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The Smallest Favor

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2 missed calls.

 

Illumi turned his head, pressing his face into his pillow, and let out a long quiet sigh.

 

Silva Zoldyck calling.

 

He gasped, back arching, and his hands shot down. They gripped violet-red hair as Hisoka's head bobbed up -- and down. Illumi's chest rose with each labored breath.

 

Silva Zoldyck calling.

 

"Hisoka, stop -- I'll come --" Illumi panted out, words blurring together. Hisoka's wet mouth on his hard cock was overwhelming but the consistent pulsing pleasure of being fingerfucked was really what had him falling apart. Illumi's legs spread farther, unable to help himself --

 

Hisoka let out a long, pleased groan and tipped Illumi over the edge with such sudden force that he said, "Oh --" in surprise. Waves of pleasure poured over him, washing down his body, leaving him shaking and gasping into a white abyss.

 

He came back around shortly thereafter, panting Hisoka's name repeatedly. He did that too often; spoke when he didn't mean to during sex. He didn't really want to know the things he told Hisoka when in that fucked-out state.

 

3 missed calls.

 

They were on the floor, blankets and pillows scattered about. Illumi didn't even really remember how they'd fallen off the bed, but he'd be quite alright with staying still for a bit. Every inch of him was sore.

 

He'd recently begun considering sex with Hisoka into his workout routines.

 

Silva Zoldyck calling.

 

Illumi's eyes filtered up towards the nightstand next to his bed. It seemed so far. He could hear his phone buzzing atop of it.

 

"Your phone's been ringing for the last ten minutes," Hisoka said, laying flat on his stomach on the floor beside Illumi, pillow clutched between his arms and head, eyes closed. His facepaint had smudged, half a star dancing across one cheekbone. "You should answer. It might be important."

 

"I do not want to move," Illumi said, staring at the vibrating nightstand.

 

Hisoka produced a card (-- from where? He was naked --) without opening his eyes, and whipped it at the table. It struck a leg and knocked it over. A lamp, book, and Illumi's cellphone crashed to the floor. Within reach.

 

Illumi picked it up just as the call ended.

 

4 missed calls.

 

Shit, Illumi thought, immediately pressing the key to dial his father back.

 

Silva answered and Illumi prepared his explanation -- exercising, training, of course -- but his father spoke first.

 

"Kalluto is missing."

 

The world stopped turning. The air evaporated from the room. Ice filled Illumi's veins.

 

When he didn't reply, Silva continued, "We are meeting with members of the Ryodan to discuss the situation in Yorkshin. Are you home? I will be in the city within the hour. We'll meet at your flat at noon. Is that alright?"

 

"Yes, father," Illumi said, looking up to the clock on the wall. Less than an hour and a half.

 

The line went dead.

 

"Mm, an hour til your father arrives?” Hisoka had heard every word. “Plenty of time. We could have some more fun before then," he said, propped up on his elbows, still laid out on his stomach. Smirking.

 

"Kalluto is missing," Illumi said. The ice in his veins began to melt, slowly, and something white-hot took its place. Righteous fury.

 

“Illumi?” Hisoka snapped fingers before his face, but Illumi didn't react, mind ablaze. "You should shower. You have my cum in your hair."

 

"I will kill whoever did it," Illumi said, voice stoic; but the thumb pressed against his phone screen cracked it straight down the middle and a spiderweb of force trickled along the surface.

 

"A brave soul to bring down the wrath of both the Zoldycks and Ryodan simultaneously," Hisoka said, eyes closing in a smile.

 

Illumi acknowledged him then, finally, wide eyes snapping over. "Did you do this?"

 

"Unfortunately, no. Though this kind of bravery is rare, isn't it?"

 

"I will kill whoever did it," Illumi repeated, his dark aura seeping out from every pore, filling the space with the kind of darkness only he could manage.

 

"Yes, I know," Hisoka said, and he pushed himself to his feet. He held out a hand to help Illumi up, too. "But first, a shower."

 


 

While it seemed terribly fun to sit in on the interactions between the Zoldyck family and whichever members of the Ryodan managed to show up, Hisoka had an even better game to play elsewhere.

 

Still, he wished a camera could capture everything that went on in his living room during that meeting. Illumi had installed cameras months ago that inspected every inch of the condo on a twenty-four hour loop, but he always had the system disabled before high profile events like this.

 

And before sex.

 

Well, that’s why Hisoka had a 124gb memory card in his phone.

 

He was standing on the roof of their building, overlooking the other dozens of skyscrapers downtown in Yorkshin, when the Zoldyck helicopter came buzzing in from the horizon. Hisoka moved an appropriate distance back from the landing pad on the roof.

 

He had lived with Illumi for six months now, but still had never been introduced to his parents or grandfather. Certainly Silva knew Hisoka, and Hisoka knew him, but when the helicopter landed and the head of the family exited -- they did not acknowledge one another at all.

 

Hisoka sat on his corner of the rooftop, perched on the ledge of an air-conditioning unit, typing away at his phone, pulling some contacts. Silva walked across the roof, staring forward, ignoring the magician, with hard lines on his face. His concern for his youngest child wouldn’t be apparent to most, but Hisoka knew. He felt Silva’s power like he could feel it with every person he passed; the physical strength, the talent with nen, and the ability to fight. Ranked on a scale of one-hundred.

 

Silva was a ninety-nine.

 

Hisoka smirked as he pressed the “place call” button on his phone, and brought it to his ear.

 

Silva entered the building through the large metal door and it swung shut with incredible force.

 

The call picked up with a terse, “What do you want?”

 

“Ah, hello,” Hisoka said. “Is this a bad time, Kurapika?”

 

“I will not repeat myself,” Kurapika said, voice downright icy.

 

Hisoka grinned. “I’m looking for some information about the Ryodan.”

 

“Information about the gang that you were a member of for two years?”

 

“Not really a member,” Hisoka explained. “I lied to them for two years.”

 

“You participated. Call it whatever you want.”

 

“Hmm...”

 

“Tell me what you want or I will hang up,” Kurapika snapped.

 

“There are obviously many people who want the gang destroyed. I’m looking for one in particular.”

 

Kurapika scoffed and Hisoka heard the phone shifting from one hand to the other. “I wouldn’t know anything about any of that.”

 

“I believe you would -- because you met with him. Not terribly long ago, but before the Hunter’s Exam. Did you not know I’m omnipotent, Kurapika? I could demonstrate, if you’d like.”

 

“Who is it?”

 

“Hm… Someone quite strong, but very unhealthy. He would be a man with a boat,” Hisoka said. He turned yellowed eyes up to the sky, watching the clouds drift by. They were close; the tower he lived in was rather high.

 

“A boat…” Kurapika said slowly. “I don’t know a man with a boat.”

 

Hisoka caught the meaning of the words immediately. “Ah, my apologies,” he said, sincerely, “I meant a woman. A powerful woman -- with a boat. My visions from that time are a bit blurry. Bad eyesight. I don’t like wearing glasses; it ruins my ensemble.”

 

“Koda,” Kurapika said. “You want a woman named Koda.”

 

Bing-o. It had been easy enough to draw the conclusions. Kalluto was missing; captured. The Zoldycks couldn’t track him; he was out of range of satellites which meant he was underground or likely in an ocean. The Ryodan had many enemies, but only a few would dare tamper with both the Zoldyck family and the gang at once. Anyone who dared would be quite unstable.

 

(Hisoka would know.)

 

An unstable enemy of the Ryodan with a boat? There was likely only one.

 

Hisoka beamed, turning towards the stairs of the tower, to make his way to the airport. “She’s seeking to destroy the Ryodan, isn’t she? And she’s a hermit located far out at sea,” he clarified.

 

“Yeah,” Kurapika said. “What do you need with her?”

 

“I need to know how to reach her,” Hisoka said. “Please.”

 

“I won’t help you any more than I already have,” Kurapika snapped.

 

“I’ll pay,” Hisoka offered.

 

“I don’t need your money.”

 

“I’ll offer my services.”

 

“I don’t require them.”

 

“Are you sure? Those princes seem terribly tough to crack,” Hisoka said. The stunned silence on the other end of the line gave him an almost orgasmic pleasure that rippled through his insides. Kurapika hadn’t expected that he would know so much about his hunt for the Kurta clan eyes. A prince had the last set that Kurapika hadn’t been able to procure yet, and he was having a hell of a time getting them from someone as strong and well-connected as that prince seemed to be. “I told you,” Hisoka finally said, pleasure filtering through every word he said, “I’m omnipotent, Kurapika.”

 

“I can give you the address of the port I met her in,” Kurapika finally agreed. “And I will text you further details when I require you for my mission.”

 

“Sounds like a deal, my friend.”

 

“I am not your friend. Do not call this number again.”

 

The line cut out.

 

Hisoka glanced down at his phone, watching the ended-call screen blink repeatedly. “How mean.”

 


 

“Both Kalluto and Shizuku are missing,” Shalnark said. He turned bright blue eyes onto Illumi and Silva perched across from him on an opposite couch. “It’s been five days since they fell out of contact.”

 

“We track our children,” Silva said, “And Kalluto has only been out of our tracking parameters for about twenty-four hours.”

 

“He must not have been under duress until then,” Illumi expanded, “Or we would have been notified.”

 

“Not this time,” Shalnark said.

 

Illumi’s piercing black stare made Shalnark smile kindly, as if trying to diffuse a ticking bomb. “Kalluto and Shizuku were undercover. It’s pretty likely neither would have had the opportunity to reach out.”

 

Machi, seated on the arm of the couch beside Shalnark, finally spoke up to ask, “Where did your trackers lose Kalluto?”

 

“It’s hard to say. The device pings every twenty-six minutes when it is able. The last ping was along the west coast of Azia, but it’s likely he moved out from there within that twenty-six minute window,” Silva said. He reached down, into a case he had brought, and produced a folder. He presented a map with Kalluto’s last location marked. “Into the ocean.”

 

“I see,” Machi said, taking the offered paper and examining it closely.

 

The four of them sat in silence for a stretch.

 

“I believe we should work together on this,” Silva said. “Full cooperation. The Ryodan will be welcome to our family’s resources. I believe Illumi will serve as a good liaison between our two parties. He’s worked with you before.”

 

Machi finally -- finally -- looked at Illumi. Her eyes narrowed a fraction. “I have reservations.”

 

“Oh?” Illumi blinked. “I would be willing to demonstrate my skills to satisfy your reservations.”

 

“Is that a threat?” Machi asked. But before anyone could answer, Shalnark jumped between the two, hands waving.

 

“No, no, now -- it’s nothing like that --” he motioned around the loft. “I think she’s referring to Hisoka.”

 

“Ah,” Silva said, and he frowned, “the clown.”

 

Illumi, still poised perfectly at his father’s side, tilted his head. “Hisoka is not here.”

 

“I don’t trust him,” Machi said. “I don’t even like being in his apartment.” She cast a look around, like something might hop off a wall and try to show her a magic trick.

 

“He will not be involved,” Illumi said.

 

“He has beef with the Boss,” Machi continued.

 

For the first time since the meeting began, Illumi felt his ire tick up. Only the slightest, but it was there. A little beetle in the corner of his mind.

 

Shalnark exhaled. “There’s really nothing we can do about it, in any case… Hisoka has always done whatever he wanted. I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to expect anyone to try to control his actions.” He glanced down at his phone and pressed one key. “We’ll meet the Boss and Phinks on the Azian continent as soon as the next flight leaves.”

 

Silva nodded and stood. “We’ll take the helicopter to the airport.”

 

Illumi had already packed a bag. He grabbed it from the side table in the living room and hung it over one shoulder. As the group filtered out the front door, towards the stairs that lead to the rooftop, Shalnark hung back to speak to Illumi. They walked side-by-side up the stairs behind Silva and Machi.

 

“You live with Hisoka, then?”

 

“I do,” Illumi said, “But that is irrelevant to this mission.”

 

“Yeah, I know. It’s just kind of weird.” Shalnark’s kind smile seemed to imply that this wasn’t an insult; just an observation. “I’d think he’d be annoying to live with.”

 

“He can try my patience occasionally,” Illumi said. Just last week he had to sternly demand that Hisoka stop tearing his outfits; they were custom-tailored and not at all cheap and it was getting frustrating having to regularly replace his clothing. Even more regularly than he already did, seeing as many garments were damaged during jobs.

 

“You do seem rather patient,” Shalnark said.

 

“We do not speak much,” Illumi said. Half-true. If Hisoka and Illumi happened to pass one another during their day, they usually wound up naked and against a piece of furniture within minutes. The talking they did after was minimal, usually. “Most of our conversations involve the mundane. Food.” They ate breakfast most mornings. Hisoka did a crossword. “Training.” On days when Illumi didn’t have a mission, Hisoka would join him at the gym. And in the showers. “Bills.” They had begun to trade off buying dinners on occasion, which Illumi found to be a bizarre and foreign concept initially. He grew to appreciate it, though. A gesture of friendship. And control. Illumi always bought the more expensive dinners.

 

“I find it hard to imagine Hisoka doing any of those things,” Shalnark said.

 

Illumi opened his mouth to answer, but the door to the rooftop opened and the sound of the helicopter starting up drowned out all sound. He and Shalnark glanced away from one another as they walked out to board their ride.

 


 

 

 

Kalluto heard the loud clang of something landing outside, above deck. The boat swayed side to side rhythmically. He was sure they were heading west, but he’d been knocked out for quite some time and couldn’t say with perfect certainty where he was located. Likely the gulf off the coast of Azia.

 

Shizuku was still out cold opposite of Kalluto in one corner, glasses hanging half off her face.

 

Kalluto had tried moving but he had sharp stakes daggered into his palms and feet, skewering him into place along the wall, along with a chain around his neck. Several other stab wounds along his torso continued to bleed sluggishly; he’d become so weak that he hadn’t been able to do anything aside from focus on the most basics of nen to keep himself from losing all his blood entirely. He was meant to bleed out and die there, the same way butchers drained pigs they slaughtered. Though he hadn’t been stripped or skinned; he was still wearing a black yukata, tattered and wet with blood.

 

The old woman that trapped the pair of them had targeted them specifically because of their physical weakness; they’d fallen into a metal trap that could have been torn open by any other Ryodan member.

 

So this is where he found himself, now. Sluggishly bleeding out; watching a pale Shizuku roll about in a corner. Possibly dead.

 

Another loud thunk from above. The ship rocked so hard with this one that Shizuku fell over.

 

That seemed to have done it, because her eyes popped open a moment later like she was waking from a deep sleep and not a concussion.

 

Kalluto swallowed and then said, “Shizuku.”

 

She turned to Kalluto, chains around her body clinking with the movement. “Did I fall asleep?”

 

“We fell into a booby-trap. We’re on a boat in the ocean somewhere. Can you move?”

 

“A boat?” Shizuku shifted. “Why would we be on a boat?”

 

“The women that trapped us, she lives here,” Kalluto said, explaining what he had gleaned in the last several hours of quiet observation of the nearly-empty room they were kept in. There was a bed. A desk. A small refrigerator. “She has been planning an attack against the Ryodan for some time.” The papers of the desk indicated as much. There were blurry headshots of many members. Some with big black Xes drawn across. And the smell seemed to indicate she didn’t leave this space often.

 

“These chains are quite firm. Give me a moment,” Shizuku said, voice a little hoarse. She continued to shift. “Everything’s blurry.”

 

“Your glasses have fallen off your face,” Kalluto explained, patiently.

 

Another loud thunk. And a creak. And then the door from the deck above opened. The darkened sky of the evening filtered in just enough light to put the stranger in shadow. The figure walked down the stairs with a nonchalant grace. Illumi? Phinks?

 

No, someone else.

 

The man was soaking wet, reddish hair plastered to his face, and mascara bled around his eyes, ringing them with coal black. It wasn’t until he stopped at the base of the stairs and smiled that smile that Kalluto realized who it was -- even if they’d only briefly met once before. He had a way of leaving an impression.

 

Hisoka.

 

“How fortunate for you,” Hisoka said, “that I can walk on water.”

 

Walk on water? It looked like he’d fallen in.

 

Shizuku blinked and finally managed to break the chain, and it fell to the ground with an audible series of clanks. She adjusted her glasses so they were seated on her face properly, and then tilted her head at Hisoka. No recognition there, at all. “Who are you?”

 

“Hisoka,” he said.

 

“Hisoka… Hisoka…” Her eyes remained blank. “I don’t know the name.”

 

“I was in the Ryodan for two years,” Hisoka said. “We worked side-by-side for that long.”

 

“Hmm…” Her eyes narrowed. Kalluto faded out a bit, watching their exchange. Hisoka pulled a card from the air, an ace of hearts, and lopped it at Shizuku, who caught it between both hands. She turned it over and then gasped. “Ah! Hisoka!”

 

“A poor memory is a sign of illness,” Hisoka said.

 

“Yes, yes,” Shizuku said, having heard it all before. Probably.

 

The world went tinged in black and Kalluto’s head lolled down without his permission.

 

“What are you doing here?” Shizuku asked. “You aren’t part of the Ryodan.”

 

“I was out for a walk. Happened to be passing by.”

 

Kalluto blinked tiredly, unable to point out the obvious; that it was impossible for Hisoka to have been passing by. They were in the middle of an ocean. It should have even been impossible for Hisoka to track them this way. That’s why the kidnapper had chosen this particular type of lifestyle. So how had he done it?

 

How had he known?

 

“Oh.”

 

Kalluto felt a warm soft hand on his face. Lifting his head. He forced his eyes open, just a fraction, and stared into Hisoka’s all-too-amused face. “Were you poisoned?”

 

Kalluto managed a soft, “No. I’ve been bled out.”

 

“Oh, I see,” Hisoka said. Kalluto’s eyes closed again, and everything happened in the blackness of his mind.

 

A swish and the clap of metal breaking apart; the chain around Kalluto’s neck went slack and he fell forward, hands wrenching against the stakes. He was pulled free and he didn’t make a single sound as the pain ripped through each hand and foot. The pure agony of it all kept him conscious, though, even if his eyes were closed.

 

There was shifting of fabric.

 

“Is he going to be alright?” Shizuku asked.

 

“Hmm… Who knows?” Hisoka said. “I’ve seen other Zoldycks manage through worse.”

 

Killua, Kalluto thought. Killua had been through worse.

 

“We should go,” Shizuku said.

 

“I agree,” Hisoka said. Kalluto felt his hands on him, then. Wrapping him in something. Wet. His shirt? He shivered. The material tightened around his many wounds, as if controlled by nen. Hisoka could do that?

 

Kalluto realized he didn’t know much of anything about Hisoka’s abilities, except that he was a monster who could track strangers in a vast ocean, that could detect a presence even protected by hidden nen --

 

He was lifted up.

 

“He’s so cute,” Hisoka said, voice bright. And then it went deep and dark as night: “I want to crush him.” Kalluto slowly opened his eyes and Hisoka met his impatient stare. “You look so much like Illu,” Hisoka said, and the words were so thick with twisted affection that Kalluto felt the intention like a cat purring on his lap. He’d never once in his life heard Illumi called Illu before. “I could kill you now and face the anger of your family and the fury of the Ryodan.” Hisoka’s eyes were tilted up, angled with some dark kind of lust. “I would have to fight them all if I did that.”

 

Kalluto felt his insides warm, somehow, a little. Hisoka was wearing only his fitted undershirt; his cropped top had been sacrificed as bandages. Kalluto noticed. He felt almost as if he’d just been showered in a series of compliments. He closed his eyes again and leaned into Hisoka’s hold. He smelled like salt and some kind of cologne. Or hair product?

 

“There’s something outside,” Shizuku said, and then held out her hand. “Demechan.” A conjured vacuum appeared in her hand, a wet tongue tracking the air where it appeared.

 

“Ah, that’s right,” Hisoka said. “I forgot to kill her.”

