Author's note: Thank you for YenGirl, who encourage me to write and also spare her time to review the beta of this story. You're the best! -hugs-
Disclaimer: I do not own Vampire Knight, and never wished to...
"It's because I'm always so selfish.
Because I knew that I'm your only weakness,
that's why I put my trust in you…"
Chapter 1. A Friend's Request
Akatsuki Kain dropped his head to the table and shut his eyes tightly when the algebra teacher finally slammed shut his text book. Finally, the last class for tonight is over. The teacher started to gather the rest of his belongings then left the sleepy and mostly relieved night class students.
Still with his head on the table, Kain gave a quick glance towards his wristwatch. It was almost two thirty in the morning. It seemed that the damn teacher really took his time tonight, torturing all the holiday-minded students with his rants regarding their last exam result. Everyone knew he did it obviously because tomorrow would be the start of their long holiday. Kain let out a small sigh, recalling that the teacher also didn't forget to leave a pile of homework to be done.
It was not that he hated algebra. In fact he was pretty good at it. His mark for the subject had always been above average. But apparently in his case, capability didn't always fall in compliance with enjoyment. Particularly tonight.
Someone kicked at Kain's chair. "Yo!! Still alive?"
Straightening his body, Kain gave his cousin a look of chagrin. "Enjoying the time of your life are you, Hanabusa Aidou?" he inquired darkly and started to collect his scattered text books.
"Hey, don't be so depressed! Tomorrow will be the start of our holiday. We should have some fun," Aidou gave light pats on Kain's back while plastering a huge self-satisfied grin on his face. He knew well that Kain disliked the algebra class − and also its teacher. So unlike himself who never had any real complaints for it. He enjoyed algebra class more than any other subject, because it was when he usually had the time to sleep through the class. The teacher also never bothered to wake him up anyway. Aidou suspected it was because the teacher knew it would not make any big difference whether he had been awake or not in his class. After all, Aidou always had the highest mark on every algebra exam.
"Yeah… it will be, I'm sure. We will have fun. Fun with Algebra, fun with history, fun with a load of homework" Kain replied sourly under his breath. "Anyway, so how many people who will join us tomorrow?" he asked. As usual, almost every year at the start of long holiday, Aidou invited his friends to stay at one of his family mansions and spend their time together. It was one occasion that Kain always looked forward to, since he could spend the days relaxing and didn't have to worry about Aidou breaking Academy rules. The number of participants itself was relatively unchanged from year to year, unless someone had his/her family matters to be taken care of.
"Hm, let's see… Kaname-sama, Takuma, Senri, Rima, Seiren, including you and me…" he quickly counted. "…There will be seven then."
Kain flicked an eyebrow up. "Eight. You forgot to count Ruka," he reminded Aidou.
Aidou shook his head. "No, I'm not. Ruka cancelled. She said that her family had summoned her yesterday evening. There are some family matters, it seems, so she had to spend her holiday at her own home," he said ruefully.
"Oh?" Kain knitted his eyebrow together and continued to pack the rest of his things. So, Ruka won't be joining them this time. That was unusual. "Is there something wrong? Did she said what kind of family matter?" he asked Aidou again casually, his hands deftly arranging his books into one tidy pile before fastening them with a special elastic strap, while his eyes checked the table drawer to make sure there were no things he had missed out. He was careful to give more attention tonight since he knew that if he did accidentally leave one or two things that he needed there, he would only be able to retrieve it the next month.
Aidou patiently waited for his cousin's screening habit. He ran his fingers through his blond hair absent-mindedly. "She did not say anything more about it yesterday. But…" he paused, looking a bit unsure. His tone made Kain shifted his gaze from the drawer towards him suspiciously. "She did seem a little… uneasy… when she said it, though," he finished quietly, looking towards a group of students who chatted excitedly about their plan for holiday. After a few seconds of silence, Aidou added, "Well, you can ask her by yourself if you really want to know…" he shrugged and turned on his heel, ready to leave the class.
Kain got up from his seat to follow Aidou back to their dorm but barely registering doing so. His mind was still busy processing the piece of information he had just received. Uneasy? Had she really been uneasy? Kain did not sense anything unusual with Ruka today, though. She looked fine and was sitting calmly undisturbed all through the classes.
