Counting Stars (Shalnark's POV)

A Hunter X Hunter fanfic by Cielo-chan 2002

She's wonderful.

Even now, three years with us, as I look at her and chance upon those big, gazing eyes of hers, I still can't believe she has beaten the former 8th Ryodan member

But she did.

Sitting on one of the crates in our damp, dusty, crammy hideout (actually, it's one of the most decent ones we can get our hands on without being too showy), she looks really out of place.

I like that clueless expression she wears. It really makes me smile! Well, no one suspects anything about me smiling at her, because I smile a lot.

I know I've heard the expression: "Smile: nobody will know what you're up to!". I guess they're right.

She's a lousy card player... I'm worse.

Franklin looks like he's explaining other things that she might have forgotten again. She blushes and seems to deny something, and Franklin laughs.

Then she has that clueless face again, and she gets up to go outside.

I haven't told anyone about this except Ubogin. He laughed so loud that time that everyone else thought that he was yelling again and there were enemies nearby.

Sheesh! I'm old enough to know that I like Shizuku a little more than a comrade, a little more than a friend, and a little more than a sibling. Sure, technically speaking, those are forms of love. Ubogin told me that I should tell her, at least to liven up the monotone way of life we're leading.

"And we'll have a nice couple to joke around with! We'll say, 'Shalnark and Shizuku are sittin' in a bush. All I hear is mush-mush-mush -'"

Thank heavens no one was there to actually hear THAT! Ugh! The queasiness I'd have to live through!

"Plus, you'd be perfect for each other! You'd be, what you call, 'complimentary'? Your names starts with 'Sh'; then we'll have junior geneiryodan and I'll be one of the godfathers!"

At that time, I could swear that my face was so red, you'd think I'm sunburned, but I constantly miss his jokes.

Too bad he won't be here to tease me once I tell Shizuku about this.

I get up. "Where are you going Shalnark?" Kuroro asks me, looking up from his book. "Outside. I won't be long." He nods and resumes his 'reading'.

Shizuku was there, sitting on a chunk of concrete, swinging her legs over the edge. She was polishing her glasses and looking through the lenses with the light of the waning moon. She was humming to herself, a tune I'm not familiar with.

She wears her glasses again, and looks up the sky, still humming, swaying her head from side to side, and swinging her legs in time with the nondescript music.

Then she stopped, sighed, and smiled. She started counting the stars, pointing her finger upwards and nodding as she murmured the numbers along with that same tune.

I could stay like this forever.

A sudden noise interrupted her star-gazing session, as my phone let out the alarm that indicated that it was low on battery. I inwardly swore at the oh- so-convenient timing.

She snapped her attention to me, but she looked calm, that same naïve look on her face, "I was hoping you would come join me since you stepped out. I got bored so I started counting the stars."

A grinned, embarrassed and scratched the back of my head, "Ha-ha! Well, how many have you counted so far?" I approached her and hopped onto the space beside her. She moved a little, then counted on her fingers, "I was around above thirty until your cell phone made noise. I lost count after that."

The soft fabric of her sleeves was touching my bare arm. Her hands were on her lap, thumbs twiddling as she looked at them.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you."

"No, you couldn't have guessed I wanted company, so it's ok."

Gosh, I was desperate to make some conversation to cushion the little confession I was going to make. But then, she might forget it, so I guess it won't matter much.



She looked up at me, yet her eyes showed knowledge and an urge to learn. I swallowed. "Um, if I told you something now, would you remember it tomorrow?"

"I don't know. I guess I would. But once Franklin tells me, that means I forgot it. What is it, anyway?"

I never knew saying your feelings is so hard to do until now. In fact, ever since I talked with Ubogin, it seemed so easy, and I even had it all planned out, whether she remembered or not. Now, all those plans seems to be so vague.

Shizuku's not stupid. I should know that! She's maybe five years younger than I am, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know things in life as much as I do. Despite that inexperienced guise she is aware of the birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees just like you and me.

Now I don't know what matters: that she would forget, or that she would remember?

If Ubogin was here, he would have told everything for me. But then , Shizuku might take it as a joke, and forget it along with other discarded memories.

Oh, what the heck!

"Well, Shizuku, I wanted to say that I like you more than a comrade, more than friend, and more than a sister."


She didn't sound as if she was thinking, but more as if she was comforted. We looked away from each other and a certain lapse of time that seemed like forever amplified the silence around us. I even thought I heard the sound of a card pyramid falling again. I was about to start counting the stars until I felt her hand on my cheek and she neared herself to kiss me.

Well, not exactly a kiss, but more like a brushing of lips, a very shy kiss, then she leaned on my shoulder, closing her eyes.

"I'm glad to hear that." She whispered

Those few words that she said, the simple yet special gesture, her down-to- earth self is what makes her so wonderful.

"How many stars did you count?" she asked.

"Only one, Shizuku. Just one."



Hisoka: Aren't they sweet, Machi?

Pakunoda: Ok, I knew it! I know something like this is bound to happen! Ugh! The youth today, really!

Machi: Pakunoda, we are ALL part of one generation.

Phinx: What? Are we gonna start a babysitting business now?

Ryodan: [Stares at Phinx with a "Do-I-know-you?" look]

Phinx: But, Ubogin once said...

Kuroro: [Rolls his eyes and shakes his head] Will somebody kindly get me some espresso? I'm afraid I'm gonna start sleeping.

Hisoka: [Whips a dainty cup out of hammer-space and presents it to their leader]

Kuroro: Thank you... we'd better watch out for those two or we WILL start a babysitting business.

Phinx: See? Even our leader says so!

Ryodan (except Hisoka): [Exasperated looks, and walks away from Phinx]

Hisoka: What? I still think they're sweet, don't you think so... er... Kuroro?

Kuroro: [Vein pop] Whatever.