 


 

Hisoka was holding Kalluto in one arm as he fought. Shizuku hunched over the railing of the boat to vomit -- not seasickness, Kalluto thought dimly, but concussion.

 

“Do you like magic, Kalluto?” Hisoka asked.

 

Kalluto’s eyes closed slowly.

 

“Hold me like this,” Hisoka said, swinging him around. Kalluto wrapped arms around his neck, riding piggy-back. “Now watch.”

 

Kalluto opened his eyes dutifully.

 

“What are you?” the woman asked, her eyes shaking in her head, body moving in an almost marionette fashion with uncoordinated jerks. “Not human. Not of the ocean.”

 

“I am a magician,” Hisoka said. “This is my assistant.”

 

“That is a Spider,” the woman hissed. “I drank his blood; I’ve seen all of him and the Ryodan. They’re dead. They’re all dead. I know everything now -- their skills. Their weaknesses. I drank the knowledge from him.”

 

“You’re mistaken,” Hisoka said kindly. “Let us demonstrate. Pick a card.”

 

A fan of cards folded out from the air. The woman jerked back.

 

“No!” she shrieked.

 

“If you pick any card that is not the Joker, I’ll let you live, and we’ll walk away.”

 

“No!”

 

“If you pick any card that is not the Joker, I’ll let you kill me.”

 

Her eyes jerked from Hisoka down to the cards. She grabbed one, snatching it from the air. When she looked at it, a manic grin spread across her face and she turned it to face him. “A King. A King!”

 

“Oh no,” Hisoka said. “What bad luck.”

 

She stood up, eyes ablaze finally, shaking with excitement rather than fear. Her aura pulsed out from her suddenly. Her eyes whited over and she said, voice echoing, “I’ll kill you now.”

 

“Ah, no. I meant you had bad luck.” Hisoka said. He glanced at Kalluto over his shoulder and pointed at the card she held out. “She is holding the Joker, is she not?”

 

Kalluto blinked, looking at her outstretched card.

 

It was the Joker.

 

It hadn’t been the Joker a moment ago. How --

 

The woman turned the card and gasped. She scratched at its surface, suddenly, frantically. “No! No! It’s a trick! It was a King! I saw a King!”

 

“My apologies.” A card appeared between Hisoka’s fingers. It pulsed with incredible aura for the briefest of moments -- Kalluto almost missed it -- and then it went flying in the woman’s direction. She dodged it, but it slammed through the boat, cutting the steel like a knife through butter. And then it exploded. The vessel rocked back violently as Hisoka leapt out of range and landed with perfect balance, Kalluto still poised safely against his back. They were now beside Shizuku, who was green-faced and staring at the water.

 

The card the woman still held in hand exploded then, too, and half of her body was obliterated, destroyed. She fell down in a wash of blood, screaming. “You lied,” she choked out. “You lied.”

 

“Huh?” Shizuku said, but both Hisoka and Kalluto ignored her.

 

As the woman died, gurgling, an orca pulsed out of the sea. It rose up with unfathomable force and threw its body across the boat at Hisoka. The unnatural speed of the beast and the extra weight on Hisoka’s back forced him to dodge left, but it wasn’t good enough. The whale’s jaw closed around Hisoka’s arm in the briefest of moments and it pulled him and Kalluto into the sea.

 

They sank down rapidly, the weight of the beast surging through the waves. Kalluto, weak already, felt himself lose his grip. He blinked through blurred eyes and saw nothing but the whale’s pinkish nen-powered eyes. It was being controlled with the last of the old woman’s will. It’s jaw closed tight, then, and Kalluto heard the sickening pop-squelch-crunch of Hisoka’s arm being crushed.

 

Hisoka didn’t even flinch as his free hand whipped a card into it’s head. It sank straight through the rubbery black flesh of the whale’s head and into its brain. It went limp, freeing Hisoka’s crushed arm. He turned in the water just as Kalluto’s consciousness faded.

 

Minutes later, on some cold wet surface, he heard Shizuku ask:

 

“Are you okay?”

 

But he couldn’t answer. He was alive; he was breathing. But he felt so weak. Where was Hisoka?

 

“What a good boy,” Hisoka said, as if knowing Kalluto wanted to hear his voice.

 

Blackness again.

 


 

It had been less than a full day since Illumi received word that Kalluto was missing, but he and the retrieval crew had managed to pinpoint the most likely suspect and location of the kidnapped gang members. Illumi received a text as he and his father joined the Ryodan group on a pier, about to board a boat.

 

06:44 Hisoka: Don’t be mad.

06:44 Illumi: What?

06:44 Hisoka: Can you be at Port Wa in an hour?

 

Illumi stopped walking.

 

06:45 Illumi: I am at Port Wa.

06:45 Hisoka: Oh, good. You figured out Kalluto’s location. *^_^v

 

Illumi felt the rage pool out of him uncontained.

 

06:45 Illumi: What did you do?

06:45 Hisoka: Nothing. I just knew where Kalluto was being kept, so I retrieved him. We will be back at port shortly. With Shizuku.

 

“Hisoka has retrieved Kalluto and Shizuku,” Illumi said suddenly to the group. They had been quietly talking amongst themselves and everyone stopped cold. The emotion among the group ranged from fury to confusion, but it was Chrollo that Illumi focused his attention on entirely.

 

The leader of the Ryodan was smiling. “That was kind of him. Whatever did he do such a thing for?”

 

“I do not know,” Illumi said.

 

“You said he wouldn’t get involved,” Machi snapped.

 

Illumi had no response, so he didn’t give one. He looked back down at his phone and shot another text back.

 

06:46 Illumi: Why would you do this?

06:47 Hisoka: I have my reasons.

06:47 Illumi: Are you going to try to fight Chrollo?

06:47 Hisoka: Is he there?

06:48 Illumi: Yes.

06:48 Hisoka: He isn’t my target, no.

 

Illumi’s eyes glanced over the group. Machi? Shalnark? Nobunaga? He didn’t imagine Hisoka had an interest in any of them. Except Machi, maybe, and even then --

 

06:48 Illumi: No one else of interest is here.

06:49 Hisoka: Your father is.

 

As if on cue, Silva spoke up. He was looking down at a digital watch. “Kalluto’s tracker is working again. He’s nearing the coast.”

 

“I suppose we wait, then,” Chrollo said, and he shifted to look out onto the ocean. Clear skies, mostly, until the very distant horizon. Black clouds filtered in there. The sunrise in the east lit the world in pink and gold for now.

 

When Hisoka arrived, the sun would be white and hot. It seemed appropriate for the wrath he would face.


“A brave soul to bring down the wrath of both the Zoldycks and Ryodan simultaneously," Hisoka had said.

Chapter Text

“Can I come in you?” Hisoka asked, voice a murmur against Illumi’s ear, pressed up behind him. Illumi, still breathless from orgasm, turned his head to brush their mouths together. Every breath he took was punctuated with another thrust.

 

“Yeah,” he said, finally, the sound exhaling from him like a prayer.

 

Minutes later, Hisoka was on his back with Illumi laid out on top, one leg curled around his hip and the other between Hisoka’s knees. They shared a pillow, noses touching. Still damp with sweat. It was nearly five in the morning and both were fading quickly.

 

But Illumi finally asked it; what he’d been wondering about for weeks.

 

“When you are on top, you always ask if you can finish inside of me. Why?”

 

Hisoka’s yellow stare went from half-awake to an amused glint in a second flat. “I like to.”

 

Illumi never asked permission like that. He had other priorities in that moment, usually -- like how taut he could pull Hisoka’s back and how deep he could get. His brows knit a little.

 

Hisoka elaborated, “I like seeing you say yes.” Seeing, of course, because often Illumi couldn’t verbally talk at that point in the process.

 

“Why?”

 

“Hm…” Hisoka glanced up, looking thoughtful. His hair was a bit too long again, and needed another dying; it was faded a bit to a coppery red now, rather than the pink-purple he was wearing lately, and hung in his face in limp waves. “You don’t say yes often to anything else I ask.”

 

“Ah.” Illumi got it, then. It was like a little victory to him. Hisoka brushed some hair from Illumi’s face and blinked tiredly. He sank his face into the pillow a bit. Illumi followed suit and shifted to hug both arms to his chest; he really could only sleep if his front was fortified. His eyes closed. He felt a kiss at the tip of his nose as he dozed off.

 

Hisoka was always playing games.

 


 

“Illumi,” Silva said, and Illumi snapped out of his memory. Why had he been thinking of that conversation? “Any word?”

 

Illumi looked down at his phone. They were still at Port Wa, on the pier, waiting for the boat that carried Hisoka, Kalluto, and Shizuku. It had been about forty minutes since Hisoka’s initial text and the group was standing by rather impatiently.

 

Except Chrollo, of course, who stood at the very end of the pier with his long black jacket ruffling against the seabreeze -- it was almost picturesque.

 

“None,” Illumi said.

 

“A storm will be here within an hour,” Silva said. “We should try to board an airship before then, to break above the cloud cover.”

 

“I agree,” Shalnark said. “I don’t really relish staying here longer than we have to.”

 

Illumi nodded in agreement and tapped out a message to Hisoka.

 

7:27 Illumi: Are you almost here?

7:27 Hisoka: Yep.

7:28 Illumi: Any injuries?

7:29 Hisoka: Kalluto will require treatment. Is Machi there?

 

Illumi glanced to Machi, who noticed right away. She narrowed her eyes at him curiously. Illumi turned to his father.

 

“Hisoka says Kalluto is hurt.”

 

“What injuries?”

 

7:29 Illumi: What injuries?

7:29 Hisoka: Stab wounds.

 

“Stab wounds,” Illumi read off.

 

“It’ll be no problem,” Machi said.

 

7:30 Illumi: Machi is here. She will help.

7:31 Hisoka: Could you ask her current fees?

 

Illumi’s brows raised.

 

7:31 Illumi: It won’t be a problem. Father will pay.

7:31 Hisoka: I want to know for me.

7:32 Illlumi: You are hurt?

7:32 Hisoka: I just enjoy seeing her work on me.

 

“Hisoka’s hurt too,” Illumi said.

 

Nobunaga spit, speaking up for the first time since meeting up that morning, “Good. Fuck him. I hope he dies.” He turned to Machi. “If he asks, don’t help him.”

 

“I’ll help him if he pays,” Machi said.

 

Chrollo turned to the group, blinking big round eyes at Nobunaga. The samurai sank. It hadn’t even been a malicious stare; but somehow he knew to drop it. Illumi decided that Nobunaga must have been asked to not speak. Machi had an issue with Hisoka, but perhaps it was Nobunaga that was willing to make it an actual problem.

 

“What are your fees?” Illumi asked.

 

“It will be no problem,” Silva interrupted, interpreting the question much like Illumi had. “We’ll pay whatever.”

 

“I am asking for Hisoka,” Illumi clarified.

 

Silva, for all his poise and grace, actually appeared surprised. He crossed his arms over his chest but didn’t say a word.

 

“A million per limb. An extra half-million for especially damaged parts,” Machi said.

 

Illumi wondered if Hisoka had that kind of money currently. Probably. If not in his account, at least in hidden assets somewhere.

 

7:35 Illumi: 1mil.

7:35 Hisoka: I can see shore.

 

Illumi stood up off the wooden crate he had been seated on and looked out to the ocean. Sure enough, a small vessel was headed their way. Everyone else in the group stood to attention and it was only minutes later that it docked. Shizuku hopped off first.

 

“Hello,” she greeted politely.

 

“Are you okay?” Machi asked.

 

“My head hurts, but I’m alright,” she said. “I have a concussion.”

 

Hisoka moved off the boat and onto the pier with one long step. His hair was styled and his facepaint was done perfectly; having obviously touched himself up while riding the boat back to shore. He was holding Kalluto in one arm, the littlest Zoldyck perched against his side. White as a sheet, but conscious.

 

Silva and Machi were both at his side at once. They both paused uncomfortably as they seemed to realize they were trying to accomplish the same thing: get Kalluto away from him.

 

Silva won out, though, and Machi took a step back. He reached forward and Hisoka handed off his son. Their eyes met and Hisoka smiled. Silva did not. His eyes did cast down Hisoka’s torso, though, noting that he was topless. But it only took him a second to realize that his shirt and undershirt had both been used as makeshift bandages for Kalluto. If there were a word for disgusted-but-grateful, Illumi was positive his father was that.

 

“I’ll patch him up,” Machi offered, then. “Or should we wait until we’re on the airship?”

 

“Can you walk?” Silva asked Kalluto, who nodded. “Let’s board the ship, then. You can apply your treatments there.” They started off the pier, towards the airship docking station.

 

Kalluto looked back at Hisoka as they walked. He then looked to his father. “Is Hisoka not going to join us?”

 

“He found his own way here. I assume he’ll do the same on the way back.”

 

“Can he not join us?” Kalluto then rephrased. Silva’s steps slowed considerably, until he stopped. He looked back to Hisoka, who was now holding his broken arm in-hand. He bled sluggishly on the pier from two bite wounds and didn’t say a word.

 

Illumi shared his brother’s sentiment, if only to prevent Hisoka from doing more obnoxious, frustrating things.

 

“I think it would be alright,” Chrollo said. He walked up next to Hisoka. “Would you like a ride?”

 

“I wouldn’t say no,” Hisoka said. His smile grew; his eyes sharpened. Illumi knew that look. “Long time no see.”

 

“Hello, Hisoka.”

 

Illumi wondered if they’d ever had sex. Every time Hisoka offered Illumi that stare, they wound up tangled and naked. Was it the same for Chrollo? He tilted his head, looking between the two blankly.

 

“You look unchained,” Hisoka said.

 

“I do appreciate your help with that,” Chrollo replied. He gestured forward. “And I haven’t forgotten our deal.”

 

“I didn’t say you had.” Hisoka smirked.

 

“Are you hurt?” Chrollo glanced at Hisoka’s arm as the two of them fell in step side-by-side, walking down the pier.

 

“It’s fine,” Hisoka said. He looked down at his arm, blatantly shattered in two places. “I’ll pay Machi for her help.”

 

“Illumi,” Silva snapped from up ahead. Illumi had been the last one behind the group, standing on the pier.

 

“Coming, father,” Illumi said.

 


 

Big fat drops of water began pounding the ground just as the doors to the airship closed. The group seemed divided between relieved and anxious; Nobunaga was staring daggers at Hisoka, Shalnark was staring worriedly at Nobunaga, and Chrollo was ignoring them overall.

 

Machi and Kalluto were seated in one corner of the lounge. She reached out and unfastened the bloodied cloth that covered his many wounds and dropped them on a table.

 

“Those are Hisoka’s,” Kalluto said.

 

Machi scoffed, and examined the clotted gashes along Kalluto’s hands. She motioned vaguely in Hisoka’s direction. “Come get your clothes.”

 

Hisoka smirked. “Are you sure you want me dressed?”

 

There were several audible groans around the space. Hisoka giggled to himself and lifted his undershirt off the table.

 

“It’s ruined,” Kalluto said, looking up.

 

“Didn’t you know?” Hisoka lifted the shirt and it fluttered through the air. He brought it back down into his opposite hand formed in a loose fist. As he pulled the shirt through, it reappeared in pristine condition. Perfectly yellow, no blood stains or tears. “I can do magic.”

 

Kalluto went a little pink in the face, staring in near-awe. “How?”

 

Hisoka brought a finger to his lips and smiled. “A magician doesn’t reveal his secrets.”

 

“It’s nen,” Machi said, lifting a needle and thread in hand. “He tells everyone.”

 

Hisoka grinned. “Can you do gyo, focusing your nen in your eyes?”

 

Illumi and his father sat opposite of the scene, watching Hisoka’s impromptu lesson.

 

Kalluto focused his aura around his eyes. Hisoka lifted the other shirt on the table. “This is called Texture Surprise. I can apply different textures, colors, and materials to objects using my aura.”

 

He repeated the same trick from before, pulling the shirt through his fist. It was pristine, too, at the end of it.

 

Kalluto looked from the shirt to Hisoka’s face. “Are you a transmuter?”

 

“I am,” Hisoka said. He pulled his first shirt over his head, fixing it around his body but not over his broken arm.

 

“Like Killu,” Kalluto said, voice almost dreamy.

 

Machi looked up from where she was sewing closed Kalluto’s second hand. She narrowed his eyes. “Kalluto, no.”

 

He blinked innocently.

 

“Don’t like the pervert clown. You should like cute girls your age. Cute little girls. Not old lecherous pervert clowns.” She pointed at Kalluto with the needle.

 

Kalluto’s cheeks went pink again. He lowered his head.

 

Illumi felt his father shift beside him and watched the predatory smirk on Hisoka’s face grow dark. All of the murderous, tense aura in this confined space was almost suffocating. It was like sparks in the air during a gas leak -- something was going to blow.

 

Machi finished stitching Kalluto and the needle and thread disappeared. “You should rest.”

 

Kalluto nodded while Machi turned away and looked up at Hisoka from where she was seated. “What did you do, exactly?”

 

“I was bitten by a whale.”

 

Machi narrowed her eyes and stared silently. Hisoka stared back. Finally, her eyes rolled, and she motioned for him to sit beside Kalluto. She looked at his arm for a moment. “This will be two million. Your bones are shattered here and here --” she motioned, “and I have to operate internally, so it takes longer.”

 

“Whatever you need,” Hisoka agreed.

 

“Alright. Here I go.”

 

The space fell into silence as Machi worked.

 


 

Silva was unhappy.

 

His youngest child had been returned safe and sound, but as he sat in the airship, hulking figure nearly overtaking the white chair he sat in, he was unhappy. Hisoka was watching Machi work, tongue dancing out from between his lips occasionally as he leered. He was pointedly not meeting Silva’s unwavering, murderous stare.

 

Illumi wondered if their confrontation would happen on the airship.

 

“Done,” Machi said. She said back and wiped her brow with the back of one hand. “It’s imperfect. You waited nearly ten hours to have repairs done, so some of your own immune system compensated. You probably shouldn’t move your arm for several days. It’d be a good idea to get a massage every day too, until there's no pain.”

 

“Yes, yes,” Hisoka said. He shifted a bit, fishing out his phone from a pocket. “How much?”

 

“I’ll take care of it,” Silva said, pushing himself to standing.

 

Hisoka and Machi both looked over. “Oh?” Hisoka’s eyes were wide.

 

“As payment for assisting my family.”

 

“That won’t be necessary,” Hisoka said, standing up out of his chair, dusting off his pants.

 

“I believe it is,” Silva replied, eyes narrowing.

 

“I don’t care who pays me,” Machi grumbled, “As long as someone does.”

 

“It’s not your money I want,” Hisoka said.

 

Something like lightning hit the room and every person present hopped to their feet -- except Kalluto, who was squished between his seat and Machi’s back as she stood in front of him. The blackness of two auras meeting suffocated the room. Illumi felt his hair lift from it, like static electricity in the air.

 

“You want to fight me?” Silva asked. “Is that what you want?”

 

Hisoka was beaming. “Yes.”

 

“You’re hurt. You’d lose,” Silva said.

 

“You sound confident. Are you sure I don’t know all of your...secrets?” Hisoka’s eyes slid focus from Silva to Illumi, who was standing behind his father.

 

Illumi narrowed his eyes. Silva lifted a fist and cracked his knuckles in-hand, smirking. “Quite sure.”

 

“You shouldn’t do this here,” Chrollo pointed out from the other end of the room, hands tucked into the pockets of his long black coat.

 

“It would be foolish,” Machi agreed, “Considering we’re all allies of Silva.”

 

“All of you?” Hisoka blinked, like the fact was news to him, and he looked over his shoulder at Machi and then down at Kalluto’s rounded eyes peeking from behind her arm.

 

Silva’s jaw ticked and his aura burst forth, bringing Hisoka’s attention back front-and-center. “You have a lot of confidence because you can fight Illumi and win. I am not my son. I am stronger.” He shifted his center of gravity, stance widening, eyes darkening.

