Author: somewhere-there PM
A Takuma and Kaname flashback side-story to Solitaire that takes place after Kaname was first put under Ichio's guardianship. Rated T for blood-drinking, depression and safety purposes in general. CompleteRated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Takuma & Kaname - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,118 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-23-09 - Published: 03-19-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4933947
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: Sorry again, as I continued typing this Takuma and Kaname flashback I realized that it was turning out into something too long and intense so that I felt that leaving it inside 'Solitaire' would be detrimental to the... how best to put it?.. smooth running of the plot? Besides - it is pretty much separate from the events in 'Solitaire' apart from the small episode that will only make sense after the 'Solitaire' plotline unfolds some more. So - I decided to turn it in a sort of stand alone side story instead, while the main story would continue along it's own path.
So - for those who didn't read 'Solitaire' - this is a longish Takuma-flashback as he stands by the bed of currently weak and ill Kaname and remembers the time when Kaname first came under his grandfather's guardianship - as inspired by the last (non-special) chapter of the manga (which btw. doesn't belong to me but to wonderful Matsuri Hino) and my own musings of how Ichijou-san managed to grow-up the way he was - given the environment he grew in, and other such speculative musings about vampires, their households and things that they take for granted in general.
I do feel that Takuma can be a little OOC here, but so far he proved to be the hardest for me to "get inside his head".
Thanks to YenGirl for beta-ing and for her wonderful reviews!
Takuma straightened the blanket over the sleeping form, lingering – his hand still lying lightly on the cloth-covered shoulder, despite the impatient glances shot at him by Aidou, who stood invitingly back in the kitchen door.
It was painful to see Kaname so terribly weakened… but then – he'd never thought him invincible anyway… It was only his forever optimistic nature that made him think that everything should inevitably turn for the best – sooner or later… now that they left his grandfather's house to live at the Academy… now that Kaname could see his Yuuki whenever he wanted… now that they openly opposed the Council… now that Rido was dead… Oh shoot!.. But wouldn't it be only fair if the fates took a break and lay off from his friend for awhile?
So he lingered – the hand on the shoulder of the sleeping pureblood – the gesture from long ago time, that first had taught him – to worry incessantly – how fragile the powerful and terrifying purebloods really were… or maybe just this particular pureblood that he considered his friend…
He still remembered the day when his grandfather brought Kaname to Ichijou mansion…
Nobody expected Ichio to return so early – certainly not Takuma. Being one of the few unofficial leaders of the Council, his grandfather spent at least half his time there, thus granting his grandson the freedom to do pretty much what he liked in his absence, something that Takuma had learned to thoroughly enjoy. Of course, the young vampire's kind and pretty much obedient nature made him less of a pest than what such unbridled freedom could have inspired.
That also kept him away from the cold calculating and at times vicious side of his grandfather. Not completely – cause his perceptiveness told him there should be a reason to why the entire household of lower class vampires treaded with such utmost care around the 'old master', when he was at home, and breathed a collective sigh of relief as soon as he drove away. On the other hand - the servants themselves always assured him that he needn't worry too much that whatever he did could ever be of serious consequence – he'd have to do something absolutely outrageous for Asato-sama to disown the last living representative of his own noblest of noble, 'almost but not quite' pure blood in favor of some more distant relative.
The blood that – as Takuma was all too aware despite his fairly young age (again thanks to household rumors) – was distilled and improved quite purposefully, in a kind of vampire power game – through continuous laying of any suitable female progeny under any and every pureblood available (sometimes one and the same pureblood over a few generations in a row). Actually, if Takuma had a sister or an aunt, or a female cousin – his claim on the heirloom would have been much shakier (or so the servants said). It was no secret that oftentimes when his grandfather got drunk on fresh blood or old wine he tended to rant about the browny points Nikamura Shiki – the head of a rival clan and another unofficial spearhead of the Council - had won over him by supplying his own niece to a bored pureblood he was supposed to guard.
