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and you got me like, oh

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“You fucking snitch,” Kurapika presses his gun against Tonpa’s big meaty forehead, watching the man’s dirty green eyes widen in horror. Just like he’s planned.

 

“Kurapika,” he tries, voice barely audible even in the steady silence of the empty building. “Pup-please—“

 

“Out,” Kurapika orders, tightening the muscles in his forearms so the gun trembles in his fingers. He’s not a good actor, but it’s convincing enough to make the man leave. A life’s a life, even though this particular one ain’t worth a penny. “Now.”

 

Tonpa’s feverishly shining eyes are transfixed upon the barrel, and Kurapika fights an urge to roll his eyes impatiently. His sweaty bangs stick to his forehead, and he desperately wants to brush them back. Absent-mindedly, Kurapika promises himself to get a haircut if he manages to not die.

 

Now, ” he barks out, and Tonpa finally obeys with a yelp, almost tripping over his own feet as he rips gaze away from the gun and turns back to run towards the exit.

 

Kurapika bends his arms at the elbows, taking a deep breath. He knew the motherfucker was easily the weakest target of them all, not to eliminate but to sabotage, and it was only a matter of time until he’d break; and Kurapika calculated everything perfectly: the rest of his team ended up miles away from here, completely unaware of the position Kurapika’s decided to put himself in. Tonpa’s assistance was just an inevitable inconvenience he had to tolerate in order to keep him out of suspicion, and now he’s gone, too. Everyone is safe, at least for tonight.

 

Well, except for himself. But Kurapika doesn’t even remember the last time he considered himself a person.

 

His eyes have already adjusted to the darkness, and he begins to move towards the darkest spot, conveniently carved into the walls of the farther hall. Nearing it, Kurapika recreates the axonometric projection of the building, figuring it most probably is going to lead him into the kitchens and then out to the main conference hall. It’s large and centered, and even if Zazan’s gang chose somewhere else to reside, the echo would eventually lead him into the needed chambers. They broke too many walls creating an easy-access labyrinth to keep themselves completely safe.

 

The remnants of the kitchens are too dark, and Kurapika has to wait a few moments to make out at least a silhouette. He’s in a bad, very bad position, but  the recording he has running would most probably be useful if he ends up facing anyone of the group. He’s a master of dirty talk, especially with criminals. He’s good at making them speak even if all they want is bullet hole in the back of his throat.

 

Carefully avoiding making any sounds, Kurapika finds a door. It leads him into a corridor, air inside it stale and reeking of dead rats and stray dogs, currently being devoured by maggots. Zazan is a ridiculously ambitious and revoltingly pathetic leader, there is no way she would’ve chosen any other place to hide.

 

Another door, this one leading to the section of  balconies above an amphitheater. Kurapika licks his lips, brushes his hair back for the fourth time in five minutes and takes a step inside.

 

It’s a dark place, but quiet due to much smaller space.

 

That is why someone else’s breathing is not hard to detect.

 

Kurapika straightens his arms swiftly and blinks a few times, frowning. The breathing is muffled, probably against a cloth. Or a mask.

 

“Considering you’re alone here,” the voice, barely above a whisper, says a few meters away from him, “I wouldn’t want to do anything stupid.”

 

“You’re not Zazan’s,” Kurapika whispers back coolly, narrowing his eyes in another pointless attempt to make something out. Predictable. The bitch is not half as clean as she thinks she is; and she’s got a shit ton of debts. The news of her latest success couldn’t have left everyone impassive. Now, not only he has no help at the nest of a psychopathic terrorist with a tenderly-nurtured god complex and a tendency to torture police officers for weeks after capturing them; he’s most probably surrounded by God knows how many more serial killers, mass murderers and their respective cliques. Peculiar boast, but alas.

 

“Neither are you.”

 

“How very observant,” he scowls to earn a dark chuckle. 

 

“Just making things clear.”

 

Kurapika hears something else before the voice drops, immediately jerking forwards and pushing his invisible companion down so they both fall onto the ground, covered in a thick layer of dust and filth, just a heartbeat too late though. He’s almost not surprised to hear his own flesh ripping under the raw pressure of a bullet a bit lower than the joint that connects his arm to his body. Lucky him. Could’ve stayed without an arm.

 

For a few seconds all he sees is white, and not because of the fire. The pain is vivid, it steals all his focus, it’s greedy and everlasting, frantically sending shock impulses through every other muscle under his skin, but Kurapika has been through worse. He clenches his teeth and breaths out, trying to focus on the sounds around him. Distraction is also a treatment.

 

Then he shifts and shoots four times, angling the barrel upward a little more and more each pop. 

 

Someone’s body falls down, a sound so lifeless and poetic in the darkness that still devours him completely, itchy on his skin. It’s followed by disgusting gurgling sounds, and Kurapika focuses on his own breath, trying to calm down. Fucking motherfucker.

 

“Dude, you shot?”

 

Ah, yes.

 

“‘M fine,” he manages to say, voice flat, but all he hears is the roar of blood in his ears. And gunfire.

 

Kurapika tries to stand up, but his legs refuse to listen. Falling down hurts him even more, the bullet still buried deep in his flesh. The front of his shirt is wet, and while the wound burns hotter than Saharan sun, a shiver runs down Kurapika’s spine. It’s easy to imagine it be his Death’s gentle touch, Victorian poets are rather fond of this particular turn before sending their blossoming leads to a grave.

 

He’s not sure, but there’s someone saying things to him, a face close to his he doesn’t see but manages to feel.

 

Kurapika screams when someone touches his injured arm. He’s never been good at tolerating pain, even if he thinks the opposite.

 

The last thing he registers is a touch of cool fingers against his burning forehead.

 

***

 

“What a pretty little thing you’ve got for a friend, Feitan.”

 

The voice is unfamiliar, and although yes, thank you very much, as if Kurapika has never been told that he’s short before, the words don’t sound teasing. If anything, they sound...fond?

 

Kurapika frowns, an absolutely unwanted buzz creeping up his skin. No one talks fondly of him, what the—

 

Then, he remembers the warehouse.

 

He opens his eyes abruptly, trying to sit up, but there’s a strong hand on his chest, pinning him to whatever horizontal surface he’s occupying. Kurapika can’t help but pout, head still dizzy and vision unclear, as if he’s wearing someone else’s prescription glasses. He has to get his shit together, he might be fucking dying right now.

 

“Shh, beautiful, just a few more minutes and you’ll be off.”

 

Kurapika blinks again and turns his head slightly.

 

Looking back at him is a pair of very dark, very pretty eyes on an equally handsome face, and Kurapika tenses even more, because what the fuck , he’s probably drugged if he allows his mind wander in these peculiar directions. He clenches his teeth and tries to snap out of it, gaze boring into the man’s face that is now shifting from polite calmness to slight concern.

 

“What, does it still hurt?”

 

His skin is pale, almost transparent like wax, probably because of the cool sharp lighting of the room that, however, as ugly at it is, cannot spoil the exquisite features the man possesses, such as a long narrow nose, a pair of pale lips, the lower one slightly plumper than the upper, naturally curved into an expressive line; a strong jawline that leads one to expect equally sharp cheekbones, but the apples of his cheeks are carved delicately, the edges prominent but rounded by god’s tentative hands, to give an impression of tenderness, even on a face so handsome. Though, Kurapika thinks the man’s eyes is what strikes the most — not black, but extremely dark grey, like natural charcoal the academics use in their naked body studies, a void, disturbingly empty with an endless flow of thought and emotion. And then there’s a tattoo.

 

Spiders.

 

The cross tattoo in between the man’s eyebrows is enough to identify him. Odd, Kurapika thinks, no less oddly tranquil, he’s just in his late twenties, and he certainly doesn’t look like a criminal. A very wanted, alarmingly successful criminal, the leader of the most feared organization out there. The Phantom Troupe.

 

Kurapika must be staring too shamelessly, because the man arches his dark eyebrow and chuckles.

 

“We gave you local anesthesia to pull out the bullet, it was really deep in your shoulder. Machi’s finishing patching you up as we speak.”

 

The hand on his chest is back even before he decides to move again. Kurapika scowls and tears his gaze away from the man to see another two strangers on the other side of him. There’s a girl, pink-haired and red-cheeked, eyebrows furrowed and shoulders tensed as she saws Kurapika’s wound, and the other man, short, with a cloth covering his mouth and nose, is watching him from under his long dark bangs with a calculating squint of his eyes.

 

Kurapika swallows and attempts to clear his throat.

 

“What happened?”

 

“You pushed me down and got shot by one of Zazan’s men,” the guy in a mask speaks, his voice is naturally quiet, hoarse and accented, and Kurapika realizes he was his invisible companion in the darkness of the foyer.

 

“The spot ain’t too bad, but he shot from a rather short distance, so it got in pretty deep,” the girl speaks, gaze fixed on Kurapika’s skin. Her voice is deep, firm, like her little fingers. “Didn’t lose a lot of blood, too. You’ll be fine.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

The girl—Machi—nods, the short man doesn’t take his eyes off Kurapika. He’s angry, it’s understandable, for being indebted to someone. Criminals don’t do that usually, but Kurapika must be really lucky. His corpse could’ve been rotting now, abandoned on dirty floors, swimming in his own blood.

 

With a soft sound, Machi cuts the stitch and stands up.

 

“Danchou,” she nods again, and Kurapika turns to look at the tattooed man. He looks down at him, too, with a calm smile in the corners of his lips. The door closes, and the hand Kurapika forgot he had on his chest is gone, too. He shivers involuntarily, making the man chuckle again. 

 

“There,” he presses a glass of water against Kurapika’s lips, the same hand that has been holding him down now on the back of his head, tilting it up gently.

 

Kurapika drinks, painfully aware that it’s not just water. He’s unbelievably stupid for a federal detective. He blames it on anesthesia.

 

“What happened to Zazan?” he asks, finishing the liquid. The man puts the empty glass on the table and looks at the clock.

 

“She’s dead,” he says matter-of-factly as Kurapika studies his face. “Why were you alone?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Places like that are no good without a team,” he says, watching Kurapika watch him. Too bad he’s a cold-blooded murderer. It’s a face to die for.

 

Kurapika mentally stabs himself in the eye.

 

“I had...reasons,” it’s already hard to speak, but Kurapika focuses on the man’s face to stay awake as long as possible.

 

“Your selflessness is something to admire, isn’t it,” he says quietly, and there’s fondness in his low tone that is absolutely unnecessary, given the circumstances. “Thank you for helping Feitan.”

 

Kurapika nods, breathing heavier. There’s a hand in his hair, but he’s not sure whether it’s just appeared or has been there the whole time.

 

“Don’t fight it, beautiful. You need to rest.”

 

He’d do anything to snap back at the nickname, anything to avenge his fucking dignity, but he can’t. Motherfucker.

 

The eyes never leave his, big and round, with heavy eyelids and dark curled lashes. Right when Kurapika thinks he’s caught a glimpse of colour in the dark irises, a better look proves him wrong. He wants to climb inside them, to find a way in the cosmic abyss, to solve the equation, to see the outside from there. He wants to bath in cool silence, to hold his breath and see how much he’d last.

 

“It was lovely to meet you, Mr Kurta,” he hears the voice again, already unaware of anything but the eyes.

 

Kurapika prays he didn’t say it back by accident when he hears a quiet melodic laugh after finally giving in and closing his own eyes.

Chapter Text

Neon’s world has always been too bright and too loud for Kurapika, and her birthday is no different. It’s quintessential Neon Nostrade.

 

The rented ballroom is full of ladies is eccentric costumes and men in their respective black suits. The walls are gold and lavender purple, a claim for a Victorian era pop art style. Kurapika is not very educated on pop art, but he knows a Deborah Kass stunt when he sees it. Some band called Phèdre finishes playing their umpteenth song, and although Kurapika can’t say he’d be a huge fan, the music is actually rather likable. Him and Melody stood by one of the essentially shortened ionic column, serving as a table, for an hour and a half, drinking champagne and talking as their mutual acquaintances approached the two, but now Melody’s gone with a friend of hers who asked if she’d like to dance.

 

Not a minute later after her departure, Kurapika grabs another glass of champagne and walks towards the uncrowded corner of the ballroom, hidden in shadows of a balcony he’d rather consider an architectural mistake. Thinking this, Kurapika notices how actually drunk he’s managed to get: his ankles feel wobbly like a wooden Ikea puppet’s, his cheeks are burning as if he has his head pushed in an oven, and his thoughts are provocative and silly. Should’ve stayed at home, he’s about to think, but Neon is his old school friend, one of those people who unknowingly led him out of his seasonal apathy more than once, and see her smile at him is worth the headache and irritated eyes. He sighs and tells himself he’ll rest for ten minutes and then say his goodbyes, not like anyone else’s gonna notice his absence. He’s not exactly the fun type, has never been.

