The next time Killua comes in to town, Alluka gets some forewarning.
She’s glad for it. Not that she hadn’t been thrilled when he surprised her, but it’s nice to be able to plan ahead. She has time to set up the guestroom first and to plan to take a few days off. They know more or less what they want to do while he’s in town. This visit isn’t as long, but she’ll take whatever she can get. Killua coming over is an absolute treat.
She’s not the only one with forewarning, though. A couple of weeks before he’s even due in, she’s picking up an order at Kon’s Forest when Gon makes an off-hand comment about it.
“You must be excited that Killua’s gonna be back in town soon.”
“Yeah, I am,” she answers, automatically, warmth filling her voice. But something in her brain clicks to a halt.
Wait. She doesn’t remember mentioning…
“How did you..?” Alluka starts, and Gon must realize he’s spoken before she had a chance to break the news. His graze drops to the counter and he tries to seem very occupied with wrapping her purchase.
“Oh, he-... he mentioned it. Last time we were talking.”
Alluka smiles wide. “Oh, yeah. You two have been messaging a lot.”
It’s not a question. Gon can’t hide the way he smiles, even as he keeps his head bowed.
“Sometimes,” he answers.
Alluka lets out a thoughtful hum, which draws Gon’s attention.
“What?” he asks.
“Oh. Nothing, nothing,” she answers. “I’m just glad you two have made friends, is all.”
For a moment, he just blinks. Then a smile blooms on Gon’s face that’s bigger than before and practically glowing. “Yeah,” he says. “I am, too.”
Taking her small package, she just smiles back, just as wide. “I’ll see you later, Gon.”
If they still need pushing, she’s sure she can find a reason to send Killua down to Kon’s Forest.
Only a couple of hours before he closes shop, Gon gets a message.
His heart leaps inside him, and he whirls to see Killua standing outside the window, smiling and waving. Gon feels an uncontrollable smile break out onto his face as Killua moves to step inside.
“Hey,” he greets as the bell rings above the door.
“Hey!” Gon returns. “Let me just-” He shifts a pot on one of the high shelves then carefully steps down off his stool. “You’re early - I thought you weren’t getting in until tomorrow?”
“Ah, slight schedule change. Sorry, I didn’t think to say…” Killua’s teeth sink into his lower lip, and Gon feels a fluttering inside as he walks over towards where Killua stands waiting.
“It’s alright. It’s good to see you again,” Gon tells him. His instinct is to reach and shake hands, but that seems awfully formal now. His hands don’t know what to do, so he just fiddles with the short green apron that hangs from his waist.
“You too,” Killua agrees, hands hidden in his pockets.
Gon looks at him, suddenly at a loss for words. They’ve been messaging each other so much. Why is it suddenly hard for Gon to think of anything to say? “Umm… Does Alluka need anything?”
Killua seems just as at a loss as he is. “Oh, uh… No, no. I just wanted to say hi.”
More fluttering. Gon can’t help but grin, and Killua seems flushed.
“Um... “ Killua ducks his head briefly, then looks back up. “Actually, Alluka and Nanika and I are going, um… Out tomorrow. Downtown, just to hang out. And we were wondering if you wanted to come with?”
Gon’s eyebrows lift a little at the offer. They both were wondering? “Oh… Umm…”
“I mean- if you can’t,” Killua interjects suddenly. “With the store and all, I understand.”
“Oh, no,” Gon shakes his head. “It’s not… Are you sure I won’t be intruding?”
“I’m sure,” Killua answers, smiling. “We won’t… I’d like for you to be there.”
He’d like for Gon to be there, he says… Gon’s smiling again. “Yeah, okay.”
With Killua back in town, however briefly, it becomes increasingly obvious that Gon isn’t going to be able to deny the attraction he feels. It was such a little thing at first - just the thought that Alluka’s brother was much more cute than he’d expected. The tiniest sprout inside of him. When Killua left, he hadn’t really thought there would be more to it than that.
