, the older man looked down at his phone once more, noting the time, "Considering the location of Bathas which is three hundred miles north east of here, I think its best we drive. If we leave now we should get there by tonight." He placed the phone back into his pocket and produced a set of keys; the sound of its rattling seemed to resound loudly in the cavernous room despite the high activity inside the hotel. Chrollo instantly noticed the raise in Kurapika's eyebrow and immediately knew exactly what the blond was thinking.

 

"You stole that, didn't you?"

 

Just as predicted; the younger man was indeed astute. Something else that easily drew Chrollo's attention. Once again, that habitual smirk tugged at his lips, "You know me so well." He practically crooned, fingers curling around the handle to his suitcase and pulling it close, "We best get going, however, before we waste too much time."

 

Kurapika grumbled – of course stealing things for the sake of necessity or just stealing in general still caused him to feel legitimately irritated. Never had he been keen on the idea of breaking the law for whatever reason, and here Chrollo was, stealing cars just so they could travel. He could have just bought one. But even then, Kurapika surmised, that would have probably been done with stolen money, "Why didn't you just get us a legal method of travel like normal people?" Kurapika crossed his arms, obviously not amused.

 

"It wouldn't be fun then."

 

Chrollo turned away from the flustered blond and proceeded to exit the hotel, not giving time for the other man to finalize a retort, as he knew by his nature that such would happen and instead, went to finish the last of their preparations.

 

Once out in the parking lot, he popped the trunk of the stolen black car and began loading his belongings, and once the last item was secured into place, he glanced over his shoulder to see an exasperated blond practically stalking up to him. "Just don't go making a habit out of it, alright?" And without another word, Kurapika opened the door to the passenger side and slid into the seat. It was one of those moments because Chrollo couldn't help it when the Kurta pouted to feel anything else other then amused. Even the way the crinkles that lined beneath Kurapika's eyes when emotional was enough to bring about a sense of enjoyment, because for the raven-head, the Kurta's self-righteous act was too ridiculous, too calculable.

 

But he just took the moment to place Kurapika's things into the trunk before closing its lid and slid into the driver's side, himself. Chrollo spared one single glance at the younger man before putting the keys in the ignition and starting the vehicle.

 

They dove in relative silence for the majority of the trip. The downward twist to Kurapika's lips remained as if he had been content with allowing his indisposition to show, obviously still churlish over the fact that they were currently riding in a stolen car. Chrollo averted his eyes transiently, noticing that the blond's gaze remained fixed towards the road ahead, "You know," He broke the silence and Kurapika turned towards him, though those usually soft blue eyes were icy, hard, "there really was no choice in the matter. We needed a way to reach our next destination and I provided that means."

 

If the temperature inside the car could have risen a few degrees, it would have because Kurapika's expression turned into that of a dangerous thunderhead. "You didn't have to steal it! Instead, you could have brought it like any normal person would have."

 

One thing Chrollo knew was that aside the blond's tendency to remain on the side of virtue and honor, he wasn't quite the most observant, always quick to assume and jump the gun. He was half-cocked, brash, often losing sight of his objectives. Just hearing Kurapika's spiel added to his incredulity, "You realize we are trying to keep a low profile, right?" He simply said, eyes having returned to the road as to not potentially flip their car right into the ocean that shimmered off their right.

 

"It's called cash, Chrollo. It doesn't leave a paper trail, you know."

 

Kurapika didn't think he'd ever quite understand the older man, as much as he struggled determinate in doing so, Chrollo was just an enigma that did nothing but baffle the mind. Each and every time he believed himself one step closer to unlocking other piece to the puzzle, the mystery just became more and more convoluted, leaving the Kurta feeling as if he was no better off then when he started. Deep down, Kurapika knew of the raven-head's true nature – he was still a thief and murderer, the executioner of his entire clan, the very same clan who had exonerated Chrollo from that horrific deed that led a villainous group just like him. But Kurapika also realized there were some parts of the older man's character that he couldn't alter or change. It would be something that perhaps, he'd have to come to accept.

 

However, Chrollo knew that the blond had him pinned. Of course he could have used his Jenny – which was also stolen, to provide them with the mode of transportation he decisively settled on them using to reach Bathas. He wasn't about to tell him that, though. There was no way the older man was about to hand down victory in this game of wits to the devious blond; it was beyond conceivable, and in attempt to simply placate the other, one hand reached over to stroke through Kurapika's golden locks thoughtfully. Chrollo felt the Kurta stiffen beneath his touches but made no attempt to refute him, "You worry too much. It's going to give you wrinkles and mar your immaculate beauty," He could hear the Kurta's jaw snap closed as if he was going to offer Chrollo a retort, but again, he settled on vocalizing nothing and it caused the older man to smile, "And it's also bad for your health."  

 

Letting a few of the silky flaxen strands fall away from his fingertips, he let silence descent between them in order to allow time for his companion to meditate and calm down. Though before leaving Kurapika completely to his thoughts, Chrollo reached behind him and pulled out a specific leather tome, one that he was sure the younger man would recognize, "I took the liberty of retrieving this from your things; figured you'd want it to occupy your time before we reach Bathas." He placed the rare book gingerly on the blond's lap and said nothing more.  

 

Kurapika stared at the book which Chrollo had plunked down upon his knees and for a moment, he looked abashed. Maybe he wasn't too thrilled that the older man had taken it upon himself to delve through his things – he’d have to check later to make sure the other hadn't heisted anything else from his luggage, but he was no ingrate, nonetheless, "Thank you." He pulled back the cover, thumbing through a book he hadn't touched in what seemed so long and getting immersed into its memorizing pages.

 

For what felt like an eternity, he read up on the once ancient civilization that was denoted to have existed long before theirs and of unspeakable creatures, magic and items that were said to enhance a person's ability to channel. Angreals, they were called, which were as old as time itself that were very special, powerful and rare. They held insurmountable force, granting its wielder untold abilities. The greater the item the more it was said it could draw on the source that magic emanated from. There were even different versions of Angreals - Ter'Angreals and Sa'Angreals, each foretold to hold various and different abilities. Such a nature of these items fascinated and riveted him. It was all so enriching and he wanted to learn more.

  

He read until his eyes grew tired and the sky became painted in a palatial splash of oranges, purples and reds. The setting sun indicated it was getting late and reluctantly, Kurapika closed the cover of the book and settled on resting until they reached their destination.

 

A gentle shake to his shoulder along with the soft calling of his name brought him out of his premature slumber and he realized just who had been vying for his attention. "Kurapika, wake up." Somnolent eyes met with dark grey, a lock of concern crossing the older man's visage, "We have arrived. You might want to begin stirring. I am going to find us a room for the night."

 

Nodding, Kurapika yawned and slid out of the seat, feet touching asphalt as he began to stretch. Every muscle was stiff, tense, the sensation of having been crammed into a set confined space was drawing hard on his resources, and the relief which soon followed lessened his intolerable mood. Still clutching the book, the tired Kurta motioned languidly over to where Chrollo had positioned himself at the trunk of the car, where he was presently extracting their things before making his way towards the entrance of the cheap little motel. Kurapika followed suit as he fetched his own suitcase and fell in step behind Chrollo.

 

Quietly, they both entered the small, yet bucolic lobby, the evening behind them had fallen into hues of violet, indigo and ebon, twinkling dots of sparkling white peppering the sky. A wiry young girl with glasses and a bored look sat behind the receptionist counter. Her dull blue eyes landed on the pair as they approached, though her small lips pursed into a smile once she noticed Chrollo. Without fail, the older man had put on his own most charismatic smile with a dazzling look that evoked an allure behind those penetrating eyes, and for a moment, Kurapika felt a pang of jealousy stir deep within, his own lips twisting in revulsion at the sight.

 

He attempted to ignore it. As absurd as it was, Chrollo had always attempted to be ostentatious with that ever-present facade and Kurapika had to inwardly laugh. Though, there was something in the way he looked at the young lady that caused Kurapika to feel almost emulous. Perhaps it was because Chrollo was looking at the woman with a smoldering gaze that should have been reserved for him.

 

Unbelievable! Kurapika could not even presuppose how he could be feeling this way – it wasn't as if Chrollo was actually hitting on the girl. It was all mere show. A farce. An act. But still... That conflict burned almost like a raging flame, causing Kurapika to swallow hard, his throat arid and course as the pain he felt was drawing on his senses which caused him to struggle with getting himself back under control. To add insult to injury, Chrollo had appeared not be privy to how the pretense was making Kurapika feel, and as a result, he balled one of his hands into a fist as he bit back the urge to simply interfere.

 

"We need a room for the night." Chrollo finally spoke in the most saccharine of voices he could muster, and Kurapika was sure the girl nearly had her feet come out from beneath her. Groaning, he tapped his foot impatiently for dealing with this little performance much longer made the Kurta think it would end up causing him to retch.

 

"No problem sir!" She said cheerily, punching the keys on the computer before her, "We have rooms available." Suddenly her eyes befell on Kurapika and his growing annoyance turned instantly to consternation at the way she was letting her gaze rove over his slender frame. The sensation it produced made him slightly discomfited with the way the corners of her lips upturned like she had just had an epiphany. "Would you like a room with just one bed for you and your lovely girlfriend?"

 

One thing was definitely certain; Kurapika hated it with an intense passion when he was blatantly misgendered, "Wh-what? G-girlfriend?" He couldn't help stammering for the blond was utterly aghast. He could feel Chrollo's eyes upon him, and the younger man's own deep, glacial ones bored down into them as if daring him to say another word.

 

It was bad enough Kurapika suspected that Chrollo was going to attempt to circumvent his feelings or make decisions without so much as his input. The very idea made Kurapika much more sullen. Surely the older man knew his boundaries, right? But then again, he did recall that not once had Chrollo attempted to coerce him into anything. Still, his current actions didn't remotely placate Kurapika's growing ire. Though, something about his attention towards the bewildered clerk, stuck a cord deep within the blond's very being.

 

Was he truly experiencing jealousy?

 

"I am sorry, I thought-" A sudden hand being raised cut off the poor flustered girl's words, Chrollo working adamantly to remedy the issue before the situation got any further out of control.

 

"No need to apologize, my companion and I will be fine with a room containing double beds. He is just tired as we have been traveling for some time."

 

Chrollo could easily feel the weighted stare which was level upon his own back, but he simply ignored it. If he acknowledged the younger man's irritability now, it would only successfully exacerbate the situation as Kurapika was definitely one, from his experience, to not so easily let go of a situation. He just simply let the blond stew as the receptionist nodded and handed him the keys to their room, before turning and heading towards the elevators without responding.

 

The doors opened with a ding, and once the older man stepped inside, he turned to find Kurapika stalking into the small space behind him. Once they sealed closed and the two of them were isolated, it was then the furious blond rounded on him. "You really enjoy making a show out of everything, don't you?" He really couldn't believe just how superfluous Chrollo really could be, as if making a spectacle out of them really was the most entertaining thing for the older man. The heat hadn't ever left his cheeks. He knew damn well what the head of the Spider's true intention was, and as enticing as the notion was, he still wasn't quite ready for that type of closeness yet. Moreover, the way he acted towards that young girl only agitated the situation further. Kurapika was still trying to sort out the trammel regarding his emotions, but he couldn’t help how it ultimately made him feel.

 

But that damned smile which only broadened on those supple lips twisted the Kurta's gut just as much as it made him feel weak. Kurapika definitely hated feeling this way.

 

"Oh, I don't think it was so much a grand spectacle as you say. Besides, the poor girl really was mistaken," Chrollo began, attention turned towards the affronted blond. "You probably need a haircut. I can see why she was confused the way she was."

 

Kurapika's jaw opened as if he was about to retaliate and snapped closed without as much as a word. Absentmindedly, his lithe fingers raked through his refined tresses and as he reached the lustrous tips, it was then he considered that perhaps it really was time to tame his wild hair. It really had been months since he had been able to maintain it properly and it had gotten ludicrously overgrown.

 

Still, each and every time someone failed to correctly apply his gender only added to the compounding stresses he had been dealing with for what felt like such a long time. Granted, he had long since acknowledged that how his body was built made him appear effeminate, which made him indecipherable at times.  But, such a fact caused him to be often misgendered due to it. However, for Kurapika, it was a sensitive topic and was something he didn't think that he'd ever get used to.

 

"You know how much I hate it when people misjudge me for a female, and as your girlfriend of all things! You really didn't have to feed into it either."

 

He breathed in slowly in an attempt to retain his composure. Losing it here would definitely not bode well for either of them. Chrollo simply raised his eyebrow at the stymied blond, but said nothing. Instead, another ding broke the awkward silence, indicating they had reached their floor. As the doors slid open, the two of them exited in relative silence.

 

One that seemed quite loud and deafened within their ears.

 

It didn't take the odd duo long to find their room and Chrollo swept the keycard seamlessly through the slot and the door opened with a resounding click.

 

The space was quite small. On one side of the room sat a writing desk with a single chair in front of it, while another larger, plushe- looking chair sat catty-cornered across from it. Opposite of that was a small kitchenette with a fridge, stove, and a two-seater table just adjacent to it. In the center sat two double beds that had a night stand between. Across from there was a door that lead to a modest sized bathroom.

 

Kurapika walked past Chrollo and headed towards one of the beds, dumping his luggage upon the mattress before settling down upon the edge. Rubbing at his temples, he knew he was past tired and more than likely needed rest considering the kind of day he just had, which was most certainly was something long in coming.

 

Chrollo had practically mirrored his moves, having sat his own suitcase up on the other bed, though his eyes had landed on the blond who was perched across from him. On closer inspection and beside the fact his companion being rather irascible, Kurapika looked simply exhausted, "You really look as if you had gone several rounds with someone," The raven-head began as he straightened, closing the gap between he and the Kurta as a hand came to rest upon the younger man's shoulder, "Would you like to shower first? Maybe after you've washed up, I can get us something for dinner before we retire for the night. We have a lot of planning to do tomorrow."

 

It was then Kurapika decisively pulled himself from his partially exasperated state to allow those indefinite eyes to meet with the older man's stare. The blond could tell there was genuine and legitimate concern within their alluring depths, but something still squalled deep within the pit of his gut, something indescribable. Yet he simply nodded, acknowledging that perhaps Chrollo was right, and a shower was what he needed to take away the edge he so desperately needed.

 

"I won't be long then,"Kurapika said simply, voice slightly banal as he arose from the bed and began digging through his suitcase, fetching a change of clothes before striding into the bathroom and closing the door.

 

The space wasn't very optimal and left only a meager amount of room, though it didn't stop Kurapika from divesting himself of his clothing and stepping into the austere shaped tub. Once he turned the knobs, the warm spray that soon graced his tired, aching muscles was a welcomed feeling and he dipped completely beneath it, letting the soothing flush permeate into his golden tresses as the water thoroughly soaked it. Kurapika sighed and just stood there indulgent in the water's caress, taking the time to allow the pulse from the spray to quell the ache in his body before finally taking the time to wash. It was then he utilized the time as well as the quiet of the moment to delve back onto the most recent events to occur in his life thus far. From his final decision to confront Chrollo Lucifer, to now becoming his travel companion as they searched for the remainder of the Scarlet Eyes. Also, the prospect of how close he and the older man had slowly become also pervaded his thoughts, bringing Kurapika back to the one point in time where everything had so drastically changed.

 

For some reason which was still unbeknownst to him, there was still that vehement part of him which kept him continually gravitating towards the raven-head, an invisible force that was tugging on him incessantly. The whispers in his ear and the voices that constantly prattled on in his head seemed to retain a perdurable hold on him, thus keeping Kurapika almost enduringly linked to the older man. As much as the idealism to a fault irked Kurapika, something that still motioned within the ongoing trammel kept the Kurta from becoming too distressed by the situation. Chrollo was Chrollo and even though he was slowly attempting to try and accept the man, faltering back onto those fine words which were spoken in such perfect clarity, the very that was entreated by his very own deceased mother kept him from losing sight of that very perspective and never straying too far from that essential mindset.

 

Bare skin came into contact with the cold wall as his back rested against the tile, his face was lifted up and cast towards the flowing water as he allowed it to drizzle down through his hair and over his body; it was in these few scant moments where the blond felt as if he could liberate himself from the shackles of life. He still pondered over his current situation and how each and every event led to this one point in his life. But for Kurapika, there was no escaping the grips of destiny, and as he had questioned so many times before, perhaps this is truly what fate had in store for him.

 

It was probably best he come to accept these terms, for it felt as if everything he had done prior was nothing but futile.

 

Expelling a heavy laden sigh, Kurapika bolstered his confidence and resolve once more, realizing that his situation wasn't going to change and that dwelling upon it was offering no gain. He concluded that his time spent with Chrollo was of no real loss. Able fingers reached for the shampoo bottle that sat at one corner of the tub, and after dispensing some of its contents onto his palm, he generously lathered his hair, working the suds through the baby fine locks. Once satisfied, he reached for the soap and began to wash himself thoroughly with a rag, firmly washing away all the impurities that had collected on his skin. Realizing he had spent a considerable amount of time holed up within the small room, the blond figured he'd best finish before Chrollo started to think something happened to him and come barging through the door. The very same Kurapika realized he did forget to lock.

 

Though as is, his timing couldn't be any less uncanny. A robust knock sent the Kurta spiraling from his thoughts as Chrollo's voice resounded from the other side. "Are you alright in there? You've been in the bathroom for a considerable amount of time and I -"

 

Almost as if on cue, the suddenly annoyed blond paused in his ministrations because of the accuracy of his prediction regarding the older man coming to check on him, "I am fine. Just taking my time. I will be out soon." He eventually responded, trying to keep the concision from his voice. Though in the back of his mind, that one tiny voice spoke freely, acknowledging that at least Chrollo must have had enough care and concern to at least ensure he was alright. Which, even if he'd never admit it out loud, Kurapika found was a rather sweet gesture.

 

"I understand. Just wanted to be certain you were okay in there. Didn't want to have to come and rescue you because you decided to slip and fall in the tub."

 

Kurapika could hear the hint of jesting in the older man's voice, which only made him exhale sharply. "I definitely don't need your help, and even if I had fallen, I most certainly could have easily gotten myself back up." The Kurta couldn't help the audacious response that exited past his own lips, but the nerve! How dare he think that Kurapika was feeble and impotent when it came to caring for himself.

 

"Oh, I most certainly believe you there." Came the response and the raven-head chuckled again, "I will leave you to finish." And he strode away, leaving a disquieted blond to himself.

 

Once again, he huffed in indignation and finished rinsing himself off. He turned the water off and exited the porcelain basin with ease. Reaching over and snatching a towel a little more artlessly then he should have, he began drying himself off, making sure he was devoid of any lingering traces of water and put on the clothes he had taken into the room with him earlier. Retrieving the towel he was using, Kurapika exited the bathroom and made his way back into the common area, using it to dry the remainder of the water from his hair as he sat on the side of the bed. He could instantly feel Chrollo's eyes upon him.

 

"I think I will take my shower now." Kurapika watched as the older man walked into the bathroom, door shutting behind him. He sat stiffly as he listened to Chrollo's movements within the small room, and once he heard the water being turned on, it was then he automatically relaxed.

 

Abjectly, he crossed the room, foot falls nearly feather light as he went to pluck the menu off the small table. For a moment he stared at the laminated object, scanning its contents before deciding on something for a decent meal. Knowing Chrollo, it was more than likely the insufferable man would ensure that he took the time to eat, as the blond knew he hadn't been exactly attentive to his needs as of late. After spending a few minutes reading over the options, Kurapika found something that seemed appealing and settled on his choice.

 

Situations like these didn’t happen daily. Even though Kurapika struggled with his continued choices, it wasn't something he didn't entirely deny that despite his situation had become quite labyrinthine, the desire to explore its confines still reigned strong. Perhaps there was that probability that the end result could indeed outweigh the pros, but if anything, Kurapika held onto the fact that despite all the potential negative outcomes, one thing that rang true was the sincerity garnered off Chrollo's affirmations. For one such as he, that had always lived a constant life of tenebrosity and degradation, to be capable of any form of honesty or empathy was definitely a significant shift, or change. For Kurapika, it was something he still struggled with in understanding for the older man's character and left some awful lasting impressions. But something hidden beneath the layers still intrigued the blond enough that he was determinate in figuring out exactly the enigma that was Chrollo Lucifer.

 

Moreover, that he could also perchance, decipher his own circuitous life in the process.

 

The sound of the shower ceasing its operation instantly jerked Kurapika from his reverie and he turned in time to see Chrollo emerging from the bathroom with just a towel around his waist, the sight instantly causing a flutter of scarlet to flush across his cheeks.

 

The Kurta wasn't going to deny that the older man was indeed, magnificent and that he definitely liked what he saw.

 

Though honesty be damned if he was going to admit to it.

 

"Jeez, do you always go prancing around people half naked like that?" Kurapika blurted in a quick attempt to conceal the heat that was adamantly rising along his face, the sensation of it easily radiating off his smooth skin. Though when his dark gaze landed on him, it was in that very moment the blond thought his heart had completely stopped within his chest.

 

"Not usually," The older man held Kurapika's gaze intently, instantly noticing the younger man's embarrassment. He let a small upturn of his lips form into a pleasing smirk. "But it's just the two of us so I didn't see a problem with it." And he turned away from the obviously vexed blond to rummage through his luggage in attempt to find a decent set of clothes to wear. Once he settled on a dark blue shirt and black shorts, Chrollo turned his back towards the younger man, and the achromic hued article slipped away, crumbling to the ground, and if the heat could have risen any higher in Kurapika's cheeks, he would have been thoroughly convinced that he had suddenly incited a fever. Hissing, he quickly averted his eyes, completely dumbstruck that Chrollo had allowed himself to bare his form like that in front of the Kurta as he did, which only successfully riled him up even further.

 

"Fuck, Chrollo, did you have to do that out here?!" Kurapika was about ready to exit the hotel room all together when the sound of elastic snapping had staunched him from rising off the bed and hastening for the door so he didn't have to to deal with such a mortifying scene. However, that damned grin plastered on Chrollo’s face only seemed to widen in amusement, which directly told Kurapika the older man knew how riotous it made him, and fomented the desire to walk over and punch him directly in the face. But the blond made no motion to rise, and Chrollo simply chuckled at him.

 

"Of course," he replied, and that titillating voice! Chrollo knew just how to inhibit him, which only infuriated Kurapika further, as just listening to the raven-head continuously speak made his entire body feel awfully weak. "Why the objection? Did you not like what you saw?"

 

What audacity, what nerve! How could that bastard become convinced that he was even remotely interested in seeing him like that? Kurapika wasn't perverted, nor was he so unconservative that he actively sought out to see someone naked, even if Chrollo's body was indeed, gorgeous and impressive.

 

For a moment Kurapika stilled, his jaw tightening at the bold question though he had turned away to look at something else, anything else to get from staring at that purely ridiculous, pompous, flirtatious, smug grin that Chrollo was insistent on keeping across his lips. "And what if I did?" He finally responded sarcastically, barely glancing over his shoulder to see that Chrollo had left what few buttons were on his shirt undone, leaving his chest partially exposed. Damnit, what an infuriating man.

 

"If you had said otherwise, I'd say you were a horrible liar." Striding past the aggrieved blond, Chrollo went towards the table that sat across the room and picked up the laminated menu which sat conveniently in place. "However, while I was cleaning up, did you happen to decide on what you want for dinner?"

 

Such a swift altering in conversation made Kurapika frown, but the mention of food alerted him to the need to eat, especially since the last time he had anything noteworthy was a muffin and a cup of coffee before leaving his hotel room in Patalor. "Uh, yeah. I did glance over the menu while you were in the restroom. It’s something called salmon? Fish from the sound of it. Not something I remember from Lusko, but the description sounds good, so I think I will try that."

 

Chrollo quickly skimmed the menu looking for the item Kurapika had selected, "You mean the salmon with lemon, capers and rosemary?" He questioned, and the younger man nodded. "Sounds delightful. I may just try this Smokey Beef Brisket. Not something I've actually tried before."

 

Placing down the menu, Chrollo elegantly picked up the hotel phone and called in the order through room service, to which didn't take long to be delivered. Chrollo volunteered to answer the door, much to Kurapika's relief, but all the while the older man held that ever present charming smile while he retrieved the food cart from the hotel staff who was standing just on the other side of the door. "Thank you." He uttered, voice smooth as he pulled the cart inside, closing the door thereafter.

 

For some reason, it seemed to moderately exacerbate the blond with just how nonchalant the raven-head could be with almost any situation, even though Chrollo had an equitably good grasp on his temperament, unlike Kurapika. But that didn't stop the younger man from snorting as he quietly set the table, watching his companion with coextensive intrigue as he began placing the silver covered dishes upon the unadorned table.

 

Even after they both sat down to eat, Kurapika picked at his food absentmindedly, his thoughts aberrant. It was even then the blond refrained from conversation as if he felt like he had drifted to another place and time. Even when Chrollo had noticed the relative blank stare and his slow eating process, Kurapika barely registered the older man's voice calling to him as if his mind had lapsed completely.

 

"Kurapika." The concern lacing Chrollo's words didn't strike hard the first time, it was as if he had become lost within a deafening void, the sea of interstice had completely encompassed him, "Kurapika." Once again the older man called to him, though a little more strenuous and intent then before, practically causing the chair to scuff along the floor as he began pushing it away from the table.

 

Blue eyes befell upon him once Chrollo actually stood, the abrupt altering of movement snapped Kurapika from his startling trance.

 

"Are you alright? You seemed very distant there for a moment." The older man spoke with relief edging his words, though had circumvented the girth of the table to stand beside the blond, concerned that something underlying may be wrong. "Weren’t responsive, either."

 

A slender hand came to poise two fingers alongside his temple and for a moment, Kurapika closed his eyes. "Yeah, I am alright. I was just... Deep in thought." The simple response came, though Chrollo wasn't really convinced with the younger man's rather vacant answer. "Forgive me, just got a lot on my mind. Especially with our upcoming mission to retrieve the Scarlet Eyes that are located in this town."

 

"Anything you care to talk about?" Chrollo placed a consoling hand upon the blond's shoulder hoping that such a gesture would convey the concern he housed towards the other.

 

One thing that Kurapika was appreciative was indeed the care that his unlikely companion was out rightly exhibiting, but part of his plights had to do with that very same companion, and the last thing the Kurta wanted to do was generate any upheaval between he and Chrollo. Especially considering their arrangement, as well as his current feelings towards the raven-head.

 

"I will be fine. Don't worry about me. Though I do want to focus on the details regarding the eyes location, however."

 

If anything was important, even above his own mentality, the eyes were certainly it. For now, he would endure the hardships and pain if it meant ascertaining his current goals. He felt Chrollo's hand squeeze his shoulder consolingly before moving away and striding over to the bed he chose to sleep in before sitting at the foot of it. "I understand and I wish not to pry into your personal thoughts. Since I have finished my dinner, perhaps you'd mind cleaning up? I can give you a brief rundown on the plan while doing so."

 

Nodding, Kurapika rose from the table, despite having not completely finished the remainder of the food left on his plate. He wasted no time removing the dishes from the table, striding into the kitchen to stow dispose of the leftovers and clean off the plates they had used. "So what's the status of the eyes then? During my last searches I lacked any results of finding any pairs in this region."

 

Producing his phone, Chrollo delved into the stored information Shalnark had sent to him, bringing up all noted intel the computer whiz had dredged up on their current target. "Well, Shalnark managed to track a pair down that is currently owned by a wealthy, rare items collector by the name of Consta Frendenz. Apparently she owns a large manor in the northern, more expensive part of Bathas. Aside from an intricate security system and moderate guards placed throughout the premise, infiltrating the place shouldn't be too difficult. However, apparently Consta plans on having a viewing of her rare collection of items and artifacts in two days time so I figured that would be the best time for us to strike and retrieve the eyes."

 

Kurapika was astounded. Though there were so many questions he had in regards towards their plan of exactly how they were planning on getting their hands on the eyes themselves. One thing he was convinced of was the fact Chrollo had no intention on obtaining the eyes through legal methods. "So I assume you plan on us stealing the eyes, then?" Kurapika asked sternly, though his back was still towards the older man as he was finishing washing the last dish.

 

"Yes. I highly doubt she'd be willing to just hand over the eyes considering their value. The plan is that during the time of the viewing, I will have Shalnark disable the security system and cameras, but well will only have a short time to grab the eyes and avoid detection. The viewing is planned to he held in the main auditorium to other wealthy proprietors who are in town seeking items of high value. With a lot of luck and pulling a few strings, I managed to procure us two invitations. We will just need disguises."

 

Drying off the last dish, Kurapika placed it aside and exited the kitchen, rounding the table that sat just off to the side to join Chrollo in the common area, "And by pulling strings, you mean with threats and ultimatums," he said matter-of-factly, coming to stand just before the older man as his piercing blue eyes looked down upon the most gorgeous thing he had ever seen.

 

Once again, Chrollo's lips coiled into a amused smirk - how astute his precious blond was. He let his own dark eyes lock with the Kurta's own. "You know me so well don't you?" For brief moment, Chrollo wanted to reach up and run his hand along the unblemished, creamy skin of the younger man's visage, but instantly decided against it, for the indurated gaze held within those vibrant depths told the older man that even as amazing as Kurapika was, he was still capricious and could turn instantly on a dime.

 

But then again, Chrollo was just one person who simply could not help himself.

 

Shaking his head in disbelief, Kurapika grunted, not entirely shocked by the older man's answer, "Why am I not surprised?"

 

This time, however, Chrollo risked chance and raised his hand, tips coming to rest amid golden locks as they lifting a few strands and he let them fall betwixt his fingers, their silken texture making him almost shiver, "But for now, perhaps you should rest. We do have a long day ahead of us."

 

Retracting his hand, Chrollo let his hand fall, though as he brought it down, his fingertips brushed along Kurapika's side, lingering around the younger man's hip before completely falling away.

 

Much to the raven-head's surprise, the blond climbed into his lap, hands draping across his broad shoulders. The sudden movement caused Chrollo's expression to dramatically change, "Well, this was un-" and his speech was abruptly cut off as Kurapika's lips softly, tenderly brushed against Chrollo's own. The touch was feather light, causing an ample shiver to race up the older man's spine.

 

"I am not tired." Was the simple response, and for a few passing moments they just stared at each other decisively, adamantly and without compunction. Chrollo leaned in and captured Kurapika's lips with his own, drawing the younger man against him. The pressure between them caused Kurapika to groan slightly against their now passionate lock.

 

His head was instantly filled by the lingering scents of spice and cologne, though beneath the surface was a lingering aroma of patchouli. The combination was heavenly; every part was drawing him once again down into the very flow of desire and need, his own mind slowly hazing over as he breathed in deeply, even the very taste that bloomed against his lips was enough to anesthetize him.

 

Chrollo's tongue swept along Kurapika’s bottom lip, the act simple, yet so intent, so purposeful, and so desperate that Kurapika easily answered, his own mouth parting to welcome in the pervading appendage. His own slowly swept out to curl and twine with it as if they were forming some intricate dance and amid the beck and call, he felt himself being slowly lowered down, his body coming to rest fully against the older man's own taunt frame.

 

Their movements didn't stop. Even as their kiss deepened, Chrollo's mouth grew fervent and hungry, hands finding their way along the blond's sides, fingers seeking out the hem of Kurapika's shirt, easily and effortlessly slipping beneath the hem, palms contacting skin as he began to explore the younger man's slender physique without hesitation. It invoked another throaty gasp to lift from the depths of Kurapika's chest, his heart rhythmically beating within as Chrollo severed their kiss and drove down to latch upon the flesh upon the base of the blond's neck, wasting no time biting down to partake in the taste, an animalistic groan incited by the Kurta’s own vocalizations driving the yearning that burned down in the older man's very core.

