It was a clear, dark night. The full moon hang over head, surrounded by thousands of stars. Below, the twinkling lights of the busy city could be seen several kilometers away.
The Genei Ryodan are sitting atop a cliff over looking the city. Machi, Shalnark, Nobunaga, Coltopi, Phinx, Feitan, and Shizuku are crowding around their newest acquision: the Book of the Dead.
"Hey, guys, look at this," Shalnark points to an interesting entry and reads, "Ubogin. September 2. They even have a detailed account of his character and his work! Amazing!"
"Hmp. Based on this, it doesn't look like he'll be going to heaven," Machi observed.
"If there is a heaven," Phinx commented.
"But it's strange... Pakunoda's death isn't listed here," Shalnark said. "Everyone else has a date beside his name except for Pakunoda."
"It's probably just a typographical error or whatever," Feitan said, clearly uninterested. "The important thing is, what are we going to do with that dumb book?"
They made their way down the cliff, debating on how much they'll make on their newest acquisition or whether they'll be better off using it for some other purpose. They stumbled upon Reikai purely by coincidence. None of them were certain what exactly happened. They were just walking, the next thing they knew, they were in front of a huge palace. Well, what are thieves going to do if they come face to face with a palace? Steal, of course! So that's what they did. They filched the first interesting thing that caught their attention. What could possibly be better than the Book of the Dead? It contains the death day of everyone and enough information to blackmail anybody!
However, as was proven in the past with Yusuke's first death, the Book is not entirely accurate.
And in a few minutes, everything will change. For better or for worse.
"Didn't we agree that we're here to sight-see?" Leorio asked his friends. "It's not everyday that we get together and have the chance to do just nothing!"
"I know," Kurapika replied, "but I still think we should have gone to the museum. It's more interesting that hiking up here and just looking at the city."
"Museum? Interesting? Bah. It's just a bunch of old things!" Killua exclaimed.
"The city looks great at night from up there," Gon said, pointing up ahead, "and tomorrow we can go to the museum. Besides, it's probably closed by now."
"That's because we've spent 2 hours walking to get here. The museum was just...."
Kurapika's statement was cut off by a tingling sense of danger. Up ahead, coming towards them, are seven figures. Seven very familiar, very dangerous figures.
Sweat broke out of Killua's face and Gon felt himself tremble. Leorio kept on clenching and unclenching his fist, looking around him for the fastest escape route. Kurapika took a step forward and stood in front of Killua and Gon, his eyes glowing red.
Gon spoke up, "We were just sight-seeing. We're not here to cause trouble."
Well, that's easy for Gon to say. Kurapika is shaking, angrier than any of them have ever seen him before.
"Kurapika, control yourself!" Leorio snapped, grabbing hold of his friends arm.
"Kurapika, now isn't the time for this," Killua took hold of Kurapika's other arm and began to tug him back.
But there was no holding back Kurapika.
Phinx and Feitan, though they have reacted peacefully when they crossed paths with Gon and Killua, clearly have nothing but murderous feelings for Kurapika. The same could be said for Nobunaga.
In moments, the dark night became tainted blood red...
How could everything have gone so wrong so fast?
Those thoughts raced around and around Leorio's head. Beside Leorio, Gon have buried his face in his hands. And for the first time, Leorio noticed how young Gon really was. Gon is just twelve and by a cruel twist of fate, two of his friends are...
"No!" Leorio whispered harshly to himself. They can't be dead. Not Kurapika! Not Killua! They're too young! Leorio glared up, as though he could see and speak to whoever is up there calling himself god. "Do you hear me?" Leorio hissed, "You have no right to take them away! Not like this! Not right now!"
Leorio bowed his head and clenched his fists. Beside him, tears could be seen leaking out of the hands covering Gon's face.
Leorio placed a hand on Gon's back, trying to console his young friend. "It'll be..." It'll be what? Leorio silently asked himself. It won't be alright. Both of us know that if Killua or Kurapika or worse both dies, it won't be alright. It will *never* be alright.