 

Thankfully, there is one unoccupied niche behind the balcony, and Kurapika pushes himself into it, closing his eyes gratefully. He considers buying himself sunglasses for such occasions, and although he’d look like a clown, at least he wouldn’t feel like there are acidic lenses in his eyeballs.

 

A droplet of sweat rolls down his spine. He wishes to sober up as soon as possible.

 

A few minutes later, he starts paying attention to the conversation, most likely coming from the closest alcove. Two men are talking, one having a senile, a little cranky voice, like old wet wood you accidentally step on in forests, and the other, in contrast, a muted melodic one, like a stone covered in honey.

 

Decameron was what attracted Kurapika’s ears, in the first place. He missed the point in which the book was first mentioned, but it came from the old man’s mouth, and the other laughed lazily, saying, yes, oh to be a young Florentine learning about love in a God’s temple during plague. Kurapika snorted and focused on the conversation.

 

But yes. Oh to.

 

By now, he has his glass empty and his eyelids heavy. He’s pressed against the wall, body comfortably heavy and warm, and the younger stranger’s voice is incredibly satisfying to listen to, especially talking about Renaissance literature and the differences between people of different nations, all driven with lust, and money, and love.

 

Another couple minutes passed, and the conversation comes to an end. Kurapika almost falls asleep, using his own shoulder as a pillow, but the silence, only disturbed by the muted sounds of music, is a nice wake-up call. He lets himself rest his head agains the wall for five more seconds, takes a deep breath and opens his eyes.

 

Seeing the young man standing right in front of him, Kurapika almost gasps.

 

He hasn’t changed since that night half a year ago that left Kurapika with an ugly pink scar on his shoulder. The Phantom Troupe was mentioned many times in Kurapika’s department, but never has anyone been sent after them. In the end, they rarely had business in the city, the last time Kurapika heard about the Spiders, Cairo was mentioned as well.

 

And now, their leader is looking down at Kurapika with his eyes, completely black in the shadows, yet with a spark of curiosity and...satisfaction. He’s wearing an impeccably fitting black suit and a white shirt underneath, matching it with an olive green headband, tied across his forehead, and small earrings in both ears, transparent turquoise globes on short silver chains. He looks like a pirate’s son in disguise.

 

Next to him there stands a much older man, a frown carved permanently into his wrinkly face. His hair is wavy, it’s prominent even under an attempt at slicked-back style, and his bushy eyebrows only intensify the look of pale blue eyes, red-rimmed and shiny. He holds his hands linked behind his back, his posture is curved due to his age, and although he looks tough, his composed serenity, in tandem with typical grandfather grouchiness visible through the press of his scowling lips, indicates a more humane touch to his frame.

 

“Haven’t your parents taught you that eavesdropping is rude?” he gnaws, inspecting Kurapika meticulously from head to toe. His gaze though is not uncomfortable, not judgmental. It’s more like an act of introduction.

 

“I’m an orphan.”

 

The younger man, the Spider, gradually laughs, low-accorded vowels of his breath doing things to Kurapika he should really not consider at all. He’s a federal detective, for fuck’s sake. He has no business thinking how good it would feel to suffocate in this laughter; get a grip, idiot.

 

“There’s no need to be so rude, Zeno, I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm,” the man slowly shifts to lean on the wall next to Kurapika, the soft smell of cologne gently filling up his nostrils. Kurapika does his best to not look up. “Quite the opposite, I think my old friend Mr Kurta was only waiting for us to finish our conversation to let me know of his presence.”

 

Kurapika snorts at the “old friend” line, wondering if the old man is also a criminal. Neon’s father is a big figure in this world, he’s known this for his whole life, and maybe that’s why his moral compass is actually fucking useless. He’s supposed to catch these guys and not drink at their parties — but how hard it is, keeping in mind the man’s kind face whenever Kurapika came home to him and Neon to study, ordering them pizza and letting him stay over if it’s too late to use the train. Kurapika hates the part of himself that accepts that. Maybe that’s why one of his biggest fears is facing a case that would involve someone who once bought him a toothbrush.

 

“Charming,” the old man — Zeno, wait, as for the Zoldyck klan Zeno? the fuck — drawls, throwing a dirty look at the Spider, and without further effort just walks away, white hair bouncing softly on top is his head.

 

“Charming indeed,” Kurapika hears a sweet hum of the man’s voice above his ear. He turns to see him smiling down at Kurapika with the same fond expression all over his stupidly handsome face. “How’ve you been, detective?”

 

“Fine,” Kurapika answers, ignoring his burning cheeks, memories of the morning he woke up in his own bed, shoulder aching like a motherfucker and sweat pooled in the curves of his body, making their way back into his head. He changed his locks the next day, following his boss’ order, although it was a completely unnecessary request — he knew no one would actually try any shit with him. They’re high-qualifies bandits, in the end, not some cheap tricksters. “And yourself?”

 

“Better than ever,” he says solemnly. “Mind if I join you?” he points at the empty space next to Kurapika, and although yes, he very much does, he doesn’t say a word.

 

He pointedly avoids looking at the man who lets out a gentle laugh again and lowers himself down next to Kurapika, their sides millimeters apart. Fuck, he smells really, really good. Must be the side-effect of the dozen champagne glasses in Kurapika’s body.

 

“Want anything to drink?”

 

“No, I think I’m gonna go home now,” Kurapika says, standing up, the man’s offer suddenly bringing back his common fucking sense. Sure, a pretty face opens a lot of doors, but not in their lives. Also, Kurapika really has no time for any stuff like that, criminal or not. He’s got a shit ton of paperwork at home, two cases he needs to solve (both of them possibly involving the man currently watching him with a look so fierce Kurapika doesn’t need to see in order to feel all over himself) and a head with so many thoughts they rip him into pieces. He can’t afford losing his grip on his life, even if its shattered pieces dig into his flesh like it’s butter. Too many people rely on him.

 

“No,” the man says, standing up, too. “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to interrupt your solitude,” he says, and when Kurapika looks at him, startled with sincerity in his voice, his eyes are, too, shining with consideration. “I’ll leave.”

 

Kurapika chuckles.

 

“Seriously, I’d been meaning to go home long before I heard your discussion,” he says. “Just got curious.”

 

The Spider arches his brow, a hint of his previous grin making Kurapika want to slap him and then himself.

 

“Yeah? About what?”

 

“About how a wanted criminal like you would see Bocaccio’s method of introducing lust, money and love,” Kurapika quotes, and right when he finishes the thought, Neon’s loud voice explodes somewhere behind him.

 

“Kurapika! You’re still here!”

 

He turns a little too abruptly, leaning on the wall with one hand in order to not lose his balance, just in time to end up handful of Neon Nostrade, babbling about rude guests who dare to disappear in the middle of a party.

 

“Oh, hi, Kuroro,” she suddenly seems to be aware of the other man’s presence, and judging by the look in her eyes, first surprised to see them both in the alcove, then way too enthusiastic, something clicks in the pretty head of hers. “You two know each other?”

 

“We’re old friends,” Kurapika snorts, mimicking a little, before the Spider — Kuroro — has a chance to pull some shit.

 

Kuroro though does not seem to be startled at all. He gives Neon the most divine smile and puts his hands in the pockets for his trousers, nodding.

 

“Well, friends,” Neon says, not buying their shit, and takes both men’s hands in hers, pulling them towards the ballroom. The lights are blinding after the alcove’s warm comfortable darkness, a confetti of voices, noises and dress swirls quickly makes Kurapika wish he were either not here or plastered. “Let’s stop eyefucking each other in dark niches and be good friends to Neon, go have fun on her fucking birthday you two; by the way, Melody’s been looking for you, Kurapika, and I think Feitan’s gonna start a war with Iran if you don’t stop him, Kuro, so-o,” she stops at the table with drinks and lets go of their hands, now holding a raspberry jelly shot in her fingers, “let’s get wasted.”

 

Kurapika meets Kuroro’s narrowed eyes, devils dancing under long dark lashes, and drinks.

 

***

 

He barely feels the floor under the soles of his feet as he makes yet another attempt to escape. This time, Kurapika was aiming at the exit, and he managed to get out of the ballroom quite successfully, even though it took him a while, because the perspective of walking fast threatened him with ending up on the floor. Now, he’s trying to understand which way is the building’s entrance or at least a bathroom, but Kurapika’s vision is blurry and he hears nothing but the rush of blood in his ears, the worst kind of white noise. He’s lost.

 

He closes his eyes, because the carpet is too blue and the lights above are too white. What a nuisance, he thinks bitterly, he should’ve swallowed his pride and ask Melody for assistance. He’s going to die here.

 

Another step makes him bump into something, cursing loudly afterwards, but Kurapika doesn’t even consider opening his eyes again. He’ll end up having a nervous breakdown if he sees anything bright-coloured again.

 

“Easy, beautiful, easy.”

 

Kurapika freezes.

 

He only hears it because the words are directed right into his ear, intimately quiet. Kurapika registers hands on his sides and ducks his head with a soft exhale, nose now hidden in the warm curve of a neck.

 

After the first round of shots, immediately, Melody crashed into him, introducing her friend, and when Kurapika’s eyes looked in the thief’s direction again, he was gone. He tried to notice him or Feitan in the crowd that only seemed to get bigger and bigger with the flow of Neon’s family friends, and at some point, Kurapika rolled his eyes at himself and snapped out of it. From all the people he could bang, of course he had to go and fucking choose a murderer with a record probably longer than fucking And quiet flows the Don, god forgive. It’s not okay even for a one-night stand.

 

But now, he’s so plastered he probably couldn’t have remembered the number of his apartment if asked, let alone at least one reason why he shouldn’t hook up with this man, who looks like a diabolical apparition, a wicked symbiosis of every single thing Kurapika could only imagine in his most obscene, hectic fantasies he’s grown used to hate himself for when he no longer wears the remnants of sleep upon his eyelids, completely sober. 

 

“I’m lost,” he mumbles, hoping that he’s pronouncing the words coherently. A chest he’s pressed against shakes, and Kurapika frowns. “Laughin’ ‘t people ‘s rude.”

 

“I’ve been called worse,” he hears a reply, and then one hand is gone and the other shifts to snake around his waist. Kurapika instinctively arches his back. “C’mon, let’s take you home.”

 

“So you can fuck me?” he blabbers, proud of himself for formulating his request. One should always be straightforward about their desires — a rule Kurapika never follows sober.

 

“Ah, do you want me to?”

 

Kurapika snorts, making himself comfortable in the other man’s embrace. His skin smells even better than the cologne he uses. 

 

“I thought y’were smart, all dark, ‘n handsome, ‘n knowing literature. ‘F course I wan’ you to.”

 

Kuroro laughs again, and Kurapika smiles into his skin, pleased to manage to amuse him continuously. Something flips in his stomach. What an ominous sign. 

 

“Knowing literature,” Kuroro murmurs, tugging slightly so Kurapika takes a step, eyes still closed. “Next time I try to seduce you, I’ll make sure to use more of that.”

 

Kurapika frowns seriously, following Kuroro’s lead obediently.

 

“Y’don’ need t’seduce me, ‘m already...ready.”

 

Kuroro hums, his grip on Kurapika’s waist a perfect amount of firm and gentle.

 

“Not like that, Kurapika.”

 

Kurapika. He says his name like he says beautiful, the mellow, tender curve of the word meant for Kurapika’s ears only. Kuroro speaks like one would play the piano, careful and gentle with the instrument, tracing it lovingly with the tips of fingers and only using force to press the keys when necessary, preferring to brush tenderly upon them.

 

“Fuck,” Kurapika whines quietly, forgetting that he actually exists.

 

“What?” Kuroro stops, baffled with the switch of emotion in Kurapika’s voice.

 

“Noth’n. Sorry,” he lets out on a hot breath, definitely feeling the shiver he accidentally sent down Kuroro’s body. Fucking hell, it’s so much worse. “It’s just,” he shakes his head, eyes now full of resigned sadness. Pity. For himself. “Every time I want sumthin’ nice for m’self, I forget too quickly that ‘m not allowed to have it.”

 

“What? Why?” Kuroro’s hold, if it’s possible, becomes even more gentle, his other hand landing on Kurapika’s side, warm and steady. Kurapika pities himself even more, now totally needy and clingy with someone who most likely doesn’t even want to deal with this kind of shit. “Why aren’t you allowed to have nice things for yourself, Kurapika?”

 

He lets out a humourless laugh, fisting his hands that are still thrown around Kuroro.

 

“ ‘Cause they always end up like this,” he murmurs, not gesturing at anything in particular, and yet pointing out a lot.

 

“Like what?”

 

Kurapika bites his lower lip, eyes dry, but heart bleeding, pooling in hot, bitter tears.

 

“A disaster,” he says, ready to be left alone when Kuroro’s body tenses and shifts, because no man, especially not someone like the head Spider of the Phantom Troupe, is willing to mess around with a whiny, needy stupid idiot, too cowardly to take risks if his heart, his angry little heart is at steak, too terrified to get burned.