 

It was so hard. So difficult. Just the way Kurapika moved above him, the ample shiver that his body gave as Chrollo sucked upon that pale flesh, feeling the blond's pulse race just beneath and the intensity within the air around them, just the elation Kurapika felt as the older man caressed the planes of his slender frame; it was a sensation unlike any other. His own hands had soon made their way to twine within raven locks as Chrollo began a slow trek now up along the cord in Kurapika's neck, each slow pass he delivered a series of nips in his wake, lips finding purchase just beneath the Kurta's chin, lingering there, the man's breath warm, profound. "Perhaps I shall wear you out so you can sleep then, hm?"

 

Kurapika could practically feel the other man smirking against his skin, though he let his own lips curl deviously upward, "I might just take you up on your challenge then." Came the taunting reply as those hands which continuously roved along the surface of his body had begun distractingly pulling the article upwards, the intent quite clear as the blond instinctively lifted his arms up, allowing the enrapturing man beneath him to divest him of it before fingers once again found their way back into dark, satiny tresses once more.

 

By God, Kurapika was truly irresistible.

 

Without uttering a single word, Chrollo pulled the younger man down and firmly against him, his mouth melding with the Kurta's once more as the passion and fire arose around them, drawing them deeper and deeper into the moment. Even as they fit perfectly together, moving against one another in near perfect unison, Chrollo's hands were gliding fluently along the expanse of Kurapika’s back.

 

Despite their little challenge, and the fact that of course, there was still the partial restriction in place, Chrollo indeed had no intention of being the one to lose, even now seeing just how easy Kurapika was falling, that lithe body reacting to every touch, every sensation, every pulse that invoked obligatory responses. Each and every one he knew would gradually and effortlessly bring Kurapika closer and closer to giving in, the bliss already beginning to engulf the blond as another moan tore effortlessly from the depths of his throat, the fervency, the mania, the desperation in their torrid kiss only sealed that very idealism. The look that accented the younger man’s eyes; red starting to bleed within those deep sapphires, a yearning burning underneath their radiant glow only spoke of Kurapika’s willful descent into sin. Regardless, if their descent may not take them far into sin, it didn’t stop Chrollo from pushing as far as he was allowed to go.

 

Such was learned once he severed their kiss once more to find purchase along Kurapika’s ear, trailing down along its shell before passing over that treasured earring to give it a slight tug. The effort garnered an ample shiver from the Kurta’s body, Chrollo pausing long enough to grin before slowly descending along Kurapika’s neck once more and leaving nipping bites along the way before stopping at his clavicle, Chrollo biting down once more, applying just enough pressure to ensure such would leave a mark. However, he would definitely be sure to leave so many more along his precious blond’s perfectly immaculate body, the creamy white skin the perfect canvas for proving exactly who Kurapika belonged to.

 

Not only would Chrollo prove to the world that the last remaining Kurta was his, but he would also show Kurapika just how far he was willing to go in order to bring the younger man to his side. “Kurapika,” Chrollo whispered, getting close to the other’s ear once more, “ready to give up yet?” Hands trekked up and over Kurapika’s ass, giving it a gentle squeeze before letting those fingers brush lightly over the flesh along his sides.

 

But the gesture was met by the blond letting a devious smile cross over his lips, the surface of them just barely coming into contact with Chrollo’s own as he moved to look down into the older man’s hazed eyes. “In your dreams,” Kurapika uttered headily and dipped down, taking the raven-head’s mouth with his own once more, growling deeply to profess his fate. Kurapika would not lose.

 

Although he may not be ready for the biggest leap in being with the man fully yet, he was certain that he could give the leader of the Genei Ryodan a run for his money. Chrollo may have the upper hand, but Kurapika wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Chapter Text

As the morning sun peeked through barely parted curtains, a thin trickle of sunlight washed the room and over the sleeping figure wrapped snugly within the comfort of downy sheets. An arm suddenly rose up to ward off the offending light.

 

Soft groans emanated from past slightly parted lips. The idealism of waking early didn't sit well with him, but Kurapika knew that there was much to be done, and sleeping in was no option.

 

He groaned again, this time due to the dull ache which accented his muscles. He tried to turn over in an attempt to get comfortable, but when he motioned onto his side, he was stopped by something warm draped over him and solid against his back. Though it didn't take long for the Kurta to register exactly what the object was, for when he managed to tilt his head after extracting the sleep from his eyes, they landed on the figure of someone sleeping firmly pressed behind him.

 

Chrollo.

 

Kurapika stilled; it was almost as if he had become completely frozen. He couldn’t move his limbs, much less extricate himself from the spot in which he lay, for as soon as he attempted to remove the older man's arm from around his waist so he could slide free, said arm tightened its hold around him. He felt Chrollo's nose burrow into the gap between his neck and shoulder, warm breath tickling his exposed flesh, and Kurapika felt a shiver climb up his spine.

 

"Stay with me just a little longer."

 

Of course, a million thoughts began to cross through Kurapika's sleep-addled mind. The events from the night prior were a bit hazy, almost as if they were nothing more than a dream, a fading memory. But then, something struck, and he was suddenly reminded of their little folly, of the vagary which was instigated from Kurapika's own crazed addiction that he had somehow formed towards the older man. There was something provocative and enticing about it, the very energy that Chrollo exuded fascinated him and kept him from fully resisting. It was also something that Kurapika hated, and yet, didn't want to completely refute.

 

"Why are you and I in the same bed?" Kurapika began, still trying to extract himself from the older man's grip, but each time he attempted, Chrollo's hold just tightened, and the obnoxious grin which annoyed him, yet in the same turn, made him wilt, remained plastered on those enticing lips. "I thought we got separate beds for a reason?"

 

It didn't take long for the anamnesis to come flooding back, the events of the past night thoroughly reminding Kurapika exactly what had transpired, and a sudden wave of embarrassment crawled up and along his cheeks. The suffusion of crimson began accenting the skin around his neck and rising slowly higher.

 

"You don't remember?" Chrollo's voice suddenly cut through the silence, breaking Kurapika out of his temporary reverie. His focus fell onto the raven-head once more.

 

The images were like flashes, a lucid kaleidoscope of visions that raced through his mind. With each and every one another piece to the puzzle came together and formed one perfect story that foretold of what ensued in those moments when Kurapika had easily and willfully given in.

 

It didn't take him long to put the pieces together - the memory of him coming to settle on Chrollo's lap, the feel of warm hands caressing up and down his body, insistent lips upon his own, slowly being guided to lay on top of that taunt and sturdy frame, the heat was rising again in his cheeks, and Kurapika felt himself grow more and more embarrassed. Even the memory of Chrollo intentionally divesting him of his shirt - which Kurapika readily allowed - only added to the twinge of color that continued to bloom along his skin.

 

The notion of such an aspect made Kurapika feel uneasy. As much as he enjoyed the older man's company (and damn it if he didn't find himself indulging in his touches as well), the prospect that they may had done something more concerned Kurapika. Of course, this thought had only crossed his mind due to the fact that Chrollo had once asked if they could be intimate.

 

But still, he just wasn't quite ready for that type of leap yet, and dealing with his conflicted, problematic emotions surely didn't help circumstances. There was still the matter of building trust between them, and the fact that despite all the affirmations from his departed mother, Kurapika was still finding that the crux of his reluctance was lying in the fact Chrollo was still a thief and murderer.

 

But isn't your family, your clan, the reason you are trying to find a way to move on?” A voice called out within his mind.

 

Kurapika sighed, and forcefully – more then he cared to – dislodged himself from the older man's embrace, easily sliding to the side of the bed before motioning to stand. "No, I don't."

 

If Chrollo was astonished by the blond's declaration, then he didn't outright show it. However, the grin that slid across his lips made Kurapika snort in annoyance. "If you are wondering if we did anything sexual, no, it never got that far." Lifting himself up to get a full view of the blond since he had been standing aside the bed, Chrollo’s breath hitched in his throat momentarily as he gazed up and down Kurapika's slender, yet refined figure. The younger man was still topless and radiant as ever – the sun’s rays played off his pale skin, making him practically glow. Even his hair looked to have a hue as it was awash with the light which gave Kurapika that pure, angelic look he always seemed to harbor.

 

God, but Kurapika was always so damn beautiful.

 

"Aside a few heated kisses and heavy petting, if it eases your mind, you fell asleep before that idea could even become possible."

 

For a moment, Kurapika stood there studying the older man's demeanor. Something about it told him that Chrollo was speaking the truth, but it didn't mask the heavy, scrutinizing gaze that he levelly gave him, anyway. However, the way the playful grin kept tugging at the other man’s lips led the blond to believe that there may be more then what Chrollo had willfully divulged. It had crossed his mind that if he had not fallen asleep – which, damn him for losing their challenge – things most certainly could have progressed further then he anticipated. Or had wanted to.

 

It was true Kurapika had realized long ago that he was beginning to fall, and fast. All the idealisms, beliefs, and convictions he ever had were slowly fading into memory. Little by little the concept of leading a very different life, one in stark contrast to the one he led, was slowly beginning to alter his mindset.

 

His mentality, outlook and vision on the world, on those around him and on life were slowly beginning to change. Sometimes the thought frightened, even dismayed him. But one thing the Kurapika was beginning to realize was, he hadn't been this happy, free, or more alive in so long.

 

"For some reason, I feel as if you are not telling me the entire story, Chrollo. But I do not sense any deception from you, either." Though Kurapika's voice was laced with a succinct tone, it didn't stop the blond from allowing the faintest of smiles to cross his lips.

 

Of course, he wasn't entirely keen on the notion that he apparently lost their little rivalry, as Kurapika hated being second best in literally anything to Chrollo. However, the only thing he was grateful for was the fact that nothing escalated past what limits he had set between them for physical contact. Otherwise, Kurapika would have considered stringing Chrollo up by his balls as a result.

 

At least the older man was proving to have some self-restraint.

 

"I am thoroughly pleased that you did not attempt to take advantage of me while I was asleep or I may have been given the reason to kill you."

 

Kurapika coughed, but the look of solemnity that instantly crawled over his features was enough to show that he indeed, might have carried out the very notion if events had radically turned for the worse. Chrollo retained his ever present and vexatious smirk, but there was also a semblance of understanding that, at least, even if it was miniscule, was enough in placating the blond.

 

Chrollo's hands came up in a defensive gesture. "Don't worry; I stopped once I realized I had worn you out enough to sleep. I didn't do anything to you while you were unaware." He added, though the slight hint of amusement in his voice caused Kurapika to huff in indignation and cross his arms over his chest. "Though I will admit, you look cute when you are resting."

 

He couldn't believe just how nonchalant Chrollo was being about the situation. Granted, Kurapika was the one that initiated their little exploit the night before, and it was by his own doing that lead in the direction it had gone. Which to a fault, made the Kurta wonder if he was being too lax or too unrestricted when it came to the times he had been spending with Chrollo.

 

"You really are unbelievable." This time, Kurapika rounded on him, but not with as much heat as he had originally intended. It wasn't to say that the younger man wasn't flustered and he was slightly exasperated by Chrollo's indifference. He was just finding it rather difficult to retain any petulance against the older man, for something deep down within his own mindset kept him from losing his temperance.

 

However, even though Kurapika's rather curt response only furthered to draw on Chrollo's amusement, he simply allowed the Kurta to stew in his own surliness. It didn't matter how adorable he was or petty he was being, for the older man knew that once Kurapika practically got into this type of mood, it was best not to poke the hornet's nest. "In any regard," Chrollo emoted in a more serious tone this time, changing the subject much to Kurapika's chagrin, "since we are both up, I think it’s best we shower and grab some breakfast. We have much to discuss regarding our current mission."

 

With this, Chrollo easily dislodged himself from the sheets and got up from the bed, his dull grey eyes never leaving Kurapika's as he did so. "Would you like to shower first?"

 

The idea of a nice warm shower suddenly pervaded his mind as it was one of the few times where Kurapika got to spend time alone with his thoughts, considering his recent accord with Chrollo. But then something else crossed his mind, something that reminded him of the promise he made to himself upon arriving in Bathas. Which, of course, got neglected during his little cavort with his unlikely companion. "You go first. I got something I need to do."

 

Chrollo eyed him suspiciously at the strange proclamation, but decided against cornering the blond on it. "Alright then." He simply plucked through his luggage for a change of clothes and proceeded towards the bathroom, deciding that he would fully dress within the small space and save Kurapika a second round of embarrassment. It wasn't to say that Chrollo was above showing off; quite to the contrary. He would not have minded flustering Kurapika again as he did the night before. The blush that rose over his pretty face and his reaction was enough for him to savor the moment and burn it eternally into his memory. But with their upcoming heist and the necessity to plan for it, the raven-head refrained from inveigling the blond further.

 

There would always be other times for that, and Chrollo would most definitely be sure to see it come to pass.

 

"I promise not to be too long." He added before disappearing into the bathroom and closing the door behind him.

 

Kurapika waited with baited breath for the water to begin running before he retrieved his cell phone off the nightstand. Instantly, the screen lit up.

 

Scrolling through the short list of contacts, he found the particular number he had been seeking and hovered his thumb dubiously over the send key. Kurapika knew making that call would more than likely incite a tirade he really wasn't keen on dealing with, but it had been so long since he last checked in. Of course, one thing he was well aware of was the fact that his friends had probably long since been solicitous of his current circumstance. Not that they knew of his recent involvement – or level of involvement with Chrollo – but checking in, he felt, was definitely in order. Since it was possible Gon and Killua were still playing Greed Island, Kurapika settled on contacting Leorio instead.

 

The younger man mentally steeled himself for the upcoming onslaught that would surely be enough to try the patience of even the greatest of saints.

 

It rang for what felt like an eternity before a surprised voice echoed through the line. Kurapika was sure he could feel the other man's energy surge over the connection. "Kurapika?" It didn't take long for the blond to ready himself for what was about to transpire, as he knew Leorio wouldn't take the news very well.

 

"Hello, Leorio." he began, though Kurapika attempted to keep his voice steady and equanimous. "It's been awhile." For a moment, an extensive pause shifted through the line, and oddly enough, he felt himself shift uncomfortably, as if he could feel his friend's eyes piercing him through the phone itself.

 

"Damn it, Kurapika! What gives?! I haven't heard from you in nearly two months!" The terse intonation that wavered off of Leorio's voice was enough to cause Kurapika to flinch. He had been prepared for his friend's reaction, but with how strenuous Leorio was starting off, it was surprising that Kurapika managed to keep from crumbling beneath the other man's pressure. "I thought you promised you wouldn't go for extensive periods without contacting us."

 

Kurapika sighed. Finding the right words to string, the right way to convey his professions with the least amount of damage possible was proving to be rather arduous. Surely the moment Kurapika revealed that he was traveling with Chrollo Lucifer to retrieve the Scarlet Eyes his friend would more than likely descend into a rampage, screaming how he would drop everything to come and drag him out of his current arrangement. It was definitely something he wanted to avoid.

 

"I am sorry. Please forgive me for continuing to be negligent in my commitments." He carefully chose his words for he knew the predicament his friend was in. Since the other man was still in med school and needed to continue with his education uninterrupted, it was on Kurapika's behalf to ensure that went on without change. "Things have continued to remain complicated on my end."

 

Leorio fell into silence; the ineptitude that crept between them caused Kurapika to shift, though not quite uncomfortably, but more in anxiety. One, his time was limited as he dared not remain on the phone once Chrollo exited the bathroom, and second, Kurapika wished not to drag this out longer than need be.

 

For a moment, the younger man thought the line had suddenly went dead when Leorio started to grouse. "What do you mean things have remained complicated?! What exactly is going on, Kurapika?"

 

Once again, the blond found himself searching for his resolve because damn it, this wasn't going to be easy as Leorio made things challenging. "Before anything, I wish to inform you that I have left Patalor and have arrived in a town called Bathas." Exhaling, Kurapika realized that his lungs had been straining, and there was a twinge of pain in his chest, yet he ignored it. "The reason I have traveled here is I have a lead on another pair of Scarlet Eyes."

 

The line seemed to go still again before the voice on the other end came out sounding rigid, but less furious. "I see," The other man began, almost thoughtful, yet there was an unsettling amount of scrutiny to his tone. "Since I won't deny that I am happy for you in finally managing to track down the eyes after months of dead ends, judging from your tonality and the hesitation I am sensing, is there something you are not telling me?"

 

Kurapika annealed; so he wasn't as good at concealing his emotions after all. But then again, this was Leorio they were talking about. After having spent so long around one another and with the fact of how close they had become, it was apparent that it was practically futile to hide anything from his close friend. "Before I say anything, I must ask you to please not get too upset at what I am about to tell you for I am sure you may not find it to your liking." Kurapika began, his own mentality attempting to erect a personal barrier of solemnity before proceeding.

                                                                                     

"As much as I am feeling that I shouldn't, I will do my best to not get too upset."

 

Leorio's affiance to the matter, though how flimsy it was, Kurapika noted was more than likely the best he was going to get at that point so he simply conceded to getting the other man fully up to speed.

 

"Well, suffice to say, things between Lucifer and I have changed significantly, and in a way you might not be able to understand. As such, I know my last update was of my pursuit of him, but since then, the situation between us has definitely altered from what you last knew it was." Kurapika paused, though the intermittent silence that ensued only added to the awkwardness of the situation. He cleared his throat and continued before Leorio could interject.

 

"To make this easy, I will get straight to the point. Ever since I made my decision to finally confront Lucifer and get some closure to my plaguing nightmares, something in Lucifer's actions altered my perception." There was another brief interruption in speech, but this time, before Kurapika could resume with his explanation, the sound of discontent echoed over the line, followed by what sounded like something being dropped and shattering upon tiled flooring.

 

"Don't tell me you've decided not to kill the guy!" Leorio's voice boomed over the phone's speaker, causing Kurapika pull it away from his ear. "I mean, look at what he's done. Not only to your clan, but even towards Gon and Killua. You cannot simply dismiss that!"

 

The other man's words seemed to hit Kurapika like a battering ram, the realization that if he divulged too much, at a stage where even he wasn't certain exactly of his standpoint when it came to Chrollo, the blond feared it could potentially drive a rift between them. As much as Leorio was a hothead, he valued their friendship.

 

Kurapika closed his eyes; dealing with something to this context was literally exhausting, and how easily Leorio went over the proverbial wall only added to the list of stresses he was dealing with. With his current circumstance, having his friend practically chide him wasn't something he needed. "Leorio." He cut in before another wave of unpalatable ranting could hammer through the line. "If you will actually give me the time to explain, I think then you will be able to fully understand why the circumstances have come to the head they have."

 

A slight clicking sound told Kurapika that his friend had chose otherwise and abstained from further comment. The blond rubbed at his temples – doing this was proving to be more cumbersome then he originally perceived. "To answer your question; yes I've decided not to kill him. For now. After our little fracas, there was something he said that stayed my hand and I have reason to believe that with his assets, it makes a great opportunity for me to track down the remaining Scarlet Eyes. Simply put, he and I have a mutual understanding."

 

Some details however, were left omitted. One thing Kurapika didn't quite know how to explain was the simple fact of his current standpoint regarding Chrollo. The more he thought on it, the more Kurapika was uncertain on how he would even go about explaining the situation between him and the older man.

 

It was something the blond couldn't even fathom disclosing much less confessing to. In plain terms, telling his best friend that he was – no had, developed feelings towards his current enemy, or former enemy was something Kurapika just could not bring himself to profess.

 

A million and one ways crawled through his mind on exactly how to even think about trying to explain it, and none sounded remotely feasible or comprehending the more and more he thought about it.

 

What was he supposed to say? 'Leorio. The reason why I haven't killed him yet is not only because he can help me find the rest of the eyes, but I also think I am falling in love.'

 

Preposterous! It sounded nonsensical no matter how appealing he tried to make it seem, and the more Kurapika delved into it, the more senile he started to believe himself to be. No. It was best that certain things definitely be left unsaid. For now at least. Especially while he was trying to figure out his own emotions.

 

"You have got to be kidding me?!" Leorio began, shock seeming to lace his tonality, "You and that bastard actually have some kind of agreement?" If the dark-haired man could have leapt through the phone, Kurapika was sure he would have. Leorio's reaction wasn't unjustified, but the very notion of putting up with his discontent the longer this drug on only wore heavily on Kurapika's nerves.

 

"Yes, Leorio. That is pretty much it. I cannot readily explain how this situation actually happened, but currently I am traveling in Lucifer's company as we are proceeding to collect the eyes. He located our first pair here in Bathas and we will be going soon to retrieve them."

 

If Kurapika's chest could have tightened any further, he was sure all the air would have been expelled from his lungs. Surely he could keep the situation from blowing out of proportion more than it had, but the Kurta suspected that Leorio was already suspicious of his ambiguous answers.

 

"How can you be so sure he may not be leading you into a trap?! I mean, he could be ready to spring one the moment it's convenient and then you'd end up dead!"

 

This just kept on getting better and better, and the more Leorio groused, the less and less Kurapika wanted to continue on with their discourse.

 

"Trust me, I long since took the initiative to check into that. He has already proven to me that he has no intention on harming me or attempting to kill me. If I feel threatened in any way, then I will dispose of him. Currently, my chain still resides around his heart despite I've slightly laxed the conditions on it."

 

It was just like Leorio, for Kurapika had expected the other man to question him on such a thing. However, he continued on before his friend was even given the chance. "Everything I had originally put into place still remains in effect. Only difference; I knew he would need to use any resource expendable to him and as such, I have allowed him very limited contact with his Spiders. Or I should say, only one in particular."

 

"Are you really sure about this? Because I thought it was in the best interest to keep the Genei Ryodan's leader severed from the rest of them and for various reasons."

 

What had driven Kurapika all that time ago, the very force which had pushed him to the point he was at –  no, the point he had reached when attempting to extract his unwavering revenge had, indeed, housed many reasons. But now, with the conditions unremittingly changing between them, those very reasons Kurapika was realizing were no longer wanted. Or valid.

 

"The contact is very limited, but unfortunately, it was needed if we were to even use the means necessary to track down the remainder of the eyes." Kurapika continued voice even, steady. "Apparently one of his spiders is tech savvy and adept with computers. Granted, the only contact he is allowed is with that particular person in his group, and even if said person was to divulge the information to the other spiders, the conditions on his chain will still kill him." This time, Kurapika drew air in slowly; his chest felt excessively tight and it was then he realized just how shallowly he had been actually breathing.

 

"For some reason I don't trust this nor do I feel too comfortable with it." Leorio's words broke Kurapika from his momentary reverie, and he sighed as he was incensed. "I still think there could be some ultimatum or hidden agenda. Something doesn't feel right about this. I just hope you know what you are doing, Kurapika."

 

Sometimes, Kurapika wondered if even he was in total understanding with his own priorities. It was something he had been in a constant catechism with.

 

Knobs being turned and the sound of water ceasing its rhythmic flow alerted the younger man to the sounds emanating from the bathroom. Figuring it was best to not let Chrollo know he was remaining in touch with his friends – the less complications the better – Kurapika made the painful decision to cut his conversation short with Leorio, "Unfortunately I have to go. I promise to remain careful. Try and not worry about me too much and finish your studies. We will be in touch."

 

"Kurapika wait–"

 

Just as he looked up from the now black screen, Chrollo had exited the small room, partially dressed. Though his shirt had remained open and exposed what parts of his chest Kurapika could see from his position on the bed. The image caused a faint hint of rouge to crawl along the base of his cheeks. Immediately, Chrollo had noticed the phone in the blond's hands and a brow raised, but said nothing, "Do you always have to do that?" Kurapika quipped, rising off the bed without hesitation and brusquely walked towards the now unoccupied room, "I am going to shower now." and closed the door without another word.

 

Stepping into the basin and flipping on the water, Kurapika let it permeate into his golden locks, the spray seeming to wash away his worries, even if such was temporary. Still, he allotted himself a few minutes of much needed seclusion. As much as he still failed to admit it, Kurapika enjoyed the older man's company, but it was nice to be able to just sit and listen to his own thoughts for a change.

 

But he knew his time was fleeting, even as much as he was content with the silence of the closed space, he finished his shower after washing off and stepped back onto the tiled flooring once more. Kurapika toweled himself dry and changed into the clothes he had placed in the room the night before, which was a pair of form fitting denim pants and a navy blue tank top. Once he was satisfied with his appearance, which was after he brushed his teeth and combed his locks – damn he desperately needed a haircut, he then exited the small space.

 

"Feeling better now?" The immediate response came once Kurapika returned to the common room. Chrollo stood before him with two mugs in hand, one being proffered towards him. Rigidly taking the cup, Kurapika huffed, though his soft blue eyes landed on the other.

 

The usual bemused or complacent look no longer accented his fathomless grays. What Kurapika saw perturbed him, but not in a negative way. He felt something stir within and he had to instantly hide his bewildered expression by focusing on the mug between his fingers before he took a copious swig of its contents.

 

"I suppose." Kurapika finally responded to the older man's question as he allowed the caffeine from the hot coffee to draw his mind away from its current rumination to that of the day's agenda. There was still the matter of retrieving the Scarlet Eyes.

 

"So what is the plan for tomorrow's mission?" The blond questioned, taking another draw from the liquid within his mug.

 

"Well for one, as I mentioned, we are going to need disguises. Consta is a wealthy heiress that is known for her elaborate balls and gatherings. She normally attracts only the most prestige, so naturally we are going to need formal attire."

 

Watching Kurapika over the rim of his own mug, he weighted and calculated the younger man's response, which so far, had showed little alteration to his demeanor. Keeping his eyes fixedly on those luscious blues, Chrollo continued, his own expression remaining consistent. "I have also arranged for us to attend as a couple. Which means we will need to find the approbate clothing to suit the circumstance."

 

It took time for Chrollo's words to process as his brain didn't immediately comprehend the original concept until the magnitude of what the older man spoke had finally sunk in and it was then Kurapika thought his knees were going to cave beneath him. "Are you insane?"  He spit, the idealism of dressing up in feminine clothing appalled him.

 

Kurapika knew he had done it once, back in Yorknew during his half cocked plan when he captured the man now before him, but damn him if he was about to do it again. "You are expecting me to wear a frilly dress just so we can get into some high class lady's exorbitant function?"

 

This time, the corners of Chrollo's lips curled up and Kurapika thought he could have punched him straight in the face right then and there. "Pervert." But he settled for turning his attention away from that coy little smile and consumed the last of his coffee, trying with difficulty not to think of just how ridiculous he felt.

 

A finger came beneath his chin and without comment, guided his face back towards the older man's own and lifted his head up to gaze down into the Kurta's penetrating eyes, "Try to not stress about it too much, hm? Besides, I think you will look stunning in a dress."

 

Kurapika growled, but did not move; though he was certain a thin vein of scarlet bled into his cerulean irises. "Don't play around, Chrollo. Honestly, I am not very keen on this foolish junket you have planned, and even less on the idea of donning any sort of female clothing. As much as I hate the notion, I will do it only because it’s to help us ascertain the Scarlet Eyes. Otherwise, I'd not condone to it."

 

As much as it enthralled Chrollo with envisioning the blond wrapped up in silk and lace, he wasn't about to push the issue knowing with how uncomfortable Kurapika was on the subject. Besides, the younger man was astonishing and gorgeous by his own right and definitely didn't need intricate attire to eulogize that.

 

Retracting his hand from the blond's chin, he leaned down and placed a soft, gentle kiss to those pouty lips, letting his tongue trail over the bottom one before drawing away. "Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of it. If there are any condolences I can offer you, I will say that we will make this as quick and as painless as possible. Once we have the eyes in our possession, you can instantly do away with the clothing if it helps make you feel more comfortable and ease your mind."

 

For a moment, Kurapika began to falter. The memoir of Chrollo's kiss and of those strong fingers beneath his chin left him feeling fragmentary. Once again, something kindled within him, and he struggled with retaining control. There was just something about the way the raven-head touched him, kissed him, that seemed to cause him to plummet, to collapse. Every ounce of restraint suddenly, gone. It was like Kurapika was losing a part of himself and constantly becoming entwined in the moment.

 

But such was intermittent as he severed contact, not wishing to allow his head to become too hazed. Too clouded. At least not right now.

 

Even if Chrollo was like a drug, transfixing and intoxicating, Kurapika couldn't – no didn't want to refrain from luxuriating in the sensations it offered him. There would be time to become indulgent in such a thing. But for now, his main focus had to be getting his hands on the eyes.

 

Finger tips dusted over his surface of his lips were the remnants of the kiss remained, and for a moment Kurapika looked thoughtful before deciding on letting his attention fall back onto the current task at hand. "I am still not completely enthralled with this idea. But nonetheless, if it means acquiring the Scarlet Eyes, then I will commit to doing it. Even with as much as I despise it."

 

The older man eyed him;  as honest and concise his statement was, he couldn't help the small amount of regalement from Kurapika's reaction alone. His adversity towards adapting to certain situations, regardless of necessity made Chrollo wonder just how malleable the Kurta really was.

 

Considering for so long Kurapika had lived on the streets, suffered through many harsh environments and unmerciful situations just like he had, made Chrollo believe that the other man could easily survive any condition tossed at him. Hell, the blond practically grew up in the wood, so of course it was hard to think of Kurapika as otherwise and that he wouldn’t find any one position too difficult or problematic.

 

Nevertheless, if their goal was to be achieved, then it required equal cooperation. This was where the true test of Kurapika's alacrity would really prove itself.

 

Crossing his arms over his chest, he gave the younger man one last critical look – they were wasting too much time pressing over formalities when there was a lot of preparation to be done. Tomorrow, they will need to be fully equipped for whatever may come their way, for any miscalculations in their plans could prove to have inimical consequences.

 

"Your concerns are duly noted as I do understand your sentiments towards having to be placed in a situation such as this. But for now, it's best we do not focus on the negatives as we have a lot ahead to plan for," Chrollo paused, this time, he allowed one of his hands to come to rest against Kurapika's cheek as he cupped it, the thumb stroking soothingly along the blond's pale skin, "so try to not think too hard on it. Considering it’s still morning, perhaps we should go get something to eat then go shopping. We need the proper disguises if we are going to attend Mrs's Frendenz's function tomorrow."

 

Once the word shopping exited Chrollo's lips, it caused Kurapika's head to instantly tilt, his own analytical look conforming over his pristine features, "I assume by going shopping you don't actually intend to do it the honest way and plan to rob the stores blind?" The look that shone in Kurapika's eyes foretold of just how utterly astute the blond really was. Not only was he skillful and adept, he was also intelligent and assiduous which made for the perfect set of criteria in Chrollo's own eyes. Kurapika would, indeed, make a fantastic spider.

 

"Once again, you know me so well, don't you?" The raven-head couldn't help the tug at his lips as he grinned again. Kurapika never ceased to amaze him to say the least. "However, I was considering paying for our entire outing with money. Figured that it would be best for us to keep a low profile and not draw attention to ourselves while we are here. So rest assured you need not worry about that, either."

 

If Chrollo's words could have offered Kurapika any semblance of reassurance to his rather, scrutinizing point of view, then he most certainly neglected to do so. Chrollo's intrinsic nature made it extremely difficult to take the other man's words at anything less than face value. Once a thief, always a thief.