And what family matters exactly? It was not likely that someone in her household had been sick − he was sure of it – since vampires couldn't get sick, unless on rare cases when one was born with an unexpectedly poor health. It was also unlikely to be family business matters, since the Souen family already had three sons to run their business. Or maybe one of Ruka's relatives wanted to get married, so she was being summoned back to attend the wedding party? That's one possibility, but why hadn't he heard anyone say anything at all about it? And something in the way Aidou had said it sounded like there's something going on...
He immediately shrugged off the thoughts, knowing well that Aidou sometimes love to overreact. Well, maybe the reason would be as simple as her mother missed her and all. But of course he would not know that for sure, if he didn't ask her in the first place.
He frowned and rubbed his temple distractedly, then decided that he would better go and ask Ruka than keep on guessing. Tomorrow afternoon before they departed would be a suitable time, just to make sure if everything was all right. It certainly wouldn't hurt to ask, would it? They have been a close friends since childhood anyway, almost like brother and sister. Ruka often didn't mind sharing her thoughts with him more than she would with Aidou. So maybe he could try to coax the reason out of her which she could not or dare not say to Aidou.
If, there were any reason at all. Hopefully that brat cousin of his had been telling him the truth and not exaggerating matters, if not he would surely make a fool of himself.
A distinct sound of something heavy fell to the floor awokened Kain with a start. He shot upright in his bed and quickly scanned his surroundings. The room was quite dark, but he had no problem at all as his acute vampire sight swept the floor.
His eyes locked onto a thick leather bound encyclopaedia, lying on the floor just right below Aidou's bed. Exhaling tiredly, Kain forced his body to relax, though his heart was still beating wildly against his ribcage. He got up from his bed and walked toward the book. Undoubtedly, this must be Aidou's handiwork. That annoying jerk must had fallen asleep again while reading the book and nudged it out of his bed, or tossed too much in his sleep and accidentally knocked the pile of books placed near his head.
For a few seconds Kain resisted the urge to pick up the damn encyclopaedia and slam it down on Aidou's sleeping form. Not fair he was the only one awake. This also hadn't been the first time Kain had his sleep being interrupted by something which fell off Aidou's bed. He muttered heated curses under his breath. Why must Aidou put so much weird stuff − which any other person would normally put on a table − on his bed? Books for example. A lot of them. And also dirty clothes, some stationary, bottle cap, damp towel, pins, hair brush, candy wrap, whatever love letter he got from his Day Dorm fangirls… in short, almost everything that he could put his hands on. Such a messy person, Kain shook his head in dismay. If Kaname had found Aidou − again − like this, he would surely be more than just furious.
Kain bent down and picked the encyclopaedia from the floor. His eyes caught a few pink colored letter sheets scattered on the floor not far from the book. He picked those up also. The sheets smelled nice, he sniffed. Unquestionably must be from one of Aidou's fangirls. Eyeing both objects in his hands Kain couldn't stop an amused smirk that flashed across his handsome features. Despite having a herd of fangirls, ready to throw themselves anytime at his feet, the only one Aidou picked to be his loyal bed partner was his books.
Kain left the encyclopedia and the letters on Aidou's table then climbed back to his bed. Tucking himself under his still warm blanket once again, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes − willing to go back to sleep.
Which, as he predicted, refused to happen.
Frustrated from trying, he opened his eyes again in defeat. Muttering curses for the second time in fifteen minutes, he sat up and swung his leg down to the floor. It was only six-thirty in the morning. Definately far too early for a healthy vampire to wake up. He sat there for a few minutes, feeling agitated as hell and glaring daggers at his sleeping cousin. So much for his hard effort to fall asleep earlier, just to be awakened up an hour later.
Apparently wide awake and have nothing to do now, he finally got up and put a shirt over his bare torso. Maybe he would sneak up the kitchen to make himself a drink. He emerged from his room and walked down the empty corridor heading first for the bathroom.
A familiar sweet scent hung in the fresh morning air stopped him in his track. What the...? He frowned and turned on his heel, automatically followed the scent.