 

Kuroro kisses him instead. Not really kisses, but brings their lips together for less than a second, chaste and transparent, and Kurapika thinks, thief, because the kiss is not for Kurapika but for himself, and the next moment they’re walking again, both quiet, heads too heavy to speak, and Kurapika closes his eyes again, heart aching for things he cannot afford.  

 

He remembers the wind, getting into the backseat of a car, remembers fighting an urge to fall unconscious while Kuroro’s fingers draw cosmic ornaments on his back, heartbeat steady under Kurapika’s cheek — and then he remembers nothing.

Chapter Text

Kurapika’s head is spinning from his 52-hours long sleepless marathon. He rubs his red-rimmed swollen eyes for the second time in one minute, they’re irritated and naked, oxygen to them right now like hydrogen peroxide on an open wound. He just wants to close them and fall into heavy dreamless sleep, the one that feels like a little death, body frozen in one position, too exhausted to breathe.

 

Instead, he finishes his umpteenth red bull and seriously considers doing coke.

 

“Motherfucker,” he mutters on an exhale and forces his gaze onto the papers in front of him.

 

Something’s wrong with the information. Something’s not clicking, too many blind spots for decent reports, too many questionable facts. Kurapika has been trying to crack the case for weeks now, and his sleep-deprived pathetic self is the result. The hints are impossible to connects, he has a rotten feeling in his gut that there’s too many information, as if to purposely distract him. His boss told him to drop it and entertain himself with something else, but Kurapika wouldn’t have been his stubborn bitch self if he obeyed. Before it’s an order and not a request, he’s going to continue.

 

He shudders and stands up abruptly, crossing the distance between his desk and the door in three sharp steps. Walking towards his Boss’ office, Kurapika ignores Melody’s gentle look, concerned and disapproving, as well as the sky, blue and vivid, not a cloud in sight. This is so fucking frustrating. He wants desperately to shout at her to mind her own fucking business, but years of working on his anger issues don’t let him. He still slips time after time, but he knows better than hurting people who care for him.

 

Even if it’s the only thing on his mind now, just because he’s a bitter piece of shit.

 

File in one hand, Kurapika knocks on the door and rubs his eyes quickly again. His stomach is tight, he hasn’t eaten much, and all those cups of coffee, tea and energy drinks surely don’t improve the situation. He wants to throw up, but first, he has questions to ask.

 

“Boss?” he asks impatiently and rolls his eyes, pushing the door handle down. Mr Zenji is a piece of trash, obviously, but Kurapika’s never been the one to tolerate his shit, especially when his nervous system is ugly and exposed like this. “Pardon my intrusion, but—“

 

Motherfucking Jesus Christ.

 

Four pairs of eyes land on him immediately as he breaks the door open; only two of them familiar. Kurapika’s gaze runs from one person to another, quickly analyzing the situation, but on the inside he panics like a bastard, because the only way to explain Kuroro, an angry-looking blonde woman, a small man hidden behind long locks of silvery hair and his boss, currently bleeding from his wrist and captured in said woman’s tight grip, is to blame it on barely convincing hallucinations.

 

“Kurapika,” Kuroro drawls, calm like a King Cobra, not surprised to see him at all. “Close the door, darling.”

 

Zenji’s muffled moan of protest is cut by the small man’s punch in the stomach. Kurapika blinks, ignoring the pet name, and decides that it’s all not, in fact, a hallucination.

 

“Give me one reason to,” he spits through his clenched teeth, blaming himself for not having his gun.

 

“Danchou—“

 

Kuroro dismisses the woman with a slight wave of his hand, not even looking at her, choosing to stare at Kurapika with his big tender fucking eyes, not one wrinkle of worry on his pale face. He’s sprawled in Zenji’s huge leather chair like he owns the place, knees spread wide apart, arms laying on chair handles, bent lazily in the wrists. His white shirt with rolled up sleeves is unbuttoned all the way to his chest and tucked casually into slim black pants, and Kurapika wants to beat the shit out of him right fucking now.

 

“Your boss has been involved with us for two years now, giving you wrong clues and leading into wrong conclusions for money,” he says, unblinking. “What’s happening now is only due to his, ah, slight miscalculation,” he smiles charmingly and looks at Zenji like one would look at a puppy right before requesting to pet it. Not even a hint of his ruthless, cold-blooded nature on the man’s young pretty face. “Kurapika, please close the door. We wouldn’t want to get anyone else involved, would we.”

 

Kurapika grits his teeth, hating to obey, but the danger he’d put his coworkers into is too heavy to try it and, of course, his burning curiosity leave him no choice. He takes a step forward and closes the door with a soft click.

 

Kuroro has this dicey ability to pull all the rightest strings to make people do what he wants them to. Puppeteer.

 

“Explain,” Kurapika orders, not second-thinking the consequences of his audacity. He’s too exhausted to act carefully, he’d break the man’s neck with his bare hands if it wasn’t for his minions.

 

But the only difference of Kuroro’s is in his eyes, a twitch so small it goes in extreme contrast with the grin taking over his lips. It’s an especially morbid one, excruciatingly fiery and...docile at the same time. Viciously so.

 

Zenji tries to break free again, but this time the woman brings him to his knees with a savage punch to the back of them. He screams again, still holding his right wrist with his other hand, and Kurapika realizes this is an execution. His hand is halfway amputated.

 

Kuroro stands up and Kurapika instinctively takes a step back when the man starts walking towards him.

 

“Unfortunately, I cant,” he says, stopping too close to Kurapika and reaching out to take the files in his hand. He inspects critically what Kurapika believes to be the state of his face, stopping on the eyes and bags under them. He presses his lips together slightly and frowns in disapproval.

 

Just what the fuck.

 

“What, there’s honour in mafia business?” Kurapika gnaws, to scared to accept that he’d believe him more than he would ever believe Zenji.

 

“More than you think,” Kuroro nods, his thumb gently tracing the skin of Kurapika’s hand. He doesn’t know if it really tingles there in or it’s just his frazzled imagination. “He’s not worth it, Kurapika,” he says quietly, eyes sad, like a requiem. “Believe me, if it wasn’t for our sources your whole department would be in flames right now, along with many others.”

 

“Why not submit him to the authorities?” he almost whispers, finally letting go of the papers.

 

Kuroro chuckles and looks down, and Kurapika won’t ever admit that the tug in his belly is of disappointment.

 

“You’re forgetting the essential,” he says, eyes quickly running down the reports, disinterested. He closes the file quickly and puts it back in Kurapika’s hand, looking up again. “We are the authorities.”

 

There’s a vile noise behind Kuroro’s back, and Kurapika jerks his head only for his chin to be captured between the man’s thumb and index finger. Kurapika’s eyes widen, whole body frozen and heart thumping like a motherfucker against his ribs.

 

“I’m sorry, Kurapika, but it’s for the best.”

 

That’s it. He’s gonna murder him. Snap his neck, Crack his ribs, shoot him with a gun — whatever. Kurapika’s going to lose his life to the beast in disguise so divine it’s hardly believable.

 

He presses his lips together tight and fights an urge to close his eyes, tired brown irises boring daringly into the tender darkness of the other man’s grey eyes.

 

Something heavy hits Kurapika on the back of his head just a moment before his body goes limp in Kuroro’s arms.

Chapter Text

The moment Dalzollene tells him that Squala can’t go and Kurapika has to replace her, he just knows they’re going to meet again tonight.

 

Kurapika was surprised to wake up after the last time fate thought bringing them together would be a nice idea. He was at the hospital, having nothing but a big bruise just below the crown of his head and an order to take a week off, because apparently, he almost died of exhaustion and stress. Pretty good for someone who’s been bitching in the face of The Phantom Troupe leader’s.

 

His boss is presumably dead, his body nowhere to be found, and his only remnant is a viciously amputated hand that was put to lay gracelessly on his table. Going back to Kurapika, Melody found his body in the bathroom, the idea of him collapsing of total sleep-deprivation and hitting his head was too good to consider him somehow involved in the whole Spider business, they didn’t even run an expertise. Extremely clean work, even Kurapika himself started doubting the whole situation and considering hallucinations again.

 

Which was good, because at some point, all his thoughts after returning home from the hospital were fixed on the fact that he didn’t even have a chance to feel ashamed for his behavior on the night of Neon’s birthday. Stupid, he though, cheeks tinted red with embarrassment, because he did feel ashamed for weeks after that, unwanted memories of Kuroro’s hands on his body, the press of his face against his neck, the sound of his name rolling off the Spider’s tongue haunting him on a daily basis. The kiss he stole after sneaking a glance at his soul.

 

Kuroro makes him ridiculously frustrated, and Kurapika hates it with every fiber of his being.

 

He also hates that he knows too damn well it wasn’t a hallucination. He doesn’t even remember going to the bathroom. The scenario is too perfect to be true. Too clean, too considerate. His world doesn’t work like that.

 

And tonight, there’s no way Kurapika’s not seeing him again. The infamous New York underground auction is a Satan’s party, and Kurapika wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Kuroro’s the kapellmeister.

 

It’s almost a tradition for their department to attend it, only to ensure that everyone’s safe and no one’s gonna die at some point. Of course, most wanted criminals would make it happen anyways, but it’s an unspoken rule for federals to be present as well. Good thing not everyone knows who they are — but the heads certainly do. The authorities.

 

Kurapika almost shudders at the memory.

 

He puts on his black suit, pins a white rose to his lapel along with a number — 404 — and even decides to wear the ruby earring Neon gave him for his 21st birthday. He likes it, although it’s a little too extravagant for him to wear on a daily basis. He tells himself he’s not excited, not the least bit, but his pink cheeks and glimmering eyes as he takes a look at himself in the mirror prove him wrong. Stupid. He better not notice you. And you shouldn’t even think of noticing him. Don’t fuck this up, you have no right to.

 

It’s still a mystery why he’s fucking alive though. This thought does things to him, things even more concerning then the memories of Kuroro’s scent clouding Kurapika’s head.

 

***

 

Kurapika asks Basho for a cigarette before they enter the auction hall. He smokes it, ignoring everyone’s surprised looks, and then asks for another one. Basho laughs at him but gives it anyway, telling him they’re going to wait for him inside.

 

A feeling of wrong doesn’t let go of Kurapika, his whole body buzzing with electricity. It began blossoming somewhere around his abdomen in the car, and at first he blamed it on the unwillingness to join a party hosted by world’s most ruthless murderers and thieves, but now it’s more like a warning. An omen. A very bad one, rottenly so.

 

Kurapika grimaces and takes another drag, struggling to shake off the feeling, dark and sticky, poisoning the cells of his skin, making its surface tingle unpleasantly. He tries to pay attention to his surroundings — dark sky with bruises of purple and pink, cold air, windy and fresh, what feels like thousands of cars pulling in and out. He can’t focus on anything in particular, what has to be a connected flow of the city around him comes in frozen frames to him, a cheap, ragged narration. Poor contact with reality, his mind supplies, as his good friend Leorio told him once. Nothing’s anchoring him, nothing brings him back to earth.

 

“Hello, gorgeous.”

 

Kurapika almost flinches at the unfamiliar voice, jerking his head. Meeting a pair of blue eyes, he cringes involuntarily, unable to keep his face calm and collected due to an immense level of stress. The ash burns his fingers, the cigarette almost finished.

 

“No,” he says, shaking his head and closing his eyes. He feels properly sick now, what the fuck.

 

The man is persistent.

 

“Why so rude—“

 

“I said no, goddamnit,” Kurapika snarls, looking him in the face. He’s pretty, but nothing more — blue eyes, blonde hair, tattoos on his neck, peeking out of the white collar of his shirt. Nothing sparks joy in the man’s appearance, especially the way his face starts reddening in anger.

 

“Boy, do you have any idea—“

 

“Of what? Who you are?” Kurapika chuckles, absent-minded again, wishing he’d had a chewing gum or a mint. Or another cigarette. “Couldn’t give less shit, man, fuck right off. I’m not interested.”

 

He turns to leave, but a hand wraps around his wrist, and Kurapika doesn’t know why he’s so surprised. He scowls, fisting both hands, and right when he’s ready to give up on his responsibilities as a head detective, a trace of very familiar cologne fills up his lungs as Kurapika catches a glimpse of a dark silhouette right behind him. 

 

Finally.

 

Fucking...finally.

 

Kurapika will not admit it, even under a gun pressed against his throat, but he’s been waiting to meet him again, too weak to throw off the strings of electricity sending impulses of excitement and greed through the parts of his body despite the nagging feeling of an inevitable disaster. Maybe that is what’s a disaster. Maybe the prosecution is directed at no one else but Kurapika, maybe something terrible he can sense on the tip of his nose is based entirely on his own fate. 

 

“Good evening,” he hears Kuroro’s voice around his right side, and this moment is an advantage he uses to turn and sprain the blond man’s wrist with as much power as he has, which is not a lot, but still something.