 

This was despite the fact that Kurapika was fully aware that Chrollo – and likely the rest of the spiders, were in possession of large sums of Jenny. But regardless of the assets his companion possessed it didn't prove that Chrollo thought he was above the bounds of empathy and honesty.

 

"For some reason I am not fully inclined to believe that. So I guess we shall see."

 

Kurapika just stood there watching the older man attentively for if he knew anything about Chrollo it was the other man didn't always say exactly what he meant.

 

"Well in that case," Out of his peripheral vision, Chrollo caught a slight frown to accentuate Kurapika's lips as he fully buttoned up the shirt he was wearing which caused him to smile. "I say we should probably get going. Standing around here all day isn't helping us get anything done."

 

Without another word, the Kurta simply nodded and walked over to where his luggage resided to fish out a light jacket, easily putting it on before rejoining Chrollo who was now standing by the hotel door. "Ready?" He asked, eyeing the younger man over once more.

 

"Yeah."

 

With that the door closed behind them with a resonate click.

 

 

§§§§§§§

 

 

The late morning air was cool – which was in stark contrast to the weather of places like Ti'alma, but Kurapika closed his eyes and marveled in it nonetheless. Compared to the usual hustle and bustle he was accustomed to in cities like Patalor and Yorknew, the serene atmosphere of Bathas was something considered calm and peaceful. There was still the aristocratic portion which resided just along the outskirts on the northern side of town. But aside that, it was nice not having to deal with the wax and wane cities seemed to produce.

 

Chrollo had led them to a small, antiquated restaurant where he thought the food sounded good, and soon they found themselves sitting at a table in a quiet little nook within the place, menus in hands as they each scanned over the list of itemized contents.

 

They sat in relative silence as they picked through their options before Kurapika finally spoke up, having settled on an option that had piqued his interest. "This sounds good." He looked up from the varnished coated item betwixt his fingers and let his eyes fall on the man across from him. Chrollo tore his eyes from his own menu to meet Kurapika's gaze. "It's apparently called Eggs Benedict and is made with something called hollandaise sauce. I have never had this before, but I suppose I'll give it a try."

 

The leader of the Genei Ryodan had been too many places and had plenty of opportunity to try a great number of things. From staying in exquisite reserves to tasting the grandest of delicacies, Chrollo had many experiences. If one thing was certain, there weren’t too many types of food staples he hadn't tried. What Kurapika described was definitely not one of them.

 

"A good choice. I have tried that before. The flavor is subtle, yet significant. It consists of eggs on top of ham and English muffins. I am sure you will enjoy it."

 

Looking back down at his own menu once more, he scanned it over before settling on his own option. "For me, I am going to order the steak and eggs. It's simple, yet robust and abundant with protein." Laying the object down upon the table, he resumed his focus upon his blond companion once more. "After we finish our meals here, I noticed there is a small shopping district just a few blocks from here. We will head there and find the outfits necessary for tomorrow night's event."

 

After a few moments, a petite girl who could not have been older then Kurapika's age appeared at their table, a timid look upon her young countenance. For a moment she looked circumspect, her large, doe appearing eyes shifting between them before settling on Chrollo.  Once again and much to Kurapika's dismay, the older man put on that infuriating smile he always seemed to when in the presence of other people and the blond felt that pang of jealousy rise in him. "Is there anything I can get you and your lovely companion?"

 

If anything, the vein that suddenly began to throb within Kurapika's temple could have prompted him in allowing his temperament to show, but he settled for just grinding his teeth in silent agitation. Why Chrollo felt the need to instigate situations like this, he may never know. But at the moment, the Kurta was veritably ready to choke the man.

 

The raven-head snickered at the girl's comment, but said nothing else and he kept his voice dripping with saccharine as he continued to address her. "Yes there is. We have settled on our options. My girlfriend will have the Eggs Benedict," He paused, watching Kurapika out of corner of his eye while retaining focus on their waitress, and of course as predicted, the blond looked simply aghast. Kurapika's expression was priceless and it caused Chrollo to be unable to hold back. He simply kept smiling as a result, "and I will have the steak and eggs. Medium well please."

 

After jotting down their orders, she gave a quick, partial bow and promptly sped off, leaving them alone once more. Still, in the span of a few moments, Kurapika's expression turned from looking repelled to sullen, "Why do you always enjoy tormenting me as you have? I hate it when people mistake me for being female, and you just seem to gloat every time it happens."

 

The inflection of Kurapika's words definitely validated that he was growing rather tired of Chrollo's injurious ways. It was always at his expense that the older man seemed to find his entertainment, going even as far as to invoke his jealousy. Damn Chrollo if it didn't anger him when the older man seemed to flirt or give other people more attention than necessary. But also taking it to such extremes as encouraging the portrayal of him as the opposite gender to what he really was just equally vexed him as Chrollo's coquetry did.

 

His expression darkened the more he realized just how slick the raven-head thought he was being. It didn't sway his current feelings towards the older man but using him as a virtual toy wasn't something Kurapika was keen on in any way.

 

"Oh, I don't think I was stepping too far out of bounds. I did tell you for one, you need a haircut as it is probably one reason you are being constantly mistaken for a girl, which I advise you do after we complete our mission tomorrow." Chrollo trailed off and the blond's demeanor remained negative, so he decided to carefully construct his words for Kurapika was one that definitely took things more stringently then he should, "Besides, you are cute when you pout. Not that I am complaining or anything. Still, you need to relax. Don't take everything I do so seriously."

 

He almost couldn't believe what Chrollo was saying, it was almost as if he was speaking a foreign language. The very thought that he wanted Kurapika to be passive and accept his injunction like that only infuriated him more. "How do you expect me to do that when you are intent on constantly provoking me? Seriously Chrollo, it's become asinine."

 

Chrollo leaned forward; eyes fixed intently on the younger man's own icy blues and something within reminded him of why he adored those eyes so much. Yet, seeing Kurapika so flummoxed only added to his mirth.

 

"Kurapika," he drawled slowly, the sound of his voice becoming more seductive, more hypnotic, "you worry too much. Honestly it's only going to add blemishes to your impeccant skin. But if it makes you feel better, I will lay off the sideline commentary from now on."

 

How insolent. Now Chrollo portrayed him as weak minded? He sighed in exasperation but refused to comment further for he knew the older man would counter him move for move. "Fine." Kurapika uttered just as the slender, young girl returned with their orders.

 

They sat in relative silence for the majority of their meal, Kurapika lost in thought as he ate, Chrollo being rather indulgent in his. When they went to leave, the blond was indeed, surprised when the older man actually paid for their meal. Then his thought processes changed to the fact that more than likely the money used was stolen. Kurapika frowned at the notion. Nonetheless, there was no use gripping about it, anyway.

 

A short time later, they found themselves meandering down the shopping district of Bathas, passing a great number of stores. Many were centered on home goods, souvenirs, food shops and fashion. The better part of Bathas relied on tourism as it heavily sustained their economy, which was clearly evident by the abundance of merchandise geared towards it.

 

They spent the better part of an hour canvassing the stores before finally settling on a boutique that catered to upper class and wealthy, Chrollo practically dragging Kurapika into the shop as the blond looked positively repulsed.

 

Instantly a sales associate came out to greet them as Chrollo let his eyes rove over the copious suits, dresses and other formal attire. It took him a moment to register the other man's presence before those dark grey eyes fell upon him.

 

"What can I help you with today?" The worker had a low, gruff tone to his voice, which caused Kurapika to blink as he was still slightly affronted. He motioned over towards one of the racks and began thumbing one of the suits, which the fabric he could tell was exquisite and refined, but upon closer inspection, revealed the cost and his eyes nearly bulged. Half the clothes in the store must have cost more than he made in a month while working for Light Nostrade!

 

"Yes," Kurapika heard Chrollo addressing the associate as he continued surveying the merchandise while listening to their conversation, "my companion and I need clothes to addend Mrs Frendanz's upcoming viewing which unfortunately has come on such short notice."

 

Instantly the other man clapped, a broad smile crossing over his slightly gaunt features, "So I assume monsieur is seeking a suit while your lovely girlfriend here needs a dress?"

 

Again, the very aspect of being misgendered caused Kurapika to feel disgusted. As Chrollo realized the abrupt change in the Kurta’s demeanor, he leaned in close and nudged the younger man in the side. "Just go with it for now. We have to play the part." He whispered before nodding to the wiry man who stood in front of him, that charming smile once again appearing on the raven-head's lips.

 

"We do," Chrollo confirmed as he started to lay their ploy on thick, "of course, my companion isn't sure what she needs for such an extravagant event. I however, would prefer one of your best suits."

 

He could hear the gears practically turning over and over in Kurapika's head as he was probably beyond exacerbated by this point and Chrollo snickered in spite of himself. The raven-head flinched when the blond elbowed him back and he could see the furnaces roaring behind those lurid blue eyes.

 

"Of course! Right this way, then monsieur."

 

Ignoring his companion's thunderous disposition, Chrollo proceeded to follow the associate further into the store, mentally prepared to handle Kurapika's paroxysm that he would more than likely be faced with, later on. For the time being he kept focus on their current task at hand and that was retaining their current farce and finalizing preparations.

 

No matter how inflamed Kurapika got, he had little to no choice but to suck down his pride and deal with it. Yet, he would be sure to compensate the blond later for everything he made the younger man, endure.

 

After about an hour and ludicrous amount of fittings later, they were both heading back to their hotel room with their purchases. Which again, astonished Kurapika that Chrollo paid for. Most of their trek was done in silence as the younger man remained petulant and Chrollo dared not disturb him.

 

If anything, the older man remembered all too well how easily the blond could be instigated, and he would probably retaliate on the spot, which was the last thing he wanted and specifically while in public. Chrollo wanted to avoid anything that could be detrimental to their cover. But he really didn't want to rile Kurapika up anymore then he already was.

 

So he kept the peace until they made it back to the sanctity of their hotel room. Much to his surprise, Kurapika said nothing until Chrollo took the chance to actually address him. "Would you like to get some dinner?"

 

There was an immediate chill amiss the room, and the stolid expression that crossed Kurapika's visage directly made Chrollo feel strangely off set. Something about the Kurta's current demeanor warned him not to impinge on him. "Sure, why not?"

 

With how thick the air got, it felt like he was literally suffocating, the younger man's aura had become exceedingly threatening and this made the raven-head continue in remaining cautious.

 

After deciding on room service for dinner, they ate in awkward saturninity. Every now and then, Chrollo would glace at Kurapika but the blond seemed to thoroughly ignore him and focused on his own food. It wasn't until after their meal concluded and Kurapika had positioned himself on the side of the bed he chose to sleep in that he acknowledged the Chrollo's presence.

 

Profound eyes watched him curiously as the older man slipped seamlessly, but adroitly behind him, Kurapika sensing the bed dip as Chrollo came to kneel behind him. The blond attempted to look behind himself, completely unsure as to what his companion's intentions were until strong fingers finally came to rest along his shoulders. The gentle, yet motioning pressure that he soon felt gave Kurapika the answer he needed.

 

Allowing his eyes to slip closed for a moment he forgot about his umbrage and leaned against the man's touches, Chrollo slowly massaging the blond's shoulders in a firm, but pleasant motion. "You are tense." The statement could have easily been considered obvious, for Kurapika sighed at the notion – if this was Chrollo's attempt to placate him, it wouldn't work. "Such stiff muscles."

 

Keeping his eyes closed, Kurapika took in the meaning behind the older man's statement. It was of no mystery why he was as tense he was – Chrollo had insisted on fomenting him and it had put the blond in a rather foul mindset. So why was he thinking his attention would so easily cull him now?

 

"There is a very good reason why I am like this as you should already know." Kurapika finally spoke after a brief pause between them. Despite his predicament, the blond made no motion to move, instead, he leaned a little more into Chrollo's ministrations. "Had you not been so emphatic earlier, I probably wouldn't be feeling the way I am, now."

 

Chrollo added slightly more pressure, hands repeatedly working over the stiff and taunt muscles along the ridge of Kurapika's shoulders and back. He simply hummed in response, though his focus remained fixed on the blond before him. "To be honest, I wouldn't say I had been too ambitious. Well, perhaps in the beginning, but as you understand, we have a profile to maintain if we are going to pull this job off effectively."

 

Little by little, Chrollo's hands moved, working along the younger man's shoulder blades, tips kneading the muscles beneath attentively, "I am sorry if I have made you feel demoralized, and it truly wasn't my intention. But for now, with as much it is to your distaste, I ask for your cooperation, Kurapika. You want to retrieve the eyes, correct?"

 

Again Kurapika exhaled; he still wasn't mentally prepared for this, but unfortunately Chrollo was right. The prospect of ascertaining his clan's eyes indeed, outweighed any discomfort he felt and if that meant portraying the role of a prominent and wealthy woman, then so be it. He would don that god forsaken dress and play the part. But if Chrollo had any inclination that he would allow him to continue on with such a notion after the fact, well, then the older man had another thing coming.

 

"I do." For a moment, Kurapika reveled in the sensation of Chrollo's hands along his back. The touch felt wonderful and soothing. But after mere moments, he canted his head angular to catch a glimpse of the man residing behind him. "Just this once I will continue on with this act, Chrollo Lucifer. But if you honestly think I will allow you to keep on promoting this little act hereafter, then consider the fact I just may have to kill you."

 

Chrollo smiled at the affirmation, even though there was a crucial undertone to the blond's stern words. He chuckled. "I don't think it's something you need to worry about. You have made your point pretty clear."

 

He gazed once again into those vast, ensorcelling eyes and Chrollo felt himself captivated by them as he always had. The compulsion was substantial, as substantial as it had always been and he found himself leaning down, lips connecting with Kurapika's own pale ones as he drew the younger man into a tender, yet, deep kiss.

 

Everything etiolated around them and Kurapika eagerly melded into it, readily accepting Chrollo's tongue as it pervaded into his mouth, his own slipping and curling around the welcomed appendage. Time seemed to lapse and Kurapika began to feel as if he was buoyant, airy, the sensation of being euphoric starting to envelope him. Their lips worked against one another with unmatched fervency, the older man's breath warm against his flesh.

 

Perhaps his companion's actions were meant to deflect him. Alter and preclude him. But as Kurapika partook in the satiety of the moment, everything else became naught for nothing else held any importance but the man beside him and their torrid kiss.

 

Slender hands lifted and slipped amid soft, raven locks, twining almost firmly within them as he pulled Chrollo closer to him, ensuring that their contact remained.

 

How or why Kurapika always seemed in allowing himself to become this enfeebled by the older man was something he surely did not understand – and may never understand. But one thing he did know was Chrollo made him feel elated.

 

A soft groan echoed against their shared contact as the feeling was soft and gentle. With the lack of roughness present despite the zeal and ardor of their embrace, Kurapika only remained pliant, his lips easily working against Chrollo's own as the taste of the older man actively dulled his senses.

 

Every part of him was becoming lost, transfixed, mind intoxicated as he drew in on the older man's permeating scent. The combination of spice and patchouli penetrated his senses and Kurapika thought he was going to become utterly adrift to its enticing allure.

 

He barely registered Chrollo's mouth pressing more securely against his own before the vacant feeling amid a sudden chill brought him back to awareness and a faint whine of regret exited his mouth, eyes opening to land questioningly on the man who still leaned over him.

 

"I think that is enough for now." Chrollo spoke in a teasing, yet smooth tone, one hand cupping the blond's cheek as his thumb stroked over the corner of his lips, "After what happened last time, I think I won't indulge you too much. You need rest as tomorrow we have a lot to prepare for."

 

Rising off the bed, Chrollo ambled over to his luggage to gather a set of clothing comfortable for sleeping in and proceeded to the bathroom to change, "I would utilize the time I am in there to change yourself." and disappeared into the small room, letting the door close behind him. Kurapika continued to look at where the older man had been just moments before with a thoughtful expression before following Chrollo's example and rose off the bed to rummage through his own luggage for a suitable set of nightwear.

 

He was fully dressed when Chrollo joined him in the common room again.

 

"Good. At least you are ready," casually the raven-head sashayed between the two beds, eyes locking with Kurapika's own as those parted lips spoke of words wanting to be said, but not uttered, "for it is already late and we both need sleep."

 

As much as Kurapika wanted to admit, Chrollo was right about him needing rest, but the remnants of their kiss not only moments before still lingered heavily in his mind, "Thank you." The blond simply said before lying down on the mattress and slipping beneath the welcoming covers, falling into silence soon after.

 

For a while Chrollo just idled where he was, watching Kurapika as his breathing soon feel into an even rhythm, confident after so long, the younger man had fallen asleep.

 

Kurapika truly was an angel, and looked more the part as he remained still, those golden tresses framing his perfect, unblemished face with slightly parted rosy lips. He couldn't help but finally realize why he was falling for the blond as he was. Just the look of him made his heart beat rapidly in his chest and generated a pull he could not decipher. Chrollo was confident that longer he remained in the Kurta's presence, he would sooner or later become completely attached to the other and find that perhaps what he was feeling was indeed, love.

 

Satisfied with the outcome of the day's events as well as his current musings, Chrollo slipped beneath the sheets of his own bed, eyes closing as he, too, prepared to sleep. Indeed, he liked the way things were going, and he promised himself that he would see it come to fruition no matter what.

Chapter Text

Kurapika expelled a heavy laden sigh, eyes focused upon the lurid reflection that seemed to stare back, judging, scrutinizing. His golden locks were disheveled and tousled; a few strands fell in front of his piercing blues. Almost instinctively, he reached to tuck the errant strands behind his ear.

 

Something within the phantasmal image inside the mirror had captivated his attention. So many times in the past, Kurapika regarded the always seemingly present apparition with acuity, but there was also an overt vein of perusal. Every time those eyes would look back, he felt as if he was looking down into his very own soul. At times it was harrowing, almost crushing, knowing that beneath it all, he could see the hollow shades of his own forsaken morality.

 

Losing one's way and forgetting who you are, what you are, it was as rebarbative as it was in letting go. Even as Kurapika was once again attempting to find himself by rediscovering who he is, and what purpose he has, well, it was also something he needed to learn to accept, and learn to construct. Being at odds with yourself was suffice it to say, a bit strange and paradoxical, if at the very least, daunting.

 

But Kurapika wasn't above the challenge, nor was he determined to resist the will in seeking change. Granted, he was still fighting that internal war while struggling with the facilitating innovation that was slowly and steadily progressing in the rewrite of his ideals along with the progressive transformation to his chaotic life in general.

 

Of course this didn't come without a price. One that would eventually instigate a huge cost. But in the long-run, would also glean a greater payout.

 

Kurapika had long since mentally prepared for whatever may come his way, but had since stagnated as a result due to multiple reasons. One being Chrollo’s strange, yet alluring behavior. For so long all the Kurta could do was stew in his own self-loathing. Constantly whittling his life away as he had progressed down the path of total annihilation, where the end would only be anything but eternal peace. It was not what was destined for him, nor was it the story he was supposed to forge. So many cold and interminable nights he had spent cleverly plotting how to derive the best way in extracting his own impellent revenge. But never realizing or perhaps just not caring that such decisions had shackled him.

 

However, times were changing and it was a slow mind altering process that was repeatedly drawing him further away from his dangerous ways, from the only life he ever knew. It couldn’t be said Kurapika wasn’t accepting or welcoming to such idealisms, but the simple fact of learning to completely vindicate himself, and from there to let go.

 

For another moment he gazed at himself in the mirror, fingers raking through his golden crop of hair. As he reached the tips, it was then he snorted in mirth.

 

Falling back from his introspection did those spirited blue eyes land once more on the image staring back at him, but this time, an entirely different thought crossed his mind.

 

“I did tell you for one, you need a haircut as it is probably one reason you are being constantly mistaken for a girl, which I advise you do after we complete our mission tomorrow."

 

Chrollo´s words replayed over and over inside his head, constantly reminding him of just how incorrigible, yet right the older man really was.

 

Swiping his fingers through his tresses once more, Kurapika faltered to silent resolution. Damn that bastard. Why is he always so persistent? It was something Kurapika had always wondered, but never completely understood. He felt no closer to comprehending Chrollo's motives, even as he stared down at the article before him which was spread out intricately over the bathroom countertop.

 

For a moment Kurapika scrutinized the item before him which seemed to be at the moment, the bane of his existence. Reaching forward, fingertips went to touch its delicate surface, though he nearly recoiled as if it was constructed of fire and yet, the vibrancy of its sequined surface instantly drew him back. With a grunt, he allowed his hands to clutch into the fabric, raising the elegant dress off the surface and examined it. Waves of navy blue cascaded to the floor, pooling at his feet as he lifted it up, causing it to glint beneath the lights within the room, as if thousands of diamonds had been woven into its intricate patterning.

 

One thing Kurapika noticed aside it had a halter top was the shockingly low cut in the back, which practically ended above where his ass would be. Just thinking about it made Kurapika feel instantly nonplussed and a bit bewildered. When he committed to being stuck wearing a dress in order to disguise himself and pass as a wealthy woman to get into Consta's high class function, he didn't expect it to be something so scandalous! Intermittingly, Kurapika's hands balled into fists, nearly tearing into the fancy dress, silently cursing that he would see Chrollo pay for his treacherous act.

 

At the moment, he knew that unfortunately there was no turning back. Regardless of how discomfited he felt, his clan's indemnity was at stake. He had to retrieve the Scarlet Eyes, no matter the cost or the consequence. Whatever reservations he may have been experiencing, he had no other choice but to cast aside his own personal bias.

 

Kurapika sighed, relaxing his grip on the dress and concluded that the sooner they got this over with, the better.

 

What annoyed Kurapika the most was the ineffable amount of time it took for him to actually get the thing on. It seemed to hug him in all the right places, even around the hips which only conformed to his effeminate frame, giving him the appearance of having an hourglass shape. Rippling bolts of blue draped from his legs, falling to the tiled floor only to trail around him, which strangely enough, resembled the image of a mermaid's tail. The blond scoffed and wondered how anyone would even be able to walk around in such a thing, especially with that much silk pooling around the feet. But it was the least of his concerns as he glanced over at the type of shoes that was picked to go with the dress. Kurapika practically cringed.

 

They were of the same color and sequined, but with a heel so thin and high, it made Kurapika wonder if anyone had fallen while wearing them. Fearing that his own ankles would fall victim to such an outcome, Kurapika continued to send a mental prayer that he wouldn't end up with a broken neck by the end of the night as he took the time to finally slip them on, once again stringing together a collection of silent curses as he attempted to steady himself while wearing the infernal things.

 

Looking himself over in the mirror, it was startling just how easily he transitioned from having any plausible appearance of being male in any way to that of solely female. Aside from the lack of any breasts, Kurapika looked picturesque as a very prominent and high class lady, even down to his shape as the dress made damn certain to be form fitting and snug.

 

It definitely wasn't something he was keen on; quite to the contrary as it caused a slight feel of dysphoria to waver within the blond's mind. Nevertheless, he steeled his resolve and committed to finishing off his little disguise before Chrollo decided to come busting the door down wondering why he was taking as long as he was.

 

Remembering that there was one last detail to add to his little masquerade, he reached over to a small cosmetic bag that Chrollo had conveniently gotten for him and opened it up. Fishing out a few items – something else Kurapika wasn’t too thrilled with putting on, and laid them out on the surface of the counter. In no way was he an expert in putting on makeup and was already sickened by the notion of actually having to put the cursed stuff on his skin.

 

But he swallowed his pride and started out with accenting his eyes with mascara, making sure to give his lashes a lush, full look. After completing that, he moved to putting on foundation, which after spending a few frustrating moments trying to figure how to apply it without leaving crease marks along his cheeks, Kurapika managed to finally get it to appear smooth. His features were now looking more accented.



Finally, he dabbed on a little eyeshadow to make the color of his eyes pop and then added lip gloss before completing his little farce. Though upon seeing himself once again in the mirror only added to the rising bile in the back of his throat which he had to keep suppressed.

 

Once he put everything away and took a few steps around the meager space in an attempt to learn how to balance while walking in what were practically stilettos, Kurapika felt he was ready to join Chrollo in the main room. Yet, something in the back of his mind left him still feeling perturbed for once the older man would lay eyes on him, the blond was convinced he would have some informal, or lecherous comment. Kurapika readied himself with silent resolution that if such were to happen, he would have no provisions with punching Chrollo directly in the face.

 

With another exhale and mental preparation, Kurapika exited the bathroom.

 

A brief clicking of heels captured Chrollo's attention and he turned just in time to see Kurapika enter into the room he had been waiting in. Looking up from his cell phone, instantly his eyes began to rove over the curvatures of the Kurta's body, realizing that his choices had indeed, been good. Waves of dark, oceanic blue appeared to flow in rivulets from Kurapika's hips and down into pools upon the floor, the trail behind it gave the image of it being one of those mythological creatures he read about only in books. Mermaids, he remembered them being called. Kurapika seemed to shift beneath his weighing, lingering - and as expected, hungry - gaze, causing him to instantly bring his arms up around himself, suddenly feeling exposed.

 

To a fault, it made Kurapika uneasy, out of place, just the way Chrollo eyed him reminded him of a shark circling its prey. Mentally, he had to remind himself that Chrollo was an enigma, who was peculiar and half the time he did things that didn't make a whole lot of sense. Like he was doing now. Which only furthered to incite Kurapika's over powering discomfort.

 

"What are you staring at?" Kurapika snapped as a somber look crossed over his visage. "You've been watching me since I've come out of the bathroom." Kurapika tightened his arms around himself, believing that if he held onto his slender body long enough, and concealed what bare skin he had, he could virtually disappear at any given moment. But he couldn't help the feeling of being stripped naked by the other man's eyes, those taunting, compelling grays practically drinking him in with each passing moment.

 

"Well, I simply cannot help myself," Chrollo lifted up from the sole arm chair residing within the space they were occupying and closed the space between them, coming to stop just before Kurapika. Two fingers soon found roost beneath his chin as they proceeded to lift his head up, eyes locking with the older man's. "as you are rather stunning. Not to mention, quite beautiful. Blue definitely suits you."

 

Leaning down, Chrollo came mere inches from Kurapika's face; the man's breath was warm and pleasant against the surface of his skin. "Besides, you shouldn't worry too much. Before you know it this will all be over, we will have the eyes and you can forget this little folly ever happened." Even if there was truth to Chrollo's words, it didn't help abate the trepidation Kurapika was sensing.

 

There was still the matter of them going out in public to stand before the wealthy and prestigious. While the older man knew he wasn't a woman and behind all the lace, jewels and makeup, Kurapika was still as equally stressed as he was prepared, it still made him feel uneasy. Granted, he was no stranger to cross-dressing and had readily done so out of necessity. But to commit to it again, especially while in the presence of his strange companion; Kurapika shivered. The sudden feel of soft lips brushing against his own brought him out of his idle thoughts.

 

He stared at Chrollo wide-eyed, almost completely taken aback by the composed, but assured action. Without thinking, Kurapika leaned in, letting their contact only become firm, palpable, the older man's palms cupping his cheeks as for a few spare moments they indulged into a light, chaste kiss. Once they broke apart, Kurapika let his intense gaze fall on the older man once more, though the Kurta wasn't as agitated as he had been prior.

 

"Just don't go and get any ideas. I am not wearing this thing for your benefit." He added, his voice stern as he reiterated his profession from the night before. Surely Chrollo had at least enough decency and restraint to not allow himself get overcome by his own desires while Kurapika was stuck wearing the bloody thing that now encased his lithe body. Even if he found the dress comfortable and velvety against his skin, it didn't render him from wanting to remove it as soon as he was able to. Continuing to be displayed in it only served to further his apprehension.

 

Still, despite the rather blatant warning, Chrollo couldn't help but snicker, though more to himself then directly at Kurapika. Stern blue eyes cast a judgmental look towards him that could have been considered enough to practically kill.

 

Even as Chrollo dared not over step his boundaries lest he incite the wrath of one irate blond, he let his own gaze drop towards the extravagant three piece suit he wore. Idly, but needlessly, he began smoothing out the nonexistent wrinkles in the blazer before adjusting his tie. He could feel Kurapika's eyes watching him levelly, cuttingly.

 

Again Kurapika huffed, finding it rather awkward to walk around in those ridiculous heels he was wearing. He mentally berated himself for being so easily jockeyed into doing something as unbelievable as going on this fatuous endeavor of theirs as he felt corralled into something outrageous and shameful. Assuredly this would be the very last time he'd commit to something like this again, "So, how much longer until this little reception starts? I am definitely eager to get this show under way. But are there any final details to go over beforehand?"

 

So far, Chrollo had discussed the finer details of their course of action needed in order to retain the Scarlet Eyes. Though the main part of their plan was already heavily constructed, thought out and strategized, Kurapika wanted to be methodical by making the procedure as infallible as possible. One could never be too careful, which was a thought constantly in the back of his mind. If they were to complete this mission with as little obstacles as possible, then Kurapika knew they had to be fully sure of every step necessary to complete the task at hand.

 

Checking the time, Chrollo knew they had just a few scant hours left until Consta's grant viewing. Even though he had been fairly confident in the decisive maneuver that he had thoroughly planned out between himself, Kurapika and Shalnark, it seemed that his companion had become quite distressed, showing a level of anxiety that Chrollo wasn't quiet used to seeing the blond exhibit.

 

He had figured the original reasoning was due to the incommodious situation Kurapika was being put through, which the older man was feeling sympathetic about, but the sensation that wavered off the younger man's aura, spoke of underlying anxiety. One hand came to rest on the blond's bare shoulder as he gave it a light squeeze in hopeful reassurance.

 

"It will be alright. We got about two hours before Consta begins accepting guests. For now, I agree we should go over the plan once more with a fine tooth comb before proceeding, at least to ensure that we complete this mission successfully." Thinking back on it, Chrollo had thought that in reality, one could never be too careful and making sure this mission was completed as smoothly as possible was top on his priority list.



He gave the younger man’s shoulder another reassuring squeeze.



“Before anything, to aid in concealing our identities, I have set up fake last names. I made sure to pick something that would be commonly used by someone in a position of wealth and power. I finally settled on the Allencort last name. It was actually a name used by a line of royals during ancient times.” Chrollo knew he had taken a huge risk when he delved into famous bloodlines of the past. But he was fairly certain the Allencort name had died out a very long time ago.



Pulling his hand back and letting it fall to his side, he let it slip into the pocket of the trousers he wore, extracting his cell phone from its confines. "I also have everything set up already with Shalnark in regards to the security system. At seven pm sharp, Consta will begin the event with a speech, followed by a reveal exactly thirty minutes later. A social gathering will then follow the viewing, which we will utilize as our time to strike."

 

The screen lit up as Chrollo tapped a few buttons, sending off a quick text message before returning the phone to the pocket of which he had gotten it from, "At promptly eight pm after everyone has moved out of the main stateroom, Shalnark has been instructed to disengage the cameras and lights. It will be from there we will make our way from the antechamber back to where the eyes are and retrieve them. We will have exactly ten minutes to get to the eyes before the security system reactivates."

 

Chrollo knew that there was a lot at stake in regards to enacting each step with exact precision and timing, for one false move could easily jeopardize their entire mission. "I am going to need you to follow my every instruction Kurapika. Down to the letter. Regardless of how you may feel, it's imperative that we work together with full cooperation. If not, I foresee a critical outcome that very well may cost us the entire operation."

 

It wasn't that Chrollo didn't trust Kurapika, he knew he could put every ounce of faith into the blond's wits and skills without question. But with his temperament, it definitely brought cause for concern into Chrollo's mind.