As it was – the eight year old 'young master' did not fear too much of his grandfather's wrath. It was troublesome and of course he tried to avoid it as much as possible, but it wore off eventually or – at worst – one had to endure until the old man left for another meeting – and then – everything returned to the happy state that it was before…
But as already said – Takuma did not expect his grandfather to return so early, thus it was that the news of his arrival reached him whilst playing snowballs with some younger staff of the mansion – fairly deep in the woods, and even with vampire speed he arrived to Ichio's study breathless and with his trousers wet from knees down with the melted snow – hardly a respectable appearance, especially as Asato was not alone when Takuma stepped inside.
"I trust you have already met Kuran Kaname-sama, Takuma?" His grandfather said slowly, his cold grey-green eyes surveying the disgraceful appearance of his heir. "The Council has entrusted me with the guardianship of Kaname-sama after his parents' untimely demise, which is a great honor for our house. I hope you two will become good friends."
The fact that Takuma didn't fear his grandfather didn't mean that he felt comfortable around the old vampire. For one – there was that manner of his of telling one thing when actually meaning something else altogether. Or at least – it was how Takuma always perceived it – why else would the words "untimely demise" which should have been spoken as a condolence carry not a hint of compassion, or why did "I hope" sound more like an order than anything else?
He gazed at the boy patiently standing beside his grandfather. Kuran… a pureblood… he had met him before indeed… when his grandfather and a few of other Council elders had an unofficial meeting at somebody's estate. But they both had been a couple of years younger back then, and all he remembered was a quiet and extremely polite child that only participated hesitantly in the games as if he didn't really know how to behave around other children (and other children knew all too painfully how to behave around a pureblood…). He also remembered that a few times Kaname would suddenly stop midway in the game, pressing a hand to his forehead as if he had a headache, and then the lower class vampire (a bodyguard?) would come and lead him away. Takuma even remembered asking his grandfather on their drive home if Kaname-sama was per chance ill. "Bullshit," his grandfather replied in a tone that allowed no contradiction, "the purebloods do not get ill," but it was another case of when Ichio-san sounded so sure on the surface, yet Takuma noticed a calculating glint in his eyes, as if he was silently storing this information for further use.
Kaname-sama had grown considerably since then and looked even more like his... late father now. But the differences didn't stop with only greater height or leaner frame - where the child of two years ago was shy but eager, the pre-adolescent boy looked troubled and dark, and the short glance he shot at Takuma after Ichio's words was filled with barely concealed mistrust.
"I have ordered for Kaname-sama's room to be prepared next to your own," his grandfather continued meanwhile, "It must be ready by now. Please, show Kaname-sama to his quarters, Takuma, so he can rest."
They climbed the stairs in an uneasy silence, and once they arrived to the room Kaname stopped in the open door, effectively blocking Takuma from entering – in a pose of clear dismissal.
"Thank you for showing the way, Ichijou-kun. I'm sure I can fare quite well by myself from here…" Even his voice sounded unlike the one that Takuma seemed to remember – grown-up and cold, and the younger vampire felt inexplicably hurt as he turned and left – as a servant would – only Takuma never addressed even the servants in this distant and superior way.
The worst thing was that for a moment there he really wanted to become Kaname's friend. Not because he was ordered so by his grandfather but because he just naturally preferred to stay friendly to everyone, and because he thought the young pureblood thrust into the totally unfamiliar surroundings might need a friend, and because he rather fancied things he could show and share with a boy of his own age – sure the household staff never refused to play with him, but his regular playmates were at best teenagers or younger adults and they had their own chores to do about the house first.
His hopes so cruelly thwarted, Takuma wandered listlessly down to the servants' part of the mansion, leaving the pureblood to 'fare by himself' as was his wish, down to the place where he was always embraced with warmth and acceptance… the kitchen. Only even the staff there seemed gloomier and less prone to idle talk than ever before – as if the presence of an orphaned level A had somehow cast the spell over the entire house, and he walked on without stopping through the winding corridor to the garage, where his grandfather's driver would surely give him the newest issues of his favorite manga.