 

“Touch me again and I’ll push your dick so far up your ass you’ll feel it in your fucking throat,” he sputters, staring at him right in the eyes. He knows he’s not looking like a big threat, because he isn’t one, and he surely does not want to think about the way Kuroro’s presence makes him feel safer than he was before, but it still does. And it feels good. Even though he can’t be sure that Kuroro won’t punch him in the face right now because the guy would turn out to be his mafia friend or something.

 

And of course, due to Kurapika’s poor people-reading skills, Kuroro does nothing like that.

 

He smiles politely at the guy and nods, hands linked behind his back, shoulders wide and head help up high.

 

“The bid’s about to begin, Puff,” he says, voice too sweet, and that’s the first wrong thing Kurapika notices about him, straightening up. Kuroro’s voice has never been schmaltzy before, and in his eyes have never held a shadow. Talk about bad omens. “Go find your seat before it’s too late.”

 

Guy frowns, throwing daggers at both of them, but obeys. Kurapika turns fully to look at Kuroro, but then remembers that he has places to be. Anywhere but here, morbid longing threatening to bottle him up and never let go. 

 

“I, uh, I have to go, too,” he says, making an attempt to retreat, but unsuccessfully. For the first time ever, Kuroro looks angry as he steps forward, blocking Kurapika’s way. 

 

“Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing,” he mutters in his ear, pulling him close, hand snaking around Kurapika’s back, making the motion much more intimate than it should be. “You’re—Jesus, you’re a menace,” and then he starts walking away from the building, dragging Kurapika with him. 

 

“What the fuck,” Kurapika swears, trying to pull away, but Kuroro doesn’t let him. “What—“

 

“You shouldn’t even have been here, in the first place,” he snarls back, eyes on the street in front of them.

 

“Well, I have a job to do,” Kurapika hisses, still pushing the man’s body away, but following him nevertheless. “Care to explain what’s going on? Or maybe you could knock me out again, would be easier.”

 

“I’ve already apologized and also told you it was for your own good—“

 

“I thought you were going to kill me!”

 

“Well, I certainly was not,” Kuroro tsks , opening the door of a black Jeep and trying to pull Kurapika in. “Kurapika, please, get into the car.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere until you—“

 

“I’ll explain as we go, just get into the car. I’m not joking,” he says seriously, the height difference between them now extremely occurring. “You know you can trust me. We have to leave, immediately.”

 

Kurapika swallows hard, suddenly extremely aware of who the man in front of him is. But at the same time, he knows too damn well that he literally saved his life twice (and a half), and if he meant any harm, his body would already be cold, lifeless and unmoving in the local morgue. He blinks and sits down, fastening the seatbelt angrily. The thought of calling his team doesn’t even occur to him, they’d be apart the whole evening anyway, positions in the area thoroughly specific. 

 

Kuroro gets in the car a mere seconds later, closing the door loudly and turning the engine on.

 

“Where are we going?” Kurapika asks once again, not ready to give up yet.

 

“I’m talking you home,” Kuroro answers, unblocking his phone. “Is there anyone else from your team who shouldn’t had gone but came nonetheless?”

 

“What? No, everyone else is on the list,” Kurapika says, realizing that his name is probably not. His eyes widen when he understands that they’re actually leaving. “Wait, no, I changed my mind, let me—“

 

“Paku,” Kuroro barks out, when a woman’s voice answers the phone almost immediately. “Are you still there? Good, I need you to get all the federals out of there, now,” he says, eyes on the road, shiny and dark. “No, I’m in the car. Yes. Perhaps,” he drawls, voice firm. Kurapika studies his face shamelessly, pooling in red and pink transparent lights of cars in front of them. “Thank you. Bye.”

 

Kurapika looks away, crossing his hands over his chest. 

 

“What’s the point of it all anyway? Why not let me leave with my team?” 

 

“The auction is a trap. All the guests are going to be dead by the end of the night.”

 

What? ” Kurapika yelps, throwing his hands up. “Stop the car, we have to—“

 

“Your friends are going to be safe, you heard me,” Kuroro’s tone is patient but hissy, his upper lip twitching.

 

”Do you really think I’ll trust you? You’re a criminal, you don’t—“

 

”Kurapika, I promise you, your friends are safe, you just did them a huge favour by leaving with me this fast,” Kuroro grimaces contemptuously. 

 

“But the others—“

 

“Are none of your concern.”

 

“You sick fuck,” Kurapika spits out, turning away again, hands in fists. He’s almost fidgeting at his seat, body tensed, stiff as he refuses to accept his uselessness. 

 

He hears a raw chuckle escape Kuroro’s lips and throws a glance at his long pale fingers gripping the steering wheel, knuckles white. There’s no way Kurapika could do anything but accidentally kill them both. There’s no way Kurapika’s going to admit that he trusts the man completely. 

 

“The fuck you so mad at,” he demands, shaking with blind rage as he realizes he’s in no position to do anything right now. 

 

“You know what I absolutely cannot comprehend? How are you still fucking alive,” the road takes an abrupt turn, and Kurapika lets out a surprised breath. “What in the hell were you thinking, attending an event like that?”

 

“Well excuse me for not being informed of a massacre you’ve been planning to perform tonight!” Kurapika yells back, desperate. “As I said, I was trying to do my job!”

 

“Not me, and yet, you could’ve—“

 

“You’re not going to tell me what’s going on, yeah?”

 

“Correct,” Kuroro’s words cut the air like a knife.

 

“Let me guess, for my own good?”

 

“Precisely.”

 

“Why do you even care so much, huh? Want to dick me down so bad?”

 

“Would you be fucking opposed?”

 

“I sure would not!” Kurapika’s voice a proper scream now, face red and head near boiling.

 

“You have absolutely zero self-preservation instinct, do you,” Kuroro mutters, the car going nearly as fast as Kurapika’s heartbeat.

 

“As you successfully pointed out, I’m still not dead,” Kurapika argues, seeing red.

 

“Good fucking God, Kurapika, you are absolutely,” the car stops abruptly, and it takes him a moment to realize they’re at his parking lot, “fucking insufferable.”

 

With a swift movement he didn’t expect he’d manage, having already thrown off the seatbelts, Kurapika climbs right into Kuroro’s lap, connecting their lips in a rough kiss, reeking of resentment, anger and desperation.

 

Before he can thoroughly realize what he’s doing, there are hands on the back of his thighs, spreading them even more apart and making the angle more comfortable to press their bodies closer together. Kurapika shivers at the touch, arching obediently, like a string under a bow, and Kuroro’s fingers press firmer into the soft skin, drawing out a whimper Kurapika’s too turned on to fight.

 

He bites Kuroro’s bottom lip in return, feeling the man’s chest flinch, and runs his fingers up his shoulders, stopping one hand on the curve of the man’s heated neck as the other one clenches in a fist, handful of soft, thick hair at the nape of the Spider’s head. He tugs ruthlessly, deepening the kiss, drinking up Kuroro’s hot breath, their tongues moving in unison, mirroring each other’s movements like flies above a burning candle, and right when Kurapika’s ready to give up and take a breath, a strong wave of light forces them apart.

 

Both of their heads jerk towards its source in sync, but only for a second. The next moment they look at each other again, no need for words in heated blurred gazes, and Kuroro opens the door of his car. Kurapika slips out of it, not giving a shit about the impression he’s about to give to his neighbour who’s just pulled in, knees wobbly and body suddenly cold, arousal heavy at the pit of his stomach.

 

Throat dry, he swallows and reaches out a hand, almost frowning when Kuroro’s palm grabs it a second too late. Without sparing a glance at him, Kurapika starts marching towards his door, cheeks red with overwhelming intensity of his lust, the sound of their quick steps impossibly loud in the silence of the night.

 

He has no idea how they managed to reach the front door without devouring each other halfway, because the moment after Kurapika steps inside, his back is slammed against the door, and he’s pulled into another a kiss so fierce and feverishly raw that the air slips away from his lungs in no time.

 

Kurapika throws his hands up to grab the lapels of Kuroro’s suit, curving his spine to connect their bodies. An arm slides under his own jacket to press into the flat of his lower back, the other one gripping his side somehow gently, but Kurapika’s far too hyper, body literally vibrating with need, it sure’s gonna bruise in a few hours, and just thinking about that, thinking of wearing the marks Kuroro’d leave on his body, blooming purples, and blues, and bright pink, makes Kurapika moan, eyes tightly shut. Kuroro doesn’t let the opportunity slip, finally in control of the kiss, licking into Kurapika’s mouth with a swift kind of force, and it must be the lack of air in his head, but with every other heartbeat Kurapika’s connection to the real world seems to get weaker and weaker. It’s dark and loud in this current state of mind, the rush of blood in his ears, its pressure in his cheeks, the thumps of his heart against Kuroro’s rib cage far too overwhelming.

 

He breaks the kiss with a broken gasp when Kuroro slips his leg between Kurapika’s thighs, tracing his cock faintly, and then hot wet lips are on his chin, on his jaw, on his neck.

 

“Shit,” Kurapika hisses hoarsely when Kuroro starts nibbling on the skin behind his ear, and the man stops for a second, letting out a sweet breath that burns the spot, wet with saliva.

 

“Sensitive, aren’t we,” he murmurs, his voice low and croaky, rough around the edges.

 

“Fuck you,” Kurapika manages, the sound of Kuroro’s voice turning him on ridiculously so, his hands finally pulling off Kuroro’s tux.

 

“ ‘M trying to, beautiful,” Kuroro mutters, and Kurapika barely has time to answer before Kuroro presses him back against himself, increasing the friction between their groins.

 

Kurapika’s whine comes out ridiculously high-pitched and choked as he unsuccessfully tries to bite it back, clenching Kuroro’s hair again in his fist. The man’s quick, clever fingers are already untucking his shirt and slipping under it, the touch of his palm against Kurapika’s bare skin making its way straight to his aching cock, while his teeth and lips still abuse the skin of Kurapika’s neck, as he, frustrated and angry, pulls Kuroro’s head back by the hair, finally drawing out a heavy shudder, and forces their lips together again, rubbing up against Kuroro, dick painfully hard.

 

Although it’s clearly not what he needs, it still feels good as hell, and Kuroro seems to sense it, because he begins grinding his hips against Kurapika’s, still kissing him eagerly. Kurapika loses himself to Kuroro’s profound touches, palms now running up the curve of his spine, his back and shoulder blades, and the press of his body, moving in gradual waves, is too perfect, rhythmical and strong enough to make him drop his head back in pleasure, banging it against the door. Unable to control himself anymore, he lets his whines and moans fill the room, Kuroro’s stupid mouth on his neck again, kissing, and biting, and licking, and with a heavy shudder, Kurapika lets go, eyes tightly shut and mouth agape, Kuroro’s hands caressing his sides. He feels Kuroro straightening up and allows his head fall onto his shoulder, cheeks red with embarrassment, breaths coming out uneven, brokenly so.

 

Kurapika wonders what kind of force pushed him in this frustratingly pathetic position. He blames it on the lack of sex in his life for the past eighteen months or so. 

 

“God you sound delightful,” Kuroro murmurs in his ear, nose buried in Kurapika’s sweaty hair, and his blush intensifies against his will. Kuroro somehow feels it, because he shifts back and cups his cheek tenderly, forcing his head up. Kurapika refuses to look at him, still coming back to his senses. “There’s no need to feel embarrassed, dear.”

 

“Easy to say when you’re not the one who just came in their pants like a teenager,” he mumbles, bitter but not really.

 

Kuroro chuckles softly, and Kurapika finally looks at him, surprised to see hear fondness filling the sound. His heart swells when he sees Kuroro like that, hair disheveled, lips dark and bitten, big eyes shining even in the darkness of the room. How can he say he’s beautiful with a face like that, Kurapika wonders vaguely, scared to blurt out something even more humiliating.

 

“You’re adorable,” Kuroro says, crinkles forming in the corners of his eyes when he smiles at Kurapika almost lovingly.

 

“While it sure was a lovely experience,” Kurapika manages weakly, chest too heavy and head clouded with thoughts he doesn’t want to admit especially to himself, “are you actually planning to put your dick in me or what?”

 

“You still want to?”

 

“I think we’ve already had this conversation,” Kuroro frowns for a moment, and when realization hits him, Kurapika’s cheeks are already darker than a pomegranate.

 

“I thought you didn’t remember that night.”

 

“Sadly, I do.”

 

“You were drunk, Kurapika. I didn’t think—“

 

“Oh come on, like fuck you don’t know I want you,” Kurapika rolls his eyes, angry again. “I mean, look at yourself.”

 

“Wasn’t it the, ah, knowing literature for you?” Kuroro teases, his thumbs stroking Kurapika’s soft love handles.

 

“You’re so full of shit,” Kurapika informs him, unwillingly melting into the touch, his own hands resting on the man’s forearms. “If you don’t want to, just—“

 

Kuroro reaches out to take Kurapika’s hand in his and guides it down, face unreadable but eyes glistening with a chain of devils around grey irises, to place on his bulge, noticeably hard. Kurapika’s breath hitches in his throat.

