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Croquet for Dummies

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“Gon, I need a big favor.” 

Gon’s eyes shoot up from his laptop, he looks at his best friend sitting across from him at the cafe. “I am sorry, what did you just say?” Gon asks, clearly bewildered at Killua asking him for a favor, let alone a big one. Killua rarely asks for help with anything so Gon knows he’s going to say yes no matter what. Even if its murder, or hiding a body, which, knowing Killua and how shady he is, might just be that. 

Killua looks back down to his mocha and takes a small sip. “I need to ask a favor from you.” He mumbles this and then looks back up at Gon, who, in response, smiles wide. 

“Do you need help hiding a body?” 

“What, no—” 

“Do you need me to kill someone? Cuz I will. Just say the words—” 

Killua laughs loudly, cutting Gon off with a kick under the table. “What Gon, no! No one needs to die.” He looks at Gon sternly and adds, “yet.” 

Gon laughs and kicks back easily. “Okay, what is it then?” 

“Also, is that the kinda stuff you’d think I’d need help with? What do you take me for?”

“I don't know Killua, you told me about your family, pretty shady if you ask me.” 

“GON, they don’t kill people—” 

“What do they do then?” 

“Uh—” 

“See, you don’t even know.” 

“NO, SHUT UP! Ugh, you suck, you know it's just blood money and stocks.” 

“Blood money? That sounds pretty sus—” 

“Gon do you even know what blood money means?” 

Gon thinks for a bit. He does not. “Honestly, no I do not.” He makes a finger gun and winks. Killua groans at this. 

Despite groaning he still explains.“It's just like old money from generations. Like family money.” 

Gon hums. “Ah, I see.” 

“Yeah anyway, back to my favor.” 

“Yes. I will do it.” Gon says and goes back to his laptop. 

Killua rolls his eyes. “I didn’t even tell you about it yet?” 

“Doesn’t matter to me, I’d do anything for you.” Gon says honestly before he stops himself. He internally shakes his head and smacks himself in the face for that. Why does he have to go and be obvious about his crush? Gon continues kicking himself mentally. 

He watches as Killua just blushes and looks away. “Okay,” he mumbles. And Gon smiles at him and nudges him playfully with his foot. 

“Okay Killua, what's the favor? You have the metaphorical talking stick.” 

Killua stills, smiles small, and then turns away looking anywhere but at Gon. “I need you to be my date for a day.” 






Gon tosses the clothes he ripped off his closet hangers atop the bed. Before it lands, Kurapika catches and holds it up while Gon continues screaming incoherently, racing towards the bed, before flopping down dramatically beside the growing pile of clothes.  

Kurapika smells the shirt, and gives Gon a look. “Gon, It’s just one day, how bad can it be?” 

“PIKA YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” Gon moves his face from the bed, his mouth touching some of his clothing crumpled sloppily on his bed. Almost all the clothes are athletic, or casual. Not nice enough for a winery in Napa. 

Kurapika rolls his eyes and folds the shirt. “Let me break it down. Killua, your long time best friend forever, who you are in love with—” 

“Love is a strong word.” Gon mutters, raising a finger at him. 

Kurapika narrows his eyes at him. “You’re in love, don’t even try arguing with me right now.”

Gon rolls over onto his face, burying it in the clothes and sheets. He lets out a muffled scream before coming back up for air. “Being gay and in love with your guy friend is just a right of passage, okay? Leave me alone.” He whines. 

“Yeah whatever, shut up and let me finish,” Kurapika side eyes Gon who pretends to seal his lips shut as Kurapika continues. “So, the guy who youre in gay longing with, asked you on a fake date so you guys can sabotage his parents plan for setting him up with a suitor.” 

“Yes. And not just any date, A FAMILY EVENT DATE! His family hates me!” Gon sits straight up and looks at Kurapika desperately, as if Kurapika could magically solve his problem. 

He just rolls his eyes. “What's so bad about that? You guys just gonna go to the Olive Garden or some shit?” 

“No Kurapika—Kurapika, his family,” Gon looks around. “They’re filthy rich.” 

“What, so rich people can’t like the Olive Garden?” 

“NO we are going to a private winery, PRIVATE WINERY IN NAPA to play fucking croquet. I don’t know anything about croquet! I didn’t even know what that was until today. TODAY!” Gon cries and throws himself back onto the bed before grabbing a pillow and attempting to suffocate himself with it. Kurapika holds in a laugh while he plucks the pillow off Gon’s face. 

“I don’t see why you’re freaking out so much. You wing everything anyways.” 

“I can’t mess this up. I just can’t.” Gon says. He’s serious. 

Kurapika thinks. Their main dilemma right now is that Gon has nothing to wear. “Okay fine. Here, you can borrow some of my nice dress clothes, okay?” There's one problem down. Kurapika thinks. 

“Really? You’d do that for me?” Gon bats his eyelashes, making puppy-dog eyes at him. 

“Duh.” Kurapika shoves him and smiles. 

Gon smiles back goofily and jumps off the bed and begins picking up the piles of clothes to shove back into his closest. “I should, like, read up on croquet and uh, stocks or something. What do rich people like anyway?” 

Kurapika shrugs. “Exploiting the working class.” 

“You’ve been hanging out with Leorio too much.” 

“I resent that statement.” 

 




Killua looks up from his phone and tries his best not to gasp or laugh in Gon’s face. Gon, who’s wearing an argyle sweater vest. Pink and gray, over a white dress shirt, the sleeves short and cuffed at his bicep. Pink khaki shorts pair with the sweater vest, and his nice leather oxfords. A neon green blender bottle at his side like always. 

“We’re playing croquet, not going to an all boys school.” Killua jokes as Gon gets closer. Gon smiles wide and goofily at that, a tell-tale sign he is about to say whatever he’s thinking. 