 

Illumi blinked twice.

 

His father thought he couldn’t beat Hisoka?

 

“If they fight, we’ll probably fall to our deaths,” Shalnark said to Shizuku, who nodded.

 

Hisoka lowered himself a bit, like a predator preparing to pounce.

 

Illumi appeared between the two. He walked towards Hisoka. 

 

“Illumi?” Both Hisoka and Silva said at once.

 

Illumi’s needle flew at him, but Hisoka grabbed it from the air before it could strike his jugular. Before he could counter-attack, Illumi was on him, suddenly, their noses brushing, the scent of his hair fanning around Hisoka’s face.

 

Illumi grabbed Hisoka’s cock in his pants, squeezed, and got the pleased grin he expected.

 

And he pressed the pin into Hisoka’s neck with a most subtle grace that the magician didn’t even notice, not at first, because he was holding Illumi's wrist against his groin. And then his vision faded, dimming at the edges.

 

Illumi took a step back and Hisoka wavered for a minute before falling to one knee. Impressive -- anyone else would be out into solid blackness. But Illumi expected Hisoka’s extraordinary resilience, anyway, so he just crossed his arms while waiting for him to pass out entirely.

 

Hisoka looked up at him from where he kneeled and cocked an eyebrow, asking a question that he couldn’t say audibly at the present.

 

“Misdirection,” Illumi explained, understanding what Hisoka needed to know. “It is your own technique.”

 

“I liked it,” Hisoka said. His eyes fell shut and he collapsed, face-down.

 

Illumi finally looked up and around the room.

 

The faces of the Ryodan were varying degrees of shock and horror. Illumi turned to see his father staring stoically, brows furrowed.

 

“I suppose that takes care of that, for now,” Illumi said. “I will remove the pin when we land.” Illumi looked down at Hisoka's unconscious form, gracefully tucked face-first against the floor. Hisoka would wake up when the pin was gone, mostly unscathed.

 

“We should kill him while we have a proper chance,” Nobunaga said. Chrollo, for how friendly he’d seemed before, stared at Hisoka with the glint of brutal practicality. Before Illumi or anyone else could argue, Kalluto was standing before Hisoka, separating him from everyone else present.

 

Illumi tilted his head. It was like a domesticated kitten defending a Siberian tiger.

 

“This is a Zoldyck family matter, isn’t it?” Kalluto said. He looked to his father. Smart angle, thought Illumi. Turn it into a family issue, not involving the Ryodan.

 

Silva exhaled, slowly, and nodded. “It is.” He turned to the Ryodan. “We’ll handle this at home.”

 

Nobunaga narrowed his eyes, but Chrollo conceded with a polite nod. “Alright.”

 

Kalluto looked back at Hisoka. Illumi stood next to him, kneeled down, and rolled Hisoka over to his back. Illumi then lifted him from beneath his arms. He shifted back until reaching a chair and plopped Hisoka’s prone body into it. Kalluto stood at his side, watching dutifully.

 

Silva sat back down where he’d been earlier, and leaned his chin against one hand, watching his sons.

 

Finally, he mumbled, “I don’t think I like that two of my sons like him.” Illumi decided not to mention what Hisoka had told him about his time spent with Killua and Gon. Killu probably didn’t hate Hisoka, either. That left only Milluki and Alluka, and both of their opinions were treated as nonexistent anyway. Hisoka was as good as popular among the Zoldyck children.

 

“It could be a sign of bad parenting when children gravitate to something so unpleasant,” Shizuku piped up, voice matter-of-fact and not at all unkind.

 

Silva’s lips thinned. He agreed.

 


 

The Zoldyck manor was in a very special type of lockdown. The butlers certainly had their hands full, because the airship docked just outside of the house and was filled with some of the strongest nen users in the world, the Ryodan. The gang didn’t even leave the walls of the ship, though -- only Silva, Illumi, Kalluto, and Hisoka got off. The ship took off shortly thereafter, to deposit the Ryodan back where they needed to go.

 

But the presence of Hisoka, even a blacked-out Hisoka, was enough to make the security preparations particularly strenuous on the Zoldyck grounds.

 

Illumi carried Hisoka on his back to the house. He thought about the conversation he had with Chrollo, halfway through the flight, in the small wet bar at the back of the ship.

 

“Is your relationship with Hisoka platonic?” Chrollo asked, pouring liquor into a small tumbler.

 

Illumi nodded. He prepared his own drink, adding cherry juice to a glass.

 

“Hm… Is your relationship with Hisoka sexual?” He angled.

 

Illumi didn’t answer and kept his head down, but his eyes snapped over to Chrollo at his side.

 

Chrollo smiled knowingly. “I thought so.” He stirred the ice with a glass instrument. “You seemed familiar.”

 

Illumi didn’t respond, lifting a can of soda to add to the drink he made.

 

“Once?”

 

Illumi answered that. “Yes.” Once per day, if they saw one another that day. Sometimes more. But at least once.

 

Chrollo smiled and took a sip. “Silva doesn’t know.”

 

Illumi wasn’t positive where Chrollo was heading with this conversation. He fished out a small bottle of vodka and poured it into his cup.

 

“Are you keeping it from him?”

 

“I do not keep secrets from my family.” They also didn’t discuss things like sex. Illumi’s sex education at age thirteen had been at the hands of a client -- a lecherous old woman, who’d said some curious and unusual things about genitalia that Illumi then researched on his own.

 

“Just from the rest of the world. Important family secrets,” Chrollo said, lifting his glass to his mouth.

 

Illumi tilted his head, hair pouring over his shoulders as he held his prepared drink. “Is there something else you would like to ask about?”

 

“No,” Chrollo said. “I appreciate your help in getting Shizuku and Kalluto back.”

 

“I would do anything for family,” Illumi said, simply, and walked away.

 

He would do anything including hauling a heavy-ass dead-asleep clown pervert up several flights of stairs. He’d started towards the basement torture chamber on instinct -- that’s where he brought all of his marks when they came home with him -- but Silva had stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Put him in a guest suite,” he said.

 

Illumi didn’t argue. He marched up the stairs, butlers at his heels carrying his bag and weapons aplenty, like Hisoka could somehow force his way out of the coma-like state Illumi put him in and start swinging.

 

The guest room had been aired out quickly and the butlers were just finishing fastening the new sheets to the bed when Illumi walked in. They helped Illumi deposit Hisoka on his back on the bed. He flagged them off after that.

 

“Go. I’ll wake him.”

 

“Master Illumi --” one woman started, but was interrupted by another butler grabbing her hand and tugging her from the room.

 

“He can handle it,” the butler hissed to her. The doors swung shut behind the crew and Illumi’s shoulders dropped, alone finally.

 

Well, almost alone. He stared down at harmless unconscious Hisoka. His facepaint hadn’t smudged, but his hair had fallen a bit. Illumi reached out and fixed it for him, before sliding gentle fingers down his neck.

 

Before pulling the pin out, he thought on it. His eyes tracked back and forth in the air for a moment before he climbed onto the bed and straddled Hisoka, knees hugging his ribs. He pulled the pin free and sat back like he was at a kotatsu and not seated on the destructive force of nature that was Hisoka.

 

Yellow eyes opened.

 

They looked at each other silently for a long stretch, morning light filtering in through the stained glass windows on the east wall of the suite. The room was dappled in pink and gray and the air was chilly. Drafty, like always, in the Zoldyck manor.

 

“You used misdirection,” Hisoka said, finally. “By grabbing me in front of everyone.”

 

Illumi tilted his head.

 

“I think this is why I don’t get bored,” he said. Bored? Why was he talking of boredom?

 

Illumi tilted his head the other direction.

 

“My shoulder hurts. Will you massage it?” Hisoka’s hands slid up Illumi’s thighs. And that’s when everything clicked into place.

 

“You are not mad because you are turned on,” Illumi explained aloud, “Because my attack worked so effectively.”

 

“I’m a little mad,” Hisoka said. He smiled, eyes turning up.

 

Illumi was almost certain Hisoka would be drowned in bloodlust had the attack come from anyone else. Even Chrollo. Illumi’s sexual relationship with Hisoka seemed to change perspective on things like this.

 

Their relationship changed the game Hisoka played.

 

Illumi reached down with both hands and pressed them into Hisoka’s shoulder, massaging the taut muscle there, loosening it. The magician groaned and closed his eyes. Illumi continued diligently as Hisoka’s thumbs brushed the insides of his thighs almost thoughtlessly.

 

The two sat like that for some time in the morning light, touching and silent.

Chapter Text

“You have an onsen in the castle?” Hisoka asked, falling in step behind Illumi. “How interesting.”

 

“It is mother’s, mostly,” Illumi said as he descended a set of wooden stairs. The air was becoming gradually warm as they went farther underground.

 

“Ah,” Hisoka said, “You’re Japanese.”

 

“Yes, half. Did you not know?” Illumi cast a wide-eyed glance over his shoulder.

 

“I guess not,” Hisoka replied. “What is your other half?”

 

“Mostly caucasian,” Illumi said, turning forward again. He reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs and pushed open a great wooden door. Steam flooded out of the doorway immediately. “Father and grandfather are Russian.”

 

“But?” Hisoka could detect the word in the air. Illumi wouldn’t finish the thought unless goaded; he’d gotten used to it by now.

 

“Father spent many of his formative years in Japan.” Illumi slipped out of his shoes, leaving them by the door. Hisoka, wearing a pair of borrowed slippers, dropped them by the entrance.

 

The puzzle pieces were stacked together nicely then, and Hisoka realized belatedly that Silva and Illumi’s mother were likely in love.

 

They probably loved their children too.

 

“How sweet,” Hisoka said, and he wanted to crush all of it; squish it like an adorable kitten between his hands. Kiss it. And crush it. Because it was so cute.

 

“What is sweet?” Illumi moved over to a bench and slid his top up, over his head, and then down his arms.

 

“Your parents.”

 

“I admire their relationship,” Illumi agreed, and he unfastened his pants, pushing them down.

 

Hisoka stood there, watching. “Doesn’t it seem impractical for assassins to have someone they love?”

 

“No,” Illumi said, shortly. “Devotion makes you stronger; not weaker. It is why our family exists the way that it does. We are close. We are better together.” He stepped out of the black briefs he wore and folded them, with his other clothes, onto the bench. He stood up and blinked over to Hisoka. “Why are you not undressed?”

 

It had been one full day since arriving at Zoldyck manor and Hisoka’s usual carnival-inspired suit had been taken for mending. In its stead he wore an outfit borrowed from Illumi; an all-black fitted crop-top and high-waisted pants that fell to the knee. It was all too tight; he’d already torn the threads along the shoulders of the top. Silva’s clothes would have fit perfectly; he and Hisoka were nearly identical in build. But he wouldn’t dare to ask. “I’ll need help.”

 

Illumi’s eyes narrowed. “You will need help undressing.”

 

“I might have been a little distracted, too.” He glanced down, pointedly, at Illumi’s nudity.

 

“Antoine,” Illumi said. A man appeared in the open doorway suddenly. “Help Hisoka undress.” Illumi walked away and Hisoka watched him go. (A consolation prize, that walk.)

 

The corners of Hisoka’s mouth tilted down as the butler approached, waves of anxiety rolling off of him like body odor after a run. But Hisoka said nothing as the man dutifully pulled the top over his arms, and watched Illumi rinse off beneath a shower head mounted beside a bench on the far side of the room.

 

The onsen itself was clearly not a natural hot spring -- a large pool built between large smooth rocks was positioned on one end of the room, opposite the doorway and showers. There were low benches carved into the spring. The water was crystal clear and obviously very hot, with waves of steam rolling off the surface.

 

Hisoka joined Illumi in it a few minutes later and yawned audibly.

 

They sat in silence for some time, across from one another with a good six or seven feet between them. The only sound was the dripping of water from a tap and the quiet lapping of the pool against the rock facade.

 

Illumi sank down in the water until only his eyes were uncovered. His hair was piled into a loose, messy bun atop his head, and a few unkempt strands floated in the water. He watched Hisoka blankly.

 

Hisoka, lounged back with his head propped up by one hand, smirked. “What is it?”

 

A few bubbles filtered to the surface around Illumi’s face. He rose out of the water enough to say, “I only now realized I have never bathed with someone who was not a brother.”

 

“That’s not true,” Hisoka said. He glanced up, thinking, and then brought up a hand with three fingers. “We have had shower sex three times.”

 

Illumi’s nose wrinkled. “I am referring to an onsen-style bath.”

 

“I’ve never had an onsen-style bath,” Hisoka said.

 

“Ah? Really?”

 

Hisoka looked amused. “Of course not.”

 

Illumi sank back down into the water, only his eyes uncovered.

 

“Hmm… Do you consider me a brother now?” Hisoka asked. He spread his legs, sinking even lower into the water.

 

Illumi’s eyes dropped involuntarily to the space between Hisoka’s legs before snapping back up. They narrowed considerably and he rose enough to say, “You did that on purpose.”

 

“You can call me aniki if you want.”

 

“You are teasing me.”

 

“Yes.” Hisoka’s eyes closed in a smile, and he tilted his head.

 

When he opened his eyes a moment later, Illumi had moved and sat beside him, shoulder-to-shoulder, and he’d done so in perfect silence. “You are an only child.”

 

A flash of a memory, a blinking moment of the past, whipped across Hisoka’s field of vision and he saw her deadened eyes. Rainwater dripped onto her face in a steady, relentless stream. “You’ve never asked before.”

 

“Father has some of your history accounted for in a file.”

 

“Oh?” Hisoka grinned. “What does it say?”

 

“Orphan. No parents…” Another flash, another memory, of a man’s big meaty hand and the whiteness that accompanied every strike. “You stayed with a caravan for the first ten years of your life.”

 

Hisoka yawned, again, and slid his leg over so it brushed against Illumi’s thigh. “Is that all?”

 

Illumi relaxed his neck against the stone surface of the bath, and looked up at Hisoka through wet strands of hair. “More or less.”

 


 

Illumi wasn’t sure why they were talking so much. The onsen was a place of silent meditation. Hisoka was quite good at turning anything into a piece of conversation, but -- it was Illumi who let him.

 

“What have you added to my file?” Hisoka asked.

 

“I removed any instance of the word gypsy because you said it was inaccurate.”

 

“I can call myself a gypsy,” Hisoka clarified, “You cannot. It hurts my feelings.”

 

“Either way,” Illumi flagged his hand in the air, conceding. “I also added information regarding your nen.”

 

“Including information about my cum? That it’s sweet because I’m a transmuter.” Hisoka’s smirk grew fanged.

 

Illumi froze and his lips flattened into a line. “No.”

 

“But you found that so interesting,” Hisoka goaded. “It took days of research.”

 

“I am certain that father is aware the effect of nen on semen,” Illumi said. “And blood. Your blood is sweet. Father knows.”

 

“Completely certain?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Hisoka giggled to himself.

 

After a beat of silence, Illumi said, “Father will likely want another update to your file, while I am here, and while you are visiting.”

 

“Do you want more information?”

 

“You have already shared a lot.” Illumi’s blank stare was nearly accusatory.

 

“I’m quite open,” Hisoka agreed. “What about my natural hair color? That could be useful in a file.”

 

Illumi was quiet for a moment and then realized he didn’t actually know Hisoka’s natural coloring. Hisoka shaved or waxed all of the hair from his body and dyed the hair on his head; even his eyebrows. Illumi sat up, interested, and turned round eyes to him. “What is it?”

 

“Purple,” Hisoka lied.

 

Illumi glared.

 

“Why can’t it be purple?” Hisoka asked.

 

“You would like that too much. Is it red?” He had seen Hisoka’s hair fade to red several times between dyings. The color seemed to suit him anyway. And he never had roots, so perhaps red was the truth. But Hisoka was a transmuter with a gift for making one thing look like another through nen. A natural liar.

 

Illumi shifted where he sat, turning to face Hisoka, and concentrated on his hair. The answer slipped between his thoughts almost casually. “It is black.”

 

Hisoka sat up and reached up with wet hands, pulling them through his hair. As his palms passed, the color turned a stark, lightless black. His hands slid down his neck, around to his front, and then dropped into the water with a plop.

 

He looked expectantly to Illumi, hair now completely black in stark contrast to his pale white skin and very yellow eyes.

 

“How did you guess?” Hisoka asked.

 

“It is the only color I have never seen you wear,” Illumi said. “I thought black, but I suppose it could have been white.”

 

“Ah --” Hisoka grinned, “You’d like white too much.”

 

“What do you mean?” Illumi reached up pulled at a stray lock of hair that had fallen across Hisoka’s face.

 

Hisoka reached up again, palm brushing Illumi’s hand as he pulled back his hair again. This time, as his hands coated the slick wet mass, it turned white. Hisoka sat there now, white-haired. Stark white; like Killua. Like Silva.

 

Like an heir to the Zoldyck family. For the briefest of moments, the wires crossed and Illumi saw him, saw Hisoka -- as a Zoldyck, regal, tall, and above everyone else -- he’d be too powerful, frighteningly so, and the world would know fear unlike any other.

 

Strength like Hisoka’s in a family like the Zoldycks would be a curse upon the planet.

 

Illumi felt hot for the first time since Hisoka’s leers began at the entrance to the bath. His heart skipped and he realized, dimly, that Hisoka’s estimation was exactly right. Illumi liked it. Too much.

 

It would be inappropriate to have sex in an onsen.

 

“It looks alright,” Illumi lied. He drifted forward in the water, hands reaching up to touch Hisoka’s hair. “I am not sure it suits you.”

 

“Hm,” was all Hisoka replied, smiling.

 

It would be inappropriate to have sex in an onsen.

 

Illumi’s eyes glanced down to Hisoka’s lips. Before he could connect to his next thoughts, they were kissing. How did that happen? Hisoka’s hands cradled the back of Illumi’s head, and their tongues pressed together.

 

The heat of the onsen made it hard to keep coherent and Illumi found himself slipping into Hisoka’s lap without even meaning to, fingers gripping the white strands of his hair, panting openly against his mouth. It was too hot and he felt the arousal low in his belly stir up, even faster than usual, and Illumi pressed his swelling erection into Hisoka’s hip.

 

Hisoka replied by pressing his hips up, marble hard dick sliding up the inside of Illumi’s thigh. He said, “You do like it.”

 

Illumi’s eyes were half-lidded, stare blurred at Hisoka’s grinning face and platinum hair, and he jerked his hips involuntarily. He managed a nod.

 

“You’re pretty fucked up,” Hisoka said, but his voice had dropped an octave like he was serving a true compliment. His hands traced down Illumi’s back and onto his ass, gripping him into place and grinding them together. “Do you know why you like it?”

 

Illumi’s fingers tightened before letting go and he said, “I do not care.” He leaned in, kissing Hisoka again, hands gripping the stone on either side of his head. Hisoka spread his ass, the hot water teasing his entrance, and Illumi couldn’t breathe for a moment. When he got his bearings, he looked blearily from Hisoka’s yellow eyes to his white hair and then back again, and he said, “I want you to come inside of me.”

 

It was the first time he’d made a request like that, but he wanted it exactly that way; to be held down, pressed against the side of the bath, the water lapping at the backs of his thighs, with Hisoka marking him up, filling him up --

 

Hisoka groaned low in his chest, a rumble that was nearly a purr, and his fingers pressed and slid along Illumi’s ass. They didn’t bring lube -- it would be inappropriate to have sex in an onsen -- but there was a basket of bath products at the edge of the pool; oil for massages placed neatly inside. Illumi reached for the basket, shifting himself up to his knees, and Hisoka occupied himself from the broken kiss by biting at Illumi’s chest and stomach, hands stroking down his thighs.

