(see part one)
~~ Part Five ~~
by Mina Lightstar
On May 15th, Leorio knew the results of his final exams. He kept these to himself, though not heavily guarded. Anyone who looked at him could tell how pleased he was. But all he said in response to "how did you do?" was "very well." He was happy for his fellow advancing students, and felt a pang of sympathy for those who hadn't made it. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Leorio would readily admit that it hadn't been simple for him, either. He would have passed, anyway - he was that determined - but the whole final period had gone much smoother with Kurapika's being there. When the blonde had become a near-permanent addition to his household, he had been relieved of so much stress. And he meant that in many ways.
The apartment was so quiet when he entered. Kurapika was nowhere in sight. Leorio figured the Kuruta was out, since he was early coming home for the summer holidays.
So Leorio tossed his bag on the sofa - the sofa that used to be Kurapika's bed - and went to his room to change. He hoped that Kurapika wasn't going to bring home anything for dinner.
That worry dissipated as soon as he entered the bedroom. Leorio paused in the act of undoing his tie, observing the sleeping Kuruta as he shifted on the covers. His back was to Leorio, but there was no doubt that the blonde was napping.
The tie came undone and Leorio dropped it on the floor, shedding his blazer on his way to the bed. He tiptoed, trying hard not to make any noise. Never before had he arrived home to find Kurapika sleeping. He was surprised that the blonde hadn't woken up at the sound of the opening door, or Leorio's voice.
The mattress wasn't squeaky, but there was no way Leorio could settle down without jostling it. By the time he'd laid the length of his body along Kurapika's, the blonde was stirring. He started to turn over, only to press himself further into Leorio's torso. Leorio responded by wrapping an arm around the Kuruta's waist as his lover twisted around to face him.
"Hi," Kurapika murmured around a yawn.
"Hey," Leorio responded. "I'm back."
"I gathered." Kurapika's mouth started looking for his, and then they were exploring each other's teeth and gums. Their tongues moved slowly, without a hint of rhythm; they wanted to kiss but couldn't be bothered to do it properly. When they broke apart, Leorio started rubbing Kurapika's back.
"Ask me how I did," he commanded. The kissing and snuggling had softened his enthusiasm.
"How did you do?"
"Passed," Leorio breathed, "with flying colors." When Kurapika did nothing but continue to smile, Leorio blinked. "You're not relieved."
"I'm not," the blonde agreed. "I never doubted you."
"I love you" was on the tip of his tongue, but he didn't say it. Too soon, too soon. Instead, he squeezed Kurapika tighter, feeling the other's nose press against his neck. "You didn't have any plans for dinner, did you?"
"Good, because I'm taking care of dinner tonight."
"Why?" Kurapika wondered lazily. "I should be fixing something special for you. You know, for congratulations."
"But I want to say thanks," Leorio protested.
"Helping me get through this."
Kurapika drew away a little, looking up at him. "You got yourself through it. I just reminded you to eat and sleep."
"That's not all you did," Leorio insisted. He quickly shifted so he could put a hand over Kurapika's mouth to stall any further arguments. "Can you just let me say thank-you?" The blonde nodded after a moment, and Leorio released him.
"So what are you cooking?"
"Take-out." Kurapika rolled his eyes. "What?"
"Students," the blonde chided playfully.
"You're terrible." Leorio softened the accusation with a quick kiss on the other's forehead. "You're not exactly a gourmet chef, yourself."
"Better than you," Kurapika retorted.
"Then make me some pie, woman," Leorio ordered.
"No. You can buy me some, though, when you order supper."
"If only all my houseguests were as easy to please."
The conversation ended there, and something Leorio said struck him. "Houseguest." Guest. It was May 15th; fifteen more days, and Kurapika would be gone. They had been doing their best to avoid the topic, but the clock was ticking and they both knew it.
Even though it had only been a couple of months, it felt like forever since Kurapika had started staying with him. When the blonde went back to the Nostrads, Leorio would have to do without him... and for how long? That was something that had to be discussed, even though they had been taking their sweet time going about it. It seemed to Leorio that he and Kurapika did everything slow... but what they had now was worth it, as far as Leorio was concerned.
Leorio could wait, and would wait, if that was what would be required of him. He was confident that what he felt for Kurapika was genuine and worth hanging on to. On the other hand, the separation from Gon and Killua sometimes gave him pains in his abdomen as the loneliness occasionally ate at him. Now that his and Kurapika's friendship had become something deeper, how badly would he ache when they were apart - without any indication as to when they would be together again? And for that matter... would this goodbye mean not only the end of Kurapika's leave, but also the closing stage of what they had? The future was something they had never discussed. Leorio knew his own sentiments, but he did not know Kurapika's.
"What will May 30th mean for us?" he whispered, so faintly that the Kuruta wouldn't have heard it had he not been as close as he was.
"It won't be forever, you know," Kurapika said quietly.
Leorio didn't ask how the blonde had known what he was thinking. "Is that a promise?"
Kurapika answered him first with a kiss, short but slow. "You have my number. Call me anytime, until this stage of our lives is over."
"And after it's over?" Leorio was hoping and not assuming.
