She was playing with the colored blocks, tumbling them across the mat. Whenever one displayed the color red, she squealed with delight and clapped her hands. She didn't mind if she was alone. She didn't mind if it was cold and empty. She didn't mind that other than the mat and the colored blocks, it was completely white.
She didn't mind it at all.
Steps from behind alerted her to another's presence. "Are you having fun?" he asked, voice warm and gentle.
"Yeah!" She continued messing with the blocks. Red, green, orange, purple, pink, white, yellow, black, and a strange black-red.
"What's this color called?" she asked, looking up. Nobody was there. She frowned and rose to her feet.
As she walked, she could feel herself growing, lengthening with every step.
"Are you there?"
She could feel her heart pound in her chest, faster and faster.
She was running now, the gap between her strides like large caverns.
"Hey! Answer me!"
There was a figure, a male, far off in the distance. His hair flickered from black to blond, blond to black, and back again. Even his clothes, switching from red and blue over and over. She squinted and tried to make out more features, but they remained stubbornly hazy.
"Hey! I'm right here!" She gulped in more breath. "I'm right-"
The figure turned and thrust out his hand. Behind him, a giant black snake reared up and hissed.
Her eyes dilated and she lunged, desperately clawing towards his hand. "BROTHER-!"
She bolted awake, hand still outstretched from failing to save her brother from the jaws of the snake.
o o o
"This is the last stop before we go on to the Hunter Exam!" Momo cheered, rocking in her hammock nonstop. "I'm so excited, I can hardly wait! Isn't that right, brother?"
Kurapika sighed and peeked over the top of his book. "Momo. I am trying to read." He raised an eyebrow. "Besides, you said that at every other stop before this one. I think I know that you're excited already."
Momo chuckled and scratched her cheek. "Sorry, I'm just… really excited, you know?"
Kurapika rolled his eyes. "I can tell."
"Ah, come on! Lighten up a little." She nudged him and swung to her feet. "Well, I'll be going out to the deck! Just holler if you need me, alright?"
The blond nodded absentmindedly, eyes and attention already back to the book. Momo walked out the door and padded up the steps.
"That's what the seagulls are saying."
She blinked and stared at the one who said that, a young boy clad in green. What he said… I almost thought he was talking about-
He suddenly flipped up, bounced off the deck, and bounded into the outpost. Momo could only gape at him. Whoa! Those acrobatics were so cool!
"It's a huge storm that's coming! I can tell by the smell!"
Momo felt as though she had swallowed an icy stone and it was now sitting in her stomach. Sure, she still felt impressed by the boy's strange skills… but…
Regular storms are fine, but if it's really a huge storm…
"Oi! Girly!" She blinked and found the captain of the ship looking at her. "You might want to go below deck; there's a storm coming!"
She put on a practiced false smile and nodded. "Right! Thank you for the warning!" she called, before scurrying back below deck.
o o o
"A huge storm?"
"That's what this boy said," she affirmed. "He said that's what the seagulls are saying and what he smells."
Kurapika blinked and shifted slightly- a sure sign that he was surprised. "...Peculiar." He then frowned at her. "Momo, are you sure you'll be okay?"
She smiled hesitantly. "I'll manage. I have to."
"We can always come back next-"
"No," she cut in. "You've waited long enough. We both have. But just because we're taking this test together, doesn't mean that I want to drag you down because of my own problems."
Kurapika sighed and patted her head. "Fine. If you insist. Just don't hurt yourself, alright?"
"Kay, brother!" she chirped, channeling far more confidence into her voice than she actually felt.
That was when the boat lurched to the side.
Momo squeaked as she was flung away. Kurapika grabbed her wrist and latched onto the hammock, which swung dangerously. Most of the other men shouted, tumbled down the floor, and piled up at the wall on the other side.
"Hold tight," Kurapika ordered, pulling her closer and wrapping his arm around her. She could only nod and grip onto his shirt, her stomach starting to tighten the slightest bit.
The boat jerked violently to the other side, and she hung onto her brother, the 'floor' supporting her shifting back and forth.
Kurapika eyed the still swaying fabric. "Do you think we should move to the floor?"
She laughed weakly. "Then we'd be sliding all over the place."
"We can always hang onto the posts."
"And risk damaging the ship? No thank you."
Kurapika groaned and ruffled her hair. "Stubborn girl." He took note of the creaking floorboards. "Still, looks as though the worst has passed."