 

Illumi fetched the bottle, pinching it between his fingers, and Hisoka slipped out from beneath him, only to come up behind him instead and push him down against the rock face. Hisoka’s hand covered Illumi’s holding the vial and he pushed up behind him, cock stiff between Illumi’s thighs.

 

Hisoka kept their lower bodies together as he straightened himself and uncapped the bottle. Warm oil dribbled onto Illumi’s lower back, filling in the divots there, sliding into the arch of his spine. Hisoka’s hands joined it just a moment later, gliding the golden wet mixture down over the round globes of Illumi’s ass and to his entrance. When Hisoka’s slicked thumb pressed in, Illumi’s legs spread and he moaned, cock twitching.

 

It was no coincidence that he wanted to be topped like this while Hisoka looked like that, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care.

 

He didn’t care that it was inappropriate to have sex in the onsen.

 

And it was unfair that Hisoka knew exactly how to do it without Illumi telling him to, that he wanted to be opened up like this with Hisoka’s long -- impossibly long -- fingers, one after another, sliding in and back out, working him open until he was weak and pliable. Precum slid out of his cock in a steady stream against the floor.

 

“What was it you wanted me to do again?” Hisoka asked, four fingers gliding in and out of Illumi’s ass with a slow, steady speed.

 

Illumi panted against the rock. He lifted his ass. “Come --”

 

“Yes?”

 

His ass rolled back, against Hisoka’s fingers, forcing himself backwards faster, quickening the pace that he was being fingered. “Come inside of me.”

 

“Like this?” Hisoka’s second hand was at the base of Illumi’s neck, and it squeezed, holding him in place.

 

“Yes -- yeah --” Illumi gasped, hips rolling faster now. Hisoka had stopped moving his hand entirely and he only watched Illumi fuck himself instead. His words slurred as he said, “Hold me down, fuck me, come in me, pin me down, Hisoka -- I’ll take it --”

 

The water lapped over the edge of the pool as Hisoka stood straight, suddenly, and rested the length of his cock against Illumi’s lower back. He slid backwards and then forward -- the head of his dick pressed against Illumi’s ass now. He had been worked open so much that Hisoka’s cock slid in easily with one hard push.

 

Illumi cried out when Hisoka’s hips met his ass and he felt the heat ripple across his body so quickly that he jerked, fingers cracking against the porous surface of the rock he was pinned against. “Hisoka,” he choked out.

 

“Dear Illumi,” Hisoka replied. He pulled out nearly entirely before slamming back inside, the slap of his thighs against Illumi’s echoing in the bath. He groaned and Illumi cried out and he did it again, faster.

 

Water splashed out of the bath, wetting the surface beneath Illumi, and he found himself panting into a tepid puddle as Hisoka’s thrusts sped up. He was fucked quickly into the floor of the onsen in seconds, thighs scraping the edge of the bath as he was worked back and forth over it.

 

Hisoka licked his lip and leaned over Illumi, hands pinning down against his wrists. That caused another wave of heat so potent that Illumi felt himself go dizzy, eyes falling shut. They fucked faster and faster, until the sounds of Illumi gasping and Hisoka sighing and the slap-slap-slap of their fucking echoed in harmonized rhythm throughout the bath.

 

“Will you say it again?” Hisoka said, voice cracking as he fucked Illumi hard, “Say it one more time.”

 

Illumi opened his mouth but it took a second for the words to come. “Come in me,” he said.

 

Hisoka moaned in reply, dropping his head down against Illumi’s neck, and he panted. He thrust three more times, hard, and on the fourth, he pinned his hips hard against Illumi’s ass and didn’t move. He came holding Illumi down like that, cock spurting deep, pinned there to make sure every single drop made it inside.

 

Illumi sobbed, the sensation hitting him so hard that he couldn’t breathe or speak, and he couldn’t use his hands to touch himself, held down like he was. Overwhelmed by it, he managed a needy, begging sound.

 

Hisoka, despite having come, rocked his hips back and forth, then. Shallow thrusts that just pushed him deeper, back and forth. The heat was overwhelming but goosebumps broke out across Illumi’s skin as he tried to articulate how badly he needed -- to be --

 

Hisoka’s hand retreated from where it held Illumi’s wrist and tucked beneath his hip instead, and he gripped Illumi’s aching dick. His shallow thrusts forced Illumi’s hips forward and he held his hand still. He continued to fuck Illumi in such a way to make him fuck Hisoka’s hand. His grip was so tight and wet with oil --

 

“Oh --” Illumi swallowed, eyes falling open. Hisoka leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth. The white hair fell into Illumi’s eyes and he gasped hard. “I’ll --” he couldn’t say anything else as he came. Cum spurted with every movement for what seemed like minutes, the movement of Hisoka’s hips, the shifting of his fingers against Illumi’s cock, the kiss against his jaw and then his ear. He’d never come so long before, the sensation prickling at him like a limb waking up after falling asleep. He was so overwhelmed that his mouth was open in a silent scream and he couldn’t breathe.

 

Eventually, he collapsed, and he took in deep, dizzying breaths.

 

Minutes later, Hisoka sat next to him, bare ass on the solid rock floor, one knee bent and foot pressed up against himself, the other foot swaying back and forth in the onsen. Illumi was still on his stomach, legs in the water. His hair had fallen down while fucking and was splayed out in front of him in a silky wet mass.

 

“It is inappropriate to have sex in an onsen,” he said, voice resigned and flat. He rolled his eyes up to Hisoka.

 

“It’s my fault,” Hisoka chirped. He reached up with both hands, combed them through his hair, and turned it back to the pinkish red he wore most often. “I’ll use my powers only for good, okay?” He tilted his head, smiling kindly.

 

“I would appreciate it,” Illumi mumbled, eyes falling shut.

 


 

Illumi found it uncomfortable to talk about Hisoka while his ass was still sore and stretched from being ridden like that in the onsen, but he didn’t have much say in the matter. Silva was leaving for a job and had to speak with Illumi only minutes after he and Hisoka had returned from their bath.

 

“The butlers all say he’s been polite,” Silva said, staring down at a sheet of paper with various markings.

 

“Hisoka is typically polite,” Illumi said, “Even when murdering someone. He would offer a light to a man smoking, even if he planned to gut the man before the cigarette would be done. It is how he is.”

 

“I suppose I should add him to our visitor’s list,” Silva said, then, looking over the edge of the paper to Illumi. 

 

Illumi tilted his head. “Was that a question?”

 

Silva stared at his oldest son for a minute before sighing deeply, eyes falling shut. He sank back in his chair and reached up to press the butts of his palms into his eyes. “You’re like my father when you force me to talk so directly, you know.”

 

Illumi’s head tilted the other direction.

 

“Will he be visiting us after this initial trip?” Silva asked.

 

“He intends to fight you. Most assuredly to the death. He will likely come here to goad you into battle,” Illumi said. “So it seems likely.”

 

Silva shifted, frowned, looked at the paper on his desk, and then back at Illumi. “What is your relationship with the clown, Illumi?”

 

Illumi opened his mouth to answer. And then closed it. Hisoka, his friend, had just fucked him so hard that he hadn't been able breathe for minutes after. Was that friendship? Hisoka, his ally, had saved his little brother and immediately threatened to fight his father to the death. Did that actually make him an ally?

 

Silva just sat there, silently, staring.

 

“I do not know,” Illumi supplied, finally.

 

“Very well,” Silva said. He rose to his feet and began tightening the bandages on his wrists. “We’ll figure it out when we get back.”

 

“We?”

 

“Oh? You didn’t know? You’re coming with me on this job. It calls for your talents.”

 

“We will leave Hisoka here?”

 

“For one night, yes. Father will be home shortly, should the clown cause problems,” Silva said.

 

“He will not,” Illumi rose to standing and tucked his hair behind his ears. He wouldn’t’ve had sex if he knew he would be going on a mission like this. It required jogging over several miles in elevated terrain. The phrase sore tomorrow was a severe understatement. He had been foolish. “He will not cause problems while you are not here. You are his target.”

 

“I’d be flattered if he were less creepy,” Silva said, moving towards the door. “I’ll meet you out front in thirty.”


“Yes, father.”

Chapter Text

Illumi hadn't used an assault rifle since he was a child. The weight of it felt foreign and strange against his shoulder, where he was laid out on a rooftop above Doran City.

 

The entire situation felt foreign and strange, if he were being completely honest.

 

His father was at his side, tapping away at a phone, tracking the whereabouts of their mark.

 

A shadow shifted in the window they were targeting. "Movement," Illumi said.

 

"I'll report it," Silva replied. He paused and said, “So my suspicions about your relationship with the clown aren't unfounded, are they?"

 

Illumi continued to stare through the scope. "They are not unfounded."

 

Silva sighed deep. "I see. What is your...plan in this particular...situation, then?" The words choked out of him bit by bit, struggling.

 

"I will continue to utilize our present scenario to the benefit of the family."

 

"Utilize?"

 

"Hisoka is quite beneficial for several aspects of my life professionally and personally, enough to outweigh his more detrimental flaws. In addition to being a talented fighter, Hisoka is also useful financially, physically, and sexually." Illumi didn't look over as he said it.

 

Silva covered his face with a hand. "How are physical and sexual uses diff -- why would you list those -- twice --"

 

"Physically, I mean that he helps me maintain a physical regimen. In the last six months, my reaction speed has increased marginally. Sexually, he and I are q --"

 

"I got it," Silva cut him off, still hiding behind a hand. "I hate this conversation. Do you have anything, then, of use for me?"

 

"For his file?" Illumi blinked, still looking forward dutifully. "I know only two things for certain, presently. The first, his natural hair color is black."

 

The blood rushed out of Silva's face; he looked green. "Illumi, that --"

 

The pieces shifted into place and Illumi realized, belatedly, that he had walked right into another one of Hisoka's traps. By telling his father that Hisoka's natural hair color was black, Silva could assume -- incorrectly -- that Illumi knew this by seeing Hisoka's pubic hair. Why didn't he draw that conclusion earlier? Clearing his throat, Illumi tried to explain: "I did not learn that through sexual means. Hisoka is clean-shaven; I have not seen his natural body hair."

 

Somehow that made it worse and Silva was rubbing both eyes with the butts of his palms, grunting. "Alright, Illumi, alright. I got it. The pervert clown isn't a redhead. What is the second thing?"

 

The window Illumi was focused on opened, suddenly, curtains billowing out. He didn't miss a beat as he squeezed the trigger of the rifle. The shot cracked through the air like thunder and a bullet slipped through the left eye of his target. An explosion of blood fanned out into the apartment. Just like that; mission complete.

 

He pushed himself back from the gun and looked to his dad. "The second thing is that Hisoka killed the man that raised him. His name was Sven."

 


 

Hisoka was sleeping.

 

A big, meaty hand grabbed his pale, twiggy arm. Hisoka, a child of maybe six, jerked awake. He looked up into the face of the man who kept him alive all this time, who fed him occasionally, who'd even held his hand once when he was younger. Hisoka reached up and rubbed a bright yellow eye with a dirty fist. 

 

"C'mon. Day's already started without you," Sven grunted. He let Hisoka's arm go and stalked away, his massive squarish form moving down the line of makeshift and patchwork trailers that lined the side of the dirt road. Clouds swirled overhead, threatening to rain.

 

Hisoka stood up, feet bare, and he dusted the yellow hay from his black hair. He took a step away from the trailer he'd been sleeping against, and peed onto the dusty ground. He made a little exclamation point with his pee, because he could, and a little smile twitched the corner of his mouth. A moment later, he was back behind Sven, following dutifully, wiping his hands off on the front of his shirt.

 

Sven glanced down at him, looked forward again, and then back down. His eyes widened as he looked at the grease mark on the thighs of Hisoka's pants. His hand flew out and snapped against Hisoka's face, and the wet sound echoed across the yard. Sven had him by the neck before he could fall and he roared something, but Hisoka couldn't hear it; he just felt the moisture of his breath against his face and the roaring in his eardrums. 

 

Hisoka kept breathing. Everything would be alright if he just kept breathing. His eyes fluttered open and closed as he was choked.

 

Sven morphed; he was this enormous red snake, suddenly, circling Hisoka. He squeezed Hisoka's tiny little body between his scales and hissed. The sound rumbled through Hisoka's frame.

 

He was scared. He had to keep breathing. The other travelers, dirty and exhausted too, stared on at the child being strangled by his caretaker -– did no one else see he was a snake? Did no one else know? Hisoka's small fingers scrambled against the scales, vision dimming.

 

Why did no one say anything about the snake in their midst?

 

Hisoka was sleeping.

 

Something wet on his face. His eyes opened; it was dark. Hisoka sat up; he was older now. Maybe ten.

 

"Hisoka," a small voice said, "It's raining. You should come inside. Sven's mad --" A squeak. Hisoka looked over and saw her. She had the same black hair and the same yellow eyes. If they were siblings, no one knew for sure. Hisoka didn't think so. She didn't feel the same; she couldn't do the same things.

 

What was her name?

 

"Hurry!" She hissed, motioning for him to follow. He pushed himself up off the grass and trailed behind her. He was taller than her by about a head. They reached the door to the cabin, but it swung open before they could --

 

Sven stood framed by the white lights of the inside. He was grinning, drunk.

 

Hisoka's eyes widened. 

 

"The Hunters are here," Sven said. "You should probably start running now. They gave me a lot of money for a hunt."

 

"Hunters?" The little girl questioned. Hisoka didn't think; he grabbed her hand and pulled her away, as fast as he could go. Bare, dirty feet pounded the wet earth as he entered the woods. Blackness enveloped them and the girl started to cry. "What are Hunters?"

 

Hisoka slapped a hand over her mouth and felt the wet tears fall from her eyes as they stood silently against a tree. There were voices in the woods then, of men shouting and laughing. The smell of gunpowder filled the air; they could practically choke on it. The girl cried harder. Footsteps approached and Hisoka turned to the tree. He could climb it. He could climb anything --

 

He was halfway up and the girl couldn't follow past that point. She didn't have his magic gum -- Sven had said some people couldn't do what he could, Hisoka remembered. Some people couldn't climb like he could, this pink aura pulsing out of him as naturally as breath. She fought for a grip against the bark of the tree.

 

She fell to the ground and a man was on her suddenly. He pulled back a fist and slammed it down, into her face, and Hisoka heard the crack of bone on bone. "Got one!" the man screamed. She screamed and he slapped her hard enough to cut off the sound.

 

Hisoka felt fear –- and then anger. He let himself fall from the tree, heart thundering with the rainstorm above. The man swung at him, too, but the blow didn't land, and he whipped a foot hard into the man's knee. It buckled beneath him with a meaty crack.

 

The man fell, screaming.

 

“What did you do?” Sven roared, stumbling out of the woods. He smelled like liquor. He grabbed Hisoka by the hair and slapped him. “What did you do?”

 

Hisoka looked down at the ground, at the girl's unmoving form. Her face was a wash of red, sprinkled with raindrops. Was she dead? He looked back to Sven. Hisoka was slapped again.

 

Hisoka was sleeping.

 

“This one's dirty,” a voice said from above. Hisoka opened his eyes in bed, sleeping in the trailer he shared with a few other boys, to see Sven and a strange balding man.

 

“No one wants to force him to wash himself,” Sven grunted. “He's trouble.”

 

“Whatever,” the man said, “I don't care.”

 

Sven scoffed and walked away, closing the trailer door behind himself. Hisoka sat up and rubbed an eye. He was eleven. He remembered being eleven. His hair was greasy and matted down his back; he wore only a spare pair of pants, because it was summer and hot.

 

“Yeah, you'll do,” the man whispered. He placed a hand on Hisoka's jaw, and pressed a thumb into his mouth. This wasn't the first time Hisoka had his teeth inspected by a stranger, so he let it happen, but the man didn't just look. His thumb moved out and in again. “Yeah,” he said. “I like your mouth.”

 

Hisoka realized what Sven had done, because he'd seen it happen to other boys in the camp, and closed his jaw, hard, and tasted blood. The man shrieked and jerked his arm back repeatedly, again and again, until the bone cracked in half and Hisoka let him go.

 

“What are you?!”

 

Hisoka spit the man's thumb tip out and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “The reason no one can force me to wash is that anyone who touches me, pays,” he explained. “Every hand that touches me, belongs to me.”

 

The man wept openly, scrambling to the door.

 

“Sven didn't tell you about that fee?” Hisoka smirked, watching him go. Sven entered a moment later, eyes ablaze. Hisoka's stomach dropped.

 

Sven's gigantic, broad hand pounded into his face, his ribs, his stomach, until the pain was a tangible real thing that belonged to Hisoka just like his aura always had. He couldn't move, when it was done, and his blood had splattered the insides of the trailer.

 

Sven had to bring him to the doctor in the camp of travelers, a woman.

 

He left them alone and the woman looked down at Hisoka's small broken form and sighed. “Fear is the most powerful weapon,” she said. She pulled out a long winding roll of bandages. “Sven knows it. Surely you're smart enough to know, too.”

 

Hisoka said nothing, and looked up at her through the one eye of his that wasn't swollen shut.

 

“Sven has no real power over you,” she said. She set his broken leg with little grace but impressive speed. Hisoka grunted as she went to remove his blood-stained pants, having already cut one leg of them off. “I won't hurt you,” she snapped. “No one can hurt you except those you let hurt you, Hisoka.”

 

He didn't understand.

 

“You're stronger than everyone here,” she explained, once she took in his confused look. “You're stronger than everyone -– and you're a child. You're letting Sven hurt you because you're afraid of him.” She pulled out a syringe, tapped the side, and then pressed it into Hisoka's arm. Warmth flooded him, suddenly, and the pain ebbed away. "You should really only let people you love hurt you. They're the ones that do it right."

 

Hisoka sank into the bed of rags, exhausted.

 

“When you were little, you told everyone in camp that he was a snake. Do you remember that? He's a snake, Hisoka, but you're a dragon.”

 

Hisoka was sleeping.

 

He woke up in the empty ballroom on the beachfront that he had staked out, at the orders of Sven. He'd fallen asleep waiting for the marks to arrive. He was twelve. He climbed up to the rafters to wait for the group to show up, to be killed.

 

He didn't often get to fight other people who used nen, and Sven promised he would get to, here. It was the only way he could convince him. The ballroom doors opened and a group of men and women flooded in, laughing and drunk. They didn't seem much like fighters; they wore fitted suits and gowns. He waited a moment, watching. Not long after, another group entered. The first cheered and greeted them gleefully.

 

These weren't a band of fighters. This was a party.

 

Hisoka stared down from the rafters and watched it take place. His stomach lurched when food was brought in from the back –- steaming hot plates of meat and bread and vegetables on skewers. Music struck up from one side.

 

A woman entered much later; it was someone from Hisoka's camp of travelers. She swept up to the front of the group, wearing a magnificent suit of many colors. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she greeted, “I will be entertaining you this evening. Are you ready for some magic?”

 

Hisoka managed to steal an entire plate of shrimp and had it in his lap, munching away and watching the show. He noticed a few other travelers slip in and out of the party, too. It didn't take much for him to realize they were robbing the party-goers blind while the woman up front kept their attention.

 

When she was done, no wallet was left behind. She thanked the crowd and bowed out, slipping away into the night. But it took less time than Hisoka anticipated for the group to realize they'd been swindled. Shock and anger filtered out over the group and finally, for the first time that night, someone looked up.

 

His eyes locked with Hisoka's. And then he screamed, “Up there!”

 

And it was chaos. And fury. Someone had a gun, but Hisoka took it away with terrible ease, and the crowd seemed determined to destroy the child they thought to be a threat. They were right to think so. They were wrong to think they could kill him.

 

Blood ran down the wooden rafters of the floor. Some had fled, but all who stayed were now dead. Hisoka stood above the mass of corpses, hands on his hips. He spotted a plate of cheese and hopped over to it, helping himself. The lights shut off, suddenly.

