Chapter 1: Floor Master Hisoka
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.
Chapter 2: Shifaun and Yorkshin
Dinner and drinks and a party.
“He’s not just a fighter,” she whispered, “he’s a murderer. Hisoka's a serial killer.”
“That seems unlikely,” he replied.
“I swear it. I’m his clerk, Shifaun. I’ve seen it,” the clerk said, leaning in through the window that separated her cubicle from visitors to the floor masters. “All of them --” the floor masters -- “are a little -- violent and weird. But he’s killing guests.”
“What makes you think this?” Shifaun asked, leaning in to whisper, too. His light brown hair and light brown eyes were well-contrasted on his angled face and muscular frame, and the military-grade combat gear he wore emphasized his rank in security.
“A girl went up after his win three days ago -- he requested her specifically from the crowd. She still hasn’t left. I don’t think she ever will,” the clerk replied. “Attendants have brought food and there’s not been a single sighting of her. He’s murdering women who fit a certain profile. I’m positive.”
Shifaun watched the clerk for a moment and then nodded. “You were right to tell me. I’ll look into it. There’s a line that can’t be crossed in our business.”
The clerk nodded, reddish hair falling around her face. “No one can know I said anything.”
“They won’t,” Shifaun agreed. He stood up straight. “I’ll investigate quietly.”
“Thank you, Shifaun,” she sighed out, nearly collapsing back in relief.
Hisoka’s fame wasn’t making this transition any simpler. The constant ping-pong sounds from the front of the suite were obnoxious. Illumi had the dialogue memorized now, too.
“Master Hisoka, you have a number of guests. They’re requesting autographs. Shall I send them away?”
“Yes, thank you,” Hisoka said, dismissing the security footage with only a cursory glance. Without missing a beat, Hisoka added, “You’re staring again, Illumi.”
Illumi was perched in a dark corner of the den, held up by the wainscoting along the wall. His dark mood was palpable; even the light surrounding him seemed to be sucked up into some vast sad void.
Hisoka hadn’t even looked up from his phone, where he was playing a colorful and speedy version of the game Snake. He was dressed up again. Hair done, makeup set, attire perfectly tailored. And he hadn’t duplicated a single suit yet. This one had a heart and a diamond in white. “I would think you would have my face memorized by now.”
Illumi did, in fact, have Hisoka’s face memorized. He could easily pass for the magician at any moment, should the need arise. He was even relatively confident he could imitate his speech. “I have not received any jobs in three days.”
The last time he went three days without work was when Kalluto was born and Milluki had killed some of the butler staff in an unintentional explosion and Illumi served as babysitter for some time. That’s to say -- not having work was a very bad sign.
“Are you worried you won’t be able to pay rent?” Hisoka asked, still tapping away at his phone. “Because I don’t mind giving you a loan.”
Borrowing a piece of gold from a dragon’s hoard? “That is not it.”
A little failed horn sound emitted from the phone as Hisoka lost. He looked up, finally, bright gold eyes snapping over to Illumi. “You’re bored.”
“That’s what this is. You’re not very good at entertaining yourself outside of work,” Hisoka explained. “Because your work is entertaining for you. Would you like to do something fun?”
Illumi’s eyes narrowed, slightly.
“I’ve had an idea,” he explained, “since you’ve arrived. Let’s go have dinner and drinks.”
“We have food here,” Illumi said.
“But you like nice things. We can go some place nice.”
“Alright.” Didn’t have to twist his arm much; Illumi liked the idea of operating around people who were sufficiently subservient and well-trained.
“I’ll go get ready.”
“Hm?” Illumi slowly peeled himself away from the wall. “You are not ready?” He’d spent a good hour getting himself done up like he was. Illumi couldn’t imagine there was much more Hisoka could do to primp.
“Ah, I’m not going to go out with this on. I will be recognized in-town.”
Illumi tilted his head, long ribbons of hair falling over his face as he did so.
Hisoka lifted a hand to his face. “I’m too shy for all of that attention. It would make me uncomfortable.”
Illumi’s perspective on the situation shifted, suddenly. “Why would you become a floor master if you did not want the fame that is accompanied with it?”
“I enjoy performing much more than socializing, dear Illumi. Battle Olympia is next month. It will be a good opportunity to fight some of the stronger nen users in Celestial Tower. Besides, you should understand best --” Hisoka looked Illumi up and down, grinned, and motioned with a hand, “I didn’t have anywhere else to go, really.”
For someone who claimed to hate attention, Hisoka’s preferred business suit was still something that would stand out in any crowd. A rich dark maroon, soft and silky to the touch (he had insisted Illumi feel one sleeve), contrasted with a white button-down and rich brown leather shoes.
Illumi had a nice suit, too, but it was back at the Zoldyck manor. He felt a little underdressed, wearing a gray button-down and heather gray tweed slacks. He had a long black leather coat on, too, with a scarf tucked around the lapels.
“Would you like to try on one of my suit jackets?” Hisoka asked, when he noticed Illumi comparing their figures in the reflection of the elevator doors.
“Nothing that you own would fit me,” Illumi said.
“We are the same height, you know,” Hisoka said.
“Yes, and you are twice as wide.”
“Oh.” Hisoka placed a hand over his stomach and shot Illumi a pained look. “How mean.”
“I did not mean it offensively. You have a very nice body.”
The air went out of the room when Hisoka’s face dropped. Illumi ignored the sudden tension, turning back to face the doors.
“Did you just accidentally flirt?” Hisoka asked. When Illumi didn’t turn or respond, he laughed beneath a hand, sound muffled. “You should make a legitimate attempt sometime -- you’d be quite good at it.”
“No thank you,” Illumi said, shortly. Somehow it sounded more like fuck off and die.
The elevator dinged as it arrived to take them downstairs. The doors opened and Hisoka held a hand out for Illumi to enter first. He did, and pressed the button for floor 200. From there, they would have to take a separate elevator down to the ground.
When they reached floor 200, there was a crowd. Some were clearly Hisoka’s fans -- they’d done facepaint much like his.
“How cute…” Hisoka said quietly to Illumi as they moved by. No one had recognized him with his hair down and even if they stopped to look at his unique suit, the crowd hadn’t quite put together two-and-two. “They’re dressed like me.”
Illumi’s nose wrinkled.
It was fast becoming Hisoka’s favorite look on him. “Perhaps I should say something.”
“Do what you want. I will be downstairs,” Illumi clipped, moving across the lobby, pushing by a crowd of fans for another fighter named Dick. Hisoka followed dutifully, but stopped when he realized what the fan’s shirt said.
I Love Dick.
“Oh, you must tell me where I can get one,” Hisoka said.
Illumi hesitated by the elevators, eyes narrowed.
“I made it myself,” the young woman said.
“It’s very good,” Hisoka said, voice so distinctly Hisoka that anyone within a ten meter radius would know. The crowd rippled and stilled as some people came to realize who was standing in their midst.
Illumi jammed his finger into the down button for the elevator, and the doors opened instantly.
Someone shrieked, “Hisoka!”
“Oh…” He said, standing straight, “I gave myself away.”
Illumi stepped inside of the elevator with full intentions of abandoning Hisoka’s dumb ass to the crowd. He pressed the door-close button and realized he felt a little bit better already.
But before the doors snapped shut entirely, a whiteish hand sprung between them and Hisoka jumped inside, some girls shrieking as they raced to beat the doors closing once more. They weren’t so lucky and Hisoka and Illumi found themselves alone.
“You did that on purpose,” Illumi said as they began their descent.
“I did no such thing,” Hisoka said, but he was grinning in an all-too-obvious manner.
“It is a bad comedian that laughs at his own jokes,” Illumi said, quoting Grandfather.
“I’m a magician, not a comedian,” Hisoka said, producing a flower mid-air. He held it to Illumi, who stared back with narrowed eyes. When he wouldn’t take it, Hisoka let it go. Before it could hit the ground, it turned into a black-striped butterfly that fluttered around the confined space of the elevator for a minute, until they reached ground floor.
The doors opened and it flew out, into the crowds, vanishing.
A sleek black car wove in and out of the heavy traffic around Celestial Tower, sinking farther out of the city. Hisoka and Illumi sat in the back, divided from the driver, each seated by a window. It was snowing sluggishly, contributing to the snails-pace at which they moved.
“Where is it that we are going?” Illumi asked.
“I asked the clerk to recommend a place. There’s a restaurant called Phaux. It’s old and expensive. They specialize in veal, apparently.” Hisoka looked from the window over to Illumi. “But we may not make our reservation in time.”
“We could run,” Illumi said, glancing down the block at the long line of cars. “We could get from one end of the city to the other in five minutes, likely.”
“I thought you didn’t like getting out in the snow,” Hisoka said.
Illumi finally looked over to him, eyebrows knit. How did Hisoka know that? He blinked, clearing his thoughts. “It would be fine.”
Hisoka turned back out to the street. “We are about to pass the entrance to the airship port. Maybe we should just go to Yorkshin.”
Illumi scooted a bit closer to peer out the same window at the large blimp rising from the horizon. “Really?”
Illumi hummed. “The man who has been following us all day would probably get suspicious of your movements. We did not pack bags.”
“Ah, so you noticed, too,” Hisoka said. “I’m not worried about him. He’s head of the security at Celestial Tower.”
“His aura is rather menacing,” Illumi said.
“You think so too?” Hisoka grinned and his hands in his lap gripped one another. Heat erupted from him. “I’ve been excited about it all day.”
Illumi looked down at Hisoka’s hands. He’d painted his nails the same red of his suit. “Ah. Well, I would not be opposed to visiting Yorkshin. I have not spent much time there.”
Hisoka lifted the phone receiver off the middle of the bench seat in the back of the car, connecting him to the driver, and told him to turn.
Shifaun sighed when the car he was trailing turned into the port. Sitting behind the wheel of his pick-up truck, he didn’t want to struggle through the airport security just to watch Hisoka leave the country.
He lifted his phone to his ear after hitting a number on speed-dial. Moments later, he was connected to an executive in charge of ticket sales. “I’ll need the details for a certain passenger. Just the flight times; whether or not it’s a round-trip ticket.”
“Sure thing, Shifaun. What’s this about?”
“I’m investigating a, uh...security breach of sorts. At the tower.”
“Got it. I’ll have the information sent to you.”
The call disconnected and Shifaun took an opening in traffic to turn his car around. Various other drivers honked and he rolled his eyes, pressing on back to the tower. A half hour passed before his phone lit up with the new message, and he was just stepping out of his vehicle when it arrived.
Passenger Hisoka, traveling with Illumi Zoldyck. Flying out immediately, dates 01-20. Flight 2248-1.
Illumi...Zoldyck… Both names rang a bell. Shifaun entered the tower and instead of taking an elevator up, he took it down into the basement, where his office was located. It took only a precursory look at the tower records to find Illumi’s information.
He had been a competitor at the tower at age twelve. He fought on floor two-hundred for seven months. He won every match. He killed four of his opponents. He had been eligible to challenge a floor master. At age twelve.
But Zoldyck stuck in Shifaun’s mind. He did another search and was surprised to find records for a number of people. Ten total.
- Illumi Zoldyck, age 12
- Precarter Zoldyck, age 22 (deceased)
- Milluki Zoldyck, age 12
- Canabby Zoldyck, age 19
- Rio Zoldyck, age 46 (deceased)
- Alice Zoldyck, age 21 (deceased)
- Killua Zoldyck, age 10 and age 12
- Redmond Zoldyck, age 15
- Willow Zoldyck, age 30
- Kalluto Zoldyck, age 8
“Hmm,” Shifaun scratched the five-o’clock shadow that appeared on his chin, eyes narrowed at the list. “Fakes,” He concluded, “Some of these aren’t family. But some…” It was easy enough. He pulled the list based on Illumi’s name.
“What a bizarre family,” he said to no one, “their children are all named after one another, with a ‘llu’ in the middle. Illumi -- Mi plus ‘llu’ becomes Milluki. Ki plus ‘llu’ becomes Killua. A becomes -- oh. A break in the pattern.” His eyes narrowed. “There’s a name missing between Killua and Kalluto. It would be A plus ‘llu’ --” Following the pattern, “Alluka. Ka plus ‘llu’ becomes Kalluto.” He sniffed, face twisting at the bizarre naming trend. “What a weird family.” And why hadn’t this Alluka been part of the trend, visiting Heaven’s Arena? He pinched the bridge of his nose.
