Illumi was being kicked out of the Zoldyck manor.
"I am being punished."
Illumi looked between his parents. His father, Silva, was lounged on the intricately patterned chaise of Kikyo's dressing room. Kikyo sniffed loudly and paced behind her husband, full skirts shh-shh-shhing with each step.
"I have failed you somehow?" Illumi pressed on.
"Illumi --" Kikyo started, but Silva interrupted.
"You've done no such thing, Illumi. Perhaps you should consider it another mission. You've been out in the world for years before now. You've never struggled with it before. You won't struggle with it now," he said.
Illumi blinked once, slowly. "In those missions, I would return here once the job was complete. You have told me now that I cannot return for permanent residence."
Kikyo shifted around the chaise, approaching Illumi, and she placed lace-gloved hands on his cheeks. They were nearly the same height when she wore her heels like this, but Illumi hadn't really looked into her face in years. He couldn't look, still, because she was wearing a thin silver visor that hid her eyes from view.
"Illumi. Nothing will change. You will complete jobs for the family. Assassinations or deliveries or whatever else we ask. Isn't that right?"
"Of course," he said.
"The difference is that you will have your own home now. Right?" When he didn't respond, Kikyo's voice went shrill and she snapped, "Right?"
Silva laughed once, shortly. "Surely you would have known this would happen. The manor of the family has always belonged to the heir."
"This will be Killu's," Illumi said, mostly to himself.
Why now? Killua still had not returned home. There were still Zoldyck children to care for on the estate. Even with Alluka gone, that left Kalluto. And Milluki too needed care even grown as he was. Illumi had spent so much time caring for his brothers that he hadn't really considered the possibility that, one day, he wouldn’t need to anymore. He'd been doing it his entire life. If he wasn't assassinating, he was parenting.
Those were really the only two things he was good at; this was like he was being cut in two.
"We'll still have you follow the movements of Kalluto and Killua. And now, more than ever, you are expected to track and report on it." his dad said, interrupting his thoughts with reminders of Alluka's divine power. "That task remains."
Illumi sighed mournfully. It wouldn't be the same. But he agreed, like he always would, "Yes, father. I will leave today."
"Oh!" His mom shrieked, the sound echoing off the papered walls, "Oh, as your mother -- it hurts to do this!" She reached forward and pulled Illumi into a hug. He stared blankly over her shoulder to his father, who was smiling still.
And Illumi had to figure out where to go.
The butlers had arranged a parting dinner. Illumi, wearing his standard travel apparel of all-black, was pulled into the formal dining room, bags abandoned in the foyer. His father, grandfather, mother, and Kalluto were all present, as was a large number of staff.
“Where is Milluki?”
“Milluki!” his mother shrieked, “He’s upset. He won’t leave his room!”
“Shall I go fetch him?” Illumi asked, detecting the pain in his mother’s voice.
“No, no, let the little pig stew in his own bad thoughts,” Grandfather said.
Illumi nodded and looked to his only brother present. Kalluto looked back. He didn’t love this one as much as Killu, but he was most assuredly second. Kalluto had the bloodlust of his mother and the calculations of his father in a way that would be well-suited for assassination and every kill made Illumi swell with familial pride. After a pause, he kneeled and opened his arms and Kalluto fell into the embrace easily.
They didn’t say anything to each other. Of all the Zoldyck children, Illumi and Kalluto were perhaps the most similar. They even looked alike, though Kalluto’s penchant for kimono was more formal than Illumi’s trendier modern clothes.
“You children all have the dramatics of Kikyo,” Grandfather groused, “You’ll be here all the time for mission details and to collect weaponry. And you were rarely in the manor anyway, as busy as the job keeps you. Pah.”
A cough quieted the room and one of the butlers gestured to the table. “Dinner is served.”
Everyone was seated and even Milluki joined the group at the table, though he wouldn’t respond to any questions. Illumi sat next to him with Kalluto on the other side. As they ate, he turned to his youngest brother.
“You’ve been practicing with the stars?”