After all of their messaging back and forth, though, it’s different. He’s gotten to know Killua better, bit by bit, and he likes what he’s learned.
Growing things can be a tricky practice, Gon knows. You can’t treat one plant like you would another. Each has its particular needs - type of soil, amount of sunlight and water, warm or cool or dry or humid climate.
Then why was nursing this so easy? This warm, fluttering feeling inside he bears for Killua - how had it grown so much with him hardly noticing?
The outing with Alluka, Nanika, and Killua is so much fun. They don’t do much more than walk down along main street, browsing shops before stopping for lunch. Still, it’s so refreshing. Gon acknowledges that this must be in part because of his own habit of burying himself in his work. Aside from those regular lunches with Kurapika and Leorio - one of which is coming up soon, he reminds himself - he doesn’t get out all that often. It’s easier to focus on his chores at Kon’s Forest, easier to focus on planning ahead for his next big solo-adventure.
As he walks down the sidewalk with Killua, Alluka, and Nanika, as he listens to them laugh and bicker and poke fun, as he lets himself be dragged in and submits to Alluka’s gentle teasing - Gon finds himself glad he’s come, and gladder still that they (or Killua?) thought to invite him.
But part of him is selfish.
When Killua turns to him, when he looks at him with those stunning blue eyes, when he smiles and drops back to walk alongside Gon close enough that he can feel the warmth of Killua’s arm near his own, Gon wishes that it were just the two of them. He wishes Killua would make time for him alone, maybe, if only for a little while.
It’s more than just a physical attraction, too. Gon feels surprisingly at ease with him around. Talking with Killua, being around him - it’s simple in the way that being around people sometimes isn’t. There are spaces inside Gon. Tucked away in his bones, in his gut, in his hands. Sometimes, when he’s around people, those spaces feel all the more vast, all the more cold. It’s different with Killua. There’s a warmth Killua brings with him. He makes those spaces seem smaller, less noticeable. Gon doesn’t want that feeling to go away.
He should say something. He knows he should say something. He should try to be smooth, and confident, and charming, but… Shit, it's been a long time. After his accident, the few times he’d tried hadn’t lasted long at all, and before he knew it, he'd been alone out of habit almost as much as design.
That first weekend passes by too quickly for him to get a chance to work up the gumption to try.
Killua leaves. Gon feels like a hollowed tree.
He should’ve said something.
Killua’s dug himself in deep.
It’s not what he intended to happen - flirting with Gon and messaging him was easy, fun. But now - now there’s a kernel of hope inside him for something more than just light flirting.
In any case, he isn’t going to be able to hide his attraction to Gon for long. Especially not if he’s going to visit more often, and see Gon at some point during those visits.
Seeing Gon isn’t something he wants to leave to chance, either.
Timing is difficult, though - in more ways than one. For a while things never seem to line up. For starters, it’s harder to get away from work these days. With several ongoing projects at Facets, he can’t snag more than a few days away at any time. Then, when he comes into town, his sisters take priority. The quality time he gets in with them makes him truly and deeply happy, but he can’t ignore the part of him that doesn’t feel settled until he’s seen Gon, too.
Gon has his own life as well. Sometimes he’s busy with work when Killua comes in on a weekend off. Once, he messages Gon to find out he already has a prior commitment with some old friends. Still worse, one weekend Killua comes into town to find out that Gon is going to be out of the county for two weeks, off on another trip to the wild somewhere - somewhere with poor reception, because Gon responds very late to his message and apologizes profusely for missing it.
They don’t always suffer these near misses. Several times, in fact, when Killua comes in town Gon makes sure to bring a meal over to him and Alluka. Several times more, Killua takes any excuse he can to stop by Kon’s Forest - even if it means suffering the knowing looks and teasing he gets from his sisters. He supposes he should be thankful even that they keep said teasing to a minimum. They seem quite content to leave him to enjoy the occasional flirt with Gon. Killua is even starting to feel that maybe there’s a chance for more than just flirting.