“That would be pretty homoerotic of us, wouldn’t it?” GON COME ON! WHY DID YOU SAY THAT? Gon thinks as he clenches his fist to prevent himself from smacking himself in the face with his water bottle in disdain and embarrassment. All he does is laugh awkwardly, as he stands by Killua who is leaning on his Tesla. Model X. White, and shiny. It looks like he just washed it. Last time Gon saw it there was bird poop on the hood. Before Killua can say anything regarding his statement Gon quickly speaks. “Did you wash your car?” 

Killua who looks caught off guard pushes himself off of the car, and looks at Gon. “Uh yeah, before I picked you up.” He says then he moves to the passenger side and opens the door for Gon. Gon tries not to short circuit as he gets in and Killua even shuts the door. For him. Gon stares at the leather interior and the blinking radio. What the fuck is going on? His heart beats fast as Killua climbs into the driver's seat. The car usually always smells distantly like Killua’s cologne, but today it’s a lot more strong. Gon takes note; minty, pine, cinnamon? Gon turns to ask Killua (against his better judgement), but the words die in his mouth when Killua smiles softly, throwing his arm on the back of the chair to look back while he reverses. 

And Gon tries to not think too hard about it, read too much into it, but Killua has never done that. He has back up cameras, so why is he doing this now? 

And when he's in drive mode, and he's on the road, his arm hasn’t left and Gon can’t stop thinking about it. Is Killua just getting in character? Or is he actually making a move? Gon doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know, because maybe he can hold onto his hope that Killua likes him back.

The ride is silent for a couple of minutes. It's a longer drive from campus, a little bit over two hours, practically nothing to the two of them and their easy conversation, their comfortable companionship easing any awkwardness caused by Killua’s hand burning a hole through the leather passenger seat. Gon swears he can feel the heat radiate on his back, but he settles on convincing himself that it’s just the seat warmer.

Killua said he told his parents he'd rather drive than be escorted over by the family driver or even a limo, his excuse was that Napa isn’t even that far from Santa Clara. But Gon knows he just likes to be the one driving. Anything to feel like he has a little sense of control over this particular situation. 

Gon knows he and Killua grew up in completely different ways, but this is just a big eye opener to how different the world Killua inhabits is compared to Gon’s. 

Killua’s car is spotless, not a single crumb, or spec of dust. 

Gon’s car is a beat up Toyota Corolla Mito gave him before he went to college. They eat McDonalds in Gon’s car so frequently it almost has a constant smell of salty carbs. There’s sand in the carpet, a broken speaker, and weird sounds every now and again. He loves his car, he loves ole reliable, but sometimes he feels like he belongs there, not with Killua in his Tesla. He belongs with Killua in ole reliable, eating El Pollo Loco and laughing so hard rice goes up his nose. 

When he’s in Killua’s car, he thinks about Killua’s trained and taught elegance. He’s thinking about how he goes to college on a full ride sports scholarship and Killua’s family pays his full tuition. And the price for his studio apartment in Santa Clara, and his Tesla, and well, everything else. 

Gon works a job at the school’s theatre department. 

Killua owns stocks. 

Gon wears Birkenstocks and hiking shoes and likes granola unironically, and sometimes he talks with his mouth full and he sits criss cross on chairs and upside down on couches and he wonders distantly, if Killua would ever like someone like him. 

If his parents would ever allow Killua to date someone like him. 

He watches Killua’s slender face, as his blue-green eyes watch the road lazily. The bump on his nose, his prominent cheekbones, his sharp jawline, his hair that curls down the nape of his neck, pure white and soft. And he wonders if Killua would ever like someone like Gon. 

Killua’s cashmere turtleneck, black under his plaid navy blazer. His gray slacks. Gon looks like a clown.

“You don’t look like a clown.” Killua says. 

“Huh?” 

“You said you look like a clown.”

“Oh.” Gon says he didn’t realize he said that outloud. “I do kinda.” 

“No, you don’t, trust me, my brother Illumi is dating a real clown. You look nothing like one.” 

“Thanks.” 

“Wasn’t really a compliment was it?” Killua says, smirking as he turns, and Gon can’t help but watch his fingers and hand flex on the steering wheel. Silver rings on pale fingers. Painted black nails. 

“You painted your nails still?” Gon asks, resisting his urge to reach out and touch. 

Killua nods. And they continue to drive in silence for a bit. Gon looks out the window and watches the cars on the highway merge and break. Their headlights are bright in the cloudy morning sky. 

Killua looks out of the corner of his eye at Gon, and sighs. 

“What?” Gon asks when Killua sighs. 

Killua looks at him and shoves him playfully, but with a good amount of force. “You’re thinking too hard, are you that nervous?” He asks. 

Gon is reminded that Killua can read him like a book. Like a very easy, readable book. Like Dr. Seuss. Bright, colorful, and goofy. Easy and simple. 

There's no use in even trying to lie with Killua, he's too smart, too perceptive. Nothing gets past him. Gon once tried to throw him a surprise birthday party once, and Killua had acted surprised, but when he got drunk enough he admitted that he knew all week. 

So, Gon just nods. “A little.” 

Killua peers at him, he has the face he makes when he is trying to solve something. “Why?” 

Gon groans. “I don’t know anything about the stock market or nastec.” 

“What?” Killua whips his head and gives Gon a bewildered look. A bit amused but mostly shocked. 

“What?” Gon says, confused at that reaction. 

“Did you just say Nastec?” 

“Yeah? The stock market? It's Nastec right?” 

“No.” 

“What?” 

“You’re a fucking idiot, its Nasdaq.” 

“AH shit. Ah fuck! Killua! See what I mean?” Gon says, gesturing to himself. “Your parents are gonna hate me. For real.” 

Killua turns back to the road smiling. “Please, they already hate you.” 

“They’ll hate me even more.” Gon whines, throwing his back to bounce off the headrest. 

“So what? Who cares what they think?” 

“I DO!” 

“Why?” 