“Yes,” Kalluto said, chewing around a piece of bacon-rendered brussel sprout, “And knives, too. I’m much faster. A tenth of a second, currently.”
“You need to be faster,” Illumi advised. “One one-hundredth of a second.”
“Yes, brother,” Kalluto said, the corner of his mouth ticking up. “I’ve got very talented trainers now.”
The Ryodan. Illumi blinked as an idea dawned. “Ah…”
“Brother?” Kalluto lifted his fork. “What is it?”
“You have given me an idea for where I can begin my search,” Illumi said.
“A search? What are you looking for?”
“A place to stay, permanently. I do not know many people who live in typical housing; my connections almost all have manors of their own. I will be unable to live in one for some time.” The percentage of money Illumi received from his father for his assassinations was a significant amount, but not enough for a lavish mansion in the countryside like he was familiar with. “I was thinking perhaps I would stay in hotels for several years while I save income.”
“That wouldn’t be too comfortable,” Kalluto said.
“I agree. But I do believe I have one associate that lives in a different, semi-permanent, situation...” Illumi trailed off.
“That’s good luck, then,” Kalluto said.
“He will likely think so. Will you pass me the gravy boat?”
“In an absolutely shocking turn of events, Hisoka has been declared the winner of the match!”
Screams both in terror and in excitement ripped through the stadium in Heaven's Arena.
“It was one of the shortest matches I’ve ever witnessed! Four minutes, maybe? Three? Ah! The clock says three minutes and ten seconds! Unbelievable!” The announcer shrieked from above the audience. The medical crew had already descended on the bloodied platform.
Hisoka was grinning to himself as he rode up the elevator to his floor, 244. He had been floor master for two months and hadn’t bothered to fight anyone until now.
“I probably won’t do that again,” he said to no one.
Floor masters didn’t have to fight -- unless challenged by another floor master -- but Hisoka was in town and was bored when the challenge came in from a young woman with flowers woven in her hair. She used her flowers, poisons, and manipulation nen to fight.
She was too green. Everyone he had faced, recently -- perhaps a half-dozen potential opponents -- were too underdeveloped to stand a fair chance in a fight. And it wasn’t that Hisoka needed things to be fair; it was that he needed things to be interesting.
So he had ended the fight quickly -- probably sparing her life, if the medics could staunch the bleeding quickly enough.
The elevator stopped at his floor. In order to enter, he had to pound a code into a small keypad next to the ordinary floor numbers. When he did, the doors sprang open and he was greeted with the entryway of his penthouse suite.
He hadn’t walked two feet inside when he heard the familiar ping-pong alert of a message from the front desk.
“Master Hisoka,” a kind voice greeted, “Welcome home. You have a number of guests.”
He walked through the foyer and into the den that housed a large flat-panel television. Live security camera footage showed a small crowd near the private elevators of the floor masters.
“A number of women requesting autographs,” the clerk said. Several of the women were wearing t-shirts with Hisoka’s face emblazoned on them, bouncing and giddy at the chance to see him in person. “Your photographer for the post-match display is here, too, and the Celestial Tower Tribune reporter just needs a few quotes.”
“Tell them to use the photographs from before,” Hisoka said, “And that I have no comment.”
“Of course,” the clerk said; this was standard procedure for many of the fighters in the tower.
“As for the girls…” Hisoka eyed the crowd, ticking off the pretty faces and coiffed hair, and felt something hot rush down his spine when he noticed something rather unique about one. “Send me the black-haired one.”
“Certainly. She’ll be up shortly. Thank you.”
The plan had been to soak in the tub for a while, sinking into the bubbles, before dressing down and grabbing food out, alone, and then maybe finding someone on the street to pick a small, insignificant fight with --
Hisoka settled into one of the chairs that faced the elevator doors, still dressed perfectly pristine in a gold crop top and black pants and high-heeled boots that reached his knee. He crossed one leg over the other and produced cards seemingly from midair as he waited, shuffling the deck.
Finally, the elevator hummed to life. There was a ding.
