Secret x is x Out
“Haha… hey guys. What are you doing here?” Sakura asks nervously while she quickly blinks the red away.
“You know just collecting our item for the hunter exam, and seeing our friend with glowing red eyes!” Chase yells out in response, making sure to put the emphasis of ‘red’.
“Are you sure my eyes were red? It’s pretty late and people who have been deprived of sleep have been known to have hallucinations-”
“Why don’t you just admit you’re a kurata?” Killua cuts in, tired of Sakura’s lame attempt to push them away from the truth.
“Kurata? I thought that clan had been wiped out... ooohhhh.” Chase starts only to recall the bit about the kurata having red eyes. “Wait, doesn’t he have red eyes too.” Chase points to the unconscious Kurapika, who Sakura had set on the ground. “So doesn’t that mean you two know each other?”
“Uh… you could say that…” Sakura responds hesitantly.
“Why didn’t you tell him?” Killua asks bluntly.
“Um… well… just so we’re clear, he didn’t say anything either!” Sakura shoves the blame on Kurapika, as she had no other explanation. Well she does have a reason, a very damn good reason in fact, but she didn’t really want to reveal it right now, especially to Killua, who she just met.
“That still doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t say anything to him,” Killua counters.
“Hey, if someone forgets about you, it’s only natural that-” A sharp pain in her head cuts Sakura short “Ah!” She clutches her head at her temples.
“Sakura, what’s wrong?!” Chase asks and he quickly races to her side.
“My head feels like it’s being repeatedly stabbed.” Sakura was able to reply before she was hit with a sharper pain, which had her falling to her knees. “Ahh!”
“Sakura! Crap she’s starting to burn up!” Chase panics, he had never seen Sakura in a state like this before.
“Don’t shout so much, people are trying to sleep.”
“How can you say that right now?! Sakura looks like she’s dying!” Chase yells at Killua for his insensitivity.
“Relax. It’s probably just the side effect.” Killua informs him calmly.
“Side effect? From what?” Chase questions Killua.
“From using her eyes, Kurapika went through the same thing. They experience terrible pains and become feverish if they use it for too long but based on Kurapika’s experience last time, she’ll just have to deal with it until the side effects subside on their own,” Killua explains.
“So her life’s not in danger?”
“No.” Killua answers, although he’s not a hundred percent sure, if it’ll stop all the yelling than he supposed it was more than okay to tell Chase that. She didn’t seem that weak enough to die from that anyway.
Chase let out a sigh of relief before he felt someone tugging at his shirt.
“P-Promise me y-you won’t… tell Ku-Kurapika.” Sakura pleads with Chase with her remaining strength.
“What? I have to-” Chase starts, only to receive rough tug on his shirt from Sakura, showing her disapproval.
Sakura continues to look up at Chase with desperate eyes; she really didn’t want Kurapika to find out at this time, especially not from someone else.
“Alright, if it’ll make you feel better, I won’t tell him,” Chase gives in.
Sakura turns to Killua, who in turn just gave her the ‘does it look like I care’ look. Relief floods through her and she lets the exhaustion take over her.
“What do we do now?” Killua asks.
“I’ll check into an inn in this town and stay here with Sakura until she recovers. You go back to the hunter exam site with Kurapika and turn in our item.” Chase replies.
“Okay. Do I turn in their item too?”
“Oh, they’ve already gotten their item as well?”
“Well, I’m guessing that’s what’s in that bag.” Killua refers to the bag Sakura was carrying that was emitting a light glow.
Chase opens the bag and takes out the scarlet eyes hidden inside.
“Whoa, this is creepy,” Chase comments as he takes in the scarlet eyes floating in the container. “But, how is this worth so much money?”
“Who knows, people have some weird kinks.” Killua says before he takes the eyes out of Chase’s hands. “I’ll be going then,” he announces and was gone in a flash.
“Okay then, time to find an inn.” Chase mumbles to himself.
The next morning, Sakura opens her eyes to find a cloth covering them, keeping her from seeing anything but white. She moves to remove the cloth from her eyes but as soon she moves, pain racked her entire body, she could feel the beads of sweat run down the side of her face.
“Don’t move,” Chase tells her and pushes her hand back down.
“Where… am I?” Sakura asks between ragged breaths.
“An inn in the town we were at last night,” Chase answers.
“Is… Kurapika… here?” Sakura questions Chase, her voice full of concern.
“Don’t worry, since he wasn’t injured, Killua took him back to the exam site along with your item,” Chase reassures her.