He decided to pull up videos of Illumi’s time on the two-hundredth floor. He was a very petite child, with black hair cut to his shoulders, and he wore unusually stuffy clothes. Sweater-vests and pleated shorts and little sock garters. His appearance made it that much more jarring the first time Shifaun saw him rip out a piece of a man’s spine. He did that same move two more times, too. He also pulled out a beating heart. The other fights he had left the opponent alive, but undoubtedly scarred. He moved inhuman speed and struck with powerful efficiency.
And his nen, even at that age, was very well-trained. Chills went down Shifaun’s spine and he realized that the clerk’s concerns were well-founded. Those two men, Illumi and Hisoka, were monsters. Combine the two and there was no doubt some serious threat to the tower -- and society as a whole.
Shifaun’s phone blinked to life again and he jumped, startled by the sudden noise and light. He sighed when he realized it was only his phone, and glanced around to see that he hadn’t even turned the lights on in his office.
“Stupid,” Shifaun grumbled, picking up his phone. Out loud, he read, “Passenger Hisoka, returning 01-21. Passenger Illumi, returning 01-21. Flight 2248-2.” He raised a thick brown eyebrow. “That’s less than twelve hours. What is this trip, then? An international date?”
He stared down at the message for a minute before flicking open a different number. He had to end things here and now, before Celestial Tower was truly compromised by the serial killers in its midst. He knew where Hisoka and Illumi would be tomorrow as they prepared to board the airship back on the earliest morning flight.
He’d have an assassin waiting.
They were a sip or two into their whiskey rocks aboard the airship when Illumi’s phone chimed.
The message was from his father. His spirit was immediately boosted. Finally, contact. He lifted the device and then his spirit died, ruthlessly.
Hisoka, watching next to him, blinked in surprise at the rollercoaster of emotion that had been visible only in Illumi’s aura, and not in his perfectly stoic face. “Bad news?”
“I am not meant to use my phone for private matters any longer. It is strictly business only, now.”
Hisoka took a sip of whiskey. “Huh. When did you ever use your phone for private conversations anyway?”
Illumi tapped on his phone, the snapping of his nails on the screen like little angry gunshots, and then he turned his phone to face Hisoka. Their conversation from the last few days was on screen.
22:18 Illumi: How often do you have sex?
22:22 Hisoka: I’ll give you a schedule. Or maybe that was a request? I can pencil you in.
22:22 Illumi: A schedule would be acceptable.
06:11 Illumi: Do you have batter for waffles?
06:12 Hisoka: No. Request it from a clerk. Pick up any receiver and she’ll be on the end.
06:12 Illumi: Would you mind?
06:13 Hisoka: So shy.
06:14 Hisoka: It’s been ordered. It’ll be up in a minute. Speaking of it being up…
06:14 Illumi: I will cut it off if I come across you without pants in the apartment again.
06:15 Hisoka: *-_-v How cold.
Hisoka was snickering to himself by the end of it.
Illumi did not look as entertained. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Get a second phone,” Hisoka said. “That’s not unusual.”
“It is irritating.”
“You’ve reminded me…” Hisoka fished his own phone from the breast pocket of his coat. He tapped around the screen for a minute until finally Illumi leaned in to see what he was doing. “I’m paying my phone bill,” he explained. He tilted his phone so Illumi could see him press on the green SEND button. He did and a little envelope danced across the screen. “Done.”
Illumi was wide-eyed. He lifted the whiskey he held up to his lips and took a drink almost mechanically.
“What?” Hisoka asked.
“I never imagined you paying bills.”
“I am an upstanding member of society,” Hisoka said. He smirked. “Have you paid a bill before in your life?”
“Certainly. At restaurants and hotels.”
“Hm, not what I meant. Dear spoiled Illumi. You’ll have a phone bill, now. And is your father still going to pay for your car maintenance? Gasoline? I suppose you’ll pay doctor bills yourself too.”
The prospect of saving for his own manor, perhaps in the countryside near the Zoldyck estate, seemed farther away than he could possibly reach, now. He would need several hundred million dollars for an estate of that size and in that location.
“And then there’s groceries. Ah, and clothes. I’m sure your family will provide weapons, but are you liable if they’re lost?” Hisoka pressed on, grin widening. “I’m positive they’ll expect you to care for your own needles, now. How many do you use in a day, typically? And as lovely as your hair is, maintenance for that will not be insignificant each month.”
Illumi sank into his seat, lowering down until his chin nearly touched the counter they were seated against. “You are suggesting I eat less, shave my head, and murder less freely.”
A bald flowerchild vegetarian Illumi sprang to Hisoka’s mind and he couldn’t keep himself from laughing. When Illumi turned an accusatory glare at him, he just laughed harder and couldn’t stop. People glanced over.
Illumi picked up the cube of ice from his drink, pinched between two fingers, and then dropped it onto Hisoka’s lap. The magician leapt up.
“Cold!” He said, batting off the front of his pants. Still, his good mood was unspoiled and he continued to grin. He shuffled back to his seat after a minute and the pair lapsed into silence, watching the twinkling lights below as they made their way to Yorkshin.
Illumi polished off his drink in a gulp and Hisoka followed suit.
Hisoka was as closed to buzzed as he had been since he was a very young child. He had a shockingly high tolerance for drink, being exposed to alcohol at a very young age. He and Illumi were into their fifth double by the time the airship landed.
Illumi was virtually unaffected, too. Alcohol operated essentially the same as poison, and he was perfectly immune to ninety-nine percent of any known poison to man. But high enough doses would get him there. Perhaps that was what Hisoka counted on.
“We should use your family name,” Hisoka said as they walked off the platform of the ship. “We could get a table at the top of the Pireem State Building with a Zoldyck reservation.”
“That would be unwise. Are you not the famous one? Your name would hold some weight.”
“Mm. I’m not famous in Yorkshin,” Hisoka said. “My celebrity doesn’t reach far outside of the tower. I suppose we’ll have to live like the rest and...wait.”
Illumi raised an eyebrow curiously. “Alright.”
About an hour later and he realized why that wasn’t alright. One of the nicest restaurants in Yorkshin, Warren Grill, had a full house. The wait time was a little over two hours. There was no room to sit in the front of the restaurant and it was crowded.
“This is what spontaneity gets you?” Illumi asked, quietly, standing stiffly between a potted plant and a bench filled with a group of six. “A three hour flight and a two hour wait simply to sit.”
Hisoka was infuriatingly at home in the bustle, one arm propped up against the wall, the other hand tucked into his pocket.
Illumi missed the emptiness of the countryside. The quiet of his large, open, echoing room. The window that looked out into a vast line of trees and the mountains the continued along the horizon for as far as he could see.
“You’re terribly uncomfortable, aren’t you?” Hisoka asked.
Illumi wasn’t going to answer, but an elbow brushed by his outer thigh as one of the old women on the bench shifted where she sat and he nodded once, stiffly.
Hisoka vanished into the crowd. He returned only a moment later, folding something into his back pocket. He motioned for Illumi to come over and he did. The maitre d appeared at their side, bowed, and walked them to a table up a small set of stairs. A loft with a half-dozen single two-top tables sat above the dining room, looking out into the wall of windows that reflected the night lights of Yorkshin.
“We need more drinks,” Hisoka said. “Double whiskey.”
The maitre d nodded and left as the pair sat.
They were quiet, Hisoka staring out at the city, Illumi staring hard at Hisoka. He asked, “What did you do?”
“Hm?” Hisoka relaxed against the palm of his hand, elbow propped on the table.
“To get us this table.”
“They have these tables reserved for important guests.”
“You gave them my name?” Illumi felt his jaw tighten.
“I gave him money.”
Their drinks arrived. Illumi took a sip and the reality of the situation blinked with perfect clarity across his mind.
“Ah,” he said. “I understand.”
“Hm?” Hisoka smiled over the rim of his glass.
“You are purposefully pulling a reaction out of me. Manipulating my emotions in an attempt to get me to do something you want.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You teased me about the responsibilities I have now. You chose a busy restaurant. You chose to -- pretend -- to wait, until I had sufficiently reached the level of discomfort you needed, and then you helped me by remedying the situation. And I am also certain you are attempting to get me drunk.”
Hisoka licked the rim of his glass, his dark, deadly aura pouring out of him as Illumi worked through his ruse. He felt hot, on the precipice of great pleasure, as the assassin cut through his carefully laid process.
“For what purpose?” Illumi asked, eyes narrowing.
“I wonder,” Hisoka said.
Illumi’s blackish eyes darted back and forth for a moment as he gathered the pieces. It wasn’t something as simple as getting him into bed. But it was likely not as complex as to goad him into a fight. What other motivations would Hisoka ever have? “You know,” Illumi griped, “You’re rather manipulative for a transmuter.”
“It’s more your wheelhouse, isn’t it?” Hisoka giggled.
Illumi was a manipulator, yes, just like his mother. But Hisoka took one thing and made it look like something else -- and that was exactly what he meant to do now. “You do not want sex or a fight from me --”
“Well, I wouldn’t say no,” Hisoka said.
“-- you are trying to make me think you do.” Misdirection. How terribly obnoxious. Illumi wrinkled his nose and Hisoka clapped, suddenly. Illumi froze.
“That was it.”
“I wanted you to make that face. That was it.”
Illumi’s blank stare revealed nothing, but his irritation was at an all-time high. “What are you talking about?”
“This,” Hisoka said, and he scrunched his face. Illumi’s lips pursed. “You do that. You make that face.”
“I do no such thing.”
“I’m going to request that the maitre d come back to our hotel for sex,” Hisoka said, suddenly. Illumi wrinkled his nose -- and Hisoka’s phone flashed, suddenly, appearing mid-air, capturing the look.
The glass of whiskey that Illumi held cracked under the weight of his grip, ire growing too large to contain. Hisoka sat his phone on the table, turned it around to face Illumi, and pushed it over to him.
On screen, Illumi was faced with himself, eyes dull and empty, mouth pursed -- nose wrinkled. As if he was displeased. Pouting. It was almost childlike.
His grip on the glass lightened. Little droplets of whiskey seeped from the edges, unnoticed, as he picked up the phone to inspect it closer. He pinched and pulled the image to view it close and then far out. Eventually, he placed the phone back on the table and shoved it in Hisoka’s direction.
“Do not do that again.”
“But I’ve been so bored.” Illumi was another toy in his collection, and fighting and fucking weren’t the simplest options on the table. This was a very fun consolation -- that pout. “Wasn’t it fun for you to figure out?”
“Fun is not the word I would use, no,” Illumi said.
The waiter appeared, amuse-bouche in hand. He placed the small plates before the two guests and held the wine menu in-hand for them to inspect. “I am Rick. May I suggest a wine for our chef’s course tonight?” There was no menu at Warren Grill. The menu was set every day; a seven course meal brought out in a perfect symphony.
Illumi opened his mouth to decline wine, but Hisoka beat him to the punch.
“A bottle of red, please,” Hisoka said. He leaned forward and pointed at one on the list.
“Of course. Should I top off your whiskeys?”
Hisoka struck before Illumi could, again. “Please.”
“I’ll return shortly.”
Illumi’s eyes were narrowed slits. Hisoka seemed not to notice, sipping his drink. He glanced down at Illumi’s glass. “Ah, your whiskey is leaking.”
He noticed the slowly dripping cup, too, and lifted it up to inspect. He licked the side of the glass where a bead of whiskey was making an escape, and then tilted the cup back, emptying what remained.
Hisoka watched, leaning on one hand. “Maybe I should’ve been aiming for sex,” he said, eyes tracking Illumi’s every movement.
“You would need a gallon more of this,” Illumi said, pushing his glass away, “And your tolerance isn’t as high as mine. That’s a game you can’t win.”
Hisoka turned to his amuse-bouche, smirking.
Illumi realized his mistake too late. The games he couldn’t win were the ones Hisoka enjoyed the most.
It was two in the morning when they finished dinner.
“There’s no point in going to a hotel,” Hisoka said.
They were both right on the cusp of being drunk. Hisoka couldn’t remember the last time he’d been inebriated. It was a dangerous game, with so many enemies. And Illumi had probably twice as many. This type of opportunity, when they were at their weakest, would be prime. And yet he still suggested they visit a small bar around the corner.
It was small and smoky, but it didn’t smell like the cigarettes and ash of the Celestial Tower. No, it smelled rich and warm. Like expensive cigars and rare liquor. The seats were a soft worn red leather and the bar food was all carefully selected artisan creations.
Hisoka watched Illumi accept an offered cigarillo. The man who offered held it for Illumi to take, but the assassin leaned in, instead, and placed his lips on the end. The man went stiff -- in more ways than one -- as Illumi inhaled. He sat up, smoke drifting from between his lips, and the older gentleman looked near passing out.
