Naomi stumbles out of bed the next morning, woken up by the sound of the intercom. The ache in her back has subsided, but still, she indulges in the milk bath Shuri's prepared for her. Rinsing off in the shower, she shrugs on the brown cargo pants, cream top, and combat boots with a raised brow. It's a little different from Shuri's usual style of pastels and slim fits.
'Maybe she got my hint yesterday?' She was planning on breaching the subject of Nen with her teacher today, so the change in outfit might be the maid's way of supporting her?
"Do you regularly need oversized clothes to learn Nen?"
Naomi palms the slightly baggy trousers in appreciation, in love with how it hardly clings to her skin. It's not the same freedom she gets with just being naked but, it's the closest she might get to the same feeling while fully clothed.
Ruffling through her closet for the pouch she hid on the first day of boarding this ship, she finds it and quickly takes out the weapons within. The bladed brass knuckles glimmer under the fluorescent lights and the Senbon needles are dark with poison.
She frowns, confused. "...Did I prepare them back at home?" She doesn't remember ever sharpening the two recently.
A loud ding interrupts her thoughts. "Last call for all examinees. Failure to gather will result in forfeiting the exam."
She jolts, curious as to what the third phase site looks like. Carefully tucking the blades out of sight, she tosses the pouch back into her closet and makes her way out of her room. The hallway is deserted and bright with the light from the window.
Outside, the examinees have gathered on what looks like an empty lot. She doesn't recognize the place but regardless, she wishes them good luck and is about to head to the lounge when she is bumped into.
Automatically, she moves to apologize but halts, recognizing the head of spiky black hair.
"Ah! It's Naomi-chan!" Gon exclaims and she blanches. Thrice now she's run into this boy...and just what was up with the endearment term?
As interesting as it was working with him and his friend yesterday, they are far from friends. Even 'acquaintances' is pushing it- colleagues sounded more appropriate.
"Are you late too?" He continues and before she can process what he could possibly mean, he's already latched onto her wrist and is pulling her along. "We should hurry before we're disqualified!"
His grip is solid and surprisingly strong for his age and for someone like her with little body mass, his hold is almost bruising.
It takes her a moment and before she realizes what he must be thinking and quickly she jerks out of his hold. "Um, what?"
He pauses, looking just as confused as she is. "Why are you stopping?" he asks and she swears she might suffer from a brain hemorrhage.
"Gon, was it?" She begins. "I think you might be confused-"
"Ah, so this is where you were." A voice cuts in before she can continue and she blinks, surprised to see her old man. "I wondered if you were still asleep."
She tilts her head in question, not sure exactly who he is talking to but is spared having to figure it out when Gon answers.
"I barely made it." The boy laughs, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
"Well, you'd better hurry before the ship takes off." Netero hums walking ahead and quickly, they trail behind him. "I'll escort you to the exit."
Gon perks up almost immediately. "Really?! Thank you, Netero-san!"
Naomi raises a brow, not sure why he is bothering with this but decides not to question him while still in the presence of the other boy. Silently, she follows them to the exit, her gaze roaming the large crowd gathered in front.
The few days the examinees were on board were torture on her anxiety and she is not shy to admit that she is glad they are leaving. She much prefers observing them from a distance because at least then it limits the possibility of having to interact with them.
"Naomi-chan, aren't you coming?"
'Speaking of interacting…' Her brow twitches at the honorific and she turns to the bright-eyed boy, not sure how to break the news to him.
She can't exactly tell him that she's not a candidate, because then that would result in more questions - questions which could give away the fact that she's related to the Chairman.
But before she can even say anything, a kick sends her flying out the door, and she yelps when the floor catches her. She is frozen for minutes, her brain short-circuiting because, What. The. Actual. Fuck?
Did the old bastard actually kick her out of the airship?!
She can barely hear Gon's worried cries through the sound of the rage in her ears and she moves to get up just in time to see the flying vehicle begin to ascend. Green eyes are practically slits as she watches her great-grandfather wave from the ledge, the smug look on his face seared into her brain long after he's even gone.
The result of what he's done settles within her and the rage bleeds into terror. He's left her with the other examiners who are currently getting ready to start the next phase! She feels her throat clog up, the reality of her situation making her gasp for breath.