Leorio closed his eyes and shivered. Everytime he closes his eyes he could still see the fight... all that blood...
Kurapika and Nobunaga attacked at the same time. Nobunaga, Phinx, and Feitan ganged up against Kurapika. Leorio found himself face to face with a guy (or girl?) covered with hair. Gon was having a face off with the girl he fought in arm wresting. Killua was facing Machi and Shalnark.
The fight seemed to last forever, but in reality it was no more than twenty minutes. Kurapika got Nobunaga first. But before Kurapika could finish off his opponent Phinx and Feitan were on to him. Kurapika's body crumpled to the ground. Gon's anger at seeing Kurapika fall down, gave him enough strength to overpower his opponent. Leorio was already on the ground, wheezing in pain. Killua was holding out on his own but things were about to go from bad to worse...
Feitan, satisfied that they knocked down the "chain guy", turned his attention to Gon leaving Phinx to finish off Kurapika.
The terror in Killua's voice will be imprinted in Leorio's mind forever. "NOOOO! Gon! Look out!"
But Gon was caught in the girl's death grip. Leorio couldn't move to help. Gon was entirely at Shizuku and Feitan's mercy.
Not caring about the danger, Killua threw himself over his best friend to block Feitan's attack. Killua fell to the ground. His eyes staring up. Unmoving.
Gon's anguished scream tore through the night before he sent Shizuku and Feitan over the cliff with two powerful punches. The anger in Gon's eyes is something Leorio will not forget either.
Phinx stepped towards Gon, his aura glowing.
"Stop it," Nobunaga choked out from the ground. "Let them go. We got the chain guy. Leave the brat alone."
"Shut up," Feitan hissed, stepping out of the shadows.
"He already lost two of his friends. Leave him alone," Nobunaga slowly and painfully stood up.
"I agree with him," Shalnark said, "Let's get out of here."
Leorio have managed to crawl his way to Killua who was nearest to him. There was no heartbeat. Gon was standing in front of him, his aura glowing, ready to punch anyone who dares to come nearer.
"I vote we go. We'll let the coin decide," Machi said. She threw the coin up, "Tails!"
"Heads!" Feitan said.
"Tails," Machi picked up a large book, "We're leaving."
Gon continued to glare at the Ryodan. Nobunaga moved towards Gon and stopped just out of Gon's reach. "I'm sorry. If you hurry maybe you can still save him." Nobunaga glanced at Killua before following the other spiders. Shizuku stepped out of the shadows and ran after them.
Alone, Gon and Leorio are on a race of time to save their friends... but even with nen enhanced abilities... they were too late.
"It's all my fault," Gon whispered thickly, his voice breaking through Leorio's reverie, "If I had talked to them more maybe they'd listen..."
"I shouldn't have suggested going there," Leorio said, his throat tight. "If I---"
The door beside them opened and a doctor stepped out.
Leorio and Gon stood up, both looking at the doctor expectantly. However, one look at the doctor's saddened eyes and they already know what he's about to say.
"We did everything we can. The blond boy's condition is stable for the moment, but the next twenty-four hours will be very crucial. The other one..." The doctor swallowed hard, "I'm sorry," he shook his head, his eyes downcast before stepping away from them.
Leorio felt like all his bones have turned into jelly. Beside him, Gon stood stock-still, his eyes staring, seemingly unconscious of the tears that continually flow from his eyes. Leorio backed against the wall and sank to the floor. He closed his eyes and for the second time Leorio cried for another lost friend.
Somewhere in the operating room, a nurse could be heard sniffing, "It's so sad... and they're both so young..."
"Oi! Stop crying you, idiot!" Killua took a swipe at Gon and his arm went right through his friend. "AHH!!!"
"Killua, weren't you listening to the doctor?" Kurapika asked. "Isn't it enough that they couldn't see us?"
