Leorio is smitten by a women and Kurapika finds he doesn't like it. Christmas fic for Emily, 2004.
by Mina Lightstar
Kurapika didn't laugh often. He chuckled, snickered, and sometimes loosed one of those breathless short laughs, but he rarely outright laughed. He just wasn't that easily entertained with comedic antics, and it wasn't often that he felt the need to express his amusement beyond a quiet, polite chuckle. After all, there was laughter, and then there was annoying laughter. So he tried to keep the urges to laugh out-loud under control, and it was usually only his closest friends who got to hear it.
That was probably why he had trouble to stop laughing once he'd started. At the moment, he was in the throes of a laughing fit so strong that his sides hurt, he had a hard time breathing, and he could even feel a tear or two threatening to fall from the corners of his eyes. His legs had given up supporting him long ago, so he was sprawled on his bed in the hotel, feeling warm and knowing his face was flushed.
When his laughter finally began to die down, he tried to catch his breath. He opened his eyes and aimed a blurry gaze at Leorio, who was standing a few feet away, arms folded and face wearing an expression that was definitely not amused.
"Are you done?"
Apparently he wasn't, because Leorio's question provoked a second, shorter round. He rolled onto his stomach so he could smother his chuckles with the mattress. When it seemed like he really was finished, he turned his face and looked back at Leorio with one eye, noting that both posture and expression had remained the same.
"Well. I take it you think I shouldn't give it to her."
Suddenly, Kurapika realized a horrible possibility. He stared at Leorio, trying to keep the stunned expression from his face and probably failing abysmally. "Oh, my god, you were serious."
Leorio scowled. "Of course I was serious!" He glared at the crinkled paper that had fallen to the floor during Kurapika's fit of laughter. "Why would you think I wasn't?"
Kurapika scrambled to his knees, sitting back on his heels on the bed, and bit his bottom lip. He had gone from complete and utter mirth to feeling like the biggest heel on the planet. "I'm sorry, it's just that..." he swallowed, complete honesty almost coming to the forefront, "I'm sorry, Leorio."
"It's just that what?" Leorio demanded, visibly upset and even a little hurt. "Go on, say it."
"No -- that is, maybe she will like it. It's worth a try, isn't it? After all, what do I know about women?"
"What if she doesn't?" Wilting like a flower, Leorio walked over to the bed and slumped down upon it. He laid back and threw an arm over his eyes, looking tragic. "What if she laughs in my face when I read it to her? Or worse, crumples it up and throws it in my face before laughing at me?" He groaned helplessly and then, as if acting on impulse, sat up, bent over to snatch up his fallen poem, and tore it to pieces.
Kurapika frowned. It wasn't unusual for Leorio to periodically lavish attention on a particular woman. For the most part, the attentions were purely innocent flirtation, and most women rarely paid Leorio any mind. But this time, the effort Leorio was putting into the courtship made it seem like he was... serious.
"Well," Kurapika began, glancing down at the bits of love poetry that had scattered on the bed, "have you ever considered just telling her how you feel?"
"Yes," Leorio said with forceful impatience, "but that's not impressive. Besides," he added grumpily, "just sweet-talking has never worked before. I want this time to turn out differently." He picked at some of the pieces of paper.
Kurapika lowered his head, thinking. The poem had been awful; Leorio's "sweet-talking" didn't adapt to poetic stanzas, to say the least. Singing was out of the question. Leorio had a wonderful voice, but Kurapika had no idea if he'd be able to carry a tune well enough while knowing he was supposed to impress a girl he liked. "What about writing her a love letter? No sonnets," he added when Leorio glanced up, "just simple words that explain how you feel. Would she like that?"
Leorio stared at him for a long time. "Maybe she would," he murmured. "Maybe she would." And then he was suddenly bouncing off the bed and heading for the door.
"Leorio," Kurapika called softly, "who is she, anyway?"