Hearing Chase’s response, Sakura lets out a silent sigh of relief, although her time of relief was cut short again as another burst of pain struck her whole body. She didn’t cry out in pain, but Chase could see how much pain she was in from her twisted facial expressions and body movements.
“You shouldn’t talk anymore,” Chase advises her and pulls the blankets she had kicked off back over her.
Chase then proceeds to remove the cloth off Sakura’s eyes, soak it in the bucket of warm water next to the bed, wring the water back out before placing it over her eyes again. During the process, he couldn’t help but stare at Sakura’s eyes, which had changed back to scarlet during the night. Sakura of course notices and decides to ask what she knew Chase wanted to know.
“Do you want… to know… why… I didn’t… tell Kurapika?”
“Eh? Of course not, it’s none of my business!” Chase quickly denies.
“It’s fine… you already know… I’m a kurata… anyway.”
“You need to rest,” Chase tells Sakura after hearing how out of breath she was. In all honesty, he really did want to know, but now wasn’t the time.
However, Sakura ignores Chase and starts to give her explanation anyway. She had already mustered up the courage to tell somebody and she wasn’t going to let this chance pass her by. She just wanted to hurry up and get this off her chest already.
~ Flashback ~
In a small town in Japan…
“Okaa-san!” The three-year-old Sakura shouts, as she runs to her mum.
“Mikan!” Her mother responds and lifts her up in the air.
- Flashback pause -
“Wait, who’s Mikan?” Chase asks, thrown off by the new name.
“Um… Me?” Sakura replies, not exactly sure what the problem was.
“Oh, you changed your name? That’s dedication.”
“Your name’s Sakura now, right?”
“Yeah… Sakura’s my… last name…”
"Oh… how come this is the first I’ve heard of this?” Chase asks only to receive a weak shrug as a response.
- Flashback restart -
“How was your day sweetie?” Her mother enquires.
“Super! Otou-san bought me this cake!” Sakura replies and shows her mother the cake.
“Honestly dear, I thought I told you to stop buying her sweets.” Her mother looks over to her father.
“Ehh, but how can you say no to this cute little face.” Her father defends himself and squishes her face for emphasis.
Her mother let out a sigh and starts walking back inside the house. Her father follows her in while he tries to convince her that spoiling their daughter wasn’t a bad thing. Sakura watches her parents argue amongst themselves about her and couldn’t help a little giggle from escaping. She then goes to follow them in the house, but as she was walking, someone runs right into her and knocks the cake right out of her hands and onto the floor.
“Oh I’m so sor-” The person that ran into her starts to apologies until he catches a glimpse of her face. “Monster!”
The yell catches the attention of everyone including her parents, who quickly rushed back outside due to the noise. There they see the cake smashed on the ground and their daughter glaring at a man with her scarlet eyes.
“Oh no.” Her mother starts to panic, while her father quickly runs over to her and shields her from the upcoming onslaught.
“She must be possessed!”
“Get her out of here!”
The yells quickly escalate to things being thrown at her.
“Otou-san I’m scared.” Sakura says and buries herself deeper into her father’s embrace.
“It’s okay sweetie, Otou-san will protect you.”
Her father quickly guides her back into the house with her mother.
“Why! Why does she have those?!” Her mother yells hysterically.
“Calm down dear, we knew this was a possibility from the start.” Her father tries to calm her mother down.
“What do we do now?”
“Well for now, let’s go back to the village.”
“Are you insane?!”
“Only until she learns how to control her eyes.”
“They’ll never accept us!”
“Come on, they’re your family, of course they’ll accept us… at the very least they’ll accept you and Mikan.”
“But what about you?”
“Don’t worry about me.”
“What other choice do we have?!” Her father yells back, the riot outside finally getting to him.
In the end they decide going back to the village was their best course of action, so they packed up their things and headed out of the town. It was difficult making it through the angry mob at first, but when the mob saw the direction they were heading, they let them through, although they were still yelling angrily at them as they left.
By the time they reached the village, it was already nighttime so maneuvering through the forest was very troublesome. Eventually, the people from the village came out from hearing the noise.
“Who’s there?!” One of the villagers yells out, swords in his hands.
“Don’t worry it’s just me!” Her mother answers back.
“…Kaori?” One of the villagers recognizes her mother and happily walks closer, until he sees her father. “Who’s that?” He questions her mother, but when his eyes land on Sakura, his question was answered and he did not like the answer. “Kaori don’t tell me you…” He trails off and when her mother stays silent, he yells "Don’t you know marrying an outsider is forbidden!”
