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Some Jerry Springer Shit

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He showed up on Mito's doorstep with a baby in his arms. Not Ging, not this time, but Kurapika. He looked pale and exhausted and like a stiff breeze would knock him over, but the child in his arms was calm, big brown eyes taking Mito in with all the curiocity in the world condensed into a tiny being.

"I'm sorry to show up like this without any warning, I wasn't sure how to contact you without Gon asking too many questions." He followed her inside and sat down gratefully at the kitchen table while she busied herself looking in the cupboards.

"I'm sure he'd take it in stride, whatever you told him, but I understand. He's asleep right now. Ah-" she pulled out a protein bar and set it down for Kurapika along with a glass of water. "I hope you have formula, the stores are closed and anything we might have had from Gon's infancy would be long past due by now."

Kurapika nodded, taking a sip of water. "I do. I know that much at least, she's five months and I haven't killed her on accident yet." He glanced at the child, then closed his eyes and leaned in nearly covering her from view. "I just don't think I can... I don't know what the hell I'm doing Mito."

"Not that I ever get an answer to this but who... Is the other parent?" Mito sat down in the chair adjacent to him, concerned. Silence followed, and eventually Kurapika pulled away to look at her, his eyes resolute.

"I'm sorry but I won't be breaking that chain. It doesn't matter, he won't be involved. I'm not sure that he even has any idea."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm just tired. And inexperienced. And this seemed like a safe place to maybe... Figure it out." The little girl in his arms nodded off peacefully, seemingly lulled by his voice, and he looked down at her again. "I'm not staying long, I just need to talk to you."

"Stay as long as you need to, Kurapika. A child is an enormous amount of responsibility, and they need somewhere to grow. Where are you living right now?" She wondered how he'd been managing, all alone, and being a Hunter surely it wasn't a safe life.

"I appreciate the offer, thank you. I have a place back in Yorknew, it’s big enough.”


---

Kurapika slept with the baby tucked between pillows beside him, finally able to let his guard down but unwilling to just yet. He slept poorly, getting up to change diapers and feed her, but he was able to sleep a little deeper now. When Mito and Abe came in to ask if they could take her for a bit, he agreed, and then he was out again until Gon slipped into the room.

Gon peered down at him curiously, Kurapika keeping track with his ears open and his eyes closed, until Gon spoke up. "Stop pretending to be asleep, already."

 

Kurapika finally opened his eyes and rolled onto his back, allowing Gon to crawl in with him and give him a hug. "Mito said you came by last night and that the little baby is your and not to bother you but I really missed you!" His arms were small, but strong enough to squeeze him to the point of discomfort.

"I'm sorry, I missed you too." He put his arms around Gon to pull him closer, but Gon pulled back instead.

"No one knew where you were but I knew you were okay, but I was still worried. You always get so sad when you go away like that. And Leorio misses you too, and Killua misses everyone but he's still out with Alluka and Mito didn't even know you but she said she hoped you were okay-" Kurapika put a finger to Gon's lips and sat up, sighing.

"I know. I know, I have reasons for working this way but I'm still sorry I couldn't be there for anyone."

"..." Gon relaxed, then took Kurapika's hand into his lap and looked down at it sadly as he played with the captive fingers. "She's really cute, doesn't cry a whole lot. Is she okay? I think babies are supposed to be noisier than that."

He surprised a laugh out of Kurapika, the mood lightening. "She's alright, some babies are just really good. I wasn't, I cried all the time unless my parents read to me or took me with them everywhere."

"You remember?"

"No, they told me later." Kurapika smiled softly, allowing himself to remember. "Her name's Karina, like my mother."

Gon smiled back and squeezed Kurapika's hand in his warmer ones. "That's a great name. Oh, hey, while you're here can you help me with my classwork?"

"Only if you pay attention instead of letting me do it for you." The answering groan let him know he'd caught Gon's plan perfectly.

 

---

 

Karina was almost a year when Leorio came to the island. By invitation. By Gon.

Kurapika was on the floor with her as she practiced walking, hands firmly grasping his, when there was a commotion at the door. Mito had gone to answer it but Gon rushed past her, throwing it wide open and leaping onto whoever it was outside. The mixed laughter caused Kurapika's gut to somersault and he considered jumping up and walking into another room. He banished the idea quickly, but it still seemed like the better alternative as Leorio came into view, Gon dropping off his neck and running into the kitchen to tell Abe.

Leorio rubbed the back of his neck and held his hand out to shake Mito's, but smiled and gave her a hug instead when she laughed at him. And then Karina shrieked, pleased and curious, and let go of one hand to flail a whole arm at the new person.