Her head snaps up at the sound of her name, meeting worried molten eyes and she waves him away. She needs space to think and plan the old bastard's murder. What possessed him to think that this was a good idea?!
Her gaze roams the entirety of the platform their on, panic welling at the sight of the examinees. The possibilities of things that could go wrong running through her head. There is nothing for miles, just the tower and despair grips her like a vice. Her choices are clear. Either she sits there and waits for her family to come back (a probability that was highly unlikely) or she can participate in the exam with the others, pass it, and hope that it takes her somewhere not so devoid of human life.
'I just need to go with it until the next phase.' She grimaces at the thought. 'But what if the next phase isn't in the city? Will I have to continue?'
Inside she is seething. She blinks down at her outfit and thinks back to the start of the morning, and how they were laid out for her. Her eyes widen as remembers something else, carefully searching her body for the places she's stored her weapons.
They too had been conveniently prepared for her use. And she suspected it but was too stupid to really look into it. 'I should have known!' She can't help but be irritated at herself for not catching the obvious hints.
"Naomi-chan!" The tap on her shoulder sends her whirling around, fingers raised and poised to strike. She stops short once she realizes it's only Gon and relaxes, quickly remembering her surroundings.
Already she is on edge and it only spells doom for the future. What if that made an appearance? She couldn't control it and her great grandfather knew this.
So why had he done this?
Gon frowns, big doe eyes concerned. "Are you okay?" He asks and she nods mutely, noticing the three other boys behind him, one of them more familiar than the others.
Gon, noticing this, beams. "Ah, this is Kurapika and Leorio! They're my friends too." He gestures at the Zoldyck. "You already know Killua."
The said boy deadpans, blue eyes dull and unimpressed. "It's you again."
Naomi sours at his tone, once again dismayed. On top of probably having to socialize with the hundred-something examinees, she also has to put up with his attitude?
She is going to have to stick with them, that much she knows. Going through the exam in a group is better than doing it solo. And as much as the silver-haired brat gets on her nerves, he and Gon are the only two she knows. Though….
Naomi stares at the blonde and bespectacled teens standing behind them.
...she suspects that might change soon.
Sure enough, the tallest of the four approaches her, a hand extended. "Naomi, was it? Well, any friend of Gon's is a friend of mine!"
She nods, as awkward as ever, reluctantly accepting the handshake and dips into a small bow in respect. "Nice to meet you, Leorio-san." He is clearly the oldest and though she is a little discombobulated, she still remembers her manners.
He breaks into a wide grin, happy for whatever reason but she doesn't bother to question it. There is no time for formalities. As much as she hates it, she has an exam to pass and she needs to do it quickly before anything else can happen.
Dark memories race through her mind. Being around large groups like this has never gone well for her before.
Emerald eyes scan the area as the boys shuffle to the edge of the tower. The goal of this phase was to get to the bottom, and if the proctor was anything like Menchi then their method would be complicated.
That means climbing down isn't an option which only left….secret entrances? Her gaze lands on three figures huddled together and they narrow when she notices them tapping at the floor. Her breath hitches when they suddenly fall through and her eyes widen.
Pink lips quirk up into a smug grin. Trap doors.
Her smile immediately drops when she hears a garbled scream and she rushes over to the edge, just in time to see a man be swallowed up by baby-faced, winged beasts.
"I-I don't think we'll be able to get down by climbing the wall." Leorio remarks and she agrees with him, mildly disturbed.
It's been a while since she's seen such a gruesome death up close.
She takes in a steadying breath, pushing the thought of those skin-crawling monsters from her brain. This is the hunter exam, and things are only going to get worse from here so it was best she prepared herself.
"Um, Naomi-chan. Killua and I are going to look around for another way to get down the tower." Gon says when the ghoulish boy interjects, a scowl on his face.
"Why are you telling her that?!" She watches as he flicks the other boy on the forehead. "Don't tell me you were thinking of bringing her with us."
The blonde sighs. "Killua, don't be so rude."
"No way! Don't tell me you guys agree with him?"
Leorio crosses his arms, briefcase on the floor beside him. "It is a little weird. But Gon seems to like her so I don't see why not."
"And you know how Gon is." Kurapika whispers and together, the three turn to stare at the now pouting, spiky-haired angel.