 

Someone cleared his throat behind him and Hisoka glanced over to see Sven. "Good work, Hisoka.”

 

Hisoka smiled, his black hair stuck to his face in sweat and blood. 

 

"C'mere," Sven motioned. Hisoka stepped on the bodies carefully, their limbs rubbery and pliant under his weight, approaching Sven. “Ah, Hisoka.” He clapped a hand on the boy's shoulder, squeezed, and then jammed a knife into his gut.

 

Hisoka exhaled, eyes widening.

 

"You're too strong," Sven said. "I gotta look out for me and mine." He pulled the blade out and shoved it back in. And again. And again. He stabbed Hisoka five times, but Hisoka didn't make a peep; not so much as a groan of pain. "You're a monster," Sven said. He shoved the kid back, until Hisoka fell away, and landed on his back against the floor. Blood pooled around his body.

 

He stared up at Sven, dazed. Lights twinkled around his vision, morphing the form above him. He saw it, then, like he had when he was a child. Sven was a snake. A great gigantic snake. He wasn't holding a knife; he had fangs. Hisoka's vision blurred between reality and the nightmare vision he had as a little boy.

 

Hisoka slid his hands onto his stomach, and pulled them away to see red. But his hand wasn't a hand; it had claws. And it wasn't blood; it was scales. His own scales. He sat up. The snake coiled back beneath Hisoka's sudden and great looming shadow.

 

Sven was a snake -- but Hisoka was a dragon.

 

"Oh, Sven," Hisoka said, and his voice came out sing-song, deep, and full of life. "You never could have killed me, because I wouldn't let you. The only people who can hurt me are the ones I love, and I don't think I even like you very much."

 

The snake hissed and lunged forward -– Sven lunged forward, knife aimed at Hisoka's throat.

 

Hisoka was sleeping -- he was sleeping --

 

He was awake.

 

A loud crash in the Zoldyck manor shook the room so violently that Hisoka jerked open his eyes and pushed himself to his feet before the tremor had even stopped. He felt off-balance. Was he still dreaming?

 

Another loud crash shook the room similarly. Explosives of some kind. Hisoka could smell the gunpowder. He strode out of the room, to the top of the stairs. Smoke filled the passageway as he walked down. A butler shouted from the formal dining room, asking for backup, but the cry was cut off, suddenly. Hisoka heard the familiar wet gargle of someone being beheaded. 

 


 

The last time Kalluto saw someone move so gracefully in battle he had been only five years old. It had been a man his father had paid to train with his sons. This man, grizzled with age, had spent his entire life mastering the movements, the speed, the effortless superiority over any opponent.

 

Apparently Hisoka was just like that naturally.

 

Hisoka moved among the invaders like a drop of water on glass, slipping through them and cutting each one down without even using nen. Kalluto wasn't sure Hisoka was actually alright, despite the effortlessly brutal force; nothing he was doing seemed normal, or anything expected. For one thing, he hadn't said a word since emerging from upstairs. He was also shirtless and wearing a pair of his brother's pants, for another, leaving nothing to the imagination. Kalluto was a bit red, watching it all. The planes of muscle that rippled beneath his skin were mesmerizing.

 

An attacker landed on Kalluto and struck a heavy blow against his stomach, but the youngest Zoldyck jammed a blade into his jugular and the body fell limp. He turned to watch Hisoka again.

 

He blocked a blow from one man and countered with a high kick to the bottom of the man's chin. The crack echoed in the smokey, half-wrecked room.

 

Kalluto dodged a hit from a woman, jammed another blade into the back of her head, and slipped around her to run up the stairs. A handful of intruders had made their way up there and he felt confident that Hisoka could handle the ones remaining downstairs. He made it up to the small Juliet balcony that overlooked the dining room and killed two more intruders. The third was one of the last men left. They had done a considerable amount of damage to the dining room of the mansion, but overall the attacking force had failed pretty miserably.

 

They certainly hadn't expected Hisoka, who was now approaching the remaining fighter on his floor. A woman, concentrating deeply.

 

“You can't use nen on me,” she said. “I am a dampener. A Specialist.”

 

The man Kalluto faced seemed to realize the desperation of the situation and rushed at him. He pushed Kalluto off the balcony with a scrambling, wild force. Kalluto exhaled and then the world slowed as he realized he had nothing to grab onto. He wouldn't die, falling down just one story, but it would hurt.

 

Hisoka threw a hand out. He couldn't use Bungee Gum, Kalluto thought dimly. The woman just said so.

 

Nevertheless, bright pink aura wrapped itself against Kalluto's middle, and he found himself suspended in air before he could even hit the ground. The world picked up speed again. Hisoka turned back to the woman, who looked horrified; surprised.

 

“How?” she asked.

 

“I am stronger than you,” Hisoka explained, smiling. His hand darted forward with inhuman speed and pinned her against the wall by her throat. She struggled, weakly, going blue in the face -– until she finally, finally fell limp.

 

Kalluto sat suspended to the balcony and he heard the man who'd shoved him off cry out in pain, and then smelled his blood. One of the butlers probably got him. Or maybe it was grandfather.

 

Hisoka dropped the body of the woman and walked over to Kalluto. He released the gum and caught Kalluto in both arms. He set him down on his feet and yawned, rubbing an eye.

 

“You were sleeping,” Kalluto said.

 

“I was having a nightmare,” Hisoka said, honestly. “But this was great fun to wake up to. Who were they?”

 

Kalluto looked down at the broken bodies along the dining room floor. Shards of wood were scattered everywhere and there was plenty of debris from the ceiling that they had bombed in to intrude from the sky. “I'm not sure.”

 

“Old enemies of Silva,” Zeno said from above. He stood on the Juliet balcony, arms tucked behind his back. His eyes narrowed at Hisoka. “Who is this?”

 

“Hisoka,” Kalluto replied, looking up at this grandfather. "He's staying with us tonight."

 

“Hisoka? The one Silva dislikes? Hisoka dresses like a clown.”

 

“I don't sleep in my suit and make up,” Hisoka said.

 

“Oh.” Zeno's eyebrows rose a bit. His eyes cast down Hisoka's body and his nose wrinkled up. Hisoka grinned; shades of Illumi, generations past. “What are you wearing?”

 

“I borrowed Illu's pants.”

 

“It's unsightly. I can see things I would be better off not seeing. Get better pants.” Zeno turned and a butler was at his side. “Get him pants that fit. Now.”

 

“Yessir,” the butler replied, shuffling off.

 

“I'm going to bed,” Zeno grumbled. “Too much noise for one night.” He ambled off, looking like a man who'd had to swat a mosquito. That's all this army of intruders would be to the Zoldycks. Mosquitos.

 

“Goodnight, grandfather,” Kalluto said.

 

“Yes, sweet dreams, grandfather,” Hisoka said.

 

Zeno grunted and disappeared down the corridor.

 

“You live an exciting life for an eleven-year-old, Kalluto,” Hisoka said.

 

Kalluto had been distractedly staring at Hisoka's pants and the way they accentuated his thighs. He blinked and looked up when he realized Hisoka had been talking. "Huh?"

 


 

 

"The clown stopped an attack at the manor just now," Silva said as they boarded the airship. He was reading off an email on his phone from Zeno. "Apparently some intruders blew a hole through the ceiling of the dining room and set to attack with a nen dampener. Hisoka stopped them before they could even march the stairs."

 

Illumi looked unimpressed, and pulled out his phone for the first time in hours. It was nearly three in the morning. As expected, there was a message from Hisoka. But it had arrived hours before any sort of attack.

 

21:50 Hisoka: I took one of your pillows.

21:51 Hisoka: Smells like teenage Illu tears.

 

Illumi cleared his throat and typed out a message.

 

03:20 Illumi: Are you alright? Father said there was an attack.

 

The response was immediate.

 

03:20 Hisoka: Your butlers are unimpressive.

03:20 Illumi: Are you alright?

03:21 Hisoka: Are you worried?

 

Illumi stared down at his phone and didn't answer.

 

Silva took his seat on the ship and motioned for Illumi to do the same. He sat beside his father, tense, and looked out the airship window as a crew prepared them for take off.

 

"Illumi. How much thought have you put into -- what you are doing with him?"

 

"A bit."

 

"What is your next step?"

 

"I think I need to secure a long-term commitment from him."

 

Silva cleared his throat, shifted in his seat. "Do you -- are you --" He shifted again, crossing and then uncrossing his legs. "Do you love him?"

 

"That is irrelevant. He loves me; it is all I need given the circumstances."

 

"He loves you?" Silva's voice was a bit more faint.

 

"He said as much. Months ago."

 

"And you said?"

 

"Hm..." Illumi narrowed his eyes, thinking.

 

He and Hisoka had been on the couch in the living room. No, wait, Hisoka was on the couch. Illumi sat on the floor, between Hisoka's calves. His hair was splayed out over Hisoka's lap and the magician was combing it with his fingers gently while Illumi went over paper copies of his bills.

 

Their phone bill was too high; they hadn't even used the landline in the last month. 

 

"We can save money if we combine the phone and cable bill," Illumi said. 

 

"Why do we need a phone?" Hisoka asked. "We use our cellphones."

 

"We cannot not have a phone," Illumi said.

 

"Why?" Hisoka leaned over, and Illumi looked up. They stared at each other upside-down for a moment.

 

"It is mandatory."

 

Hisoka let out a half-scoff, half-laugh. He moved in and placed a kiss at the tip of Illumi's nose. Illumi shifted away and looked back at the papers he gathered. 

 

"We also must watch more television. Where is the remote?" He looked from the couch to the side tables and the remote appeared in his vision, suddenly. Hisoka had it. Illumi took it, turned on the TV, and immediately muted it. 

 

Hisoka laughed.

 

"Try to keep the television on any time you are in this room,” Illumi said, undeterred.

 

Hisoka lifted some of Illumi's hair to his face and sniffed. "We could just not pay for either."

 

"No, we need them," Illumi explained, patiently.

 

"You still haven't said why."

 

"Because," Illumi said. He pulled his hair out of Hisoka's grip and sat up on his knees, shuffling around to face him. “It is mandatory.”

 

Hisoka smiled. He leaned in and said, "I love you."

 

Illumi blinked. He pushed himself to his feet and walked out of the room, because he had to call the cable company to combine their bills.

 

On the airship with his father, Illumi explained the situation.

 

Silva's face twisted in a frown. "This might be the only time in my life I ever pity the clown. You walked out of the room. And you have never said it?"

 

"No."

 

"Cruel."

 

Illumi shrugged. He looked down at his phone; he still hadn't answered Hisoka.

 

“Tell me, Illumi,” Silva said, shifting in his seat to face his son. “In a situation where Hisoka were hurt. Let's say – he was incapable of defending himself. And someone came at him, to kill him. What would you do?”

 

“I would kill them,” Illumi answered, easily.

 

“On the airship, when the Ryodan thought to kill Hisoka because you'd rendered him unconscious. What would you have done if Kalluto hadn't been there?”

 

Kalluto had defended Hisoka from his own gang, easily. Illumi thought on it. “I would have done the same. If Kalluto weren't there –- I would have stopped it.”

 

“That's all I need to know,” Silva said.

 

“Is that what love is?” It didn't make much sense. Kalluto didn't love Hisoka and he still defended him.

 

“You don't defend much that isn't Killu,” Silva turned back in his seat properly, and fished out his phone. “I think it says a lot about your relationship that you'd be willing to spend the effort.”

 

Illumi looked back down to the text message in hand. He typed out a response and sat back as the airship started its trip.

 

03:20 Hisoka: Your butlers are unimpressive.

03:20 Illumi: Are you alright?

03:21 Hisoka: Are you worried?

 

His thumb pressed send.

 

03:30 Illumi: Yes.

 

Chapter Text

"Can I have your phone number?" Kalluto asked.

 

Hisoka could feel the seething hatred coming from behind him, with Silva and Illumi both standing in the doorway of the Zoldyck manor, watching the exchange hawkishly.

 

Kalluto held his phone up for Hisoka to take.

 

"Okay," Hisoka said, "But it's for business only. Don’t share it with Nobunaga. He’s quite mean to me." He took the phone, tapped in his number, and hit save. Kalluto took the phone back with a polite smile.

 

"I promise," he said.

 

Hisoka and Illumi returned to their penthouse in Yorkshin that day. During the blimp-ride home, neither of them talked about the worried text message, or Hisoka saving Kalluto twice, or the incident in the onsen. Hisoka played a game of Snake on his phone while Illumi dozed quietly beside him, pressed hip-to-hip on the small loveseat at the back of the airship.

 

Hisoka chose to wake Illumi up at the end of the ride by stroking hands through his long dark hair. Illumi's eyes snapped open and over to him, staring blankly. "We landed," Hisoka said.

 

Illumi stood up, hair pulling free of Hisoka's fingers like sand through an hourglass, and gathered his things. Hisoka stood, too, and his phone pinged with a new message. He looked at it and grinned.

 

"At least one of the Zoldycks has common courtesy," he said. Illumi snatched his phone and looked at the message from Kalluto.

 

15:06 ???: Thank you for your help these last few days. I greatly appreciate it.

 

Illumi felt a little bit of comfort knowing Hisoka hadn't actually input Kalluto's number into his own phone at any point. He narrowed his eyes and handed it back.

 

"It's nice that one of you thanked me," Hisoka said.

 

"I will thank you, Hisoka," Illumi promised, and his stare lingered on his mouth for a moment.

 

In response, Hisoka's eyes went wide and his smirk was downright wicked. “Isn’t that nice to hear.”

 


 

Illumi really liked Hisoka's thighs.

 

They were very muscular -- nearly twice the width of Illumi's -- but completely hairless and milky white. The contrast of masculine strength and feminine maintenance sent unfamiliar, pleasant feelings down Illumi's spine. He slid his tongue down the defined line inside Hisoka's inner thigh, hand sliding up the opposite thigh, onto Hisoka's ass, thumb diving into the space where his legs met.

 

Hisoka, laid out on his stomach, jerked awake. He blinked, shuddered, and looked at the clock beside his bed. 2am. "Illumi?" he mumbled out, pushing himself up onto his elbows.

 

Illumi replied by biting down on Hisoka's thigh.

 

"Oh," Hisoka said. He sighed, as if pleased, and sank back onto the bed. "We've been home nearly twelve hours -- I thought you'd forgotten about me."

 

"I had to run errands," Illumi said. Judging from the smell of sweat and blood, they hadn't been the legal kind. "I just now got home."

 

"Okaeri," Hisoka said, voice teasing.

 

Illumi ignored him and kissed up his thigh to his ass. He spread Hisoka and his tongue slid from his backbone to his entrance. Hisoka jerked like being branded by an iron, and he hissed. The muscles in his thighs jumped and Illumi pressed his tongue in, hands urging his legs apart. Hisoka followed his guidance easily.

 

"Is this you thanking me?" Hisoka asked, voice heavy and low.

 

Illumi replied by thrusting his tongue in and out. Hisoka's hips jerked up and he groaned, hands twisting into the sheets. Illumi continued to work him open with his tongue, hands gripping his thighs with enough force to bruise.

 

"Remind me," Hisoka panted into the bed, "to do you more favors."

 

Illumi pushed himself up and wiped his mouth with the back of one hand. He draped himself over Hisoka's back, other hand sliding up between his ass. One finger slid in, easily. His hair fell in cascades over them both and Hisoka didn't hesitate to wind one hand around a thick black strand. He brought it to his face as Illumi fingered him open. Hisoka broke out into a sweat, panting, canting his hips up to quicken Illumi's base. He responded by slowing down, two fingers sliding in...and out. And in...and out. Carefully.

 

Hisoka's eyes opened and he turned a sharp, accusatory stare to Illumi over his shoulder. "Don't be mean."

 

Illumi stuck the tip of his tongue out and pulled one finger back entirely. Now a single digit slid in and out of Hisoka with brutal patience.

 

Hisoka groaned, back arching. "This isn't much of a thank you at all," Hisoka panted into the sheets.

 

"I like --" Illumi started. He stopped himself.

 

Hisoka looked back at him, brows arched. "Go on."

 

Illumi's eyes narrowed and he pushed three fingers in, suddenly, and Hisoka's eyes snapped closed with a moan. Illumi leaned in close and said, "I like when you ask for it."

 

"Oh, Illumi," Hisoka groaned.

 

Illumi had come prepared, and lifted a bottle of clear lubricant from beside him on the bed. He sat up while Hisoka spread his legs and propped his knees up. He was so pale and smooth and wet.

 

“And I like your thighs,” Illumi finally confessed.

 

“You’re so sweet tonight,” Hisoka mumbled. Illumi ignored him and pressed his dick between his cheeks, uncapping the bottle in hand and pouring half its contents onto the space where his cock rested against Hisoka’s ass. He slid his dick against the wetness and shuddered at the hot, unexpectedly hot, shooting pleasure. He thrust there, against Hisoka’s ass, and his eyes fell shut as he got lost in the sensation.

 

He moaned and Hisoka began to shake.

 

“Don’t -- don’t just tease --” Hisoka said, nearly incoherent. “Illumi --”

 

Illumi’s eyes opened again and he looked down, glaring. His hand darted out and pinned Hisoka by the back of his neck against the bed.

 

“Yes,” Hisoka groaned.

 

He pressed inside while he held Hisoka down, and the feeling of Hisoka gripping down on his cock was so good that he gasped as he went. He shoved in, hard, and Hisoka gasped too. “Fuck,” Illumi spit out.

 

“Yeah,” Hisoka agreed. Illumi dug his nails into Hisoka’s neck and the magician’s eyes fluttered. He pulled back and thrust in again once and groaned against the hot wet grip of Hisoka’s body. He did it again. And again.

 

He set a brutal pace, fucking Hisoka into the mattress, hips slapping against the back of Hisoka’s lube-slick thighs.

 

When Hisoka shifted to slide a hand down his own body to jerk himself off, Illumi snatched his wrist and pinned it to the bed. “Illu,” Hisoka whined. Illumi ground his dick into him.

 

“I want you to come from my cock in you,” Illumi slurred.

 

“Mean,” Hisoka reiterated, but he twisted his wrist in Illumi’s hold until his hand was beneath Illumi’s, and entwined their fingers together. He shuddered as Illumi repositioned himself on top and began to grind hard against the spot that made Hisoka gasp involuntarily. “‘Lumi --” he panted.

 

He pressed Hisoka into the mattress with his full weight, sliding against him, working his prostate with perfectly placed and rapid shallow thrusts. He began panting, sweat sliding down his face. He pressed his forehead against Hisoka’s cheek as he worked him like an expert pianist on a grand.

 

Hisoka’s thighs began to shake and that’s when Illumi knew he was close. He thrust harder, grunting at the force, and Hisoka’s fingers twitched. Before Illumi even knew what he was doing, he gripped Hisoka’s hand tighter, thumb stroking with a contrasting tenderness along the side of his palm.

 

It worked and Hisoka’s body went taut, and he was gasping for air, hips jerking against the sheets as he came. “Illumi,” he chanted, “Illumi, Illumi --”

 

Illumi fucked him in earnest, rising back up, hands moving to hold Hisoka by his hips. He gripped hard and pressed himself inside repeatedly.

 

“Will you come in me?” Hisoka asked, shaking still from orgasm.

 

Illumi felt mean, suddenly, a wave of insidious cruelty twisting his insides, and he pulled out. Hisoka moaned, taken off guard, and Illumi jerked himself against the back of Hisoka’s thighs.

 

Illumi really liked his thighs.

 

He gasped once, twice, and then came ribbons of white. He pressed the head of his dick against Hisoka’s entrance on the final two spurts, teeth gritting as he marked him like that.

 

They both sat there, unmoving, panting, for a minute.

 

Eventually Illumi moved off, limbs shaking tiredly.

 

“We have to change the sheets,” Hisoka said, having rolled over and out of the wet spot of semen.