The driver – an elderly level C – was himself a secret manga addict, and so the two of them had set up a sort of unspoken conspiracy, where Takuma would sneak him some of his pocket money (that he anyway didn't have anything to spend on while staying at the estate) and the driver would buy the magazines, read them while waiting for Ichio during the Council meetings and then deliver the issues to Takuma upon return. No wonder the two of them were the closest of friends by now… but still... discussing the manga with someone closer to his own age would have been so much more fun…
Surfacing from his thoughts Takuma stopped abruptly half-way down the corridor… What was this smell? He traced it to one of the doors, but found it locked. Humans? But why?.. Humans were strictly banned not only from inside his grandfather's mansion, but even from surrounding premises. All the staff were vampires and in fact Takuma only ever met humans during the rare visits to a nearby town... Yet - there was no mistaking the smell! Slightly nonplussed and very curious he scurried even quicker to the garage, hoping that the driver could also enlighten him about the unlikely guests.
"Akira-san," he asked practically from the door-step, hardly paying attention to the pile of magazines awaiting him upon the chair. "Why are there humans in one of the rooms? Does grandfather know of them?"
"Oh yeah, he knows," the driver slid out from under the car where he was checking something, and straightened wiping his hands on a dirty cloth. "Have you seen the mangas I brought for you, Takuma-sama?"
"Yes-yes, thank you… But what about the humans, why are they here?"
He saw the old vampire's face grow grimmer.
"They are sacrifices, Takuma-sama, for Kaname-sama to assuage his grief."
The answer left Takuma speechless for a moment, bringing more questions then he really knew how or in which order to ask. He knew of the custom of 'sacrifices' of course, they were usually offered on some great occasions, and only to the most honored guests. The servants bragged that Asato-sama was offered them quite often as a 'gift of favor', which was only a polite euphemism for bribe, but if so – he accepted them in his quarters at the Council, never here.
Takuma himself had only once participated in the ritual, when he was six and his abilities had manifested themselves. His grandfather had invited half the Council for a grand dinner in honor of his heir's 'coming of age' and true - a human was brought for Takuma to partake off. He remembered being utterly embarrassed by the attention of so many adults, and he barely pricked the skin on the human's neck, drawing but a mouthful of blood – mostly because he was quite sated, what with the servants only too eager to provide sustenance for the 'young master' that they adored, and the human blood seemed to him rather bland in comparison. But his grandfather was very proud of his apparent restraint and even praised him for good conduct afterwards, which was a rare enough occurrence to stick in his memory.
He wondered briefly what happened to the human he fed upon… most likely her memory had to be erased afterwards… But his mind was too preoccupied with the present circumstances to dwell on the past too long. Well, a pureblood coming to reside at their mansion would be a guest of honor for sure, but…
"Akira-san, is it really so? Can one… eh… 'assuage the grief' by drinking blood?"
The driver leaned on the side of the car indicating for Takuma to take the only chair in the garage as befitted the master, and Takuma sat down eagerly, knowing that the old vampire didn't mind explaining things at length to his insatiably curious young lord.
