Categories > Anime/Manga > Hunter x Hunter

Fifteen Ways to Grow Old Together

by YasminM 1 review

Time doesn't stand still in one's absence. Leorio/Kurapika, contains mild sexual references.

Category: Hunter x Hunter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama, Romance - Characters: Kurapika, Leorio - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2005-05-03 - Updated: 2005-05-03 - 2466 words - Complete

Distribution: My site and FicWad by default, others please ask before archiving.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. Obviously. Togashi-sensei will kill me if I do anything.
Notes: The sections are arranged in a vaguely chronological order, though the actual time gaps may be as short as a few days or as long as a few years. Post-series, based on the anime. Much thanks to Renet, Shiro and sub_divided for looking over the draft.

Fifteen Ways to Grow Old Together


When Leorio calls to say he's found a home for them, Kurapika vaguely expects -- not without trepidation -- something large and tasteless. He discovers, instead, a house just big enough for two, with tall windows and a large, overgrown backyard.

The walls had been painted a genteel blue, now faded and flaking. The front door leads directly into what he assumes will be the lounge, and a staircase to the side brings him to the loft where the bedroom is. A short walk down a dark passageway takes him past an empty room into the spacious kitchen, unexpectedly flooded with sunlight.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Leorio says.

Kurapika sighs. "How much money did you spend on this place?"

"Spoilsport. Bet you the garden will be worth it."


Their house still smells of mildew and packing boxes when Kurapika leaves for his latest assignment, a serial killer by the name of Three-Blades.

"You could stay and find a job here," Leorio says.

Kurapika looks up from his bag with a smile and an apology on his lips, but Leorio waves them away.

"I know. Habit. You just can't stop wandering." Leorio hands him a folded shirt, still crisp-edged from ironing. "Well, you know where to come home to."

/You/, Kurapika wants to say, but the word lingers in silence for too long and the moment passes. Leorio sees him off at the door and stands there until Kurapika disappears around the corner, at the lilac bush.


Burn City is cool and windy in springtime, with a propensity for sudden showers. Leorio and Kurapika take a tram to the medical school, up the line that runs through the central business district. The city had grown from the bounty from the mines outside the urban settlement, fattening the coffers of the city's founding fathers. They had seen fit to spend money on wide, tree-lined avenues and grand statues masquerading as public art.

Kurapika grudgingly admires the architecture of the older stone buildings, and the way the city centre is neatly laid out on a grid. When they venture out of the city proper, Leorio points to where the old abbatoir used to stand -- "it's a block of cheap flats now" -- and the rusting steel factories overgrown with weeds. The mines have been exhausted for decades, but their legacy still lives on in the brown, polluted water of Arra River.

The city had been slowly dying when Leorio first decided to open the school here, but quickly and gratefully awakens with the arrival of students at its doors. Leorio gesticulates enthusiastically as he talks of classes and visiting lecturers and scholarships. The medical school is the first of its kind, funded entirely by donations from Hunters and open to all promising students regardless of their background -- or wealth.

Kurapika listens to vibrant warmth under Leorio's words, and surprises Leorio when he smiles.


Kurapika gardens shirtless in hot weather, much to Leorio's undisguised delight. It's been a long time since Kurapika feels self-conscious about exposing his body, but he still throws a leek at Leorio's head and tells Leorio to go away before he does something unspeakable with the raspberry canes.

The garden at the back of the house is a haphazard mass of greenery, splashed with colour to lull the unwary. Its composition is approximately one-third vegetables and fruit trees, one-quarter ornamental flowers; and an ever-growing collection of medicinal plants, uncatalogued and growing wild.

The runner beans and tomatoes always need re-tying, and the raised beds raked to Kurapika's satisfaction. Leorio's laissez-faire approach to gardening makes him grumble, but Leorio only laughs and brings him iced chrysanthemum tea at precisely 5 o'clock every day.

Leorio watches him from the window of the study, but it's a comforting kind of stare, like the sun on Kurapika's back.

Kurapika usually arrives home just after the cherry trees have started to blossom, and leaves just before the tomatoes ripen. His best memories of Leorio are tinted with sunlight, eternally summer.


Each year, Kurapika finds new herbs in Leorio's garden. Cockleburrs and rosin roses from the north, shiso and hallianas from the east, echinacea and may apples from south of York Shin. The greenhouse is almost overflowing with plants brought over from places warmer than Burn City, including some he has never even heard of before. Kurapika makes one futile attempt at tagging all of them, before /some/thing tries to take his arm off.