“You don’t understand!” Her mother tries to defend herself.
“It’s you who doesn’t understand.” A voice from behind the man responds.
“Chief!” They all shout and opened a path to let him through.
“You have let an outsider in and that brings danger to everyone in the village.” The chief declares and doesn’t even give her mother a chance to respond.
“Ah!” Her mother cries out in pain and she is slashed with swords.
“Gah!” Her father was immediately slashed as well.
“Okaa-san! Otou-san!” Sakura yells as she sees her parents being cut down, tears streaming down her face from her glowing her eyes.
The villagers turn to Sakura and one of them goes to kill her, but before he does, the chief stops him.
“Wait, don’t kill her.” The chief orders, when he sees her scarlet eyes.
Sakura watches the chief who bends down to her level and give her a seemingly kind smile, before everything went black.
When she wakes up, she discovers that it was morning and that she was in a bed of a room she had never seen before.
~ Flashback end ~
“…” Chase stays silent, as he doesn’t know what to say or if he should say anything right now.
After a while though, a realization hit him.
“Wait, doesn’t that mean you would’ve been in the village during the massacre?”
“No… I already… left before that,” Sakura explains.
“Oh… but wait, doesn’t that mean Kurapika would know that there was a chance you’re still alive. From what I saw, he was pretty sure that everyone from his village was dead.”
“I left… after him.”
“…I still don’t get why you don’t just tell him.”
“It’s nothing personal… I just don’t… want to have… anything more… to do with the… kurata clan.”
“…That’s a little selfish of you isn’t it?”
“I know, but it’s… better this way. He’d just… be disappointed.”
When morning came around, Killua had already completed his task of handing in the items and had dropped Kurapika off at an infirmary. Gon and Leorio were still out collecting their item, so Killua was basically stuck with Kurapika. Although he supposed it wouldn’t be too borind, there were some things about the situation surrounding Kurapika that interested him.
“Mm…” Kurapika begins shifting in the bed.
“You finally awake?”
Killua’s question brought Kurapika back to reality and he shot up immediately.
“…Where am I?” Kurapika asks when he sees that he is no longer in the mansion.
“The infirmary at the exam site,” Killua answers casually.
“Where’s Sakura?” Kurapika asks after he had looked around the room and found no sign of her.
“With her friend in another town.” Killua gives Kurapika a vague response since he didn’t know exactly where she was and he didn’t care enough to think too deeply about her whereabouts.
“Oh, so she’s fine?” Kurapika enquires and takes Killua silence and a ‘yes.’ He relaxes at this, but he was disappointed that he wasn’t able to acquire the scarlet eyes. He couldn’t believe that he let that nen user get the better of him. Well he supposed he could go back and get the scarlet eyes and a rematch, wait, was that guy still alive and more importantly how was he uninjured.
“Does Sakura remind you of anyone?” Killua suddenly speaks up, snapping Kurapika out of his thoughts.
“Huh? Not really,” Kurapika replies without much thought
“You sure you’ve never met her before?” Killua pushes.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure.” Kurapika replies again, confused as to where Killua was going with this.
“Think back. Doesn’t she seem familiar… like a childhood friend perhaps?” Killua tries to jog Kurapika’s memory by slipping in more information.
“Killua, you know I spent my entire childhood in the village,” Kurapika responds a little annoyed that Killua brought up his past.
“Killua!” Kurapika snaps, as he was getting angry that Killua wouldn’t get the hint and drop the subject. ‘He knows that everyone from the village was… dead… what was the point of this conversation?’
“Just think back.” Killua tells Kurapika coolly.
At first Kurapika just continues to glare at Killua but seeing that Killua was not backing down, he sighs at thought back. He recalls everyone in the village, from his close friends right down to the people he only sees once in a while. He applies Sakura’s appearance and personality to everyone he remembers and to his surprise he finds a close match.
“I think… I found someone,” Kurapika announces.
“Really?” Killua fakes surprise.
“Yeah… I remember this girl who I would sometimes hang out with. She had pink hair, about the same shade as Sakura, she was bubbly, clumsy and I remember she loved sweets…” Kurapika trails off.
“Wow, sounds like they could be twins!” Killua says in an over exaggerating tone, although the truth was much bigger.
“That’s impossible, Sakura’s not a kurata… Mikan is.” Kurapika states.
“She must’ve changed her name. Guess she means business.’ Killua concludes after hearing Kurapika’s defense.