Because I need them to like me when we get married. Gay married. Gon thinks as he plays with the lid of his water bottle absentmindedly. “Because I need everyone to like me. So much. All the time.” Is what Gon says instead. Which, granted, is true, just not why he specifically wants the Zoldycks to like him. 

Killua snorts, frowns and looks away, straight down the highway. “That's just not an achievable goal.” 

“Whatever, Killua, what if they ask me what my favorite stock is, or who I think is gonna win at the economy this year?” 

“Gon, that is not how the stock market or the economy works.” 

“They’re gonna think I’m a stupid hick.” 

“Gon.” 

“I GREW UP IN THE FOREST KILLUA!” 

“You grew up in Santa Cruz, shut the fuck up.”

Gon pouts and brings his legs up to the seat, then remembers he is supposed to be distinguished and puts them back down. 

Killua watches and shakes his head. “I don’t care if they hate you. You’re my best friend.” He says and he puts his turn signal on and they merge. “And they can suck it.” 

Gon laughs at that. “Yeah okay,” he says to himself. “you’re my favorite person ever, I won’t mess this up for you. I will be super cool and classy today, I promise.” 

Killua laughs back. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep Gon.” 

“What makes you think I can’t keep that?” He says as he takes a big swig out of his blender bottle. 

“For starters, leave that in the car.” 

“What? My reusable water bottle? No way dude, I gotta hydrate.” 

“Classy people don’t need to hydrate.”

“Ah yes, you only consume alcohol and charcuterie.” 

“Exactly, there you go, take note.” 

“High class. High society. Haha the economy, I love to kiss my supreme overlord Jeff Bezos’s ass and lick his shoes.” Gon says in a posh voice. 

Killua cackles at that, snorting ugly and loud and Gon loves it. He loves it. 

Kilua coughs and forces himself to stop laughing. He clears his throat. “Don’t make me laugh today. Rich people don't laugh.” KIllua says once he stops snorting. “They chuckle, like this.” He says then chuckles fake and melodic. 

“Wait, Killua that was so good.” 

“Years of practice baby,” Killua smirks. Gon smiles. 

“Yeah, okay, I got this.” 

“Yeah. You do.” 

“YEAH!” 

“YEAH!” They both scream together as they get onto the highway.

 


 

“Mother.” Killua says, and he has his fake smile on, Gon notes. The one that’s like a mask, one like a protective mask, ones people who work in welding wear to protect themselves from sparks. 

Killua’s mother, wearing a white ruffled top with a matching knee length tennis skirt, sits elegantly. Her leg crossed over the other, arms resting holding a teacup in her hand. A plate of tiny cucumber sandwiches sits on a gold platter atop a white lacey outdoor table, under a parasol. Gon looks at her face, which is adorned in big dark sunglasses, where you can’t even see her eyes. Her red lips curl and Gon wants to throw up, but this is Kurapika’s shirt, and the grass looks so expensive. Cut short and bright green. So green it's unnatural and nauseating. 

“Oh Kil, that color looks so lovely on you, you ought to wear black more often.” She says and she brings her gloved hand to rest on Killua’s cheek and Gon wants to slap that hand away so badly, but he just clenches his fists. And ignores the burning in his gut. 

Killua smiles fake again and doesn’t move his face a single centimeter until her white gloved hand is removed from his pale face. 

Illumi, Killua’s brother who is standing next to Killua’s mother, Kikyo, looks deadpan. His long hair reaches his waist and flows elegantly. Gon thinks it looks like hair you pull out from the drain. 

“Kill, I see you brought a guest?” Illumi says. 

Gon wants to scream in his face, he is right here, and Illumi definitely knows his name. But he smiles brightly at him, holds out his hand to Illumi and says. “I’m Gon, I think we’ve met before?” 

Illumi shakes Gon’s hands, and Gon fights the urge to shiver at his cold hands, they dig hard into Gon’s own warm ones and then they release. And Gon moves his right hand to Killua’s mother who smiles at him. 

She shakes his hand, her hand akin to Illumi’s. Gon fights off another shiver. “I don’t believe I remember you, Gon.” She says and it drips with condescending venom. 

“You have.” Killua speaks up. “You met him when he came to help me move into my apartment.” 

Kikyo frowns. “Ah. My memory is failing me, it seems.” 

Killua frowns, he opens his mouth but Illumi cuts him off. “Father is unable to make it today,” Illumi says. “We will just be playing the four of us.” 

Killua nods and his face is stern. “So just a two sided game?” 

Kikyo nods. “Yes, unless you’d rather we play in pairs?” 

Gon looks back and forth. “Like on teams?” he asks. 

Illumi nods. “Yes, is that what you’d prefer, Gon?” Gon hates the way he says his name, makes it sound like a dirty peasant-like thing. 

Gon shrugs. “I’m down for whatever you’d like to play.” 

Killua smiles at Gon and then turns to his mom. “Let’s do a team game. Gon and I can be a team, and then you and Illumi can be the other.” He says. 

Before Gon can open his mouth Kikyo gets up from her costly antique chair. 

“Alright, let’s.” She says and she motions to the golf carts ahead of them waiting on the trail. She looks at illumi, who nods and silently walks beside her.

They begin to walk to where two men in golf carts wait and Gon side eyes Killua confused. 

“I thought that they were going to try and set you up with that girl from the charity banquet?” Gon whispers through his teeth as he latches onto Killua’s arm. 

“I thought so too. I guess they changed their approach.” Killua says, wrapping his arm with Gon’s, staring straight ahead as he watches his mom and brother with sharp, keen eyes. “I don’t know what they are planning, but I don’t like it.” 

Gon looks at the crease in concentration. “What do you mean?” 

“I don't know.” KIllua admits. And they pick up their pace when his mother sits in the seat of one of the golf charts. Expecting them to follow in the other one. 

“Wait, Killua.” 

“Yeah?” 

“Can we please sit in the back?” Gon asks. “Please, It looks so fun, let's sit in the back.” He tugs on Killua’s arm, immaturely for someone who is almost 22. 