Momo nodded and pried herself away. Her legs felt a bit like jelly, her palms were sweaty, and her stomach wasn't in the greatest shape, but otherwise she felt fine. "I think I'll be okay for now."
"Oi!" The captain stepped into the room. "Boy, blond, and suit, come with me." He paused and nodded at her. "Girly, you can come as well, if you can."
She narrowed her eyes and scrunched up her face. If I can?! She immediately moved to get up.
Kurapika got up and frowned. "You shouldn't push yourself-"
"Shut up," she hissed. "This is my pride we're talking about! And a woman's pride will not be insulted!" She carefully placed her feet on the floor and stood, only for them to shake and for her to stumble.
"Careful." Kurapika caught her and steadied her. "We don't want you to fall and get yourself hurt again."
"Are you okay? Do you need help?" It was the boy in green again, looking worriedly at her.
She waved him off. "I'll be fine, both of you." She straightened and walked forward, a guiding hand against the wall. Kurapika fell into step with her, ready to help at a moment's notice.
They reached the steering hull without much trouble. The captain was already waiting for them, along with a tall suited man.
"You're finally here," the captain stated. "Took you long enough."
Momo couldn't help but bristle at his tone. It's not my fault I have a weak stomach!
He turned his attention away to focus on the group as a whole. "First, tell me your names."
"I'm Gon!" the boy chirped. Momo smiled at the cheer in his voice. He's so young…
"My name is Kurapika."
"Leorio's my name."
Momo shook away her thoughts and her resentment at the captain and smiled. "And I'm Momo!"
"Why do you want to become Hunters?"
"Hey!" Leorio protested. "If you're not an examiner, you can't boss us around!"
"Just answer the question!" the captain growled.
"My dad's a Hunter," Gon offered. "I left Whale Island to know why my dad desired so much to be a Hunter!"
"Hey, kid!" Leorio called. "You aren't supposed to answer his question!"
Gon tilted his head. "Why can't I tell him why I'm here?"
"Gon can do what he wants to do!" Momo added.
Leorio's attention snapped to her. "And what's a lovely lady like you doing here?" he asked, eyes drifting down to her chest.
Momo narrowed her eyes at him even as she inched back. Creepy pervert…!
"Stop eyeing my sister like that."
"Yeah! I'll punch you," she threatened.
"Will you three please answer the question?" the captain all but snapped.
Momo chuckled nervously. "S-sorry!"
"I don't wish to reveal why I'm here," Leorio answered.
Kurapika dipped his head. "I agree with Leorio."
And of course Leorio took offense to that. "Hey! Aren't you younger than me! Show some respect!"
"It's quite simple to avoid pesky questions by offering a plausible lie."
"Are you even listening?!"
"However, it's quite shameful to rely upon deceit. That said, if I were to tell you the truth, I would be exposing my deepest secrets. That is why I cannot provide an answer."
"Don't ignore me!"
Momo sighed and ran her fingers through her bangs. "Brother…"
"It's always with the long-winded speeches!" she burst out. "And you could at least try to be less cold, you know? Even if that man is a creepy old pervert, ("Hey!") you could at least acknowledge him!"
The captain tapped his smoke pipe. "So is your answer the same as your brother's?"
"Um… well, not exactly…"
Kurapika raised an eyebrow. She could almost hear what he was thinking. So are you finally going to tell me the real reason why you're taking the exam?
Momo sneaked a look at him. I can't tell him the truth… I can't tell anyone here the truth… They'll all think I'm crazy! Especially when the truth is so crazy it's unheard of! He'll probably take the truth harder than anyone!
"I'm taking the exam to help my brother, sure, but I'm also taking it because there are some people I have to find," she answered. "Having a Hunter's license will mean that it'll be easier to find them, what with the increased access it grants you. Is… is that alright?"
"That's fine." He turned to Kurapika and Leorio. "As for you two… you're saying that you are refusing to answer the question." He turned to one of the sailors. "Katsuo! Tell the examination board that we have two more dropouts."
Kurapika's eyes widened while Momo gripped his hand. "What do you mean?"
"You still haven't figured it out? The Hunter Examination has already begun."
The boat jerked, and Momo staggered. Kurapika ripped his gaze away from the captain and steadied her.
"There are as many Hunter wannabes as there are stars in the sky," the captain continued. "The examiners don't have the time nor resources to review them all. So they hire people like us to trim the fat. I've already notified the board that everyone else on this had to withdraw."