 

Illumi frowned as he collapsed beside Hisoka, at the very edge of the bed, away from the mess they made. “I am tired.”

 

Hisoka leaned in and kissed his cheek down to his jaw. Illumi realized they hadn’t kissed at all yet. He'd walked in, seen Hisoka sleeping naked, face-down, and was immediately overwhelmed by his own desire. He turned his head, brushing their noses, and closed the distance between. Their tongues met, almost lazily. He let Hisoka pull him into his arms.

 

Eventually the magician mumbled against Illumi’s mouth, “You’re welcome, by the way.”

 


 

In the last six months of living together, they had spent so much time worrying about attempts on Illumi’s life that they never really considered the possibility of attempts on Hisoka’s, and that was a mistake.

 

Three days after returning home, Illumi woke up in Hisoka’s bed. He blinked, bleary-eyed, confused about what woke him. He realized, belatedly, that the light in Hisoka’s closet had illuminated the room a bit. Hisoka stepped out of the closet, fully dressed, make-up on. His suit was white and red this time, matching his blood-red colored hair. He blinked at Illumi sitting up in bed.

 

“Did I wake you?” Hisoka asked.

 

“It is okay,” Illumi replied, pushing his hair out of his face. “Where are you going?”

 

“I’m going to go meet a friend,” Hisoka said. “It’s early. Go back to sleep.”

 

“Do you need help where you’re going?” Illumi rubbed an eye.

 

“Not at all.”

 

“You’re wearing your good suit.” That usually meant serious business.

 

“It’s a good friend.”

 

“Hm.” Illumi’s eyes narrowed a fraction.

 

“Go back to sleep, Lumi.”

 

He was still tired. It was four in the morning. Illumi yawned, shifted over to Hisoka’s side of the bed, and sank against his pillow. He inhaled, taking in the heady scent of sugar and musk, eyes falling shut. He felt Hisoka press a kiss to the corner of his mouth before he was gone.

 

It was about twenty-four hours later that Illumi started to worry.

 

He paced the apartment, cellphone in hand. He had text Hisoka twice in the last day. The first one got a response. The second did not.

 

09:10 Illumi: I am sending for some hair products. Do you need anything?

09:15 Hisoka: You were thinking of me? How sweet.

 

16:48 Illumi: Are you out for the night?

 

Four in the morning and he was trying to decide if another text was warranted. Hisoka was working. Meeting a friend. Busy.

 

04:22 Illumi: Are you alright?

 

At six in the morning, he pulled open his laptop and tapped into the cell phone service website. They could track phones. He pulled up the number for the appropriate party and called to find the location of Hisoka’s phone, if it was within transmission range, and if it still had battery life.  

 

“We can’t give out that information unless it’s to a family member,” the gentle voice said on the other end of the line.

 

Hisoka doesn’t have any family, Illumi thought, ire lashing up his stomach and into his throat. He said, finally, “I am his husband. Check the address on my account, and on his. It is the same.”

 

“Uh -- oh. I see.”

 

The lie would have been more embarrassing if his emotions weren’t already overrun with the desire to kill.

 

“I’ll email the coordinates to the account associated with the phone. Is that alright?”

 

“Yes,” Illumi said. 

 

“Very well,” she replied. "I've updated his file to include the surname Zoldyck, so you won't have this issue in the future."

 

"Thank you," Illumi said.

 


 

Hisoka’s phone was in an empty parking lot on the edge of Yorkshin, on the ground. Dropped there, a light scratch in the corner where it had hit the concrete. The simple dark-purple case had kept the screen from cracking.

 

Illumi stared down at the device, eyes wide. This was it; the end of the line. He couldn’t track anything farther than this. He looked up out into the empty parking lot. There were some aged buildings in the distance. An empty field on the other side. A few rocks and a few scatterings of trash were all that occupied the space.

 

No tire tracks, no scent of car.

 

He didn’t know where Hisoka was. He didn’t know where to look.

 

His thumb slid across the unlock switch on Hisoka’s phone -- 3% battery life remaining -- and it opened up to reveal a background picture Hisoka had taken of Illumi reading a book in their living room. It wasn’t even a good photograph, half-blurred as it was.

 

He swiped through Hisoka’s messages for clues. Illumi’s last two messages were unread. Hisoka had dropped the phone some time between nine in the morning and eight at night.

 

He swiped through Hisoka’s contacts, got to his own name, and clicked. He had been Hisoka’s contact for two and a half years, the data read. The memory of giving Hisoka his phone number hit Illumi so suddenly that he had to press a hand to his mouth.

 

The phone died, battery drained. Illumi pocketed it and made for home.

 

He had known Hisoka for nearly fourteen years, but only gave him his number two and a half years ago -- right after the Hunter’s exam.

 


 

Hisoka said, “Dear Illumi. You can’t hide very well from me, can you?”

 

Illumi, dressed as Gittarackur, reached up to pull the pins free from his skull. He sighed as he shifted back. Several people in the gym audibly gasped, and the space emptied out. Illumi’s creepiness factor was quite impeccable, lately. “My disguises work. You are just a monster who expected me,” Illumi reasoned.

 

“Not that I’m not very pleased to see you,” Hisoka said, using a towel to wipe the sweat from his face, “But what are you doing here?”

 

He was at one of the many workout facilities near Celestial Tower, exercising among plebeians. Illumi found it uncomfortable how comfortable Hisoka seemed to be among the non-elite when not dressed up like a magician. He was still dressed in a manner that would stand out -- but it was likely that no one who knew his persona in the ring would know who he was like this, in a pink muscle shirt and black spandex pants, red hair a wrinkled sweaty mess atop his head. “Is it true that you took the Hunter’s exam last year?” Illumi glanced down at the bench Hisoka was seated on and then perched on the end of it, as far from him as possible. Hisoka leaned over to re-rack the weights on the machine.

 

“It’s true.”

 

“Did you pass the exam?”

 

“I didn’t,” Hisoka said.

 

Illumi tilted his head. “Is it that hard?”

 

“No,” he explained, “I was disqualified.”

 

“What for?”

 

“One of the examiners was quite amateur,” Hisoka said. “I think I was frustrated by it.” He smiled. “I gave him a scar or two; apparently you’re not allowed to do that.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“The exam will be a complete nonchallenge for someone of your...talents…” Hisoka smirked, leaning forward. Illumi leaned back. “You have nothing to worry about.”

 

“Will you retake it this year?”

 

“I didn’t plan to. Are you going, dear Illumi?”

 

“Yes. I need a Hunter’s license for a job. Would you help me reach the examination site? I will pay.”

 

“No, no,” Hisoka said, “That won’t be necessary. I’ll show you. I’ll take it too. I bet I’ll be better this year if I have you as a teammate. Besides, having a Hunter’s license will be very useful, I think. That’s why I went in the first place.”

 

Illumi’s nose wrinkled at that thought. “I am not sure if that working together is entirely a good --”

 

“Believe me, it’s an easy exam, but there are challenges that cannot be done entirely alone. Last year, we were placed in pairs for a mountain-climbing challenge. It’d be very beneficial to have help from someone capable.”

 

Illumi sighed, pulled out his phone, and sent a text to his father to confirm he’d gotten what he needed to take the exam.

 

“We should exchange numbers,” Hisoka said. He leaned in even closer. Illumi leaned back even farther.

 

“You have asked several times over the last several years, and I say no. That will not change. Ever.”

 

“It’ll be useful for the exam.”

 

“I will purchase radios for us to use.”

 

“Radios? You’d rather use walkie talkies than share your number with me,” Hisoka said, frowning. "You're so cold."

 

“That is correct,” Illumi said. “When will you be ready to leave for the exam?”

 

“Hm? It’s not for another three days, isn’t it?”

 

Illumi just leveled him with a flat stare.

 

“I can be ready in a few hours. I have to shower. I don’t suppose you’d want to hel --”

 

Illumi stood up. “I will be at the airship port in two hours. Meet me in the bar.”

 

Hisoka stood, too, smiling. “I can’t wait.”

 

The exam was, in fact, quite easy. And Illumi had the added bonus of getting to track his precious little brother the whole time, too. Hisoka wasn’t even much of a nuisance. There were times when Illumi was grateful to have him around. It kept things from getting boring, especially around the middle of the exam.

 

At the base of Trick Tower, Illumi, disguised, asked Hisoka to teach him one of his magic tricks.

 

“You never seem very impressed when I do them,” Hisoka said.

 

“I am not,” Illumi replied, voice clicking in Gittarackur’s forced speech. “But this is boring and it might be useful, one day.”

 

“Well, the most important part of magic,” Hisoka explained, “is called misdirection.”

 

Illumi could never describe Hisoka as boring.

 

When it was all finished and they had both received licenses, and Illumi had packed up Killua to return home, he was cornered by Hisoka one last time.

 

“Here’s your radio,” Hisoka said, handing it back.

 

“Thank you,” Illumi said, tucking it into the duffle bag he carried.

 

“We work well together, you know,” Hisoka said.

 

“It was relatively successful,” Illumi agreed.

 

“We could do it again,” Hisoka suggested.

 

Illumi narrowed his eyes, but nodded, slowly.

 

“Take this.” Hisoka’s hand raised in air, and with a flick of his wrist, a business card appeared. It was blank except for a heart and Hisoka’s cell phone number.

 

Illumi stared at it briefly before nodding. He held out his hand and Hisoka placed it into his palm, smiling.

 

“It took twelve years to get you to do that,” Hisoka said.

 

“You did not have a cell phone number when we met twelve years ago,” Illumi reminded him.

 

“That’s not what I meant. It took twelve years for you to accept something from me.”

 

Illumi stared down at the card, sighed, and when he looked back up, Hisoka was gone.

 


 

Hisoka was gone.

 

Illumi was struggling to suppress everything he’d spent his entire life suppressing. After all, Hisoka wasn’t family. He wasn’t a mission. He was just -- a roommate. A friend. He wasn’t family.

 

A vision of Hisoka with white hair, the version he had seen in the onsen, flashed across Illumi’s mind, and he closed his eyes to push it back.

 

Moreover, Hisoka was one of the strongest people on the planet, unquestionably. He didn’t need help. Had he ever lost a fight?

 

Back at their apartment, Illumi sat in the living room, going through every message Hisoka had in his phone. There were years and years worth. It was invasive, but he hadn’t come across anything Hisoka would be embarrassed to share. Hisoka wasn’t embarrassed by much.

 

He wasn’t even very flirtatious by text. Illumi knew Hisoka was rather a shy person, but he was also teasing and playful. Nevertheless, he hadn’t sent a text of sexual content to anyone who wasn’t Illumi in the last six months.

 

Illumi felt physically ill at the realization of why.

 

“Cruel,” Silva had said.

 

He copied the important messages from the last few weeks. Kurapika, a man named Tanem, Machi, and even Shalnark. The message that had spurred Hisoka to leave that morning was one from Tanem.

 

03:23 Tanem: Surprise! Your challenger is here. You game?

03:25 Hisoka: Isn’t this unexpected! I’m game.

03:25 Tanem: Can you meet me at Riesling Drive in an hour?

03:26 Hisoka: Yes. *^_^u Can’t wait.

04:30 Tanem: You here?

04:30 Hisoka: Nearly. I accidentally woke up love when I was getting dressed. I had to say goodbye. I’m in a cab now.

04:31 Tanem: TMI.

04:31 Hisoka: Haha.

04:32 Tanem: I have so many questions I never want answered.

04:32 Hisoka: We have sex on top of the bodies we've killed, yes.

04:33 Tanem: You think you’re so funny.

04:33 Hisoka: Who’s joking?

04:34 Tanem: Jesus.

 

Illumi assumed, at that point, Hisoka arrived at the destination. But how they went from Riesling Drive, on one side of the city, to the parking lot where Hisoka’s phone was abandoned on the other side of the city, he didn’t know. And the person Hisoka was challenging could be a vast number of people -- there were probably hundreds that Hisoka considered worthy.

 

He read and reread the exchange again and again.

 

Hisoka called Illumi ‘love.’ How often did he do that? He’d never called him that in person or even via text. Love.

 

Illumi’s world was a vortex of confusion, frustration, and something too uncomfortably close to fear. He swallowed hard, gathering the papers he’d drawn up of the best leads he had, and then picked up his phone. He dialed his father.

 

Silva picked up and Illumi said, “Hisoka is missing.”

 


 

Silva and Zeno both arrived at Illumi’s flat a few hours later.

 

“He insisted on coming,” Silva explained as Zeno walked through the door.

 

“Hisoka helped our family,” he said. “The honorable thing to do would be to help him in return.”

 

“I’m reluctant to help him at all,” Silva said. “Father, you realize he wants to kill me, right?”

 

“That sounds less like a family problem and more like a personal problem,” Zeno said. Illumi, agreeing, nodded.

 

Silva’s face dropped. “I don’t think either of you realize how cruel you can be.”

 

Zeno scoffed. Illumi tilted his head, tucking hair behind one ear.

 

Silva sighed deeply, caving. “Here’s what we know about Tanem. He’s not a fighter. Rather a shrimpy guy, in fact. He’s in several drug markets and he’s probably known Hisoka his entire life. They’re both from Meteor City,” Silva said. He passed a file over to Illumi, who sat down with it in one chair and began poring over the information. “They were part of the same gypsy troupe.”

 

“Traveler caravan,” Illumi immediately corrected. “Can we find him?”

 

“Already have,” Silva said. “He’s only outside the city, as of an hour ago.”

 

Illumi stood up and all of his frustration, confusion, and fear had been instantly replaced with the kind of cold fury that made him feel strong and capable. He was going to bathe in Tanem’s blood, innocent or not. “Then we should go.”

 

“We’ll take your car,” Silva said. “The chopper is too conspicuous.”

 

Illumi nodded, grabbed his keys, and walked out the door.

 

Chapter Text

Tanem’s head popped like a ripe melon between Illumi’s hands.

 

The rest of his body hadn’t fared much better throughout the two hours of torture. But eventually Illumi pulled the truth out of him -- one broken finger at a time.

 

Wiping his hands off on a spare shirt from Tanem’s knapsack, Illumi turned to face the stony faces of Silva and Zeno, standing in the doorway. “Overland City,” he said. “That’s where the ambushers took Hisoka.” He shot one last fleeting glance at Tanem’s wrecked body where it was tied to the rusty metal chair in his own kitchen, surrounded by dirty bloodied cash.

 

He had been paid to sell Hisoka out to a young man seeking vengeance. A lifetime connection went down the drain for a bag of money. It was terribly wasteful, Illumi thought. Tanem was a fool.

 

“Let’s drive back to your apartment,” Silva said. “We’ll take the helicopter from there.”

 

“No,” Illumi said, “That will take too long. We should go straight to the airport.”

 

“You want to take a commercial airship to go on an assassination?” Silva asked, brows furrowing.

 

“I do not want to. But it will shave off nearly an hour on commute time. We have already spent nearly three finding Tanem and getting information.” Illumi tossed the bloodied shirt to the side and started towards the door.

 

“That’s impractical,” Silva said, “We’re taking the helicopter.”

 

“No,” Illumi said. He stopped in the doorway and he looked up to his father. Black eyes met blue and they both went still, static electricity suddenly filling the air.

 

Zeno looked between them both, sighed, and started out the door alone. “This is Illumi’s job. Let’s take a blimp.”

 

Silva’s jaw ticked, but he nodded. As the trio made their way to Illumi’s vehicle, Silva said to his son, “The clown is making you irrational.”

 

Illumi slid into his car and didn’t reply.

 

“This is why we keep our children from finding friends,” Silva said as he buckled into the backseat.

 

“Hisoka is not my friend,” Illumi said. “He is more important than that.”

 

Illumi didn’t get to see his father’s reaction as he focused on the road, but Zeno’s dry echoing laughter was enough to tell him that it hadn’t been exactly positive.

 


 

Overland City was named that because it was built on the edge of a gigantic cliff that looked out onto a vast tundra of uninhabitable swampland. It wasn’t a city on the same scale as Yorkshin, and being only a few hours outside of the metropolis, it would be fair to just call it an oversized suburb.

 

The swamp made it smell vaguely rotten most time. When Illumi stepped out of the car, his nose wrinkled.

 

“I haven’t been here since before you were born,” Silva said. “I forgot that it stinks.”

 

“This way,” Zeno pointed. The entrance to the abandoned subway was tucked against one low-rise building. The underground activity in Overland took place literally underground; there was a whole network of tunnels that ran beneath the city filled with off-the-books business. The amount of resources it would take to surprise and take down Hisoka would definitely be easy to trace in a network like this.

 

Illumi’s plan was simple: ask someone.

 

The three Zoldycks walked into the darkness of the tall but narrow tunnel and followed the faint sound of heartbeats down one path, along rusted and half-broken train tracks. Ambient light filled the space and a rat skittered away from the approaching assassins while faint drips of water fell from overhead.

 

They walked up to a group of teenagers playing cards.

 

Illumi would recognize that deck anywhere.

 

His body moved before his mind even caught up, reeling at the thought that Hisoka might actually be unarmed. He killed one boy, his face distorting with two needles springing from his face, and cornered the remaining three with a heavy darkness in his eyes. It was important to kill someone straight away during a talk like this. It established authority.

 

“Where did you get this deck of cards?”

 

The teens, terrified, looked from Illumi to their friend’s twitching body and back again.

 

Illumi lifted a needle to kill another when a dirty-faced girl raised both of her hands. “It’s the Rios! You want the Rios!”

 

Illumi lowered his needle.

 

The girl shot out a trembling hand and pointed down the tunnel. “Go three blocks down, two blocks north. The J station entrance.”

 

One of the other teens hissed out, “Mara, no -- they’ll kill us.”

 

“He’ll kill us!” Mara replied, tears flooding her eyes.

 

“Illumi,” Silva said, “Let’s go. Quickly.”

 

Illumi turned on his heel and all three Zoldycks vanished mid-air as they took off in a full-paced run. The teenagers left behind collapsed on themselves, wailing, and their cries echoed throughout the tunnels like the chorus to Illumi’s very vengeful song.

 


 

A few years ago in Overland City, Hisoka killed a young man who attempted to stab him in broad daylight. Hisoka simply turned the knife up and it slammed full-force into the kid’s chin, up through his head. The bloodied point of the blade stuck out from the top of his hair before he collapsed, dead.

 

Hisoka hadn’t given the incident any thought at all. He walked away without even asking why, because the why didn’t really matter to him. Screams echoed around him as he strolled on through the city square. He didn’t notice a child come scrambling out of the shadows. He didn’t notice the child wailing for his brother to wake up.

 

James and Jude were orphans. James, ten years older than his brother, had made the decision to join up with one of the many gangs running the Overland underground. The Rios were the most powerful gang and had the most potential for growth and success, with hands in every underground trade from prostitution to drugs.

 

James had tried walking the straight-and-narrow by working in kitchens, on construction sites, doing manual labor, but he couldn’t scrape together enough for rent and food. Jude went to sleep hungry and crying most nights, and James knew he had no choice. He found the Rios and begged for a chance.

 

The gang leader set his initiation task. James was required to kill someone on the main street of Overland City during lunch, when there would be dozens of witnesses to see. Hisoka was there on Ryodan business at the time. His height and costume made him an immediate target. James thought, well, he’s muscular, but he’s dressed like a magician. He probably can’t fight at all.

 

It was his last thought.

 

Jude had seen it all. Jude had the memory seared into his mind, of him hugging his brother’s limp body, of him screaming for help, of him spending that first night utterly alone, covered in his brother’s blood.

 

He had the memory seared into his mind of Hisoka, the magician, walking slowly away from the ever-increasing crowd. Calmly.

 

Jude’s rage made him strong. His connection to James’ gang made him stronger. Jude was only twelve at the time, but he joined the gang in his brother’s stead, and for the next five years, the Rios grew to immense power.