Killua raises his eyebrows, “What happened to being classy and suave?” 

“I never said anything about being suave, don’t put words in my mouth.” Gon says, pouting. “Besides, I’ve never been in a golf cart!” 

“That's a lie, you stole the one on campus with me that one time.” 

“That was an atv, and it doesn’t count because I was driving barefoot.” Gon lets go of Killua’s arm and moves to the back of the golf cart, Killua watches him and crosses his arms. 

“No, that was a different time. Also, what does being barefoot have to do with driving?” 

“I don’t know, don't question me; also when did I drive a golf cart?” Gon asks as he sits in the back, before patting the seat next to him. 

Killua ignores Gon’s insistent patting and carries on thinking. “You really don’t remember?”

Gon shakes his head but before he can tell Killua to get his ass over there, Killua’s eyes light up in understanding as he lifts his finger in the air triumphantly. “Oh you know what—you were drunk!” He says. “Yeah, yeah, It was around the time when you were obsessed with those Crocs and wouldn’t stop saying ‘I’m putting these bad boys in sports mode’ and then flipping the back strap.” 

Realization dawns on Gon. “Oooh, so second half of freshman year?” 

“Yeah.” Killua nods and stays put before quickly glancing at his mom’s golf cart as it turns a corner between cyprus trees.

“I don’t remember that,” Gon admits, thinking. He shrugs and pats the chair. “Whatever, doesn’t matter, I am treating this like it's new. Time to take my golf cart virginity.” 

Killua’s face screws up in disgusted amusement. “I hate you so much.” he says. 

“No you don't, anyway, come on sit in the back.” 

“Fine, only cause this is your first time.” Killua sighs before glancing back to the trees, putting his foot on the metal bar before climbing into the golf cart. 

The golf cart finally moves, beginning to trail after Kikyo and Illumi, the ride smooth, and the golf cart smells like leather and new car. Killua’s thigh is pressed up right against Gon’s as they ride in the back of the cart. Gon swings his legs and laughs wildly as they go over a bump, and he tries to pretend he doesn’t notice Killua staring at him fondly for the remainder of the short ride over to the croquet court. The court that is set up on the picturesque, perfectly cut lawn. 

Once there, Killua holds out his hand to help Gon down, but Gon just ignores it and hops off the cart with a solid landing, turning to Killua and grinning at him. 

Killua smirks and grabs his arm, hooking theirs together as they walk to where Illumi and Kikyo stand waiting. 

Gon watches their faces remain completely neutral at Killua’s arm in his, and he wonders what they are really thinking beneath all that faux politeness. That smug haughtiness that makes Gon’s skin crawl. 

He hasn’t really had many conversations with Killua’s family, other than his sister Alluka that is, and he knows he hates Illumi just purely based on stories he has heard when Killua was feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable, and willing to tell Gon some of his upbringing, or maybe even stories second hand from Alluka. 

But as he stares into Illumi’s eyes, unbudging, not willing to look away from his soulless stare out of pure spite and resonment, all he thinks is ‘leave us alone’ on defensive repeat in his head. 

As they get to their side of the court, the caddy comes and holds out what looks like a golf bag with two mallets, one for Killua, and one for him. 

Gon thanks him with a smile as he pulls out a mallet. Wooden and cold beneath his fingers, red stripe on the mallet head. How the fuck do I use this? Gon asks himself as he flips the mallet around in his hand, spinning the object. 

Killua reads his mind like always. “It's like golf.” 

“Like on the Wii?” 

Killua’s face twists up in the way that Gon knows he is holding in a laugh. “No. Okay, look, remember when we went mini golfing?” 

“Yeah, and you beat me by like a landslide?” 

“Yeah, well, maybe if someone didn't rage quit every time he hit a ball in the fountain, he would have done better.” 

“Well—” 

“Are you two ready?” Illumi asks, his voice cutting them off. Gon whips his head from Killua and looks at where Illumi and Kikyo are standing, ever so patient, splitting images of each other. If Kikyo didn’t have those sunglasses maybe Gon would see two pairs of the same dark eyes boring into his soul. 

“Yeah.” Gon says, assuring. “Thank you for waiting.” He grins then turns to Killua. 

“Where the fuck do I go now?” he whispers in panic. 

Killua shoves him forward. “Just walk over to the stake.” 

“What's that.” 

Killua sighs and moves Gon over to in front of a wooden stick raised out of the perfect short grass. He removes his hands from Gon’s shoulders and points. “That’s the stake.” then he points directly in front of it. “That is a wicket. You hit that,” he points to a ball on the ground, black and yellow, “through it. Also,” he smiles his shit-eating grin at Gon, “that’s the ball.” 

Gon snorts. “Oh really? I had no idea.” 

“Shut up, you asked what a stake was—” 

“Okay, whatever, you shut up! I am ready now.” Gon says and he shoos Killua away with his hand as he brings down the mallet to the ball.

Killua raises his eyebrows “Gon, are you sure you don’t want more help?” Killua asks, reaching an arm out and Gons shakes his arm off. 

“NO!” He bites. “I can do it myself!” Gon replies stubbornly, wanting desperately to prove himself to these stupid people Killua calls family. He takes a deep breath and goes to the spot on the grass, in front of the stake. 

He rolls his shoulders to get out some stressed knots. 

Then, he pretends it's mini golf, simple and easy, with Killua. Mini golf at a dingy run down water park behind the Ardent Mall. 

You got this Gon! He assures himself in his head, his hands feel super sweaty, and for some reason he is more nervous than he ought to be about croquet. He nods to himself, looks up then looks directly back down, spreads his legs shoulder width apart, bends his knees, keeps his shoulders even, twists his hips, brings his arm back and swings hard. 

The mallet flies out of his hands, up into the air. Mini golf was a terrible example. Gon sucks at mini golf. 

