A/N: Oneshot Kurapika drabble, RE: revenge, selfishness, and Neon Nostrade. And just as a quick note--this is NOT a pairing fic; it’s rather the opposite, really…or more what Kurapika’s thoughts are actually likely to be regarding Neon. Which means zero fluff here.
[HxH: Kurapika. ‘Skin Deep’]
In all honesty, there isn’t a day that goes by that Kurapika doesn’t wish he’d never taken this job. Or actually, to be more accurate, he wishes he’d never had to take this job--that his clan hadn’t been murdered, that he hadn’t been the only survivor, that the criminals responsible hadn’t been the most infamous band of killers and thieves in the world. But while he might wish it was unnecessary, he doesn’t regret it in the least. It is a means to an end, and little as he enjoys rubbing elbows with the scum of the underworld, if he had it to do over again a hundred times, he’d choose the same path every single time.
He has a number of excellent reasons for doing what he did, which is simply how Kurapika operates at all times--logically, rationally, contemplatively. He took the job because it would help him forge the connections he’d need within that dark underbelly of the world. He took the job because he wanted to ingratiate himself with someone who had power in those circles. He took the job because it would take him several steps closer to one of his goals.
He took the job, but he had never lied to himself about it, about what he was doing and what it meant to work for those people, and never for even an instant had he thought any of it would be easy.
The presence of someone like Neon only makes an already-difficult job even more challenging. Not impossible, of course not, not for a member of the Kurta Clan. But still undeniably complicated, in part because he can’t quite decide what to think of her, though next to none of it is flattering, or anything he would ever dare breathe aloud to any of his coworkers (save perhaps Senritsu, who doubtless knows how he feels already, probably even better than he does himself).
In truth, part of him wants to hate her. Her family life might not be ideal, with a dead or otherwise absent mother, no known siblings, and a father who cares for her only so far as he can use her to cement his rise to power. But even so, she has family, someone alive who shares her blood. She has everything she could ever need, if not everything she could ever want. She has safety, security, and status, and she’s never really had to work a day in her life to get any of it. He’d had that once, however, so he can’t really begrudge her that; his own misfortune cannot be blamed on her, at least not her specifically.
What makes it harder, or rather easier to let himself feel that hatred, is her interests. Her treatment of human life as something unimportant, placing her wants above the very existence of others…that is something that she can be blamed for, at least somewhat.
But incontestably worst of all is the fact that she had wanted to buy the Scarlet Eyes for her macabre collection. Eyes that had once belonged to someone he’d known, someone he’d loved and lived with and cared about, she sees as nothing more than another bauble. To her, they are just another expensive present to demand of her father, carrying no more weight or import than the items on a servant’s daily shopping list. They are mere objects, just another thing to be coveted and crooned over and caressed, and then set aside to gather dust as soon as the newness has worn off. Never does she wonder where they came from or how they were obtained, or whether or not someone might have been hurt or killed to secure them. But then, she never wonders that about any of the many ghoulish items in her morbid collection.
Kurapika doesn’t know if that makes it better or worse.
What he does know is that whenever he thinks about it overlong, his own eyes match the ones his young mistress so desires. Whenever that happens, he has to ask for a moment alone, or else simply close his eyes to whatever sight triggered that deep emotional response. Sometimes Senritsu will lay a hand on his arm or tug at his sleeve, and he’ll relax at her touch, a reminder that someone else is nearby who knows, who can sense how he feels, and who commiserates with his pain. Sometimes she has to follow him outside and play her flute to fully calm him down; other times she knows better than to come after him, his heartbeat telling her that he wants to be alone. Because regardless of who he works for, ultimately Kurapika always wants to be his own master, the one who is the most in control of himself. He doesn’t want to rely on anyone else too much, not ever, not even his friends, because he doesn’t want them to have to risk too much for his sake. He’d used them before, back in York New City, like pawns in a chess-game, and he would have hated himself for it if they hadn’t been so willing--so insistent, rather.
Even so, he could have gotten them killed. His selfishness--for in reality, he knows that is what it means to have a goal in life, even one as worthy and justified as his own--could have cost him his friends. And if he had truly been as cold-blooded and ruthless as he’d set out intending to be, it would have. But he wouldn’t (couldn’t) let himself lose anyone else important to him; not willingly, and not for something as ultimately hollow as revenge. He would see the Spiders punished, but it would be on his own terms, and while he would make sacrifices to see it happen, there were some sacrifices he would never make, just as there were still certain moral lines that he would sooner die than cross. The lives of his friends were one such sacrifice, and carelessly adding Gon, Killua, and Leorio’s blood to what was already on his hands and his conscience was one such line.
He was driven, and he was selfish; but he wasn’t that selfish.
Maybe that’s why Neon’s behaviour rankles with him, though he doesn’t allow it to show on his face. She is (and was) selfish, and had unknowingly, uncaringly gotten others killed because of it. Despite the fact that he’d been the leader of her bodyguards and had held countless conversations with her, the girl hadn’t batted an eye when she’d been told that Dalzollene had been killed, instead just wondering about the auction and the items she’d wanted from it. Neon hadn’t cared about Squala’s death either, save for the fact that it had upset one of her attendants, which had been enough to send her home even without the coveted additions to her grisly collection. Still, her thinking was that of a child’s; Kurapika suspected that while Neon was indeed saddened by Eliza’s distress, it was mainly because it inconvenienced Neon herself: because her lover had been killed, Eliza didn’t want to talk or play cards or dress her up or whatever the hell else she usually did to entertain the pink-haired girl, and that was just boring.
That was what had made her want to go home. Not the deaths of five of her bodyguards; not the fact that they’d been killed attempting to obtain a handful of new, gruesome items for their mistress; not the danger she was placing them all in with her insistence on staying in York New City. Kurapika doubts she could’ve cared less about any of that. Right now, she probably didn’t even remember that any of it had happened at all.
...And yet, despite that, she was innocent. She was innocent in the most terrible, terrifying way possible: she was self-centered and spoiled and twisted, and yet somehow she was utterly unaware of the undeniable and deeply disturbing bends in the paths of her ways of thinking.
That much could probably be blamed on conditioning, the way she was taught to think from birth. And so really, when he thinks about her at all, Kurapika pities her. She’s a sad sample of humanity, someone who surrounds themselves with things in an effort to forget how lonely and empty they are. She will never find true happiness this way, and that in and of itself--the knowledge that pretty and pampered little Neon Nostrade will go through the rest of her life with that gaping ever-hungry void sitting low and just left of center in her chest, an emptiness that will never be entirely satisfied by what she’s trying to fill it with--is almost, almost punishment enough.
And so, much as he wants to hate her, he doesn’t. Because he chose this; he had willingly elected to place himself in this position, in the employ of these detestable flesh collectors. Because he has a job to do, and he can’t protect her properly if he allows himself to truly hate her. Because this job is of vital importance to achieving his goals, to achieving his vengeance, and for that he’ll let himself be put through nine levels of hell and beyond. Because, loathsome as she and her hobby are, Neon doesn’t really deserve it, and ultimately he knows that she isn’t worth it.
But most of all, Kurapika doesn’t hate her because he knows all too well that every last shred of hatred he can muster is already wholly devoted to the Spiders, and he simply has none left to spare.
Kurapika. The way upward and the way downward are one and the same.
- "Skin Deep" - Kurapika (Hunter x Hunter)