Momo felt a chill run down her spine. I could've easily failed before I even began…
"If they can't handle a little storm like this, they'd stand no chance against the Hunter Exam's later stages. In other words, you don't progress to the main exam unless I pass you." He raised an eyebrow at Momo. "I've got half a mind to fail you, considering that you're struggling to stand."
"It's not my fault I was born with a weak stomach," she growled.
The captain twirled his pipe. "Now then, think carefully before you answer my question."
Momo squeezed Kurapika's hand. She knew just how much the death of their clan had affected him, and she knew that revealing any part of his history was difficult, especially to a couple of strangers.
"It's alright," she whispered. "I'm right here."
Kurapika took a deep breath. "I am one of the last survivors of the Kurta clan. Four years ago, my clan was annihilated by a band of criminals. I wish to become a Hunter and hunt down that band, the Phantom Troupe."
"So you want to become a bounty hunter? The Phantom Troupe are a class A bounty. Not even the most grizzled Hunters can touch them. You'd be throwing away your life."
Momo bit her lip and averted her eyes. I don't want him to die. I don't want him to die. But I know…
"I do not fear death. Rather, I fear that my rage will subside over time, and I will forget the memory of my clan."
...I can't change his mind. Not as I am right now.
"So in other words, you want revenge." It was the smirk on Leorio's face that made her frown. "Do you really need to become a Hunter for that?"
"That may be the stupidest question I've ever heard, Leorio."
A vein throbbed in his head. "That's Leorio-san to you!"
"Please don't antagonize him…" Momo sighed.
"Places accessible only to Hunters… information otherwise unobtainable… Actions otherwise impossible… There are more reasons than your brain can possibly handle."
"I just told you not to antagonize him!" she hissed. He ignored her, like all the other times.
"Hey, Leorio!" Gon cut in. "Why do you want to be a Hunter?"
Leorio shrugged, an almost helpless smirk on his face. "I'll keep it simple… I want money."
Momo was torn between rolling her eyes and glowering.
"Money can get you everything! A big house, a nice car, good liquor!"
"You can't buy class with money, Leorio."
The man ground his teeth and glared. "That's three times now. Step outside. I'll end the filthy Kurta bloodline here and now."
Momo's eyes dilated and her eyes blazed red. "You. Did. Not." Staring into the cold eyes of the snake, its mouth twisted into a feral grin…
She blinked and found everyone staring at her, even her own brother. She gulped and quickly shut off her eye power, eyes returning back to their normal color. "Um…"
Kurapika shook his head and glared at Leorio. "Take that back!"
He turned on his heel and walked out the door. "That's Leorio-san to you."
Kurapika stormed after him. Momo made to follow, only for the ship to shudder and for her to fall flat on her face. "Owwww."
"Are you okay?" Gon asked as he helped her up. Momo nodded and leaned against the wall.
"Yeah. I'm going to be feeling that tomorrow…"
"Boys! I'm not done yet!" the captain roared. Momo inched toward the door, only to be interrupted by Gon.
"Just let them go."
"Mito-san once told me, "If you want to get to know someone, you need to make an effort to learn why they're angry." It's important for them to understand why they're mad, so we should let them settle it themselves."
Momo could only stare at him, surprised. I thought he was a carefree, innocent boy, albeit a little naive… I wonder… She felt as though her life had been shifted into a new perspective. If any of the others had heard this, would things have been different?
"Captain!" The one steering the ship pointed forward. "L-look…"
Momo felt the floor bounce under her feet, causing her to fall once again and scrape her knees. She winced and gripped her stomach, now winding into tight knots. When she looked out the window, she spotted a ginormous pillar of water twisting into the graphite sky.
"If we get caught by that waterspout, the ship will sink!"
"Lower the sails now!" the captain commanded.
"Alright, come with me!" Gon and the sailor dashed out. Momo grimaced and pushed herself to her feet.
The captain pushed the other sailor away. "I'll take the helm."
"Aye!" He nodded and ran out.
The captain turned back. "What are you going to do?"
Momo gritted her teeth and inched along the wall. "I'm going to help, duh! My brother's still out there!"
The captain's eyes narrowed. "Try not to get killed or become a hindrance. Full to starboard!"
Momo smirked and hobbled as best she could out to the deck. Once there, she clenched onto a nearby post, braced herself against the wind and surveyed the area.
