Gon is always up at the crack of dawn, no matter how late he stayed awake the night before. Sometimes he will roll over and go back to sleep, but he always wakes up when the first hint of light rises over the horizon. It doesn't matter if he is indoors with no open windows - he can always tell, somehow.
Mito once called it a fisherman's instinct. Gon thinks, instead, that it is a Hunter's instinct. His mind doesn't want him missing even a second of the daylight hours, because when it's light out, discoveries are always that much brighter.
Kurapika thinks of Gon first when he thinks of strength. He knows, logically, that there is not much difference between them in terms of ability. He knows that Killua is stronger than Gon in terms of Nen and strategy. He knows that Leorio is also stronger than Gon in terms of raw physical strength.
But somehow, Gon still always comes first in his mind.
Perhaps it is because it is Gon's strength that Kurapika envies the most - the kind of strength that allows him to stubbornly hold onto his friends with both hands and not let go for any reason.
"Mito-san makes the best cocoa," Gon asserts, sitting beside Killua on a wooden bench near the window. Both of them are wrapped in wool blankets, warm from the bath Mito forced them to take after they came shivering in out of the storm, and holding worn, steaming mugs.
"Mm." Killua blows on his to cool it, and agrees even before taking the first sip, despite the fact that he's had cocoa prepared by famous sweet-makers and served on silver trays with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top. "Nothing like cocoa after being out in the cold!"
The best part isn't the drink, though - the best part, Killua thinks without actually saying it, is the cozy feeling of Gon's house as the storm plasters itself hard against the window, and the secure warmth of Gon himself against Killua's side, their arms touching through the blankets. Gon is anything but still - he shifts in place as if restless, the steady rhythm of his breathing a soothing beat to Killua's ears. He sips his drink and sighs contentedly, already a relaxed, heavy weight that leans against his friend without shame or even a second thought.
The cocoa is just a bonus, really.
Leorio's least favorite food is liver.
On his night to cook, Kurapika dices up some liver and mixes it in with the sauce he has included over his dish. "It's good for you," he announces loftily when Leorio complains, and refuses to apologize even when the older man huffily bans himself to the couch for the night.
It is Leorio's turn to cook next, and he prepares a veritable feast, complete with soft candlelight and soothing music in the background. Kurapika is wary at first - and then pleasantly surprised when he finds no hidden traps in the meal. "That was wonderful," he compliments his partner afterward, and thinks to himself that perhaps Leorio is finally growing up.
"Of course it was," Leorio agrees, and his voice sounds a little funny, but Kurapika doesn't have time to ponder this, because he is being very carefully and thoroughly kissed in the next instant.
He doesn't spot the trap until the slice of pickle is already in his mouth, and so ends up swallowing it as a reflex, breaking the kiss to cough, gag, and double over.
Leorio spends the night on the couch again, but seems to think it was worth it.
"I win!" Gon declares, loudly and proudly, throwing both hands in the air to signify his victory. "You owe me a treasure, Killua! One treasure, anything I want!"
"Ch'!" Killua shoves his hands into his pockets, feeling sour for more than one reason. He made up the bet - one treasure for the winner - in the hopes of stealing a kiss from Gon, and now he's not only lost his chance, but he has to find some inane piece of junk for his friend as well. "Well, what do you want? I'll get it for you, whatever it is."
Gon looks over at him with as much of a sly expression as he's ever shown, and Killua finds himself taking a nervous step back. "I'll get it for myself," Gon says confidently, "You just have to give it to me."
And then he steps forward and steals their first kiss himself.
Kurapika can and will sleep anywhere; in a seat on the train, leaning against a wall, with his back to a tree, perched on something unstable… He generally finds this ability useful, but it can be embarrassing when he's too worn to think about where he's sleeping.
More than embarrassing when one happens to fall asleep on a friend's couch, taking a less than graceful faceplant into that friend's crotch in the process.
The story is relayed to him when he wakes up, head in Leorio's lap but tactfully removed from the dangerous region, by a suspiciously smiling Gon while Killua howls and beats at the ground with his fists in the background.
"It - It happens," Leorio excuses him in a strained voice, his face about as red as Kurapika's feels as Killua mimics the act, taking a comical swoon onto Gon's shorts. "When you're tired, I mean. No other reason you'd have your head there, of course. Just an accident."
Perhaps it is the painful manner in which Leorio babbles, or perhaps it is just because Kurapika feels he needs to recover some of his dignity. In either case, he straightens up, raises an eyebrow, and says, succinctly, "Accident?"
One of the most unfair things about waking up every morning with Gon, Killua finds, is the fact that Gon never wakes up with bed-head.
Sometimes he finds himself entertaining the thought that Gon's hair is some odd freak of nature. It rarely flops, even when wet - it always seems to be sticking straight up, defying all the laws of gravity. Other times, he thinks that maybe Gon uses some kind of weird trick on it.
"It's just like that, that's all," Gon says when he grumbles about it one morning, and then laughs and ruffles Killua's bed-mussed hair playfully.