The doors opened and a round-faced, petite girl stepped into the room, blue eyes strikingly bright. Her outfit was simple with a long blue tunic and high collar and fitted white leggings.
“You know,” Hisoka said, looking back to his deck of cards, “Now that you’re up there, they’re all going to think we’re having sex.”
“Is that not why you had me sent up here?”
“Illumi,” Hisoka greeted, finally, grin stretching across his face, “Don’t tell me you’ve done it while disguised as a woman before.”
The girl’s face dropped. Finally, after a moment, she sighed, reached up, and pulled the pin from her hair. As the thick black swath fell around her face, Illumi changed size; taller, still thin, flat-chested now. With those big black eyes.
“It has never come to that,” Illumi admitted. “I would kill them before anything would be -- revealed.”
Hisoka flicked a card at him and Illumi caught it between two fingers. He looked at it; a king of spades. “I see,” Hisoka said. “Why have you come? To congratulate me on my recent win? And you’ve brought gifts.”
Illumi looked down at the two duffle bags he carried. He looked back up to Hisoka. “They are not gifts. May I stay with you?”
Hisoka’s eyes narrowed. “Are you teasing me?”
“I am not. I have been --” Illumi stopped himself, eyes flicking down to his bags and back to Hisoka. “I have to find a place to stay. I had recently received news of your new status here; I thought perhaps we could arrange an understanding, if you were willing.”
“I’d forgotten you are familiar with the tower! You spent a year in Heaven’s Arena when you were twelve, correct? That wasn’t long after we first met,” Hisoka said. “Come in. We’ll talk about this understanding you want. Should I order us tea? They have cupcakes, too. They’re very good.”
“Yes and yes. Thank you.” Illumi picked up his bags, but Hisoka appeared at his side and took them both before moving deeper into the penthouse. Beyond the entrance was a den with a television and off that were two wings; one led to the kitchen and dining and the other to more living spaces. Hisoka took Illumi to the library and sitting room, dropping his bags in a chair.
Illumi took a seat on one couch while Hisoka picked up the phone on one wall to place his request. When he hung up the receiver, he was smiling again.
“Isn’t it nice?” He said, sweeping a hand over the room.
“Not particularly,” Illumi said.
“Ah, you don’t like it,” Hisoka sat in a chair opposite Illumi.
“It is not real luxury. It is expensive but -- poorly made.” Illumi leaned in and tapped the glass vase that was housing an orchid. The glass split beneath his tap and it spiderwebbed out across the surface. Illumi’s nose wrinkled.
Hisoka wasn’t sure he’d ever seen his face do that before. He analyzed Illlumi for a moment, eyes ticking back and forth across his form. “I’m sure it is no Zoldyck manor, no.”
Illumi looked up, eyes rounding. “Have I insulted you?”
“Certainly not. This is, in fact, my first full stay. I’ve been rather busy.”
“Did you fight your spider yet?”
They went quiet. Hisoka leaned down so his elbows were propped up on his knees, and he cradled his head as he watched Illumi, who stared back dutifully. Seated perfectly straight. Unblinking.
Finally, Illumi asked, “May I stay here?”
“Hm, yes. Did you have something in mind? You mentioned -- an understanding.”
“I will give you however much you think is necessary in rent. I understand that is how these situations work, typically. I would appreciate this as a long-term solution to my problem, until a better scenario presents itself.”
“What exactly is your problem, Illumi?” That heat from before trickled down again and Hisoka sat up straight. The possibility of a firefight made him a little giddy. Perhaps a band of assassins would descend on the tower.
“My parents have removed me from the roster of those living at Zoldyck manor, now that I have reached age twenty-five.”
“Ahh,” Hisoka said, eyes clearing as he understood, “I see. Happy birthday, dear Illumi.”
“Thank you. Would it be possible to have my mail directed to here, too?”
“Not unless you want to become my partner on the paperwork for the tower,” Hisoka said.
“I have been your partner in missions before; that would be no problem for me,” Illumi said, immediately.
Hisoka sat up and Illumi felt like he was watching a cobra rise from the sand. “No, no, Illumi. Not that kind of partner.”