Leorio grinned at him over his shoulder. "Maybe you'll get to meet her soon." Then he winked and left the room with a wave. "I'll call you and we'll meet up later!"
"Yeah," Kurapika managed, watching as Leorio sped out the door.
Kurapika knew that Leorio was busy. He knew that Leorio had classes and reading and homework and practicals to study for. He'd known that when he'd contacted the other with news that he would be coming to Leorio's city for his short holiday Nostrad had insisted they take. He'd even arranged for a hotel room so he wouldn't be imposing on Leorio's space during his stay.
He just hadn't thought that Leorio's thoughts would be elsewhere for the entirety of his visit.
The past forty-eight hours had been nothing but "I really like her" and "I hope she likes what I ended up writing for her." Not five minutes went by where Leorio wasn't soaring off into his own little world, no doubt thinking of the woman who had captured his heart.
Kurapika didn't even know who she was, and had taken to privately referring to her as The Girl. Leorio never spoke of her profession, never gave her a name, wouldn't even provide a description. He merely rambled on about her, singing her praises whenever Kurapika was willing to listen -- which was always.
To Kurapika's credit, he was trying to be patient and supportive. He knew this was some sacred duty that all best friends were supposed to perform. Leorio had found someone who might very well become his significant other, now he wouldn't stop talking about her, and it was Kurapika's job to sit still and listen, smile and nod when appropriate, and provide encouragement.
He also had to try not to be hurt. The entire concept seemed ridiculous, but it was true: the lack of attention he was getting from Leorio hurt. The mind boggled.
So it was no surprise that he was less than enthused when Leorio asked to meet him downtown, only to greet him with news that they were shopping for flowers for The Girl. He wondered if he'd wilted at the proclamation, because it certainly felt as though he had.
"Flower shopping?" he asked.
"Yes," Leorio said, sounding a mite desperate. "I want to give her flowers, but I'm not sure what kind. That's why I need you."
"Oh," Kurapika replied, crestfallen. He deemed this the first and worst vacation he'd ever had, the three weeks he spent discovering that his friend had moved on without him. It was his own fault, really, for not being around as much, busy with his job whereas Leorio was rooted until he got his doctorate. Still, it was painful.
Leorio didn't notice that he was melancholy, merely seized his wrist and started pulling him along. "Come on, come on, there's a shop over there I want to look through."
"I'm coming." Kurapika sighed. "What makes you think I'll be any help? If I knew anything about women I'd have a girlfriend, wouldn't I?"
"Oh, you would not; you're gay, remember?"
He didn't remember ever telling Leorio that. "If you think that means I know anything about flowers--" He stopped mid-sentence, as they were now inside the shop and it was decidedly quiet.
"Now, let's see." Leorio released his wrist and started browsing up and down the aisles. "What would she like...?"
Forgotten already, Kurapika contemplated just leaving. He eventually decided against it and settled for looking around. Flowers were pretty and nice to look at, even if he didn't have any particular interest in them.
When he passed by the pots of Lady's Slippers, he stopped and stared. He didn't think they grew in this part of the world -- then again, he was in a flower shop. He reached forward and touched a pink one with his fingertip.
"You like them?" Leorio asked, suddenly appearing at his shoulder.
"They used to grow in some places of Rukuso," Kurapika found himself explaining. "When I was little I used to say that they looked like my mother's slippers, and she laughed and told me they were hers, that her kind grew on flowers. So I used to bring her home bouquets, so she'd have enough slippers for the year."
It would be flowers, of all things, that undid him. Suddenly he missed his mother with a ferocity he hadn't felt in a long time. Maybe it was because he was feeling particularly lonely of late, or maybe it was because his memory was conjuring images of a cozy house with Lady's Slippers in a vase on the table. Whichever it was, he couldn't look at them any longer, and he wasn't sure he'd be able to look at a pair of slippers, either. "I'll wait outside."