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yes. Oh. Now, if—“

 

But Kurapika’s faster that time, connecting their lips and pushing Kuroro back towards the bedroom. This kiss is different, still firm and passionate, yet slow, like a...like a first kiss between two people who finally allow themselves to indulge in it. Kurapika has always had a hard time accepting that he’s wanted, and this time is no different. But he wants to. For certain, it’s the the strongest desire to be wanted back he’s ever felt. 

 

The evidence of Kurapika’s own eagerness is running down his thighs, and although he knows the timing is really bad and the last thing he wants to is stop feeling Kuroro’s mouth on his, but some people might be grossed out at a sight of pants full of come.

 

“Wait,” Kurapika drawls, voice small. “Wait, my pants are messy, I need to—“

 

Kuroro rolls his eyes pointedly and kisses him again, throwing Kurapika’s jacket off and beginning to undo the buttons of his shirt. It vanishes quickly too, leaving Kurapika shivering until he’s laid down on the bed, Kuroro’s body covering his much smaller frame. Kurapika cups the man’s warm cheeks with both hands, breathing into his mouth, as his fingers trace bare chest, his ribcage and belly to stop to unzip his pants. The moment they’re gone, Kuroro’s lips on Kurapika’s are too as he straightens back to tug the last articles of Kurapika’s clothing off and stare down at his naked body.

 

Kurapika feels his cheeks heating up again and he tsks irritatedly, looking at the ceiling. 

 

“Yeah, right, I’m a mess,” he grumbles, crossing his hands on his chest, humiliated. 

 

“You have no idea how hot you look like this, don’t you,” Kuroro’s words make him look back at the man, who’s gaze runs down his body with something in his eyes Kurapika identifies as...admiration. He knows he’s too skinny, too short, his stomach is too hollow, ribs and clavicles too sharp, arms and legs ridiculously thin, and seeing a man like Kuroro look at him like that is...odd. “And all for me,” he murmurs before leaning in to capture Kurapika’s lips into his, seemingly as into kissing as Kurapika is. 

 

His fingers coil around his slim wrists, pulling them apart and pressing against the sheets as the kiss breaks and Kuroro’s mouth begins traveling down Kurapika’s neck, leaving new hickeys right next to the already blooming ones. He doesn’t stop there as Kurapika shudders, dick getting hard again, proceeding to kiss his collarbones, his chest, his nipple, drawing out a pant, and then he lets go of Kurapika’s wrists only to wrap his palms around his upper thighs, signaling him to bend his knees.

 

Kuroro’s face is now situated comfortably between Kurapika’s legs, and this is probably one of the hottest things Kurapika has ever seen, although he’s received plenty of heads by plenty of pretty faces. The said pretty face winks at him mischievously before kissing the inside of Kurapika’s left thigh. When he sticks his tongue out, eyes not leaving Kurapika’s, and slowly begins to lick his come off the skin, Kurapika’s eyes widen, dick twitching immediately at the sight.

 

Kuroro laughs, his breath scorching the wet spot and sending a shiver through his whole body.

 

“Motherfucker,” Kurapika moans, head falling back on the pillows, arching when the tongue proceeds to lick, painfully close to his cock but not touching it the least bit. He feels cold when one of the hands leave his skin but a moment later it’s on his dick, stroking it gradually and spreading precome all over its length. Be bites his lip in order to shut up, fingers clenching the sheets, and the timing is excellent, because the next thing he knows, the hand is gone and is replaced by lips that swallow him down thoroughly.

 

Kurapika’s breath hitches in his throat, eyes widen, and if it wasn’t for Kuroro’s strong grip, he’d probably choke him with a buckle of his hips.

 

It feels amazing. Kuroro sure knows what he’s doing when he relaxes his throat before the tip of Kurapika’s cock touches the back of it, and slowly begins fucking his mouth onto it, dark hair cascading down over his tattoo. The sight is so pretty it almost makes Kurapika come when he dares to look down again, and when he thinks of who this man is, he knows he might be sick, because there’s no other explanation for getting more aroused at the thought of having the leader of the most dangerous criminal enterprise of the World between his legs.

 

Kuroro lets go if his dick, stroking it twice, before swallowing it again, but this time Kurapika feels fingers caressing his crease still covered in come from earlier.

 

He slams his hand against his mouth when he realizes he’s about to be opened up with his own come as lube.

 

He tries to relax when he feels Kuroro’s slick fingers at his entrance, bowing his back, but not really succeeding at the first part. His chest is trembling, going up and down too fast, heart almost breaking out through his ribs when Kuroro starts pushing, lips still moving. Kurapika doesn’t even feel the burn of the stretch because of the pleasure of getting sucked off, and when he thinks of himself like that, exposed under knowing lips and fingers, he can’t help but moan into the palm of his hand, eyes tightly shut.

 

“Won’t you at least let me hear your pretty voice?” Kuroro says, sounding hoarse, lips and cheeks rosy red when Kurapika looks down.

 

“No,” Kurapika pants, trying to catch his breath, forehead sweaty and vision blurry. “It’s embarrassing when you...when do what you do.”

 

Kuroro chuckles.

 

“I rather like it.”

 

“You like to embarrass me?”

 

“I like to hear you moan for me.”

 

Kurapika sucks in a breath, refusing to let go of himself completely.

 

“Okay,” Kuroro drawls, voice dangerously mellow. “I see.”

 

“Wh— ah fuck !”

 

Kuroro slides the second finger in him, not quite hitting the precious spot, but the sudden pain mixed up with bliss does its job. Following the rhythm of his thrusts, Kuroro proceeds moving his mouth on his dick, and it’s almost too much for Kurapika to bare. He puts his hand back against his lips just to be a little shit, but right after it, Kuroro finds the spot, and Kurapika absolutely loses it, twisting his thighs and curving his back at an intense angle, and lets out a strangled sound so deep and loud it doesn’t even belong to his voice.

 

“There you go, beautiful,” Kuroro says, voice sore like a wheeze, and Kurapika realized he must’ve hit him in the back of his throat with such a reaction.

 

“God, ah-are you hurt,” Kurapika asks , almost wishing he didn’t.

 

“ ‘M fine,” he chuckles, kissing his thigh. “No harm done.”

 

“That’s unfortunate.”

 

Kuroro hums, shifting a little before guiding his fingers out and pushing them in again, and this time Kurapika manages to relax a little bit.

 

“Good boy.”

 

Kurapika doesn’t have a chance to bite back, because the tingling wave of pleasure hits him again, and again, and again, until he’s a shivering, panting mess, fingers clutching the sheets, fat tears in the corners of his eyes.

 

“Fuck, Kuro— oh !” he doesn’t even try stopping himself anymore, has no motivation to. “More, pl— fuck , please!”

 

“Tell me what you need, Kurapika,” he asks, scissoring his fingers.

 

“God I hate you so much—“

 

“I don’t think so,” Kuroro drawls,  aiming to miss the spot.

 

“One more,” he sputters, swallowing a pant.

 

“One more what?”

 

“Fuck you, another finger, I need another one of your goddamn fingers!”

 

And your mouth back on my dick , Kurapika thinks, but doesn’t have time to say as the third finger enters him, painfully slow, and the stretch is so good he closes his eyes, pressing his head against his own shoulder.

 

“Good?” Kuroro asks, curling them inside him, and Kurapika answers with another sob, tears now running down his heated cheeks.

 

His dick is already insanely hard, leaking onto his stomach, and when Kuroro takes it into his mouth again, Kurapika knows he’s on the edge. He clenches his teeth and tries to calm down, but with another press against his prostate he loses it, sobbing and whimpering wetly.

 

“If yuh-you don’t want me tut-to come like this,” he stops to gain at least a little control over his body, at least to finish the sentence he’s started, “you gotta stop right now,” he blurts out, but Kuroro doesn’t stop.

 

Instead, he continues sucking and pushing, free hand gripping Kurapika’s thigh encouragingly, leading him to his second orgasm, and Kurapika can only envy his stamina, because in a few moments he comes again, harder than the first time, right into Kuroro’s relaxed throat.

 

He doesn’t see stars, he sees nothing — darkness, black and heavy, empty yet filled up with pleasure, relief and something else he can’t really identify, something greater than all the words he knows, yet knowing of the things he’s felt.

 

He feels Kuroro let his softened dick out of his lips and remembers that he still exists, that he’s still there, in his bedroom, with a man who screams trouble, who screams no, never, not in a million years.

 

Kurapika shudders at the feeling of emptiness as the fingers are gone, but manages to pull himself up, head spinning. He shifts, pressing his knees into the mattress and putting his hands on Kuroro’s shoulders as the other man watches him with intense eyes, his chest heavy like Kurapika’s, chin covered in spit and come, and Kurapika leans in to lick it, Kuroro’s rough moan lost in his lips.

 

Kurapika has never tasted himself like this before, but although it’s kind of odd, it makes things to him he doesn’t really understand. Halfway into another make out session, Kurapika realizes that Kuroro’s still fully dressed. Fingers finally steady, Kurapika begins undressing him, revealing a body to die for as the shirt comes off first, shoulders covered in pale freckles, a tattoo of a spider above his right bicep.

 

Kurapika traces it with his thumb, pressing their foreheads together, and for a few moments they just stare at each other while he works on Kuroro’s belt and zipper.

 

“Do you still want it?” the Spider’s breath is hot on Kurapika’s cheek, lips a heartbeat away from his own.

 

“What makes you think I don’t?”

 

“Just making sure.”

 

“And I’ve been told I think too much, tough guy,” Kurapika smiles with his real smile this time, the one he misses every day, the one he used to have many years ago, when he still had things to smile at. He really doesn’t want to make it dramatic, but he does think too much.

 

“I’m the opposite of tough,” Kuroro smiles back, and this time, Kurapika finally believes that it’s fondness and admiration that light up the man’s every feature.

 

He thinks he could get used to it.

 

No, it’s really awful timing. Awful timing, awful choice, awful fucking person. Who looks like a daydream and treats him better that every single guy he’s been with, every single guy without a sea of blood on their hands.

 

“You are,” he agrees, pressing a kiss against Kuroro’s cross tattoo and guiding him up to peel off his trousers and underwear. It takes him a moment to assess the situation. “Lube, top drawer,” he orders, knees already weak at the size of Kuroro’s cock. “There’s no way that thing’s gonna fit into my ass without it.”

 

“I could get myself off while you—“

 

“Tempting, for sure, but maybe next time. Top drawer, please,” Kurapika repeats, straddling Kuroro’s hips, hands on his shoulders. He wants to leave a kiss on each and every freckle, scattered on soft milky skin like stars in the night sky in July. Like specs of black in Kuroro’s eyes. He doesn’t think of the way his heart swells when a small smile crawls to the corners of Kuroro’s lips when he mentioned their next time.

 

“You know, you turn more and more polite after each orgasm,” he says, handing him the bottle.

 

“It’s called character development,” Kurapika retorts, coating his fingers with the liquid and reaching out to stroke Kuroro’s dick, slicking it thoroughly. The way Kuroro hisses, his hold on Kurapika’s sides growing stronger, sounds like winning, but Kurapika doesn’t grin. He can’t believe he’s able to get hard again in such little time, he’s not a horny teenager, and yet. Here they are.

 

He almost throws the bottle away, but Kuroro’s fingers on his wrist stop him.

 

“No, yourself, too.”

 

Kurapika arches his eyebrow.

 

“I don’t want to hurt you, not like that,” the man explains, and everything in his eyes screams control, although any other man in his shoes would’ve been fucking the shit out of Kurapika. Thrice. Never has anyone ever been so considerate with him, and as Kurapika freezes to get used to the realization, Kuroro takes the bottle.

 

“I’m not—“

 

“Yeah, not fragile, I know,” Kuroro sighs, pushing him up so he’s standing on his knees, hovering above Kuroro. “I like it rough too, beautiful, but this is not negotiable. I’m not hurting you like that.”

 

Kurapika, for the first time in many years, finds himself at a loss for words. He lets Kuroro’s lubricated fingers slide inside him once more, until the man is satisfied with the condition, but his words are still echoing in Kurapika’s head. It’s no big deal, of course, people are different, but for Kurapika, of all men he’s ever fucked, hell, he’s ever felt attracted to, this one is by far the most frustratingly...endearing, for reasons he doesn’t understand. It’s probably because Kuroro’s like that with everyone, so nice and polite, sans the terrorism part, of course, but it’s hard to remember it. Kurapika still gives himself a mental slap, because he knows he should, but not for the first time this evening, his heart aches to do so. He could be starting to develop something, and it can’t be good. For someone who shouldn’t have been even a one-night option, anything else is something Kurapika can’t and won’t afford. He can already feel the sounds of a shattering life, let alone heart, and he can sense such things with immense precision.