If he could just snag a couple of moments with Gon alone - truly alone, not with his sisters near or at Kon’s Forest when another customer might walk in - he could get a chance to make a proper move.
Or let Gon make a proper move, since Killua honestly isn’t sure what he’d do. It’s been too damn long. He’s buried his head in work, and he’s even managed to be a little more productive lately for it. It makes it all the harder, though, to figure this out. It’s not made any easier for the fact that Gon is more than just looks. He’s kind. He’s funny. He doesn’t have his head stuffed insufferably far up his own ass.
Killua swears this used to be easy. Flirting should naturally lead to something more when both parties are interested (stars, he hopes Gon is interested), but it hasn’t yet.
The one chance Killua has to be alone with Gon, he fumbles the ball. When he stops by Kon’s Forest after hours, Gon calls to him from the garden out back. Killua goes, thinking that this could be his chance.
He isn’t prepared for what he finds -
-which is Gon. A very shirtless Gon. Gon showing Killua more of Gon than he has heretofore had the pleasure of viewing. Bared brown skin, clusters and constellations of freckles that apparently dot more than just his handsome face. Skin beaded with sweat, stretched over the defined muscles of his abdomen, his arm, and his pecs. He’s incredibly, undeniably, unfairly attractive. Even Gon’s prosthetic, which Killua can now see attached at about the midpoint of his upper arm with root-like offshoots winding up to his shoulder, seems natural, meant to be a part of him - beautiful in its own right.
Killua stares, struck dumb. His fingers ache to touch. Heat creeps from his hairline to under his collar.
Oh, fuck, he thinks. And, It’s been too fucking long.
Killua pulls through without making a total fool of himself, but he leaves without having made any progress. The opportunity had been perfect, and he’d panicked over Gon showing him a little skin! Beautiful, brown, freckled skin that must be so warm and-
Fuck, it’s been too long.
Alluka is going to lose her mind.
She really, truly is! In all her life she’s never known two more oblivious idiots - and one of them her own flesh and blood! Despite her teasing, Alluka really doesn’t want to get involved in Killua’s lovelife. Teasing is her heavens-blessed right as a sibling, but thinking too seriously of Killua in a relationship is just… Blegh.
But if she doesn’t do something soon, if she doesn’t give one or both of them a little push, she might actually tear all her hair out - and not even Nanika can soothe her frustrations. Killua keeps coming into town, quietly vibrating with hope and barely disguising the reason behind his frequent visits to Kon’s Forest.. Every time he does she expects there to be some progress, some something.
But it’s always nothing. Killua dances around the subject, shier than a selkie coming ashore. Gon is no better, making eyes at Killua from across the room when he thinks no one is looking.
When one day Killua returns after a short trip to Kon’s Forest with a flush all over his face, Alluka thinks she’s been delivered from her suffering.
Only, Killua’s not smiling. He’s… practically scowling, in fact. He avoids eye contact and refuses to say anything about the visit.
Alluka sighs heavily. They need a shove, but Alluka knows how stubborn her big brother can be. Maybe she’ll have more success prodding from Gon’s side.
Gon wonders if he’s finally intruded too much on Killua’s time with his sisters. Alluka and Nanika have been awfully good sports when he goes along with him on outings. When Alluka and Killua stop by his store to browse his stock, though, she keeps shooting him looks.
They aren’t altogether nice looks.
Not that they’re particularly mean, either, though. Alluka’s never really mean - and Gon doesn’t want to give her reason to be. Whenever he looks up, though, she’s staring at him. Hard. He doesn't know what to make of it.
Maybe there isn’t anything to make of it, either. Gon hasn’t told Alluka yet, but he’s been restless the past few nights and he may in fact need something more to help him sleep. The way she’s looking at him makes him less eager to ask, but maybe he’s just being sensitive. Maybe it’s just that he already sort of feels like he’s walking through sludge, and he’s taking it the wrong way.