 

Those penetrating blue eyes and that indomitable spirit; Chrollo was able to adeptly sense it, feel it down to the very core of his being and Kurapika's aura was as profound as ever. The resonating pull only invoked a sense of attraction, but also rose a thread of concern. Chrollo liked it when the pretty blond - his pretty blond exuded his own level of control. Yet, with a force as vehement and defined as Kurapika's own inner passion, it made the blond all the more desirable. It was just one of many reasons that made the leader of the Genei Ryodan continue to house an affinity for Kurapika. Perhaps in reality, Kurapika was really Chrollo's greatest weakness.

 

Not that it really mattered when he was determined to keep Kurapika in his life and at his side.

 

"You have nothing to be worried about." Kurapika responded in a flat tone, "I do not like the idea of you telling me what to do, but I will not give you any further qualms with following your instructions. My main concern is just getting our hands on the eyes." In retrospect, for so long, Kurapika had been used to being his own person. To living how he saw fit and by his own free will. Being doled out orders aside anyone but his boss, like Light Nostrade, never sat too well with him. Especially when said orders were coming from the man before him he had sworn to vanquish, but no longer felt the drive to do so.

 

So Kurapika suppressed the urges and welling inclination to resist. Doing so would conclusively get them nowhere. Also it wasn't as if Chrollo didn't know what he was doing; Kurapika knew just how cunning and tactful the older man really was. An S-Class criminal with a bounty on his head that no one had ever been able to fulfill, even Kurapika himself. It was enough to garner respect from the blond. Chrollo was capricious, proficient and sometimes ostentatious, but he was also a paradox, the simple analogy of the perfect illusion, like the wind. There one minute, gone the next.

 

It was just another nail to the coffin that invocated Kurapika's need and attraction towards Chrollo. Even  though he neglected to admit to it. Kurapika huffed again when that damned smile he seemed to love so much crossed over Chrollo's plush lips. "That's good to hear. Though, I do have faith in your abilities. The skills you possess along with your capability and intelligence precedes you. Together with my own knowledge, integrity and abilities, I have confidence that we will pull this off without much of a hitch." He inclined forward, one hand coming to rest along Kurapika's cheek as he cupped it, thumb tenderly stroking the skin beneath. "You truly are something special."

 

Chrollo could hardly contain his own praises, even after Kurapika expressed shock at the notion. It was something the younger man wasn't used to, but he had been slowly becoming accustomed to and was growing a fondness for. Once his initial consternation disappeared, he fell into a brief silence, instinctively nuzzling into that soft, inviting palm. Perhaps Kurapika was starting to have an epiphany of his own. One with the very realization that maybe, just maybe, everything that was happening to him was occurring for a reason and that conceivably, he and Chrollo were meant to be.

 

Just like his mother had projected. Just like she had wished.

 

Each and every day was a constant reminder of why he was in the situation he was, and along with each new day it seemed to gradually bring him and Chrollo closer together.

 

“Don't continue to oppose, just let go.”

 

The voices which constantly buzzed about in his mind never seemed to cease. Always there. Always present. But they spoke nothing but the truth. Even if they were only in part, what was guiding him towards a destiny that had been mapped out for him, Kurapika could only watch it inevitably, unfold.

 

Cold washed over the surface of his flesh once Chrollo's hand retracted and his diverted focus went inquisitively back to the older man's countenance. "It's about time we get going. We don't want to be late and good attendance is best for helping to maintain our projected appearance."

 

As Chrollo began to draw away, the expanse between them starting to grow from a fissure to cavernous, Kurapika's expression transitioned from miffed and perplexed, to wistful and crestfallen. For reasons unknown, the younger man looked almost as if he had been disheartened by the premise of Chrollo's actions not but moments before, as if he had been expecting... Something more. A frown crept along Kurapika's visage, though it was something that didn't totally go unnoticed.

 

He was resolute, quickly succumbing to the fact that even if he had wished to spare a little more time, just a few moments where he could rest inside the boundaries of contentment, such was not the case. Even as appealing as it may be, time had inadvertently ran out. Kurapika couldn't rationalize why he was feeling the way he was, but something made him want to stay with Chrollo just a while longer.

 

Still, he had a duty to uphold and a mission to complete. This was no time for frivolities and committing to mortal permissiveness would only cause him to stagnate and deviate from his actual goal. He needed to get it together, get his mind collected and on track...

 

Something resided beneath his chin, lifting his head, grey eyes meeting his own, "There is no need to look so dejected." Chrollo purred, though there was tenderness to his voice. "Once it's all over, you can have me all to yourself."

 

Kurapika couldn't believe him. What was Chrollo thinking? Did the older man consider him so weak, so unconstrained so... Depraved that he was practically drinking on the older man's presence? But then again, he was hit with a sudden wash of awareness and Kurapika stopped dead in his tracks. Suddenly, everything became so clear. It was something he didn't realize before, but now wished he had.

 

The Kurta looked thoughtful, not a hint of adversity among his pristine features, "Actually, I would like that." He said simply, a scant smile crossing over his slightly pink lips.

 

This time, it was Chrollo who was surprised. Such a dramatic change, almost vast in comparison to Kurapika's usual demeanor. Whatever had brought on such a huge change of heart made Chrollo even more curious.

 

However, he said nothing as he simply nodded and smiled as a response to the younger man. As astonishing as it was; and yes he was indeed, pleased with the positive changes by his pretty companion, Chrollo didn't become too eager or flagrant with Kurapika's shift in pace. Even with as tempting as the idea was, his true goal was still to win the blond's heart.

 

For now, they had to focus on their current objective. "Good." Looking over the younger man and his attire once more, Chrollo turned to leave, this time without hindrance, "It's time to go." He continued, taking Kurapika's hand, gently pulling the other to him. "Best not to dawdle."

 

Agreeing for once with the older man, he allowed himself to be guided out the door of their hotel room.

 

~*~

 

It was larger than expected. Grander than anyone has ever seen. Finer than one could have hoped for. So many people dressed in their best livery milled about the well manicured courtyard as a sinfonietta played elegant, classical music.

 

The drone of voices could be heard as those of prestige; lords, ladies, and high-class status prattled on about either their grandiose exploits, acquisitions or to boast of their accomplishments. So much vainglory was in the air and it was all Kurapika could do not to choke. Even as they had arrived at the gate, his hand resting like a proper lady on Chrollo's arm, though the idea of it was much to his dismay, Kurapika had a hard time retaining composure.

 

They had easily secured their first task - getting past the checkpoint where a guard was inspecting invitations to the guest list, and making sure no one of erroneous intent made it into the private function. Which was laughable as Chrollo knew they had infiltrated with barely any hitches. Though the guard had given them a rather strange look as he compared their invitation to the list of guests, but let them pass without so much as a word.

 

Inside the soirée appeared to have long since been underway. Women in exquisite, delicate gowns roamed about in a majestic sway, while men in recherché appearing suits held long stem wine glasses and talked casually amongst one another. It was clear to Kurapika that that most of the people here were either vintage or relic collectors and seeking the rarest items, or hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive and legendary things ever rumored or known to exist. Seeing this many people congregated in one place with practically the same common goal - all in the practical name of greed, simply astonished Kurapika.



As he and Chrollo strode through the grand, ordinate doors, the soft, resonate clicking of his heels echoed loudly in his ears and enhanced the deafening sensation of his own apprehension.



The lump which formed in the back of his throat was painful to swallow, even as Chrollo guided him into the grand ballroom where everyone was presently amassed and the feeling of being lead into a virtual lion’s den reigned supreme. But it ebbed away little by little as he felt the older man’s unmitigated reassurance as a constant and comforting presence.



The grand ballroom was filled with a sea of bodies in a constant sway of motion, their voices filling the air. Though it was much more refined being this close, the collection of sounds had instantly drew his eyes.



Even the amount of people who had joined the affair was in a sense, overwhelming and Kurapika glanced quickly towards Chrollo whose eyes were intently focused forward. But after mere minutes of acute observation, Kurapika felt the older man’s fingers gently tapping the back of his hand and he looked up to meet Chrollo’s stern gaze before those grays shifted in the direction ahead of them. “There, standing within that gaggle of ladies, the one with the white and grey dress is Consta Fernandez.“



His own attention drew ahead to where Chrollo had motioned towards and his eyes landed fixedly upon a woman adorned in an arctic, silken dress that seemed to house layers of petticoats atop delicate lace. The pattern was filigree in appearance, decorated in a mosaic of design. Flowers and leaves coalesced into an appliqué setting that wrapped around the rim of the dress, flourishing upwards into a setting of sequins, which trailed up to a patterned corset that was hinted in a golden design.



Of course, it wasn’t unexpected to see the rather stereotypical fan wealthy women tended to carry resting between her white gloved fingers, which wavered every time she spoke to one of the matrons that surrounded her.



Instantly, it seemed her eyes, which were a piercing shade of green, landed on his slender figure and a sudden compulsive sensation of criticism and judgmentalism washed over him. Her gaze was weighing, calculating, like a cat stalking its prey and Kurapika felt a shiver race up his spine at the very thought.



As if Chrollo sensed it too, Kurapika’s own attention turned back towards him, though a serious look was painted across his masked countenance. “Perhaps you should attempt to mingle. Get a feel of the area and its surroundings.”



Kurapika knew the risks and was willing to play his gambit. But something in Consta’s icy stare just spoke of a predatory hunger that completely unnerved him. Something about it was worse than anything he had ever felt before. Even Chrollo’s past advances were never that disquieting. “We will meet back here in thirty minutes in time for the viewing.” Kurapika simply nodded.



Silently, he cursed his choices, for as soon as Chrollo had blended into the flowing masses, a slender woman who couldn’t have been much older then he was had approached him, her snowy white gown appearing to flutter behind her. The confident gait she carried only spoke of a true hubristic nature, though something else resided within the depths of those green eyes, ones that seemed to bore down into his very soul.



“Greetings, pleased to make your acquaintance,” The woman began as she curtisied, her gown sweeping about her as it appeared to glitter beneath the lighting of the room. It was almost gossamer appearing. “My name is Consta. Consta Frendenz. Who might you be?”



Kurapika remained still, almost as if he had become completely inert, though his blue eyes watched her dubiously. The way she stared at him, how that gaze was heavy, laden, practically scrutinizing, as if she was always judgmental of everyone around her regardless of status, it made him inwardly shiver. “Kurapika Allencourt.” He responded slowly, mimicking Consta’s posture and falling - albeit awkwardly, into a near proper curtsy himself. Damn. He would make sure to thoroughly berate Chrollo later for this harebrained idea of his. “What do I owe the honor of your presence, m’lady?”



One thing he had made sure to do was research on the formalities and appropriate etiquette used by upper-class socialites. Not once had he taken on the idea in the past of associating with anyone from the beau monde of society, (unless you count his time dealing with the elite inside the Mafia) but now he was being forced to deal with those who have swollen egos and corpulent sized wallets. The very notion of it sickened Kurapika, but he kept his farce unwavering.



“You are a new face around here, aren’t you?” The resounding click of the fan she held as it was being snapped open caused him to flinch, part of her visage now hidden behind it. Her eyes watched him intently above the rim, “I do not believe I have seen you before at any functions prior to this one.”



There was a despotic tone to her voice, one that spoke of someone used to being in charge and just the way her aura emanated around her was enough to give pause. This was one lady Kurapika definitely wanted to give a wide berth. “Yes, I am definitely not from around here. Personally myself, I have been traveling lately, seeing what the world has to offer and what treasures can be found.”



“I see.” Consta responded cautiously. It wasn’t hard to tell that the woman was being overly skeptical. “Also, who is the dashing young man that was with you? Your husband perhaps?”



Kurapika’s throat suddenly seized. The very mention of husband made Kurapika’s mind whirl in a myriad of emotions. How she ever was able to come to such a conclusion not only astounded him, but made him feel as if his stomach was going to knot up as a result.



Unfortunately, to keep the illusion to their current guise, Kurapika had to continue on with the notion of Chrollo being his husband. Inevitably, he continued on, his fist flexing and unflexing unconsciously at his side as he attempted to keep up with this little fancy of theirs, “Yes he is. My husband and I have arrived in Bathas as we heard about the substantiality and prosperity it holds. It is here we also had learned about your fine collection and wanted to partake in seeing the grandeur of what you have acquired.”



The air never seemed to change, even by a degree, but the rigidness to Consta’s posture had abated, even if by a fraction, which only served to ease Kurapika’s own mounting tension. It appeared that perhaps, she had taken the bait of his little factitious story, making him feel slightly more confident in seeing this mission through. But it didn’t keep him from proceeding with extended caution.



She lowered her fan, though a strange smile crossed her ruby painted lips, “Well yes, that makes perfect sense,” and she laughed, though to Kurapika it felt more like amusement then not, “as to why I have never seen you or your handsome husband before. Getting out and seeing the world is always fun, though it has been something I unfortunately, have not had much time for.”



Kurapika almost felt a minute amount of pity for the woman. Most of his life all he did was keep on the move, constantly viewing the world around him, even if the circumstances for why were less than amiable. It was one thing he had the fortuity in seeing, despite in retrospect, he dearly missed the forests of Lusko.



“Who is this lovely young lady?” A voice called from Kurapika’s left, alerting the blond to a familiar presence. Turning his attention away from Consta, it landed on a tall man coming up beside them, his grey eyes watching them inquisitively.



Once beside them, Chrollo bowed elegantly in Consta’s direction, though that provocative smile crossed over his lips and Kurapika felt his gut clench again. “You must be Consta Frendenz I presume?” The sudden change in pace and the older man’s presence definitely altered the weight in the atmosphere. But the now perturbed Kurta felt himself slightly bristle. What was once a cold and precarious situation suddenly shifted to something more flirtatious and salacious.



The woman blushed. Literally Blushed! and it was all Kurapika could do in order to restrain his slowly rising anger. “Why yes, that is me. How did you know?”



What transpired next would have completely set Kurapika off had he not found his inner strength and composition of will to not completely and utterly, strangle the man beside him. If the coercion been any stronger, he was quite sure he would have hauled off and decked Chrollo where he stood, “Well it’s quite obvious. For one who harbors such beauty and grace as you only speaks of someone with high status.” Chrollo added smoothly and lifted her hand up to kiss the back of it, causing the blush on the woman’s cheeks to only deepen.



Kurapika felt his own fury intensify.



“Your husband certainly has very well placed mannerisms, Kurapika. He is quite flattering. You must consider yourself very lucky, indeed.”



She reopened her fan, letting it once again come before her  countenance as she waved it gently, “Well, if you will excuse me, I must get going. It’s almost time for the viewing and I must prepare my speech. I do hope you both enjoy yourselves.” And just like that, she walked off, her elaborate dress rippling behind her.



Once she was out of earshot, it was then Kurapika turned to face Chrollo as he wobbled a bit (he couldn’t wait to get those cursed heels off), his expression becoming incensed. He raised one finger and pointed it at the older man, “I swear one of these days I am going to kill you Chrollo Lucifer. You and I will have words once this is all over.”



Turning away, Kurapika silently affirmed he would let Chrollo have it once they were back in the safety of their hotel room. Despite the last few times his companion vowed to stop nettling him, it seemed that Chrollo indeed, enjoyed toeing the line. It was one habit - and a bad one at that - which Kurapika would have to break out of the older man.



Before Chrollo could respond, a voice echoed throughout the vast room and their attention was abruptly deflected from their current discourse towards the front where Consta had positioned herself. Looking towards the massive, ornate clock that hung on a far wall, Kurapika knew that soon, they would be able to finally enact on their little plan, which he started mentally preparing for as their hostess began her formal speech.



Which seemed to drone on, even Chrollo looked eager to get their job underway. Before too long, the moment they had been waiting for, finally came to pass.



“Ladies and Gentlemen. The time has come for what you have all been eagerly waiting for. If you will follow me into the exhibition room, in there you will finally be able to behold the beauty of many rare items and exquisite artifacts I have managed to collect over the years.”



A low hum encompassed the room as everyone filled into the area where Consta’s collection awaited, and Kurapika balanced on practical pins and needles. Chrollo offered his arm for a second time and Kurapika instantly slid his hands around it, fingers clutching tightly as the older man glanced down at him. The tension between them fomented and it was then Kurapika knew he was close to completing part of his goal, “Shall we?” He heard the older man beckon to him and they followed everyone else into the room where he knew the eyes would be.



The collection was vast and impressive for one prominent women to acquisition on her own.  There were several rare and unusual looking items that were all on display behind cases of glass. Each and every one was either valuable, rare or a relic from an ancient time.



As Kurapika began flitting around the different displays, something caught his eye. Inside a smaller looking case sat something silvery and sinuous and he slowly moved to stand before it. There was a familiarity about it, something he recognized. It was two circles, one large, one small. Both adorned in an ornate design and connected by a unfathomable silver chain. The more he looked at it, the more his cognizance of what it was came to light.



Never once had he thought anything to this context or caliber existed. Or did he believe he’d get to see anything this archaic. It was rumored there was a civilization which had existed before their own, but seeing something from that era in person? Then everything he read about in it the book Chrollo had given him must be true.



A firm hand on his shoulder snapped his attention from his momentary thoughts, “Found something of interest to you?” Chrollo had come to stand next to him, his own eyes now focused on the object before them.



“Not really. It’s just something I remember reading about in a book once.”



The older man smiled and Kurapika let his eyes land on him, “Then you may want to come see this; I believe I have found what we had come here for.” Tilting his head angular, his unbound locks fell in a flourish to the side of his pristine face as Chrollo motioned for him to follow. Kurapika tried to keep pace behind the older man while trotting in bloody heels with a dress that swept copiously around his concealed feet.



He inwardly swore he would rip the forsaken thing off once they got back to their hotel room.



In the center of the room amid a few observers, sat an oval case harboring a canister which  enclosed two floating red eyes. Kurapika felt his breath hitch in his throat and Chrollo’s arm came around him in an instant response. The older man shook his head and detained the blond from doing anything imprudent or brash. He felt the younger man inspissate, but made no motion to exit the spot he was in. “It won’t be much longer now, Kurapika. In another ten minutes everyone will be prompted to head into the stateroom for socializing and that will be when Shalnark severs the power and security systems. We must be prepared as we cannot be imprecise for our time will be vastly limited.”



Their objective was a tricky situation as is, and Kurapika didn’t want to be the cause for its downfall. Swallowing his anxiety, Kurapika waited with as much patience and fortitude as possible, even if he was finding it difficult to resist the urges and  enact without cue.



“I know. It is just very challenging for me to see them in the state they are and not do something about it while I simply just stand here.”



There were moments when Kurapika had wanted to outline the blame for his struggles in retrieving the eyes at being the fault of Chrollo and his Spiders. Which to a point, he was correct on and actively did lay the blame on them for his current, onerous journey. However, it was the older man’s willingness and cooperation in helping him retrieve the eyes which the Spiders stole in the first place that was making it hard on Kurapika to solely continue in faulting them. Especially Chrollo.



His feelings, those emotions were constantly getting in the way. More and more he was finding himself emotionally attached to the older man.



Sighing, he knew at this point he had gone too far and was in too deep to turn his back on it now. All Kurapika wanted to do was find the closure he needed as to why things happened as they did. He needed to know if Chrollo truly felt sorry or had any form of remorse for his actions. It was something Kurapika had to know for he was finding himself growing closer and closer to the man and if he was even to consider letting Chrollo into his life, much less bear his heart to the other, he would only be able to do so after knowing if Chrollo did harbor any regrets.



“Try to not worry so much. I know how much the eyes mean to you and we will get them. Just be patient. I did say I would see this through and I plan to stick to my word.”



As the words slipped past Chrollo’s lips, the announcement for them to move into the stateroom was aired and Kurapika mentally steeled himself. It wouldn’t be much longer now.



~*~

 

As the last person entered the room designated for the night’s social affair, Kurapika looked towards the exit they stood nearby and waited for the moment when everything would fall into shadow. Once everyone settled and a gentle, even flow of conversation rose into the air, the lights flickered out and everything descended into utter chaos.



~*~



Kurapika didn’t even remember how they managed to fight their way out of the stateroom unscathed, but both he and Chrollo had nearly gotten trampled several times by people running in sheer panic as they pushed and shoved at anything nearby. A few times he almost tripped due to the fabric of the dress which had gotten caught beneath his heels as they tried to escape the bedlam.



They were now leaning against the far wall just outside the viewing room as they attempted to catch their breaths, Kurapika looking more worse for wear then Chrollo did. “The room where the eyes are is just down this hall. Let’s get moving.”



Acknowledging the older man, Kurapika gathered parts of his dress and hiked it up, which made it easier to maneuver despite the heels still being a setback. He was amazed that he hadn’t managed to fall and break his neck yet.



Racing down the hall, he whipped into the smaller room right behind Chrollo, both of them using the cover of darkness to conceal their presence, though it made it harder for them to locate the eyes as a result. Frantically, Kurapika motioned between the cases, quickly and desperately searching their contents in order to find the right one, Chrollo right behind him inspecting the cases opposite of his position. For what felt like eternal minutes of probing and just when he was about to believe they had run out of time, Chrollo’s voice called amid the stillness and it was then Kurapika realized his misgivings.



“Over here! I found them.” Eagerly following the sound of the older man’s voice, he found Chrollo standing just over a pedestal with a something clutched betwixt his hands and in a flurry, Kurapika was immediately at the other’s side.



“How did you manage to get them out of there? I didn’t think the cases slipped off easily.” Kurapika questioned, completely bewildered by Chrollo’s results.



A lopsided grin crawled over Chrollo’s lips and it was then Kurapika knew he would more than likely give a presumptions answer. “Simple. I am a thief and am always prepared. Since I do not have access to my Nen, I just merely improvised and cut a hole in the glass big enough for the canister to slip through.”



Kurapika shook his head. It was as he predicted, but nonetheless, they had accomplished their goal and now all they needed to do was get out before either of them were detected.



“In any regard, I highly recommend leaving now and save the celebratory fun for later.”

 

He was about to offer Chrollo a retort when the abrupt sound of voices coming from the hallway jerked both of them alert - guards Kurapika thought, and realized they were now definitely out of time. Fingers suddenly twined with his own, not really perceiving just how intricately Chrollo was holding his hand and felt himself being pulled upright, those infernal heels clicking as he was then guided towards the door.



“We may need to go out through the back way since the front entrances are probably swarming with guards by now.”



Shoving the canister as best as he could beneath the blazer he wore, Chrollo slipped prudently into the dimly lit hallway, the bluster of urgent and terrified voices resonated in the air as the hysteria continued from people struggling to escape.



Quietly, he guided Kurapika down the corridor, remembering the layout of the mansion from the blueprints he had received days earlier and where the closest exit was, which lead out to the gardens. It was their best chance of evading any guards along the way and avoid being detected. Chrollo also knew if they lingered too long, the power and security systems would be restored, virtually blowing their cover. So far, no one appeared to be in the immediate vicinity.



“This hallway leads towards a grand sitting room which has an exit that leads to the gardens at the back of the mansion. Since everyone was participating in the festivities, I assume no one should be in the back rooms at this time.”



Kurapika raised a brow at Chrollo’s affirmations, keeping pace without so much as missing a beat with the older man, “You assume? Didn’t you have that one Spider of yours at least track the positioning of most of the people here to at least keep some sort of tabs on them?”



Of course Chrollo was conversant with Shalnark’s abilities and skills when it came down to hacking and breaking codes, but even he wasn’t able to give Chrollo a definitive answer when it came to the exact location of everyone’s whereabouts in the mansion. Especially once he terminated the security cameras, “All he was able to give me was a rough estimation of how many guards Consta has. Which is about a dozen. From what I saw when we were all gathered in the main ballroom, it appeared most of them were present at the time. Considering that, it’s a safe bet that the majority of them are still there attempting to quell a frightened crowd. Nothing yet makes me suspect that they realized the eyes have gone missing.”



Risky. The entire thing was completely risky. Now they were going on the happenstance that they didn’t run into anyone as they attempted to make their way out of a building which had become a tempestuous scene.



Silently, Kurapika held his breath as he continued to follow Chrollo, the corridor they were in looked endless and seemed to stretch into the realm of infinity, making him wonder if they would manage to escape in time. Finally they managed to come across a set of inlaid doors that held brass, gilded knobs. “Here. This should he the Grand Sitting Room. Going through here we can exit into the gardens and finally out of the area.”



Shoving one of the doors aside, it opened up into a vast room with two massive bay doors just on the opposite side, a steady stream of moonlight flowing through the glass. Sliding just meters within the room, Chrollo observed the surrounding area for any signs of life and when none were found he looked back to the younger man behind him, “Coast is clear.”



They began crossing the area towards the final barrier between them and freedom when shouts being called from behind them alerted Chrollo. He suspected someone had noticed the eyes were no longer in their case and they were now being pursued.  



“Time to go!” Without warning, Chrollo shoved the canister into Kurapika’s hands, giving the blond no time to react as he instantly scooped the younger man up into his arms and began hastening towards their exit, not wanting to waste any more time in their current location.



The sudden change in position to where he now was being cradled in Chrollo’s arms caused Kurapika to jerk, his mind slowly releasing from the initial shock. Soon awareness struck and even though he was abashed by what was happening, the younger man just curled around the canister without thought, wanting nothing more then to protect the eyes at any cost.



“You better not drop me!” Was all he could muster as the sensation of cold air finally enveloped them, leaving Kurapika to Chrollo’s mercy as they vanished into the night. The last thing he remembered was them trampling through a pretty garden filled with vibrant and lush flowers. Kurapika kept his eyes shut as the older man dashed madly in an attempt to put as much distance between them and the mansion they were leaving behind, everything from then becoming nothing but a blur.

 

~*~

 

Kurapika was sullen again, though this time, it wasn’t for the usual reasons.



They had both made it back safely to their hotel room. The aristocratic sector was in a massive uproar, causing them to spend hours using side streets and alternate routes to make it there without being caught. Chrollo figured that by now people may be looking for them, but at most they would have a day or two before they would need to leave Bathas to ensure they were not found. But, that wasn’t exactly why the Kurta was frustrated.



Once the eyes were secured within his luggage, Kurapika looked up from where he sat positioned on the bed, finally divesting himself of those bloody heels he started to loathe. But, he was just as eager to be rid of the dress as the fabric had become uncomfortable. “Next time you go to do something like that at least warn me!” He hissed as the pain in his feet made him  more irritable. “I could have easily dropped the canister you know.”



Chrollo, who had been standing at the end of the other bed had began removing his tie, though his eyes had remained firmly locked with Kurapika’s startling blues, “What can I say? We were out of options and time. I had to think quickly and that ended up being the best option.”



Snorting, the younger man focused on massaging his feet, they hurt like hell - one thing he would not forgive Chrollo for and regarded the other man simplistically, “You still could have warned me.”



Before he knew it, Chrollo had ended up sitting at the edge of the bed across from his, the foot he had been tending to now in the older man’s hands, “Here, let me help you.” and placed his thumbs against the ball of Kurapika’s heel.



The unexpected act caused Kurapika to flinch and he tried to jerk his foot away as a result, but Chrollo retained his grip, keeping him stationary. “Damnit Chrollo! I can do this on my own.”



“No, you can’t. Besides, I am the reason you are in your current predicament, so the least I can do is assist you in feeling better and alleviating your pain.” Almost as if Kurapika hadn't moved, nor spoke, he continued on in his ministrations, fingers working at the tired, inflamed muscles of his feet, eyes watching the younger man’s reactions, intently. Without reservation, he saw Kurapika relent as his back came to rest flat upon the bed, his body slightly trembling from the sensation.



“See? It’s what you needed. Besides, I did promise you would get me all to yourself after we got the eyes.”



Aside the fact that Kurapika failed to admit or just didn’t care to admit that Chrollo’s attentions were not unwarranted nor undesired, he still felt the same heat rise up his cheeks when he was close to the older man or being touched by him.



Something about Chrollo enlivened him and in spite of the fact that he apparently held such a powerful hold over Kurapika, just the way the older man paid special care, though with retained caution to his needs was enough to keep the blond from completely rejecting Chrollo’s advancements. Kurapika knew the other’s stance and the fact that ultimately, it was his heart the master thief was after. But just the way Chrollo made him feel kept Kurapika interested enough in seeing exactly how this would play out.



Even if there were still answers Kurapika sought in order to achieve an understanding regarding exactly what was germinating between them, for now, he felt contentment in just the little things they both shared in.



The feeling was quite nice and Kurapika found himself relaxing as Chrollo’s hands worked attentively at his feet. Each sweep sent a tingling sensation up his spine and he gasped, his own body reacting without thought to the attention it was receiving.



It was like magic, bliss, just the very way his mind fell into the lull of the moment, even after Chrollo’s lips were suddenly trailing tender, delicate kisses up the expanse of one leg, Kurapika couldn’t find the will or desire to stop. Fingers became entwined within raven-locks, clutching almost tightly as he felt the hem of the dress being pushed up as a wash of cold over his skin foretold of just how much of his body Chrollo was willing to expose.



Kurapika started panting, the older man’s breath was warm against his skin as those moist lips delivered kiss after sweltering kiss in a seamless trek as he continued up, while the palm of Chrollo’s hand rubbed idly against Kurapika’s creamy thigh.



It was almost too much. His mind was becoming a flurry of emotions, his nerves growing alight. Every part of him was slowly succumbing to a craving from within and it was gradually leading him down a path towards what would be considered his greatest sin. Yet, Kurapika was almost compelled to just let himself fall.



He wanted to give in. He wanted to let go. To dismiss every conviction along with his restraint, and just indulge in the repletion of the moment. Everything Chrollo was doing, the way the older man touched him, caressed him, how it made him feel, Kurapika couldn’t help himself. Each kiss Chrollo delivered was like another chain tying him down, and Kurapika never wanted this to end.



Chrollo smirked, clearly aware of how his actions was affecting his precious blond, never ceasing his conveyance of loving kisses until he reached Kurapika’s inner thigh and it was only then did he bite down. The abrupt action caused Kurapika to groan, his fingers winding tighter into his tresses, but it only instigated Chrollo further. The older man suckled harder on the delicate flesh until he was satisfied a mark would be left behind, then kissed the surrounding area tenderly a few more times before reluctantly pulling away.



As the absence of warmth finally hit Kurapika, he opened his eyes to see Chrollo hoovering right above him, the look in the older man’s eyes only spoke of pure desire. “What are you-” Lips seized his own as his words were instantly cut off, drawing him down into a hungry, yet passionate kiss, Chrollo’s tongue licking along Kurapika’s lower lip, asking to be let in. Chrollo’s own hands caressed reassuringly along his sides, carefully focusing on suppressing Kurapika’s reluctance and replacing it with comfort, instead. The younger man gasped again, but this time, with the intent of giving that pervading appendage access to explore the inside of his warm mouth, Kurapika’s own darting instantly to meet it.



Moments ticked on for hours, and hours ticked on for what felt like forever, their bodies locked within a fervid, heated dance, neither making the motion to stop the other until they only parted out of the necessity for air.



It was then Chrollo envisioned the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.



Drawing away, he let his eyes rove over the entirety of Kurapika’s body as he laid there, flush and vulnerable, though the dress he still wore was now disheveled from their little cavort, “Truly exquisite,” he breathed and Kurapika could only stare at the older man in wonderment, “and such a delicacy that should be savored, yet cherished.”



The look in Kurapika’s eyes was enough to grip Chrollo to his very core. But even then, he didn’t want to push his boundaries too far until Kurapika was fully ready to give himself up. One hand reached down to stroke the blond’s rosy hued cheek. “Why… Did you stop?” Was the response Kurapika gave once he was able to speak.