Gon stands there for a couple of seconds frozen in place. The mallet makes a deafening thud in the bush. It's deadly silent, everyone is watching, Gon clenches and unclenches his hands in the air. It's really gone huh? Then, loud laughing is heard. 

Gon whips his head around to see Killua collapse from laughter. Killua laughs so hard he starts choking and he throws an arm around his stomach. 

“Killu, are you okay?” Illumi asks from across the court. 

Killua nods with tears streaming down his face. “Oh my god!” he breathes out, still laughing at Gon’s fail. 

Gon frowns. “SHUT UP! STOP LAUGHING AT ME, YOU MEANIE!” he says then turns apologetically to Kikyo and Illumi. 

Hey face looks perfectly neutral, but Gon feels disappointment radiate from her threatening aura. 

“DON’T WORRY, I’LL GO GRAB IT!” Gon yells then breaks off into a sprint to go grab the mallet from the bush. 

“Just have the caddy get it—” Illumi says tiredly but Gon is already halfway over to the bushes between the cyprus and oak trees. 

“NO I GOT IT!” He yells back, throwing his hand in good nature as he gets into the bushes to look for it. He crouches, and steps into the rose bush. Shit, fuck, shit, he thinks as he gets stabbed by rose thorns while he digs around. He steps over a particularly spikey one animatedly and then bends down to grab the hidden mallet. “AHA!” he yells triumphantly before whipping his head up fast and getting smacked in the face by a tree branch. He brushes the branch aside and hops over the bushes, whipping off the dirt from his legs, and picking out stray leaves from his hair and sweater. 

He marches his way over to the spot, and presents them all with the rescued mallet. “I got it!” he says. 

“Excellent job, Gon.” Killua’s mom says, and if her sunglasses weren’t so dark Gon bets her eyes would roll. And Gon may be a little dumb, and may be a little clueless, but he still knows sarcasm when he hears it. Knows when he is getting talked down to when he hears it. 

Illumi nods robotically. “You can go again. Since this is clearly your first time, or a fluke.” When he says fluke he looks pointedly at Killua. Gon watches as Killua bristles at the implication Illumi is making. 

Gon, ignoring that for the sake of his sanity today, puffs his chest out. “It's both. This is my first time playing croquet, but that was also definitely a fluke. Will NOT happen again.” He says sternly then makes his way to the ball. 

Killua walks up behind him and before Gon gets the chance to turn around and question him, Killua touches his arm. 

“Let me show you.” He says softly. Gon freezes up at that, then almost like Killua can sense Gon short circuiting, he quickly adds on, “you’re on my team, I want to win.” 

‘Win’ is the magic word with Gon, so Gon smiles at him and nods. He also wants to win, there's no harm in Killua demonstrating how to hit it. “Yeah, okay,” He begins saying then Killua brings his other arm around Gon and all the sudden Gon realizes he is not going to be given a demonstration. 

Gon goes impossibly still, he doesn’t even think he is breathing. He has no idea what is going on but he can smell Killua’s cologne and his hair conditioner, and he can feel his breath by his ear. 

Killua moves Gon’s shoulders then brings his hands to the mallet neck, and he holds it there. 

“Here, we’ll do a golf swing, okay? Swing with me?” Killua asks and it's a whisper so tender.

Gon didn’t know Killua could be so gentle when there's competition. “Okay.” Gon says dumbly. And Killua moves his arms and hands and they swing the mallet together. 

The ball goes through two hoops then stops. 

Killua lets go and backs up, allowing Gon to finally have a chance to breathe. 

“See, much better, huh?” Killua asks when Gon turns and looks up at him. 

Gon nods. “Mhm.” Is all he says, not having the strength to defend his previous swing. 

“Alright Killu,” Kikyo says and they both turn to her, where she stands with the mallet in her hand, holding it like a cane. “I think that's enough.”

Killua sneers. “Enough what?” he asks on the offense and Gon wants to disappear. This is not a conversation for him to be part of. Then Killua continues talking, “Let Gon go finish his two strokes, actually, he could get even more, who knows if we’ll get it through another wicket.” Killua says and turns, looking away as he draws back. 

Illumi sighs. “Alright, finish your turn.” He says. 

Gon nods, and does just that. He hits the ball too hard the first time, runs after it, takes it back to the court then, in an effort to combat his strength the first time he hits it too soft and it barely moves a couple of feet. 

Gon groans frustrated and holds everything in him to stop himself from throwing the mallet on the ground and stomping out of here. 

He turns around on his heel, desperate to not see the unmoving apathetic looks on the Zoldycks’ faces, and marches back to his spot beside Killua. 

Gon looks up from the ground to see Killua making the face that says ‘I am holding back another laugh attack.’

“You suck at this.” he says and then puts his hand over his mouth to force himself to stop smiling. 

“Yeah well that means you also suck, by association, so there.” Gon pouts and slides up beside Killua. 

Killua turns away from where Illumi is coming on their side, hitting the ball through the first two wickets effortlessly. Gon watches as Killua frowns at his brother, his eyes look unfocused and Gon watches as Killua zones out completely. 

Gon moves to poke Killua’s hand lightly. “You doing okay?” Gon asks. 

Killua shifts his eyes and looks in Gon’s direction, but not at him. “Yeah. Just zoned out,” he says. 

Gon nods and looks back up to see Illumi miss the seventh and eighth wicket. He stands close to them and Gon doesn’t miss the way Killua shifts from his side and tenses his body a fraction. 

Illumi looks up to them, his eyes dark. “I missed these two, your turn Killu.” He says monotone and then walks over to Gon. 

Gon looks confused as Killua nods and walks over. He turns to Gon, smiles and says, “I’m about to carry this team, watch.” and then goes to where Gon’s ball lays pitiful in the afternoon sun. 

Gon smiles at Killua’s back and then shifts his eyes to Illumi, who is peering down at him. Illumi stands slightly shorter than Killua, around six feet. Gon, however, never feels threatened when Killua looks down at him from his height difference, but with Illumi, he feels anger boil in his gut. He hates being looked down on.