It was an absolute nightmare. Water was sloshing all over the place, the seas were churning, and rain was blasting into her face. A row of sailors were wrestling with the ropes, hauling them back as best they could. Among them was Gon, showing absolutely no sign of faltering. On the other side was Kurapika and Leorio, facing off with a good distance between them. As she watched, they drew their weapons, Leorio a knife and Kurapika his wooden sword-nunchucks.
The ship lurched back and the wind howled even stronger. A sailor shrieked as the rope whipped him into the air and yanked him across the boat. The rope swung high into the air and swept across the deck. The sailor was grabbing onto it for dear life, but he was slipping back with every sudden turn.
Momo didn't think, didn't even comprehend what she was doing. She forgot the howling storm around her, the pouring rain, the knots in her stomach… all of it. As soon as the rope rushed towards her, she grabbed onto it, grabbed onto the slipping sailor, and hung on.
Reality slammed back into her. She screamed as she was flung up, up, up, the rope threatening to slip under her grasp. Her stomach was having an absolute field day, twisting up and down in a way she hadn't felt before.
"What are you doing?!" the sailor yelled, dangling from her hand.
She managed a queasy smile that seemed all too weak (or all too sharp? She couldn't really tell; her emotions were all out of whack). "Two hands are better than one!"
"I'm pretty sure it was two heads are better than one!"
"Oh, shut up! I'm trying to save your life!" She looked down and flinched. Oh my god, I think I'm going to be sick.
She could see everything from where she was, the sailors running desperately to catch them, Gon jumping all over the deck, her brother and Leorio locked into battle. The seas churned under the boat, rocking it up and down.
The wind blasted into her, sending the rope shooting down. She braced herself for the impact on the ground, only for the wind to catch them and send them flying up again.
"Come on!" she gasped at the sailor. "If we both grab onto the rope, we won't fall off!"
The sailor nodded and jerked his free hand around the rope. She then zeroed in on the two fighting figures.
"BROTHER!" she screamed. "BROTHER!"
"He can't hear you!" the sailor shouted. "We're moving around too much for anyone to do anything!"
"I don't see you offering a way to get us down safely!" she retorted. If it's Brother, he'll think of something… if he weren't so fucking oblivious to what's happening right now!
She gritted her teeth. She didn't want to do this, didn't want to reveal it in front of so many people, but she knew she didn't have a choice. The only way to get everyone to see her was to…!
Everyone's gazes snapped toward her, some halting what they were doing just to stare. Kurapika had ceased fighting, his own red eyes wide with terror. She met his eyes, and they narrowed into something akin to determination.
Jump, and I will catch you.
Momo gave a slight nod and glanced back at the sailor. "When I give the word, let go of the rope!"
"Just trust me on this!"
And I'm trusting you, Brother, she thought as she squeezed her eyes shut. She could feel everyone's attention on her, wildly following her trajectory. But her brother's was hyper focused, directed in a single line towards her. As soon as she entered that line…
The two let go. Momo snapped her eyes open and watched, watched as Gon dove towards her, as Kurapika and Leorio lunged forth…
They slammed against the side of the boat. Momo gasped as the breath was driven out of her. Thankfully, she was still holding onto the sailor, who was holding onto Gon, who was being held by Kurapika and Leorio. The waves splashed over her, soaking her and causing the both the boat and the chain of humans to sway uneasily.
"We need to pull them out!"
The echo of sailors drifted into her ears. Now that most of the danger had passed, Momo grimaced, angled her head, and threw up into the ocean.
o o o
"Hoooooly shiiit," Momo gasped, lying against the wall. Kurapika shot a narrowed gaze at her, but didn't reprimand her.
"Just be glad that the storm's finally over," he sighed instead. He then glared at her. "But what were you thinking?! Grabbing onto the rope like that?!"
"...He was falling," she protested.
"Still! That doesn't mean you had to strain yourself so much!" He sighed again and ran a hand through his bangs. "Or did you forget that you were practically incapacitated for the rest of the storm?"
Momo winced and looked away. Her stomach had done so many flips and turns that she really couldn't take it any longer. "...At least I didn't fall into the ocean?"
Kurapika groaned. "You're hopeless."
"Gon!" It was the sailor again, running up to them with a relieved look on his face. "Thank you, Gon. You saved my life!" He then turned to Momo. "Thank you too. If it weren't for you, I would've fallen a lot sooner."
"We couldn't have done it alone!" Gon chirped, Momo adding a tired nod. "These two helped save you!"
The sailor turned to Kurapika and Leorio and bowed. "Thank you very much!"