Maybe he’d also taken Killua leaving so abruptly the other day wrong, too. Killua had come by late just the other day, and he’d seemed agitated for some reason. He’d been red in the face, his brow pinched, a frown tugging at his lips. When Gon had asked him what was wrong, Killua only dodged the question and left soon after that.
Gon frowns down at his desk as he sorts through some herbs. Of course, Killua doesn’t have to tell him what had upset him if he doesn’t want to. It’s possible, likely even, that it has nothing to do with Gon at all. At least, that’s what the reasonable voice in his head says.
It doesn’t quite drown out the one that asks: What if it was me?
Once he’s sorted Alluka’s order, he walks over to her to hand over the little bag. “Here,” he offers, smiling.
“Thanks,” Alluka says, taking a quick peek inside. Seeming satisfied with it’s contents, she nods, then looks back up at him.
And keeps looking.
Gon blinks. Killua has occupied himself with browsing a shelf across the store, so he doesn’t notice Alluka just… standing there in front of Gon. Does she expect something more? Did he forget to put something in?
“Uuuhh… Is there… something else?”
Alluka lifts both brows. “I dunno, Gon. Is there anything else you think should be happening here?”
Gon frowns. “Ummm… I…” Is she really mad at him then? “I’m sorry? For whatever I did to make you angry?”
Alluka just sighs, heavily.
“I- Alluka, really, whatever I did…”
“This isn’t about me, you big dummy,” she tells him, her voice lifting just a fraction. She looks over her shoulder, and Gon follows her line of sight. She’s looking at Killua - as if to make sure he hadn’t overheard.
It’s Killua then? He really was mad the other day. “Oh! I…” Gon turns to Alluka. “I … I don’t know why he was upset with me the other day, but… I-I can go apologize. I’ll make it right, I promise,” he says.
Alluka slaps her hand over her face. “You two, I swear…” Then, looking up at Gon, she reaches for his hand and squeezes it. “Listen. Gon. I’m telling you this as your friend.” A pause, then, “For the love of all things green and growing - Figure. It. Out.”
Gon stares at her, lost.
Another sigh. Then, speaking slowly, as if to a child, “I love you… And I love Killua. But if I have to keep watching you two make goo goo eyes at each other without ever making a serious move I’m going to hex you both to feel like you have to sneeze for a month, got it?”
Gon’s face flames. “Wha- Who? Making- what? There’s no- no… eyes.” Gon can’t help but glance at Killua, his heart beating really fast. Killua so happens to glance over then, and Gon’s pulse drums in his ears. Quickly, he looks back to Alluka, who now as an oddly smug look on her face.
That doesn’t make this any better. She was mad only a moment ago! Hasn’t he taken enough of Killua’s time? Wouldn’t it be worse if he- if he actually... Suddenly he feels like he should be reassuring her of his intentions or something. “No one’s making … making any moves. No moves were considered. I’m- He’s your brother.”
Alluka groans. “Which is why talking about this is gross! So just do something already!”
Gon glances towards Killua, who looks curiously at the two of them, and then away again. Their voices are low enough that he likely can’t hear, but still. Gon doesn’t know if his face could possibly get warmer. “I’m… I’m not…” He bites his lip. Alluka waits, her face passive. “Does he...Did he say? Does he… want… a move to be made?”
Alluka gives him another hard look. “Ask. Him. Yourself.”
Then, turning on the ball of her foot, she heads directly for the door. Killua doesn’t seem to notice she’s leaving until the bell rings, and then he hurries to follow.
When Killua reaches the door, he looks over his shoulder, smiles that charming smile of his, and waves. “See you around, Gon.”
Gon stands for a beat, then two, then three. He knows Killua is scheduled to leave tomorrow evening to go back home. The thought of him going again makes Gon’s stomach feel sour. He’s been making frequent trips in for a while now, and they’ve just missed each other more often than Gon cares for. Mismatched times, one or both of them too busy, and they wind up not seeing each other when Killua’s in town. It bothers Gon. It bothers him more than it probably should. When he’d forgotten to mention he was going out of town and missed seeing Killua even more, he’d felt awful. It had practically spoiled his trip. Every time they message or call one another, Gon finds himself wishing they could spend more time together. He wants to be around Killua more. He wants Killua to stay, but knows he has to leave.