"Probably the mandrake," Leorio informs him, as casual as a weather report. "They're a bit tetchy around strangers."

Kurapika still expects to walk through the door one day to find Leorio passed out on the floor, poisoned by his own brews. He says as much, watching Leorio prepare a tincture of violets.

"Nah, I remember all their names," Leorio pronounces airily.

"You don't even know how to prune the apricot tree," Kurapika points out, not quite rolling his eyes.

Leorio grins. "But that's your job."


At nineteen, Killua grows into a tall, beautifully-proportioned young man. Gon is built along more sturdy lines, stopping just short of Killua's eyebrows, and the two of them elicit three times as much attention wherever they happen to be together. Kurapika still finds it difficult to think of "maturity" and the boys as anything other than mutually exclusive concepts. After all, the last time he'd seen them, they were pelting each other with rancid gingko fruit.

Nothing but the staunchest of denial, however, could cover what Killua and Gon leave exposed in deference to Burn City's summer heat. Their sleek muscles and long-legged stride draw appreciative stares as they move through the crowds at the city festival -- though Gon, predictably, seems as oblivious as ever.

Leorio sniggers, just loud enough for Kurapika to hear. "You're staring."

"It's just..." Kurapika glares at an over-attentive pack of teenage girls, sending them scattering into the ice-cream booth. He grits his teeth, clutching Leorio's arm. "People are drooling/. Over /Gon and /Killua/."

"Ah, children. They grow up so fast these days."

"Shut up and help me beat away the stupid predators."



At some unmarked point in the long months without Kurapika, Leorio learns how to make apricot jam.

"Cooking's just chemistry," he laughs, when Kurapika's eyebrows threaten to disappear behind his bangs.

The jam is slightly tart, knobbed with chewy pieces of fruit. It's perfect for lazy Sunday mornings, when Leorio entices Kurapika into staying in bed with buttered toast and milk coffee.

"You should come back in autumn," Leorio says, with a long-suffering sigh pitched for maximum irritation. "I'm tired of eating all that fruit."

/On his own/. Kurapika licks a stray smear of jam from Leorio's upper lip, and says nothing.


After years of accumulated observations, Kurapika knows Leorio's body intimately, almost as well as his own. Leorio's knees are ticklish, and licking up the insides of his thighs makes Leorio gratifyingly amenable to Kurapika's demands. Fingernails run lightly between his shoulder blades and buttocks draw out soft sounds Kurapika has never heard replicated elsewhere. His nipples are sensitive, but too much attention paid to them makes Leorio uncomfortable.

Kurapika likes to suck Leorio's fingers and tease the ridges with his tongue, just to hear Leorio whimper. He has yet to find what makes Leorio beg, short of a slow and messy blowjob, but Kurapika thinks of his time with Leorio as beads on a string stretching to infinity.


The first-year students at the medical school seem to be younger and younger every year, but always uniformly well-scrubbed and eager to learn. Kurapika watches them crowd around Leorio, feeling a little off-balance -- it's usually him who draws attention.

"I'm not like you or Gon, or Killua," Leorio had said to him, one night years ago. "I can't change the world with my own hands."


"No, listen: I'm gonna take Senritsu's advice and become a teacher." Leorio grins, a flash of white in the dim room. "Or something like it. I'm gonna start a medical school."

"You don't have the money--"

"--that's what my haggling skills are for--"

"--and you've been a doctor for all of three years. /Leorio/--"

"You're a Black List Hunter." Maddeningly gentle, Leorio's hand moves down Kurapika's bare stomach, making him shiver and hiss. "So help me find doctors and scientists."

Kurapika shoves him onto his back and straddles Leorio's thighs, holding him down. "Moron. Only if you want them to be criminals, too."

"... unpaid parking tickets?"

"That will do. For the good of mankind, of course."


Sometimes, when summer arrives with Kurapika's footsteps, the zucchini plant in Leorio's garden blooms early. Leorio picks off the male flowers to cook, in the style of his hometown: stuffed with soft white cheese, preserved lemon rind and capers; dipped in batter and deep-fried.

Leorio makes stuffed zucchini flowers on the day before Kurapika leaves. He knows Kurapika's migratory pattern better than Kurapika himself: a week before Kurapika packs his bags, Leorio grows pensive, his voice dipping low and quiet at the breakfast table.

Leorio's pensive mood is as mercurial as Burn City's weather, encompassing sudden bursts of loud cheer in the company of others. He encourages their visitors to stay, to linger on well past midnight, overriding Kurapika's objections.

Kurapika feels half-guilty, half-annoyed. Why doesn't he ask me to stay on?