“Well maybe you should think this over one more time,” Killua advises Kurapika and left it at that. He was curious but not that dedicated to the situation concerning Kurapika.
“Um ok…” Kurapika responds as he watches Killua leave the room.
‘What does he mean by that?’ Kurapika couldn’t help but ponder on Killua’s last words. Why did he have to think about her again, it was already painful to think about her once. After all, she was his first love.
By the end of the week, the rest of the hunters had returned to the exam site from their mission. This confused Kurapika a little at first but then Killua explained that while he was preoccupied, the chairman sent out a notice regarding the phase rules. Seemed like he forgot to tell them that there was a one week time limit for the phase. Thanks to his mistake almost half of the participants failed as the notice was sent near the middle of the phase and the ones who went for items that required time were forced to change their items. Long story short, those people rushed and either got caught or simply ran out of time.
Kurapika didn’t really care about passing so this revelation had no effect on him, he was more concerned about other things. Like what ever happened to his partner, Sakura. From what he heard from Killua, she was staying at an inn with a friend at the town closest to the mansion, but that was a more than a few days ago. He hadn’t seen or heard from her since.
Kurapika was currently leaning against a wall in the corner of the room where they were supposed to meet up. He saw Hisoka in another corner and made sure to avoid any kind of contact with the psychopath who seems to be rather pleased with something at the moment.
‘Let’s just pretend he’s not there,’ Kurapika tells himself.
Soon his friends Killua, Gon and Leorio join him. Looks like Gon and Leorio had succeeded in their mission taking into consideration the smug look on Leorio’s face and the big grin on Gon’s face.
Hanzo and Maya join them about an hour later. He couldn’t tell if they passed or not since Maya had a huge smile on her face whilst Hanzo looked like he just had the life sucked out of him.
A few more hours pass by before Chase shows up and receives a kick to the face from Maya.
‘Aren’t they supposed to be going out?’ Kurapika sweat drops as he watches Maya continue to beat the crap out of Chase for some unknown reason.
Another hour passes after Chase’s arrival but there was still no sign of Sakura. He had asked Chase about it but he said that she said she had something she needed to do so they ended up going their separate ways about a day ago.
‘I hope she’s okay.’ Kurapika thought and looks up at the clock. The cutoff for the phase was midnight and it was currently 11:47. She only had about 10 minutes to get here before she was disqualified.
“Why did you leave her alone?! You know she can’t be trusted to be on her own!” Maya grabs Chase’s color and yells at Chase as she had also noticed the time.
“She said it was personal.” Chase responds unfazed as if he’s been through this abuse a million times before.
Maya just clicks her tongue and harshly let go of Chase’s collar.
“Wow, you’re amazing,” Leorio tells Chase, referring to the way he puts up with Maya.
“Well that’s the power of lo-” Chase starts but was stopped midsentence when a scythe came at him from above. Luckily he was able to dodge the scythe before it split him in two, but Kurapika doubted Maya meant any actual harm. He was pretty sure…
Turning back to the clock, it was now 11:53 and Sakura still hasn’t arrived.
‘Maybe she’s not coming back…” Kurapika thought when he realizes that there was no reason for her to come back here. Killua had already turned in their items to be checked so she was free to go.
At the one minute mark, Netero and beans make their appearance and all the hunters that had gotten their item had arrived.
“I guess she’s not coming.” Killua remarks. ‘Looks like I won’t see how it’ll go.’ Killua thought disappointedly, although he can understand why she wouldn’t want to come back to where Kurapika was when she didn’t have to.
“I don’t blame her. I can’t wait to get away from you people,” Maya adds.
“Maya,” Chase says in a scolding tone to which Maya just rolls her eyes.
“I thought it was super fun to meet you guys,” Gon says happily.
“Me too,” Kurapika agrees with a smile.
“Yeah, I’m sure Sakura feels the same way too,” Chase adds, making sure to look at Kurapika while he talks. He was really hoping that Kurapika would pick up the vibes he was sending his way.
‘Why is he looking at me like that?’ Kurapika thought as he contemplates Chase’s expression, it looked like he wanted to say something.
The clock sounds when the arrows both finally reach the twelve at the top.
“It’s finally over!” Leorio shouts, unwittingly attracting all the attention of the other hunters around who had stopped to listen to the Chairman of the hunter association speak. “Oops.”
“Ho ho ho don’t count your eggs before they’re hatched boy.” Netero responds to Leorio’s comment. “The exam isn’t over yet.”
“Huh?” Leorio utters in confusion.