Naomi too observes the boy for a moment. To her, he resembles a puppy….one that's latched onto her, infuriatingly enough. Even on the airship, she ran into him more times than she would've liked.
"I don't like it," Killua growls, sharp blue eyes narrowed hatefully at her and her cool emerald ones regard him with a purposeful indifference, knowing fully well it would only make him angrier.
"Naomi-chan is nice though." Gon argues and Killua sneers.
"All girls are annoying. Trust me." He says and she raises a brow, irritation fading for a moment as she blinks at him.
"Do you have mommy issues?" The words leave her lips abruptly in her curiosity, but she thinks she might have done something wrong once she notices the way the older teens blanch. Gon stares at her awkwardly.
Killua, by now, resembles a fully ripe tomato.
Suddenly, Leorio bursts into hysterical laughter as Kurapika massages his temples and she thinks she hears him mumble something like 'more trouble' but she isn't sure.
"You're definitely welcome on this team, kid!" Leorio snorts, slapping her back rather harshly and she winces.
"That's enough. We need to look for a way down, remember?" Kurapika sighs and Naomi tilts her head, appreciative. He is the responsible one out of the group...she files the information away for later.
She needs to learn more about them if things are to go smoothly during the exam. Communication may not be her strong point but Chiha did mention that she was observant. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses can come in handy, especially if they have to fight each other at some point.
She doesn't put it past some crazy examiner have something like that planned. She might have never taken the exam before but she knows more about it than anyone thanks to her research.
That, and because she is the Chairman's great-granddaughter. Naomi thinks back to how he'd kicked her out of the airship and clenches her jaw. Being related to him was becoming more of a burden than a perk.
"See what I mean?! She's not even listening to us!" She snaps out of her thoughts at the exclamation, surprised to see Killua before her and angry as usual. "Hey, what are you? Deaf?"
Her annoyance bleeds out of her, patience fully gone, and she comes to stand toe to toe with him. "What's your problem?"
This only seems to incense him more. "You're my problem! We've been calling your name for the last five minutes!"
This sobers her and she deflates a little. This is why she doesn't like socializing with others. She never seems to be good at it.
Gon steps forward, gaze sympathetic. "We were going to split into groups to search for an entrance."
"The number of applicants seems to have diminished so we were thinking there had to be some around," Kurapika explains, voice soft and she looks at them, hating the pity in their eyes.
She needs to get her shit together. This is not how she wants them to view her, especially if she wants to pass the exam. No more spacing out.
Being friends with others meant paying attention to them. She could do that.
"I told you she'd be annoying." Killua huffs. "I bet she just wants to sit back while we do all the work. Why's a girl like you even taking the exam?"
Leorio frowns. "That's enough, Killu-."
"There are trap doors." Naomi doesn't flinch when they turn their attention back to her, tilting her head to nod towards the floor. "That's how the others are getting down."
She zones out, wandering about. "There seem to be multiple and singular ones as well, it varies according to the area. Meaning there is a probability of springing a trap or one that leads to something else. I'm guessing a room."
She stops when she notices an area with several deep grooves and slowly extends her foot to push at one, lips quirking up when it sinks in. She turns back to them, her gaze meeting brown, grey, gold, and blue eyes individually. "Found one."
She furrows her brows when they all stare at her for minutes, unsure of why they aren't hurrying to get on with the phase. She watches as Leorio turns to say something, and her confusion only grows when she sees Kurapika and Gon smile.
Killua still looks cross, but his scowl is considerably less hostile than it'd been minutes ago.
End of Chapter 6 [Not Edited]
Leorio and his respect kink, lol. Haven't updated in a while because of school, but got some free time so I might get a few chapters out. I chuckled when I wrote the mommy issue line. Naomi is so impulsive but...she's not wrong, even if she doesn't really know it yet. Hope the gang isn't out of character. If they are don't be shy, yell at me.
I have a lot of pictures of how Naomi looks but I'm not sure how to get that to you guys. If you have any suggestions tell me. Maybe I should dust off my Quotev account and post this story on there. That site lets people post pictures per chapter so, it could be useful.
Staying true to the present tense thing is fun but hard. I might make mistakes but hey, none of these chapters are edited so...fair warning. I'll eventually get to cleaning up, but for now, forgive my grammatical errors.
Hope you liked this chapter!
Review if you didn't.