“Oh,” he said, immediately understanding.
“I meant a romantic partner.”
“Oh,” Illumi said, again.
“A sexual partner.”
“Yes,” Illumi said, lifting a hand to stop Hisoka from continuing, “I understand. I will find alternatives for my mail.”
“Perhaps a Post Office Box.”
A ping-pong sounded from the front of the penthouse. Their tea and treats. Hisoka stood up and Illumi went to stand, too, but found a hand on his shoulder.
“I’ll fetch them. You stay. We do have a bit more to discuss, don’t we?”
Illumi sank back into the couch and sighed. “I suppose so.”
“Hm, yes, that would be a problem,” Hisoka said into his phone, pacing the kitchen. He was wearing only a pair of jogging shorts and hadn’t put his face on, and his hair was down in a pinkish mop around his face.
Illumi watched him walk back and forth from the doorway, empty glass in hand.
“Perhaps next time, yes,” he said into the phone, nodding, “I’ll handle today’s situation alone. Mmhmm. Bye bye.” He ended the call and Illumi padded into the kitchen carefully.
It was his first morning in the suite and he felt he was still learning the boundaries of everything.
“I’m having my photograph taken today,” Hisoka said, motioning for Illumi to sit. “But my stylist is unable to stop by. I’ll have to trim my hair myself, it seems.”
Illumi sat in one of the barstools at the counter that faced the kitchen proper, where Hisoka moved over to the fridge, fetching juice and water. He held up the two pitchers and Illumi motioned to the water. “Why not hire another stylist?”
“Hm… You know why,” Hisoka said, taking Illumi’s glass and tilting the pitcher into it.
“It might be unwise to have a stranger around,” Illumi agreed. He took a sip of the water when it was offered back. Hisoka returned to the fridge and Illumi said, “I can do it.”
“Dear Illumi,” Hisoka smirked, “I appreciate that you are very talented in most facets of your life, but hair --”
“I have cut and styled my siblings’ hair their entire lives, barring Alluka. Mother could never bring herself to trust a butler enough for it. I can do it.”
“Hmm… I don’t know…” Hisoka leaned over the bar, eyes narrowed in focus of Illumi, “These pictures will be important. They're for television.”
“If you’re unhappy, I will let you hit me,” Illumi bargained.
Bright golden-yellow eyes widened before narrowing, pleased. “Agreed.”
It wasn’t much later that they were in the bathroom and Hisoka was on his knees before Illumi.
“Have you imagined this before?” Hisoka teased. Illumi snip-snip-snipped the top of his hair, hands moving quickly and precisely.
“Cutting your hair? I have, actually. You wear it too long for the style you prefer.”
Hisoka’s hand slipped up the back of Illumi’s calf and up his thigh. Illumi’s foot had his hand pinned with a crunch almost instantly, and he hadn’t stopped trimming. “You’re one to talk, dear Illumi. Your hair is far too long,” Hisoka said, appearing unaffected by the heel crushing his fingers.
“I like it,” he said. Snip snip.
“Me too,” Hisoka agreed. “What happens with it in a fight?”
“I am rarely confronted face-to-face.” Snip snip snip.
“If we fought, would you be worried about it?”
Illumi paused his work finally, and looked down at Hisoka, who tilted his head up. Illumi moved his foot, releasing Hisoka’s hand. “I hadn’t thought about it.” He motioned a small circle with his finger. “Turn around. I’ll do the back.”
“I’m sure you will,” Hisoka smirked, shifting around so his back was to Illumi.
Hisoka had just finished getting ready and was fastening on a pair of earrings when Illumi appeared in the doorway of his bathroom. He looked up and noted that he was wearing his work clothes; gray pants tucked into wrappings and flat-soled shoes, plus a long black t-shirt and a matching gray cropped top.
“I have to leave for the evening,” Illumi said. “Will it be a problem returning here later?”
“I’ve explained everything to the clerk. You’ll be able to come up with the keypass I told you. Do you have a job?”
Illumi nodded. “It isn’t far from here, but I likely won’t return until morning.”