Everyone else in the room was confused as well. The chairman clearly said that this was the final phase, what does he mean by ‘the exam isn’t over’?
“Yes I did say this was the final phase before but there’s been a change of plans.” The chairman reveals, adding curiosity to everyone’s confusion. “Too many of you have passed so we need to lower the numbers a little. So the real final phase is to hunt down your partner from the previous two phases. The winners of the fourth phase must find the losers and bring them back here within three days. If you bring your partner back within the time frame, you pass. If you don’t, your partner will pass. Oh, one more thing, killing is prohibited in this phase. Not just your partner, if you kill any other hunter you will be disqualified.” Netero explains, making sure to look at Hisoka when he said the last part. Hisoka just gives him one of his smiles before Netero turns back to the rest.
“In what world is half a little?!” Maya yells in frustration. She already had to deal with the stupid bald ninja who won’t stop talking and now she finds out that she didn’t even pass. ‘This is ridiculous.’
“Relax.” Chase tries to calm Maya down. “Besides this means that if you can avoid getting caught by him, you’ll pass and he’ll fail.” Chase adds, as he knew what Maya was really upset about.
“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said to me since we got here!” Maya compliments Chase, well it was more of an insult but Chase didn’t seem to take it that way.
“Thanks,” Chase responds with a genuine smile.
“I don’t understand love,” Killua comments after witnessing the interactions between Chase and Maya.
“Trust me you never will,” Leorio assures him and places his hand sadly on Killua’s shoulder.
“Well it makes sense you don’t.” Killua shrugs Leorio’s hand off his shoulder.
“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“Exactly what it means old man.”
“Will you stop calling me that?!”
“I will when you stop being an old man.”
“I’m not old!”
“Maa maa.” Gon tries to create peace between the two.
‘Wow, they really haven’t changed since the last exam. Guess I’m the only one…’ Kurapika thought a little sadly. He remembers when he first met them and was able to have fun like they do. That was a good time in his life but he can’t turn back the clock now. He has to live with the things that has happened in the past and the choices he’s made, forever.
‘Ugh!’ Kurapika shookhis head vigorously. ‘Why do I have to overthink everything?!’ Kurapika thought with annoyance. If only he was able to live in the moment like his friends and forget his past, his life would be so much better. All his past has given him is a reason for revenge and the deaths of his entire family. He really doesn’t understand why he’s putting himself through this pain, okay well he does, it’s to avenge his dead clan and let them rest in peace, but what was he going to do after. After he’s defeated the spiders and collected all the remaining scarlet eyes, what’s left for him then?
“…Pika… Kurapika!” Leorio woke him up from his reverie. “You’ve been zoning out a lot since we got here, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I was just wondering… what Sakura is going to do.” Kurapika says the first thing he could think of.
“Oh that’s right! That idiot isn’t here!” Maya realizes.
“Does that mean she’s disqualified?”
“What! That’s not fair!” Hanzo yells, he doesn’t really care whether she passes the exam or not but if she’s disqualified that mean’s that he won’t be able to see his idol anymore.
“Don’t worry she’s not disqualified,” Netero chimes in to everyone’s surprise.
“What do you mean?”
“The ones being hunted gets an hour head start to hide themselves before the hunters go after them. Sakura and Kurapika just got an early start so you can actually go and try to find he right now.
“Ok, now that’s not fair, why do they get a head start?” Leorio asks.
“Because in their case, it’s more than just the exam,” Netero says suggestively.
‘He knows…’ Killua and Chase both thought.
‘Wait, does he know I’m in love with sakura?!’ Kurapika thought with surprise.
“What do you mean ‘more that the-” Leorio starts but is shoved aside by Killua midsentence.
“Shouldn’t you get moving already?” Killua tells Kurapika.
“Don’t encourage him-” Maya chimes in, trying to give Sakura a little more time, but she was also stopped midsentence by Chase who hugs her from behind, covering her mouth with his hands.
“What are you do-” Maya manages to get out after she was able to distance Chase’s hands from her mouth using brute force. However Chase once again interrupts her before she could finish her sentence.
“Killua’s right, you’ve already got the signal to start, you should go for it!”
“Um… okay?” Kurapika responds with a little confusion in his voice. He had three days and he didn’t really even care about passing this exam, what was the rush?
Killua decides to handle Kurapika’s lack of physical response by pushing him towards the door.
“Killua what are you doing-“
“Trust me the sooner you find her the better.” Killua says before pushing him out the room and closing the doors behind him.
‘What was that all about?’