Killua and Leorio cannot be in each other's company for any period of time without griping at each other in some fashion. Kurapika thinks the ritual is interesting, the exchange of 'brat' and 'old man' - not always happening in sequence, but always responding to the last insult to come out of the other's mouth.
"They're the same sort of type," Gon tells Kurapika one time, when they are safely out of earshot. "They get embarrassed admitting they like each other, so they do this instead."
Kurapika privately thinks it's just that they started off wrong, and they both hold grudges.
Leorio never questions Kurapika's survival instinct - he's hardly suicidal, despite popular opinion. He's not afraid to die, but that's completely different from being suicidal. Kurapika has a purpose, and the last thing he wants to do is die with that purpose unfulfilled.
Even if - when - he's done everything he's vowed to do, Leorio still thinks that Kurapika would have the will to go on, to continue existing.
It's just that sometimes, when he's looking at his phone and wondering if a phone call would be welcome, he wonders if Kurapika has any will left to live beyond just existing.
"No good." Gon stands up, brushing himself off, and casts a rueful look at Killua. "I don't sense anything; I think it's gone already."
"Told you so." Killua rolls onto his back in the dirt and tucks both hands behind his head before neatly flipping himself to his feet without jarring them out of place. "Now what?"
"Now we follow it, of course!" Gon grins, teeth flashing white with the moonlight's reflection. "Let's try the next temple!"
Killua sighs and follows after him, privately wondering how an artifact called "The Red Dung Beetle" could merit so much of their time.
The place is open to the public eye - artfully arranged to attract attention to it, for anyone who might be looking for a place to stop. It's not beautiful or even mildly pretty; there is dirt caked on to the underside of the tables, and the ground is unswept more often than it is clean of debris. The counter is minded by sour-faced women who slap down the drinks and prepared food items with little finesse and even less grace, and then scowl when no tip is forthcoming.
But it isn't beauty or gracious service that compels Leorio to sit there whenever he is in the area. Actually, it's a combination of timing and location - and the open quality.
It's not that Kurapika ever looks his way when he passes by, on whatever errand puts him in the area, but he knows he is seen and, in a way, welcome.
"… so, yeah. That's it." Killua shoves his hands into his pockets, trying to cover up the awkward feeling that comes with the confession. "I figured if you… you know… like me back or something" - really awkward - "we could maybe, you know… do stuff… or something." He shuffles his feet and looks to Gon for an answer.
The expression Gon is giving him in return is blank. "Stuff?" he echoes after a very potent moment, and then, "What kind of stuff?"
"What kind of…?" Killua stares at him, now too incredulous to be awkward. There is no way, in his mind, that anyone could not know the answer to that. "Stuff," he repeats emphatically, as if this will explain it all sufficiently. "You know."
"Mm…" Gon puts a knuckle to his chin thoughtfully. "No, not really."
Killua is really ready to work himself into a fit of frustration now. "How can you not - ?" And then - by chance - he catches a bit of a glint in Gon's eye. "Wait. Don't tell me…"
The burst of laughter that finally escapes the shorter boy is cut short as Killua tackles him, gives him a noogie, and then kisses him for good measure.
There is still one more box left to be taken out, but the room might as well be completely bare. Kurapika lingers in the doorway for a moment, unable to help reflecting how odd it seems. Somehow, looking at the outlines created by the afternoon sun on the floor in a room that is unfamiliar without its usual array of personal belongings is making this seem astonishingly real.
He's really doing this. He wouldn't have thought it possible just a few short months ago, but now…
The presence behind him is obvious even before a warm hand settles on his arm in a proprietary manner. "Hey. You have to pick the box up to move it - you know that, right?"
"Of course I know it." Still, Kurapika makes no move to do so, instead allowing himself to shut his eyes, sigh, and lean back against Leorio's warmth. The hand against his shoulder tightens, and right then he's grateful for the gesture. There is no one around, and so it doesn't matter if he gives in for just a moment.
It reminds him that closing the door on the darkest chapter of his life means opening one to something lighter.
Living with Kurapika means adjustments, Leorio has discovered. He thinks sometimes - not out loud, though, after one particularly disastrous incident - that it's not unlike living with a woman. After all, it means he has to clean up after himself, restrict his alcohol intake, and learn to share a bed.
It also means regular sex, which he's not about to complain about, but still.
Kurapika has a nasty habit of being razor sharp when it comes to little details - he always knows, no matter what might have happened during the week, who the last person to take out the garbage was, and who is expected to take it out next. He also expects that it be done regularly, and refuses to put up with what he so eloquently calls Leorio's crap when it's obvious that taking out the garbage is trivial in comparison to whatever else he's doing - namely, sleeping.
It's annoying in Leorio's opinion, and tends to lead to arguments.
Somehow, though, even after the pointless venture out onto the street at some ungodly hour of the morning in his boxers and ratty bathrobe, Leorio usually finds himself whistling contentedly as he wanders back to his house and waiting bedmate.
It's stupid, really - Killua leans his face on both hands and absently flicks the straw for his milkshake with his mouth. It's not like it's for long, or that they haven't done it before. Two weeks is nothing. No time at all. He and Gon have forever, and compared to that, this period of separation is so insignificant, it's laughable.