But maybe… Gon doesn’t have to let him leave before he…
The heavy thunk, thunk, thunk of Gon’s boots across the hardwood as he runs to the door startles Kon, but he has to hurry before they get too far down the street. Gon throws the door open and sees Alluka and Killua down the way, Killua trailing behind as they go.
No time for thinking, just - “WAIT!”
He walks down the pavement towards them, thinking that running would be too silly, make it seem too urgent. Killua’s brow is furrowed, but he walks to meet Gon part way.
“What is it?” he asks when they’re standing face to face. Blue eyes look down at him, and Gon can see a gentle concern in them. “Everything alright?”
Gon’s heart hammers in his chest. All of this… All of this between them has to have meant something, right? All the times Killua’s looked at him, all the times Gon thought he was flirting - it couldn’t have all just been in Gon’s head, right?
Stars, Killua is beautiful. Dear merciful stars, please let him be right about this.
“I’m sorry,” Gon says as a preface, which only seems to confuse Killua more. He charges ahead, though. “I should have said sooner. I wanted to say something sooner, I did, but... it’s just… It’s been a long time since I’ve done this.”
Killua’s eyes do something that makes Gon’s stomach flip. There’s a sparkle of something there that Gon doesn’t want to try to name. “Since you’ve… done what, Gon?”
“I like you a lot,” Gon says, the words at once feeling so big and not at all enough. “I… I like talking to you, and I like when we have a chance to spend time together. And I think I’m even sort of interested in you in a sort of … romantic... kind… of way?”
Oh, this is stupid. It’s so stupid. Gon wishes desperately he had better words.
Killua’s not running in the other direction, though, so that’s good, right? He’s staying where he is, and he’s not frowning, or looking angry, or trying to distance himself from Gon. His cheeks are flushed a charming pink, and when he bites his lip Gon can see a smile beginning.
“Me too,” Killua admits. “I like you in a romantic kind of way.”
Gon laughs, relieved. He lifts his hand to the back of his neck. “Good… I… I’m sorry that sounded so…”
Killua shakes his head. “It’s alright. It’s… It’s been a while since I’ve done this, too.”
Gon nods, glad he understands. Killua teeth sink into his lower lip again, and it’s incredibly distracting. Blurting out the first thing to come to mind seems to have worked so far, so...
“I’d like to kiss you,” Gon says, the words out of his mouth almost as soon as the thought has formed in his mind.
Killua stares at him, and Gon realizes that maybe now isn’t the best time for that. Just, Killua is leaving soon, and he doesn’t know if he’ll see Killua tomorrow, and he’s wanted to kiss him actually for a really long time.
But they’re on the sidewalk outside of some stores down main street. Killua’s sister is waiting for him. It’s not the most romantic setting for a first kiss.
Killua’s still not moving away, though.
“Yeah?” he asks, drawing one of his hands out of his pockets. Gon draws a breath in when that hand is placed on the side of his neck. Killua’s fingers feel a little cool against his skin. He leans into the touch. “I’d like for you to kiss me,” Killua tells him, smiling, the glint in his eyes mirthful and just a little mischievous.
That’s all the permission Gon needs. He reaches up to cup Killua’s jaw, guiding him down until their mouths meet.
As first kisses go, it’s simple. Soft, slow, a hint of heat when Killua’s tongue traces over his lips and Gon’s mouth parts so he can taste Killua so briefly in return.
They pull back, though, before either of them can become too lost in it. Killua’s smile makes Gon’s pulse rocket. He feels as though he could leap into the sky and soar.
“I’ll stop by tomorrow before I leave,” Killua tells him.
Gon, elated, only nods in response, grinning. He has the promise of seeing Killua once more before they have to part again, and that’s more than enough for him.