“Okay! So the LOSER (which will be you, Gon) will have to do ONE thing that the WINNER (which is going to be me, of course) orders, right?” the silver-haired teen asked, clarifying the bet. His emerald eyes gleamed with the confident smirk on his face. “Is that how it’s going to be, Gon?”

The black-haired Hunter nodded his head, his brown-eyes gleaming in anticipation. “Right! The loser has to do whatever the winner orders, Killua.”

“Heh, I’m not going to lose like last time, Gon...because...” Killua’s smirk widened. “...this is MY territory!” Killua spread out his arms and, as if on cue, a strong breeze whirled around him. His silver hair gleamed platinum as it flickered in the sunlight...and far below him lay an expanse of crystal-blue ocean.

“That’s funny. I thought you wouldn’t like to swim, Killua...” Gon mumbled as he looked down the cliff, the calm ocean waves crashing and caressing the wall of rock.

“Why’s that? Since water is dense and restricts body movement, my dad trained me underwater all the time,” Killua remarked casually, “so I would be able to move my muscles a lot quicker on land.”

“That’s so cool!” Gon smiled, but then chuckled slyly. “But I thought you would hate to swim...since you’re pretty scared of fish and all.”

Killua flushed and growled. “I am NOT afraid of fish – I just think they’re ugly to look at, all right?! Jeez, now hurry up and get ready so I can kick your ass! I’m going to win this race and we both know it, so hurry up or admit defeat now!”

Gon smiled as he kicked off his boots and pulled off his shirt. He didn’t notice that Killua was staring at him...and when Gon looked up, Killua quickly turned his head away. “Something wrong, Killua?”

“N-no, nothing!” he looked awfully guilty.

Sou desu ne...?” Gon raised his eyebrow, his eyes concerned. “Your face is red. Are you sure you still want to race around this island? It’s a long swim.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Killua waved his hand carelessly, trying to will away the blush from his cheeks. He quickly pulled off his shirt. ‘...oh, damn, why did I...stare at Gon like that? I’m not supposed to be looking at him – like THAT! Or...at least, not look when he knows I’m looking...argh, anyway, why the hell did I blush?! And...and, god, why does he have to be so...so...’

“Killua? Daijoubu?” Gon’s deep brown eyes were warm and soft with worry. Killua felt himself melt inside and he gulped. ‘...WHY DOES GON HAVE TO BE SO GODDAMN CUTE?! He’s a guy! Like me! Jeez! Stupid Gon! He’s NOT supposed to be...cute!’

Before Gon could see his friend’s face color to an even darker crimson shade, Killua suddenly ran and leaped off the edge of the cliff. His body seemed to soar through the air for a few slow seconds...then his body gracefully curled into a dive. Gon’s mouth fell open as he saw Killua’s body twist and roll as he plummeted toward the ocean...and then his body shot through the water perfectly, barely making a splash.

Sugoi...” Gon murmured, his eyes bright with the smile on his face. He saw Killua’s head appear and Gon immediately waved his hand. “THAT WAS AMAZING, KILLUA!”

“HA! THAT WAS NOTHIN’!” Killua called, his voice echoing along the cliff. “COME ON! LET’S SEE IF YOU CAN DO BETTER!”

“OKAY!” Gon smiled at the challenge and then took a few steps back...then he sprinted forward and flipped off the end of the cliff. His body was as stiff as a board as he perfectly twirled and rotated during his descent...and then with a loud splash, Gon broke through the surface of the water.

Killua wiped away the water that splashed in his face and looked around for Gon. ‘...where is he? He should have emerged from the water right about now – ‘

“Ah!” Killua gasped as he felt a hand grab his ankle and pull him underneath the water. He opened his eyes in the ocean water, feeling the slight sting against his eyeballs...and saw Gon’s hand clinging to his ankle. Gon smiled mischievously in response to Killua’s surprised gaze.