As much as Chrollo wanted to continue, he felt now wasn’t quite the time. Especially after their earlier engagement and the fact they were probably being searched for. It was at this point they more than likely needed rest so they could prepare to leave Bathas as soon as possible. “Because we both need rest and I think I have given you enough of a treat for today. Besides if I recall correctly you wanted to get that dress off as soon as we got back?”



Grinning, Chrollo extended his hand to aid in Kurapika getting off the bed, which the younger man took without hesitation, “Right.” Was the plain answer he gave, though Kurapika knew what Chrollo spoke of was undeniably right.



Turning towards the bathroom, Kurapika glanced over his shoulder, “Also, thank you helping me out earlier... Or I should say, for just helping me in general. You have my eternal gratitude.” Of course, Kurapika wasn’t keen on the idea of owing Chrollo anything. In fact the very notion made him question if it would possibly be held against him later. But it wasn’t something he would concern himself with now and would focus on it if the time came. In truth, he really did appreciate - also enjoyed, everything Chrollo did for him.



With that in mind, Kurapika disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Chrollo to analyze his statement and for him to be alone with his own thoughts.

Chapter Text

 

The next morning, Kurapika had found himself before his suitcase and checking its contents in order to be sure everything was in place and secure. Though his demeanor was practically expressionless, something inside him had begun to stir. It was a little more prevalent than anything else he had experienced recently, and that was triumph. Even if his outward features betrayed what he was feeling within, nothing changed the fact that for once in his life, he felt as if he was actually getting somewhere.

 

Rising up from the kneeling position he had been in, Kurapika let the lid of the suitcase fall closed, hiding the contents from view, two of which were canisters containing a duel set of Scarlet Eyes. So far, they were his own acquisitions, but for him, it was a start.

 

Never in the past and up to this point had he believed he would have been successful in finally seeing his goals completed. For so long, it had felt more of a pipe dream then anything.

 

But now, he was making headway, getting closer to seeing his kin receiving the last bits of peace he knew they so deserved and being permanently laid to rest. In the back of his mind, Kurapika knew that his clan had stopped suffering - their affirmation of that came in with clarity the moment he encountered his mother through that lurid vision. But it did not sway him from his attempts to at least see them receive the proper burial he knew would at least give him the closure he so desperately needed.

 

Satisfied with his task, Kurapika had wandered into the small kitchenette their hotel room conveniently had. He decided that a dose of caffeine was needed for him to at least be prepared to handle the day and prepped the coffee maker. The ambience in the air was rather peaceful, even if for the moment it was just him alone within the common room. Chrollo had gone into the bathroom earlier to take a shower - which Kurapika had noticed the older man had been taking a long time in doing, and he utilized the stillness to relax and think before they would need to make preparations to leave Bathas. Neither of them wanted to risk being found and Chrollo had decided the sooner they exited the small city, the better.

 

It was something Kurapika had never considered, or would have if this had been his past self talking, and the thought of being on the run or risking the potential of becoming a criminal ran heavily in his mind. He knew the dangers and of the challenges he may face with attempting to take on such a precarious and monumental task, which could easily lead him into situations he may later find were less than savory. Of course, the very thought left him feeling slightly repulsed at the idea that he could just as well be heading down the same path which Chrollo had chosen long ago.

 

Then again, had he not he already committed to acts which could have been considered heinous or unethical?

 

Kurapika had prepared to do whatever it took to get the eyes, even if it meant delving into the much darker reaches of immorality. For him, it was all that mattered, regardless that his own integrity may be compromised as a result.

 

Everything he did, it would become another strike against him later, which left him wondering just how far into sin he was willing to descend.

 

Kurapika returned his attention back towards the coffee maker. The brew had finished and he reached for a cup to dispense himself some of the dark liquid, taking a sip from its piping hot contents after adding some cream.

 

“I hope you saved some for me as well.”

 

He looked over the rim of his cup at the source of the cheery voice to notice Chrollo standing before him, penetrating gray eyes fixated and weighing as they watched him inquisitively. Water still dripped from his short crop, the tresses splayed and out of place upon his head. Kurapika stood there seemingly forgetting to breathe as he allowed his gaze to rove over the expanse of Chrollo’s toned frame, the tank top the man wore left almost nothing to the imagination. Every sinew, cord and what muscle he had was glaringly obvious from beneath the fabric as he moved, causing Kurapika’s mind to practically seize from just Chrollo’s raw power alone.

 

Dammit he was extremely gorgeous.

 

In a literal sense, Kurapika nearly choked on his coffee, “Of course I saved you some. I am not that inconsiderate you know? There is plenty left.” He exhaled and tried to focus again on the porcelain mug balanced betwixt his fingers “Also, will you put some clothes on?” Once again, Kurapika felt the heat slowly crawling up along his flesh, and blooming around his ears that was surely visible to the other man’s sight.

 

Much to Kurapika’s dismay, that damnable smile which he knew Chrollo all too well for had instantly crept over those firm lips - the very same ones he found himself growing addicted to and enjoyed more than he should left him feeling embarrassed. He huffed as a result.

 

Turning away, Kurapika diverted his attention to anything but Chrollo’s amused smile, snatching up a second mug which sat beside the sink and filled it, then handed it to his companion without looking at him. “Well, here then.”

 

Chuckling, Chrollo pulled the shirt he had been intending to wear over his head, and then took the proffered item without question, wasting no time in taking a draw off its contents. “Thank you.” He said smoothly and lowered the mug, expression becoming more soft than Kurapika had ever remembered it, though his eyes lingered on the younger man. There were just too many times where Chrollo thought he couldn’t help but admire Kurapika. Not only was he adept and skilled, but he was beautiful and enticing. It only stood to reason that this man, this angel would be Chrollo’s own weakness. His vice.

 

The older man sat the mug down upon the counter which he stood beside and this time his attention turned more serious, “I hope you are prepared since we are leaving today.” He added smoothly and Kurapika instantly leveled his gaze upon him. “Also, I have a lead on the next pair of eyes.”

 

Their next lead. Kurapika took the time to parse exactly what Chrollo had just spoken. He didn't doubt the older man's resources. Quite to the contrary, he was confident in Chrollo´s skills. Nothing about his resources perturbed Kurapika despite he was certain some of those outlets were more than likely of a nefarious nature and not every avenue used to ascertain their goal would be done with honesty. It furthered the reason for Kurapika´s introspection on just how far into sin was he willing to descend.

 

It troubled Kurapika with how willful he was becoming, and with how easily he was succumbing to it. Everything about Chrollo left him wanting more. Craving. It was like a drug, an addiction, and the allure was great. Far too great for him to even find the will in stopping.

 

Taking another sip of the liquid within his mug, Kurapika eyed Chrollo thoughtfully, “So, where are we headed then?” He questioned, eager to hear the details.

 

“A small seaside village on the Mimbo continent. From what I found out from Shalnark, the people there rely on the sea for their livelihood as well as their survival. Also, they worship a God that has been said to bestow them with bountiful harvests. Apparently, there is also small shrine within the village that they use for worship where he stated there is an item the villagers use as a medium.” Just hearing the details make Kurapika breathe, the exhale slow and sharp. “I am sure you can guess what that item is.” He knows Kurapika is astute and recognition sinks in.

 

“The Scarlet Eyes.”  

 

“Yes. From what research I was able to do on the information provided, the village is called Sorbia, where the people were born by the sea to live for the sea. They market in seafood trade and ocean based trinkets to support their economy. To ensure they glean harvests abundant enough to sustain their people as well as their trade, they worship their sea God to earn his favor. From my understanding, they believe the Scarlet Eyes is a gateway to communicating with this God.”

 

For long moments Kurapika remained still, the cup he held now remaining untouched. Something in the reality of Chrollo’s statement brought him into a momentary stupor, and it was in that moment which had instigated dormant memories the younger man had long since, tried to keep buried and forget. The resurgence only caused Kurapika’s pent up anger to swell once more, its very idealism only reminded him of his curse, and his regret. One of the reasons that drove the blond as it had was because all his life, and for the end result of his now deceased clan was how they were always treated because of their eyes.

 

What was a mere phenomenon, a simple genetic anomaly, he and his clan had to conceal in fear of social ostracization. They had been once as labeled freaks, demons. Hated and shunned for something they had never wanted. Now, to see the very same thing which had been deemed as evil was now being used to convey as prayer to a God which Kurapika found beyond ironic. Beneath the surface it made him feel dumbstruck, but it also sparked his ire.

 

How this could have happened, Kurapika did not know. It most certainly however, did not aid in suppressing his disgust.

 

Aside that glaring fact, one thing he knew for certain was that ascertaining all the eyes would be no easy task. In reality, he figured it would have been nearly, if not, completely impossible. But the drive to fully recover all his clan’s missing eyes, as derelict as may make him, was strong. He had to lay them to rest. He had to. It was the least he owed them, even if they had reassured him that such wasn't necessary.

 

If that meant he would have to commit to acts that were deemed wrong, unethical or impertinent, then so be it. Lawful be damned.

 

Oh how he hated himself for thinking that way. For thinking just like Chrollo.

 

Chrollo. The same man who threw his life into ruination was now helping him recover the one thing Kurapika had sought for so long in finally ending all his pain, all his suffering. He was also the very same man that Kurapika was now finding himself growing closer, and more attracted to.

 

Or who he was slowly falling in love with.

 

Yes, he would finally seek happiness once this was all over. Even if that happiness was inevitably with Chrollo.

 

Kurapika swallowed thickly, “Thinking about my brethren's eyes being used in such a mannerism not only unnerves me,” he paused, the coffee growing cold in his still untouched mug, “but for them to be used in rituals…” How could anyone violate the body parts of the deceased Kurapika knew he would never understand or be able to rationalize. All he knew was he had to recover them. “As much as I sympathize with the people of Sorbia and their spirituality, I just…”

 

His words died off in his throat as strong, yet gentle fingers came to rest beneath his chin and brought him to focus on Chrollo´s concerned face. They stared at each other in sheer silence before the older man lowered to brush his lips across Kurapika´s own, “Don't worry, we will recover them.” He whispered reassuringly against them.

 

Maybe it was the look in those pretty eyes that spoke of Kurapika’s faith in him.

 

He simply nodded, trusting that Chrollo had a plan, and he knew what he was doing. “Alright.” He said quietly, the fingers of his right hand carding through silky raven tresses, a soft tinkling echoing from the chains that had unconsciously materialized on his hand. “I believe that we will see this through.”

 

Grinning, Chrollo closed the gap between them, fully capturing the younger man's lips, drawing him into a passionate, yet, loving kiss. “I wouldn't be a thief if I didn't.” Yes, he most definitely would see that Kurapika achieves his goals. He had to if he was to prove his worth and win the blond’s heart. For Chrollo had begun to realize that he was starting to love. A love that was profound and for the last living Kurta.

 

Kurapika easily melded into the kiss, folding within the embrace that had soon enveloped him and his mind blanked as the warmth of Chrollo´s body soothed him. His own arms snaked around the older man's neck, meshing them together and Kurapika breathed heavily against the lock, a throaty groan ensuing once the older man nipped at his lip. “I had almost forgotten,” Chrollo spoke, the tonality of his voice growing deeper, more sultry, “that I had never asked you about a good morning kiss.”

 

What was Chrollo doing to him? Why was he giving in so?

 

“Because you are falling. Because you realize.”

 

“You know what is truth. Where you belong.”

 

“It was our wish. Be happy. Live.”

 

Live. The word echoed through his mind like the clarion of a bell. It was the very same proclamation his mother had delivered to him the night she came to him and the same that his clan was now continuing to remind him of.

 

He would live. He would honor their memory.

 

They lingered like that, captivated in the moment, Chrollo kissing him slowly, exhibiting his decisiveness as he slipped his tongue between the blond’s parted lips to taste him and Kurapika welcoming the older man's touch. Their appendages began to tangle as Kurapika leaned into those firm hands while they stroked up along his back.

 

He would not sully their memory, nor would he rebuke their will.

 

Severing their kiss, Chrollo bit down gently on Kurapika´s bottom lip, tugging on it before drawing his tongue along its surface and pulling away. “We should get going. The Mimbo continent is only accessible by airship, which will take us six hours to reach.” Sliding his arms reluctantly away the blond, he reached for his abandoned mug and instantly drained the remainder of its contents. “Also the sooner we get out of Bathas, the better.”

 

Kurapika looked stunned, his body nearly paralyzed as he slowly returned to reality, the remembrance of their kiss still heavily within his mind. “Right. Of course.” He uttered slowly, that rosy hue only deepening along his skin. “I am ready to go. We can leave at any time.” He was truly embarrassed, but by the same token, he had enjoyed every moment of it. Just like he enjoyed every other kiss they shared prior to this.

 

“Well then,” Chrollo swept a thumb along the younger man's cheek, the pad caressing over the area where the flush was most prominent, “if that is the case, then I see no further reason to delay.” Sliding his fingers up, he brushed a few errant stands from Kurapika's eyes. Those blues were as magnificent as ever. He smiled and backed away. No. If he lingered any longer, he may not be able to hold himself back from ravaging the Kurta. Or at least, from going as far as Kurapika would allow.

 

Dispensing of the porcelain cup he used, he went to fetch his luggage, wanting to finally get going. Kurapika watched his every move. “Shall we?”

 

Realizing that he had been staring - dammit he was so fixated - Kurapika snapped from his riveted state to retrieve his own belongings. He knew at some point he was going to have to contemplate the more recent sway in his emotions. There was still much he didn't quite understand. At this point, he was more than ready to find out.

 

The time had come for him to learn exactly how far Chrollo´s own morality went.

 

Taking hold of his suitcase, Kurapika wordlessly returned to his companion’s side. “Yes. Let's  go.” In silent affirmation, he decided he would find the conclusion on just exactly what Chrollo meant to him and how worthy the man was to hold his heart. He needed to find out if Chrollo honestly felt remorse and for him to learn to forgive.

 

~*~

 

Kurapika shielded his eyes from the offending sun, the position of its early morning presence was enough for it to bear down on his eyes, and its blinding light had caused him to hiss in discontent.

 

They were standing on the platform of the airport, Kurapika surveying the milling crowd as they funneled in and out of the small building. “I assume you are buying our tickets?” He questioned as he kept his attention diverted from the older man, focus remaining heavy on anything aside the one who stood beside him. For some reason, as Kurapika surmised, he was unable to look at Chrollo without feeling himself becoming more enthralled, and each time it was as if he felt the temperature of his own body rise. The mere thought alone invoked a splash of rouge to accent the skin around his neck.

 

Chrollo espied Kurapika only briefly from his peripheral vision, though a faint smile crept over his lips as he caught a momentary glimpse of the heat that had suddenly began rising over the collar of the blond’s shirt. So just being around him seemed to now affect Kurapika in such an intense way? Interesting. “That was the idea. Unless you have any objections?”

 

Kurapika snorted, but did not retaliate with stating how there was no way he should be the one expected to cover their travel expenses when Chrollo had long since offered to be the one to use what he called were his limitless sources for funding. Which were no doubt, more than likely gleaned from illegal methods. It was something that left an underlying vein of discontent within the younger man. But considering their circumstances and the fact that his own finances had been sorely depleted since he took an absence from his job with Nostrade, it mired him with that glaringly obvious fact.

 

Beggars really couldn’t be choosers.

 

“None all considering. Last I remember you had agreed to use your abundant resources in order to see all expenses covered while we are on this little mission of ours. As much as I don’t condone your methods of attaining Jenny, it doesn’t appear I have any choice.” Kurapika crossed his arms over his chest, this time, actually facing the older man. “Besides, I also remember you wanted us both to leave this town quickly, which is another reason I see no further need to debate this.” The curt tone to accentuate Kurapika’s voice caused Chrollo to tilt his head inquisitively. Of course he knew the blond was temperate, but to see him this stringent and vehement wasn’t something he was quite used to.

 

The look in Kurapika’s stern blue eyes spoke of someone who danced with deadly precision, but also with grace. Not that the boy wasn’t known for either of these, but the level of acuity being shown only spoke otherwise, and Chrollo was aware that the blond was definitely someone he believed would not be hesitant to kill. It was something he regarded as laudable and Kurapika definitely had potential. Not only that, he held raw, undeveloped power. In retrospect, if harnessed correctly, the Kurta could indeed be someone highly formidable. Chrollo still thought Kurapika would make an amazing Spider.

 

Again, he could only be pleased with himself at the other’s astute nature. Kurapika was too informative, and slipping anything past him would only end up being for naught. “Yes. I did agree to that, back when we were at that restaurant the night when I made you my offer. Which I haven’t seen any reason to change even now.” Chrollo kept his voice calm, level, the smoothness to his words only spoke of his ever composed control. But it wasn’t to say he didn’t enjoy it when Kurapika got flustered or temperamental. The younger man was fiery, which was something he found enthralling.

 

Even now, watching as Kurapika became perplexed just by the inherent nature of the situation alone was enough to make Chrollo amused. He refrained from commentary just on the basis of not instigating the younger man’s ire any further and instead, turned his attention to the ticket counter, “Then it’s settled. We should go get our tickets.” Without waiting on Kurapika to answer, he stepped away, leaving the blond behind him, not intent on continuing their debacle any longer.

 

Watching his companion stride away from him casually, Kurapika couldn’t help the simmering temper growing within. He wasn’t quite done addressing Chrollo despite it had been by his volition alone in wanting to proceed forth with this little junket of theirs, while also wishing to expedite their embarkment.  How Chrollo seemed to dismiss him so easily only made Kurapika more frustrated. Still, he swallowed down his pride, letting himself fume inwardly by the older man’s behavior and proceeded after him. Later on, he would be sure to let Chrollo know exactly how his actions made him feel.

 

By the time he caught up to the raven-haired man, he was already chatting up a rather slender looking woman who appeared in her middle years with long brown hair. Kurapika eyed them critically as he approached, though the woman looked as if she had a light blooming flush already working its way up along the sides of her neck. A frown crept over his features for he knew without a shadow of a doubt, that Chrollo must have decided on invoking his charms once again to manipulate in order to get what he wanted. Still, it was something that never sat too well with the blond, and each time only annoyed him more.

 

What added insult to injury, was the way he looked at her with just his expression alone. Kurapika could feel himself grinding his teeth at the notion, but this time, decided to wait until they were far enough away from earshot of anyone before speaking up.

 

As the lady handed him two tickets, Chrollo turned to notice a rather disquieted blond Kurta standing beside him, though he only raised an eyebrow at Kurapika’s demeanor. “What? Is anything wrong? You look rather troubled.” He questioned the younger man. Kurapika looked thunderous, and remained quiet until they had cleared the closest throng of people in their immediate vicinity before turning his attention fully on Chrollo.

 

“I will never understand you. Why does it seem like you enjoy doing things that either you know alienate me or are oblivious to the fact that it does? Sometimes I just think you do the majority on purpose.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Kurapika eyed the older man, practically daring him to speak. Like all the previous incidents, this was no less of an infraction and it miffed the younger man to no end. This time, however, Kurapika was more interested to see just how far Chrollo was willing to go.

 

Chrollo raised a hand in his own defense, “I swear I didn’t do anything on the pretenses of upsetting you. I know what it may look like, but it most definitely isn’t what you think.” He smiled, hoping his affirmations would be enough to at least in part, plactate his young companion.

 

As much as he enjoyed toeing the line and testing his boundaries with Kurapika, the last thing he was about to do was anger Kurapika enough into making him seethe. Sure, he was cute when he pouted, but at the current, Kurapika was anything but.

 

For Kurapika, it was nearly impossible to completely embargo Chrollo from toying around, but by the same token, he absolutely hated the fact of how Chrollo looked, even smiled at others, especially women which only seemed to ferment him, and make him jealous. It was something else he didn't quite understand about his changing mindset and behavior, but nonetheless, it rattled him when the older man did it.

 

Perhaps he was becoming more attracted to Chrollo than he realized. Or perhaps, it was the fact that they seemed to be growing closer to one another. Or it very well may be that Kurapika was forming a mental connection with the man. Whatever the case may be, he still hated the way Chrollo completely dismissed how his superfluous acts ultimately affected him. Regardless if it was intentional or not.

 

“I know what I see and it just feels like you cannot help yourself no matter how much reassurance you offer or promises you give me. Damnit Chrollo is there really no limits to what you'll do?”

 

A broad hand came to rest firmly on the younger man's shoulder and Chrollo just softened his gaze, giving the area a gentle squeeze. “If I said I did, then I would be lying. I don't believe in restrictions or limitations as I have lived my entire life where boundaries were simply a formality. I know it sounds bad, but there isn't any reason to take what I do so seriously, Kurapika. You really worry too much.” He squeezed the Kurta's shoulder once again but grinned this time, knowing damn well his precious blond was jealous of him. Or, of the attention he gave others. It was a suspicion Chrollo had for a while, but now he had every reason to believe it.

 

Watching it first hand only made him utterly satisfied.

 

Leaning down, he gave the bemused Kurapika a quick, affectionate kiss to his cheek, and watched as the color rose along his porcelain hued skin. “Besides, you are the only one I want. Or, ever want.” Turning his back, Chrollo´s  eyes scanned the various gates which lead to boarding lanes for the different aircraft, and wondered just how far away the were from their own blimp. He looked partially over his shoulder, “We should go. Don't want to miss out flight.” With that, he turned completely in the direction of the boarding area.

 

~*~

 

Chrollo had insisted on a private cabin, preferring that they had remained separate from the rest of the passengers under the pretenses of limiting being detected, but Kurapika knew better. They could have easily rode coach with the majority of the people on their flight, but the older man had simply smiled at him saying that they were better off apart from the masses as there was no telling who may potentially recognize them. Something about the entire scenario didn't sit very well with him.

 

Damnit if the bastard wasn't infuriating as is.

 

He had settled on one of the small seats located about the small cabin, his eyes fixed on the pages of the book resting on his lap. It had been a while since he was able to sit down in any semblance of peace to read; even if Chrollo was in the room stealing glances at him every so often, and actually focus on something other than his rather peculiar situation.

 

The tips of his fingers stroked over its worn pages, and the texture felt amazing as he ran them over the surface, the ancient scriptures almost feeling real as he did so.

 

Forgetting about reality around him, Kurapika became immersed within the stories that seemed so mythical to be real. This time he read about powerful magic that was the life source for this bygone era where people born with innate channeling abilities were able to draw from its spring. It was said that there were two flowing rivers, one for men to tap and one for women. Saidar and Saidin.

 

There was even documentation of an omnipresent force that was foretold to have planted corruption into the flow for men where those who drew from its well would eventually go mad. He even read about a group of women channelers that were tasked with combating the world's evil called Aes’Sedai.

 

There was so much information, and learning about a vast world full of creatures and people that were about as legendary as those told in myths was not only intriguing, but awe inspiring. Kurapika wanted to learn more.

 

There was so much within the texts that it was a slow process in absorbing, but the further he delved into its scriptures, the more immersed, and the more believable it became. As fabled as it seemed, there was too much that pointed more into the direction of this now extinct culture having once existed.

 

Then was also that mysterious silver item he happened to capture a glimpse of back when he and Chrollo infiltrated Lady Consta’s viewing. It was all too clear, all too coincidental on how its likeness matched near perfectly to a description of a similar item he read about in the very same book he held. Something about it was just too remarkable to pass up, and for him, dismissing the probability of that society having once existed now seemed absurd.

 

Stifling a yawn, Kurapika set the book aside after having spent a few hours preoccupied with its pages - he would definitely need to do more research on this ancient civilization - and set the heavy tome aside, lifting off the chair to stretch and allow much needed blood to flow through his joints.

 

He let his eyes drift around the cabin and had realized that Chrollo, who was seated in the small lounge chair across the cabin had apparently drifted off to sleep. Shaking his head, Kurapika crept gradually across the expanse of the room to stand just before where the older man sat partially hunched with his cheek resting firmly within the palm of his hand. It would not have surprised the younger man if his odd companion was feigning slumber, but he couldn’t resist the urge anyway to pick around and prove if his suspicions were correct.

 

When he suddenly felt something press against his hip and the gentle imprint of it through his clothing. Eyes snapped instantly to Chrollo’s visage where he was met by two stormy grey eyes boring attentively into his own, and a toothy grin tugging at the older man’s lips. Kurapika stopped abruptly in his movement. “What are you doing?” The blond started to question, but he was suddenly being pulled into Chrollo’s lap, his other hand now coming to grip along Kurapika’s other hip.

 

He stilled, body going completely erect as those hands began to stroke idly along his sides, the tips of those fingers played teasingly as they gently massaged the flesh underneath. Kurapika shivered as Chrollo’s touches were making him practically forget his vexation and shock, eyes closing as he lulled into the lingering caress. His breathing started to slow, the rhythmic beating of his heart upping the pace as just being in Chrollo’s very presence was enough to enervate him. Kurapika inhaled deeply, and the combination of wine and honey flooded into his senses causing him to sigh. Never had being so close to the older man been as delightful and he was readily finding himself growing more appetent.

 

Even when he allowed his eyes to open once more and they landed on Chrollo’s greys that seemed so eager, ambitious, and hungry, it was then Kurapika was losing the will to hold back.

 

Finally he snaked his arms around the base of Chrollo’s neck, elbows coming to rest upon his broad shoulders and Kurapika tilted his head, demeanor playful but also inquisitive. Chrollo couldn’t help but smile as a result. Not only had Kurapika willingly relented to his whims, but was also appearing to be enjoying himself. Whatever maelstrom the younger man had prepared to unleash at him was now just a gentle rain shower.

 

“I just wanted you to sit with me. Besides, I was getting kind of lonely while you had your nose buried within that book. Which I am still glad you are enjoying, nonetheless.” Further up those digits trekked, their leisurely pace only adding to Kurapika’s slight disconcertion, yet, his own body leaned needily into those touches. Lips parted and he breathed heavily, the sound of a airy moan echoed from the depths of his throat, which only furthered to incite Chrollo’s ministrations. Though he paused once those hands reached the base of Kurapika’s neck, the index of his right hand trailing up and along the Kurta’s exposed throat teasingly. “But it seems as if that doesn’t matter now, does it? Not when you’re like this.”

 

Kurapika swallowed hard, every part of him practically screaming for Chrollo’s attention, the finger that was trailing seductively along the length of his neck had finally come to rest upon his cheek, and the palm of the man's other hand had soon cupped the unoccupied one. Lowering his head, Kurapika opened his eyes, though lips were slightly parted as he was breathing raggedly, his gaze, which was filled with yearning, landed once again on the man before him, and he slid his own arms more around Chrollo’s shoulders, lacing his fingers behind the other’s neck.

 

They sat in silence, staring at each other, practically drinking one another in and Kurapika finally released a breath he had been holding, his body inching a little closer to Chrollo’s. “Don’t go and get too cocky,” Kurapika whispered, lips now close to the older man’s ear, “because, you may just be surprised on what happens if you do.” before pulling the shell of it between his teeth, tugging on it playfully then backed away, a grin now playing across his pale features.

 

It took moments before Chrollo was able to regain his senses, for he never expected the blond to continue being so straightforward, the actions being done were in earnest and it only made him that much more satisfied with his proficiency. Indeed, Kurapika was coming along, as each day the younger man was growing more comfortable and secure around him, which lead Chrollo to believe that Kurta was probably becoming more trusting of him. Good. This was just another step towards ascertaining his goal, and finally collecting the one thing he had been after for so long.

 

Granted, he was a thief and took whatever it was he wanted or desired. But this; Kurapika was like a fine wine, the perfect treasure or a delicacy that was to be savored and cherished. Reaching his goal would definitely take time and could not be rushed. Patience. It was something Chrollo had always been adept at and even now, he was able to wait for however long it took if it meant reaping the rewards at the end. Once he was able to prove his value and worth to Kurapika, show him that he could give him so much more, give Kurapika his love, and his vitality, only then would  he truly say he stole the greatest thing of all time.

 

But Chrollo realized his own shock when Kurapika had abruptly taken the initiative to place those soft lips against his own, the feel of them was amazing. Warm. He wasted no time accepting the kiss, taking the time to memorize the contours of those supple, plush mounds, savoring Kurapika´s softness while enjoying the boy's unique flavor. There was still that taste of sweetness - despite Kurapika´s reversion to desserts with a hint of coffee, and Chrollo drank in on every bit of it.

 

A mixture of sandalwood with traces of lavender and forest still lingered in the younger man's scene, just like the smells of the forests of Lusko when he was there last. Kurapika was in every way a Kurta, and Chrollo was lucky to be courting the very last one, for he knew it was by his own hand alone that caused Kurapika to be their sole survivor and it was also because of him that Kurapika had suffered. But underneath it all, it was also those very reasons he was finding himself starting to love Kurapika, and by the same token, now also desiring to erase all of the younger man's pain.

 

For now, Chrollo settled for winding his arms around Kurapika´s slender waist, mind focusing on the moment and the kiss they were sharing. Yes, he would show the blond just how important he was to him. That Kurapika meant the world to him and that by his belief; which Chrollo also hoped was a sentiment Kurapika shared, they were meant to be together.

 

Letting his tongue slip past, Chrollo dragged it along Kurapika´s lower lip, lapping at it gently before nipping at the tender flesh. Instantly, the younger man granted admittance to that pervading appendage as Chrollo swept it into his warm mouth, seeking Kurapika’s own and twining with it, successfully deepening the kiss.

 

Such an act was rewarded by Kurapika groaning adamantly against the lock, the vibrations which echoed from within his chest sent chills racing along his spine, causing him to tremble. Chrollo´s arms tightened around him in response and Kurapika felt himself being pulled snugly against the older man's firm chest. The contact alone was enough to make him exhale sharply, and every contour, every muscle that framed Chrollo´s body Kurapika was able to feel through the clothes that were between them.

 

Once again, Kurapika was lost within himself, within the moment and the world around him only appeared to dim, every part of himself hypersensitive to the pleasure which Chrollo was bestowing upon him.

 

And he couldn’t get enough. It was like honey, an addiction, one that only drew him in like a moth to a flame, and as undeniable as the notion was, Kurapika knew at this point there was no point in resisting, or in going back. Despite that he still adamantly refused to admit how he felt, there was no hiding it, no concealing of the fact that Chrollo was reeling him in, luring him closer and closer into that tantalizing web and Kurapika was becoming willful in letting it happen. As flagrant as it seemed, as irrational as it may be, one thing remained certain, and that was the verity of Chrollo’s behavior. The older man wasn’t exactly the same as Kurapika remembered him during their encounter in Yorknew. This version, how the feared leader of the group of murderous bandits was acting around him appeared sincere, genuine.

 

It only stood to reason with every admission his mother had made in her analysis of his companion’s current mindset. Everything she had predicted, her visions, her averment, none of it was in any part, wrong and each time, it challenged Kurapika’s brooding suspicions. His reluctance was slowly ebbing away and regardless of how he originally felt about the older man, it was becoming safe to assume that how he was feeling now, the Kurta wasn't entirely objectionable towards.

 

But Kurapika cast his introspection aside; he knew it was something that needed to be wagered on as the younger man needed certainty regarding his feelings. There was so much bad history between them, and memories that Kurapika so desperately wanted to forget. Yet, even if history couldn’t be rewritten, couldn’t the future? Things change, people change, and one epiphany Kurapika had was the simple notion that no one always stayed the same. There was always room and ability to forgive.

 

He would learn. Only, that one undeniable fact still remained - did Chrollo really feel regret or hold grief for what he had done?

 

In so many ways, Kurapika hoped he did.