Leorio looked at her, then at Kurapika, and his expression went from pleasant surprise to confusion and worry like a building storm. "Hey there cutie, are you saying hi?" He let go of Mito and came over to kneel on the carpet, hands out as Kurapika let her detach from his last open hand to cross the short distance. She grabbed onto Leorio's hand and the attached sleeve to look at the material, then pull on one button until Leorio ever so gently distracted her with a large finger. His eyes flicked back up to Kurapika, who had carefully kept his expression neutral. Mostly neutral. His eyes were still wide, heart trying to escape its boney cage.

"She's very friendly, warms up to people quickly." He was quieter than intended, but not mumbling. "You look well."

"You look tired." Leorio grimaced as soon as he spoke. "I mean, but also fine, you look. Like you're eating regularly, at least. Where, um. How have you been?" Karina dropped to the ground to untie one shiny black shoe and tug at the lace.

"... I'm sorry about the phone calls. I was busy, working more often than not."

"You found time to make a baby apparently."

Kurapika flexed his jaw and put a hand on his knee as if he might stand. "I suppose I did, yes. Karina please don't put your mouth on that." He reached out, but Leorio was faster, taking her by the armpits and moving her away from chewing on his shoe. Kurapika pulled her closer and hugged her to himself, jaw tensed and eyes intense as he matched Leorio's stare.

"... She's a cute kid. Must take after the-"

"Please shut up."

"Yep, shutting up." Leorio adjusted so he was sitting, back to the coffee table that had been pushed up against the couch, and looked up at the pictures of Gon's family along the walls. "So how long have you been staying here?"

"A few months, I'll be going back home soon." He rubbed Karina's back and grabbed a toy off the floor to hand her.

"Back to work?"

"No, just home. And I'm still working, it's just managing by phone and email right now."

"Cool, that's great."

"I said I was sorry."

"You can say it as many times as you like, that doesn't mean it's okay." Leorio looked over at him, worry and hurt plainly visible, broadcasted like a neon sign, and Kurapika looked at the threshold of the kitchen to get away. "But you're still alive, and I guess that's mostly what I wanted to know."

 

Dinner was a bit of an affair, they had to eat in the living room since there weren't enough chairs at the table, and the building tension between Kurapika and Leorio was quickly becoming palpable. Too-quick responses and sharp looks eventually led to Mito picking Karina and telling them very nicely to go for a walk, eyebrows up far enough there was no arguing against her.

The night air was muggy despite the cooler temperatures, causing the chill to sink in through layered clothing as they worked down the path to the shore. Kurapika was silent, aware of every glance sent his way. Finally Leorio broke the silence.

"Just, it just doesn't make sense. First of all if you can't even make time to stay in touch with your friends how are you gonna make time for a kid? And, I'm not blind, but I really must be going completely bonkers, she looks just like that freak from Yorknew. How- when- god are you okay?" He stopped and turned to take Kurapika by the shoulder, stopping him too.

"I'm okay, it wasn't what you seem to think, any of what you seem to think. I needed information from him and he named a price he thought I wouldn't be willing to pay. He was wrong. I was careless. That's it. I'm making time for her because she has no one else but me and there isn't a thing she can do about it." The sea was dark and glittering, playing in the light of a half moon. Seaweed and worn glass got caught here between the rocks, something Gon had shown him the first day he'd been on the island.

"So you had sex with him, for information. You, god damn it Kurapika!" Leorio ran a hand through his hair, pulling away with the outburst, and therefore not feeling the way Kurapika tensed.

"Excuse me?"

"Why can't you ask anyone for help? You have friends! You have a lot of friends! I'm sure we could have helped you get whatever information it was you needed so badly, we're Hunter's for fucks sake!"

"You couldn't possibly have access to every ounce of information most available to a murdering criminal who, very specifically, was the man who sold the eyes in the first place! How dare you assume I didn't think of you, of any other possibility! Do you think I'm an idiot?" He shoved Leorio's chest, rounding on him.

"A little bit, I do!" Leorio was much taller than him but also very, very unlikely to use that in a meaningful way. He threw his arms out, slouching. "I guarantee you could have done it without him, but you didn't even try. And then you kept her for whatever reason, I guess that's your prerogative but can you really look her in the eye down the road and tell her who else made her?"

"As if it's important!"

"Yes! Yes it is! Medical records, for one, and general childish curiocity, she's gonna ask."

"I'll deal with that when and if it comes up, it is none of your concern how I go about making a family." Kurapika was shaking from the chill as well as adrenaline, and he was very aware he hadn't put his contacts in one single day after arriving, his own red glow glinting off Leorio's useless, redundant teashades and the buttons of his jacket. He looked surprised but not thrown off, not much, and his anger was fading.