 

But he’s also a well-known fuckup of a person, so instead of kicking Kuroro out right now, he shifts back and takes a hold of his cock, positioning himself right above the tip, his free hand in the center of Kuroro’s chest, his heartbeat echoing against Kurapika’s fingertips.

 

He lowers himself down in one swift motion, head dropping down onto Kuroro’s shoulder, tears prickling in the corners of his eyes at the sudden pain, whole lower body numb.

 

Kuroro’s moan is lovely, it’s quiet and raw, like a lot of things about him. He buries his head in the crook of Kurapika’s shoulder, palms gripping his hips, steady and firm, breathing deep and burning, like a glimmer of a dying star. Kurapika grasps his hair in his fingers, eyes closed and stomach trembling, tensed like an orchestra before the play’s final part.

 

The world freezes. They breathe in unison.

 

And Kurapika begins to move.

 

The feeling is nothing he thought it would be like, filling him up to the point of no return and tearing him apart at the same time. With the help of Kuroro’s strong arms, he draws perfect ellipses with the roll of his hips, adjusting to the size inside him and creating his own pace, sweat forming on the top of his temple. To say it hurts like a motherfucker would be quite meaningless, but with the right amount of lube, dripping out of him along with Kuroro’s precome, the slide is smooth, even as he fails to stop clenching around the length. Soon enough he bows his back, tilting his head, and with another thrust the spot he’s been aching to find is hit, making Kurapika sob desperately, nails digging into Kuroro’s skin.

 

Kurapika,” his voice is like a magnet, like the moon above the ocean, like pure lust, all for him. For Kurapika’s ears to hear. He almost laughs at the irony.

 

“Tell me,” he groans instead, rocking higher than he did before and sitting all the way down, gasping. “Tell me how I feel.”

 

“Divine,” Kuroro chokes, kissing the vein on his neck, palm caressing the skin of his back. “You’re divine, Kurapika,” he repeats, making him move even more eagerly, pain no longer a filter but a catalyst. “You’re taking me so well, princelet.”

 

“Good fucking God,” he swallows down a whimper, now riding Kuroro all the way, fucking himself on to his dick ruthlessly, tears dry on his neck.

 

Kuroro takes a hold of his ass, gradual thrusts meeting his thighs halfway, hitting Kurapika’s pleasure point with each motion; their moans, and pants, and wet, dirty sounds filling up the air. The room feels too small for them, the world too overwhelmingly narrow for everything Kurapika feels right now.

 

“Just how tight you are, fuck,” Kuroro murmurs, voice shaky. “So tight, and good, and hot—all for me,” Kurapika moans at the words, ass clinging greedily as he rocks back and forth, trying to take in every inch, as deep as possible, trying to be good, good as he already is.

 

His thighs are shaking, as if on fire, and his chest is threateningly empty, as small, shallow breaths he manages to take are not nearly enough. His head begins spinning, fingers trembling in Kuroro’s hair, but he keeps pushing, core rock-solid, lips bitten red and eyes almost black. His own dick is twitching painfully between their bodies, reacting to every thrust, every touch and pull.

 

When Kurapika cries out again, out of breath completely, Kuroro lunges forward to kiss him, and this gives him a chance to flip him over, wrapping long lean legs around his waist as he settles down between them, nearly pulling out of Kurapika’s swollen rim. He hits again in no time, full-force, drawing out a shocked gasp, nails leaving long red traces on Kuroro’s back curved above the smaller body. The slapping sounds go erratic as Kuroro pounds into Kurapika, and his mantra is nothing but a choked, whiny mess of curses and Kuroro’s name, over and over, like it’s the only thing that matters.

 

At the sight of the mess he’s made out of the younger man and due to probably the longest intercourse he’s ever had, Kuroro comes first, filling him up and crying out hoarsely, but he doesn’t stop, even as his dick grows soft, clenched in Kurapika’s sweet silky heat. His eyes are shiny with tears, gaze nearly unconscious, he’d come from one touch to his dick, but the greedy, selfish need to feel Kuroro fucking his own come inside him with filthy loud noises just for a little bit longer won’t let him. He doesn’t feel his body anymore, he doesn’t feel the sheets, the pain, or remember his own fucking name due to exhaustion, and when he finally reaches his orgasm, looking right into Kuroro’s eyes millimeters away from his face, he sees an explosion of a supernova, and his last thought before blacking out, is that the explosion was the reflection of his own eyes.

Chapter Text

Kurapika parks the car in front of the library.

 

The case he’s been working on over the past two weeks led him here, where he expects another burglary to happen in the shortest amount of time. The last one took away four family members of a large vintage art gallery business, and the most expensive part of their collection, three gems that once belonged to the crown of Arnulf of Carinthia, the Carolingian king of the late ninth century. The other incidents also ended up with ruthless murders and many stolen items, including gems — rubies, which is more important, and this particular library holds a one of a kind edition of Divina Comedia, its cover decorated with four thumb-nail sized stones. The book is priceless.

 

And there are two silhouettes making their way towards the back entry, according to Kurapika’s layouts of the building.

 

“Hey!” he shouts, getting out of the car. “Shit.”

 

Basho is already ahead of him, approaching the pair with quick steps.

 

“Are you police officers?” the first figure speaks, and as Kurapika moves closer, he sees that it’s a short girl in thick black glasses, black turtleneck and black pants, her shoulder length black hair a little disheveled. She looks properly scared. He frowns.

 

The other one is a tall man, very pale, red hair styled up somehow obnoxiously, and he’s wearing a pink vest with suits of a deck of cards — a heart and a club, both embroidered in gold on his chest. His face is absolutely blank.

 

“Do you need us to be police officers, ma’am?” Basho asks the girl, and she throws a sideways glance at the red haired man; he shrugs, nodding.

 

“Sir, we’re not sure, but we think we heard something in the basement,” she says. “We—“

 

“She’s probably wrong,” the man says, shifting his weight from standing on both legs to one and crossing his hands on his chest a little irritatedly, “and there’s nothing to worry about. We didn’t see anyone on cameras.”

 

“Well—,” she scowls at him, and Basho, ever tactful, holds his hand up.

 

“Miss, let me go check with you if it makes you feel safer, and you, mister..?”

 

“Penber,” the redhead drawls, sighing. “Raye Penber.”

 

“Mister Penber, you can stay with Mister Kurta while we’re gone.”

 

Kurapika nods, still tensed. He’ll be glad to be mistaken, but something in the pit of his stomach still screams trouble. And his body’s usually great about this sort of things. Omens.

 

He presses his lips together tight, watching Basho leave with the girl. He hopes no one’s at the basement right now, it would be weird for the thieves to leave the girl and the guy alive if they were to break in already; he sincerely hopes that they will just talk this through and place a team of security guards to watch the place for a while, without any blood and...murder.

 

Kurapika notices a shift in the man’s statue with the corner of his eye and snaps his swimming eyes together, looking at him, only to notice that he’s staring right back, eyebrows a little furrowed.

 

“Mister Kurta,” he mutters, a smile making its way on his long face, goldishly-green eyes scanning his face greedily. “Please pardon my rude, your name sounds familiar.”

 

“I’m sure we’ve never met, Mister Penber,” Kurapika says, arching an eyebrow. He’d remember this man. His face is not bad-looking, pretty even, with beautiful narrow-shaped eyes highlighted with black eyeliner, a soft splash of rose spread evenly on the tops of his extremely pale cheeks, and Kurapika doesn’t know if it’s the chill of the evening or makeup, but it looks really good, too.

 

“Oh I absolutely agree, I would’ve remembered such a face,” he purrs, and although his words match Kurapika’s thoughts, it still makes him a little weirded out. But right when he’s ready to answer him, his eyes widen in recognition. “Kurapika Kurta, how could I forget! What a coincidence,” he straightens up, putting his hands on his hips and grinning excitedly. “I’ve been dying to meet the guy who managed to snatch danchou’s sad pretty heart.”

 

The world stops for Kurapika.

 

He was not prepared to hear anything like this. His breath hitches in his throat, as if something hit him in the chest, and the roar of blood that rushes to his cheeks deafens him for a quick moment.

 

His reflexes are too honed to betray him though, even when his mind does. He jerks his hands up, pointing his gun at the man.

 

“Is it him?”

 

“Him who?” Penber asks politely, grinning like a cat. 

 

“Is the Phantom Troupe after the rubies?” Kurapika asks impatiently, pulling out his phone.

 

The man chuckles calmly.

 

“Of course not. But the guys who are, they’re in the basement, the real librarians are already dead.”

 

Kurapika jerks towards the door, but Penber is faster, shifting to stand between it and Kurapika, allowing the gun to press against his chest.

 

“No, call your team, right now,” he says, tone suddenly serious. “We’re doing it the pretty way.”

 

The determined look of his slightly darkened eyes, a big risk and, of course, the mention of a certain danchou makes Kurapika reconsider his actions.

 

“God, not again,” he scowls, pressing the button.

 

“What is it?” Penber wonders, eyes lighting up with curiosity. 

 

“Not again no one tells me what the fuck’s going on when I’m trying to do my goddamn job,” Kurapika’s brain screams no but his spatial senses tell him otherwise. He doesn’t have much time to properly analyze his actions, and years of investigation taught him well to rely on his instincts. 

 

“Well, actually, you did your job brilliantly,” Penber says, shrugging. “Our second plan involving you guys was not even a plan, just a slight possibility.”

 

“What—Melody, I need the whole team, quick. We’re in trouble, I was right.”

 

“Oh shit,” Melody breaths in, an then the call ends, leaving Kurapika alone with the man again.

 

“They’ll be here soon, is there anything we could do right now?” Kurapika demands, not putting his gun down. “What’s the second plan?”

 

“Let’s see,” Penber narrows his eyes and tilts his head. “The people down there are after rubies, but I think you’ve already gathered that. We didn’t give a shit about their shenanigans, until danchou remembered that he gave some old-ass book to some library—“

 

“He gave the book to some library?” Kurapika repeats, tone incredulous.

 

“Well, you see, his hobbies include stealing something old and pretty, having it for a while, and when he stops getting his dick hard at the sight of some, I don’t know, thirteenth century spatula, he donates it. And this library he loves dearly, fuck knows why,” Penber says, voice monotonous and bored. Kurapika glares. He has no idea how the man makes it all  sound light and easy. “So he sent us to stop the gang and save the day. The book. Whatever. The second plan was going to work out in case the police would figure out that the fourth aim would be the library. It involves us pretending to be librarians and let y’all handle the situation, because he’s not really interested in killing those guys. We didn’t think it would’ve worked out, because the police is usually slow. But then there’s you,” his eyes light up again as he straightens his head and smirks, gaze hard-lidded, “who cracked the case brilliantly, as I said. Great job, detective.”

 

“Did you kill those people? The librarians?”

 

“Would it change anything?”

 

Kurapika’s upper lip trembles, but his fingers do not.

 

“No, it wasn’t me.”

 

“Where’s your friend and Basho?”

 

“Probably discovering that there, in fact, is someone in the basement,” he says, widening his eyes theatrically and shifting to whisper loudly. “Shizuku’s gonna tell him to call the cops, too, don’t worry, they’ll be fine. Told ya, need a clean job. Ah, by the way, gotta call your man, tell him ‘bout the plans. Want me to say hi for you?”

 

“Who’s—,” ah, fuck. Right. “He’s not my man,” Kurapika spits, tightening his grip on the gun and pressing it deeper into the man’s skin. “Don’t mention me, Penber, don’t you fucking dare.”

 

“You’re breathtaking,” he purrs, his eyelashes flutter as he seems to rather enjoy the act. “It’s Hisoka, by the way. Nice to meet—ow, danchou, hello, calling to inform you that they solved the case faster than we thought, we’re sticking to the second plan.”

 

As Penber—Hisoka, for fuck’s sake—talks to Kuroro, Kurapika does his best to keep himself sober and composed, no unwanted memory in his absolutely focused head. He thinks of rubies, of Hisoka’s plan, of the wind caressing his cheeks—but everything...everything crawls back to Kuroro. The echo of his name rolling off Kurapika’s tongue loosens his grip on reality, the shame and humiliation, and the infinite indescribable longing suck him into a void. He frowns and closes his eyes for a second, still fighting himself, but before he knows anything, his heart sinks.

 

In the end, he can’t say he hasn’t been thinking about the man. Hell, almost all his thoughts these days have been about him, bitter or not. A pit he put himself into is no one else’s fault but his, but he can’t move now. He’s trapped and he’s hurting, and although he knows all he needs is time, it is an impossibly slow path. It’s been a couple of months since that night, and Kurapika still can’t snap out of it. 

 

He woke up alone in a cold bed, whole body aching and head almost as heavy as the feeling in the pit of his stomach.