 

All he could do now, wanted to do now was focus on those attentive, possessive lips against his own and just how Chrollo held him firmly, but protectively in those powerful arms. The older man always made him feel safe when in his embrace and it was another thing that Kurapika was finding himself liking more and more.

 

Chrollo had noticed the consternation bleed across Kurapika´s features and he instantly broke from their kiss, one hand coming to stroke comfortingly through his golden locks. “Anything wrong?” He questioned, tone soft and gentle. “You blanked out for a moment there. Almost thought that perhaps I was being too rough.”

 

Kurapika stilled, eyes locked with the older man's. “No. I am fine.” He lied, attempting to smile sweetly at his companion. “I just… Got lightheaded for some reason is all.” Kurapika didn't want to let on to what he had been thinking, afraid of how Chrollo would react or how it may make him feel. Would the raven-head think any differently if he knew?

 

The Spider head wasn't entirely convinced. There was something to Kurapika´s admission that told him the boy wasn't being quite honest, but with as distressed as his precious blond looked, Chrollo decided not to press the issue.

 

“Alright.” His fingers continued to card through those silky tresses hoping to at least soothe and abate the young hunter’s worries. There was something behind his bright cerulean eyes that spoke of worry, of contention. Chrollo could see the anguish suffused deep within and it struck him, sending a pang to his chest. Seeing Kurapika that way, watching as his beautiful features were marred by the malaise which plagued him only made Chrollo regret that much more.

 

“We should he arriving in Sorbia in just a few hours. Perhaps you should rest.”

 

Nodding, Kurapika started to slip from Chrollo´s lap, but abruptly stopped, his body stilling. The older man frowned but noticed the look of indecisiveness that crawled over Kurapika´s visage and Chrollo knew. “You can stay with me if it would make you feel better?”

 

He swallowed thickly but nodded again in acknowledgement and repositioned himself against Chrollo´s side, his nose coming to bury itself in the junction of the older man's neck and shoulder. Slowly Kurapika´s breathing evened out and Chrollo let one of his arms slip around the sweet blond’s waist, tugging that slender frame snugly against him, instantly feeling Kurapika´s warmth. Tracing idle, but light patterns along his side, Chrollo continued to comfort Kurapika as much as possible, trying to ease his afflictions. Little by little the Kurta tapered, his body relaxing as he drifted off. Chrollo smiled as he held Kurapika, placing soft kisses to the boy's crown.

 

Such a perfect angel. Kurapika was just as beautiful and radiant when he slept.

 

When he was certain the other had indeed, fallen to slumber, Chrollo whispered, “I don't believe you know it yet, but I think I am falling in love with you.” Such a confession even astounded him and for once in his life, Chrollo had felt a semblance of empathy and compassion, the idealism that he cared for someone other than himself or his spiders was something entirely new. How he was able to accept someone so, precious, so tender, so wonderful, Chrollo didn't feel deserving. Not after all he had done and what he put Kurapika through.

 

How Kurapika was able to stand being around a monster like him, the Spider head did not know, but he intended to make it up to the to younger man somehow. Even if it took him a lifetime, he would see to it that Kurapika no longer had to carry the burdens of his past. He deserved better, and so much more.

 

Chrollo avowed for what he knew he must do. Which he feared that ultimately if he didn’t, Kurapika would never be his.

 

Kissing the top of that blond head one more time, he spent the rest of their trip in silent contemplation as he listed to Kurapika breathe.

 

~*~

 

Once they landed and managed to gather up their luggage, Kurapika had taken the momentary lapse in movement to stretch, his muscles were stiff from their extensive trip. As they exited the loading dock and onto the platform, a chilly wind washed over him and he shivered a little. The Mimbo continent was definitely much cooler than Yorknew or even Patalor.

 

“Not used to the weather I see.” A voice called from behind and Kurapika turned to see Chrollo approaching him, both their suitcases in tow. When he was close enough, Kurapika took his gratefully.

 

“Yeah. This is definitively nothing like I am used to. Even the winters in Yorknew are never this cold.” Kurapika wound his arms around himself in a pathetic attempt to stave off the chill. “Even the forests of Lusko were always warm. Would be another reason I've always been adverse to cooler climates.” Kurapika was sure he would never get used to the weather in Sorbia, much less the Mimbo continent.

 

Surprise crawled over his face when felt something thick lined with fur being draped over his shoulders. Kurapika knitted his eyebrows together in confusion.

 

“You're obviously freezing and the shirt and pants you are wearing are definitely not optimal for this type of weather. So I am loaning you my coat for now.” Stepping back, he took hold of the handle to his luggage.  “We should get going.” Chrollo added dismissively, not wanting to give the chance for Kurapika to protest at his show of kindness.

 

A frown crossed along Kurapika’s lips, watching as Chrollo wasted no time in cutting him off once again. Silently, he was grateful for the older man’s coat - he really was cold - as one thing that he hadn’t prepared for when he originally began this journey with Chrollo was visiting places where the temperature was much colder. Thus, he now reaped the consequences for being improvident.

 

Still, Chrollo had done something that was well out of character and it caught Kurapika totally unawares. That frown only deepened, but he proceeded to slip his arms through the sleeves of the leather jacket and wind it tightly around himself. He sighed. It was warm, and soft. Kurapika wondered how the older man was able to keep it so meticulous and immaculate, but there was a bit of comfort in wearing it. His face brushed against the fur which lined the collar, and its feathery feel caused Kurapika to close his eyes, nose wrinkling from Chrollo’s scent which lingered amid the fabric. Musk, spice with traces of cologne permeated the coat and Kurapika couldn’t help but breathe it in thoroughly. Reveling in the aroma for moments longer, and sensing himself relaxing once again, his shoulders dipped and Kurapika had become contented, wondering just how the older man was able to make him feel so complacent.

 

Gathering himself, he tugged at the jacket one more time and raced to catch up to his companion, coming astride the other. “Thank you.” He said intelligibly, eyes focused forward. As usual, Kurapika hid his emotions, the mask once again, unreadable on his features.

 

Raising an eyebrow, Chrollo glanced over at him, but only regarded him inquisitively. “Don’t mention it.” Why was Kurapika so intent on hiding his feelings? “It isn’t far from here to the closest inn. The village doesn’t have many, but the one I had looked into prior will suffice for our needs for the duration of our stay.”

 

Kurapika turned towards him, facing Chrollo completely and crossing his arms over his chest. “Don’t tell me you plan to steal another car?”

 

Chrollo had to admit, Kurapika still looked rather cute when he was angry or flustered. Tilting his head, he pursed his lips, but they soon contorted into a smile, “Whatever gave you that idea? You wound me, Kurapika. Do you not trust my judgement?” He paused, watching the blond for his reaction, especially with the critical look that had long since accented his visage. What resulted came exactly as Chrollo had expected.

 

The smoldering look in the Kurta’s eyes and the clear twist to his mouth was enough to provide his disgust and the fact that there was no way Kurapika would have let the idea pass without a fight. So far, the younger man had been tolerant of Chrollo’s criminal behavior, but the persistence he had in it was slowly whittling away at Kurapika´s nerves. It was bad enough that he had allowed himself to get mingled up in illegal activities to procure the eyes, but everything in between?

 

“You are not stealing another car, I won’t allow it.” Those blues seemed to darken and Chrollo could have sworn they briefly flashed scarlet. “We can find another way there.”

 

One hand came up before him, “I knew that would be your answer. Relax. I really didn’t intend to steal a car. Not this time, anyway at least. I figured we could just walk there.”

 

Kurapika sniffed, not wholly convinced. “No. No more stealing.  Either you get it legitimately or don’t get it at all.”

 

Classic reaction. It was something to be expected, which came as no surprise to Chrollo, but for him, appeasing the blond in any way possible, even in the most minute form was better than flaring his temper. Kurapika surely wasn’t one to let go of things easily. “Alright. You have nothing to worry about from me in that regard, then.” Chrollo’s grin remained over his features despite his concession. Perhaps he wasn’t being fully honest or yielding when it came to Kurapika’s demands; he was still a thief at heart and there would be no changing that, Chrollo was aware of this. But he considered that perhaps, he could be swayed in altering some of his habits, even if it would be enough to ease Kurapika’s unrelenting principals.

 

Then again, a rather casuistic thought crossed his mind and his smile only broadened. One day, Chrollo thought, he would have to convert Kurapika’s psyche and reshape the way he thinks. Maybe he can convince the blond that the type of lifestyle he leads isn’t really as bad as it seems and to just live a little.

 

“For some reason, I find that a bit hard to believe. Nevertheless, I will take you at your word.” Kurapika began, tone flat as he was suspicious. He wasn’t entirely convinced, but settled on seeing how things panned out. They still had their primary focus, and that was retrieving the eyes which resided in Sorbia. There was much planning to be done and dwelling on frivolities would only successful waste their time and lead them nowhere. “In any regard, lead the way.” Waving a hand dismissively, he pulled impatiently at the handle to his suitcase, not wishing to wait any longer. Damn he still hated being out in the chill air, even though the coat around him was warm and secure.

 

Never one to dawdle; Chrollo was only further amused. Well, no time like the present as they say.

 

“This way.” And Chrollo started off in the direction towards where he knew the inn resided.

 

~*~

 

Their accommodations weren't exactly lavish and Kurapika was grateful that even though the room was modest, there was at least two beds present. He picked the one furthest from the door and after settling his suitcase against the wall closest to where he stood, proceeded to flop on top of the mattress. Every part of him felt the pull of exhaustion and he grumbled to himself about why he despised traveling. Kurapika was no stranger to roughing it, but the constant moving and relocating got tiresome from time to time.

 

It would be one of many instances where he would subjected to the weariness of traveling. Such came with the territory and was the nature of his mission. Deep down it was worth all the pain to ensure he retrieved all of his clan’s missing eyes. Some mild discomfort was well worth the cost.

 

Lifting his head, the blond let his eyes train on the sound of where his companion had come to reside. Chrollo had been settling his own luggage on the other bed, but those infinite grey eyes honed in on Kurapika and never wavered as the he moved about.

 

“What?” Kurapika questioned, his cheeks heating slightly from the way Chrollo was watching him; something about his gaze had an ambiguous meaning to it. “You’re staring.”

 

Chrollo smiled. Why was he always smiling? Kurapika grunted, not completely understanding the older man and constantly bewildered by his unusual behavior. “Oh nothing in particular. Just thinking of how attractive you look while laying there wearing my coat.”

 

The heat rose further along his skin, blooming up to just beneath his ears, and he felt himself grow slightly embarrassed. He forgot he was still wearing the older man’s coat, the damnable thing was so comfortable and he looked down to see it flourished around him. The clothes he wore somehow where pulled tight over him and suddenly, Kurapika felt exposed. Swiftly, the blond tugged the ebony thing around him, instantly concealing his lithe figure from Chrollo’s prying eyes. The ensuing snicker only added to his dismay.

 

“Pervert.”

 

Turning his head, Kurapika focused elsewhere, not wanting to look at the twisted, hungry, and enticing stare that had washed over Chrollo’s features. “Look anywhere. Don’t look at him. Don’t focus on how it’s making you feel, or how gorgeous those eyes are beneath the dim light of the room.” But he couldn’t help himself, and as much as Kurapika hated it, at the behest of his own traitorous body, he turned back only to realize Chrollo was standing over him. Despite the predatory look in the older man’s eyes, there was also an underlying vein of restraint, even adoration within them.

 

Kurapika didn’t move, even when Chrollo lowered his hand to stroke his fingers along the pale skin of his cheek, the touch gentle, tender. He didn’t even move when Chrollo settled on the side of the bed, the closeness of their bodies only making Kurapika quiver. All he could do, wanted to do was lean into the touches, the softness of that palm despite the mild calluses that lined Chrollo’s skin, easily mollified him. Much to his wonderment, Kurapika found himself not wishing to pull away from the older man.

 

Even when he grabbed Chrollo’s wrist as those fingers had began to trail down along the side of his neck and shoulders, aiming to stroke down over his chest, Kurapika remained firm where he was. Their eyes locked and for a few tense moments, both just staring at one another, neither making a move, while the sound of their combined breathing echoed into the stillness of the room. Kurapika’s own lips parted as he searched those alluring greys, his instincts awakening and the pull of carnal desire becoming stronger, compelling. Every part of him grew rigid, heat slowly welling through him, and racing down to the very nucleus of his being.

 

Part of him screamed this was wrong, that he was getting too close, that he was transgressing into acts that he should not be allowed to indulge in, and every sensation was poison, toxic. While the other part of him craved and languished over the other, desiring those touches, wanting to feel Chrollo against him, feel those hands along his body, caressing his skin. Again, he trembled, caught in the rift of his emotions, almost like he was suffocating and having Chrollo so close only made him feel as if he was drowning. The older man’s gaze was so hungry it could have devoured Kurapika whole and all he could do was fall beneath its intensive persuasion.

 

Convictions be damned and in the heat of the moment, Kurapika made his decision. Hands gently curled within Chrollo’s navy blue, silken button up shirt and without warning, pulled the older man to him, a barely audible growl rumbling in the blond’s throat.

 

“Impatient, are we?” Chrollo exclaimed as he was forced down upon that succulent frame, their physiques contacting and he couldn’t help but groan in satisfaction. The blond was full of surprises and he couldn’t help but feel elated. Kurapika was surely assertive, taking every initiative thus far since they had been traveling together to formulate contact between them and Chrollo wondered if this was a sign that Kurapika was starting to come around?

 

Now, the very same blond was chasing after his lips, vigorously persistent in capturing them, those hands strenuously holding Chrollo against him while the look in those eyes shifted from ambiguity to decisive. He was really liking this gradual change in Kurapika’s behavior. The once equitable and noble Kurta was changing, becoming more malleable, more venal and for Chrollo, for the leader of the Genei Ryodan, it was the greatest thing he could have ever hoped for. Not only would this type of transition benefit his Spiders, practically guaranteeing that the vengeful boy would no longer wish to seek them out, but would also give that essential push in convincing Kurapika to finally let go.

 

Chrollo was close. Oh so close in winning the boy’s heart. The concept of them being together as a couple only made the raven-head that much more ecstatic. Kurapika was beautiful, adept, successful, perfect. And he couldn’t help just how compelling that allure really was.

 

“Don’t speak.” Was the only thing to slip past those pertinent, rosy lips before Chrollo felt them encompass his own, drawing him instantly into a rough, demanding kiss. He was barely aware of how flush they were becoming against one another, their chests pressed together as he came to rest fixedly between Kurapika’s legs. The animalistic nature rising within the younger man’s aura fed into Chrollo’s own intuition and he grinned against those lips, resolute in giving Kurapika exactly what he wanted.

 

This time, his own hands had found their way to the Kurta’s sides, tips stroking aimlessly as they explored that muscled torso, feeling every cord and thew that composed Kurapika’ body. Though as he did so, his hands had crept lower, finding the hem of the blond’s shirt, slipping it up along with his movements. Chrollo broke the kiss long enough to divest Kurapika of the restrictive article, along with his coat. When the younger man’s arms came up without hesitation or complaint, the raven-head smiled.

 

“There.” Chrollo whispered, admiring the beautiful young man beneath him. One of his hands drew teasingly down over Kurapika´s bare chest, enjoying the feel of that tender skin beneath his fingertips, “However,” he drawled, looking deep into those lovely blue eyes, “I prefer you wearing my coat while like this.” Chrollo only smiled at the bewildered expression which took over his features, but Kurapika slid his arms back through the leather sleeves.

 

Wasting no time, Chrollo dove back in, this time capturing the other’s lips and drawing the younger man into a passionate kiss. Growling, he shoved his tongue without care into Kurapika’s warm mouth and sought out that moist appendage, curling possessively around it. Just the way Chrollo moved, the hunger, the appetite, and need, Kurapika became covenant to it, bound and unable to resist - not that he wanted to resist, easily falling to the allure, the seduction.

 

Every part of him followed suit, body twitching, desiring, wanting, arms now coming around to circle Chrollo’s back. Kurapika tugged fervently at his shirt, wanting the same done, and no barriers left between them.

 

Chrollo could only feel utterly pleased, their fierce kiss becoming more potent, teeth nearly grazing and scraping the skin of each other’s lips before he sighed, briefly pulling away. Hastily, Chrollo worked at discarding his own shirt, casting it aside without much thought or care, letting the article fall where it may and this time, focused his attention on Kurapika’s delectable neck. Running his tongue over the sensitive flesh, he left tender kisses in his wake.

 

Each deliverance, the bloom of sultriness, how his skin prickled each time Chrollo contacted it, Kurapika couldn’t hold back the throaty groan that exited his mouth.

 

Kurapika slid his arms up to coil around Chrollo’s now bare back, hands coming to rest along those shoulder blades, fingertips pressing so firmly, they threatened to penetrate the skin. The act solely let Kurapika pull them flush against one another, his back arching to ensure closeness was maintained between them.

 

The sensation, the emotion, just how impassioned Kurapika started to feel, it made him dizzy, impelled, completely mesmerized.

 

It was as if Kurapika had become fully possessed, and yet, he tossed caution to the wind, not concerned with how entrenched he was becoming and that he only wanted this, needed this. Nothing else mattered. The world around them, its sounds, all the people residing within, his objectives, all of that he cast aside for this one moment, just this very moment in time where he could finally release and be free. All his ambitions, every intention, his drive, Kurapika succumbed to it, letting it take over him.

 

Yet, Chrollo played on each reaction, each reverberation, those lovely waves that seized control over Kurapika as he was entirely at his whims only made it that much more enticing. Chrollo’s mouth worked meticulously, but gingerly along the pulse that raced just beneath, his tongue trailing over its rapid movement. The soft pants which echoed from the depths of Kurapika’s throat was like music to his ears and once he reached the base where collar met shoulder, it was then Chrollo bit down eagerly, drawing hard on the tender area without mercy.

 

Another laden pant tore from Kurapika’s parted lips, but soon turned into an animalistic groan, head instantly lulling as the younger man’s back arced to crush against Chrollo in a feverish attempt to connect them, the movement almost wild, untamed.

 

He could barely breathe. Barely contain himself. Every nerve was alight with the electrified impulses that raged through him, and it was like molten fire, burning him nearly from within. Tighter he gripped to Chrollo’s back, nails piercing that tanned skin, invoking small rivulets of blood towards the surface. The craving, the urge, it was almost too potent, and Kurapika found himself wanting more. So much more.

 

“Oh God.” He uttered, voice strained, heart palpitating in his chest as he felt it painfully constrict. The sensation wavered through him in its entirety and he was certain his eyes had began to shift, the scarlet color blazing within. “Please…”

 

When Chrollo was certain his attention to that delicate area would surely leave a mark, one that would show his true intent, that Kurapika would belong to no other but him, only then did he release and pull away to begin anew. He shifted in his motions as he drug his tongue over the expanse of Kurapika’s chest, listening closely to each sound the one beneath him made. Though Kurapika’s pleas had not gone unnoticed, and Chrollo found it so hard to resist. Every part of him wanted to pin the Kurta to the bed and take him right there. To ravage that heavenly body and taste everything that was Kurapika. Everything that he would ever be.

 

But when he reached Kurapika’s navel, Chrollo breathed in deeply of the scent the younger man emanated, delivering a few sweltering, loving kisses to the skin just above the hem of his pants before reluctantly, pulling away.

 

The absence of contact soon brought Kurapika from his trance like state, those bright, scarlet eyes landing on Chrollo, disappointment clouding their depths. “What is wrong? Why did you stop? You seem to keep doing this-”

 

A finger coming to lay against his lips cut him off and Kurapika instantly fell into reticence, though the hint of a pout marred his features. “Shh. I still don’t think the time is quite right, Kurapika. I may be ready to cross that line, but are you? Is this what you really want, and not just out of lust?” The formality to Chrollo’s voice caused Kurapika to be taken aback and a frown soon made its way over his lips.

 

It was hard, beyond difficult, and Chrollo struggled with himself not fall into his own sinful desires. Granted, he needed Kurapika as much as he needed food and water, but the last thing he wanted was for Kurapika to do something he may regret later on.

 

Chrollo would only be ready once he was certain it was something Kurapika truly wanted and without question.

 

He was at a loss for words, but Chrollo’s statements rang clear and true. Kurapika wondered if indeed, he did only want the older man out of carnal desire as opposed to attachment or love.

 

Love.

 

Was it possible he was feeling something more for Chrollo? That there could be an emotional connection forming between them? Kurapika could only surmise, but without doubt, he had felt differently towards the older man, and that something… Was indeed, changing between them. All he could do however, was let it unfold.

 

A hand carded through his golden crop, the movement gentle and calming. “You should probably get some rest. We both have much to discuss tomorrow regarding our plan to retrieve the Scarlet Eyes in this area. It’s best you regain some of your strength.” With that, Chrollo pulled away completely and off the bed, leaving Kurapika alone, the feel of the older man’s touches still fresh in his mind and on his skin.

 

“Perhaps you are right and in more ways than one.” Kurapika responded simply and extricated himself from the bed long enough to pull down the blankets, slipping cozily between thereafter. Instantly, he burrowed into the softness of arctic fur, Chrollo´s coat wrapped snugly around him.

 

As his eyes started to slip closed, he felt something brush against him and he looked up long enough to see Chrollo standing over him once more as the other leaned down to plant a chaste kiss to his plush lips. He smiled once he noticed the blond had curled up within his coat. “Good night, Kurapika.” Chrollo then turned back to his own bed in order to prepare for sleep himself.

 

“Good night.” Was the last thing Kurapika said before allowing himself to slip into the world of dreams.

Chapter Text

 

Not once had Chrollo ever thought he’d find himself looking back upon his past for enlightenment, or that he would be questioning anything he had previously done. For much of his life, Chrollo had just been used to doing things his way and living how he saw fit by doing whatever it took in order to survive. It made getting through each day tolerable, and every time he had been successful, the outcome seemed so much more rewarding.

 

Of course, it wasn’t a grandiose or lavish way of existing; far from it. But for the man who had spent nearly every waking moment labeled as a nobody from a city where people had no name, he had been pretty satisfied with how things had turned out.

 

It was all Chrollo had ever known and emotional luxuries were not something that he readily indulged in or relatively cared about. Things of that context were considered a setback, a  weakness,  something that only made people lose focus or forget who they were. The idealism of it only caused him to harbor a stronger adversity to it and thus, Chrollo became more and more emotionally detached.

 

Which was equally the same when it came down to practically anything, including murder.

 

Chrollo had never found himself harboring regrets. Even when he stood over those he targeted, watching as their existence faded and the light slowly dimmed from their eyes while they would wither and die, he felt neither sorrow or remorse. It was his way of handling the mental and physical suffering he faced during his childhood years and for how easily society willfully cast away those who were seen as nothing more than rejects.

 

For him, this was his way of responding to that type of hellish mentality - of how humanity as a whole did not care, nor was compassion something comparatively shared or given.

 

So he, just like his Spiders only plundered and marauded, took what they wanted without thought or care, lavishing in their spoils and of the anguish and misfortune they caused. Never once stopping or desiring to show any inkling of compunction for any of the acts or crimes they committed. The same could be said when Chrollo and his infamous group had participated in one of the biggest mass slaughters of all time.

 

He remembered it almost like it was yesterday. The smell of burning wood. Of blood and death. Fires blazing almost majestically around him as he oversaw the process. Chrollo watched as each one fell, how their eyes seemed to flare with hatred, shock or hopelessness. The passion so great, the desperation so high that behind the emotions it only seemed to fuel their brightest shade. Each set of eyes glowed eerily in the dark. Of a grand scarlet that only made them so much more magnificent and just how spectacular they were, like a most beautiful and rare gem.  Just like the color of rubies.

 

Back then, it elated him. Made him feel almost like  God.  And yet, he indulged in just how powerful and superior it made him and his Spiders feel. How they became feared, revered, and even praised.

 

But now, looking back on it, on everything he had done, especially the extinction of the Kurta Clan, Chrollo couldn’t help but feel… Different. Something inside of him stirred. Even awoken and the more his mentality began to alter towards Kurapika, the more his mindset continued to change. Seeing the younger man who was so tenacious, so strong and determined, with a passion that smoldered so deep,  so intense,  it only made Chrollo wonder just how he really felt. Or, how he really should  feel.

 

At one time, he had thought what he was doing had been the greatest and most satisfying thing. That it gave him the ultimate gratification.

 

Now, seeing the outcome of his own selfishness, it was then Chrollo had begun to wonder if it was all really worth it?


Spending time around the last remaining Kurta had given him so much more time to think. To reevaluate himself and look back on his life as a whole. Perhaps he didn’t regret all his decisions, but how he felt about the massacre now…

 

If there was one thing he could change, it would have easily been that.

 

Maybe he didn’t fully comprehend or understand the magnitude of why he was feeling the way he was, but he knew he had been slowly falling for Kurapika. At one time he wanted to kill the boy. Now, Chrollo was only wondering if he was actually falling in  love  with him.

 

Listening to how Kurapika felt as he learned of how his clan’s eyes were being used - especially for rituals after they had always been labeled as demons - only made his heart swell for the younger man.

 

It pained Chrollo to see Kurapika this way. To see him suffer and continue to endure. To watch as he tried to carry on, despite the sorrow in those eyes. The very same ones of which Kurapika now searched for that Chrollo himself, helped harvest and unleash upon the world. Because of that, because of his decisions and of his greed, now the one person the leader of the Genei Ryodan had found himself actually caring for, only continued to be stricken while he attempted to find his own salvation.

 

The very same salvation he now tried to find within Kurapika.

 

Perhaps he was changing and experiencing a metamorphosis. Or maybe he really was only feeling remorse for Kurapika. But whatever the case may be, the desire to make things right between he and the blond was definitely strong. Chrollo wanted to erase Kurapika’s pain  so Goddamn bad.

 

This was now his drive and reasoning to do what he must in order to win the boy’s heart, and at any cost.

 

He would see that Kurapika retrieved the eyes, and he would help regain the ones which resided in Sorbia to ease the blond’s worries. For he knew that until Kurapika completed his goal, the younger man would  not  rest.

 

Chrollo watched as Kurapika continued to make the final preparations for their mission. Delicate, pale fingers worked dexterously at the straps which he used to tie the multi-hued brown cloak that he remembered the blond wearing back in the desert city of Ti’alma. Silken fabric which flowed in mass abundance nearly obscured the blond’s lithe features, hiding away the body that the older man himself, enjoyed viewing. But he knew it was a necessary cover, as Kurapika had been the one to volunteer for infiltrating the inner sanctum of the temple where the eyes were held.

 

It would be no easy mission; dealing with a religious culture Chrollo knew would only prove to be a challenge, especially when those people were heavily relying on worship as a way of sustaining themselves

 

They both had remained in relative silence as Kurapika continued to finalize his own preparations. Chrollo himself had long since, readied things on his end, both of them fully aware of what their roles were to be in this mission of theirs. Of course, the changes in pressure within the air around them spoke of frustration; yet there was also an underlying vein of nervousness. It was apparent even in Kurapika´s own aura, which shimmered and flowed erratically around the younger man.

 

As such, it made Chrollo feel concern for Kurapika, something he had been harboring towards the Kurta when it seemed he was out of sorts. Once the blond was done affixing his cloak and turned to face Chrollo, it was then he arose from his position of where he had been sitting. “It really does suit you, Kurapika.” He spoke in a soft tone, and strode over to where Kurapika had been standing before a mirror the younger man had been looking at himself in.

 

Blue eyes soon met grays as Kurapika turned at the sound of Chrollo´s voice, and faced the taller man. Though before he could speak, strong arms encircled his slender waist and pulled him against the other's strong chest. One of Chrollo´s hands slipped beneath his chin, lifting it so Kurapika could completely see his face.

 

For a moment, Kurapika just stood there, practically frozen as Chrollo held him firmly, while looking into the older man’s eyes. He didn’t resist, much less attempt to thwart Chrollo from doing so as the contact, like so many other times before had incited Kurapika in feeling more passive than not. His breathing slowed, almost to an even, steady pace that he soon realized, had begun to match Chrollo’s own. The cadence of it alone was enough to cause Kurapika to slip into contentment.

 

They just stood there in silence, neither bothering to speak as Chrollo just kept Kurapika close, gazes locked upon one another as if they were trying to wordlessly convey their thoughts without physically vocalizing them.

 

It was pleasant to say the least and even then, Kurapika couldn’t find any reason to sever the embrace Chrollo held him within. Instead, he was about to close his eyes when the feel of warm, soft lips soon meshed with his own, and it was then that the Kurta truly gave in. Each time, he became more pacified, thoroughly enjoying every session in earnest, his own hands making their way to slip up and against the older man’s cheeks, cupping them gently. Chrollo didn’t even have to demand or request to be allowed entrance into Kurapika’s mouth; the blond did it willingly as those ample mounds parted and soon, their appendages were curled around one another avidly.

 

Coffee with a hint of mint suddenly flooded on his tongue, the taste unlike any other and Kurapika couldn’t help but relish in the flavor, having practically memorized the makeup of Chrollo’s own essence. He simply purred against the older man’s lips as they worked adamantly against his own despite it seemed like Chrollo fancied kissing him slowly as he did rough and possessive.

 

Kurapika breathed in, nostrils flaring from the same scents which lingered around them as Chrollo tightened those arms more firmly around him, practically seizing his lithe frame against the other’s more powerful one. Not that he complained.  No.  The blond readily accepted the touches as he leaned into them wantonly, his concerns and fears from prior were slowly ebbing away. Each stroke of Chrollo’s palm up and along his spine successfully left him thoroughly reminded of exactly  why  he was beginning to see less and less reason to rebuke the raven-head. There was just something tempering in the aura Chrollo exuded, despite the older man still lacked access to his Nen.

 

It was something that still to this day Kurapika didn’t quite understand, but gradually over the time he spent around Chrollo, the more convinced he was becoming that indeed, the older man was retaining his honesty and keeping to his word. Even though for the Kurta, it was still something relatively hard to  believe.

 

Down at its core, Chrollo was still a thief who had committed heinous crimes and lead a band of criminals guilty of the same thing. But at the brunt of it all, wasn’t he, like his group just merely human after all? The longer he spent around Chrollo, it became easier for Kurapika to be convinced that perhaps, the older man was really capable of compassion and empathy. But, there was still that need for clarity as Kurapika wasn’t completely certain of Chrollo’s true stance.

 

But the man’s intentions seemed quite evident in just his recent actions alone. One thing Kurapika was good at was in lie detection. Several times he entertained the idea of using Dowsing Chain on the older man, but something in Chrollo’s own energy spoke of no reason to do so. Whatever it was, the man Kurapika remembered from his first encounter at Yorknew to the one he knew now was  vastly  different in contrast. As vast as it was from night to day.

 

Kurapika attempted to press himself even more securely along Chrollo’s body, fitting almost perfectly against his sculpted curvatures, feeling the other man’s heartbeat against his chest. Its lull was almost enough to pull the younger man into a languid state, nearly forgetting the world around him.

 

Deeper their kiss became as Chrollo tasted with fervency for all his blond had to offer, his own mind wanting to go blank from the swell of emotions he was experiencing. The longer he remained with Kurapika like this, the more urgent and hungry he became.

 

Like every time before, Chrollo knew not to allow things to proceed too far, the concern for jeopardizing his rapport with the younger man was a constant reminder.

 

Not that he did so out of selfishness. Quite to the contrary, it was for honest concern of violating his trust with Kurapika. What Chrollo had started to realize that his feelings had began to surpass the superfluous, becoming stronger for the young Kurta each day. Which had him wondering if he was truly experiencing love for the one person who had sought nothing but a way to cease his existence.