Kurapika blinked at him before turning away. "...You don't have to thank me."
Leorio grinned sheepishly. "Well… I'm glad you're okay!"
"Right! Well, I'll be returning to my station now."
"Ah, wait!" Momo called. "I never got your name."
The sailor blinked and smiled. "Ah- right! My name is Katsuo!"
Momo gave him a grin and raised her hand. "Here's to surviving a life threatening experience!"
Katsuo only stared at the hand blankly.
Momo rolled her eyes. "It's called a high-five?"
"Oh!" He laughed nervously and they slapped their palms together.
"Don't let me keep you any longer, you should get to your station," Momo smiled. Katsuo nodded and scurried away.
"...I apologize for my rude behavior." She looked up to find Kurapika glancing at Leorio. "Sorry, Leorio-san."
"W-what's with the sudden change?" he stuttered. He tried to wave it off with his hand. "We sound like strangers… just call me Leorio. Leorio works." He paused and smiled gently at Kurapika. "I'm also sorry. I take back everything I said. That was both uncalled for and disrespectful." He looked at Momo. "I'm sorry to you to. I ended up insulting you in my anger… I hope you can forgive me."
Momo could only beam at him. "No, no, just apologizing is enough. You have… no idea how much it means to me."
"Like Momo said, it's okay."
A bark of laughter sounded from the doorway. Momo jolted and nearly leapt to her feet, only to realize it was the captain laughing.
"You know what, I like you guys!" he grinned. "I'll take responsibility for bringing you four to the port closest to the exam site."
Kurapika glanced at him in surprise. "What about your test?"
"Like I said, it's my decision to make. And all four of you pass!"
Gon cheered, pumping his fist in the air. Momo couldn't help the smile that spread across her face. Looking at her brother, she could see him struggling to keep his smile as small as he possibly could.
The captain headed up the steps, paused, and turned to look back. "Oh yeah. Girly! Come with me. There's something I want to speak with you."
Momo frowned and stood. Kurapika shot a worried look at her. "What do you think-?"
"I'll be fine," she sighed exasperatedly. "He just said that all of us passed, right? So there's nothing to worry about."
"...If you say so…"
Momo rolled her eyes and nudged him. "Overprotective much?" She jogged away before she could hear his response. The captain led her down below deck, through the hallways, and into a separate room that resembled the steering hull, only without the steering wheel and windows. A world map was pinned to the wall, showing various ports and docking areas. Below it was a desk with a pencil cup and a piece of paper. Across that was a single bed, slightly messy and showing signs of wear.
"...Is this your cabin?"
"Right on the money. You've got some good observational skills."
She rubbed her head and smiled. "My brother would've been able to figure it out earlier." She frowned. "But why am I here?"
"Well, it involves your stunt during the storm."
Momo froze. "W-what about it…?" Is it something I shouldn't be able to do? Is it something he's going to call me out on?
The captain set down the bottle in his hands and met her eyes. "Tell me, have you ever heard of Nen?"
A/N: Whew! My first ever HxH story! This is really just something I wrote on a whim as an experiment. I'll only write when I get inspiration/ideas, so don't expect regular/periodic updates. The only reason why I uploaded this now is because I haven't done any activity on this site for a while...
For any of you reading any of my other stories, here's a few notes (cuz I don't want to use an entire chapter for A/Ns on each story respectively...):
Shattering Lenses: Still working on it, I promise! As of this note, I just got past the second scene involving Sayaka's battle. I still have the final scene of Nagisa's battle, two more scenes of Sayaka's battle, and the fragments of scenes wrapping up the other battles to write before chap 20's finished.
Crossing Fate: Taking a slight break on it due to lack of ideas and motivation (actually, I haven't looked at the document in a while...) I'm about a third or halfway through the chapter and still struggling on how to resolve Marry's conflict. I have a few ideas for the next chapters (which will be more slice of life-ish) but no actual scenes.
(Side note: If you like this story check out Crossing Fate! It's also Kagepro centric, though there's no Momo there yet)
Of Wishes and Wills: Maaaaaan I haven't looked at that in forever. Assume it's on hiatus because I have absolutely no ideas. Just a few wisps of an idea, but that's about it
Other projects: The big reason why I haven't done much on any of my stories on FF is because I've been working on other projects/ideas/stories! Yeah, not a very good excuse I know. I just have WAAAY too many story ideas owo If you want more details, go to my profile!
Rate and review, etc. etc. etc. Tell me what you think!