 

He remembers himself vividly, messed up and numb, because even though he was glad to not having to have a conversation about the impossibility of their further interactions, he still felt...abandoned. And betrayed, although for a federal detective, expecting something else of the Phantom Troupe leader would be foolish. He’s not a fool, he knows it, but everybody makes mistakes, and one moment of letting his guards down costed him too much. He’s never planned to get so involved in someone like that. He doesn’t admit it, will probably never do, but what he did was falling, and he never intended to fall so hard for someone he hardly knew. For someone so irresistibly dangerous. Kurapika has always been the one to laugh at people who catch feelings after sex, but it seems to him it all started the moment he heard Kuroro call him beautiful like he meant it. Which makes the situation even more absurd, because what clown of a person would develop anything for a basic show of interest. Even though it was buried deep in big, painfully beautiful soot-coloured eyes.

 

The worst part though, wasn’t the limp in his walk, bruises on his body or glimmer of a heartbreak he had to hide for days, or an inevitable crumble of his denial at he looked at himself in the mirror, debauched and lost. He couldn’t make himself hate Kuroro, because, just like he said a couple of times, it was for the best. And it was not just some runaway, no: it was also a weird combination of things Kurapika discovered in the morning that still kind of don’t make sense, but still exist, carved into a memory Kurapika wants to erase but ends up nourishing.

 

Firstly, when he woke up, he wasn’t...dirty. He wasn’t exactly clean, too, but there was no dry come on his belly, on the back of his thighs, or his ass, and although it brings more colour in his cheeks than the fact that he came three times that night, Kurapika’s still grateful for that little act. He was also dressed in a clean pair of boxers, for fuck’s sake, but even that wasn’t all. His sheets were clean, too. The old ones Kurapika found folded in his laundry basket, along with his dirty underwear and trousers, and it was really odd, to imagine Kuroro roaming around his house, looking for clean sheets in his wardrobe and doing his bed while he...slept peacefully. His jacket and shirt were hanging off his chair, ah, and the third thing that Kurapika would kill to understand: he found Kuroro’s own scrunched and wrinkled shirt in the corner of his room, clearly thrown there by himself. And his window was opened, which led him to believe that the man left Kurapika’s house shirtless and disheveled, through the fucking window. The image did wonders to him, even though the situation reeked tragedy and grief.

 

He spent hours drowning in misery before Melody and another shit ton of people showed up banging at his door, and then, after making up a poor lie to explain how he’s not dead, spent a night scheming, and aching, and dissociating, and certainly not glaring at the shirt on his his chair he absolutely did not wait to be collected by its owner.

 

It was hell. Pure hell, and Kurapika hated himself for allowing this to happen. Vulnerability is something he’s always despised, and, of course, because life is a traitorous little thing, it is what’s going to taunt him for quite a bit, it seems like. He just hopes he’ll never meet Kuroro again. He knows he won’t be able to hold back.

 

“Yes, they saw us heading to the basement, we started our little play right there,” Hisoka explains sweetly, the apples of his cheeks a little darker. Kurapika shakes his head in the most threatening way he manages, praying that the clown won’t try any shit with him. “Shizu is now with the first guy, we’re all waiting for the team to show up. Me? I’m outside, having a lovely chat with the detective.”

 

“You fucking bastard,” Kurapika mouths, blood boiling.

 

“Yes, exceptionally smart,” Hisoka nods, glancing at Kurapika sideways, not an ounce of shame in his bright eyes. His gaze is daring, shit-eating curve of a grin matching it, and Kurapika knows that with every slip of emotion he provokes him into going further. But it’s too late. “Confident, too. A little too edgy, but still, what a sight for sore eyes,” he licks his lips, watching Kurapika almost fidget with rage, delighted. “No, he’s right next to me, I think he’d chop my head off if I dared to walk away, besides,” Kurapika’s heart sinks, “I don’t think we have anything to hide from our dearest Mister Kurta, am I right?”

 

“Damn you, Hisoka,” Kurapika spits, dropping his hands and turning to walk away somewhere, anywhere else, until a hand wraps around his shoulders.

 

“No-no-no, you’re not allowed to leave me now, danchou’s order,” he drawls in Kurapika’s ear, purposely licking its shell. Kurapika grimaces and tries to push him away.

 

“Tell your danchou that I’m free to do why I fucking want,” Kurapika snarls, and the next moment his blood freezes in his veins, because he hears Kuroro’s laughter through Hisoka’s phone.

 

The sound runs straight to his heart, striking it with a thousand volts of electricity, making him gape nowhere in particular, shocked and terrified of his own reaction. Kurapika hates it eagerly.

 

“Yeah, I’ll take care of it,” Hisoka coos, but right when he’s about to say something else, a muted bang breaks the silence of the air around them and the earth shivers a little under the soles of their feet.

 

Kurapika uses all the force he has to push Hisoka and runs, right towards the door of the basement. He hears the man curse behind his back, and Kurapika may not be as strong, but he’s fast, and he snaps the door open in no time, flying into it and down the stairs. The smell of smoke fills up his lungs and fume tingles his eyes, but he holds his breath and moves as quietly as possible, aware that he’s probably being expected.

 

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing,” an angry whisper and a pair of arms cage him the next moment, and Kurapika gestures Hisoka to shut up.

 

The man tsks in frustration.

 

“They probably couldn’t handle the lock and just decided to blow up the whole place,” Kurapika mutters, shifting towards the next door. “We need to hold them for just a couple more minutes.”

 

“Or just kill,” Hisoka shrugs, and Kurapika notices he’s holding a card deck in one hand. 

 

“You won’t—“

 

“Listen up, pretty boy, I’ll let you do your job and save the day while you let me do mine, alright?”

 

“Yes, but my job is not letting people die,” Kurapika snarls, but then he remembers something and frowns. “They turned the fire detectors off. The vault must be on fire and it’s all books and graphic artifacts.”

 

“So we have approximately eight to ten minutes until this place is gone,” Hisoka says and puts his hand on the door handle. “You turn on the alarms, I take care of the rest. Danchou will be really upset if they burn down this library.”

 

Kurapika presses his lips together and nods, mentally drawing a scheme of the wiring. If he remembers correctly, one of the two alarm joints is on the left side of the door, while the other one is right on the opposite wall, and when Hisoka moves forward, Kurapika prepares to run.

 

He’s not prepared to see dozens of races of bookcases, filled with boxes, some of them partially on fire already, and a familiar body, laying unconsciously right beside the roaring flames.

 

“Motherfucker,” he hisses, rushing up to Basho, ignoring Hisoka’s voice and the sounds of gunshots right above his head, only focusing on his friend’s body. He checks his pulse quickly, relieved to discover the man still breathing, and then pulls his weight back, as far from the fire as he can afford right now.

 

The air’s growing painfully hot as Kurapika runs towards the first joint, using all his basic domestic knowledge to turn it on, and when it starts beeping aggressively and there are droplets of water hitting his cheeks frantically, he exhales, slightly relieved.

 

He turns and proceeds making his way over the other side of the room, painfully aware that he’s in a very bad position, because the fire and smoke around him are vanishing quickly, making him an easy target. He can’t see anyone, but he knows Hisoka’s fight isn’t over yet, so bends down to avoid getting hit when another round of gunshots pierces the air.

 

The lights turn down suddenly, and Kurapika narrows his eyes, steps quickening. He reaches the spot in a minute, fingers erratically pushing the necessary buttons, and when he turns back again to observe the state of the room, he finally sees the thieves as well as the Spiders.

 

Hisoka and the girl, Shizuku, meters apart from each other, about six or seven people in black clothes, are engaged in a fight rather...placid, judging by their motions. They don’t look very concentrated or alarmed, Kurapika even sees Hisoka’s bright pink lips moving, curled in an already too familiar smirk, probably blabbering some deadly bullshit flirtatiously, but when Shizuku notices him, already rushing towards them to help somehow, she quickly shifts to the right, where another figure in black jerks in Kurapika‘a direction, unnoticed by him, and in a second his neck is broken with a crack Kurapika hears even in the present noise.

 

Shizuku looks at him, eyes big and determined, and points at something behind Kurapika. He follows her finger and notices that there’s an other exit, a door painted white to go unnoticed, but it’s slightly opened, a stripe of black behind it.

 

He nods, trying to slow down his heartbeat, and slips into the crack, hair wet and whole body shivering because of the sudden shift of temperature. He runs fast, door after another door, until he’s in the main building, apparently; the library’s great hall meets him empty, drowning in blueish shadows, muted breaths of streetlights through big panel windows being the only source of lighting for the place.

 

Kurapika swallows his bitter spit, throat dry and aching. He shifts to hide against one of the giant bookcases, planning to move forwards, checking every single corridor, but a soft sound to his left that he almost misses causes him to turn around and press his back against the shelves, gun squeezed in numb fingers.

 

A bullet flies right through the books, almost hitting his side. Kurapika clenches his teeth and hitches to face the other side of the bookcase, firing straight ahead four times, as fast as he can. He doesn’t see anyone, but two seconds later he’s still not damaged and something collapses onto the floor.

 

The air is quiet after that, Kurapika doesn’t even allow himself to breath, but he knows it’s an assay. There’s another person out there, and he’s waiting for a signal. Kurapika has three more bullets. He exhales and moves past the body.

 

The other person begins to run, and Kurapika rushes right after them. He can’t see but hears everything too well, his opponent probably unarmed and alone, but in a few moments his steps are the only thing that breaks the complete silence.

 

And then he feels someone behind himself, quick and sudden, knocking the gun out of his grip and forcing him to fall on the ground. Kurapika’s now on his stomach, with a knee against the small of his back and ridiculously big hands on his exposed neck, grip painfully tight, blocking the flow of oxygen completely.

 

Kurapika squirms and shakes under the press, trying to kick the person off, yet already aware of the trying situation he’s in. They are bigger and much stronger than him, and he’s on the ground, facing it with already darkened eyes, gasping and gagging on spit, trying feverishly to swallow at least the smallest amount of air, his feet banging compulsively against the wooden panels of the floor, fingers unsuccessfully scratching the clothed arms.

 

Kurapika feels cold tears in the corners of his eyes, his limbs already much weaker and less controlled, as if being ripped off his body, muscle by muscle. He closes his eyes, unable to keep them open anymore, and the jerks of his body become more automatic than deliberate. Kurapika can’t really think straight anymore, mind exhausted and near numb, consciousness like the tiny droplet of fire on the last millimeter of a candle wick right before drowning in hot melted wax.

 

He focuses on the picture and holds on with every remaining fiber of his being, as if it’s gonna help him somehow. As if the fire’s gonna burn brighter if he keeps watching it, as if the time’s gonna turn back and make the wick long and thick, with plenty of years ahead. As if there’s another chance for Kurapika to live his life burning, golden.

 

He thinks he’s dead when the pressure’s finally gone.

 

Kurapika’s face hits the ground like an rotten banana skin. He starts breathing frantically, throat hurting like a motherfucker, but it’s free from anyone’s hold, cool air caressing the tingling skin nicely. He doesn’t hear nor see anything, just trying to adjust to his current state, still shocked and barely conscious, but just a couple of seconds later he’s being held again, this time against a firm chest, and when Kurapika hears the familiar smell of cologne, coming from the person’s shirt, he manages a small pained chuckle before letting go completely, not doubting his safety in the slightest.

Chapter Text

 

+ 1

 

The last thing Kurapika remembers before dissociating in his own sitting room is the way the sun painted the horizon in smooth peach-coloured tone, only interrupted by slight baby blue, turning into milky lemon yellow. He flinches and falls back into reality when a loud sound of a car horn interrupts his solitude, to discover that it’s already almost too dark outside, not a glimpse of colour behind his windows, except the streetlights that paint the street in ugly greenishly-orange shade.

 

He stands up, uncurling from his position, and turns on the lamp at the farthest table. Still transfixed on the bitter taste of his thoughts on the tip of his tongue, he sits back onto the couch, back bowed downwards, knees pressed tight against his chest, hands wrapped around them. He’d gladly go to bed, but he still has to eat, and the delivery man with his soup is late. Saturday. The evenings tend to be extremely busy.

 

In no time, Kurapika disconnects again, this time staring at the wall, painted in creamy beige. He can’t really say what he’s thinking about, wallowing in humble silence of his isolation, drowning in lazy, gentle sadness that wraps its long cool fingers around his shoulders, kissing the tip of his nose, the apple of his cheeks and brushing his hair. It’s almost motherly, how it treats him these days, when all he does is approach it like an old, beloved friend.

 

After two days in the hospital, countless faces showing up and walking away, Kurapika was let out, neck still holding dark green and purple bruises in a bizarre shape of two enormous intertwined hands. It’s still painful to talk in anything but a whisper so he mostly enjoys roaming around his house, laying in bed or finally reading the books he’s been planning to read for months, eating soup and drinking more tea than he’s ever drunk.