“Good luck,” Hisoka said, turning back to the mirror and fixing his earring.
“Mm,” Illumi hummed, turning on a heel and vanishing from sight. Hisoka felt him go, tracking his movements near-unconsciously. When the elevator sank away, so did his presence.
An hour north of Celestial Tower in the countryside, a blubbering young man stumbled through a snowdrift towards a light at the end of the road. He sniffled into his cellphone and said, “Yeil? Yeil? They found me, Yeil. You said they couldn’t. You said I-I-I-I’d be safe. They wrecked my car. I barely got away. Yeil, are you there? Ye --”
Illumi’s needle struck him straight through one jugular and out the other side and a second one joined immediately after, deadening the brainstem. The body crumpled like tinfoil between two hands. Illumi, sniffling in the cold, curled his arms tighter around his midsection and approached the young man’s unmoving form.
The phone was still connected to the call. He lifted his foot and smashed it into the snow, pieces shattering apart. He fished the small sim card out of the wreckage, pocketed it, and then went back the way he came to his own car. Where it was warm. And...less...irritating.
Illumi wasn’t often irritated by his work. But despite everything his father, mother, and grandfather had promised about nothing really changing -- it was different. The order came clipped, but moreso than usual. The job itself was astonishingly simple. The target was pathetic. And it was cold. Very cold. Everything was different now that he didn’t live at the manor.
He didn’t even get to return home, now, like he would. Slip into a bearskin covering with some coffee and a book. Perhaps spar with Kalluto. Exercise in the large multi-story gym in one wing of the home, lifting gargantuan weights and running through the underwater obstacle course.
No. He completed his childishly easy task and got to return to a city that smelled like urine and was filled with weak-willed, weak-bodied degenerates who thirsted at the chance that someone like Hisoka would sign a shirt with his own face on it --
Illumi reached his car, pulled open the door, and collapsed inside. His face, neutral as ever, faced forward. His body, as functional as ever, put the car in motion. But his mind continued to battle the frustration that mounted.
He didn’t get to return home. He got to return to Hisoka and the tower of shit.
Idly, his hand reached out for his phone and he texted a message home -- ah, to his father: mission complete.
“This wasn’t,” he panted, “what I had,” he panted, “anticipated.”
“Oh?” Hisoka arched his back, stretching the broad muscles of his shoulders and chest, before relaxing back against his bed again. The photographer moaned, eyes falling shut, and he pushed himself back on Hisoka’s cock in a jerky, uncontrolled movement. Hisoka continued, “What did you anticipate?”
The photographer was having a hard time talking, now, face flushed red, eyes shut. Hisoka ran a hand down one dark tanned thigh. “I don’t -- I don’t know --” He gasped when Hisoka’s second hand slid back to his ass, squeezing. “They said you were -- scary.” He swallowed, “I was a -- ah!” Hisoka met his movements, thrusting up, “Afraid.”
“And you’re not afraid now?”
It sounded so much like a threat that the photographer’s eyes snapped open and he looked down at Hisoka with blatant fear. The magician felt fire bubble up in him. He wanted to tear his throat out with his teeth, claw the skin from his face. The photographer was pinned under the stare like prey and he gasped, fucking back harder still, and said, breathlessly, “Don’t -- don’t --”
Hisoka growled, hands tightening around his hips, nails digging into the skin there.
“What is it? Are you scared or are you going to come?” His voice had lost its trademark lilt, words clipped, nearing the edge of his control.
“I don’t --” He gasped and reached down finally to jerk himself off, “I don’t know --”
“You know,” Hisoka said, and his hips snapped up faster, hands spreading the photographer’s thighs until they were taut, heels pressed back against Hisoka’s legs. “Well?”
“It -- ah!” He drove himself back, sweating, mouth open, “It feels so good -- how di --” Hisoka’s nails dug into the soft flesh of his thighs, pinning his legs open. “Hisoka, I’m comi… Hisoka --” Their eyes met, Hisoka’s narrowed, drowning in a dangerous type of bloodlust. “Hisoka!”
