My eyes open.
A strange smell fills my nose.
No. It's not strange.
I've smelled this before, I'm certain of it.
I can't place where though. I can't remember where I've smelled this before.
"Hey, hey, are you okay?" A voice calls out to me.
"Hey, HEY! ARE YOU ALRIGHT!" The voice calls again.
I keep my mouth firmly shut. I don't know why, but I get a feeling that I'd be better served not responding.
Suddenly a face pops into my line of vision. A boy. A kid. 7 at the oldest.
He has spiked black hair that seems to defy the laws of gravity. His eyes are big and brown, like chestnuts.
He also has a feeling. A feeling that he's someone you can trust, someone who would stick by you, no matter what you did to drive him away.
A friend who would never betray you, no matter how much you betrayed him.
"HEY! YOU! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?" His shouts don't seem desperate. He seems more like he's simply trying to be heard.
A sudden desire to respond overcomes my initial feeling that quiet was the best way to keep myself alive.
"Uh.. Yeah... I think so." I reply, carefully sitting up. he looks at me with his big brown eyes in wonder and curiosity.
"Are you sure? There was foxbear about to sink its claws into you."
"And how did you chase it off kid?" I ask.
"Hey! I'm not a kid!"
"Really? How old are you?"
"8 and a half!" He replies.
I chuckle slightly.
"How old are you?" He asks.
How old am I?
How old AM I?
"Ummm... I... I don't know." I reply.
His smile quickly shifts to a look of confusion.
"How could you not know how old you are?"
"I don't know. I don't remember anything."
"Nothing at all?"
"NAME!" I shout.
"I remember my name!"
"What is it!" He shouts.
"It-It's...Yu-Yuno! Yuno! I'm Yuno!"
His mouth spreads into a wide toothy grin.
"Hi Yuno! I'm Gon!"
"How... how old do you think I am?" I ask.
"9. You look 9." He replies.
Huh. Only 6 months older than him. Or that's how I look.
I reach up and feel at my hair. Bobbed. Just to the top of my ear.
"What color is my hair?" I ask, like it's normal not to know what color your hair is.
"Blonde. Pale blonde."
"And what about my eyes?" I ask.
"Thanks." I run my hands over my skin. Smooth. Pale. Multiple scars on my hands and wrists and littered over my arms.
Where did these come from?
I attempt to stand, my legs extremely shaky. Gon ends up having to steady me and help me lean up against a tree.
"What's that smell?" I ask.
"That salty smell?"
"You mean the ocean?" He asks in an attempt to clarify.
"Yeah. Yeah that's it. The ocean."
The ocean. The ocean. The smell. I used to smell it all the time. I know I used to smell it all the time.
It's connected to a memory. No. A series of memories. Many memories.
"Where am I?" I ask.
"Never heard of it. Not that I would know if I had." I reply.
Suddenly a crushing pain enters my legs.
"SHIT! SHIT!" I scream and quickly struggle out of Gon's grasp.
"WHAT! WHAT'S WRONG!" He screams.
"MY LEGS! MY FUCKING LEGS!" I shout.
It's crushing. The second I tried to lift myself, it started crushing me.
I fall to the ground and pull up my right pant leg. A giant gash that seems to have just opened is oozing a bright red liquid.
I then proceed to pull up my left pant leg. Another gash that matches the first one perfectly. Almost as if they were created in tandem with each other.
"JESUS CHRIST!" Gon shouts. "I'M GOING TO GET MITO-SAN!"
"WHO THE HELL IS MITO-SAN!?"
He doesn't reply, he's already gone, running through the trees.
I spend my time waiting ripping my pants and attempting to stop the bleeding, hoping that whoever this Mito-san is will be able to help the bleeding stop, and actually treat the wounds. Maybe disinfect them. Maybe a proper bandage and stitches.
How do I know all this?
After about 10 minutes I finally hear Gon's voice tearing through the forest.
"YUNO! YUNO ARE YOU THERE!" His voice sounds.
"HERE! I'M HERE GON!" I reply, hoping someone who can help me is with him.
Then it takes another 3 minutes for Gon to show up with a red-headed woman with light brown eyes. She's carrying a large box with a red cross on the top.
I take a series of deep breaths in an attempt to stifle the loud shouts that I want to use instead of my normal voice.
"Are-Are you Mito-san?" I ask, attempting to be calm.
"What happened?" She demands.
"I don't know." I reply.
"How do you not know?" She shouts.
"Am-Amnesia." I reply.
She doesn't give an answer as she begins work on my wounds. The disinfectant doubles the pain, but at least I won't die of an infection. Mito-san looks at me with pity as she dresses the wound.
"Do you know where your house is? Where your parents are?" She asks.
"No. Amnesia. I don't even know where I am."
"Alright. Gon, help me get her back to the house." Mito-san instructs, lifting one of my arms and putting it around her shoulders while Gon does the same with my other arm.
They haul me up, me letting out a hiss of pain while Gon and Mito-san try to move slow so as to not rip open the bandages and cause even more pain.