 

All of that didn't matter anymore for Chrollo had seen the changes slowly developing within Kurapika. The need to remain cautious hung in the back of his mind as he still considered all possibilities. However, with Kurapika´s changing mindset, Chrollo felt less likely the younger man would continue to enact on his earlier convictions, making him harbor no fear towards the blond.

 

Not that he had any fear to begin with.

 

Drawing his hand up from its position along Kurapika´s spine, he placed it on the back of that blond head, holding the younger man in place as he allowed the kiss to briefly grow more demanding, more voracious. The onset invoked a squeak of shock to exit from Kurapika’s throat, but was soon replaced by a submissive moan. Chrollo couldn't help but smile at the response.

 

Still, he felt that Kurapika wasn't ready yet to bridge the gap into the territory Chrollo wanted to explore  oh so bad  with the boy. So, he settled on giving those now rosy and kiss bruised lips a prominent lick before pulling away to let his attention fall upon the young man in his arms.

 

Of course, that questioning look Chrollo knew all too well adorned Kurapika´s features, but he placed a finger before him in attempt to sate his concerns.

 

“Try not to worry. I believe you will do just fine. I have plenty of faith in your abilities.”

 

A frown crossed over Kurapika´s lips. Not only was he disappointed in Chrollo´s abrupt cessation of their torrid kiss - which much to his surprise, had inadvertently calmed him at the time - but now his nervousness had resurfaced regarding his job with their current mission.

 

It wasn't that he had lack in his confidence, but rather faith in his ability from becoming too  enraged.  The notion of a cult using his brethren's eyes in such a mannerism only unsettled him even more. His clan had suffered so much to be defiled as they had.

 

“It's not that,” Kurapika began, his hands now finding placement along Chrollo´s chest as he idly traced patterns along its clothed surface, “but the simple fact that I am not certain if I can trust in myself to not get personal if I see the eyes being used in such a disgraceful way. My clan has already endured so much…”

 

The words suddenly died in the back of his throat, and Chrollo lifted his chin again to meet at eye level, “You have every right to feel the way you do, Kurapika. But, don’t let it hinder you or stifle your thinking. If you allow yourself to become too focused on your disdain, then you may lose sight and possibly jeopardize the mission.”

 

One thing that concerned Chrollo was the simple fact that he knew of Kurapika’s temper and that the younger man could very well forget what was most important. It could ultimately cause everything they had so meticulously planned to come crashing down around them. There were many variables which precipitated Chrollo into retaining a contingency plan should something like that, arise.

 

However, in the back of his mind, Chrollo understood the reasoning for Kurapika’s contempt. It was something he had always been privy of, but until he became so closely involved with the young Kurta, it had not affected his perspective or how it made him feel. That is,  until now.

 

Something in Kurapika’s demeanor, or maybe it was the words he spoke that caused Chrollo to feel taken aback. Not once had he ever remembered or regarded himself as a person who held concern or benevolence for most of his life, Chrollo had simply learned the world was cruel and unforgiving.

 

To survive was to steal, often taking from whoever had something to offer or profit from. People were nothing but sources for retaining substance, and Chrollo had never seen reason to feel regret towards his callous or apathetic outlook. He had been dealt an inequitable hand, and for that, the world had become indentured to him.

 

For so long, this was how he lived and never once did he ever think that would change. Now, something deep within had began to stir and he felt a pang of guilt towards everything he had forced Kurapika to endure. Just seeing the blond so distressed, especially over the prospect of his clan’s eyes being used in heinous ways was enough to make the older man begin to wonder if he had done things differently, if he had not committed to taking away everything Kurapika had loved, would the boy have been better of then he was now?

 

“But, then would we have ever met?”

 

Chrollo was torn, ripped asunder by his own emotions. He hated seeing Kurapika suffer, and the welling need to show remorse was something that had begun to manifest within him. Even the anguish that seemed to burn in the back of Kurapika’s eyes was enough to make Chrollo start to question his own integrity.

 

It was his fault for everything that happened to Kurapika. All he had was himself to blame.

 

“What do you know?” The sudden question had snapped Chrollo from his contemplation, only to face Kurapika once more, vehemence evident in his eyes. “It’s not as if you completely understand what it’s like to lose someone or have someone taken from you.” For so long, all Kurapika had ever known was his own misery and despair, everything he had gone through had only twisted his sense of perception regarding people and the world around him.

 

Slowly, Kurapika had become bitter and indifferent, easily losing his faith and morality in the process. It was just so simple to believe that he was the only one who experienced the pain of loss, and that everyone else was oblivious to how he felt or that no one understood his grief. He had convinced himself of this, and became isolated from human companionship, finding that remaining in solitude was better than risking the chance of hurting someone and dragging them down into his own weak stability and mental faultiness.

 

Such possibilities always weighed heavily in the back of his mind, leaving him questioning his own acuity and if he was able to entrust that he wouldn’t just run headlong into situations without becoming reckless or hasty. These were attributes that became symptomatic with his own shortcomings, leaving Kurapika less willing to open up to those who showed him genuine concern or friendship.

 

Everything to him was always a setback and for Kurapika, his goals were all that  mattered.

 

But now, his current mindset really had started to change. Though it did make the blond wonder if the way he once perceived things had really been what was ultimately affecting him in the negative way it had.

 

There was only going forward, no going back.

 

If he was to surpass his own limits, and finally get to the point of actually being  liberated,  then one thing Kurapika knew must be done was he had let go of his hate and prejudice completely .  There was no peace to be found if he continued on as he had, despite reaching such an objective would prove to be difficult. Kurapika struggled with acceptance, as learning to forgive was definitely not a quality he found as a strong suit or that he was willing to just concede to.

 

But something about Chrollo’s more recent behaviors and just how closely connected he was becoming with the older man had him now questioning his own resistance in actually trying to understand Chrollo more than he really did.

 

It was just so hard to think about completely losing his adversity to the one person who in the end, was responsible for all his suffering. But the more he remained around Chrollo, the less he was able to hold onto those feelings.

 

He was afraid of getting too close, but now that same closeness was something he wanted more of. He  needed  Chrollo and couldn't understand  why.  All he knew was that every touch, every word, just being around the older man somehow made him feel calm, and strangely, content.

 

“I know more then I let on. Trust me you are not the only one to experience loss.” Chrollo spoke softly, and placed a gentle, reassuring kiss to the top of Kurapika´s head. “I too, have lost people and know what it feels like to suffer such an outcome. We are both guilty of doing things out of apathy and callousness. But,” slowly, the older man stroked his hands up along Kurapika´s back again, the silken feeling of his cloak smooth beneath his palms. “I really want to make it up to you.”

 

He could sense the blond’s heightened and growing upset, causing him to slightly grimace. In reality, Chrollo hated seeing Kurapika this way. “However I have to.”

 

Love . It was the only real explanation for why he was behaving the way he was. Chrollo was certain he was falling for Kurapika, and he had no desire to stop his descent.

 

Kurapika raised an eyebrow at the sudden, but rather bizarre statement to exit the older man's lips. As vague as the remark was, he couldn't understand exactly what Chrollo meant. “Make it up to me? Aside helping me recover what you originally caused to become lost in the first place,” the younger man's focus became intent, gaze heated and Kurapika sounded way more embittered then he intended, “what else could you possibly offer me?”

 

Why was he so cold? Was he really  that  unable of learning to accept or being able to understand?

 

But Chrollo knew that Kurapika was only behaving out of instinct and because of a natural reaction that was caused by his own caustic nature.

 

Seeing the blond as skeptical as he was only incited Chrollo to be more  determined  in proving to Kurapika that even if he wasn't fully redeemable, at least he was salvageable.

 

“Just trust me. I will prove it to you as I've said. You have my word.”

 

Once again, Kurapika struggled with trying to find the gumption to believe Chrollo regardless of what he said. But so far, the older man had been loyal to every oath made to him, so Kurapika took Chrollo´s word for it.

 

It didn’t completely abate the nervousness that Kurapika felt overall, but he would wait to pass full judgement once he found out for sure exactly what Chrollo had planned. Even if up to this point, the older man had yet to do anything that made the Kurta feel suspicious of. He still wanted to be sure his companion continued to remain truthful to everything he has professed to thus far.

 

Kurapika let his arms rest against the older man’s chest, “Alright. I will refrain from further comment then and let this play out.” Still, his skepticism didn’t stop him from finding momentary enjoyment in the times they shared. Just like now where he lavished from being in the sanctity of Chrollo’s powerful arms.

 

The warmth was inviting and the way the older man held him was tender and affectionate, almost as if Kurapika himself was delicate and fragile. The idea slightly perturbed him as he was anything but, it didn’t quell the fact that he wasn’t ready to sever contact anytime soon. Nevertheless, they still had their mission to complete and as such, this moment would unfortunately have to come to an end. Regardless, Kurapika savored every last minute until such came to pass.

 

Chrollo simply tilted his head and smiled, letting his eyes rove over as much of the blond’s frame as he could, taking in the magnificent sight before reluctantly, unfurling Kurapika from his protective embrace and taking a step back from the younger man. “Thank you. I swear I will show you that you can always trust me. It may not seem like much now, all considering. But I want to change that.”

 

He could only remain hopeful that Kurapika would eventually be able to fully understand the magnitude of the feelings he was now experiencing. Back when they first began this little journey of theirs, Chrollo had not once dreamed of ever finding himself desiring Kurapika the way he did now. It still  astonished  him. But he couldn’t help the way the beautiful young Kurta actually made him  feel.

 

Noting how late it was, Chrollo realized that they had extinguished more time than necessary. Backing away completely and leaving Kurapika’s warmth behind - which caused him to grunt in displeasure - his expression turned more serious, knowing that they had no more time to spare. “We really should get going. Not only have we dallied longer then we should, but we only have a small window of opportunity to complete this mission. Best not to waste that.”

 

Kurapika nodded in response, leaving his ruminative thoughts behind as he prepared mentally for the job ahead. There definitely was much to be done. “I am ready.” The sooner they completed their objective, the better.

 

~*~

 

The afternoon sun had offered what little warmth it could. Kurapika pulled the dusty brown hued fabric tightly around himself in a poor attempt to stave off the offending wind.

 

They had both decided on trekking to the temple on foot, opting for the least obvious method as they wanted to avoid detection or attention as much as possible.

 

One thing they both wanted to prevent from occurring was a repeat of what happened at Bathas. He was certain they would still need to leave the village once they acquired the eyes, but if they could do so without the possibility of becoming suspects, then they both would do whatever was necessary to ensure this.

 

“It's not much further.” Chrollo´s voice echoed over the chilling wind, its velocity had picked up since they had exited the rustic inn. Kurapika silently prayed that their excursion to the village's temple wouldn't take much longer.

 

Very few people seemed to traverse the dirt paved roads considering the time of day and less paid them any mind. Even less spared them a second glance. Kurapika had kept his face obscured by the hood of his cloak while Chrollo seemed to rely on the arctic wrappings around his forehead to conceal his odd shaped purple cross tattoo. As peculiar as they were, neither appearing endemic, they were strangely lucky none of the locals gave them much thought.

 

When they were but a few blocks away from the temple's location, it was then Chrollo stopped. “You remember what you have to do?” He eyed the young blond critically, his gray eyes carefully observing Kurapika.

 

They had spent hours pouring over notes and blueprints, outlining the details of Sorbia’s layout, as well as the temple's schematics. Kurapika was confident in his own skills. Even if he was still feeling uneasy.

 

“Of course. It's not as if we didn't go over the plan several times. I think I can handle my part.”

 

If Chrollo wasn't entirely convinced by his statement, well, the older man didn't show it. Still, the objective was clear and there was no going back now. They had to complete their mission and retrieve the eyes.

 

Kurapika will  not  leave Sorbia without them.

 

“I believe you. The reputation you earned precedes yourself, Kurapika, and I have personally witnessed how resourceful you can be. I do trust in you to be able to see this through to the fullest extent.” He reached forward and brushed his fingertips over the Kurta's soft cheek. “You can definitely hold your own.”

 

Kurapika didn't know why, but Chrollo´s reassuring words - even if they were rather obvious - touched him in a way that seemed to soothe his growing worries. Silently, he leaned into the warm touch, despite that he still huffed a little. “You are always so flattering.” He finally added sarcastically, though a hint of amusement laced the words.

 

“I know.” Chrollo couldn't help but smile.

 

Not wishing to delay any further, he retracted his hand and returned his focus towards the now visible foliage that was becoming less and less sparse, the flora growing in density. The canopy of trees, even the shrubby was getting thicker and thicker the closer they got to the temple, which they learned had oddly enough, sat atop a rather steep hill.

 

The breeze whisked through the leaves, causing branches to sway as it had been coming off the sea which was not too far away, salt heavy in the air around them. It was such a distinct scent which Kurapika remembered  all too well  from his time in Patalor. Hell, from back to his time on ships during the Hunter Exam. There was no forgetting that smell, and yet, he enjoyed the uniqueness of it and the fact that the sea itself had its own allaying effect.

 

As they reached the base of a rather long, marble staircase, Kurapika gazed at it in exasperation, not thrilled in having to climb its reaches to enter the temple, itself. One thing he noticed aside the daunting staircase were the lines of arctic strips of what appeared to be thin paper hanging from ropes of different shapes and sizes. They were positioned everywhere; around the trunks of trees, from strategically erected wooden poles that were placed around the pathway in intervals, and even from the massive archway that sat at the base of the stairs. It was as awe inspiring as it was nonplussing.

 

“Those are called paper talismans. Or Ofuda. They are used to ward off evil spirits and misfortune.” Kurapika turned to see Chrollo had come astride him, though his attention had deviated to survey the various talismans that were swaying in the breeze. “It is something customarily found at temples.”

 

For a moment, Kurapika stood in wonderment, and not just at Chrollo’s obvious insight. He knew these people to a fault were spiritual, but, down to the point that they went as far to attempt placing wards in hopes of averting evil was strangely, impeccable.

 

Not that it was dissuading him from proceeding with their mission. He had to retrieve the eyes no matter the cost. But to see something so  elaborate  constructed in a place that seemed so far from anomalistic definitely caught him unawares. “So, essentially these are used to rebuff anything of malicious intent?”

 

Chrollo smiled at Kurapika’s rather sharp intuition, “On a fundamental level. But it’s more for the intangible then the tangible. Don’t worry, it won’t affect us in any way. We are still going to proceed according to plan.”

 

Kurapika was still a bit wary considering his lack of experience around such a thing - he wasn’t completely oblivious - but still, seeing it up close didn’t entirely ease his concerns.

 

He merely nodded to Chrollo’s statement, affirming his ability to continue. “I understand,” gaze shifted to the protracted staircase once more, and his heartbeat seemed to increase in pace. “as I am ready to enact at any time. Just tell me when.”

 

This time, the older man’s attention turned a bit more serious, his eyes looking less soft than Kurapika had remembered from before. Indeed, their undertaking wasn’t going to be easy. Such was pretty much evident. However, there was no turning back.

 

Neither of them wanted to.

 

“Then we will follow the mission outlines as we have discussed. You are to proceed into the temple and engage in their daily worship by stating you are seeking a blessing from their God in hopes of receiving a good harvest. After you are able to infiltrate the main sanctum where the eyes are kept, I will then create a diversion in order to disrupt the ritual long enough to give you the time necessary so you can retrieve the eyes.” Chrollo breathed, retaining a firm hold on his own composure. He knew what must be done on his part, but it was also the fact of being certain that Kurapika too, would remain on his. “Once I am confident you have cleared the temple, then we will meet at our agreed rendezvous point.”

 

Kurapika allowed all the information to sink in once more and slowly processed it to ensure that he had every detail down accurately. The last thing he wished to do was compromise their mission.

 

“Duly noted. The only other question I have is, what strategy do you have in place if our mission were to fail? Do you have a contingency plan?”

 

The smile returned upon Chrollo’s lips, and he couldn’t help but allow it to broaden. It seemed that his precious blond continued to surprise him and for that, it only attracted him that much more. “As a matter of fact, I do. Either way, we will be leaving here with the eyes.”

 

Every ounce of air exited his lungs as Kurapika sighed; whereas he may have been full of confidence regarding this entire scenario, a part of him still felt ambivalence when it came to the succession of this entire mission. Not really because of Chrollo, but because of faith in himself. Still, he couldn’t allow his emotions to get the better of him.  Not now.

 

“Alright. Then let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” Kurapika was eager of course. The sooner they completed this operation, the better.

 

“I couldn’t agree more.”

 

With that, the Kurta took to the massive, elongated staircase, slowly beginning to traverse its marble steps as Chrollo vanished into the foliage behind him.

 

~*~

 

So many smells assaulted Kurapika’s nose once he entered through the main gates of the temple. He ambled behind a brown haired male dressed in dark blue robes. The person was relatively quiet, only addressing him at first sight of his presence, and again when questioning his reasoning for visiting the temple. Which he answered without hesitation. After that, the man simply nodded and beckoned for Kurapika to follow him.

 

Tapestries depicting various scenes or symbols, lined the walls in intervals, though all were strangely intricate. Accompanying them were different objects from delicate, porcelain vases lined with carvings, to some looking like weapons of ancient composition. Candles sitting within sconces hung from the walls, adding to the slightly eerie, yet, unearthly scene. Further they descended toward the innermost room of the temple, the area only growing dimmer as they went.

 

Kurapika’s hackles arose from just the need in caution as he was already overly suspicious as is. But something in the atmosphere made him feel  unsettled.

 

From original observation, the people of Sorbia appeared average, ordinary. Nothing seemed even remotely out of place or abnormal, especially the people that roamed the streets or meandered before storefronts. Now, as he slipped deeper into a temple filled with weird, symbolic, yet suggestive objects that appeared more occultist then not, where its people dressed in concealing robes decorated with strange symbols, and an air that felt stifling, Kurapika couldn’t help but sense that something seemed very wrong.

 

However, his breath completely hitched in his throat once they reached the inner sanctum, passing underneath a chiseled archway decorated with mysterious carvings. As he surveyed the antechamber, Kurapika finally saw the one thing he had come to Sorbia in search of.

 

There positioned on a tall, marble pedestal in the center sat what was the focal point of all his troubles. The Scarlet Eyes.

 

Fists clenched and unclenched and his breathing seemed to increase manifold. He had to resist every urge there was to simply go after the eyes and snatch them from where they stood. Yet, doing so would be brash and easily make their mission become a fool’s errand, which was the last thing Kurapika knew he wanted to do.

 

But it was oh so hard.

 

Keep focus. Stay on task. Chrollo is relying on you to keep your cool and stay with the plan.”

 

“You have come to seek audience with our Priestess so you can pray to our sea God in hopes of being granted a blessing?” A voice called from his left and instantly Kurapika turned his head, blue eyes straining to focus amid the dim lighting of the room. A tall figure strode out of the shadows, positioning themselves before the seemingly perturbed blond, though the person’s face was obscured by the hood of their dark blue robes.

 

A sudden sensation of apprehension washed over him and the younger man couldn’t help but unconsciously take a step back from the encroaching figure. Something in their aura felt pervading, almost as if it made his innards, twist. The air grew heavy, thick, making it feel as if it was hard to breathe. And yet, Kurapika remained firmly in place, keeping hold on his composure and fortitude.

 

“Yes. I have come seeking a blessing in hopes of having a bountiful harvest for my crops. I am but a simple farmer looking to increase my trade.” He kept his voice low, concise, pushing down the impulse to tremble, hiding the affliction he was experiencing.

 

The pause that ensued between them was long and perturbing, though he kept peering from beneath the rim of his hood towards where the eyes sat.

 

The figure remained before him, almost as if they were studying him. Weighing. Calculating. Like a predator sizing its prey. Kurapika shifted beneath their fixated stare, though he still could not see their face. But their energy spoke otherwise and it was everything Kurapika could do to not lash out. “Lower your own hood so we can see your face.”

 

At that moment, Kurapika’s heart went to beating rhythmically in his own chest, his mind now swirling with a myriad of emotions, thinking quickly on exactly how to handle such a change in his now uncertain situation. One factor he and Chrollo never took into account was the possibility of him needing to expose himself at any time and risk not being recognized as a local. Now he was being impelled to reveal his face, which only added to the blond’s growing list of worries.

 

As he lifted his hands to curl his fingers around the hood to his cloak, a soft voice almost like melodious chimes beckoned from the stillness, bringing a halt to everyone in the room. “It appears we have a guest.” Another figure emerged from the darkness, though this time, the person was slender and wiry, their robes were a mix of white and dark red hues with dark blue patterns in the form of symbols Kurapika didn’t recognize along hemming and sleeves. Slowly, the hood was pushed back to reveal a young woman with long, black hair in various braids with hauntingly dark eyes.

 

He was instantly taken aback, body nearly frozen in place as he took a few deep breaths, putting a leash once more on his composure which threatened to ebb away. One thing he noticed was her vernal features, which made her appear childlike, though she couldn’t have been much younger then he was. Her lips were a ruby red, which glinted in the darkness, appearing like two dazzling gems as she smiled.

 

“Let’s get a better look at you.” She purred, voice like silk as she approached Kurapika, eyes boring into him as if she was looking into the very reaches of his soul. He could sense her gaze over his body, regarding him in an intimate way and without warning, he felt vulnerable.

 

Swallowing hard, pushing down the urgency to retaliate, he grasped his hood and lowered it, allowing the woman and those around her to finally see his visage.

 

“You certainly are pretty,” Soundlessly, she closed the gap between them, hand coming to rest against his cheek. Her skin was cool to the touch and he had to resist the instinct to flinch, “but not someone who appears suspicious or duplicitous. You may proceed forth.” Retracting her fingers from his skin, she beckoned him forth, walking over to where their most divine treasure, resided. Kurapika hesitated, but only scantly, and went to stand just before the dais where the marble pedestal was.

 

“Since you have been accepted in joining our most sacred prayer, we ask that you kneel before thine eyes, and join us in offering thanks to our most holy one who has bestowed us with a great many blessings. Have you brought something for an offering?”

 

Reaching into the pouch which he had kept at his waist, fingers dug numbly into its contents searching for the object Chrollo had advised he bring, after telling him that before he would be allowed to partake in their prayer ceremony, he would need to provide an offering for their God. As he searched for the trinket of importance, he grazed over something smooth, something mitigating. For a moment, his hand lingered there as he felt its shape and texture, wanting to curl those digits around it, but reluctantly pulled away and resumed his inspection until he found the object of desire.

 

In the back of his mind, he settled on later retrieving the special object that was usually shaped like a heart with its delicate colors. The very same one with its mysterious origins that seemed to always relax him. But, he curled his fingers around what he had dug into his pouch for and pulled out a string of various shells, then held it out before the young Priestess.

 

“Ah yes, that will be sufficient.” She spoke approvingly and reached out to take the proffered trinket from Kurapika´s hand, leaning over to place it at the base of the pedestal. “Now, if you will please, kneel before the dais.”

 

The entire situation still felt wrong.  Very, very wrong.  But, he wasted no time and got to his knees, coming to rest on the dull looking carpeting that lined the ground beneath him. Simultaneously, everyone else in the room lowered to the ground around him, heads bowed in the process.

 

In a graceful, eloquent motion, the young woman slid up onto the dais and came to reside next to the carved pedestal.

 

She raised her arms, hands in the air with fingers splayed. “My brothers and sisters, we have gathered today to offer our prayers and to worship the God who has watched over us and protected us for generations. Today, we give that thanks through the precious treasure which our savior has graciously bestowed upon us.”

 

Like that of a graceful swan, she turned seamlessly around, her robes flowing unhindered about her as she came to face the ornately carved pedestal, hands now just above the canister housing the eyes. Their vibrant like color appeared to glow preternaturally underneath the shade of the room.

 

“Eyes. Something that is said to be a gateway into the soul, but also as a gateway to see beyond the veil.” Lower the woman's digits came, descending towards the top of the canister until they came into contact with it. Then, she curled them almost possessively around it. “However,” she breathed, her gaze which seemed dark, maniacal, landed upon those who had remained prostrated and the look alone made Kurapika shiver, “these eyes, the very ones of a ethereal red hue are neither human or animal, but that of infernal creation.” Lower the woman’s hands went, now grasping the sides of the canister almost gleefully. “But our God has graciously accepted these otherworldly eyes as link for us to commune with him.”

 

The words which the Priestess spoke didn’t take long to sink in and Kurapika found himself trembling, struggling to contend with his waning temperance. He felt his own blood thrumming within his ears, each word an utterance that only evoked long, painful memories.

 

All the lone Kurta could think of was how his clan was persecuted for their differences. For being accursed by a simple genetic oddity that granted them the ability to change their eyes to a bright red, and how they lived  forsaken  because of it. Now, to hear something so ironic, so impertinent, so contemptible, it was all he could do from simply lashing out.

 

Unconsciously, he felt his hands curl into the moth eaten carpet beneath him as he ground his teeth, finding it nearly impossible to suppress the savage rage growing within. He wasn’t sure if any of them had noticed the changes with him, but he didn’t care. It was like something else was completely taking over him.

 

“How can you be so despicable?” When he had obtained the gall to speak, Kurapika did not know. All he could focus on was how outraged he felt. “How can you casually desecrate the dead? Then not even feel compunction for it?” As the words left past his lips, the blond rose, becoming erect and letting his vision fall upon them, his eyes now glowing scarlet and inflamed amidst the shadow. It was now he let his true nature show. “Unforgivable.”

 

Silence deadened the flow within the room before a sudden cacophony of voices resonated in the air and soon, chaos descended around them.

 

~*~

 

Chrollo breathed in slowly; everything around him had fallen into silence and he remained stationary within one of the less traveled corridors of the temple. The penumbra grew heavy, seeming to thicken the air around him, making him proceed with caution, and keep his defenses profoundly raised. He had lost sight of Kurapika the moment he and those hooded figures had disappeared into the passageway that lead into the inner sanctum. But, he could just barely feel the boy’s heightened energy despite the lack of access to his Nen through his own innate abilities. It was faint, but it  was  there.

 

Keeping to the shadows was easy, especially for someone like him. He moved soundlessly, not even an echo of his footsteps to profess his ubiety and followed in the direction Kurapika went earlier, preparing to position himself as according to plan.

 

Once he got close enough to sense the presence of those who resided within the chamber, Chrollo waited patiently, devising the right time to enact, and thrust everything into pandemonium.

 

Everything had gone pin drop quiet aside the hushed voices that arose from within the chamber before him, when the atmosphere suddenly fluctuated and the hairs on the back of his neck, arose. It didn’t take long as the soft, barely audible conversation suddenly changed into a emphatic uproar and instantly drew the Spider Head’s attention. Right away he suspected what had happened as the plans he concocted evaporated in a matter of minutes, realizing that now, their mission had ultimately been compromised.

 

Dammit Kurapika.

 

How did he know this was going to happen?

 

Closer he inched towards the barely parted doors that separated him from the chamber where the blond now was, attuning his hearing as much as possible to listen to the commotion from within.

 

“Unforgivable.”

 

Kurapika. He could tell the anger in his voice was a simmering thunderstorm waiting to be unleashed. The other had lost his composure and somehow, Chrollo had nearly bet that an incident like that was going to occur even though he placed his faith in the younger man. Still, he made no motion to intervene.  Not yet.  Instead, he continued on listening to see how the situation played out.

 

A soft gasp ensued followed by the voice of a woman. Chrollo stiffened.

 

“You’re one of them. I heard the Kurta clan was extinct. Never thought one of them still existed.”

 

“Well, you were definitely misinformed. While my clan may be gone, I am very much alive.”

 

“That I can very well see. But perhaps, this changes things. We may not need this after all.”

 

A sound of shifting told Chrollo there was an altering in positions and he allowed himself to reside closer to the entrance, giving him the vantage of being able to view the inside of the chamber while remaining hidden.

 

He noticed Kurapika was standing, surrounded by several hooded figures, while a woman who looked young wearing white and red robes was watching the Kurta with perverse interest.

 

For a moment he could see the young blond tense beneath the woman's accusatory stare, though the hint of seduction wavered just beneath the surface. Though once her delicate fingers came up and cupped his cheeks, lowering her face close to his did Chrollo feel himself stiffen. The act of someone touching his precious angel did not sit well with him. At all.

 

Again, the raven-head made no step to cull the events from occurring, only waiting to see how far this would go before he finally had enough.

 

“D-Don’t touch me!” Kurapika hissed, attempting to shy away from the woman's hands on him. His own hands tried to grapple at her arms and sever their contact. “Stay away!”

 

“You really are quite pretty. For a male anyway.” Her voice became more sultry, and filled with heat. The way she moved made Chrollo twitch, but he was still interested to see how Kurapika was going to react.

 

Further down they traveled, index finger trailing over Kurapika´s clothes, the smile which inched over her dark painted lips spoke of hidden desire. Yet, she tilted her head, watching him thoughtfully as he seemed to be repulsed by her unwanted caress. Then, she focused back on his flaring eyes, and abruptly, she snatched his face again harshly. Closing the gap, she came within mere inches of him. “But that doesn’t change a thing. You are a fine specimen. One which is alive and better than those lifeless eyes floating in that jar.”

 

Out of nowhere, the reflection of something metallic caught his attention and it didn't take long for Kurapika to realize that the young woman had produced a long, ceremonial dagger, its tip aimed straight at his throat. Swallowing hard, he attempted to step backwards and out of her grasp, but she held to him firmly, her nails biting into his pale skin.

 

“What do you plan to do? Kill me and gouge out my eyes?” He spit venomously, the sarcasm to his words mocking her every advancement.

 

Her smile only grew more malicious, the tip of the dagger pressing roughly against his flesh. “So long as you don't give me a reason to, then you shall remain here, aiding in our cause.” And without much thought, she closed the meager space between them, her lips roughly encompassing Kurapika´s as she forced him into a unwanted kiss. The blond’s eyes nearly bulged out of his skull as the loud resonance of metal clinking announced the materializing of his chains. Several of them began snaking behind her in response.

 

This time, there was no belaying in action for the moment that wench touched her foul lips to Kurapika´s own, Chrollo felt his own disgust, swell. Granted he was a thief, but no one stole from him what he already planned to steal or had already acquired. Kurapika was his and his,  alone.  No one put their hands on his precious angel.

 

Slipping a hand beneath the sable hued coat he wore, Chrollo retrieved his Benz knife and ducked fluidly into the room without a sound. The first dropped in a crumpled heap, creating a dull thud as the figure went down. One by one, they were felled before the rest took notice of his presence, the Priestess taking on a look more of shock then surprise.

 

“We have an intruder in our midst.” She slurred this time, her nails sinking dangerously close to piercing the flesh of Kurapika´s cheek, eyes flashing wickedly. “It seems someone has come for you, precious.”

 

Chrollo stood erect this time as Kurapika's eyes found his own, though the younger man seemed more relieved then not. “Your assumptions are correct.” Hand flexed around the hilt of the knife, realizing that the remaining hooded figures had started to surround him, forming a ring. “But I wouldn't go as far to say he belongs to you.”

 

“Oh?” She barely registered Kurapika's chains snaking around her wrist, coiling tightly around it. “Is this pretty boy your paramour?” Little by little he made them taut, ring finger ensuring the one attached to it remained inflexible, holding his wrist in place as his gaze locked with Chrollo´s once more.

 

Like he understood, and just from the older man's demeanor alone, Kurapika nodded just barely, knowing what he must do. He was thoroughly prepared to fight his way out.