The photographer continued to ride Hisoka’s dick as he came, the slap of his ass meeting Hisoka’s thighs echoing in the room. And as soon as he finished, Hisoka’s hand was very suddenly on his throat and squeezing. The photographer gasped, cum-coated fingers snapping up to hold Hisoka’s forearm, eyes widened in fear.
“That’s it,” Hisoka moaned, “That look. Do you think you’ll die? Oh…” He squeezed harder and the photographer choked, unable to breathe. Hisoka sighed, “Yes.”
His eyes closed, head thrown back, and he came thrusting into the photographer, pounding through his orgasm until finally, he let the young man go.
He collapsed on Hisoka’s chest, coughing, wheezing.
“Ah,” Hisoka wiped his face with the back of a hand, “Are you okay?” He rubbed the photographer’s back with one hand and petted the side of his reddened face with the other. “Was that too much?”
The photographer, still panting, slowly pushed himself to seating. He swallowed a few times before answering, “No. That was the hardest I’ve ever come.”
Hisoka smiled, not unkindly. “Good.”
The photographer blinked, blushed, and shifted until he and Hisoka parted, finally. He stumbled from the bed and picked his clothes up from the floor, avoiding Hisoka’s hawkish stare.
“You could stay,” Hisoka said.
He still couldn’t meet his eyes. “You’re nicer once you got your rocks off,” he said.
Hisoka laughed. “I think I’m quite nice most of the time.”
“Not this kind of nice. You’re -- polite -- usually. Right now -- you’re --”
Hisoka lounged back against the pillows, not caring much to move, watching the photographer dress himself. “Right now, I’m nice.”
“You’ll get cum all in your clothes if you don’t wash up,” Hisoka advised.
The photographer went even redder. “I’m good. I’m -- I have to go straight home -- upload the photos --”
“Ah, but only the ones we agreed on?”
“Yeah -- of course.” He shrugged his shirt on. “Th-thank you for your time.”
“I’ll show you out,” Hisoka said, sliding from the bed, finally. He stood, naked, but the photographer couldn’t look.
“No! No! I’ll -- I got it! Thanks! Thank you!” He snipped, spinning around and leaving the room. He didn’t shut the door behind himself and ran by the recently-returned Illumi without so much as a second glance.
Illumi, red-nosed from the cold, blinked at the photographer as he went, and then looked to Hisoka. His nose wrinkled again and he held up a hand to block Hisoka’s reddened lubed dick from his vision.
“Ah,” Hisoka said, taking a few steps forward, “There’s that little look again.”
“What look?” Illumi said, voice shorter than usual.
“Hmm.” Hisoka grinned. He really was in better spirits, now. “It’s nothing. Excuse me, dear Illumi,” Hisoka said, “I didn’t think you would be home tonight.”
“The job was easier than expected,” Illumi explained.
“I would’ve been more discreet, had I known you would be here.”
“You would have put pants on?” Illumi said.
Hisoka grinned and reached for his door. “Perhaps next time.”
Illumi turned away and continued down the hall to the guest room where he would stay, ire ripening. He could feel it pulsing behind his eyes. Hisoka’s pleasant mood seemed at such great odds with his own; and all Illumi could think was, how could a fighter like Hisoka ever be happy here? And he was happy -- in this mediocrity. To fuck awkward plebeians, to sleep in sheets made from synthetic fabric, to fight these pathetic combatants in Heaven’s Arena. It was unappealing. It was distasteful.
And as Hisoka’s bedroom door closed behind him, Illumi realized that this was his life now, too. He’d fought a man more pathetic than any in the arena. He was sleeping here now on those sheets.
And he was going to have to face the awkward plebeians that Hisoka fucked. Illumi felt the most distaste at that. How often did he do this? Daily? Weekly? Could he arrange a schedule?
Illumi pulled out his phone as he entered his room, found Hisoka’s number, and sent a very terse but important message:
How often do you have sex?
The loud uncontained laughter from the next room was enough for Illumi to put a crack in the screen of his own phone in-hand.