“Take it,” he wheezed.
“You are too kind,” Illumi said, a small smile covering his face. The man stumbled away when he could, as stunned as he would be if Illumi had hit him. Illumi offered the cigarillo to Hisoka, who shook his head.
“I don’t smoke. It yellows my teeth.” He bared his teeth for Illumi to see -- they were white and pristine, with some of the sharpest canines Illumi had seen on a human. Illumi leaned across the table, looking at Hisoka’s mouth, and before either realized what he was doing, he was sliding his thumb across the front of them. Hisoka didn’t miss the opportunity to open his mouth and slide his tongue against the pad of Illumi’s finger.
The assassin pulled back and made the face again, the one that Hisoka enjoyed so much. He sat back in his seat and continued to smoke while Hisoka nursed a gin.
After some time, Illumi said, “I like Yorkshin.”
“It’s an interesting place,” Hisoka agreed.
“It’s better than your tower.”
“It’s more expensive,” Hisoka said.
“With that attitude and with you in that suit -- and your hair like that --” Illumi said, words finally slipping free, sounding inebriated for the first time in the entire evening, “You would almost pass for a businessman. Giving me advice on where I should go.”
“You couldn’t afford my consulting fee,” Hisoka said.
They both laughed. They were both drunk.
The attack never would have worked if they’d been sober.
A nen bomb whizzed through the air as Hisoka and Illumi walked through an alleyway, cutting their way back to the airport. They both noticed it at the same time, and Hisoka caught it in a ball of bungee gum before it could hit either one. As soon as it was wrapped in his aura, it exploded and the bungee expanded nearly ten times, barely containing it. Hisoka’s fingers tightened, knuckles cracking, until the explosion faded.
Illumi had already sent needles flying, but the attackers weren’t exactly amateurs and had been prepared for a counter. Hisoka counted four people total. The one with the bomb threw two more, from above this time, obviously perched on a window in one of the tall buildings. Hisoka easily rolled out of the way of both, legs gracefully cutting through the air as he landed not far from Illumi’s turned back.
Shadowed nen beasts crawled up from the shadows and Illumi immediately tracked their origin to the nen user behind a dumpster ahead. Foolish. He thought the dumpster could shield him from attacks. Illumi threw a needle at the gargantuan molded steel container and it split through it like it’d been made of butter. The needle lodged hard into the man’s eye and he screamed as he fell.
Hisoka left him to that and leapt up the building, scaling the sides of the brick like he was running on a steep hill and not a vertical plane. He heard the woman with the bombs cuss as she lopped more his way. Useless, now that he knew where she was. He caged her in against an apartment window and slashed her throat with a card. She choked and fell back, convulsing.
Below, Illumi was facing the remaining two alone. Hisoka looked down to see him moving with unparalleled grace, weaving back and forth like a threaded needle in fabric, landing stitches where it counted. He kicked up, a blow to one of the assailant’s chin, knocking him clean out. The other one made for Illumi’s hair, hand clawed to pull him down by it.
Hisoka’s pulse went white-hot. Bungee gum pinned to the back of the man’s head. He meant to pull the attacker back into his own fist, but his drunken senses and indignant anger that the man meant to touch Illumi’s hair made the work sloppy and he pulled too hard, too fast. The whiplash made the man’s neck snap in two, killing him instantly.
Hisoka approached Illumi as he buried a pin in the back of the last one’s head. Dead.
He turned to Hisoka and his eyes were wide and his posture was relaxed. He had enjoyed it too. The two of them, splattered with the blood of their enemies, standing in the damp chilly alleyway filled with trash, shared a moment thick with pleasure.
Hisoka licked the corner of his own canine, smiling. Illumi slowly fished his needles out from between his fingers and returned them to the place where they were kept in the hem of his clothes, without breaking his stare with Hisoka.
“It was foolish to get drunk,” he said, finally.
“Indeed. They even managed to land a blow on you,” Hisoka said, reaching out to touch Illumi’s chin.
Illumi was immediately defensive. “They did n --”
Hisoka placed a kiss where his thumb was, on the corner of Illumi’s mouth. Illumi exhaled, blood still thrumming with the thrill of the fight, and he didn’t know how to react. It was the same feeling when being electrocuted for the first time, where he knew he should move, where he was expected to, to beg for it to stop or to let it pulse on until it didn’t scare him anymore. He was too drunk to handle this with any coherency.
Hisoka pulled away and the look on his face was so lewd, pupils blown, eyebrows ticked up, that Illumi was finally able to snap out of the drunken slurry of thoughts he’d been drowning in. A needle appeared, held to Hisoka’s throat.
“Do not touch me again.”
“Oh, Illumi…” Hisoka said, and the sick asshole leaned into Illumi’s pin, “Fuck me up.”
Illumi scoffed, pulling his needle back, hiding it, and turned on his heel and walked away. Towards the airport.
Back to the tower.
“You’ll make me walk with an erection?” Hisoka called out from behind him, mournfully, unmoving.
“You could walk without legs at all, for all I care,” Illumi said.
Chapter 3: K.O.
Food and fighting. It might be a theme.
They both slept on the journey home. They sat in small armchairs across from one another. Hisoka managed to prop his feet up and wedged them beside Illumi, so he was stretched across the space, and Illumi kept to himself, seated properly, back straight, eyes shut.
No one disturbed them on the trip. No one even remarked on the splattering of blood across Hisoka’s cheek.
When they stopped in the airport bathroom after landing, Hisoka finally looked at himself in the mirror. “Ah, shit.” He wet a hand towel and wiped his face off, and then shot a glare at Illumi standing by the door. “You didn’t say anything.”
Illumi offered a very small smile. Hisoka glowered, shutting off the sink, and they both left for home.
The rest of the day was spent sleeping, too. When Illumi pulled himself from bed, he went to fetch some water and he found Hisoka on the couch in the den, wrapped in a blanket, playing cards.
Illumi joined him. Hisoka reached over the end of the blue velvet sofa and pulled out another blanket. Illumi took it without a word.
“Gin Rummy?” Hisoka asked, shuffling the cards.
“Mmhmm,” Illumi agreed, shifting so his legs were folded together beneath him. Hisoka dealt the cards while Illumi wrapped himself like a bride in the blanket he’d been given.
They played until it got dark out, hungover and in good spirits.
Illumi was loathed to admit it, but Hisoka had been right. Dinner and drinks had been fun. His yearning for home was more like a pang of hunger and less like gut-wrenching starvation.
All four of them were dead?
Shifaun stared down at the message on his phone in shock. A surprise attack and both Hisoka and Illumi had arrived back at the tower without so much as a ruffled collar. And he thought sending four assassins was likely overkill.
Chills ran down his spine. He swallowed, flicking to the next page of the message with photographs attached. The bloodied corpses of the assassins he hired laid in the dingy alley. They hadn’t even bothered to cover them; that’s how untouchable the pair considered themselves.
Shifaun was no weakling, but he knew when he was out of his league. He made a decision and took the elevator up to the two-hundredth floor, to visit the desk of the clerk there.
She was sitting, reading a magazine, her red hair pulled up in a high ponytail.
He cleared his throat and she glanced up and smiled. “Shifaun. Hi. Any news?”
“Your hunch was incorrect,” Shifaun said. “Hisoka isn’t a threat.”
The clerk’s eyebrows tightened. “I don’t understand.”
“I investigated. He isn’t murdering people.” He was fucking obliterating them, but that was beside the point. “You have nothing to worry about. Let it go.”
“But I was so sure…” Her hands tightened on the front of her shirt.
“Hey,” Shifaun said, “Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course, Shifaun. Yeah, of course. Alright.” She cleared her throat, nodded, and then trained her neutral happy-go-lucky look upon her face again. “I appreciate your help!”
“No problem. Let me know if anything else ever comes up,” Shifaun said, heading back to the elevator. When it opened, Hisoka was standing there in a white costume with gold accents, a star and tear painted beneath each eye.
They stared at each other for a long moment and Shifaun felt frozen in place by the all-too-knowing yellow eyes. Hisoka took a step forward and Shifaun still couldn’t move, heart thundering now, pounding in his chest so hard that he couldn’t hear anything but the thud-thud-thud.
Hisoka’s aura was purpleish black and deep and absolutely endless. His power was so vast that Shifaun was reminded of the very first time he saw Celestial Tower as a child, standing at the base of the enormous building, looking up. He couldn’t even see the top; it went so high that it vanished at some point into the milky-blue sky. He’d become dizzy staring up too long, trying to make sense of something so enormous.
Hisoka was like that too.
Shifaun’s head dropped and he bowed. “Master Hisoka. Excuse me.”
He shuffled backwards and then around him. The elevator doors had closed already, so he pressed the button to reopen them, and he heard the click-clack of Hisoka’s heels on the tile of the lobby as he walked away. As Shifaun boarded the elevator he heard Hisoka say, voice light and teasing, “Yes, yes, I’ll sign that for you, of course.” A chorus of girlish screams followed.
Shifaun went back to his basement and resigned his job, effective immediately. As a kid, all he ever wanted was to see the top of the tower.
Now he had seen the top and wanted to never leave the ground again.
It took Illumi two days to realize the stalking had actually stopped for good. Seated at the bar in the kitchen, he watched Hisoka flipping through a take-out menu. “The head of security that had been tailing you is gone.”
“Mmhmm,” Hisoka said, finger tracing down one page as he read his options.
“Did you kill him?”
“No. I scared him.”
“Oh?” Illumi’s head tilted, hair shifting across his face like a waterfall of black.
Hisoka dropped the menu and leaned forward, hands out. “I just looked at him. Like this.” He narrowed his eyes almost comically thin, lips forming an overdrawn frown.
“That is not frightening.”
“You don’t think so because we’re friends,” Hisoka said, dropping his face back to normal. He picked up the menu again.
“We are not friends,” Illumi said immediately, automatically. When Hisoka didn’t respond, Illumi’s eyes widened. Just a bit. There was a pregnant pause. And then: “Oh.” He looked Hisoka up and then down and said, “We are kind of friends.”
“I’m glad you noticed,” Hisoka said, pulling a phone receiver off the wall in the kitchen. “I’m ordering Mongolian Chicken. You too?”
Illumi leaned onto his elbows against the counter. “Yes,” he said. He stared pensively into the kitchen, brows knit.
“Don’t worry,” Hisoka said, holding the phone against one ear. “I won’t tell anyone. I would hate to make myself a target. How often are there attempts on your life?”
“I do not track attempts unless I am placed in significant peril.” Illumi began doing the math in his head based on the significant threats. A handful each year.
“How often are you in significant peril?”
“Mm…” He lifted a hand, counting on his fingers. “On average, monthly.”
The phone must have picked up then, because Hisoka turned away. “Hello. Two orders, please. Suite two-forty-four. Mmhmm. Hmm. Mongolian Chicken. Ah, hold on.” He looked back to Illumi. “Which rice would you prefer?”
“One brown, one white,” Hisoka said. “Oh -- and a shake. Chocolate. Yes, add shavings. Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Alright.”
He hung up. Illumi leaned forward, “I would have wanted a chocolate shake.”
“It’s for you.”
Illumi stared blankly.
Hisoka elaborated, “I ordered it for you.”
They went quiet.
“Extra shavings next time,” Illumi advised.
“I’ll remember,” Hisoka said.
The photographs Hisoka had taken with the awkward photographer were circulating now in ads for Battle Olympia. The competition was three weeks away and marketing for the event was in full swing.
Illumi felt assaulted with Hisoka’s face at every turn. Perhaps the most irritating part was that Hisoka seemed completely oblivious to it, because he didn’t watch television and rarely read anything except smut. There were buses with his face on the side, but he never saw them, either. Illumi couldn't even get a donut without seeing Hisoka's eyes blown up three feet wide.
It bothered Illumi that it didn’t bother Hisoka.
Illumi had been programming his brand new cellphone when he got a message from a number he didn’t recognize. He opened the piece of digital mail to see, again, Hisoka’s face, and then the dates for Battle Olympia. Other competitors flashed across the screen in rapid succession.
He had owned this phone less than an hour before receiving spam mail promoting the idiot clown. He’d clearly been targeted because he had listed his current address at the tower on his sign-up forms.
His nails clipped angrily on the glass of the phone screen as he deleted the message. He sat back, staring blankly at the ceiling.
In the few days after visiting Yorkshin, Illumi had reached several conclusions.
- He did not like Celestial Tower or Heaven’s Arena. It was garish. Loud. Cheap.