Skin hunger, once awakened, is not easily satisfied. Kurapika dreams of Leorio's shoulders and the fragile skin stretching over Leorio's collarbones. He wakes up aching, cursing Leorio and the latest black-listed criminal in one breath.

Sometimes, his occasional companions in the hunt guess at the reason behind his bouts of moodiness. Most are prudent enough to keep it to themselves, a few offer personal solutions with varying degrees of carnality.

The Hunter sitting across the table is one of the latter, but with considerably more panache. She accepts his rejection with a generous laugh and offers to let him pay for her coffee as compensation. Her dark eyes remind Kurapika of Killua, but her smile is all Gon.

He tells her about Leorio, and she tells him about the son she left behind. They duly admire each other's photos, carried as talismans in a wallet or next to the heart. In pictures, her son is forever a toddler, and Leorio a gruff young man in sunglasses.

"This man of yours, he's worth coming home to," she says. The implied question mark curls around the edge of her words, like the tail of a cat.

"Yes," Kurapika agrees.

That night, Kurapika dreams again of Leorio, standing at the door to their house. A large spider sits on Leorio's left shoulder, exuding malevolence. Leorio is smiling at him from afar, unaware of the danger. Kurapika runs towards Leorio, shouting for Leorio to /run/, his unbreakable chain lashing through the air -- but he is too late, far too late.

The moon is red and familiar, but the eyes in his hands are slate-gray.


Once, Kurapika stays for almost an entire year, awkwardly fitting himself into the previously-unseen parts of Leorio's life. Leorio happily shows him off to virtually the entire school, earning Leorio a few undeserved smacks when Kurapika overhears students calling him "Dr. Leorio's wife."

They have coffee together at an outdoor table in one of Burn City's many cafes, eking out time between staff meetings (Leorio's bane) and library research (Kurapika's joy). He watches the girls' hemlines rise and fall with changing fashions, and feels like a crotchety old man.

Mostly, Kurapika enjoys the fruits of his labour in the garden: plums, apricots, and berries; eggplants, tomatoes, and new potatoes. Leorio buys nectarines and mangoes after work, and they take turns to cut them into slices. Kurapika arranges them neatly on a plate, in alternating colours -- Leorio always heaps the fruit in a bowl.

One night, Leorio brings home a pomegranate. He peels back the hard rind and feeds the jewel-like flesh to Kurapika with his fingers, watching Kurapika's lips shape into an "o". The red juice dries into purple on their skin, and stains the white sheets of their bed.


Kurapika is rarely home during the school semester, when Leorio sequesters himself in the study almost every night. He has never seen the deep line between Leorio's brows as Leorio marks papers into the early hours of the morning or juggle expense reports.

Not until tonight. Kurapika loves Leorio's hands -- expansive, long-fingered, warm -- but this is the first time he sees the strained set of Leorio's wrists, the way Leorio blocks out the pain without a thought.

Leorio's hair is going gray. The sight of it rattles Kurapika to the bones. But he's not that old/, Kurapika thinks, /and he's a Nen user -- and ignores his own ruthless assessment of Leorio's skill.

Kurapika brings in a mug of hot peppermint tea. Leorio thanks him with a distracted smile, and Kurapika walks out silently.


Gon and Killua come by for a visit late in autumn, walking hand in hand under the falling leaves. They bring a pot of thorn-tipped aloe vera for Leorio and a jade earring for Kurapika. The stone is smoky white instead of the usual green -- "ghost jade", Killua says.

Stories spill out of them, one after the other: a rare pearl found in the hands of a dying dragon, a woman who calls down the power of stars by drawing patterns on sand, twin statues whose dirges drive men into madness.

A week later, Leorio hands Kurapika a new, sturdier bag and a jar of apricot jam.

"Your eyes are looking for blood again."

Kurapika hates the resignation in Leorio's voice, but leaves all the same.


Kurapika writes letter after letter to Leorio: on parchment edged with gold, on cheap one-jeni notepaper purchased at train stations; with a ballpoint pen, with a broken pencil. He writes them on airships, in soulless hotel rooms, after missions with blood still on his clothes.

He does not send most of them. They are usually the ones that say: /Today I lost another comrade/.

Some, he sends. They are usually the ones that say: /I'm sorry I won't be back for your birthday, but I will make it up to you. Remember to mulch the garden/.

Leorio keeps the letters in a shabby box under their bed and re-reads them on winter nights. It is only years later, near the end, that Kurapika finds them, imperfectly preserved.

Sign up to rate and review this story