 

They were essentially an army. They had weapons, they had skill. They had cash. And they had Jude, with his fury and unrestrained aura. He spent five years training himself and the Rios for this moment. The moment where he would have Hisoka completely at his mercy.

 

“You had no idea you were being followed all this time, did you?” Jude asked. He sat across from Hisoka, who was in a heavy metal chair, unmoving.

 

Hisoka’s eyes widened and he smiled, faintly. “Of course. I just thought you were after Illu.”

 

“Your love. You get to have one of those -- while you cut down anyone else, with no care about who they love, or who loves them.” Jude said. His eyes suddenly flooded with tears -- angry tears. He looked younger than seventeen. “Do you remember killing my brother?”

 

“Likely not.”

 

Jude’s fist collided with the side of Hisoka’s face hard enough to send him tumbling from the chair. He collapsed on the floor in an immobile heap. “Shut up!” Jude said.

 

Two men in the room came forward. One placed a hand on Jude’s shoulder and the other lifted Hisoka back into his chair. Blood trickled down the side of his mouth. He leveled Jude with a cold, unaffected yellow-eyed stare.

 

Jude wiped the corners of his eyes, sniffed, and stood up out of his own metal chair. He stood tall in front of Hisoka and then barked a laugh. “I spent so much time training to get better than you --” He looked at the two men and said, grinning, “All of us have. We’re better than you, now. Doesn’t that scare you?”

 

Hisoka just tilted his head and smiled, teeth stained red with his own blood.

 

“Ha -- fine.” Jude stepped back and motioned to one of the men. A pair of pliers appeared. “Then I guess I’ll start disassembling you. Piece by piece. Until you are nothing but a wash of blood and parts on my floor.”

 

Hisoka watched Jude kneel before him, lift his hand, and shove the end of the pliers beneath his fingernail. Blood flooded the nail bed and dripped down the tool immediately. He stared at it, disconnected from the pain.

 

“Let’s go, then,” Jude hissed, and ripped the nail clean off, tearing it with a fleshy scrape. "Piece by piece."

 


 

Hisoka’s arms were covered in blood from fingertip to elbow. Ripping his nails out one-by-one had left him and Jude both stained red. The kid reached up and wiped away another angry tear from his face, spreading a smear of red along one cheekbone.

 

Hisoka finally understood why some people did not like to fight him -- because of his hatsu.

 

Jude’s hatsu was very difficult to fight. It was probably as frustrating as bungee gum. Whenever Jude punched someone with his aura around his fist, he could render them paralyzed. The stronger the punch, the stronger the paralytic. It took him hitting Hisoka five times to even slow him down. The hatsu combined with Jude’s impressive speed and the reinforcements he had with his gang left Hisoka very little room to play; it was only natural that he would wind up captured and unable to move. He could speak and breathe. That was about the extent of it.

 

And now his nails were scattered in bloodied smears across the floor at his feet, the pain throbbing in his fingertips like a warning.

 

“You’re thinking about my hatsu,” Jude said.

 

“Admiring it, really,” Hisoka replied, eyes moving from his hands to Jude’s blood-smeared face.

 

“When you killed my brother, I went to his side, and then I couldn’t move. I was frozen in place, watching you walk away. Everything within me was locked. My power was born then,” Jude said.

 

“I took away something you loved, but I did give you something else in return. Seems rather even,” Hisoka said. “Your power is unique. Impressive. You're quite powerful.”

 

Jude’s face went red and he spit out, “Shut the fuck up.”

 

Bing-o. Hisoka narrowed in on the weakness immediately. “Why, Jude -- do you enjoy when I flatter you?”

 

“I said to shut up. I will fucking cut out your tongue.”

 

“Oh? To get close to my mouth?” Hisoka made a point to lick the corner of his lips, tasting blood.

 

Jude jolted backwards. And then collected himself. He went back on the offense, taking a long stride forward so he was inches from where Hisoka sat. “I saw you fuck that assassin in the street months ago. You were drunk, again. It was in that stairwell off the street you live on.”

 

Hisoka remembered that night well. Illumi took him to dinner and they had more than their fair share of whiskey before leaving the restaurant, red-faced and happy, and when Hisoka kissed Illumi while waiting at a crosswalk, Illumi didn’t protest. His compliance lit a fire under Hisoka and he dragged him to the nearest alcove off the street, pushed down Illumi’s pants and unzipped his own just enough for free their cocks and rutted against his ass, their voices a whisper as Illumi begged for it. Hisoka had whispered I love you against the shell of Illumi’s ear and made him come hard enough to hit the wall with cum.

 

It had been a good date.

 

“We should keep that between ourselves. Illu would be quite embarrassed, I think.”

 

“It came as a surprise -- even after all these years that I watched you -- I didn’t think you were gay,” Jude said. “Tch -- I didn’t think you loved anything.”

 

“Did it make you curious?” Hisoka tilted his head, genuinely curious himself.

 

“No. It was the thought that you -- you, a monster -- could love -- anything --” Jude snapped his mouth shut with an audible click.

 

“Hm. Well,” Hisoka blinked, “I’m not gay.”

 

Jude scoffed.

 

“I like girls,” Hisoka said. “And boys. And everything else. I'm full of love, Jude.”

 

Jude snapped, finally, and punched Hisoka again. Hisoka felt his body seize up even harder; the paralytic strengthened itself. It was even hard to breathe, almost. A steel-toe boot collided with Hisoka’s ribs as he was kicked all the way to the back wall of the dimly lit concrete room. Another fist collided with his face.

 

Jude panted as he brutalized Hisoka, hitting him until each punch was sounded with the wet smack of blood. He punched Hisoka’s throat, his chest, stomach, kidneys, stomped his gut --

 

“Jude,” a voice barked from the doorway. “We have incoming.”

 

Jude turned wild eyes to Hisoka, almost accusatory in their shock. Someone was coming to Hisoka's aid?

 

“What?” Hisoka said, voice a low purr from where he was laid out on the concrete floor, bleeding. “You didn’t think he loved me back?”

 


 

“We knew this was a possibility We’re ready. Our first line of defense at the gates has been taken down -- that’s twelve men gone. From what I’ve been able to gather through the coms, there’s three of them. They won't get much farther,” a man explained to Jude as they made their way to the monitoring station.

 

“Is one of them Illumi?” Jude barked, running up to the computer screens lining one wall.

 

“Who?”

 

“Illumi Zoldyck. He’s --” Hisoka’s lover -- “He’s been living with Hisoka.” Jude grabbed a monitor and swung it around to examine the image.

 

“I don’t know. They’re moving too fast for our cameras to pick up.”

 

“Shit,” Jude said.

 

“Jude, it’s fine. We’re ready. We took down the clown. We can handle anything else.”

 

Jude swallowed hard and nodded. “Alright. Then let’s go.”

 


 

The complex that the Rios gang had set up in was an impressive sprawl of underground tunnels that connected several warehouses and subway stations all retrofitted for dubious underground enterprise. Once Illumi, Silva, and Zeno had gotten inside the tunnel system belonging to the Rios, they had to split up to cover ground.

 

Illumi cut through the shadows like a fish in water, sending pins flying through any obstacles. The entire complex lost its lighting only five minutes in. Likely the work of Grandfather, Illumi thought. His powers tended to knock out existing power-grids, especially when they were illegally rigged as this one certainly was.

 

Through the occasional natural light filtered from the narrow windows high above the tunnel, Illumi fished his way deeper. A man exited from a room in front of Illumi. He took the opportunity to grab the stranger and slam him into the opposing wall.

 

“I am looking for Hisoka,” Illumi said simply.

 

“Are you Illumi?” The man side, eyes wide.

 

Illumi didn’t answer.

 

“Ha. Jude didn’t think you’d come.” Something in the man’s eyes seemed resigned. He knew he was about to die.

 

“Where is Hisoka?”

 

“I guess Jude was wrong.”

 

“Where is Hisoka?” Illumi repeated.

 

“With Jude, of course,” the man said. “He might be dead by now, though. Depends on how manic Jude is feeling toda --” his voice was cut off by Illumi slamming a knife into his gut. He dropped the man the floor and slipped away.

 

He had to be getting close.

 


 

“This happened faster than I anticipated,” Hisoka said. Jude had him back in the metal chair. He was shaking.

 

“Shut up, Hisoka,” Jude hissed. He turned to look at the door. The entire Rios gang was at war with three people, and Jude had no one else to help him watch Hisoka. Not that Hisoka needed watching, no. Jude’s power had rendered him completely useless.

 

Jude paced back and forth for a second, eyes darting around the room as he thought on it.

 

“Do you need help with something?” Hisoka asked.

 

“I said shut the fuck up,” Jude replied. He swallowed, stopped, and the pulled a knife out of his sleeve. “I’m going to kill you.”

 

“Now?” Hisoka said, brows lifting.

 

Jude hesitated.

 

“You spent so long preparing for this. Make it a good one,” Hisoka encouraged, closing his eyes in a smile.

 

Jude walked over. He walked behind Hisoka. He lifted the knife.

 

The door opened with a crack. Illumi stood silhouetted against the dark tunnel before stepping in. He had blood on one hand, hair a wild loose mess around his shoulders, a vague sheen of sweat across his pale skin.

 

Black eyes zeroed in on Hisoka immediately.

 

“Hello, Illu,” Hisoka said.

 

Jude slid a hand into Hisoka’s hair, lifting his head, and pressed the blade against his neck. Jude said, honestly, “I didn’t think you’d come.”

 

Illumi produced a needle. It glinted between his fingers.

 

“I’m faster than Hisoka,” Jude said. “How do you think I captured him in the first place? Do you think you can kill me before I kill him? ”

 

Illumi’s fingers tightened on the pin. The blade pressed against Hisoka’s windpipe.

 

“Is this a gamble you’re willing to make?” Jude already knew the answer. Illumi had come all this way. Cut through an army. For Hisoka. To come this far and watch him die wasn’t an option. A wild, unrestrained smile split Jude’s face as Illumi didn’t move. “That’s what I thought.”

 


 

The realization that he was unwilling to gamble with Hisoka’s life was a pretty startling one. Illumi looked at the blade Jude held to Hisoka’s throat and he knew he couldn’t move.

 

Illumi was fast. He was very, very fast. Was he faster than the man holding a knife to Hisoka’s neck?

 

It was a gamble he was unwilling to make.

 

Illumi dropped the pin from his hand and it fell through the air only to land on the bloodied ground with a rhythmic ping-ping-ping. Finally, Illumi spoke. “What do you want?”

 

“What?”

 

“I will give you what you want,” Illumi clarified. “I am unwilling to fight you. What do you want?”

 

Jude’s eyes widened. And widened. His mouth opened and closed a few times and Illumi watched his pupil’s dilate. “What do I want?” His voice rose, “What do I want?” He then shouted, “What do I want?!”

 

Hisoka blinked, looking down at Jude’s hand holding the knife-handle.

 

“I want my brother back,” he said. “I want my fucking family. I want my family!” He laughed, the voice a cold hollow echo in the nearly-empty room. “I want my childhood back. I want the last five years back!”

 

Illumi remained stoic.

 

“But you know what I desperately, really want, Illumi?” Jude’s eyes were wide, shaking, unfocused. “I want Hisoka dead.”

 

Jude pulled the blade across Hisoka’s throat, cutting it open with a blossom of red. The rain of pins hit him instantly, in nearly the same moment, and he was dead before he even hit the ground behind the chair. The knife clattered to the floor and Hisoka fell after, eyes rolling back as he bled out.

 

Illumi hadn’t moved yet. “Hisoka,” he said, and the sound of the name put his body into motion. He slid across the blood-wetted floor and kneeled at Hisoka’s side, turning him over, and saw the color fading from his already pale skin.

 

Hisoka’s eyes, mildly unfocused, turned to look up at him. He opened his mouth to speak but blood filled his mouth and he coughed. Illumi pressed his hands against the gash in his neck and found himself shaking, hard. Too hard. He couldn’t hold Hisoka’s wound closed, shaking like this.

 

Hisoka was going to die.

 

Illumi’s mind sped through his options and that’s when he pulled out his phone, connected directly to his father, and said into the handset, “Dad. Please.” It slipped from his blood-covered fingers and joined the knife on the floor, bloody and useless. “Hisoka,” Illumi said again, “Hisoka, Hisoka.” He tried again, pressing shaking hands against his throat, to staunch the flow of blood.

 

Hisoka smiled.

 

“Stop smiling,” Illumi said, “Stop smiling, you idiot.” Illumi realized he was breathing heavily. His heart was like a balloon in his chest. He was going to explode. His hands continued to slip, uselessly. It felt like years that he sat there, uselessly catching Hisoka's blood between his fingers.

 

An impossibly large hand came into Illumi’s narrowed field of vision and closed around Hisoka’s throat, able to wrap around the entirety of the wound. Illumi jerked back and saw his father kneel beside him.

 

“I can stop the flow of blood,” Silva said, “But it’ll hurt.” He looked down at Hisoka’s face and saw only the faintest glimmer of consciousness. “I’ll apologize after.”

 

Illumi moved back as white electricity pulsed out of Silva’s palm, searing the cut closed. The smell of burning flesh joined everything else assaulting his senses; the blood filling the air, the wetness of it on all sides. Hisoka actually jerked; possibly the first time Illumi had ever seen him react to pain, ever. Part of him thought Hisoka couldn’t even feel pain, not really. Silva had proved otherwise.

 

He turned hawkish blue eyes to his son. “Are you hurt?” His eyes scanned down Illumi. He was positively covered in red.

 

“Not --” Illumi shook his head. “No.”

 

“We should go,” Silva said. He reached over to hoist Hisoka up, but Illumi stopped him.

 

“I will carry him,” Illumi said. He moved to Hisoka’s side, gripped his body, and hoisted it onto his back. He stood up, carefully, arms wrapped around his back and beneath Hisoka’s ass to keep him steady.

 

Hisoka coughed.

 

“I don’t think he’ll be able to talk for a few days,” Silva said. His eyes slid from Illumi’s face to Hisoka’s, and the faintest smirk quirked the corner of his mouth. “Pity.”

 

Zeno appeared in the doorway. “They’re all dead or all scattered,” he said.

 

Silva nodded. As they started down the tunnel, to return above ground, he dutifully pointed out: “We’ll need private transport back. We’re all covered in gore and Hisoka needs help now.”

 

“I am sorry,” Illumi said.

 

Silva was stony quiet for a minute. The only sound was that of their feet padding down the walkway. Finally, he said, “Don’t be. I understand.”

 

Illumi looked up and over to him, brows raised.

 

Silva glanced at him and then back ahead. “You know, you called me dad. You haven’t used that word since you were a child.”

 

“Did I?” Illumi said, faintly. He felt an exhale of air, almost like laughter, blow against the back of his hair where Hisoka was pressed. He found it funny. Of course he did.

 


 

The butlers arrived two hours after that in a large white van with a frazzled and frightened-looking medic in tow. He looked like a small white rabbit hopping around a den of lions.

 

“He’s lost so much blood,” the medic said as he looked over Hisoka. He adjusted his round glasses and white lab coat. “We need to get him to a bank. Immediately. I don’t even know how he’s conscious.”

 

Hisoka’s eyes rolled from the medic to Illumi.

 

“He will be okay,” Illumi said. “Just close his wounds.”

 

“God, did you cauterize this neck wound? Jesus, it has to hurt,” the medic said. He looked Hisoka in the face. “Doesn’t it hurt?”

 

Hisoka’s eyes looked lewd, but only Illumi could tell. He looked away, not willing to translate the stare. Hisoka exhaled, feeling the laughter trapped inside of himself.

 

“I’ll do what I can,” the medic said. “I’m going to put him to sleep. Alright?”

 

Hisoka closed his eyes as the man prepped a needle. The van shook as it continued driving towards Yorkshin at breakneck speed.

 

“It’s just a sedative,” the medic explained. “I’ll have you right as rain when you wake back up,” he said.

 

Hisoka, still unable to move, smiled only faintly. He felt the prick of the needle and blackness warmed him from head to toe.

Chapter Text

Hisoka’s vocal cords had been ripped and then fried and he would never speak again.

 

That’s what the surgeon had said, staring at the stony faces of the Zoldyck family, still wearing scrubs and a mask covering the bottom of his face.

 

“I’m sorry,” he finished, walking away.

 

Illumi was standing in the sterile white waiting room of the intensive care unit of the nicest hospital in Yorkshin, wearing an oversized sweatshirt and too-small bicycle shorts fished out of the nurse-station’s lost-and-found. He had fared better than Silva, at least, who was wearing a fitted (and ketchup-stained) tank-top and sweatpants. They had to ditch their blood-drenched clothes upon arrival at the hospital; there were too many questions, too many turned heads.

 

Slowly, Illumi sat down in the plush bench-chair attached to a small table of magazines.

 

“Well, he’s alive,” Zeno said. He tucked his arms behind his back and looked down at his grandson. “We’ll look at alternatives to heal him when he’s back on his feet.”

 

Illumi pulled a lock of hair over his shoulder and stroked it absentmindedly. He nodded.

 

“We should remove him from the hospital,” Silva chimed in. “Now that he’s stable.”

 

Illumi continued to nod.

 

“Illumi.”

 

He jerked his head up, meeting his father’s icy blue eyes.

 

“Are we taking him to the manor or back to your apartment?”

 

“You will allow him to return to the manor?” Illumi asked.

 

“Of course,” Silva said, and he raised a single eyebrow.

 

It was a victory, he knew, logically. Silva would allow Hisoka to return to the manor and he and Illumi would stay there while he healed and beyond; it would be a homecoming. Illumi would get to go home.

 

But for some reason, when he thought of home, he thought of Hisoka’s bed, the bar in their kitchen, the low modern couch of their living room, and the pile of Hisoka’s shoes by the door.

 

Illumi tucked his hair back behind his ear and rose to standing. “No. We will return to our apartment,” he said.

 


 

Illumi stirred from his sleep, round black eyes opening into mid-morning light inside of Hisoka’s bedroom. He felt hands stroking his hair, combing out the ends, and Illumi shifted back down into the covers, willing himself to fall back asleep again. He’d deal with Hisoka later.

 

Wait, Hisoka.

 

Illumi was sitting straight in under one second, turned to face Hisoka, who was propped up in bed. Awake.

 

For the first time in eight days.

 

Illumi stared at him, wide-eyed, and Hisoka stared back, still holding a chunk of Illumi’s hair between his hands. Illumi looked down at Hisoka’s fingers -- the nails that had all been pulled out had begun to grow back and were short and blunt, but unbandaged finally. Illumi examined each one before Hisoka pulled his hands away. He looked at the mangled mess of his nail-beds, frowned, and then held one hand out. Pinkish aura surrounded his hands for a moment before his Texture Surprise and Bungee Gum hatsu snapped into place, creating perfect false nails -- black, to hide the bruising. He repeated the process on the other hand.

 

He held his hands back out for Illumi to inspect and smiled. His teeth were bloody. Illumi’s eyes darted from Hisoka’s mouth to his face and down his naked chest.

 

Illumi was used to being the hairy one; not that he was particularly furry, but he didn’t bother to shave the fine black hairs on his arms and legs and chest, while Hisoka was typically entirely bare. Not anymore.

 

Hisoka had a beard.

 

Well, a strong five-o’clock shadow, anyway. Illumi reached out and stroked Hisoka’s black stubbly jaw with the back of his fingers, the same way he had done for several days now. It had to be itchy, he thought. He’d spent many hours debating on whether or not to shave it during Hisoka’s sleep. The rest of Hisoka remained hairless, though; Illumi was sure he had waxed not long before everything happened.

 

Hisoka followed Illumi’s hand and touched his jaw. His eyes widened. He opened his mouth -- and coughed, instead of talking, and a low rumble gurgled in his chest. His hand slid from his face to his neck and onto the thick white bandage there.