“Hm?” Gon says, feeling uneasy with this silence between the two of them. 

Illumi hums back then turns his head from Gon to watch Killua fix Gon’s score. 

“Why’d you come today?” Illumi asks, and it's obvious that that is clearly not what he is asking for. He wants an answer for something else. 

Gon wishes he was a good liar. “Killua invited me.” 

Illumi hums again. “As a date?” 

Gon nods tight. 

Illumi never takes his eyes off Killua. “You know Killua is too good for you, right?” 

Gon feels taken aback. “Excuse me?” he asks, and turns to stare at Illumi’s unmoving face. Illumi doesn’t even look at Gon, which makes him more irrationally angry. 

“Hm?” Illumi hums again. 

Gon clenches and unclenches his fists. “Want to explain that to me?” He asks. “Sorry, I am a little slow, I don’t think I caught that.” he grits out, his tongue stinging with passive aggression, and he can’t help it. 

Illumi finally offers Gon a glance. Looking him up and down as he does so. “Do I need to? You go to Santa Clara on a full ride scholarship, the Zoldycks have all been charitable alumni at their business school since it was founded.” 

“Yeah, so what?” 

“Killua’s there to continue our legacy, to take control of the family business one day. What are you doing there? Playing soccer?” 

Gon remains silent. That much is true but he definitely doesn’t want to mention that he is majoring in humanities right now. 

“You’re just holding him back at this point, he can’t afford to get distracted with you right now.” Illumi clicks his tongue and stares blankly at Gon. Like all he sees is nothing. 

Gon bites back a growl. “Maybe.” He says quietly, dangerously. “You should ask Killua what he wants instead of deciding for him.” 

Illumi hums again. “Perhaps.” Gon knows that word holds no meaning. He knows it's just a throwaway to use to fill the cutting, violent silence between the two of them. 

They remain quiet until Killua walks up to Gon, haughty and smirking. “Yeah, I just finished the whole course in one turn, no big deal.” Killua says smug as ever. 

Gon lightens at that quickly, ignoring Illumi as he walks forward. “Nice job Killua!” 

Illumi nods and walks past Killua, clapping him on the shoulder then continuing to meet Kikyo at the stake on their side. 

Killua frowns looking at them before turning back to Gon. 

“What did he tell you?” He asks. And it's low and quiet. There's a sense of fear and protectiveness in Killua’s voice and Gon understands almost none of it. 

Gon looks at Killua confused. “Illumi? Like right now?” he whispers back. 

Killua nods. 

“Nothin.” Gon says, and looks at Killua’s chest. 

Killua shoves him. “You’re a terrible liar. Give up and tell me.” 

Gon shakes his head. “Nah, it really wasn’t anything.” 

Killua frowns. “Gon,” He puts his hand on Gon’s shoulder and looks him directly in the eyes. “I could feel you fuming from across the court. Come on, you can’t hide shit from me.” 

Gon shrugs his hand off his shoulder. “You’d be surprised.” he mutters bitterly. Thinking about his own feelings towards Killua.

His own romantic feelings he has hidden (rather poorly) for four years. His own romantic feelings he can’t act on. Because Killua is someone important, and Gon is someone... Not. Gon suddenly feels like he is the girl in a Taylor Swift song. He wears Crocs and Killua wears Gucci loafers. Suddenly Gon is remembering every embarrassing thing he has ever done since they met. Vomited into a potted plant after getting cross faded for the first time, singing Toxic by Britney Spears at a karaoke bar, all the buffets they've gone to. All the times Gon threw temper tantrums after his team lost a game. Every time Gon danced randomly in the middle of the store, or any public place really. It’s all flooding back to him. 

How does Killua even stand near him when he’s infinitely cooler than Gon? 

Killua’s hand leaves Gon’s shoulder as if it burned. “What does that mean?” he asks. And he sounds so hurt by it, but before Gon says anything, Kikyo calls him saying it's his turn. And he looks at the way Killua’s eyes flash. Hurt to neutral, like clockwork. 

Gon swallows the lump in his throat and he ignores the drop in his stomach from stress as he walks to the starting stake. Where Killua carried their team. 

He can’t help but feel he has something to prove again, but what exactly even is it? Is it that he’s good enough for Killua? How can he prove something he isn’t even sure he believes? 

All he knows for sure right now, in this moment, are three things. 1. He strongly dislikes Illumi Zoldyck. 2. He’s a college D1 athlete, he catches onto sports easily. And 3. He hates losing more than anything in the entire world, and he would rather eat the mallet whole then lose a game against the two most vile people he has had the opportunity of meeting. 

There's no way he will allow himself to feel any ounce of defeat right now, even if that means getting cut up in a rose bush again. 

 




“I am pleasantly surprised you caught on quickly.” Kikyo says as she sips her tea. 

Gon smiles at her. Even though it's meant to be a rude comment in passing, he can act like he thought it was genuine. “Thank you.” He says, as a waiter pours him iced tea into a crystal cup. 

They’re outside on the patio of what seems like a small private winery. Gon doesn’t want to ask too many questions about it. 

Killua is next to him, and he is still upset over earlier, and Gon doesn’t know what to do, he just hopes that his mom and brother can’t tell or else this whole plan will be ruined. 

So they hold hands under the table, and Gon squeezes Killua’s but his grip lays limp and Gon wants to cry and scream, but he just smiles brightly at them as he thanks the waiter. 

He feels his back start to slouch so he straightens it up again. He feels like he is sitting on pins and needles, but it's just a cold metal chair. The welded floral design encrusted on the back digs into his spine. 

He gets offered some chartcutie looking snack and he takes it with his hands, which gets a loud gasp from Kikyo. 

Killua, who was zoning out at his tea, looks up at that to see Gon holding a cracker with caviar on it in his hands. 

“Why is that in the palm of your hands?” Killua asks. 

“Huh? Where am I supposed to put it?” Gon asks. 