Besides, he has a luxury hotel room, some brand new RPG games, and a whole hoard of chocolate. All he has to do is cool his heels, and then Gon will be back and it'll be like he never had to leave.
And it'll be much easier to draw out the target separately. Much easier. This is a good plan.
It just seems like it's taking forever. How long has it been, anyway?
"Hey…" Killua lifts his head from the restaurant's table and waves over a waitress. "What's the date?"
"June twenty-third," she supplies helpfully, and then pauses for a moment. "Is there anything else you need?"
"No, you can go." He sighs, and sinks back into his original pose, catching the straw in his mouth again as she hurries along to wait on the next person.
Thirteen more days…
It's not like any other kind of excitement, Gon has decided - although he thinks that there are lots of different kinds of thrills for lots of different kinds of things. But this kind is the best; the kind that makes him feel warm to think about and fills his head with memories and illustrated expectations.
"We're late, you know," Killua points out, tucking his hands behind his head as if he doesn't care what they're doing, no doubt knowing full well that his grin gives him away. "They're probably waiting."
"Yup!" There's no 'probably' in Gon's mind; he knows what will be at their destination - can see it with perfect clarity when he shuts his eyes or thinks about it hard enough.
He picks up his pace, ready for the image in his head of Leorio and Kurapika waiting for them by the park bench to become something real.
"If you didn't want to go, why didn't you say so before?"
"If I said so, wouldn't you have just demanded to know why?"
"I want to know 'why' now! Why wouldn't you want to go out to someplace nice for a change? What's your problem, all of a sudden?"
"See? Exactly my point."
"Is that supposed to be an answer? Because it didn't sound like an answer! What. Is. Your. Problem?"
"I don't want to go out. I never did. I never said that I did. You just assumed - "
"Because you didn't correct me! And now that I'm all showered and shaved and dressed up nice and it's five minutes before we leave, you finally open your mouth and tell me you never intended to - !"
"Well, if you'd just let me finish a sentence for once, I'd - !"
"What the hell? I never interrupt you, bastard! You just - !"
"There you go again! Honestly, you're - "
"ARGH! I can't take this any more!"
Kurapika and Leorio's evening is inevitably spent on Leorio's couch in their good clothing, with popcorn and soda and a cheesy horror movie, while their reserved seats at the restaurant sit empty and unused.
Killua crouches just outside the shower, peering down at the body curled on the tiled floor with mild concern. "Are you all right?"
"Owowow…" Gon rubs at his head, gingerly avoiding the tender spot, and opens one eye to give his friend a sheepish sort of smile. "Yeah, I think so."
"That's good, anyway." Killua thinks he should feel bad, but can't help smirking a bit. "I didn't think you'd be so surprised."
"I wouldn't have been, if you hadn't suddenly grabbed me there!" Gon accuses defensively, and swipes his hand across his eyes to clear the water out of them.
"My hand slipped." The words are entirely unconvincing, and Killua knows it - if he put more effort into the lie, it might work out, but it's really not worth it in the long run. He tilts his head a bit, still smirking. "I was going for your arm, and then you moved it suddenly."
Gon gives him a suspicious sort of look - entirely justified, of course - but lets it pass. "Watch out next time you're in here," he warns, and it is already possible to see vengeful plans forming in his eyes.
Killua grins. He's looking forward to it.
It's snowing when the confession comes out - Leorio's confession, of course, because even if Kurapika feels the same way, it's unlikely that he'd say anything. The light fall of white flakes is accompanied by a bitter chill, which makes their breathing take shape in the air as the words hang suspended between them.
Kurapika is quiet for a long moment afterward, looking away as if he can't meet Leorio's hopeful gaze without being weakened by it somehow. For his part, Leorio holds himself still and silent, instinctively feeling that the best course of action is just to wait. It's hard to hold onto that restraint.
At last, Kurapika looks up again. "It will make things complicated," he says evenly. Not a refusal.
"I know," Leorio responds without hesitation, shoving his hands into his pockets and offering a grin with a lot of relief in it. "Can't help that, can we?"
Kurapika's small answering smile is reply enough, but even as he leans forward, Leorio expects the cloud of winter breath between them to prevent contact - as if it has become a solid representation of all the things that keep them apart.
His lips brush Kurapika's, and the thought disappears.
Killua doesn't deal well with authority figures. Hates them, really. If someone's ordering him around, trying to tell him what to do, it doesn't matter if it's something he wants to do - he'll avoid it at all costs. Because he's his own person, and he can do what he likes, no matter what anyone else says.
That's always been his attitude, so in a way, Killua thinks his current situation is kind of funny.
It's not like Gon orders him around or tries to force him to do things, and maybe that's what makes it different. But Killua always does what Gon wants, even if Gon hasn't bothered to tell him what that is. Even if it's not something Killua particularly wants to do.
Killua thinks that his life before Gon has been about defying people, and it's only now that he's learning to yield to someone worth his respect.