"Hell no! I don't believe I'm dead. That spider jerk won't be the end of me! Leorio knows something about healing people right? I'll make him look at me and heal me. Besides, the doctor said you're not dead, so what are you doing here?"
"I don't know. I tried to enter my body but I couldn't. This is all so..."
"Weird?" a girl's voice asked them.
Both turned and found themselves looking at a girl with big purple eyes and sky blue hair. "I'm Botan, I escort dead souls. Pleased to meet you!"
"Weren't you listening? I *said* I'm *not* yet dead," Killua repeated. "And will someone please tell Gon to stop crying!"
Botan sighed, "Looks like I'm going to have a hard time explaining this..."
"How can I hit him? Hm," Killua looked at Botan. "Tell me how to hit him," Killua points at Gon.
"You can't do that..." Botan began to say.
"Of course I can!" Killua turned to Gon, "Listen to me, I'm not *dead*! I'm right here! Stop crying! You're making me feel guilty for dying!" Killua blinked, realizing what he just said and a vein popped on his forehead. "Damn! I'm not making sense. I'm not dead!"
"Well... you are..." Botan interjected.
"Hey! Show some respect!"
"Oi! Where are you going?"
Gon had turned away from them and entered the emergency room. Killua, Botan, and Kurapika floated after Gon. The door slammed shut behind Gon while Leorio walked right through Kurapika.
Kurapika sweatdropped, "That is so weird."
"It'll take some getting used to," Botan said.
"I don't want to get used to it," Kurapika remarked.
"Neither do I," Killua said, but nevertheless the three of them walked through the door and found Gon beating up Killua's body.
"You said you were impossible to kill! But what do you do, huh? One hit from that bastard and you die! How dare you! You're stronger than this! Wake up! WAKE UP, KILLUA!!!" Gon slapped his best friend across the face.
"Gon! Stop it!" Leorio said, grabbing Gon by the shoulders and pulling him away from Killua's body.
"Yeah, Gon!" Killua said, standing in front of his friend and shaking his finger in front of Gon's face. Unfortunately, Gon couldn't see him. "Stop beating up my body." Killua sweatdropped, "That doesn't sound right."
"I keep telling you..."
"No!" Killua glared at Botan. "I'm not dead. I refuse to die."
"Wait! Leorio! Look!" Gon shrugged off Leorio and raced back to Killua's side walking right through Killua's spirit in the process. "Do you see it?"
"There!" Gon pointed at a spot on Killua's neck. "Killua has a pulse!"
"He does?" Leorio asked.
Gon and Leorio quickly placed their heads against Killua's chest.
Curious, Killua moved to his body and placed his head on the spot where Gon's head was a moment ago.
"I can hear his heartbeat!" Gon exclaimed, smiling happily.
"Oi! I can hear my heartbeat!" Killua said, grinning, "I told you I'm not dead!"
"If you would just let me finish..."
"They're both alive!" Leorio yelled. "I'd go get the doctor!"
"Tell us how to get back to our bodies," Kurapika said.
"WILL YOU LET ME FINISH FOR ONCE?" Botan demanded, irked.
Killua and Kurapika both jumped away from her in fright.
Botan took a deep breath, "You can't go back to your bodies yet. I'm taking you to Koenma-sama, he wants to talk to you."
"Who?" Killua asked.
"Koenma? Any relation to Enma, King of the Reikai?" Kurapika questioned.
"Wait. Reikai? As in spirit world? Didn't we just prove a while ago that I'm alive? Why do I have to go there? We're wasting time! I want to go back to my body!" Killua said impatiently.
Botan gritted her teeth. "We have to go to Reikai. Koenma wants to talk to you. If we don't go there within the next 24 hours, both of you will die. For real."
Killua and Kurapika looked at each other. Both of them turned to look at Gon who was now standing beside Kurapika's bed, then at Leorio, entering the room with the doctors behind him. Their friends's eyes are filled with concern yet both are obviously happier than they were minutes ago.