- Hisoka was his friend. That put him into an important bracket of people and effectively changed how Illumi would treat their previous relationship built on mutual understanding and respect. Their relationship now included elements of power and control, whether or not Hisoka was aware of it.
- Yorkshin was a better place to live long-term, even as expensive as it was. The people there were of a higher caliber.
Certainly he could leave the tower and move to Yorkshin on his own, or maybe he could politely request that Hisoka to move with him so they could continue to function as allies and friends, but instead, Illumi had decided the best course of action was to manipulate the situation until he got exactly what he wanted. Without the frustration of Hisoka debating the decision.
Illumi knew what was best and he didn’t like having to explain himself. Perhaps it was his role as the eldest brother of the Zoldyck children that made him such an authority on good and bad, but nevertheless -- the decision would not be up for debate.
He and Hisoka were moving to Yorkshin.
In another room of the penthouse, Hisoka got chills.
“Are you going to practice for the tournament?” Illumi asked, walking into Hisoka’s bedroom without knocking. Hisoka was seated at his vanity, gel in hand. (Illumi hoped it was gel.) He looked at Illumi for a moment before turning back to the mirror and running the product through his hair until it stood up like he preferred, off his face.
“I should, shouldn’t I?”
“Is your aim to win?” Illumi took a seat on the end of Hisoka’s bed. Hisoka, again, looked over, but then turned back to the mirror to continue styling his hair.
“What is your goal?”
“The way the brackets are set up, I’ll have to fight two people before getting to Xoxo. She's my favorite.”
“Xoxo?” Illumi sat back on his hands, sinking into the soft plush fabrics of Hisoka’s bed.
Hisoka looked at him again. And then back to the mirror. “She’s the floor master on two-hundred thirty-eight.” Hisoka was the master of two-hundred forty-four, but the numbers didn’t indicate ranking or power very well. “She’s an enhancer.”
“Ah,” Illumi said, “your favorite.”
“We’re quite compatible,” Hisoka agreed, smiling.
“Once you beat her, what will you do?” Illumi pressed on. He pulled out his phone to look at the brackets, to see how the schedule of Battle Olympia would work. When Hisoka beat Xoxo, he would be up for the final fight. He could win the penthouse at the very top of the tower.
Hisoka, still coiffing his hair, shrugged. “Nothing.”
Illumi looked up. “You have no interest in the two hundred and fiftieth suite?”
“I have no interest in the final fighter remaining,” Hisoka clarified. “The rest of the floor masters aren’t very interesting.”
Illumi would ask for clarification, but he agreed. Having read their profiles again and again in the advertisements for the fight, none seemed worthy of the endless fanatic praise they were showered with. Of course, Illumi thought the same even of Xoxo. She was one of only two women that would be competing in Battle Olympia, which was interesting, but her remarkability ended there.
Perhaps Hisoka’s interest in her rested elsewhere. Illumi asked, “Are you interested in her sexually?”
That got Hisoka to look back his way. He turned in his vanity seat, brows lifted. Illumi sat on his bed, knees apart, hands back, hair scattered across his shoulders. Eyes narrowed.
Hisoka let the silence linger for a minute, eyes tracking up and down Illumi’s form with no small amount of amusement. “Why, Illumi. You’re more chatty than usual. Is there something you want?”
Illumi didn’t move from where he was lounged, except to spread his legs wider. “No.”
Hisoka produced a card between his fingers. It glinted before he lopped it full-force at Illumi. He caught it between both hands, clapping it out of the air before it could hit his nose, and he landed with a wump as he fell back against Hisoka’s bed without his arms to prop him up.
“You’re right. I should practice. Do you want to come?” Hisoka said, standing.
“Okay,” Illumi said, hopping to his feet. He held the card out for Hisoka to take back, which he did, flipping it between his fingers until it vanished in a little puff of smoke.
The gym was ten stories running along the back of the penthouses at the top of Celestial Tower. It was accessible through floor two-hundred and would only allow admittance to floor masters. Of course, the man watching the door was a simpleton and Illumi slipped by him without any struggle at all.
He blinked in surprise once he was inside. The ten stories were all visible, lofted sections connected by stairs and by a glass elevator that shot up the middle of the space with catwalks to each floor. One entire wall was ten stories of windows looking out onto the city, while the opposite wall backed up to the penthouse suites for the floor masters.
It was so much more impressive than anything else in the tower. It was the closest Illumi had felt to being at home since leaving the estate. The gym at the Zoldyck manor was impressively large, with similarly impressive features. Obstacle courses, weights, pools, boxing rings, meditation lounges, hot springs, weapons room -- everything seemed to be accounted for, here.
“You look pleased,” Hisoka said. He was wearing another jester suit -- this one was purple with pink accents, and he wore flats, too. Obviously his idea of a workout outfit.
“This much space for twenty fighters seems excessive,” Illumi pointed out, taking a few steps forward as he continued to look up into the floors and floors of toys.
“It’s another perk,” Hisoka said, shrugging.
“Do you want to spar?” Illumi asked, lifting his hand to point at the ring on the third floor.
“Of course,” Hisoka said, motioning for Illumi to walk ahead. They took the stairs and a few other fighters practicing in the space looked over. Hisoka had never been to the gym beyond the initial tour he was given upon winning his floor. The tension was palpable as the other fighters watched.
“No hatsu,” Illumi said, “basic nen only.”
“No weapons?” Illumi asked, needles appearing between his fingers.
“Hm… Perhaps not, no,” Hisoka said, nodding.
“Aim for a pin. Whoever pins the competitor first, wins the round. Best two out of three wins the game.” He used similar rules when fighting with his brothers. Only they were instructed to kill Illumi, to try with their entire strength, because they could never actually pin him. Hisoka had better odds, slightly.
“Sounds fun,” Hisoka said, grinning, moving over to one side of the ring. It was a slightly depressed mat in the ground, several meters wide and perfectly square. Illumi stood opposite of him. They stared at one another for a moment.
“Oh,” Illumi said, breaking their eyeline. He reached into a pocket and produced a rubber band. Tilting his head back, he pulled his hair into a ponytail near the top of his head. When done, he stood straight again. “Alright. Go.”
He vanished from where he stood.
“I really enjoy fighting assassins,” Hisoka said, voice thick and lewd, grin stretched across his face. His eyes darted to Illumi floating above. “They’re so fast.”
Illumi responded by driving down a kick meant to crush Hisoka’s face, but the magician moved and Illumi landed on the mat with such force that the entire floor rattled and dust sprinkled from the metal rafters above.
Hisoka laughed. Illumi grinned.
They were going to tear this place apart.
Suddenly they were moving at lightning speed, neither managing to land a single hit. Until, finally, Hisoka saw his opening. He faked a right hook and when Illumi countered, he used his knee to slam his entire weight into Illumi’s kidney. He went flying clear out of the ring and slammed so hard into the wall that the plaster crumbled around him and rained in a dusty cloud around his body.
Illumi stood and Hisoka smirked opposite him. Illumi smiled back.
They jumped at the same time and met midair, exchanging glancing blows.
The other fighters in the gym moved to the edges of their floors, peering down at the two sparring. One young man pulled out his phone, dialed, and said, “Dick, get the fuck in the gym. Trust me.” A pause as Hisoka was the one to go flying this time, until he collided with the floor and tumbled once, twice, flipping feet over head until reaching the railing that kept fighters from careening over the sides and falling to their deaths. Hisoka nearly went over the edge and stopped only by grabbing the end of the metal piping of the railing and swinging himself back around.
When he let go, the pipe was noticeably dented.
The young man on the phone hissed, “Run here. Now!”
“You should use your words,” Illumi advised.
“Oh?” Hisoka said, dusting off his knees.
“You fight your opponents with words just as much as with strength. You should do the same when fighting me.”
“Why? I cannot beat you without that? Dear Illumi, are you stronger than me?”
“Yes. I am,” Illumi said, reaching up to roll his shoulder.
“Are you faster than me?” Hisoka stalked forward.
“Yes.” Illumi moved towards him.
“Are you smarter than me?” He moved closer.
“Are you as good in bed?” They were nearly nose-to-nose.
When Illumi made the disgusted face that Hisoka enjoyed so much, Hisoka struck. The punch to Illumi’s stomach set him back enough for Hisoka to use his other fist to strike his throat and then he went down.
Illumi was pinned to the floor. His eyes were narrowed.
Hisoka, grinning, said, “I used my words.”
Round one: Hisoka.
Illumi’s frustration pulsed out of him so hard that Hisoka’s eyes widened. He lifted his legs, wrapping them around Hisoka’s middle, crushing his arms to his sides with sudden force.
“If you manage to pin me again,” Illumi said, “I will kiss you.”
“Oh, Illumi,” Hisoka groaned. A goal, but a double-edged sword. “Fine, but I’m still very good at fighting with a hard-on.”
“We will see,” Illumi said, and he twisted his body hard to the side, legs sending Hisoka flying off of him and into the wall with unparalleled force.
Above, the spectators glanced back and forth. “Did they just talk about kissing?”
“I don’t know. I couldn’t really hear,” one woman said. “Does Hisoka have a boner?”
“He’s moving too fast. I can’t see shit.” Everyone leaned over the railing in an attempt to look more closer.
Illumi collided with Hisoka’s back, grabbed his wrist, and slammed him down on the mat with such strength that the entire gym rattled. Pinned.
Round two: Illumi.
They separated and wound up on opposite ends of the mat again.
Illumi vanished like he had the first time. Hisoka lifted his arms and Illumi landed on them with a loud crash; an unstoppable force colliding with an immovable object. Shockwaves pounded through the space until they parted again.
“You’ve been trying to seduce me since you entered my room,” Hisoka said.
Illumi blinked innocently. “I have not.”
“You’re not very good at it. So stiff.”
“I am not --” Illumi jolted as he realized his indignance was a confession. “Ah, shit.” He gave himself away. His eyes narrowed. “I am testing a theory.”
“What theory’s that?” Hisoka looked near-mad, smiling so broadly.
“It is a secret,” Illumi said.
“I’m going to win this round,” Hisoka said. “Did you know I have powers of clairvoyance?”
Illumi reached up and gripped the rubber band in his hair. He pulled it out, slowly, and then shook out his hair. It danced around his face in graceful black waves. Hisoka licked his top lip and felt the heat pulse down his belly.
One of the spectators above asked, “Is he Hisoka’s…hus...band?”
“His name is Illumi Zoldyck. Someone mentioned he was living with Hisoka earlier today.”
“Zoldyck? Is he related to Killua?”
“That white-haired kid that was here last year. Remember -- he’s the reason we have the vending machines filled only with cake.”
“Oh. Him and the little mountain boy.”
“Didn’t Gon fight Hisoka?”
“I wonder how they all know each other.”
“Small world, our world.”
Illumi dodged a hit and pulled his own fist back. Hisoka ducked beneath it and hit with an open palm against Illumi’s sternum. The assassin absorbed the blow easily and used the momentum to flip over Hisoka’s head, sending a kick backwards into his spine.
“Next you’ll jump on my back, thinking it will pin me,” Hisoka said. Illumi was already in motion and landed with his feet in a drive against Hisoka’s shoulders. Hisoka rolled forward and Illumi slipped off. “Now when we’re face-to-face, you’ll try to punch me.”
Illumi was against the ground with Hisoka above him and he did mean to throw a punch, but once he pulled his fist back, it wouldn’t move forward again -- it was stuck.
“It won’t work.”
“Ah?” Illumi looked at his own arm. He couldn’t move it. He used his other hand -- and the same thing happened. Pinned back.
Bungee gum. It held both of his wrists against the ground.
“You cheated,” Illumi said.
“Lying’s a vice of mine,” Hisoka confessed, and he balled his hands over Illumi’s fists and pressed him down. “But you’re still pinned.”
Hisoka's body was warm above him. Illumi’s eyes flicked down to his mouth. He looked back to yellow, focused eyes. They leaned in at the same time and their mouths collided once. They separated -- and leaned in again, faster. Hisoka opened his mouth against Illumi's and he could taste him. Like a bloody lip. Metal and heat --
A chill ran down Illumi’s spine. Their tongues pressed together and Illumi exhaled as Hisoka’s weight increased along his body, trapping him to the floor. The feeling of Hisoka's tongue against his own, and then along his teeth -- he followed it, every movement, stomach tightening.
The claws of Illumi’s hands, his heart-stealing technique, burst through Hisoka’s fists, slicing through the flesh of his palms, but neither of them stopped, not even when they ran out of air; they just panted against each other as they continued to kiss open-mouthed and they got sloppy, fast, panting --
The kiss grew frenzied as blood pooled between their hands and the smell of it filled the space.