"...Whoever finishes first has to go help the other."
That answer was all Leorio needed, for now. Maybe that was Kurapika's way of saying "I think I might love you."
"It's a deal," Leorio said, and then he was moving, trying to seal the agreement with another kiss. It turned into the kind that never had any intention of ending soon. When Leorio moved atop the blonde, Kurapika spread his thighs apart to accommodate.
It looked like they would be eating late.
Leorio was awake to watch May 27th become May 28th. He lay awake for long hours, keeping a close eye on his alarm clock as it counted down the hours. Kurapika's flight would be leaving today, to give him enough time to get back to the Nostrads' estate and prepare to resume his duties as one of their bodyguards.
The ache was already settling in; Leorio tried to ignore it. He told himself to be reasonable. This was not the first time their paths had parted, and it would not last forever. For the moment, their goals in life kept them apart, but that didn't mean it would be that way until the end of their days.
But it was always hard to say goodbye, and this time, Leorio was even more reluctant to release the slender blonde sleeping in his arms. On the other hand, what kind of lovers would they be if they tried to hold each other back?
"I really think I love you," he murmured, looking down at the blond hair resting against his shoulder. If he shifted, Leorio would feel his bare skin slide against Kurapika's, as they were still naked from their tryst last night. He didn't feel like waking the Kuruta, though, so he remained still.
Dawn came and brightened into morning. In their haste the night before, they had forgotten to close the curtains. Leorio watched the sky light up, raising his free hand to shake a fist halfheartedly. "I'd like to blow you up," he quietly snarled.
The sun, as always, didn't respond. Not only did it nearly blind Leorio, but it wasn't long before it started to rouse Kurapika. The Kuruta stirred and then pushed himself upright, rubbing at his eyes with one hand. Leorio protested the loss of Kurapika's warmth, reaching for him with lax fingers.
When Kurapika turned to face him, they stared into each other's eyes for long moments. Sometimes, so much could be said with only a glance. That was all right; they were good at understanding each other's eyes.
Leorio sat up, the covers falling to his waist. Kurapika laid a hand over Leorio's heart, and Leorio rested one of his own atop it. "I'm trying to think of it as a business trip," he confessed, using his other hand to touch Kurapika's piercing.
"In a way, it is." The Kuruta reached up to tickle one of Leorio's ears. "A long one, though."
"I'll wait," Leorio assured him.
"Me, too." Kurapika glanced at the clock and then back at Leorio. He didn't speak, but the message was clear. His flight would leave in a matter of hours, so they didn't have much time.
"It's worth the wait," Leorio declared, getting out of bed. He stretched and started for the shower. He was stopped by a hand gripping his wrist.
"After this is over," Kurapika began, no doubt speaking of his personal quest, "I won't leave again. We'll be like Gon and Killua, that's a promise."
The words gave Leorio more comfort, but he was already more than reassured. Their last few days together had been spent growing closer and closer. "Hopefully a little more than Gon and Killua," Leorio cracked lightheartedly.
Slowly, Kurapika smiled. "A little."
Leorio smiled back. "Come on," he said, and pulled Kurapika to the shower with him.
At eleven-thirty on May 28th, Leorio watched an airship fly away until it faded far out of sight. The farewell hadn't been as emotional as he'd been half-afraid it would turn out to be. Kurapika had insisted that they treat it not as "goodbye," but as "see you later" - even if the kiss he'd stolen before running to his gate had been anything but a "see you later."
Leorio touched his lips, committing the feel of Kurapika's mouth on his to memory, since it would be some time before he would get to experience it again. In his briefcase were Kurapika's copies of "Encircled" and "Alignment," books that the Kuruta had suggested he read. And his cellular phone... his phone had Kurapika's number associated with a different ring tone. Never would he miss a call from the one he held most dear.
He took out his phone and examined it. There were no messages and no missed calls. After a few moments had passed, he dialed Ryou's number. Perhaps the two of them could find something to do for the afternoon.
Ryou answered just as Leorio turned away from the empty sky.
At eight-thirty on May 28th, Leorio entered an empty apartment. He fell into his routine out of habit and eventually settled onto the couch, knowing that from now on, there would be no blonde Kuruta waiting for him to come home.
But just as he'd gotten through his difficult medical course, he would get through this period of separation. They would both be busy with work, school, friends, and other affairs. Life would go on, time would pass, and soon Leorio would be able to see Kurapika again. All that was needed to overcome this obstacle were patience and understanding. After all, as he'd said before, what they had was worth it.
Besides, when they did have free moments, when they did feel the ache, when they did miss the feel of each other's arms... they were only a phone call away.
Leorio placed "Encircled" and "Alignment" on the low table and leaned back against the sofa cushions. He would spend the night reading, but first....
"Call me anytime."
His cell phone was a familiar weight in his hand, and the number he knew by heart. He listened to the rings, wondering if Kurapika had enabled call display, or done something else to be able to distinguish Leorio's calls from anyone else's. That unvoiced query was answered by the way Kurapika answered the phone.
And Leorio had to smile. "...Hey."
Dec. '03 - Jan. '04
(I had to stop because Arishia came to visit.)