 

He’s has been in many dangerous situations before, he has ugly white scars to prove it, but Kurapika has never been this close do death. The fact both terrifies and lures him, although there certainly would never be a closer view he could get, the next step being a point of no return. Too scared of being damaged before, his heart now doesn’t ache for the forbidden — by himself — it craves. Lips he’s sealed are now speaking louder than thunder of May’s soft and mellow evening, and Kurapika wants, wants, wants to have a chance, just a chance, to turn back time and living a life he wants to live, he , and not the made up little orphan boy who’s lost too much already to go through anything such again. He wants to have things, he wants to take care of them, he wants to be taken care of, to know the real fear of losing, not the illusion of a possibility . Kurapika has been calculating too much to have time for growing out a proper heart, the idea of a proper life as his own person always a line between himself and his reflection. The only memories he treasures are also the ones he’s managed to hate himself for making, like a governess who hits a child’s fingers, aiming at sweets, forever rotting the idea of them for a still young and sequacious mind. He should stop regretting. He should stop being a burden to himself.

 

He’s disgusted to be a man of this sort. A man who almost lost a life that doesn’t deserve to be called one. He used to think vulnerability made him weak — but it’s the lack of it in people’s hearts that makes them wretched and empty. A wreck. Frankenstein’s monster, sawn of colours that don’t exist.

 

He huffs out a breath of disdain, grimacing. The pain, chaining his neck, is still present whenever he forgets to control his breathing and vocal chords. He wonders what’s gonna wear off faster — the bruises or the shackle piercing his throat.

 

Five months ago he, too, wore colour on his neck, but instead of dark aubergine blacks, ugly and revolting, there were soft blotches of hazy pigeon blue, raspberry pink bitemarks and iris-purple veined evidences of popped capillaries, following delicately the lines of his jugular and crowning triumphantly the curve of his collarbones.

 

But before he can long for things he forced himself to let go of, there’s a knock on his door.

 

Finally, his soup.

 

Kurapika shakes his head at himself and gets up, throwing a scarf around his neck and grabbing his wallet. He remembers the face of the first delivery guy he greeted the day before yesterday, damages of his skin on full display. It was amusing.

 

Kurapika snorts and opens the door, still wearing a smile. It drops the second he sees the person standing on his doorstep, into a surprised little oh .

 

It’s odd, seeing Kuroro like this, not in one of his five thousand dollar suits and elegant white shirts. He vaguely wonders if all mafia leaders look like this off-duty, clad in long dark grey coats and cozy scarves, black pants and worn-looking sweaters underneath. His pallid cheeks and the tip of his nose are flushed with cold, and his eyes are wearing an unreadable, profoundly masked look, and Kurapika has no idea what to do with all that. His heart swirls into a vortex, and Kurapika almost bends over double.

 

He will never admit it to anyone, but he’s been carrying a blossoming field of hope he’d come, hidden under all the misery and sobering sight of reality, way too deep inside his chest. But too petrified to comprehend that this, in fact, is reality, he almost forgets to breathe.

 

“I’m sorry for the intrusion,” Kuroro shifts his weight from one foot to another. “Were you expecting someone else?”

 

Kurapika still fails to read the words, drowned in the beautiful grey depth of his irises.

 

“Yeah,” he answers, voice hoarse and scratched, because that’s how he talks these days.

 

Kuroro nods, not an ounce of emotions slipping away to reveal themselves. Kurapika wants to grab his face with both hands and scream at him when he turns to leave.

 

“My soup,” he says instead, sighing. Kuroro turns to look at him once again. “I ordered soup. The delivery guy is kinda late.”

 

He tilts his head a little.

 

“I see.”

 

“The fuck you see,” Kurapika replies weakly, and the momentary look of utter bafflement on Kuroro’s face almost makes him snort, but he chooses to step aside instead. “Come in,” he rasps, shivering. He’s not sure where it comes from, but it’s accompanied by a warm tingle in the pit of his stomach. He doesn’t fight it at all, and it feel great. It feels natural. It feels like a release. “It’s freezing.”

 

Kurapika doesn’t miss the way Kuroro’s eyes get the slightest bit rounder, but he doesn’t catch his gaze. Tugging his scarf off, he goes to stand somewhere in the middle of his sitting room, hands shaking from an oddly satisfying excitement, and bites his lower lip, debating on whether he should call the restaurant he’s ordered the soup from or not. In a few seconds, he decides he doesn’t give a shit, it’s not like he’s hungry anyway. If they forgot his order, that’s okay. He has a few other, slightly more serious problems to deal with.

 

He crosses his arms on his chest and looks up as Kuroro walks into the room.

 

He smells of December, and the blush he’s wearing deepens in the warmth of Kurapika’s house. His eyes, predictably, are immediately drawn under Kurapika’s chin, making the other man regret taking off the scarf. Kuroro’s mask shatters into pieces the next moment though, his eyes now obsidian black and burning with bloodlust, a sight that should not be so endearingly significant. Kurapika almost shivers at the intensity of Kuroro’s rage. His ever composed figure makes his emotions exceptionally delightful to see.

 

“You killed them already,” Kurapika says, shrugging. “There’s nothing else you can do.”

 

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Kuroro snarls, cutting the distance between them, and tilts Kurapika’s head to the side by pressing the rib of his bent finger against his chin, touch feather-light and ever gentle. Kurapika wants to lean in and bury his head in the crook of his neck. “They’re healing well.”

 

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Kurapika chuckles, not minding the slight pain in his throat.

 

Kuroro seizes him with a sharp glance and puts his hand away, taking a step back.

 

“I’ve never got a chance to thank you, though,” Kurapika mutters, clenching his own forearms.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kuroro shakes his head.

 

“I’d be dead if you didn’t come. Thank you.”

 

He would. He really would, there’s no point in denying this, although Kurapika knows Kuroro wants to.

 

“Why did you?”

 

“Come?”

 

“Yeah. I mean,” Kurapika shrugs again, a little nervous. Hella nervous, actually. “You left. Back then .”

 

He needs to hear it. He knows he’s making things complicated, but he needs to hear it. You obviously don’t spend an evening rushing to hell knows where in order to check up on a one night stand, but Kurapika needs to know for sure he’s not the only one going through a mental breakdown over someone this...unsuitable. He’s mentally preparing himself for an apologetic smile and maybe a kiss on the forehead. Instead, he hears a question.

 

“Did you want me to stay?”

 

Kurapika’s heart is beating like a rabbit’s. It seems like he’s not the only one trapped in uncertainty, not the only one who needs reassurance. A statement, as clear as day.

 

“It doesn’t matter. You still left.”

 

“I wasn’t sure you wanted to see me in the morning.”

 

Kuroro’s eyes are sharp, calculating. Kurapika waits. He wonders why does it take him so long to realize Kurapika wouldn’t be asking such questions if he wasn’t intending to hold his heart.

 

Unless, he knows already. Tell me what you need, Kurapika.

 

“Did you want to stay?”

 

Kuroro’s lips break into a smile. His eyes are warm, like the sound of his voice when he calls Kurapika beautiful, and Kurapika does his best to stay where he’s standing and not climb this man like a tree, body aching from splinters and scratches.

 

“I did. I do.”

 

Kurapika swallows the lump in his throat, chest heavy for there is no air there to suck in.

 

“Good,” he whispers, voice barely audible, the sound really pathetic and small, like a hiccup. “Then stay.”

 

He doesn’t hesitate making a step further when Kuroro opens his arms invitingly, crashing their bodies together and wrapping his arms around the Spider’s ribacage, feeling his hands around himself, too. His cold nose hides in Kurapika’s hair, breathing warm on the top of his head, and Kuroro’s heartbeat is a safe, rhythmical anthem under Kurapika’s ear, warm like almost everything else about Kuroro.

 

“You do realize we’re going down with all that, yeah?” he asks, and Kurapika nods, his snort coming off more like a smile.

 

“We’re gonna be fucked.”

 

“Thoroughly.”

 

“You’re gonna end up in prison one day.”

 

“And you’re going to get killed because of me.”

 

“Please,” Kurapika snorts. “I could get killed without your intrusion.”

 

“You also could be the one to put me in prison.”

 

“I could.”

 

“Can we fuck in prison?”

 

“Can we fuck in hell?”

 

Kuroro laughs, chest shaking against the side of Kurapika’s face.

 

“Touché.”

 

“For the love of God, could you stop being pretentious for a minute?”

 

Kuroro inhales slightly, ready to retort with something even more pretentious than touché , Kurapika can feel it coming like he feels the buzz of naïve and lucid excitement all over his body, but the air is then pierced with a gentle sound of the doorbell.

 

***

 

Kurapika can’t quite register the moment when they ended up on the couch, Kuroro’s head in his lap, his fingers caressing soft locks of dark hair as they stare at each other, both not really sure if the situation is, in fact, real, yet leaning into the bittersweet bliss of each other’s company, heads empty.

 

Kurapika is full of soup that came alongside a big slice of raspberry pie as an apology for the delayed arrival. His mind still chanting wrong, he offered it to the criminal, later learning that he likes his tea strong, with three spoonfuls of sugar; that the man, apparently, has absolutely no problem feeling comfortable wherever he is, no hesitancy or bashfulness in the way he moved around Kurapika’s kitchen, helping him with preparations for their small meal; and that he is, indeed, the opposite of tough, effortlessly engaging Kurapika into an airy conversation as they ate and charming his way into Kurapika’s heart yet again as he realized it was a trick for him to find himself relaxed and warm for once, not second guessing his every move, and word, and thought.

 

“You forgot your shirt, by the way.”

 

Kuroro frowns for a moment, but then hums, nodding.

 

“Why...why the hell did you leave shirtless?”

 

“Well,” he shifts a little, breathing out. “I believe it was five in the morning, and I was asleep, but then I heard someone banging at your door, your friends, I assume. I didn’t have much time to dress up properly.”

 

Kurapika’s hand stops.

 

“Wait, what?”

 

He knows that Melody and the others stopped by to check up on him that night, because he wasn’t answering their calls and they thought that he was dead, but they left soon, thinking he wasn’t home.

 

“I thought they’d come in somehow. Didn’t want you to deal with them discovering that we, ah, fucked.”

 

“You were asleep,” Kurapika repeats, more to himself than to Kuroro.

 

“I wake up easily. Stress and stuff.”

 

“Stress?” it makes Kurapika laugh softly in disbelief. “You’re one of the most relaxed people I know.”

 

“My body doesn’t think so, apparently.”

 

Kurapika doesn’t reply, looking at him upside down, hoping his face does not give out that he’s...whipped. Kuroro has a beauty mark on the left side of his forehead and slight circles under his eyes, more like shadows.

 

“I’m sorry, Kurapika.”

 

He arches an eyebrow, perplexed.

 

“For leaving,” Kuroro clarifies. “I thought it would be easier, too. In case you didn’t want anything with me.”

 

“For a thief and a murderer, you’re ridiculously soft.”

 

Kuroro hums, playing with Kurapika’s other, unoccupied hand.

 

“Despite being, of course, devastated,” heat explodes under the apples of his cheeks, although his tone is theatrical, “I appreciated it. Back then I thought it was for the best,” he teases, scrunching his nose a little. “I don’t think I could’ve kicked you out in the morning.”

 

“And what exactly changed?”

 

“Well, you know,” he shrugs, “not much. Almost died. Had stuff figured out.”

 

Kuroro actually laughs at this, crinkles deep in the corners of his eyes.

 

“I’m glad,” he says simply, face literally glowing.

 

“Yeah,” Kurapika agrees unapologetically. “Me too.”

 

He falls asleep too warm and comfortable, a steady breathing caressing his skin somewhere in the center of his chest. The sound of his own laughter, uncharacteristically honest and vivid, is still an echo in his ears. He’s on his side, pressed against the back of the sofa, head on the cushions, while Kuroro’s weight is pleasantly hard on the lower part of his body, head tucked securely under Kurapika’s heart. The Spider’s hands are thrown around his waist, while Kurapika holds him close by the shoulders, body language louder than ever.

 

It seems like Kuroro hears it, because in the morning, when Kurapika wakes up, he’s still there, sitting on his barstool, one leg hanging down as the other one is pressed against his chest, sipping from Kurapika’s least favourite mug and scrolling something on his phone. His hair is slightly disheveled and his pale cheeks are tinted with the softest morning blush. He’s in his underwear and a loose white t-shirt he wore yesterday under his sweater, and Kurapika thinks he could really get used to it. All of it.

 

He’s not terrified anymore, securely wrapped in a blanket he doesn’t remember bringing, and although he knows he’s gotten himself into a mess explicitly risky and questionable, he promises himself he’ll deal with it later. If all the things he wants for himself ought to be a disaster — he’s not interested in preventing himself from having them anymore. The cage he’s built is much more painful to bare than what he’s about to go through, and what he knows for sure now is that he doesn’t have anything to lose, anything to stake, even his own life that can be ripped any minute, any moment. If treating oneself like a living person means haunting recklessly the idea of feeling as much as he can, baring as much as he can, loving as much as he can, he’s willing to do so. He’s already been lacking the common sense of self-preservation, seems like it’s time to make it work for him, too. It’s the lightest he’s felt in what feels like ages.

 

When Kuroro finally senses Kurapika’s eyes on him, he looks up and smiles.