It takes 25 full minutes to get to their house. A small house on the top of a cliff over-looking the ocean. A pleasant house.
Mito-san opens the door and they sit me down on the couch with my legs up.
"You can stay here until you remember something, or your parents come looking for you." Mito-san smiles at me.
"Thank you very much." I reply.
4 YEARS LATER
"YUNO! YUNO! WAKE UP!" Gon shouts right into my ear.
"Go away Gon." I reply.
"YUNO! WE HAVE A WEEK TO CATCH THE LORD OF THE LAKE! WE HAVE TO START NOW!" He insists.
"Yeah. But do we have to start RIGHT now?" I ask, covering my ear with a pillow.
"Yes!" He shakes me again.
"FINE!" I shout, throwing the pillow at him playfully and getting up.
I walk into the bathroom to change. I examine the scars literally covering my torso. There's not an inch of my body without scars on it, except my face.
Even the large gash across my legs healed into a large scar.
Even my neck is coated with scars. Burn scars. Not a single cut scar on my neck or above.
I slip on a black sweatshirt and jeans. I exit the bathroom and slip into my blue sneakers.
I don't even know why Gon needs or wants my help. It's not like he needs it. He can catch the lord of the lake on his own.
He could probably do it in half a day. I'll probably just be in his way.
"Come on Yuno!" He insists.
"I'm coming! I'm coming!" I reply.
I run down the stairs to meet Gon, who's waiting with the door open.
I barely manage to keep up with him as we race to the lake. He arrives at the lake two minutes before me and is already up in his tree setting his stuff up when I lean against said tree panting.
"Damn. How do you run so fast?" I call up to him.
"Hm? What do you mean?"
"Never mind. It doesn't matter." I reply, sliding down the trunk of the tree and staring at the water.
"Remember anything yet?" He asks.
"No. Nothing at all." I answer somberly. I haven't remembered anything since when he and I first met and I remembered my name.
Though there have been flashes. Moments. Moments where I can almost grab small details of my past, flashes of grass and small houses. A village. But they only last seconds. Then the trail vanishes again.
"I'm sure something will come soon." He says.
"Yeah. I hope so." That's what we've been saying for the past four years.
Gon hasn't moved for a FULL WEEK! This is our last day to catch the lord of the lake, well, he's the one catching the Lord. I'm really just here to help him carry it back to town. Mito-san has no desire to stop me from leaving the island, nor does she have the authority over me to do so, not that she's done anything to try to establish that kind of authority over me anyway.
Suddenly the line gets a small tug and Gon inhales slightly. And waits a full minute before yanking the pole straight up and the giant fish comes flying out of the lake. I stand, waiting to help him pull his prey from the water should he need it. But instead he runs around the trunk of the tree and jumps off the branch to use the tree to pull the fish out of the water.
Of course he wouldn't need my help.
Why am I even here? Gon could probably catch all the fish in the lake including the lord in a month without any help at all.
"We did it Yuno!" He shouts, smiling brilliantly.
He always makes it seem like others actually did something when he did all the work.
"Yeah. Yeah we did!" I shout back.
He jumps down and carefully detaches the lord from his fishing pole and places it on the ground.
"Let's take this to Mito-san!" He declares.
"Yeah, let's go."
The look on Mito-san's face is surprised, yet sad. Sad to see that Gon and I have won, and that we're going to leave now.
As Gon asks her about the hunter exam, I look around the town. My eyes settle on a blond guy sitting in front of a diner.
I know him.
I know I know him.
I've seen him before.
His face has already been burned into my brain.
But I don't know who he is.
I was 9 when I woke up with amnesia. I doubt I had a lover, and certainly not one that looks so much older than me.
But when his eyes move up to meet mine, I see shock. Shock and some other emotion.
I can't tell.
"Come on Yuno!" Gon says, snapping my gaze away from the familiar guy.
I follow as he runs towards the ship leaving for the mainland. Waving to Mito-san the whole way.
"I'll come back when I'm the best hunter in the world!" Gon shouts back to Whale Island, while everyone cheers and calls back to him, wishing him good luck.
The guy I thought I recognized also followed us onto the boat. He's been staring at me for the past 30 minutes.
After Whale Island disappears from sight, Gon and I make our way away from the back of the boat and towards the center. He suddenly stops when he sees one of the crew being harassed by other members of the same crew.
And of course Gon takes it upon himself to jump down and save the guy from his harassers. I decide that this is a situation I'm not interested in participating in. And I'm glad I decided that when I see Gon jump up to the crow's nest of the ship.
And the guy who I thought I recognized is STILL staring at me.
"HEY YUNO!" Gon shouts down to me.
"DO YOU SMELL A STORM?"
"MY NOSE ISN'T AS GOOD AS YOURS!"
I pinch my nose, the way Gon has showed me a thousand times. Pause for a second and then try again.
"I THINK SO! POSSIBLY!" I shout up at him.