 

Hisoka grabbed his phone from the side table, where it was plugged in and had nearly 480 missed text messages and over 90 phonecalls. Hisoka tapped on it for a moment before Illumi’s phone -- his private phone -- buzzed on the opposite side table next to the bed. Illumi turned to it.

 

10:01 Hisoka: I can’t talk.

 

Illumi looked up from his phone to see Hisoka looking at him with narrowed yellow eyes. Illumi glared back. “Do not waste our data.”

 

He paused, and then typed out a response, despite what he had just said.

 

10:01 Illumi: I am working on a nen healer. I wanted you conscious first.

10:02 Hisoka: You can talk.

 

Illumi looked up again, only briefly, before staring back down at his phone.

 

10:02 Illumi: I do not like talking when you cannot.

 

He didn’t look up; refused to. Hisoka’s next message buzzed in a second later.

 

10:03 Hisoka: I’m going to shower.

 

Illumi had no doubt Hisoka had the strength to do so, but he did still have a catheter and various medical instruments strapped to his body. He didn’t reply to the text, but instead finally met Hisoka’s patient, hawkish stare. He slid over to Hisoka’s side of the bed, pushed him down, and then peeled the blankets off. Hisoka exhaled and dropped down flat on his back without argument while Illumi disconnected him from the various wires and tubes running in and out of vital parts, and removed all of the bloodied bandages.

 

Finished, Illumi stepped out of bed, and held out his hand for Hisoka to take. Hisoka ignored it, and pushed himself to standing, and walked to the bathroom.

 

And then he tried to lock Illumi out. Illumi had a hand on the door and he held it open while Hisoka pushed back.

 

He didn’t want Illumi to see him with the beard, with the black roots in his hair, with the crust around his penis, and the blood staining his teeth. He conveyed his thoughts through a long, thin-eyed stare.

 

Illumi had been changing a pee bag for a week now; the mystery of Hisoka’s allure was already dead and buried. He conveyed his thoughts through a patient, blank look.

 

The pair narrowed their eyes at one another.

 

Illumi was inarguably faster than the magician right now (and probably always), and slipped into the bathroom before he could be locked out.

 

Hisoka refused to shower together, though, pushing Illumi into sitting onto the toilet, and forcing him to wait while Hisoka rinsed off alone. When he got out, Illumi was standing there with a towel in one hand and a razor and can of shaving cream in another. Illumi noticed that somehow in the five-minute wash, Hisoka had righted the roots on his hair, too, so his hair was a glowing electric pink.

 

Hisoka toweled off and followed Illumi’s guidance to the sink. He sat on the edge and stared through wet black lashes as Illumi applied shaving cream to his face and neck with gentle, fast fingers.

 

Illumi shaved Hisoka’s face carefully and fast, concentrated on the task so much that he didn’t realize that Hisoka’s legs were slowly boxing him in. When he finished, Hisoka had his calves crossed completely behind Illumi’s back. The assassin blinked when he realized he couldn’t back away.

 

Hisoka leaned in for a kiss but Illumi blocked it with a flat palm. Without looking away, Illumi lifted a toothbrush and a tube of paste to Hisoka’s eyeline.

 

Hisoka took the brush and the paste, and cleaned his teeth. He turned to spit into the sink and when he shifted back facing Illu, he was smiling with familiar pearly whites.

 

He leaned in for a kiss and this time, Illumi kissed him back.

 


 

“Father sent me with these,” Kalluto said as he walked through the front door. He held out two large canvas bags filled with clothes and shoes retrieved from the hospital, having been cleaned and mended. Illumi’s repaired phone was in the bag, too, along with the knife that had been used to cut Hisoka’s throat.

 

“Thank you,” Illumi said, taking the bags and placing them on a chair in the living space as they walked through the apartment.

 

Hisoka pushed himself to sitting from where he was laid out on the couch and grinned.

 

Kalluto went to him, head tilted curiously. “You’ve been healed already?” Kalluto said, reaching out to touch the perfectly smooth plane of Hisoka’s neck.

 

Hisoka shook his head.

 

“That’s just his hatsu,” Illumi said, rummaging through the bags of clothes. “He’s still scarred. I cannot get Killu to respond to my inquiries. I would like Alluka to come. I won’t even hurt him.”

 

“Killu probably doesn’t believe you,” Kalluto offered. “Also, Alluka’s a girl.”

 

Illumi sighed inwardly. He stood up straight and looked over to his brother and Hisoka. Kalluto was dressed in a navy kimono with pink flowers and his hair had gotten a bit longer, brushing just past his shoulders. And despite being thirteen, now, he was still extraordinarily tiny. Probably the only Zoldyck of this generation that would remain under six feet.

 

Hisoka and Kalluto looked quite strange side-by-side. A ragged overgrown and over-muscled street urchin with dark circles beneath his eyes and unnatural pink hair; a pristine porcelain doll without so much as a hair out of place.

 

Illumi wondered, briefly, how he and Hisoka looked, side-by-side, and felt compelled to get Kalluto away from the magician.

 

“I have some resources out finding a solution,” Illumi said, walking over, “But I plan to visit Killua in person later tonight.”

 

“Illu -- are you --” Kalluto had something in his eye, a shift, like he was hiding something. “I don’t think Alluka can be trusted. Don’t you worry?”

 

Illumi tilted his head. What was Kalluto trying to keep him from knowing? “I do not. I have seen Alluka’s powers in action. The ability to heal is absolute.”

 

“I have an alternative.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“A friend of mine that I met through the Ryodan. Can I please call him? He can fix Hisoka completely.”

 

Hisoka looked from Kalluto to Illumi. He shot Illumi a smirk that twisted the corner of his mouth; he knew Kalluto was hiding something, too.

 

Illumi blinked slowly. “Is there something you want to tell me, Kalluto?”

 

“No,” Kalluto replied, immediately.

 

Illumi lifted a hand and an immediate vibration filled the air. “You misheard.” When he spoke again, his voice was a low, chanting, humming sound. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

 

Kalluto’s eyes blackened instantly and his body went rigid. “Please don’t bring Alluka here.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because Killua loves Alluka more than me.”

 

“Are you envious?”

 

“Hisoka will like Alluka more, too.”

 

Illumi dropped his aura instantly, like a stone through the air, and he wished he had never asked. Hisoka, grinning ear-to-ear, had turned and was leaning against his knees, eye-level to Kalluto now.

 

Kalluto’s body dropped back into its normal relaxed state -- and then he shot an accusatory, wide-eyed look of betrayal to his older brother. Illumi tucked hair behind his ear and opened his mouth to offer -- comfort.

 

“I love you,” Illumi said. “Is that not enough?”

 

Kalluto edged just a bit closer to Hisoka and Illumi felt his hackles rise. Before he could murder Hisoka for being someone more important to Kalluto than his own brother, Kalluto’s phone buzzed within his robe. He pulled the device out to reveal a message.

 

17:43 Hisoka: Call your friend.

 

Kalluto smiled and Illumi’s urge to kill rose ever-higher. His hair lifted as murderous aura bled out of him unconfined.

 

“You saved his number?” Illumi snapped, and Hisoka shrugged. Betrayal was rampant among them today.

 


 

That night, Illumi walked into the living room to find Hisoka and Kalluto asleep on the couch together.

 

As soon as Illumi stepped onto the thick rug that sat in the center of the room, Hisoka’s eyes snapped open with predatory swiftness. He smiled. Illumi narrowed his eyes. Hisoka replied by hugging Kalluto to his chest tightly, squeezing, and Kalluto blinked sleepy eyes open.

 

“Go sleep in my bed,” Illumi said, holding a hand out for Kalluto to take. He did, and rose to his feet rubbing an eye.

 

“Where will you sleep?” Kalluto asked.

 

Hisoka laughed, but the sound was just a series of near-silent exhales. “Do not worry about me,” Illumi replied. He pushed Kalluto towards his bedroom. “Goodnight.”

 

Kalluto shot a curious glance over one shoulder, still not quite grasping the situation, and left down the hall that led to Illumi’s room.

 

Illumi leveled a stare to Hisoka, who patted the warm spot on the couch for Illumi to take. Illumi thought, again, about killing him. He was weak. He would fall easily. Illumi reached out, grabbed Hisoka’s throat, and leaned in with one knee on the couch.

 

Kalluto belongs to me, Illumi thought.

 

Hisoka slid gentle hands up into Illumi’s hair, and guided him down. Illumi’s eyes widened, just a fraction, as a chaste kiss was placed on the corner of his mouth.

 

Do I belong to Hisoka? Illumi wondered.

 

Illumi sighed and relaxed his hand where he gripped Hisoka. As soon as he did, Hisoka was standing, and pushing Illumi backwards, towards the bedroom. They didn’t break eye-contact as they wheeled back and back and back and through the doorway. As soon as the door snapped shut, they slammed together in a frantic, panting kiss, and they couldn’t even manage to get any clothes off before collapsing on the bed. It had been almost two weeks and Illumi couldn’t stop touching him, holding his face, gripping his shoulders.

 

They didn’t talk and Illumi felt himself light up, white hot and on fire and he couldn’t even manage to push his pants farther than his thighs before rolling over, asking for it like that. And Hisoka obliged, fishing lube from their bedside table and slicking two fingers into Illumi, making him grip the bedcovers and muffle his cries. He lifted his ass, begging for it, and Hisoka pressed his cock inside with the very same frantic impatience and immediately rutted into him, wrenching quiet screams into his bedspread as he fucked Illumi hard.

 

Illumi met every brutal thrust, bouncing his ass back on Hisoka’s dick, his composure completely lost for his desire for more, harder, and faster. He wanted Hisoka to destroy him, to blank out his mind, to give him what he thought he had almost lost.

 

“Come in me,” Illumi finally said, voice cracking as he turned his head to articulate his thoughts best he could while being pounded into the mattress. Hisoka fisted a hand into Illumi’s hair, pulling, and wound his other hand into the fabric of Illumi’s shirt, and panted. He forced Illumi to cry out into the air, not into the bed, and gave a whispering, nearly-silent laugh as Illumi tried not to make a sound, to not let the noise of their fucking bleed into the apartment with their guest.

 

“His -- ah --” He struggled against Hisoka’s hands, positively trembling, “I’ll come, he’ll hear --” Illumi pleaded, but he had acted too late, and found himself falling over the edge of orgasm with sudden and unexpected force, cock trapped beneath his belly and the bed -- prostate worked over and over and over and he screamed into every thrust. His vision whited out as he came and came and couldn’t stop, after so long without sex, body jerking with every spurt of cum that pulsed out of him. The feeling was amplified even more as Hisoka came too, semen hot inside of Illu.

 

He panted against the bed, eyelashes wet, eyes closed, and part of him was quite grateful that sex with Hisoka wasn’t always so incredibly intense. They laid together like that for some time, still dressed, Hisoka’s cock still buried in Illumi’s ass, hands sliding down his sides in worship.

 

Hisoka kissed the back of Illumi’s ear as Illumi’s phone buzzed in his pocket. His pants, still taut between his legs, were within reach, so he fished his phone out.

 

11:14 Kalluto: Is everything okay?

 

Illumi’s ears went warm.

 


 

The healer was a very fragile-looking old man. He ambled into the apartment and stopped upon seeing Hisoka, who had dressed up for the occasion in a light blue costume with white accents and pointy-toed boots.

 

“I’m not sure I can fix that,” the old man said, “I’m not good at repairing mental issues.”

 

Hisoka’s face fell, but Illumi felt something almost like genuine laughter rumble inside of himself. He pressed a hand to his mouth. Hisoka watched him fight back the chuckle and narrowed his eyes.

 

Kalluto cleared his throat. “No, Roto. It’s his throat. He had it cut. He can’t talk.”

 

“Ah. Okay. Can we work outside? It’s nice out.”

 

Illumi nodded. “The terrace is this way.” He motioned and everyone followed him through the living room and out through the large glass doors to an oversized balcony. It was tiled with gleaming gray slate and had a full set of white furniture arranged around a gas-powered fire pit. The whole space was also filled with plush green plant life, well-maintained in the heat of the summer.

 

The old man took a seat on one couch and Hisoka sat beside him. He cleared his throat, closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, they were glowing a neon green. His aura burst out, the same bright green, and grabbed Hisoka by the throat.

 

“This will take some time,” the old man said, “The damage is deep.”

 

Kalluto glanced up to Illumi. “He charges by the minute.”

 

Illumi reached out and took Kalluto’s hand into his own, and guided him away from the terrace and back inside. “We will let him work. We can practice your throwing stars inside.”

 

Hisoka watched out the corner of his eye as Illumi left.

 


 

Kalluto was in Illumi’s office, a small room beside his bedroom with training equipment, throwing sharp murdery objects at various rubber figures spread around the space. Practicing dutifully.

 

Illumi left him to his work and returned to the living room with a book. He tucked his hair behind his ears and curled up on the couch, opening the text to the point he left off on last. He had been reading it throughout all of Hisoka's downtime, comatose in bed for so many days. The script of the book was Japanese and detailed some events of the last war the Japanese island found itself in, against the monarchy of Ruzzia. Illumi found it fascinating as someone who was a blend of the two cultures, to see how each country was depicted through a Japanese perspective.

 

The sun grew lower and lower in the sky, painting the living room in pink. Halfway into the six o’clock hour, Illumi glanced up and out the windows to see the old man slowly stand up. Hisoka did the same -- and then started talking. Illumi watched.

 

His heart was beating fast, suddenly. He folded the book closed and placed it on the coffee table, and slowly rose to standing. Hisoka and the healer walked in a moment later.

 

The healer didn’t even acknowledge Illumi as he made his way to the door and left. Illumi watched the front door of their apartment snap shut before looking over to Hisoka standing and staring from the balcony door.

 

Illumi didn’t know what to say. He took a step forward, and Hisoka was the first one to talk.

 

“The name on my phone reads Hisoka Zoldyck. Do you know why? It was quite a surprise to see.”

 

A murderous aura sparked the air.

 

Illumi tilted his head, round eyes gleaming innocently. “I declared you my husband in order to gain access to your phone account.”

 

Hisoka stalked forward. “Oh?”

 

Illumi offered a tiny smile. “Yes.”

 

“I think that’s a problem,” Hisoka said, and he was smiling back. Illumi moved forward, too.

 

“A problem? It is an honor to be considered a Zoldyck,” he said.

 

“It’s a problem because I’m not a Zoldyck, dear Illumi.”

 

“I am not sure you get a choice in the matter,” Illumi said. They were standing nearly nose-to-nose now.

 

Hisoka jutted a flat palm out to slam into Illumi’s sternum, but Illumi dodged right and sent an immediate elbow down to break Hisoka’s arm mid-air. Hisoka rolled with the hit, however, and grabbed Illumi’s wrist with his other hand. They spun around until Illumi found his back slammed into the wall beside the television, and the entire apartment rattled with the impact.

 

With Hisoka’s face so close to his, Illumi leaned in to brush their mouths together on instinct -- and Hisoka turned his head. He grinned, watching Illumi from the corner of his eye. “Best out of three pins, wins. You beat me, you can have me. Does that sound fair?”

 

A game they played often. Illumi blinked. “Yes.”

 

He released his aura in a pitch-black burst of power so intense that even Hisoka was startled off-guard, taking a step back. The two of them moved suddenly and with unfathomable speed, blurred forms shifting around in the living room that seemed very suddenly cramped, limiting their movements.

 

Hisoka kicked the coffee table at Illumi and the assassin held his arms in front of his face and let the glass of the table shatter over himself. Sparks of light rained across their home with broken glass. Hisoka was there the moment the table hit, and he slammed Illumi into the ground. The hardwood floor crackled beneath the force.

 

Pin one: Hisoka.

 

Illumi landed a solid punch into Hisoka’s upper arm and the strike of aura against aura sent a shockwave through the apartment, flickering the lights and rattling the walls.

 

Illumi’s eyes darkened as he fetched his needles, four of them appearing in-hand. Hisoka moved simultaneously, pulling playing cards from the air. He whipped one at Illumi, who snatched it from the air, slicing open his palm in the process, and he threw it back full-speed at Hisoka, who ducked beneath it. It landed with a thunk against the far wall of the living room near the kitchen.

 

The smell of Illumi’s blood filled the air and their fight went frenzied, quickly, with literal sparks snapping around them as they moved like two bolts of lighting in a storm.

 

Illumi slapped his bleeding palm against Hisoka’s mouth and had him pinned onto the carpet beside the couch. Hisoka shivered, eyes tilting up in pleasure, and he licked Illumi’s hand -- slowly.

 

Pin two: Illumi.

 

Hisoka’s mouth and jaw were covered in a smear of red blood as they parted and started exchanging blows again. He looked good bloody, Illumi thought, and Hisoka smirked like he had heard that thought aloud. Illumi went just a touch pink.

 

One of the side tables beside the couch went flying and shattered against a wall, leaving a dent and splinters of wood all over the space. Illumi threw several of his needles and they soared through the air only to land into varying walls and one painting beside the entry door. Hisoka pulled himself close to Illumi, their noses nearly touching, calves entwined, and their hands met. They were still for the first time since the fight began, muscles trembling as Hisoka used his greater strength to prevent Illumi from moving at all.

 

But Illumi was not losing this fight. He said, "I love you too.”

 

Hisoka’s eyes widened and Illumi kicked his legs out from beneath him and had him pinned with both hands beside his head, next to the fireplace.

 

They laid unmoving for a moment, breathing just slightly labored.

 

Pin three: Illumi. The winner.

 

Illumi released Hisoka’s wrists and slid his hands to the sides of Hisoka’s face, and Hisoka slid arms around Illumi’s middle, and they kissed. Illu sighed into the embrace and Hisoka grinned. And kept grinning. Illumi pulled back, finally, eyes narrowed.

 

“Stop grinning while I am trying to kiss you.”

 

“Your family is here.”

 

Illumi shifted up suddenly, at the same moment his front door opened, and Silva stood there with Kikyo. In the doorway of the hall, Kalluto stood holding a single throwing star, eyes wide.

 

Everyone froze in place.

 

Illumi shoved himself to standing, looking absolutely guilty with kiss-swollen lips and tousled hair. Hisoka looked much the same, blood still staining his mouth, but he was smiling. Beaming, really.

 

Silva looked uncomfortable. Kalluto walked over to him, expression mirrored, and Silva placed a large hand on his son’s shoulder. Kikyo’s mouth was open.

 

She then screamed, loud enough to scare the pigeons off the terrace outside: “Illumi is gay?!”

 


 

Months later, during the cold nip of fall, Hisoka and Illumi were seated with mugs of hot tea out on the terrace, sharing a large scarf and a plate of cookies. They were watching the sunrise as it came over the desert in the east of Yorkshin.

 

“I let myself get captured,” Hisoka said, breaking the quiet of the morning. “I could move. Jude didn’t realize how quickly his powers faded through my ren.” He bit off the end of a cookie. “I mean from months ago, when I got hurt. It was pretty entertaining seeing you question yourself. You were much, much faster than Jude, dear Illumi, but you wouldn’t chance it. It was quite fun to watch.”

 

Illumi went still. He narrowed his eyes. “You are lying.”

 

“Maybe,” Hisoka said, taking a sip of tea. He nudged his foot against Illumi’s calf.

 

“Why?”

 

“I wanted to see you cry. It turns me on.” It certainly seemed like the truth, the way his tongue slid along the corner of his mouth, the leer in his eyes. “I love how you look when you struggle.”

 

Illumi shrugged, and sipped his tea. Confessions. “I said I loved you in order to make you agree to a long-term commitment to the Zoldyck name.”

 

Hisoka grinned. He took Illumi’s mug from him, and placed it beside his own on the short table in front of them. “You’re lying.” He leaned in, arm sliding across the back of the outdoor sofa. Illumi snapped his round black eyes to Hisoka and leaned in, too, so their lips touched.


“Maybe.”