‘...why that bastard...!’ Killua’s eyes narrowed. ‘...I’ll make him think twice before pulling that kind of prank on me again!’

‘Ack!’ Gon knew that scary expression all too well. He quickly let go of Killua’s ankle and began to swim away. ‘Gotta get away from Killua! Fast!’

Gon swam hard and quick, almost like a desperate fish. He didn’t know how long he held his breath, but he was sure that he swam a long distance. He was in shallow waters now and he set his feet on the sandy floor of the ocean. ‘Yes! Almost to shore! Killua’s probably way behind me! He probably gave up – ahh?!’

Suddenly, Gon felt a pair of arms catch him around his waist from behind. A few bubbles of surprise escaped his lips as he felt Killua forcefully pull him toward the surface. The two emerged from the ocean, Gon’s back pressed firmed against Killua’s chest.

“Gwahh!” Gon exclaimed, taking in a few gasps of air while trying to break out of his Killua’s grip. He squirmed and wiggled like a fish. “Aw, I was so close to the shore! How’d you catch up so fast, Killua?!”

Killua was at an advantage. The water reached up to Gon’s chest, so the rest of their bodies were immersed in the languid density of the ocean...and Killua’s relentless arms refused to let go of Gon in the water.

“Ha! Remember, I was trained for combat in water – you think you can escape me that easily, Gon?” Killua tightened his arms around Gon’s stomach and waist, just to intimidate the poor guy...but then, Gon abruptly stopped struggling and his slack weight became soft and light in Killua’s arms. Killua blinked as he felt Gon’s tensed muscles relax. 

“Wow...” Gon murmured, his voice was soft with awe. “See that, Killua?”

He was taller than Gon, but not enough to overlook his spiky head. Killua tilted his head, looked aside Gon’s hair. Up ahead, he saw the famous Ivory Island dolphins leaping out the water. In pairs, their pearly-white bodies curled through the air and they gracefully dove back into the water, without making a splash. Their glass-like tails shimmered and their diamond-like eyes twinkled as they continued to leap out again and dive in again.

It was a beautiful dance. And Gon was completely entranced, a smile of awe on his face.

But it was a repetitive dance to Killua. He’d seen Ivory Dolphins before, plenty of times actually, and he wasn’t impressed or entranced by them. But...he wasn’t going to complain. He wasn’t even going to talk. Right now, while Gon was distracted and their bet was long forgotten about, Killua was going to take the opportunity to...

‘...to just hold you like this.’ Killua closed his eyes and slowly, gently, tightened his grip around Gon’s stomach and waist. He sank his senses into the warmth of Gon’s back and he could hear, feel, the rhythmic beating of Gon’s heart. Such a calm, comforting rhythm. Without knowing it, Killua lowered his head down to Gon’s shoulder and soft silver hair mingled with spiky black hair. 

Gon smiled peacefully, hearing the playful cackles of the dolphins slowly turn to echoes.

Killua knew he only had a few seconds left before the dolphins disappeared completely and Gon would no longer be distracted...then he and Gon would remain the way they were: Friends. Just...friends.  Killua reluctantly loosened his arms around Gon’s waist, but his fingers remained latched together. Killua closed his eyes tightly, as if wishing it were a dream...the caressing waves…the breaths of ocean spray...he knew it wasn’t a dream, but...

How nice it was to feel Gon’s warmth, listen to his heart, breathe in his sweet scent, and...Killua knew...knew that he wanted to do this more often...just hold him. Keep him as close as possible. Protect him when he did something stupidly heroic. And, if he could, warm Gon with his own warmth. ‘...does Gon feel as warm as I do right now? Do I make him feel like...this? Does he feel just as...’ a smile flittered over Killua’s gentle features. ‘...happy?’

What Killua did not know...was that Gon’s eyes, too, had been closed. Gon had long forgotten about the dolphins, even though they were still cackling in the background. And the peaceful smile on his face did not fade until Killua’s warmth slipped away.