He jumps back down to meet me. And when I glance back at the blond guy, whose eyes have gone from focused to completely shocked and dumbfounded.
As Gon brings water to the many many many people who are sick I try to close my eyes and get some sleep.
After a few minutes the captain opens the door. Muttering something about how this 'batch' is a bunch of pathetic incapables.
Until he notices Gon, helping people, the blond guy trying to read and occasionally glancing at me, and a tall guy with black hair trying to sleep as well.
Oh, and me, also trying to sleep.
He yells for everyone not busy puking their guts out to come to the navigation room or whatever the hell it's called.
The the four of us not puking our guts out follow him to the whatever-the-hell-it's-called.
We line up by the door while he faces us.
"What are your names?" He asks us.
"I'm Gon!" Gon declares, not even pausing.
"Kurapika." The blond guy follows up.
"I'm Leorio." The tall guy says aggressively.
"Yuno." I raise my hand slightly.
"Why do you want to become a hunter?"
"I want to find my dad and find out why he thought being a hunter was worth leaving me." Gon says without any hesitation at all.
"My reason is far to personal. I will not be sharing with you." Kurapika followed up, still staring at me out of the corner of his eye.
"I agree with Kurapika. Why should we tell you our reasons?" Leorio shouted.
"Boys! Call the association and tell them we have three more dropouts." The captain shouts to his crew.
"What?" I demand.
"You see, the exam has already begun. The association has neither the time or resources to check all of the thousands of candidates. So our job is to root out the ones not worth the association's time or money. If you do not tell us your reason, you will have failed the exam before you even reach the location." He smiles at us. "So, think carefully before you answer my question."
"Should have told us sooner..." Leorio mutters.
"I'm just following Gon." I speak up, "You see, I don't remember anything from before 4 years ago. And Gon basically saved my life. So I'm following him for two reasons. 1. I wanna pay him back for saving and housing me and 2. I wanna try my best to get my memory back."
The captain simply nods and Kurapika's eyes widen AGAIN.
"I am the last surviving member of the Kurta clan. Five years ago, my clan was annihilated by a band of criminals. I wish to become a hunter to tear down that band, the Phantom Troupe."
The name. The Phantom Troupe. I've... I've heard it before. Many many many times. Scalded into my mind.
But I can't, for the love of God, remember where or who I heard it from.
'We killed... Red eyes... You... Wouldn't... Why won't... COME ON!'
"So you want to become a bounty hunter?" The captain asks. "The Phantom Troupe is a class a bounty. Not even the most grizzled hunters can touch them. You'd be throwing away your life."
"I do not fear death. I fear only that my rage will fade over time." His eyes suddenly flash scarlet, only for a second.
"So, in other words, you want revenge." Leorio translates. "Does that require you become a hunter?"
"That may be the stupidest question I've ever heard, Leorio." Kurapika replies coldly.
"THAT'S LEORIO-SAN TO YOU!" He shouts back.
"Places accessible only to hunters... Information otherwise unobtainable... Actions otherwise impossible... There are more reasons than your brain could possibly handle." He does have a point. Maybe becoming a hunter will actually help me figure out who I am with all the information I'll have access to.
"Hey!" Gon interrupts Leorio's probably extremely aggressive response. "Why do you want to be a hunter, Leorio-san?" Of course he's polite as possible. He's always as polite as possible.
"I'll make it short." Leorio seems to calm down immediately after Gon poses the question. "I want money."
"Are you serious?" I whisper under my breath.
"WHAT WAS THAT?" He demands.
"Nothing, Leorio-san." I reply, smiling brightly.
"Anyway, money can get you everything! A big house! A nice car! Good liquor!" Leorio continues as if I never interrupted him.
"You can't buy class with money Leorio." Kurapika replies.
"Burn." I whisper under my breath, Gon glares at me slightly.
Leorio's face goes red with anger before he turns his head to look at Kurapika.
"That's three times now." He whispers gruffly.
"Step outside. I'll end the filthy Kurta bloodline, here and now." He says, poison in his voice.
"TAKE THAT BACK LEORIO!" Kurapika shouts after him as he steps outside the room.
Leorio stops mid-step and looks back at Kurapika.
"Take that back." Kurapika hisses.
"That's Leorio-san to you." Leorio replies before stepping outside.
Kurapika rapidly follows after him.
"Hey boys! I'm not finished yet." The captain calls after them.
"Let them go." Gon speaks up.
"Yeah. They need to work out their problems themselves." I follow up.
"It's important for them to understand why they're mad." Gon says.
"Yeah, cause that'll TOTALLY solve every conflict." I say.
"What do you mean?" Gon asks.
"Jeez Gon. I only remember the past four years of my life and you're still more naive than me. Not everything can be solved by talking. You're gonna learn that sooner or later. The world isn't just a bigger version of Whale Island. Why do you think Mito-san didn't want you to leave? She wanted to protect you from all the shit she knows is out here." I attempt to explain, but he still doesn't seem to get it.
Oh well, try again next week.