Illumi had only wanted to see how vulnerable Hisoka was while distracted sexually. The answer was: quite. But now they were kissing and he didn’t stop. He wasn’t stopping. Why wasn’t he stopping?
He gasped against Hisoka’s mouth, saliva pooled between the two of them. It was wet, humid; Illumi was dizzy; his eyes couldn't focus. Their teeth clattered as they tilted their heads and Illumi nipped Hisoka’s tongue and Hisoka replied by biting his bottom lip.
It was Hisoka who stopped, kissing Illumi mouth-closed -- on the corner of his lips, first, then against his cheek. Illumi instinctively followed him as he parted ways, brushing their noses together.
Don’t stop, Hisoka.
When he realized what he had done, Illumi slammed his head back so quickly that the floor cracked beneath his skull.
“Good fight,” Hisoka said.
Above them, someone in the crowd of spectators said, “Holy shit.”
Round three: Hisoka.
Chapter 4: That's Not Sexting
See chapter title.
PLEASE NOTE: I HAVE UPDATED THIS CHAPTER AND MADE SOME LARGE EDITS TO THE SECOND HALF. Re-read if you haven't seen the latest version. Thank you!
Xoxo had seen a lot of unsavory, shady, and dark-sided things in the world of professional fighting, but Illumi Zoldyck was a whole new level of disturbing.
It started with a text message.
09:05 ?: Hello, Xoxo. Would you like advice on how to defeat Hisoka in Battle Olympia?
There was no signature, and she didn’t recognize the number. Hesitantly, she texted back:
09:08 XOXO: I would like to win of my own merits and not by cheating.
09:08 ?: I am not suggesting otherwise. I believe I can help you.
Xoxo's dark tanned hand hovered over the phone. She didn’t know how to respond. She swallowed, lips pursing, and then replied:
09:09 XOXO: What are you suggesting?
09:09 ?: Let us meet. - IZ
The initials sent chills down her spine. Every single floor master knew who Illumi Zoldyck was, now. After that fight with Hisoka, when they caused nearly one-hundred-thousand dollars worth of damage to the combat arena in their gym, the floor masters were all made perfectly aware. Xoxo hadn’t been there, but the story of the fight went viral among the group.
09:11 XOXO: If this is a trick, I’ll fucking kill you. Where do you want to meet?
She didn’t receive a response, but twelve hours later when she walked out onto an observation deck around floor one-fifty to eat her customary dinner of vending machine protein bars, Illumi appeared out of the shadows. She got chills.
“Hi,” she said. Her thick black hair sat in an oversized ball atop her head and she was grateful she had decided to put it up. If Illumi attacked her, she had the feeling she’d need every physical advantage she could get, and hair-in-her-eyes would be quite the setback.
“Hello,” Illumi said, and his voice sounded nothing like the deep sinister hissing she had conjured up in her thoughts.
They were quiet for a minute and Xoxo was struck, momentarily, by how awkward Illumi was this close. He was staring, blankly, and standing stiff as a board. He was the one who wanted to meet and now he couldn’t say a word?
Xoxo cleared her throat. “I guess I should go ahead and ask the most important thing: why the hell do you want to help me beat Hisoka? Aren’t you guys --” one hand flailed in the air, “-- special...friends?”
“We are regular friends,” Illumi clarified.
Xoxo thought, who make out sometimes, but said nothing.
“I believe Hisoka will leave the tower if he is defeated.”
Xoxo raised an eyebrow and lifted the power bar to her mouth, taking a bite. Waiting for Illumi to continue.
“When a floor master is beaten during Battle Olympia, the competitors from floor two-hundred are able to challenge them for their floor without refusal. Hisoka has no interest in these fights. He will forfeit his floor to the first challenger.”
Xoxo’s eyebrows furrowed. “That seems unlikely. I mean, he’d give up his entire penthouse and all the perks just because he didn’t want to pound a lesser fighter out in the ring?”
It was Illumi’s turn to look incredulous. If she didn’t know even the basics about Hisoka, this would be more difficult than he thought. “Obviously.”
“Whatever. Alright. What do you have for me?”
“You have seventeen days until the fight. I am offering to train you.”
“I have a teacher already --”
“This would entirely in secret and would be focused specifically on defeating Hisoka in the ring. One very specific set of skills.” Illumi produced a card from the fold in his tunic and held it for Xoxo to take. She did, reluctantly, and read an address written in beautiful well-scripted lettering. “Go here at midnight. Every day until the fight.”
She stared at the address; it was somewhere south of town. The warehouse district.
“It is likely I will be unable to join you every day. However, I will have contingencies in place.”
“Alright…” Xoxo said, voice wavering.
Illumi nodded and then turned away, to walk back into Celestial Tower.
“Wait, wait. Remind me again -- why are you doing this?”
Illumi didn’t turn around as he replied, continuing forward. “Hisoka is my friend.”
Xoxo shot a startled look at Ilumi’s retreating back. “That’s some fucked up definition of friendship you have there.”
“Yep!” Illumi said. He vanished.
It was so easy to forget about the real world while wrapped up in the two-hundred and fifty floors of Celestial Tower, lost in the politics and brackets and gambling and fans and screams and thrill.
When Illumi got a message from his father, his entire perspective shifted hard and he realized he had devoted so much time to Hisoka’s fight in the last few days that the rest of his life had been placed on the backburner.
He hadn’t had an assignment in 10 days.
He opened the mail and Hisoka appeared over his shoulder to read it, too. They had been reading the newspaper on the couch in the den. Well, Illumi had been reading. Hisoka was filling in the crossword.
08:08 Father: Can you be home by 18:00? We need some time to catch up.
Illumi felt something rush into his veins. It was like relief and adrenaline and yearning. He hadn’t been home in so long, it felt like.
08:09 Illumi: Yes.
08:09 Father: Plan to stay the night.
08:09 Illumi: Understood.
“Hm, how interesting,” Hisoka said, falling back to his side of the sofa, newspaper in hand. He lifted the pen from where he had stuffed it behind his ear, and went back to reading the clues.
“I will be out tonight,” Illumi said, pointlessly.
“Yes, I know,” Hisoka said. He chewed on the end of the pen, hair falling into his eyes as he stared hard at the little text.
They were quiet while Illumi continued to stare at his phone. Minutes ticked by.
“You’re excited,” Hisoka said, finally looking up over the paper.
Illumi offered a small smile.
“Bring your suit back,” Hisoka said. He glanced down at the page again and said, “Ah.” He leaned over it, pen filling in several squares.
Hisoka was right. Illumi would need a suit for Yorkshin.
“How is life outside the Zoldyck walls?” Silva asked.
Illumi was seated across from him in his office, surrounded by computer equipment and flickering lights from the various sources of power that fed in through the mountains. There were dozens of images from various marks the Zoldyck family followed on a day-to-day basis. Killu’s face was featured on the largest screen. He was on Whale Island again. Illumi wasn’t sure why, but it bothered him the most when his brother was there. It was almost a feeling of indignance; why would he choose to spend time in a tiny unattached place when he had the opportunity to live on the vast and sophisticated Zoldyck estate?
“Illumi?” Silva said.
Illumi blinked. “It has been quite alright,” he said honestly.
“No troubles adapting?”
“It has been mostly painless.” Hisoka’s teasing face appeared in his mind and Illumi narrowed his eyes at the distraction.
“Oh?” Silva was smiling. He crossed his large arms across his large chest and Illumi was struck by how Hisoka often did the very same thing. Sat back, arms crossed, smirking like he knew something you didn’t want him to know. Both sleeveless. Why always sleeveless?
He would analyze the fact that his father and Hisoka had many similarities but Illumi decided it was best to lock it away into a box in his mind and leave it there to rot. “I am staying at Celestial Tower.”
“Ahh. Are you fighting? It’s a good source of secondary income.”
Illumi wrinkled his nose. He was more aware when he did it now that Hisoka had brought it to his attention -- and Illumi forced his face straight again before saying, “I am not interested in fighting the competitors there.”
“Then why are you there?”
“I am staying with an associate.”
Illumi’s eyes widened at his own language.
Hisoka was his friend; not associate.
He didn’t want to tell his dad that.
Silva continued to grin. “I see.” He lifted a sheet of paper off one desk and read aloud, “Hisoka.”
Illumi wasn’t sure why he didn’t want his father to know.
“He’s from Meteor City. He was raised in a caravan of gypsies,” Silva said.
“Nomads,” Illumi said.
Silva looked up from the sheet. “Hm?”
“Hisoka -- he called them nomads.” Not gypsies. He didn’t -- like the word. “In any case, yes. I have known Hisoka for some time.”
Silva continued to read. “You were teenagers.”
“I was twelve,” Illumi said, nodding.
“He killed our marks. Your marks.”
He nodded still, remembering the incident well. Illumi would show up at the target’s home and they would already be dead and he could smell someone else, someone who wasn’t supposed to be there, but it wasn’t until months later when Hisoka finally came out from the shadows that Illumi learned his identity. He had done it, he said, for fun.
“Why didn’t you kill him then?” Silva asked, sounding genuinely curious, dropping the paper back to the desk.
Illumi was twelve again and standing in front of Hisoka, who was sixteen and taller but just as thin and he looked hungry and wild. His hair was a pale yellow back then, poorly bleached, and his clothes didn’t fit and smelled like body odor and blood --
Illumi answered, “I knew I wouldn’t be able to win in a confrontation. His nen powers were very advanced and I had just begun to learn.”
“If I ordered you to kill him for the good of the family, would you?”
“Easily,” Illumi said, his body and his mouth operating exactly as they were meant to. But his mind -- it twisted the thought, running in circles. Illumi always knew instantly the best way to eliminate a target, but with Hisoka, he couldn’t decide. Silently? As he slept? No -- face to face -- maybe they’d kiss -- maybe he’d kiss him again. Maybe Hisoka would hold his face and Illumi would stab his gut and hold the warmth of his insides in his hands while their tongues touched. He could bathe in his blood.
Silva seemed oblivious to his son’s internal struggle and nodded. “I’m glad you’ve found something that works outside of the estate. Let’s talk jobs.”
The rest of the time at the manor was spent covering the various assassinations the family had done. It turned out that Illumi’s lightened schedule was the result of Milluki being forced into field work. Silva and Kikyo were enforcing new rules on all of their children -- and not just Illumi. Milluki had been out killing marks and collecting income like the other children were expected to.
Apparently he wasn’t doing half-bad, either. No failures yet. Illumi knew he was smart; that wit would be his greatest weapon in assassination.
He was proud of him.
“Anyway, with the little pig handling that work, things have been a bit more controlled around here. For the first time since Kalluto was born,” Grandfather complained.
“We’ve been debating splitting up jobs based on proximity,” Silva said.
“Then I will take Yorkshin,” Illumi said. “I will be moving there in a few weeks.”
“Agh!” Grandfather spat, “Too big, too many lights. You can have it.”
Illumi smiled a bit. “I like it.”
“Kikyo was convinced you wouldn’t like anything except the estate,” Silva said. “She’ll be glad to hear this.”
She would probably burst into tears.
Illumi nodded mechanically. He hadn’t expected to want anything outside of the estate, either. It was still, in the far reaches of his mind, his final destination anyway. Once it belonged to Killu, in the future, he would move back in. Killu would let him. Killu loved him.
But Yorkshin was acceptable in-between. Part of his much longer mission. It occurred to Illumi on some vague level that this time outside of the Zoldyck manor really was the longest job he had ever had.
“Let’s turn in,” Silva said. “Your flight is early tomorrow.”
“Mmhmm,” Illumi agreed.
Illumi was trying to sleep in his childhood bed in pitch blackness when his phone lit up the space near his dressing table. He reached over and grabbed it to read the message -- from Hisoka.
01:32 Hisoka: Someone sent you a package.
01:33 Illumi: Who?
01:33 Hisoka: A man with silver temples. He’s dead.
01:34 Illumi: You killed him? Why?
01:34 Hisoka: The package wasn’t very nice. *-_-v
01:35 Illumi: Are you alright?
01:35 Hisoka: Mostly.
01:35 Illumi: Are you hurt?
01:36 Hisoka: I’m hard. He begged for his children’s lives.
A chill broke out across Illumi’s skin. He typed something before he could stop himself, but didn’t press send. His thumb wavered over the key for a moment while his eyes moved across the darkness of his room, calculating. He erased the original message and sent:
01:37 Illumi: Why are you texting me?
01:37 Hisoka: Hmm… You know why.
01:38 Illumi: You want my thanks?
01:38 Hisoka: You ask a lot of questions. How is home?