"Blood is many things for a vampire, Takuma-sama. It can sustain us in place of ordinary food for weeks on end. It helps us heal from an injury, and the lovers can share their blood to let their mate know without a doubt how they feel, and… well… as a part of intercourse… though I think I shouldn't be telling such things to you at your age… And, yes, it could bring relief in grief or, well, stress… or rather, maybe, the other way round… a stress can provoke the thirst… Both Kaname-sama's parents had committed suicide," the driver concluded sadly, "that would be a lot of stress…"
Takuma felt chastised by these last words – the resentment he was starting to feel towards the haughty pureblood flying away from him, replaced by pity and a vague guilt. Maybe there was a reason to why Kaname behaved as he did…
It was difficult for Takuma to imagine how it could feel – to lose both parents in one day, even if his own circumstances were not much different - he was an orphan as well. Yet – his mother died at childbirth and his father when he was only a year old – he didn't remember them other than by the portraits in the gallery, and thinking of them brought on only a wistful wondering - what were they like? – untainted by any actual sorrow. His real family was not even his grandfather but the entire household staff that had indulged and treasured him from the earliest age. What if he lost them all? What if he had to move to a stranger's house? Yes, it would hurt…
So... Maybe there was a reason to why Kaname-sama wanted to keep a distance from everyone for now… but maybe, also, for that very reason - he really needed a friend…
Caught up in those thoughts he left the garage with his mangas, climbing slowly to his bedroom to read.
He would try to approach Kaname-sama again tomorrow. It was late already, and the pureblood had to be tired after the journey, and apparently still raw with emotion. Hopefully, the sacrifice would help him, hopefully the world would seem brighter for him after a good rest. And Takuma would be right there to offer him his friendship and support.
He paused by his grandfather's study. The door was partially open and he was surprised to hear Kaname's voice from within. The boy spoke quietly yet forcefully and Takuma's acute hearing had no difficulty picking out the words.
"You know very well that it is against both my parents' beliefs and my own… Let those humans go, I do not need any sacrifice…"
"I'm afraid you do not understand your position… or mine, Kaname-sama. The Council had appointed me as your guardian, and I'd hate them to think that I failed to provide sufficiently for your needs. It is for your own good and you will oblige," his grandfather's lower rumble carried ominous undertones, and Takuma could imagine the glint of cold satisfaction in his eyes at being granted the right to address a pureblood in this way.
"Very well then, I will remember your care," Kaname's voice sounded calm, but a momentary flare of dark and powerful aura shocked Takuma into retreating hastily back to the staircase. It seemed like the conversation was drawing to the end anyway, and he didn't want either of the vampires to know that he had eavesdropped on them.
Later that morning as he lay in bed leafing halfheartedly through his manga, he heard two pairs of feet approach the room next door, and then the heavier steps – that would be his grandfathers' – leave to his quarters in the opposite wing of the house. So… he hoped that the sacrifice did help, even though Kaname seemed so opposed to it… Takuma found himself finally able to pay more attention to the pages he read, as if all this time, subconsciously he had been worrying about the pureblood and waiting for him to return.
He read half the magazines and was growing pretty sleepy, when he was gripped by a feeling of vague despondency that was so alien to his own sunny disposition that it jerked him instantly awake… No, it wasn't he, who was feeling it… He recognized the aura at once – reaching dark and heavy despite the thick walls separating the rooms. There was anger in it, much as earlier in the morning, in his grandfather's study, but more over it was permeated with despair and guilt – to the extent that made Takuma cringe in his bed – God, he never expected that Kaname suffered that much… How come he didn't see it before?
But the answer was right there – obvious as the light of day behind the thick curtains of the vampire's bedroom – clearly Kaname only allowed himself to lose his iron-hard control now, when he supposed that everyone… that Takuma right next door… was sleeping soundly. Even now the aura contracted and extended in an uneven rhythm as if the pureblood was fighting desperately to control his own feelings, and Takuma was out of his bed before he had time to think it over – not knowing what he was going to say, or what he was going to do, only knowing that no one should suffer alone, that he personally – couldn't just stand aside and watch…
He barely laid his hand on the handle of his own door though, when the aura receded for the final time – as if somehow – Kaname had heard his footsteps through the sound-proof wall, and brought himself in check.
He stood like this for a couple of minutes - hand still on the door knob, feeling rather foolish – obviously his company and whatever comfort he could offer were not welcome… but there was no sound, indeed - no sign of life from the other room, and all he could do – was go back to sleep and hope that next night would be better than this…