"Take us to Reikai."
"I'm taking you to Koenma-sama's office. Remember to be respectful. At a time like this he is very bad mood. And the Book of the Dead got stolen making him even more irritable than usual."
Kurapika and Killua nodded, both wondering what Koenma looks like. Killua is imagining a huge monsterous looking creature. While Kurapika is imaging an old and strict-looking royalty.
Neither of them was right, of course.
"Koenma-sama! I've brought Killua and Kurapika, as requested," Botan announced when the entered the door.
"Hello, there! I was wondering when you'd show up!"
Killua and Kurapika looked around the room, searching for the source of the voice.
"Hey! Down here!"
Both looked down and sweatdropped. A baby?! Unable to control himself, Killua's body began shaking with laughter.
"I told you to behave yourself!" Botan slapped the back of Killua's head.
"Miss, don't joke about things like this! Surely, you don't think we'll believe you that this baby is the king of Reikai!" Killua exclaimed.
"Technically, I'm the *prince*. And I happen to be more than 50 times older than you!"
"Koenma-sama!" a blue oni entered the room carrying a stack of papers taller than him. "Another stack for you to look at."
"Not another one!" Koenma groaned. "And we still don't have the Book! How am I going to verify that those deaths are correct?" Koenma sighed and climbed back up his chair, "If we don't find that book before Tousama returns, Ningenkai will suffer the most terrible fate..."
"Don't worry, Koenma-sama," Botan said, trying to cheer up her boss, "I'm sure the reikai tanteis will be able to find it!"
"That's the problem, remember? We don't have any official tanteis yet. I can't call on Yusuke's group with a problem like this. Tousama doesn't like them and if he finds out I asked for their help to recover the book I'll be in even bigger trouble. That's why they're here, remember?" Koenma pointed at Killua and Kurapika.
"Why are we here?" Kurapika asked.
Koenma began shuffling papers on his desk. "Killua Zoldyck," he read, "third son in an assassin family. Twelve years old." Koenma looked up from the paper, "Judging on how many people you've killed you'll be in trouble for a long time. A very long time."
"Hey! That was just business! Nothing personal! Besides, I've quit assassination."
"Uh-huh. Kurapika. Remaining survivor of Kurata clan," Koenma looked at Kurapika, "Only one died at your hands. You'll be in trouble too but certainly not as long as your friend."
"What do you want?" Kurapika asked, doing his best to keep his tone polite.
"I will pardon all your crimes and give you your lives back but in one condition: you will, from now on and until I terminate your services, work for me as Reikai tanteis."
"Detectives?" Killua echoed, "That doesn't sound so bad. It could even be fun! Count me in! What do we do?"
"Your first mission, which you couldn't refuse unless you want to forfeit your life, is to recover the Book of the Dead," Koenma pointed the remote on the screen behind Killua and Kurapika. "The book was stolen by them."
The screen shows the Genei Ryodan.
Sweat broke out of Killua's face. Kurapika's eyes glowed red.
Can I do this? Killua asked himself, I have to! If I don't I die! Besides, I just have to get the book back. If I do this correctly, I won't even have to face them...
Kurapika have already made up his mind, "Count me in."
"Good!" Koenma smiled, "There is another thing. Tell your friend Gon that if he works for me, I will help him find his father."
"You will?" Killua grinned. "Sure, I'll tell him!"
"That's settled then! Botan, please take them back. Stay in the hospital and recuperate, at least for a couple of days. Some friends of mine will visit you. They were former reikai tanteis, they'll help you out, unofficially."
Good. Because against that lot, we're going to need all the help we could get. Killua thought to himself as he followed Kurapika and Botan out of the room.
To be continued...
Author's Note: My first Hunter X Hunter fic ^__^ Please review and don't be too harsh on me, onegai? :)