01:39 Illumi: Father asked if I would kill you.
The chills burst out over him again, stomach dropping. Memories of the bloody kiss he’d envisioned filled his mind. He shouldn’t talk about this.
01:39 Hisoka: What did you say?
01:39 Illumi: I thought about how I would do it.
01:40 Hisoka: Oh, I understand. What did you decide?
01:40 Illumi: I would have to distract you.
Stop texting, Illumi.
01:40 Illumi: But once I did, I could pin you down. I would use needles. You wouldn’t be able to move. You would not even be able to breathe unless I let you.
01:41 Hisoka: Sounds like I’d have a hard time.
01:41 Illumi: You wouldn’t be able to talk.
01:41 Hisoka: I’m not sure I would be interested in talking.
Stop texting, Illumi.
01:41 Illumi: Me either.
He was too warm, suddenly. He pulled his nightshirt up and struggled out of it and felt the air sink into the blankets as he moved.
01:41 Illumi: I would hit you.
01:41 Hisoka: I’d let you.
As soon as that response blinked onto his screen, Illumi’s cock jerked between his legs and his hand dove into the waistband of his sleeping pants and gripped it.
01:43 Hisoka: I’d let you bleed me out.
Illumi rolled his hips forward, instinctively, and he turned in bed so he could bury his face into his pillow and ignore anything else that was sent. He started breathe heavily as his cock ached, pulsing against his grip, and Illumi steeled himself to stop -- but the phone blinked, again.
01:45 Hisoka: I’d let you choke me out.
His hand moved now, fast, jerking himself off into his sheets. He wondered if Hisoka was doing the same, back in the tower, in bed. Naked, abs tight, rolling his cock into one hand, texting Illumi with the other, smiling.
01:46 Hisoka: Is that what you thought about?
01:46 Hisoka: I’d let you ride me while you killed me.
He gasped. He wanted to reply, to text back and say he wouldn’t, but his hands were pinned beneath himself, touching his cock and scrotum and thighs. He forced his pants down, and they stretched across his thighs as he kneeled in bed. He wanted to text Hisoka that he would never -- ever --
01:49 Hisoka: You’d fuck yourself while I lay there dying, wouldn’t you?
Illumi groaned, muffling the sound, and felt the dizzying white heat of orgasm building. He stroked himself off faster.
01:51 Hisoka: You’d come covered in my blood.
Illumi muffled a scream into his pillow when he came, thrusting into his own fist, hair fanned out, sticking to his face, cascading off his pillow, pants hitched down around his knees as he laid ass-up in bed.
The world fizzled back to reality as he breathed heavily into his dampened pillow. He remained there for a moment, semen cooling in his palms.
01:52 Hisoka: Or am I wrong?
Illumi wiped his hands clean on his nightshirt and threw it from the bed with more force than necessary. He righted his hair, combing it off his face, off his shoulders. He rolled onto his back, pants fixed around his waist.
01:53 Hisoka: I almost called you instead of texting.
Illumi replied, finally.
01:54 Illumi: I would not have answered. It is late. Goodnight, Hisoka.
01:55 Hisoka: See you in the morning. *^_^v
Illumi arrived back at the penthouse at nine in the morning to the smell of waffles. He had a garment bag draped over one arm and his duffel bag on the other and his newest assassination details folded into the back pocket of his silk pants. He was going to be gone for the remaining days before Hisoka's fight and had to make arrangements for Xoxo. He'd already drawn up a document detailing Hisoka's many nen abilities and his greatest weaknesses to serve as an education tool to help her win the fight.
His sexual appetite was at the very top of the weakness list.
Based on the smell of breakfast, Illumi knew he could return to his room without having to speak to Hisoka, which seemed best. Perhaps their proximity had been excessive in the last few weeks. The frustration Illumi felt from the text messages the previous night continued to linger and he felt the weight of his second phone like a brick inside of his bag.
He walked from the entrance of the penthouse to his room and pushed open the door, only to be greeted with a nearly-naked Hisoka seated on his bed, eating.
Illumi stood in his doorway and let the duffel bag drop with a wumf.
"Welcome back," Hisoka said. He smelled of sweat and was wearing fitted exercise shorts; he'd obviously come from a morning workout. Or sex. (Both?) Illumi did a quick cursory glance in his room.
"What are you doing in here?"
Hisoka lounged back, legs spreading, and Illumi remembered when he had done that very same thing in Hisoka's room. It had failed then and it was failing now. Irritation whipped up in Illumi's mind so quickly that his aura pulsed.
"Am I bothering you?" Hisoka asked. His eyes glanced down and up Illumi's form and for a split-second, Illumi wondered if his clairvoyance were real. Could you see Illumi on his knees in bed last night? Did he know what he'd done?
"Yes," Illumi said. "Leave."
"Alright, alright." Slowly Hisoka pushed himself to standing, and he grabbed the plate of waffles from the nightstand.
"The waffles can stay," Illumi said.
"Hm?" Hisoka looked at Illumi from beneath his heavy curtain of pinkish red bangs.
"Leave the waffles. You go."
"Of course," Hisoka said. He was grinning when he passed the plate. He walked by the assassin, out of his door, and their shoulders brushed as he went. The same chills he had felt the night before erupted on his skin but Illumi was better trained now, in the light of day, and he forced himself to feel nothing.
Empty, Illumi closed his door and sat down to eat breakfast alone.
"This document has all of the information you will need to make informed decisions during the fight," Illumi said, passing a large brown envelope to Xoxo. They stood in the frozen air of the empty warehouse. Illumi was well-bundled in an oversized scarf and black cap. Xoxo was less fashionable and more practical in a down parka and her hair was up in two thick wiry tufts on her head.
"I hate reading," she sighed.
"You will win if you are able to utilize what I have given you," Illumi said. "I am leaving for work and I will not return until the day of the fight. But you may contact me with questions, and I have reached out to a friend that will meet with you here for combat training."
Xoxo nodded, hugging the envelope to her chest. "Every night at midnight."
"I do not emphasize combat as highly. Hisoka's tactics are his greatest asset, beyond even his ability in nen. He will beat you even without it."
"Yeah, yeah, I got it. Your husband's a genius."
"He is not my husband," Illumi said, automatically. Xoxo gave him an incredulous look, one brow lifted, and Illumi added, "He could not afford the ring."
Xoxo's face dropped. "Did you -- was that a joke?" The corners of her mouth turned, and she laughed.
Illumi didn't laugh. He reached into his pocket and produced a remote. "The black substance you are standing on has been installed in this warehouse for your training. It's a jelly that liquefies and solidifies on command and sticks to moving forces. It is not unlike Hisoka's Bungee Gum."
"His hatsu has the properties of both rubber and gum, as I am certain he will tell you himself during the fight. In any case..." Illumi hit something on the remote and Xoxo fell, suddenly, the black substance sucking her in like aggressive quicksand. She gasped. "Free yourself as quickly as possible." He turned and tossed the remote out of reach. "Once you make it out alive, continue to practice with it until you can free yourself in under one-tenth of a second."
"You're -- fucking kidd --" the jelly sucked her in and she struggled against it, limbs pulled back.
"Think faster," Illumi said, "Or he will kill you." His phone buzzed in his pocket and he produced it to see a text from Hisoka.
12:08 Hisoka: Do you want a cookie cake?
Illumi had no idea the context of such a question, but he answered it anyway.
12:08 Illumi: Yes.
He turned back to Xoxo to see her steadily freeing herself using her enhancer hatsu -- it created barriers around her limbs that allowed her to move out of the jelly.
That would work. His eyes narrowed and he mentally raised her odds from four percent to eight percent. Much higher than most. She managed to free her head and took a gasp of air.
“Keep going,” Illumi said. “Try to envision lots of blood; maybe some severed heads flying at you.”
“Where the hell is he going to get severed heads?” Xoxo panted.
“Hisoka is crafty by nature.”
“You’re both psychotic by nature,” Xoxo hissed.
"I have to go," Illumi said, looking down at his phone. "I will be in attendance the evening of the fight."
"Great," Xoxo struggled to say, shifting in the black goop.
Illumi didn't say goodbye as he turned on his heel, leaving for the penthouse and, apparently, a cookie cake.
Chapter 5: Earth and Water
Battle Olympia takes place. Does Xoxo (Illumi) have a chance?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The penthouse was somehow less quiet without Illumi there. The assassin had an aura that evaporated light and sound rather impressively and Hisoka was now aware of noises that weren’t there before. They were repairing the gym and the sound of the construction vibrated up the walls incessantly. There were airships outside that passed his window every hour. Even the sound of his ballpoint pen scratching along the surface of the daily crossword seemed to echo in the kitchen.
“How strange,” Hisoka said to no one.
Ping-pong sounded the alert in the den. He had a guest. Dragging along the newspaper with himself, Hisoka walked out into his den to the television screen and saw a group of girls -- oh, and a young man -- standing at the elevators.
“Master Hisoka, you have visitors. They are asking for autographs. Should I send them away?”
“Very well.” The television screen went dark.
The sound of a clock on the wall tick-tick-ticked in the room before Hisoka decided to go through Illumi’s things in his bedroom.
When he had everything -- clothes, weapons, books, hair products -- spread out across his floor and bed, Hisoka snapped a picture and sent it his way.
He received a response about an hour later.
13:44 Illumi: Do not touch my things.
13:44 Hisoka: Too late for that.
13:45 Illumi: Are you bored?
13:45 Hisoka: Terribly. *-_-v Will you entertain me?
13:46 Illumi: No. Stop bothering me.
13:46 Hisoka: What’re you doing?
13:49 Hisoka: Is it fun?
13:52 Hisoka: So mean.
He whipped out a card, the six of spades, and whipped it at the wall. It embedded deep and sat there unmoving.
Illumi was working with Kalluto and it was, in fact, fun. They were deep in the Azian continent, surrounded by a thick forest of bamboo, waiting for a package drop-off from a biplane above. They sat perched on the ground, damp and sweaty from running through the lush wood for several hours.
They hadn’t said a word to each other, yet.
Finally a plane buzzed overhead. Illumi could hear the high-pitched squeal of the package cutting through the air, whizzing towards the ground very fast. He shot a look to Kalluto, who read the mental instruction perfectly, nodding. He launched himself into the air, far above the trees, caught the package, and landed back down very quietly.
Illumi took the box from him and pulled open the screwed top with ease, snapping some of the wood off in the process. Inside, clear tightly-wrapped packages of thick white powder laid in rows beside packages of thick green leaves. It was a drug drop.
Kalluto reached inside and pulled two packages of each type into his robe, fastening them there. Illumi opened one of each. He tasted the white -- and his eyes darted back and forth as his taste buds deciphered exactly what it contained. It was almost a perfectly pure substance. He did the same with the green, but smelled it instead.
“It is good,” he said. Kalluto nodded. He reached down and lifted the wooden box above his head and motioned. “Run in front.” They had several hours until they returned to the city by foot. “Text father and inform him that the drop was successful.”
“Yes, brother,” Kalluto replied dutifully, pulling out his phone. He sent a message to Silva and pulled open another and sent something else, too. He and Illumi began to run.
“Who else are you messaging?” Illumi asked.
“One of my associates,” Kalluto said. “His name is Phinks.”
“Of the Ryodan.”
“Are they privy to this deal?”
“They mean to steal it from our client shortly after we drop it off.”
Illumi looked forward. “How much are they paying you for information?”
“Two million,” Kalluto said.
His little brother was earning more money than he was. “Why so high?” The amount of cargo they were taking wasn’t worth one-fourth of that.
“It’s part of a much larger deal,” Kalluto explained, “I’ll be distributing some valuable information after this is taken.”
“I see,” Illumi said. He glanced to the side, at Kalluto, who looked back curiously. “You’re doing quite well. Once, a long time ago, I was hired to kill some members of the Ryodan. They ended up paying me off.” It was one of his biggest payouts ever, too. He wondered if perhaps he should have joined them. But the idea of working under someone who wasn’t his father was very unappealing, in the end.
Kalluto went a little red in the face and kept going. “I know, actually. They mentioned you once.”
“Phinks doesn’t like your aura. He said it was -- ah -- creepy.”
Illumi blinked. “Creepy?”
Kalluto shrugged. “I didn’t get it, either.”
“What about your aura?”
“They all say it’s -- elegant.”
“Like mother’s,” Illumi said. He felt a swell of pride.
“Yes,” Kalluto agreed, still pink in the cheeks. He smiled. Illumi smiled back. “Phinks says I’m compatible with most people because of it. That it will be an advantage to me.”