 

“Perhaps.” Chrollo spoke simply and lunged forward like a viper, aiming for the nearest person to him while Kurapika simultaneously pulled his right arm back, turning in the process to jerk his chains. The momentum caused the woman to twist and falter to the ground face first, the sound of the impact echoing into the air.

 

Breathing heavily, he peeked over his shoulder, attention drawing from the crumpled shape of the Priestess to land on Chrollo as he was casting one of the hooded people aside, “No killing.” Kurapika called over the din, and Chrollo faced him nonchalantly. “I'm almost certain that knife is poisoned.”

 

“It is.” He confirmed as he jerked his left fist this time, cold cocking the next challenger in the jaw, dropping them instantly.

 

“Still! Don't kill anyone! Just knock them out.”

 

The older man raised his eyebrow at the statement, but said nothing. Rather, his focus lingered on the remaining cultists, bringing a denouement to their assault one by one.

 

However, the distraction caused a momentary lapse in Kurapika’s judgement, not realizing that the Priestess had regained her kinesthesia once more, and returned to her feet. He only had moments to spare in dodging the cold steel that came readily at his face again, this time with more precision, the tip scraping over the surface of pale skin, leaving a superficial wound on his cheek.

 

Once realization of his position finally hit, Kurapika rounded on the woman, lashing out once again with his chains, though either by sheer luck or will, the young woman dodged easily, this time, hurling forward, the dagger aimed at puncturing his shoulder. How she was able to maneuver so easily, only frustrated Kurapika. She was quick, nimble, and gliding effortlessly around him.

 

Taking a few steps back, the Kurta hissed, raising up his arm as one of his chains came to ward off another attack by the woman’s dagger. The delirious look in her eyes spoke of true mania and Kurapika knew this woman was definitely not someone to trifle with. “You aren’t going to win this one, precious. Give it up.”

 

As the words left the Priestess’s dark lips, Kurapika barely had time to react for the woman lashed with deadly accuracy, springing behind him despite her thick robes and quickly placed the dagger’s blade against his throat again.  Damnit, how did she do that?  He could practically feel the satisfaction emanating off the woman as she smiled against his ear. “Now don’t move, precious. You wouldn’t want anything to happen now, would you?”

 

Kurapika hissed, but did not move, knowing that one slip would cause the blade against his skin to easily sink in. Slowly, he lowered his chains, the woman watching him closely, ready for any signs of retaliation. At that point, it seemed relatively futile, his situation only growing worse when he felt the woman’s hold on him abruptly loosen and fall away as she collapsed to the ground once more.   

 

“I would have to say that was a pretty close call.” Kurapika turned to see Chrollo standing there, flexing his hand before leaving his side to dispatch the remaining cultists.

 

When the last of the sect was brought to their knees with the sounds of heavy grunting and moaning filling the air did the odd pair stop to survey the final effect the onslaught had invoked. Kurapika took a step back, catching his breath and prepared to collect the eyes, their radiance still gleaming within the haze that now drifted in the air.

 

It felt like so long and with quivering fingers, the Kurta took a shaky step towards the dais, arms outstretched when something halted his movement. Looking down, he noticed a hand clutched to the hem of his cloak. Kurapika frowned discontentedly.

 

“You’re a demon. There is no possibility you’re human.” Her voice rang out through the stillness of the room, eyes flickering with hatred. “But your eyes, we need them! There is no way I will let you abandon us now!”

 

The woman’s confession and severity of her words was enough to cause anger to swell within Kurapika, his lips contorting in disgust. “You are the one who should not be talking. If you think I will subject myself to your morbid ideals, then you are deluding yourself.” Jerking his leg forward, he attempted to dislodge her grip from his clothing, ready to just collect the eyes and be gone from the damn accursed temple.

 

But she did not retract nor let go, fingers only coiling tighter, “Such insolence! You will rue! Death follows you! A scourge of the Earth and will wrought nothing but destruction!”

 

Every ounce of incrimination in her voice was enough to beget Kurapika's own abhorrence, and it took every ounce of his own resistance to keep from unleashing his own savage anger upon the woman. Brighter his eyes flashed in their scarlet hue; deadly,  threatening.

 

“The only one here who is a demon is you who cruelly defiles the bodies of the dead for their own sick, and twisted benefit.” Again he attempted to shake the her off of him, this time more riotously then before. “Now, let go of me!” He growled, completely pulling from her hold and ascended the steps to the dais, coming to stand just before the pedestal. Eagerly, he plucked the canister from its surface and sighed, then turned his attention to Chrollo who watched him, still partially obscured by the darkness.

 

He could see the pain that still wavered beneath the younger man’s eyes. The burdens of his past were as present as ever.

 

It was then Chrollo truly  felt regret. He despised what he had done to Kurapika.

 

“Can we get the hell out of here? This place is just giving me the creeps.”

 

Coming closer to Kurapika, he placed a hand on the younger man’s shoulder, eyes flickering with concern. ”I have mapped out all exits from within the temple. The closest one to this room will bring us to the forest surrounding this place.”

 

Kurapika nodded, “Then lets go. I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary.”

 

Leading them from the room, Chrollo beckoned for his companion to follow, ignoring the unconscious or dead bodies that littered the room. As they passed beneath the archway that lead out of the massive chamber, a voice bellowed out, “You will pay for this! Mark my words! Sorrow is all you will find!” Kurapika blotted the woman from her mind, not wanting her to afflict him anymore then she had and continued walking, staying behind the older man. “Come back damn you! Come back!” Her voice trailing behind them as they tracked back through the corridors, leaving her behind.

 

Finally the darkness bid to light as they came towards the back of the temple and Kurapika had to shield his eyes, arm clutching tighter to the canister that he held protectively underneath it. Chrollo came up beside him. “Not quite as I had planned, but at least we did recover the eyes, nonetheless.”

 

“Yes.” He kept his attention forward, not looking at the man beside him. The sky had turned an ashen grey, obscuring the sun that was now sitting low on the horizon. Everything he had endured remained fresh in his mind, making it so difficult to forget. Never had he thought his past would continue to haunt him, but his ghosts were still there.  Always there.  Even if his clan had long since moved on.

 

“We should probably get going. Best not to linger. Like last time, we will need to leave Sorbia as soon as we are able.” Looking down, Chrollo briefly tightened his grip on the blond’s shoulder.

 

“Agreed.” Came the quiet response, wrapping the cloak more around his lithe frame, hiding the eyes from view. “I just want to be far away from here.”

 

~*~

 

Kurapika sat on the side of the bed, slender fingers gripping onto a solid object that was in the shape of a heart, tips idly stroking over its glossy surface as he seemed deep in thought. He had focused on the depth of the colors, taking note of the golden flecks and how embedded they were into its green and red swirls, still musing over how he managed to find such an arcane like object.

 

The food Chrollo had ordered them for dinner remained unfinished, finding that his appetite just wasn’t there. Ever since they had returned to the inn with the eyes, Kurapika didn’t really feel himself, almost as if he was experiencing a complete disconnect. Chrollo had attempted on several occasions to make conversation with him, and the blond all but ignored him. For the most part, the older man left him to his rumination.

 

Never had he thought his journey to recover the rest of his clan’s missing eyes would have brought him so close to the shadows of his past, and that it could easily reopen old wounds. But the more he thought on it, more it seemed that could very well be the case. Even as much as he wanted to abolish the horrors he once endured, the imprint always remained. Something held him back, and kept him tied to a life that was long since, gone. It prevented him from moving forward, always there shadowing him and he just couldn’t seem to erase it from his existence.

 

How he hated it. Being tied down by the echoes of the past as it always seemed inescapable.

 

It was a weight he no longer wanted nor desired to carry.

 

There was so much blame, and yet, none of it eased his wearied mind.

 

“Are you going to be okay? You really do have me concerned, Kurapika.”

 

The older man’s voice was enough to tug him from his contemplation, and Kurapika looked up to see Chrollo had come to stand beside him before taking a seat on the mattress.  He pouted, but said nothing.

 

There was just nothing to say. No way to express his emotions for in the back of his mind, he still attributed Chrollo for the reason he was still in the position he was. Everything that occurred since that fateful night, and for all the misery he suffered was because of the very person who now sat beside him. The struggle to erase that very aspect from his mindset was still so difficult, even though his mother’s vision had been polar opposite of his own. He wanted to believe, he  needed  to.

 

But how could he when all he could do was see Chrollo as a monster?

 

“Because you haven’t let go. You still cling to something that you cannot change.”

 

Change. Just like the seasons, so did people. Was he able to do this? Was it even possible for someone like Chrollo?

 

“Kurapika.” The older man called again, this time, he felt a hand along his back, slowly stroking it, the sensation, consoling.

 

Blue eyes turned in the other’s direction and once again, they were laced by anguish and grief. Chrollo couldn’t help the pang that abruptly hit him right in the chest.

 

The silence between them stretched on for agonizing minutes before Kurapika breathed in sharply, and Chrollo prepared for the tempest the blond would surely unleash.

 

“There is something I have to know. Something I must know. Because I can’t even sleep without it pervading my dreams.” It was now or never. He had to find out exactly what the older man was thinking. If he was to find the ability to move on, if he was to lay everything to rest, to bury his demons, this would be the way.  The only way.  Kurapika knew he felt something for Chrollo, that his heart fluttered every time he was in the man’s presence and every time they touched. There was just so much holding him back from forming the connection he was sure was growing between them. “But do you ever feel remorse for anything you have done? Or care about those you have hurt by your actions?”

 

Chrollo knew this day would come. He had been certain of it for a long time now. It was a redemption that he had to face. There was no escaping it. Not that he wanted to. At one time, he would have simply balked at the notion.

 

Now that Kurapika had altered something within him and caused him to feel emotions that he never once thought he’d ever experience, all he wanted to do was give the young man every reason to trust him. Chrollo wanted Kurapika see that he was more than a monster that didn’t care for life and that he was just a simple man, a human beneath all the blood that coated his hands.

 

Retracting his hand, the corners of his lips downturned, and it was then Chrollo’s gaze landed on the canister which sat on the small table across the room. The eyes that he had once harvested, floated inertly amid the liquid which held them. “To say I did would be a lie,” he paused, watching the eyes languidly, “for I do not regret every decision I have made. Many people I have crossed, many lives I had taken. But there is one thing I will admit that I do regret.”

 

He could feel Kurapika’s eyes upon him. Intent. Severe. The boy’s aura heightened and there was both eagerness and bewilderment in the air around him. Yet, Chrollo could tell that the younger man wasn’t satisfied. “What exactly do you feel regret for, then?” He asked slowly.

 

“For everything I have done to you.”

 

Again silence ensued between them before Kurapika was actually find the will to speak, “For everything you have done to me? Are you saying you regret killing my clan, my parents and taking everything away from me?” Though his response was more caustic than not.

 

This time, Chrollo returned his focus to him and, Kurapika was shocked by what he saw. “I regret what my decision has done to you. While I may not go back and change what I have done, I do hate the fact that I ultimately caused you so much sorrow and pain. There isn’t a day that goes by now where I feel bad for everything I have put your through.” One hand came up and cupped the blond’s cheek, thumb stroking tenderly over the pale flesh where the cut once was before it was healed. “I am sorry, Kurapika.”

 

Every ounce of oxygen evaporated from his lungs as Kurapika had thought someone literally punched him in the chest. There was definitely so much to digest and hearing Chrollo’s confession only made it that much more difficult to parse. Tears began to well in the back of his eyes, fighting back the myriad of emotions that now began to swell within. “Do you really understand the magnitude of what you just said? You have done so much to me, so much that I don’t even know how I manage anymore. I hated you for so long and wanted to see you die because of it. Now to hear this -”

 

Chrollo placed his thumb before the blond’s lips, ceasing his growing rage, willing him to stop, “You may not believe me now, and I am not expecting you to forgive either, but I cannot sit back and do nothing. I have done more damage to you that does not justify it. What I can say is, I want you to know how I feel and that that I wish I could erase all your pain. It hurts me to see you like this, Kurapika.”

 

With his other hand, he reached for Kurapika´s own hand that held the one object the younger man seemed to hold dear and closed his fingers around those slender digits, bringing it up between them. Kurapika watched as he did so, confusion working its way over his features. “I don’t understand.”

 

This time, Chrollo covered his hand completely over Kurapika’s.

 

“What you hold is called a Heart Stone. They are given to those by a person who is professing how they feel about someone. Like love.” He paused, gauging Kurapika’s reactions as the younger man’s eyes seemed to go wide with the realization. “I gave it to you imbued with my energy in hopes it would help you find peace. Because,” this time Chrollo breathed in slowly, looking directly into the Kurta’s eyes, “I am falling for you, Kurapika. Because… I love you.”

 

Unconsciously, he trailed his fingers down over Kurapika’s chest, stroking over the object that resided just beneath. He could feel the ornate chain and its dangling crystals before slowly pulling away. “I have long since… Felt this way.” Chrollo turned away, now unable to face the man before him, the scrutiny heavy in his own mind.

 

But his suspicions were proven wrong when Kurapika cupped his face and forced him to look at the blond once more, crystalline rivers streaking down those beautiful cheeks, “That is all I needed to hear.” Before he knew it, Kurapika’s lips had covered his own, pulling him into a slow, affectionate kiss, the taste of salt upon them.

 

Not caring to disrupt the moment, Chrollo simply let Kurapika do as he willed, relieved at least, the young blond didn’t hate him. Or at least, he wasn’t being rejected. For inestimable moments, they remained that way, just kissing each other, finding comfort in each other’s company and Chrollo was just glad Kurapika didn’t run.

 

“Maybe now I can finally let go and say I just may feel the same way.” Kurapika whispered against Chrollo’s lips and for once, he didn’t feel as if he was lying to himself. His mother was right. She had always been right.

 

Perhaps now he would be able to move on. Perhaps it was finally time to lay the ghosts of the past to rest.

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Kurapika.”

 

It was like a dream, the shifting of visions and the softness of touch. There was something beautiful about the scenery, something enticing that kept him from wishing to answer the gentle calling of someone that seemed so distant, so far away. Yet, he stirred slowly, finding that his head, hurt. A possible headache, perhaps? But, one eye opened to the blur of light within the room and it took him more moments than he dared to count, finally able to adjust to the sun that had inevitably been washing over him. Soon, those vibrant blues landed on a silhouette and a figure came into view.

 

Chrollo.

 

The man’s deep greys were staring at him, almost as if they were intentionally boring into him, but there was a look within that spoke more of amusement as opposed to being crucial. Then again, it was possible the older man was being urgent about something.

 

Kurapika groaned and lifted himself up off the bed shakily, one hand had came to rest against his temple as he tried to steady himself. “I feel like I’ve been hit by a car.” He murmured as he lifted his head to look directly at the older man who had thankfully, been holding a cup of coffee and was handing it to him. The weary blond took the mug without hesitation. “What time is it?” 

 

He looked at Kurapika thoughtfully as the mug was accepted and taken from his hand, the younger man not wasting time to draw off of its contents. “Its nine am. You seemed to be sleeping pretty deeply.”

 

Though the events from the night before were a little hazy, what that did stick out prominently was Chrollo´s confession. It had been the one thing that he had long since - and desperately - been wanting to hear.

 

As unexpected the notion was - Kurapika had not thoroughly believed Chrollo would have ever admitted his shame - it was something he was trying still to adjust to. The aspect of it had now changed things between them, but for the young blond, it was relieving.

 

For so long, Kurapika carried the burdens of his past, held down by the weight of his pain and chained by his hate. To lose that had frightened and nonplussed him for so long. But now, even as he gazed deep into Chrollo´s eyes, he couldn't muster the ability to do so.

 

He just didn't have it in him, anymore.

 

There were other feelings amid the negative that suppressed his desire. His convictions. No longer had Kurapika found the will or incentive to kill the older man, but found himself growing more attracted. More attached. There was an emotional connection forming, a link which he had not seen before. But now, he had begun to feel it.

 

Not once had he ever envisioned this happening or that he would have come to share a mutual understanding, much less harbor emotions towards the man. All he could remember was how much he had come to loathe Chrollo, that he had long since blamed the man for everything which had come to pass in his life, including all his misery and tribulation. Even then, it was still hard to conceive that in such a relative short amount of time being around the raven-head was enough to sway his mindset.

 

Still, there was that underlying vein magnetism which kept him from completely enacting on dismissing the fact things were indeed, changing between them. That simply put, Kurapika was finding himself falling more and more into Chrollo’s web then he cared to admit. But the further he fell, the less he wanted to break free. There was just no relenting and the young Kurta knew this. As execrable as it may seem, the lack of disgust did not upset him in any way. Quite to the contrary, Kurapika began to find himself only becoming more accepting of how his situation had become.

 

He was indeed, enraptured by Chrollo. The older man easily fascinated him, enjoying the other’s company with relative ease. Nothing in his aura gave Kurapika anymore reason to increase his wards and remain wary of him. Even if he was still taken aback by how willing he was in allowing Chrollo to get so close to him. So many times he had convinced himself that he would never allow himself to ever come to trust, or harbor anything other than indifference when it came down to the time they spent while on this little journey of theirs.

 

But now, the situation had developed into something different. Into one where Kurapika had found his now former enemy showing feelings towards him. The very same person who had practically convinced him of finally extricating from all he had ever known in favor of acceptance. Too long he had held onto his hate and contempt, which only prevented him from seeing the truth, and from seeing exactly what was keeping him from ever finding the solace he had been seeking for so, so long.

 

Now that radiance, that peace he so desperately needed, stared back at him, those eyes not only were filled with urgency, but also concern. This time, Kurapika straightened himself completely, having felt the ache in his head slowly beginning to dull and brought himself closer to Chrollo, though he never severed eye contact with the older man.

 

“The hell…? I can’t believe I had slept so long. Why didn’t you wake me sooner?”

 

Kurapika was a bit sullen at being allowed to sleep as long as he did. Perhaps he needed the rest, but he did remember that after the events that transpired at Sorbia’s temple the night before, it wouldn’t be long before he and Chrollo would need to move and quickly, neither of them wanting to deal with the cultists anymore then they had.

 

That woman’s face, her sickening aura and how she touched him, her foul lips upon his own, it was almost impossible to erase the imagery from his mind. He remembered washing his face, showering and brushing his teeth so many times after they had returned, but he couldn’t seem to abolish the feel of her hands on him and her taste from his mouth. Even now, the memory of it left him feeling cold and repulsed, finding that only being in the sanctity of Chrollo’s presence gave him the ability to even remotely ease the encroaching sensations.

 

“You looked so peaceful while you slumbered, I didn’t want to wake you,” Chrollo watched the blond carefully, noticing the gap between them had slightly decreased as the younger man had inadvertently, moved closer, causing him to smile at the gesture, “and besides, you needed the rest. Especially after everything you have endured, recently.” He lifted a hand to let his broad fingers brush aside a few errant lockes from Kurapika’s visage, admiring his stunning, lurid blue eyes. Kurapika was as beautiful as ever, the faint rays of the sun making his hair reflective, giving that illusion of a golden halo surrounding his head. Indeed, Kurapika was breathtaking and Chrollo simply could not help himself.

 

Slowly, his hand slid its way along the boy’s cheek, and came to rest there as Kurapika instantly tilted his head, leaning into the touch, eyes closing. They sat in respective silence, Chrollo’s fingertips gently caressing his pale skin. It was tender moments like these that kept Kurapika from being elusive. The blond still didn't know why though he tried to rationalize it, but Chrollo had a way of placating him and he was grateful. He didn't vocalize it - maybe he should - but his actions alone said so much already.

 

“I bet you were staring, weren't you?” Kurapika was unable to keep the sarcasm from his voice, almost certain that Chrollo had watched him while he slept. But the thought soon brought heat to his cheeks, the color of fuchsia rising along his pallid skin and despite he wanted to hide it, he neglected to do so. He could feel the older man ogling him, and the Kurta could only fidget beneath the weighted stare. “And don't you dare try to tell me that you was only merely observing. I have noticed the way you look at me, Chrollo Lucifer. It would not surprise me if you contemplated doing things to me as I slept.”

 

Shock with feigned dismay adorned Chrollo’s features, his hand only moving just so slightly to allow his thumb to stroke over those rosy, plush lips. Kurapika really was soft. “If I said I didn't, you wouldn't believe me, anyway.” The older man paused, fingers lingering over the his delicate skin. “Whereas, I do respect your boundaries, Kurapika. I am not going to say I haven't thought about it. But, that doesn't necessarily mean I am going to enact on it.”

 

Blinking, the blond merely sat there, digesting the explanation Chrollo had given him, once again his suspicions only being laid bare as he found no reason to contradict the man. Averting his eyes, the flush to his cheeks only broadened, Kurapika feeling as if he had been stripped of his dignity. Yet, he sighed at the warm feeling of Chrollo´s hand against him. “Smartass.” He uttered, nuzzling against that palm.

 

Chrollo chuckled, thoroughly amused by Kurapika´s flustered state, but only turned the younger man's head slightly and lowered to whisper sweetly in his ear. “I guess I am.” Then placed his mouth on the lobe just above that prized earring of his, tugging on it playfully. “But it doesn’t change how you feel about me, or how we feel about each other.” He  breathed.

 

A shiver raced up his spine and he tried to suppress a soft moan that managed to escape past his lips. The warmth of Chrollo´s own body soothed him and he absently moved closer to the other man, Kurapika´s own hands coming to rest along the other's lap.

 

Vaguely he heard it, and wasn't quite sure when it happened, but the sound of tinkling resonated around them as his chains had materialized, metal adorning his right fingers as it glinted beneath the sunlight. It startled Kurapika as he hadn't expected such a thing to occur. But what really caught him unawares was how warm it felt to its usual chill.

 

They had been concocted out of despair. From hatred and vindictiveness. Their sole purpose to dish out a vigilante's justice. Never once did they reside within the purity that was once in his soul, but the darkness that lingered in his heart.

 

It was what had bound him. Or, one thing that did. Kurapika had never known peace; something that was relatively forgotten amid the torrential downpour which had encompassed him, its negativity only adding to the weight of which had influenced him. Slowly, the blond had forgotten himself, consumed by his own hate by a driving compulsion for vengeance. Every waking moment Kurapika had spent living his life walking the razor’s edge, ready to die just for the sake of deliverance, and not just for his own quintessence, but for those who had been the ultimate reason in forsaking everything he had ever known.

 

Letting go had truly been the hardest thing he had to learn to do. There was nothing simple about it. Long ago, Kurapika had convinced himself there was nothing left. No going forward, or going back. That once he completed his task, saw to his objective, he could quietly slip away. But, such wasn’t the case, nor was it the will of those who had been taken away from him for that outcome to be the destiny for the last Kurta. Things do change, and it was in that, Kurapika had started to see his new purpose and been given the understanding on why he needed to live.

 

Not only was it a necessity, it was desire as well. One that was founded in him by the very person who had been his ruination, but also his salvation.

 

It was an epiphany long in coming.

 

Even as Chrollo uttered the words, along with the connotation of affection which hinted in the back of those eyes, Kurapika couldn’t help but see that very reason and allow himself to be guided towards finding a new propriety.

 

Maybe Chrollo would be the one to make him whole again.

 

“Perhaps,” Kurapika began, inching closer still to the older man until he was practically in the other’s lap, arms sliding around Chrollo´s broad shoulders and hands clutching to his back, “but you are not wrong on the aspect of how we feel.” For once it was nice to be open, to be honest and no longer feel suffocated… Conflicted. Although Kurapika was still finding himself getting used to the newfound idea and dramatic change to his life, accepting Chrollo was something he would eventually have to do. Or, that wanted to. “I have also harbored the same feeling, although I denied it, unwilling to believe. But now,” Kurapika lifted himself up, lips brushing against Chrollo´s own, “I don't have to lie to myself, anymore.”

 

With that he completely seized Chrollo’s mouth and drew him into a tantalizing kiss, leaving no hesitation in deepening it as soon, both their tongues were sliding along one another, the flavor of Chrollo filling into his senses.

 

Silence descended around them as they fell into each other's welcoming embrace, the sound of quiet, soft pants and heavy breathing the only thing heard.

 

Chrollo was still astounded by the Kurta's unbridled will in being straightforward, and how he found Kurapika so determined, so intent, so hungry for his touches and the contact they shared. The younger man was adorable in almost every scenario Chrollo was able to witness him in. But to see him like this, so vulnerable, so exposed, it made the older man feel elated. Closer he was becoming in fully winning the blond’s heart and for Kurapika to freely become his.

 

Broad fingers carded gently through silken, golden locks, parting the strands purposely before he lightly gripped the back of Kurapika´s head as the younger man deepened the kiss further, causing Chrollo to instinctively partake in the satiety of it.

 

One thing that was easy to see was Kurapika was slowly opening up, becoming more and more comfortable each day that they spent together and thus, the older man knew that now, it was only a matter of time before he and Kurapika would become unified. No longer would they see a need to contest one another or repress the sentiments they shared.

 

The older man took the opportunity of Kurapika’s velleity, using it as a sign of his concession in them proceeding further with their contact, finding that his other hand had made its way to the blond’s hip, clutching to it firmly, the fingers involuntarily flexing and squeezing the skin through the clothing he wore.

 

A soft groan was invoked from the depths of the blond’s throat as a result, the vibration humming against their ardent kiss as Kurapika himself, allowed his own body to lean in against Chrollo´s own frame without resistance or inhibition. He felt the raven-haired man’s chest heave against him, their breaths mingling with each moment they remained locked together.

 

Only when the need for oxygen began to strain their lungs did they separate, but transiently, Kurapika saw the burning desire gleaming behind grey eyes.

 

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear those words.” Chrollo could virtually hear the incitement in his own voice, how his mind was sibilating with countless fluctuating emotions, his own poise becoming weak, fleeting. Yet, he knew that still, allowing things to become forced and not invoked by free will could still prove to be detrimental. He had made progress. So much advancement. To go back now… “I remember telling you so long ago that I would prove to you I am worthy of your trust. Of… Your heart.” Yes, Kurapika was special. As strenuous it seemed, he had come too far to send it all into ruination now. His precious Kurta would come around completely, even if he was more yielding now then he was before.

 

So he stilled his hand, even if those fingers continued to knead Kurapika’s thigh against the fabric of his pants. The arctic white tank top which he wore had become briefly taut over his chest, giving Chrollo a defined view of the blond’s chest. Though his gaze didn’t linger long, despite he wanted to be indulgent in the younger man’s alluring body. Pressing too far without certainty on Kurapika’s desire for physicality was enough to keep Chrollo at bay. It was frustrating, sometimes even harrowing in resisting his own yearning.

 

Kurapika knew. He could sense it easily in the older man’s energy, but it did not sway him in staying away from Chrollo. The attraction, both physical and emotional was something he had been aware of that the other exhibited long ago. It was in that very same energy he had felt back when he first made his decision to see Chrollo face to face since their fateful encounter in that alleyway back in Patalor. Even then, Kurapika had vocalized his immediate rejection in allowing the older man to become too close. But now… He felt different. Like something within him had awoken.

 

Trust was something he was still warming up to but, he felt closer to Chrollo than ever before.

 

“You say that as if you remain confident.” Kurapika let one of his hands find purchase along Chrollo’s cheek, lithe fingers cupping it gently, “But I won’t deny that you have not given me any reason to spurn you.” For a moment, he found himself transfixed by those grey eyes, the same that he could not understand why they held so much power over him, and he became lost within them before brushing a thumb over Chrollo’s plush lips. Then, Kurapika inclined in and laid a sweltering kiss to his jawline, lingering there temporarily before biting down upon the tender flesh, and ensuring that a mark would be left behind.

 

The pleasant smile which crawled over the blond’s face spoke fathomless words when he was rewarded by a soft moan from Chrollo, fully aware that he was just as able to make the older man weak as much as Kurapika was made weak by him.

 

“Perhaps I am.” Chrollo uttered, one finger tracing out the contours of his sweet blond’s face and down to his lovely neck. “But regardless, I will honor my vow and continue to show you nothing else but a reason to hold faith and trust in me.” Damn how Kurapika was able to take over him as he had. Nonetheless, Chrollo loved it.

 

Again, Kurapika let the smile broaden across his lips, and Chrollo couldn’t help how breathtaking the Kurta was. How the sunlight played so elegantly over that pale, creamy skin and over those golden tresses, the younger man looked so angelic. Truly, Kurapika was an angel by every essence of the word.

 

“Smug bastard.” Kurapika tilted his head, allowing Chrollo access to his delicate neck as the older man wasted no time to return the favor in kind. The ache to do so was evident on his features. “I will hold you to it, or I just may have to kill you.”

 

The sarcastic undertone to Kurapika’s voice was instantly cut off as soft lips brushed against his racing pulse, following its movement with a line of sweltering kisses as Chrollo trailed it down to the juncture between the Kurta’s neck and shoulder. He just drifted over the area, breath tickling the sensitive skin before decisively biting down, causing Kurapika to groan out heavily, body arching against his own.

 

Gods how delicious Kurapika looked when like that. The view, the way he moved, just how the blond exhaled was enough to make Chrollo practically shiver. Yet, the Spider Head only allowed himself enough time given to ensure that his own mark would be left behind, professing that Kurapika in every aspect, belonged to no one but him. Even if he was still essentially courting the younger man, he would not allow anyone else to perceive the other as fair game.

 

Reluctantly, Chrollo pulled away, though his hands now were planted firmly on Kurapika’s hips. “As much as I’d enjoy in continuing our little session,” he purred, leaning in to give the blond one last kiss, “we really should get moving. It’s best for us not to linger much longer all considering. Even more so knowing that cult had seen both of our faces. With how determinate that woman appeared, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had her sect looking for us.”

 

With that, he gently goaded Kurapika off his lap, rising from the bed to pick up the mug which had inadvertently been left abandoned. Bringing it to his mouth, he drained the remaining contents that were in it, content that at least, he had some caffeine to help them in getting through their upcoming egression. Noticing that Kurapika’s own mug had too, seen the same treatment, Chrollo handed the cup thoughtfully to the other. The silent affirmation was enough, and Kurapika easily took it from the man’s grip.

 

‘I figured as much.” Despite Kurapika was mildly displeased by their lack of contact, he understood the reasoning. The memory of that bedlamite as she had looked at him so maniac, her eyes boring into his own as if he was some sort of prey, a object for her own benefit, or advantage was enough to cause a shiver to go up his spine.

 

He still was unable to completely erase her touch from his skin, the sensation left him feeling tainted, defiled. Even Chrollo displayed a dark pulse around him, the aura dangerously menacing from just the thought of it, alone. Since, Chrollo had suppressed the dark urges, mostly at Kurapika’s behest, though it was evident that he wished not to see that horrible woman a second time. Something foretold him of that possibility, but in reality, Kurapika could only hope such would never be the case.

 

Mimicking the older man’s example, he too, slid from the bed and resumed preparations in exiting Sorbia, for remaining could instantly spell trouble. Trouble they did not need.

 

It didn’t take long for Kurapika to finish securing the remaining of his personals, double checking that both canisters of eyes were promptly secured within his luggage. Chrollo had offered in holding the other pair as he had noted the heaviness there was in toting the younger man’s suitcase with just two alone.

 

Only if Chrollo had access to his Nen.

 

But after much debate and with some hesitancy, Kurapika relented and allowed Chrollo to take the third remaining canister.

 

“Fortunately, we don’t to have to leave Sorbia the same way we came. However, the trip will be long this time around. On the positive side, I have already gathered info from Shalnark on where the next set of eyes is. There is a city to the north in the Esanian Continent called Nappon. I have received Intel on who has a