"... It could have been. Y'know. It could have been." He put his hands into his pockets and knocked a pebble sideways into the water.

"Leorio, please. I didn't mean it like that. You know how I feel, you know I can't, couldn't, I had plans." He bit his cheek to stop himself from digging an even deeper hole.

"No, it's fine. And you're right, you can do whatever the hell you want, and you do, and most of the time that means leaving me in the dust. I can't just fix that about you and I'm not going to try. That's on you, if you ever want to." He pulled a hand back out to rub over his mouth, staying near his jaw.

Kurapika stood in between him and the house, then closed the distance to wrap his arms around Leorio's frame, face hidden against coarse blue fabric.

 

---

 

Karina was three when Chrollo finally showed up.

Not that Kurapika knew what was going on, only that he'd been out getting groceries for the week and she went missing from his side. He pushed back the panic that threatened to set in and instead left the cart to start walking around, looking for her. "Karina?" He contained his fear to short breaths through his nose as he stepped outside, pulling a local map off the brochure stand near the front on his way, and let his dowsing chain manifest.

The ball of swirling metal, like a damascus of smoke, hovered over the map before pulling off away from the grocer, already a few streets away. His stomach lurched and he took off with the map clenched tightly in his fist. Since the pregnancy he'd taken a backseat to his job, but he didn't liquidate it or hand it over to someone else, so when not in the house with Karina he generally still dressed in slacks and dress shirts, his nice boots broken in enough to fight in regardless of his attire.

A flash of white fur and black leather disapearing around a corner turned his panic to cold fury, and he picked up the pace more sure of where he was going. Skidding around the corner brought him face to face with one of the spiders instead, Machi, and he threw a fist before giving any thought to the action. She dodged the swing just as she dodged the kick after it, but on his next attack she grabbed his arm and slammed him face first into the wall, arm pinned behind his back. She twisted, threatening to dislocate the limb.

"Where are you taking my child? Let go of me and maybe I won't kill you." Red seeped out from behind his contacts and he growled out his words.

"Yours? Boss didn't mention that." She let go as his other hand came back towards her with a knife, and he spun around to assess the situation. He was winded from the run but not enough to affect his fighting, and Machi looked troubled by his words. Not likely because she cared any for him, but from whatever perceived lie Chrollo told her.

"What did he tell you?" He spun the knife so it was ready for a forward swing, other hand up and ready. Instead of answering him, Machi pulled out her phone and brought it to her ear, other hand on her hip.

"... You could have said that before... Alright." She pocketed it again. "He's not going to hurt her-"

"I don't give a damn what he plans to do, he shouldn't be anywhere near her."

"Why not, she's his kid." She crossed her arms. "And we're causing a scene, which is only a problem for you, so either you come quietly and let me tie your hands, or we can make a bigger scene and I kill you." It was still the middle of the day and people were curiously watching them, stopping in their tracks and some pulling out their own phones.

He put the knife away. "Fine." He walked with her away from prying eyes and allowed her to bind his wrists, then lead him after Chrollo. The city seemed like such a more dangerous place knowing the Troupe was here and that Karina was well out of his sight. Was Chrollo planning to just take her away? Was he just satisfying his curiosity in the only way he ever did? They continued walking until they came to a gas station that had clearly been out of order for years, slipping in through the busted back door. Inside there were a few sleeping bags and coolers, bags likely filled with personal effects and supplies. The electricity was off, but there were enough lit candles around the place to make up for it. Kurapika had to restrain himself when he saw Chrollo sitting on the floor with Karina in his lap, talking quietly as he showed her some piece of jewelry. On second glance it was more like a decorative knife, which he closed and tucked into the child's pocket before turning to look at the two of them.

 

“That was slower than I expected Kurapika, you must be getting complacent.”

 

“You are extremely lucky you keep guards at your side at all times or you'd already be missing a few limbs. How dare you snatch her from my side.” He twitched his finger so the chains he'd looped around Machi during the fight were visible, and then tightened, sending her into Zetsu and freeing him. Machi’s eyes narrowed but she didn't seem particularly bothered, correctly assuming he didn't want to kill anyone in front of Karina.

 

Chrollo put a hand on Karina’s head, distracting her from running towards her dad excitedly. “Just a moment, little one.” He turned again to Kurapika and smiled at him. “Even if the timing wasn't obvious, dominant genes sure paint a nice picture. Do her eyes light up like yours? Or is it only her skin that looks like you?”