Illumi looked forward again. Compatibility? His own aura was black and swirling like a forceful rainfall during the night. Before he even knew what he was thinking, he compared his aura to Hisoka’s -- Illumi was an unending drowning storm and Hisoka was a purpleish mountain that grew deep into the sky, ever-tall and lush with predatory strength.
They seemed quite compatible, too. Like water and earth.
“Illumi?” Kalluto chirped, and Illumi went out of his fantasy so quickly that the box he held cracked beneath the weight of his hands. “Are you okay?”
Illumi kept his face trained neutral. “I am alright.”
A few days later, he got a text.
15:30 Hisoka: Are you still alive?
15:35 Illumi: I am.
15:36 Hisoka: Just checking.
15:40 Hisoka: How’s Azia?
15:40 Illumi: Damp.
15:41 Hisoka: I bet your hair’s a mess.
Illumi had finally tied it up into a bun at the very top of his head because it was, in fact, a mess. Knotted, heavy.
15:42 Illumi: It is.
15:42 Hisoka: That shower that you hate here in the tower probably doesn’t seem so terrible now, eh?
15:43 Illumi: It is is still quite unappealing.
15:44 Hisoka: You can use my bathtub when you get back.
15:45 Illumi: Thank you.
Almost two weeks later, Illumi stepped out of his car and onto the sidewalk before Celestial Tower. His lip had a small cut down the middle, but that was the only sign of the struggle he and his youngest brother had faced with their drug deal.
They’d left nearly a whole town slaughtered after all was said and done. He didn’t care; he had his money for the move to Yorkshin and enough to afford a substantial flat downtown. Half of his personal mission was done.
The other half would be finished today.
The sidewalk was a madhouse, crammed with people shoving and screaming in disarrayed lines as they tried to reach the doors to the tower. Everyone wanted to watch Battle Olympia; more than half the country had money invested in these fights. Illumi, as occupied as he had been in his mission, hadn’t gotten the chance to look up the odds. He wondered how high Hisoka would be in the predictions.
He already knew the outcome using his own mental math, so when he went inside (scaling the side of the building to enter on the thirtieth floor), he went straight to a betting desk and made his predictions.
Fight One: Hisoka v Turnar - Hisoka wins, 10-0.
Fight Two: Hisoka v Tsuzura - Hisoka wins, 10-0.
Fight Three: Hisoka v Xoxo - Xoxo wins, 10-9.
Should he be correct in his estimations, Illumi would have some pocket change for the next few months, at least.
“Nothing on the grand finale? Only betting on Hisoka’s fights?” The attendant said, counting Illumi’s prediction slips.
“I do not care about anything else,” Illumi said.
“Fair ‘nough. Don’t lose this receipt,” he said, handing Illumi a sheet of paper. Illumi hid it within his shirt and nodded, walking away. Someone immediately took his place at the betting counter.
The first round of fights had just begun and those who couldn’t get seats in the actual stadium were crowding around the flat panel televisions that hung off the ceiling every few feet in the tower. Illumi moved his way around the groups.
“Hisoka, who has never lost a fight in Heaven’s Arena, is going to meet his match today in Turnar -- another competitor with a perfect record!” The announcer said. Illumi boarded an elevator, shutting out the noise, and went up to the penthouse.
It was quiet when he arrived. Sighing, Illumi reached up and let his hair down for the first time in days. His scalp ached as the black mass fell over his shoulders and he sighed, quietly, reaching up to massage his head. He had to get showered and changed; he wanted to be in the audience for the Xoxo fight.
He had a feeling it would be quite the show.
Tsuzura went flying into the wall with a loud, spine-tingling crack that left the audience speechless. Hisoka stood in the center of the ring. He hadn’t moved from that spot since the fight began and he was analyzing his nails. He’d chipped the corner of one and now his entire ensemble was imperfect.
A pity, because his costume for Battle Olympia was one of his favorites.
A black fitted cropped top with a line of diamonds ringed around the hem, pink bands around his wrists and waist and ankles, and black pants and boots. He wore the highest heel he could for the day; after all, this would be televised across the nation and there was nothing so impressive as his ability to stomp ground in six-inch platforms.
“Hisoka wins!” The announcer shrieked. The audience erupted in screams of shock and triumph and anger, a whirling mass of attention. “Hisoka wins his second fight -- ten to nothing!”
The referee motioned for Hisoka to head back out of the arena and he did. The back room, the waiting area for competitors, was filled with other winners from previous fights. Xoxo sat in the corner, reading something from a binder with incredible intensity.
Hisoka found his phone in one locker and shot a text off to Illumi:
15:14 Hisoka: Did you get back alright?
15:14 Illumi: Yes. I am about to leave the suite for your fight.
15:15 Hisoka: Your tickets are at the ticket counter in the lobby.
15:15 Illumi: I know.
15:15 Hisoka: Aren’t you going to wish me luck?
15:16 Illumi: Die for all I care.
Hisoka laughed. The other competitors in the room looked over and an obvious sense of unease filled the space. One fighter shivered and leaned over to whisper to his neighbor, “Even his laugh is creepy.”
The screams were deafening. The audience was so packed that Illumi had no choice but to stand alongside everyone else; there was no way this many people could sit in the seats provided. There were men and women alike, all dressed in shirts and hats emblazoned with Hisoka or Xoxo’s name.
Interestingly, the crowd looked evenly split.
Foolish, Illumi thought. Hisoka wouldn’t win. Xoxo had every advantage.
The two fighters walked out. Xoxo was wearing head to toe purple, a military-grade uniform that accentuated her small waist and round hips. Her hair had been straightened and hung down, untied, around her shoulders. When the referee stepped into the ring, she reached into a pocket, producing a rubber band, and used it to pull her hair back. Slowly.
Hisoka pointed at her and said something, but Illumi couldn’t hear. Not with the noise. But Xoxo flinched. And the she replied and Hisoka face split into a wide cattish grin.
“The competitors look ready for battle, don’t they?!” The announcer shrieked overhead. “One of the most anticipated fights of the day, we have two of the strongest floor masters in the tower here before us. Who will reign supreme on this day?! Xoxo?”
The referee stood between the two of them, lifted his arm, and made the signal for the fight to begin.
Xoxo took off immediately. She rained a hit down to Hisoka from above, but he simply lifted an arm and blocked it. The shockwave of the impact rattled the stands. But Illumi had been focusing on the point of impact so intensely that he saw the cracking of Hisoka’s ulna, even if he couldn’t hear it over the stadium noise.
She broke a bone.
Xoxo grinned as she backed off and Hisoka looked at his arm, wide-eyed for only a moment.
The referee awarded Xoxo a point.
Hisoka reached down and tightened a hand around the point of impact and squeezed, popping the split bone into place. Stupidly high tolerance for pain.
A camera swooped in, finally, buzzing on little mechanical wings, and Illumi looked to the flat-screens above the ring.
“You have a powerful punch,” Hisoka said.
Xoxo continued to grin. “Suppose you won’t test me like that again, huh?”
Hisoka rolled his head, cracking a joint, and tension exploded out of the stands in another rain of shrieking. “Absolutely not. Would you like to see a trick?”
Xoxo took an immediate step back. “No.” Illumi remembered what he had written about Hisoka’s tricks: they’ll be full of awe-inspiring gore. Don’t indulge him.
“Are you sure?”
“I’d rather you fight me, you fucking pervert clown,” Xoxo hissed. The audience ate that up, jumping up and down -- even Illumi smirked, a little.
“So cold,” Hisoka said. “As you wish.” He pulled his hand back and at the same moment, Xoxo slipped off her feet and went flying through the air. She collided with his fist with a loud crack and another impact that sent ripples in the air, cutting through the stands.
“What?!” The announcer shouted, “Hisoka landed a blow but didn’t even move -- Xoxo gave him the perfect opening somehow!”
He used Bungee Gum, Illumi thought. Thankfully Xoxo knew how to handle it, now.
She landed a few feet from Hisoka and turned to look up at him, blood trickling from her lip. She smirked and her aura pulsed out, hard, and Hisoka’s hatsu was forced off her form just like that.
Hisoka blinked. “How interesting.”
“Not really,” Xoxo said. She launched another attack. They exchanged blows quickly, with the kind of speed an average person wouldn’t be able to follow. When Xoxo went flying from another punch a moment later, the ref awarded Hisoka three points.
They stood opposite one another for a moment.
“Who’s your master?” Hisoka asked.
Xoxo narrowed her eyes. “His name is Waka.”
“I don’t know him,” Hisoka said.
“Of course not,” Xoxo said. “Why would you?”
“Because whoever taught you how to fight me knows who I am, personally.”
Xoxo’s widened eyes gave her away.
Ah, shit, Illumi thought.
And then Hisoka’s stare pinned to him in the audience instantly, without even having to search the crowd. Illumi stood unmoving and met his yellow eyes with no small amount of glee. He kept his face trained still, but his insides were dancing and on fire.
“Who is Hisoka looking at?!” The announcer screamed. “Is something happening that we don’t understand?! Is there a history here with Xoxo and Hisoka? Do they share an ally?! Is there something deeper to this fight?! We just don’t know!”
Illumi’s heart began to pound in his chest. He felt overheated and -- excited.
He let himself grin.
Hisoka’s jaw grit so tightly that the muscle ticked in his face and finally he snapped his attention back to Xoxo. She took a step back, steeled herself, and launched forward again. They began fighting, earnestly. A punch enhanced by nen sent Hisoka flying from the ring eventually and he landed with a destructive crash against one of the walls beneath the audience. Dust rained down on him as the concrete crumbled, but he stood back up and dusted off his pants like he was more concerned with looking dirty on screen than anything else.
The ref made several calls. Critical hit to Hisoka, three hits and a down to Xoxo. That put Xoxo one point ahead at seven-six.
Exactly as predicted.
“Watch out,” Hisoka said as he approached the ring, pointing behind Xoxo.
“Eh?” Xoxo said, glancing over her shoulder. Hisoka was behind her, suddenly, having leapt over the entire ring. He landed a punch across her temple and she went skidding across the floor.
Illumi’s notes had remarked on Hisoka’s speed. He’s fastest running in flats, but if he planned to jump, heels won’t set him back any. Xoxo had obviously only focused on the fastest in flats part when she saw his monster boots and assumed speed wouldn’t be an issue.
“Down to Hisoka!” The ref shouted. Three points.
He only needed one more point to win. Illumi’s eyes widened.
“I’m tempted to kill you, now,” Hisoka said. “I want to. I think about it sometimes at night, alone.”
Xoxo struggled to her feet, breathing heavily, eye already swollen shut. She glared at Hisoka as he walked very slowly, deliberately across the ring.
“You tried so hard, didn’t you?”
She panted, “What are you talking about?”
“You thought -- studying your mark like you did -- that it’d be the same as executing any job. Not much has changed since we first met, has it?”
Xoxo realized, belatedly, that Hisoka wasn’t even talking to her. She swallowed.
“Will you have any regrets if I kill her?” Hisoka looked back into the audience, directly at Illumi. The crowd shifted to follow his gaze.
Hisoka was going to win.
The reality became a crystal image in Illumi’s mind. And he was done. Job closed; mission failed.
He broke eye contact with Hisoka and turned on his heel to leave. His hair fanned out behind him as he walked away. He heard the crack of another punch as he left the stadium, but he didn’t know who was beneath the fist.
The crowd screamed.
Illumi heard the ding of the elevator, heard the click-clack of Hisoka’s shoes, heard the whizzing of the first card he sent his way. Illumi snatched it from the air and looked up from the newspaper he had in hand -- listings for flats in Yorkshin.
Up until Hisoka attacked him, Illumi assumed he’d move alone. After all, he had failed the mission. When he looked up to see pure fire in Hisoka’s eyes, he thought maybe he’d been playing this from the wrong angle all along.
Two more cards. Illumi caught the first and knocked the second off path. It skittered in air and landed with a thud into the coffee table of the den, embedding itself into the wood with incredible force.
“You are mad,” Illumi said.
“You ruined my fun,” Hisoka replied, voice light and at ease, completely at odds with the rolling waves of dark aura he sent Illumi’s way. “Did you want me dead? Did you want to see me crushed? Ruined by someone I wanted to break?” He stalked forward, muscles tightening, grin widening. He whipped another card. It met its mark in Illumi’s shoulder, above his collarbone, sliced in deep. The sheer force of it made him take a step back, but Illumi immediately righted himself and took a step forward.
They were nose to nose. Hisoka lifted a hand, wrapped it around Illumi’s hair, and balled a fist so tight that his bones creaked under its own pressure.
“You wanted me dead.”