Illumi snorts. “Ever heard of a plate?” 

“No.” Gon snaps at him, annoyed. “I’ve never heard of a plate before. Have you ever heard of a personality?” Oh shit, oh fuck, why did I say that? SHIT.  

Killua looks at him awed. He fucked it up. 

Illumi looks taken aback. “Excuse me?” He says (in monotone still, ironically.)

“A personality? Have you heard of one?” Gon says. He can’t back down now. 

Kikyo gasps again and holds onto her chest with her gloved hand. “Oh my, did your father raise you to speak that way to your elders?” 

“I never met my dad.” Gon says. “Bet you feel real silly now asking me that now, huh?” 

“Gon,” Killua says, and he’s tugging on his shirt. 

“You’re dreadfully rude aren’t you?” Kikyo says. Illumi nods solemnly. 

“Don’t say that about him!” Killua raises his voice angrily. Which makes Kikyo almost fall off her chair in surprise. 

“Kil, don’t talk back.” Illumi reminds him sternly with a look that Gon wants to wipe off his face.

Kikyo laughs maliciously. “I personally think it says more about his mother, no? Did she raise you alone, on a single income? That poor thing.” 

Gon flushes with rage, they can say what they want about him, but to bring up his aunt?

Before he can do anything rash, Illumi nods. “Hm, yes, I looked it up earlier, his aunt and grandmother raised him. Some people just—” Before Illumi can finish his sentence he is drenched in iced tea.

He blinks his eyes open, obviously caught off guard at the peach iced tea all over his white turtleneck and cream khakis. 

“Don’t you dare disrespect Mito.” Gon says in a trembling voice. He's so angry he feels like the glass in his hands might break into a million pieces. So he sets it down loudly and dramatically onto the table. “I won’t stand for that. You can say whatever the fuck you want about me, you can spend all day being rude to me, but I draw the line when you’re rude to my aunt.” Gon says seething. He moves to stand up. 

Kikyo strares. “Killu, see, this is what happens when you make choices on your own without consulting us, you pick rotten ones.” She cries out as she dabs the iced tea on Illumi with a napkin. 

Killua stares wide eyed and not moving. 

Gon had enough at this point, they’ve clearly been pushing him all day so they could say something along those lines. “Shut the fuck up. Don’t bring Killua into this.” Gon bites out. “I can’t stand you guys trying to control him all the time, jesus christ! He’s fully capable of doing anything he wants and achieving anything he wants!” Gon glares at them both and then he pushes his chair in. “I’m leaving.” 

He goes to storm off and then he feels someone tug his hand. Gon turns and looks at Killua who is holding his hand with a death grip. 

“What?” Gon asks. 

Killua looks frightened, and Gon isn’t sure what's happening but Killua is gripping his hand hard and then tugs him, until they begin running down the steps of the patio, down the middle of the lawn, all over the wickets and the croquet course, and they keep running past the golf charts and the mallets that lay forgotten, and then run past the pristine cut rose bushes, and the grape vines, and the trail, and then they continue to run all the way down the hill, until they are panting and out of breath. 

Gon lets go of Killua’s hand and they look at each other. Then Gon realizes he broke his promise. The one he made in the car. He had messed up everything so bad that they ran away from the crime scene. 

“Listen, Killua I am really sorry I messed everything up today, I know I promised I would be super cool but—” 

Killua grabs him by the collar until his face is tilted all the way up and they are a couple of inches apart. “Shut up.” Killua breaths out. “Just shut up.” 

Gon looks confused until he feels himself pressed against Killua’s body, and he realizes Killua is attempting to give him a hug. So Gon breathes out, stuttered and awkward, as he pats Killua’s back reassuringly. 

Killua squeezes him, then Gon feels him tremble, so he tries to back out of his friend's  grip, but then Killua just holds on tighter. 

“Killua?” Gon whispers. 

Killua mumbles something but Gon couldn't catch it. 

“Sorry what was that?” 

“Give me a minute.” Killua says, and Gon supposes he can allow himself enjoy this moment. So he holds Killua back, mirroring the force Killua is giving him. Killua sighs, and Gon supposes that, okay, maybe he doesn't have to be afraid to enjoy this. 

He takes a big whiff of Killua’s hair pressed to his nose, then rubs Killua’s back. 

Killua doesn’t budge, just squeezes Gon against his chest tighter. 

“No one’s ever done something like that for me.” Killua whispers. 

“What, throw tea on your brother? I think more people should, that guy is such a dick.” Gon says as he smooths out Killua’s windswept hair. Killua leans back and looks at Gon. 

“What did he tell you earlier, you never told me.” 

Gon frowns. “You don’t have to worry about it.” he says. 

Killua gives him a leveled look. His eyes bright, intense, and holding him in place.“Tell me.” 

Gon drops his hands and looks away from his eyes. 

Killua grabs his arms and holds them in his hands. “Please?” he adds. 

Gon shakes his head. 

“Gon come on,” 

“He said you’re too good for me.” Gon blurts out and it hurts all over again, and he feels like crying and he doesn’t really understand why he feels so weak and vulnerable all the sudden. “And I think he might be right, Killua, come on, look at me. I ruined this whole day, I’m covered in rose thorns and I own like five pairs of Crocs. And I don’t even know what nastec means.” 

“Nasdaq. It's Nasdaq.” Killua says. Then he shakes his own head at himself and grabs Gon’s chin. “Hey, you didn’t ruin anything.” he says softly. Then even softer. “You have it wrong, Gon.” 

Gon looks up at him, confused. 

You’re too good for me.” Killua says. “You make me laugh so hard until I can’t breathe, and you somehow pull off Crocs.” 

“But—” 

“No, shut up, let me finish. I don’t even know what made you think you aren’t enough for me. I’m definitely not too good for you.” 

“But you’re you. You drive a Tesla—” 

“Yeah I drive it to Peet’s everyday and you know what I order?” 