 

“This is not to situation to talk about this, in fact there is no situation for it, just allow me to take her home.” He tightened the chains on Machi, who made an annoyed sound and shifted her ankles to stay standing. Karina’s brow furrowed, and she seemed to catch onto the shift in atmosphere.

 

“Now now don't be cruel in front of a child, she might grow up like us.” Chrollo gave her head a pat and shooed her forward, a signal she took and ran with until she was holding onto Kurapika's pant leg.

 

“Go home now?” While she didn't have the vocabulary of an adult, she was able to form workable sentences with the few words she had. Kurapika bent down to pick her up onto his hip, his heart calming somewhat.

 

“Yes we'll go home now.” Despite the words, he had a hard time softening his tone or expression, even as they left the gas station and got onto the main roads again.

 

“Are you mad?” She held onto his shoulders as he shifted her into both arms to jostle her less during the walk.

 

“Not at you. You didn't do anything wrong, it's okay.” He kissed her cheek to reassure her, tension obvious in her voice. “I'll tell you who that was when we get home, alright?”

 

“Alright.” She put her head down on his shoulder and watched the busy world go by.

 

---

 

"Why don't I go to school?"

Kurapika looked up from the book they were currently working through, highlighter in one hand and glasses slipping down over his nose. He never used to need them, but after squinting at so many books in dim lighting it was harder to read close to his face. He capped the lighter and tucked it into his shirt pocket. "Ah, well this is only the first year you would have gone, and I wanted to make sure..." He wet his lips, unsure if he was ready to explain to her things she shouldn't have to worry about just yet.

"Make sure?" Karina reached up to push his glasses back into place.

"... You know how your eyes get red when you're frustrated, or really happy? Some people in the world would hurt us for it, and other become very frightened. I'm not ready to put you in that kind of danger." He rubbed the page of the book a few times with his thumb before putting a bookmark in and closing it. Karina looked down as she thought that over. "Is it that you want friends? I can take you to the park more, or get you into an activity."

"The kids at the park go to school, and I can't go with them. I wanna know what it's like."

"... How about... How about I show you how to defend yourself, and how to control your emotions, at least while you're at school. Then if you're ready by next year I'll enroll you somewhere nearby." He smoothed the hair back from her face, then let it fall again when the image seemed too familiar.

She perked right up, accidentally knocking the book out of their laps. "You'll show me how to fight?"

"I'll show you how to fight back, I'll pull you right back out if I find out you're looking for trouble." He gave her a pointed look, but it was ruined as soon as she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him.

 

---

 

Kurapika got flowers on Mother's Day, and Father's Day, and cards on Christmas from a few people. He'd never told anyone his birthday, except Karina, because she asked. But on her birthdays they returned to Whale island, so she could play with Gon and his family, and because Kurapika's apartment wouldn't hold the half of the Hunter association that wanted to give the kid something nice on her day of the year.

Nine candles on the cake and three times as many people crammed into the livingroom to escape the chill, surprisingly cool this year for a tropical climate. Every year he had to duck out some time in the middle to get a breath of fresh air, eyes prickling with unshed tears. This year, someone slipped out after him quietly, letting him collect himself. The garden was all florals on this side of the house, the one facing the path towards town, and while many of the plants had retreated into themselves until it warmed up, some of the hardier bushes stayed out and ready for pollination.

"I think her birthday money might last until her next birthday, if she's frugal." Leorio pulled out a pack of gum, a habit to break another habit he'd picked up during the stress from school, then work.

"Usually she is, sometimes she sees a really nice knife and just can't seem to help herself. It's a good thing they won't let her buy them without me around." Kurapika crossed his arms and looked sideways at Leorio, then uncrossed them to nab his treat, pulling out a piece of gum for himself and biting down for a shock of cinnamon.

Leorio took the pack back while grumbling, but he didn't seem too bothered. He glanced at Kurapika again, fingers tapping against the bricks behind him. "I thought you liked mint better."

"I like cinnamon sometimes, usually only when I steal it from you though."

"I knew someone was doing it, I actually thought it was Karina."

"If it was Karina she'd chew it in front of you so you'd know she did it." Kurapika smiled softly. "If you visited more you'd find that out for yourself."

"Is that an invitation?" He arched a brow and tilted his head to eye the other, cheeky. A smirk pulled at his mouth when he saw Kurapika meet his eye.

"It's an idea. If you want it."

Leorio reached out to slide his hand around Kurapika's lower back, moving closer. Flowers from the bushes against the house brushed against his legs, sun warmed petals thriving despite the cold snap. He bent to press his lips to hair that shown in the sunlight, then a little further to meet the upturned face offered to him. "I think that's not such a bad idea."