“No,” Illumi said, and when the word left his mouth, he felt everything within him snap perfectly in half. Like a twig beneath Hisoka’s boot. “No,” he hissed, louder. His hands struck out simultaneously, both wrapping around Hisoka’s neck. He didn’t recognize his voice as he said, “When I want you dead, Hisoka --” his aura exploded from him, raw and uncontained, “-- I’ll kill you myself.”
Hisoka exhaled, the sound a whisper of a moan, and then they were kissing. The force of their bodies colliding sent a pulse out into the room and the furniture rattled backwards. Hisoka pushed forward, hands clawing through Illumi’s hair, until they landed against one wall.
Ping-pong. “Master Hisoka, you have visitors --”
Illumi threw Hisoka back, grabbed the lapels of his costume, and slammed him back down against the television mounted to the wall -- and it shattered in an explosion of particles. Spiderwebs of cracks climbed up the wall as he forced their mouths back together and he pressed the full length of himself against Hisoka.
“I’ll dismiss them,” the clerk said, voice shaking.
Hisoka’s hands gripped him by the ass, pulling their bodies flush, and he pressed their tongues together while they kissed open-mouth, panting. Illumi grabbed Hisoka by the wrists and slammed his hands against the wall, off of his body, and Hisoka moaned, loudly. Illumi could feel the broken bone beneath one hand.
“Did it hurt?” He asked, wetly, still pressing his mouth to Hisoka’s. He squeezed the bruised flesh and felt Hisoka’s cock lengthen against his thigh.
“It did,” Hisoka said, and he turned his head to mouth down Illumi’s neck. Illumi let his hands go, hands caging in either side of Hisoka’s head, and he tilted his head back as Hisoka kissed his pulse and nipped his throat. “You did that to me,” Hisoka said and Illumi made an involuntary sound that he wasn’t sure he’d made before, ever, and he felt the tip of his cock grow wet with arousal.
Hisoka got to the card embedded in Illumi’s shoulder. He pulled it free and sent it flying in another direction -- it slammed into a lamp, shattering it to dust, but neither noticed. Hisoka’s tongue dove into the wound and Illumi gasped as he licked it, first with the flat of his tongue, but then inside, and he cried out at the rush of arousal that made him roll his hips insistently against Hisoka.
Illumi grabbed Hisoka by his shirt, again, forcing him to stand straight, and he tore it down the middle, the rip echoing through the room. Hisoka replied by shoving him backwards, so they were off the wall, until they collided onto the coffee table. He slammed Illumi back until he laid out across it. He made fast work of Illumi’s silk top, too, pulling it away in ribbons by force.
His mouth was smeared with blood but Illumi pulled him down for another panting, moaning, open-mouthed kiss anyway, fingers tightening in his hair. Hisoka fished a hand down Illumi’s pants and grabbed the length of his dick, squeezing. Illumi immediately thrust up into the fist and groaned, tossing his head to the side, a familiar tightening twisting his gut.
Hisoka smiled against Illumi’s neck and held his hand still, fingers still tight around his erection. Illumi gasped and bucked his hips up, moving against the grip.
He turned questioning eyes to Hisoka, brushing noses as they looked at one another. Illumi was struck by how amber Hisoka’s eyes were this close, in the dim light of the den.
“This is how you want it, isn’t it? You want to use me? So use me.”
Illumi sighed, doing a full body shudder, and nodded wordlessly. He thrust up into Hisoka’s fist and kept his stare rapt on Hisoka’s half-lidded eyes. Their breath mingled and Illumi brought his legs up, around Hisoka’s middle, to create better leverage, and then he fucked himself into his hand in fast, hard pulses. His breath came faster.
“Are you going to come?” Hisoka asked, voice smiling as much as his lips.
Illumi nodded but didn’t answer, every thrust accentuated with a gasp now. Hisoka’s fist was so warm and his body was solid and Illumi was using him -- fucking him --
“Ah --” Illumi choked out, eyes fluttering.
“Look at me,” Hisoka said, and Illumi was coming, eyes open, vision blurred and spotty as he came.
He didn’t even realize he was talking at first until he gathered his bearings and heard, “Hisoka -- Hisoka -- Haa -- Hisoka --”
They hadn’t even managed to get their pants off yet, though Illumi’s were hiked down around his knees. He’d chosen an appropriate day to forgo underwear. He wasn’t even sure Hisoka had noticed until he said:
“Were you prepared for this? Is this what you wanted?”
Illumi didn’t answer, but leaned up to kiss Hisoka again. Hisoka dodged the kiss and bit down on his bottom lip instead. The cut Illumi had there from his last mission burst open and copper filled their mouths while Hisoka’s come-covered hand found Illumi’s entrance and slid against it.
“No?” Hisoka said, pulling his hand back.
Illumi’s voice turned into an authoritative growl that he hadn’t had to use since his brothers were infants: “Yes, Hisoka. Fuck me.” He grabbed Hisoka’s neck with one hand, shoved him off, and brought him back down to the floor, hard. The wood cracked beneath the force, splintering out from Hisoka’s back in every direction. Hisoka didn’t miss a beat, sliding his hand beneath Illumi and to his entrance again. Illumi pushed his pants down, until he freed one foot. A finger pushed inside and Illumi’s head dropped, task abandoned, hair cascading down his face and onto Hisoka. It framed them, blocking out the light of the room, and their eyes met again.
Hisoka worked a finger in and out with Illumi seated on top of him. “Did you think about this at all?”
Illumi’s hand tightened on Hisoka’s throat, wanting to crush his windpipe, to make him shut up, to force him to fucking do it -- he nodded.
“Tell me,” Hisoka said, voice dropping into a deep purr Illumi hadn’t heard before now.
“One day,” Illumi said, his voice a thick slur, “I’ll dislocate your arms, so you can’t move, and I’ll use you --” Hisoka added another finger and scissored them, slicking Illumi’s ass with his own cum. “I’ll use your tongue --”
Hisoka’s tongue snaked out, licking his top lip as Illumi spoke.
“Fuck,” Illumi panted, Hisoka’s fingers thrusting in and out faster.
Illumi pushed himself back, hands flat on Hisoka’s chest, as he pulled his fingers out. Hisoka sat up and Illumi pressed his lower body down, against the erection still clothed in Hisoka’s pants. Hisoka's moan even sounded like it had a smile. He pulled out his cock, pants pushed down just enough, and Illumi, impatiently, pushed down on it.
Hisoka sighed, sliding his hands up Illumi’s back and into his hair as he pressed inside. Illumi’s thighs trembled as he spread his legs, forcing himself onto his dick. He ignored the burning stretch -- or rather, it mingled with the dozens of other sensations that assaulted him from all sides.
For as fast as they had gone until now, with the frantic kissing, the spilled blood, the desperate clawing on each other’s bodies -- suddenly the world moved so slow. Illumi was panting, again, stomach tight, eyes closed, as his ass met Hisoka’s hips.
He felt a kiss on the tip of his nose.
Slowly, his eyes opened, and Hisoka was there. Hisoka rolled his hips forward and Illumi shuddered, again, dick jumping from half-erect to full in just that one moment. Hisoka did it again and Illumi gasped, arms tightening around where they were hugging his shoulders. Illumi thought, belatedly, that they shouldn’t be doing this in such an intimate position. Perhaps a counterintuitive thought.
But he could be face down and later deny that it had any effect on him, that fucking Hisoka had been just simple, uncomplicated, because no one would know. But this way, with his eyelashes brushing Hisoka’s face, his hair sticking in slick sweat against them both, his breath cutting out of his chest in pulsing gasps -- he couldn’t really hide anything.
Certainly not the fact that he’d never fucked anyone like this before.
“I thought about this the first time we met,” Hisoka mumbled, voice low.
Illumi’s fingers gripped his back. “We were children.”
“I didn’t care.”
Illumi rolled back as Hisoka rolled up, pace building. He didn’t say anything, but he looked at Hisoka’s mouth again for a moment and suddenly they were kissing again. Their tongues slid against one another and Hisoka bit Illumi’s bloodied lip and the sting of it made him jump and he tightened his ass involuntarily -- Hisoka groaned, audibly, and thrust up once, hard.
Illumi tossed his head and jerked down, to make Hisoka do that again. He did, hard enough to pull a sound from Illumi this time.
That seemed to be his new goal, because his hands chased down Illumi’s back from his hair to his ass and he gripped hard, bouncing him down. Illumi cried out and precum slid down the back of his cock, forced out in pulses with each thrust. “Ah -- ah --”
Hisoka pushed him down, back against the floor, and Illumi lifted his legs on pure instinct, until Hisoka’s hands found purchase beneath his knees. He pulled Illumi’s legs apart and pushed in, harder -- deeper -- and Illumi screamed again, the sound forced out of him, out of his control --
“Hisoka --” Both hands grabbed down his own body to his cock and he gripped it.
“Will you come again?” Hisoka asked, but he sounded unlike himself -- his voice wasn’t playful, at all -- it was deep. Warm.
“Ha -- h --” Illumi’s hands tightened around himself, and he looked through his messed hair at Hisoka over him. He managed to nod.
“Good,” Hisoka growled, fucking him faster. He shifted Illumi’s knees in hand, spreading him wide, folding him in half, and he found Illumi’s prostate with practiced knowledge. Illumi hadn’t expected it and screamed, again. Hisoka worked it with short, hard, rolling thrusts, pressing Illumi into the floor.
Illumi saw white. “I’ll come,” he slurred. “Hisoka… Hisoka --” but Hisoka was persistent. The orgasm rolled through Illumi unlike anything he’d experienced before in sex, a wave that pulsed out of him like nen, and he was coming hard. He came in spurts with every thrust, for longer than he knew he could come --
He was frantically gasping as he came back around, eyes slowly drawing focus -- Illumi realized what it must mean to have a religious experience, because he felt out of body, like he had been in another plane entirely. He decided, immediately, that he could never say such a thing to Hisoka.
“Can I come inside of you?” Hisoka asked. For such an intimate question, he seemed -- uncharacteristically -- unteasing. Illumi, breathless, not trusting to talk, nodded. He reached up, limbs feeling distant and foreign, and pulled Hisoka down into another kiss as he came.
They had really fucked up the den.
There were claw marks where Hisoka had gripped the floor, and there was a giant shattered piece of wood in the middle of the room from where Illumi had slammed him down. There were gigantic chunks missing from two walls and the flat screen television had been shattered and sat in pieces on the floor. The coffee table had a broken leg -- Illumi hadn’t even noticed that happening -- and a lamp had broken and fallen, taking down an orchid as it went, sending dirt across the entirety of the room.
Illumi and Hisoka sat naked on the couch, wrapped in blankets.
“I wanted to move to Yorkshin,” Illumi said, finally, after nearly an hour of silent reflection.
Hisoka looked up, eyes blinking open. He had been dozing. “I see.”
“I am going next week.”
“I’ll go with you,” Hisoka said, easily.
A chill ran down Illumi’s spine. “Really?”
“Mmhmm.” Hisoka settled back against the couch, and a hand reached out to cord through Illumi’s hair. “Can I see what you did to train Xoxo?”
“Mm, yeah. Where is my phone?”
Hisoka pointed to it, where it had gone flying out of Illumi’s pocket at some point, on the floor between the den and kitchen. Hisoka jerked his finger back and the phone sprang through the air. Illumi caught it. He flicked through his files until he found a copy of his manifesto on fighting Hisoka. He handed the device to him.
“This is on your work phone,” Hisoka pointed out.
“I considered it a mission to defeat you.”
“How sweet,” Hisoka said, settling in to read.
A few minutes later, he reached the list of weaknesses and began to laugh. Illumi leaned over. He placed his cheek against Hisoka’s bare shoulder, and squinted down at the device.
“Let me show you something,” Hisoka said, shifting, and he produced his own phone. He clicked around it for a minute and held it up for Illumi to read.
*He is like a stray cat. The more you feed him the things he loves, the more he will spend time around you, oblivious to your intentions.
Illumi narrowed his eyes. “When did you write this?”
“A long time ago. Before the Hunter’s Exam,” Hisoka said. “If we were going to be working together, I wanted to have a plan in place.” He smiled.
“Delete it,” Illumi said.
“No,” Hisoka replied.
Illumi made a grab for the phone, but Hisoka evaded him easily. “I will kill you,” Illumi said.
Hisoka simply said, “I will let you," and leaned in for a kiss.
That's it for now! I do plan to do a sequel, one day. Eventually. :) Maybe. HisoIllu adventures in Yorkshin do sound fun, huh?
Thank you all for your really amazing positive feedback. Thank you, thank you!