“Yeah.” 

“What do I order Gon?” 

“A kid’s chocolate milk.” 

“Yeah. And remember that time we went to get our blood drawn and I cried just at the sight of a needle and you had to hold my hand through it?” 

Gon laughs at the memory, as Killua soothes the tension in his shoulders. 

“Remember that time we went to an all you can eat sushi buffet and I ate so much sashimi I got kicked out?” 

Gon nods, then Killua holds his face in his hands. “Remember that time you stood up for me and threw iced tea at my brother and we ran away together?” 

Gon laughs. “Woah, that was so long ago I almost completely forgot.” he says back as he holds onto Killua’s arms. 

Killua laughs back and they stare smiling at each other. “See, we’re perfect for each other.” Killua says and it's tender and honest, and he’s smiling. His cheeks are pink and his hair is all over the place and he’s only looking at Gon. Always looking right at Gon. 

Feeling brave, Gon begins talking before he can stop himself. “I’m in love with you.” He says. 

Killua looks at him, then before Gon can react he is right up in his space and his mouth is on Gon’s and they’re kissing. 

And Gon feels his eyes shut involuntarily, and he moves his lips back with his typical foolhardiness. Feeling like a fool for ever thinking Killua didn’t feel the same, just from the way he kisses and pushes and grabs onto Gon with urgency, with passion. 

When they disconnect lips, they laugh at each other, clearly having the same exact thought. 

“Man, we’re stupid.” Killua says. 

Gon nods laughing with him. “A little bit.” 

Killua smiles and brings Gon into another hug, a less awkward one, one that is immediately reciprocated.

“I’ve been in love with you since you stole a golf cart with me freshman year and then took the blame.” Killua whispers in Gon’s ear.  

Gon laughs light at that. “I’ve been in love with you since you shoved that guy off the balcony.” 

Killua stops and stands back. “Wait, Tony? That's what did it?” 

Gon nods like it was obvious. “Yeah It was badass, also I really hate him.” 

“Man you’re a weirdo.” 

“Yeah, your weirdo.” 

“Good one Gon.” 

“Thanks Killua.” 

Killua looks behind him and then back at Gon, he grabs Gon’s hand. “Man, we should probably skidaddle before my mom chases after me, wanna go back to my apartment?” 

Gon smiles and they start walking to the parking lot. “We are in Napa right now, let's go to some winery and get shit faced.” 

Killua snorts at that. “As much as I love seeing you drunk I’d rather spend our first day as boyfriends sober.” 

Gon smiles so wide it burns at the word boyfriend. They’re boyfriends now. “Okay fair, yeah, let's go back.” 

Killua smiles and they start swinging their hands together as they get to the parking lot. 

“Oh, and Killua?” Killua hums. “Let's never play croquet again.” 

“Deal.” KIllua says and they look at each other for a beat of silence before bursting out in laughter. Easy, simple and goofy. Everything Killua likes about Gon, and everything Gon likes about them when they're together. 

Then Gon remembers something, he sighs and turns to Killua with a pout as he holds the door open for Gon. “They never even asked me about the Nasdaq. I literally looked up stocks to prepare.” he says and presses a kiss to Killua’s cheek before climbing in the car. 

Killua blushes at that and closes the door, pressing his hand on his cheek while he walks around the front of the car to get to his spot in the drivers side. 

He opens the door and grabs his buckle. “Okay, Gon, what’s your favorite stock?” 

“Boeing.” Gon says seriously, like he practiced in front of a mirror (he did). 

Killua laughs out loudly at that, no longer bothering to cover his mouth or hold himself back. “Boeing’s stocks are down.” 

“Shit.” Gon mutters, but his smile isn’t leaving. 

“Yeah, bad stock to choose. Try another one.” 

“Okay, um anything other than Amazon.” 

“Don’t you dare talk badly about our supreme overlord Jeff Bezos.” 

“I wanna guillotine him. Like in France.” Gon says, which makes them both laugh. 

“Vive la révolution." Killua yells as he moves into drive. 

“That's me at your family.” Gon adds on making them laugh harder. 

Once they calm down from laughing Killua looks at him, while he navigates the parking lot poorly. “Just don’t do anything to my grandpa. I'm on the will and I plan on keeping it that way.” 

“Shit.” Gon curses. 

“What?” 

“It just hit me, I’m dating a rich kid. Oh no, Killua, I’m so sorry but when the class war happens, I promise I’ll hesitate.” 

Killua bursts out laughing again, cackling loud. “Oh my god.” 

“Can you pay for all our dates with your trust fund money?” 

“Gon.” He gets out in between his loud laughter and restricted breathing. 

“I’m just kidding. Don’t pay for me, I'm a strong, independent man.” 

“Oh my god we haven’t even gone on a date yet.” 

“Let's go on one now.” 

“Oh. Okay. Bet. Where do you wanna go?” 

“Don’t care, I’d go anywhere with you.” Honest, Gon doesn’t even want to smack himself with his water bottle at that. 

“Anywhere?” Killua asks, his eyebrows arching. 

Gon nods. “Yeah, even hell. Which I recently found out is a private winery in Napa with a croquet course.” Killua snorts super loudly at that and starts choking which causes Gon to laugh even harder at him. 

Killua tries to calm down at the stop sign. “You’re impossible,” he tries to get out but it's choppy with his restricted breathing. “I can’t breathe!” 

Gon’s laughter dies down and he watches Killua wipe tears from his eyes. “Please breathe, I like it when you breathe.” He tells him. 

“How funny Gon, I also like it when you breathe.” 

“You know who I wish wouldn’t breathe?” 

“Tony.” they both say in unison, then laugh loud again. They’ll never stop laughing today, it seems. Too giddy with excitement, and too much adrenaline from this new thing, this new relationship, that somehow feels like nothing changed, but when Killua brings his hand to Gon’s thigh, smiles cat-like and says “auto-pilot” it feels like maybe everything has changed. In the best possible way.