Leorio didn't stop him when he turned and did just that, nor did the other bring up the issue when he followed, flowerless, not ten minutes later.
"You didn't find anything?" he asked.
"I can pick them up tomorrow or something," his friend replied with a shrug. "Do you want to go for dinner?"
Kurapika was grateful that Leorio didn't speak of The Girl for the remainder of the day. He was even more grateful when the other walked him back to his hotel with a promise they would "hang out" the next day.
It was only after they'd said goodbye and the door had closed that Kurapika realized he'd rather not have been without Leorio's company at all.
When Kurapika knocked on Leorio's door around noon the following day, it was unlocked and he was admitted almost immediately.
"Hey," Leorio said, missing blazer and tie and smelling freshly-shaven. When the door was closed, he stood back with his hands pressed against his sides. "I suppose I should tell you now that I had an ulterior motive for inviting you over."
Kurapika's heart sank and he fought the urge to sigh. "Are we shopping for chocolates this time?"
"Nope." Leorio smirked, gave him a two-fingered salute and winked. "Today you get to meet her."
"I -- what?" Kurapika blinked, watching Leorio turn and walk toward his kitchen. "She's here?" It wasn't logical. When had Leorio had time to go back and get the flowers the night before? When had he worked up the nerve to ask her over?
"Are you coming, or what?" Leorio called over his shoulder.
"Yes," Kurapika managed, taking his shoes off and following his friend to the other room. He wondered what she looked like, if Leorio had met her at school, and if she would like him. He entered the kitchen, making sure to make his expression one of politeness, and it just as quickly slipped into one of confusion.
There was no woman in the kitchen. All of the chairs were empty, and in the table's center sat a vase of Lady's Slippers. At the sight of the flowers, he couldn't decide if he should be upset or not.
"Leorio," he managed, "that is not funny."
"No, no, wait," Leorio interjected, stepping between him and the table. "It's not supposed to -- you're not supposed to take it that way."
"And how am I supposed to take it?" Kurapika inquired, and his answer, apparently, came in the form of Leorio stepping forward and embracing him.
He hadn't been hugged in a long time. He'd forgotten how it felt to be enveloped by the body of someone bigger than he was, held and protected and feeling like nothing could hurt him. That was probably why he couldn't find the will to move, and remained pressed against Leorio's torso. Leorio's fabric softener smelled of spring rain, and his skin like vanilla.
"Your mother, she kept your flowers, right? Probably put them on her tables and the like, right?" Kurapika nodded against Leorio's chest. "And you'd come home and she'd be there, and--"
"Stop," Kurapika bade him. He rarely spoke of his family and friends for one simple reason: he couldn't handle it.
"Sorry, I just meant..." Leorio squeezed him tighter, "that I didn't want you to remember that your mother isn't here. I just wanted you to remember coming home and someone being there for you. And," Leorio cleared his throat, but didn't loosen his grip, "I wanted to say that I want to be here for you."
"That you...?" Kurapika looked up, brow furrowed in confusion.
"I was going to play this out longer, mostly because you had the nerve to laugh at my poem," Leorio added as he reached into his back pocket. "But after yesterday I wanted... I wanted to say this sooner."
Leorio shook his head and held out the piece of paper. "You said I should just write down what I felt."
Kurapika's stomach tightened as he accepted the note. He was surprised his fingers didn't shake when he unfolded it. The only words on the note, written in Leorio's forceful hand, were: "I love you."
"Leorio," he uttered, glancing up. "You... I... you really...?"
"Ah." Leorio's vocal admission was made in a shaky voice, but his arms were steady when he hugged Kurapika again.
Kurapika shook his head, bewildered. "Since when...?"
The taller man laughed, the chuckles warm and heartfelt. "Oh, come on. Like I'd really fall for a woman after becoming so close to you." He winked when Kurapika's eyes widened. "It's not my fault you were so clueless."
And before Kurapika could even register the comment, Leorio kissed him.