Ruka appeared to be sitting alone on the top of corridor's waist-high wall, still dressed in her sleeping attire that she covered with a long cotton coat and looking out at the Moon Dorm's inner garden. She must have been deep in thoughts and oblivious to her surroundings because she gave a slight jerk at Kain's voice behind her.
She half turned her face to see Kain approaching, but then quickly looked away again. "Ah, it's you," she said in small voice. Her hand flew to her face.
Something inside Kain sank. Ruka might be quick, but she still failed to hide the fact that she had been sitting there crying. Even now Kain noticed her subtle hands movement wiping away her tears.
He wondered what had caused her to be crying like that. The first thought that slid into his mind was it must be about Kaname again. It was widely known amongst the Night Class students that Ruka was very fond of Kaname. Even though Kaname had never taken any real interest on her. But then the thought was swiftly replaced with what he had heard from Aidou a few hours ago.
Kain swallowed hard. Something must be really bad, he thought.
"What are you doing at this kind of hour?" Kain inquired softly, pretending not aware of her crying, since she appeared trying to hide it from him. He approached Ruka a few steps closer.
"That's my line too, you know," she replied him with a hint of forced cheerfulness on her voice. She turned again facing him, looked a little flushed but without the remnants of tears in her eyes. Her sweet elusive scent was teasing Kain's senses as the wind gently playing it around him.
Kain regarded her for a second. "Can't go back too sleep. Aidou's deed," he leaned on wall pillar next to Ruka's sitting spot. His hands were folded in front of his chest.
"Wishing you could get your own room, huh?" Ruka commented, reading his mind. Kain give her a half smile.
They both fell silent for a while as Ruka resumed her vacant gaze towards the garden. Kain started to battle against himself for whether it would be okay if he asked Ruka about her crying or just skip the subject. He was curious but also didn't want to make Ruka feel more troubled than she already was.
Kain shook his head softly. Since when had he become such an indecisive person?
He should ask if he felt concerned about her. Because they were friends, weren't they? And real close ones too. He cared for her so much that he always went through a great deal of consideration towards any subject which more or less involved her feelings. Her happiness had always been his priority. Had been all he would ever wish for her. Kain would do whatever she asked him to do, if it would make her happy. Like he had always done all this time. Hell, he would go as far as to help her win Kaname's affection if she ever wished it. Even if that meant that he would never had a chance to − to...
Oh, enough! He was thinking too much nonsense. He would ask her now, for God's sake! It was just a question anyway, and was also entirely up to her whether to answer or not.
They both spoke at the same time. "You go first," Kain suggested.
Ruka gave him a kind of uncertain look. "Would you..." her voice trailed out a little unsteady. She quickly looked away and cleared her throat.
She started again, this time not meeting Kain's dusky eyes but with a more steady voice and clear determined eyes. "Would you like to come with me to my home?"
Kain must had been dreaming. He must have had fallen asleep exactly when he was standing and had dreamt the entire conversation. Kain was certain he heard it all wrong. He pushed himself off the pillar to stare at Ruka. "What did you say?" he inquired. His heart started to race without any sensible reason.
She gave him a weary look and repeated her question once again.
Kain froze to the spot. So he didn't hear it wrong. Ruka really asked for his companion. But why? Why did she need him to come with her? Kain was totally clueless. He wanted to ask, but instead he heard himself asked, "Alone?"
Ruka instantly looked dejected, and Kain swore inwardly, suddenly feeling so stupid for asking the question. She jumped down from the wall she sat beside the garden, ready to leave. "You don't have to if you're not interested, you know," she mumbled softly.
"Wait. I'm not saying that I'm not interested," Kain replied. He quickly grabbed her shoulder in order to prevent her leaving the place.
Ruka stopped and hesitantly turned to face him, sensing the 'but' at the tail of his sentence.
Kain ran his finger through his wind-tousled hair. She had misunderstood him. Did she really think that he would easily throw away her request? After all the years he'd loyally heeded to each of her other requests? Like breaking Academy rules countless times, standing against Zero Kiryuu − the school prefect − as she ordered, supporting the feelings she had for Kaname, giving her comfort and protection when she needed it. Kain was literally Ruka's lap dog. And if she thought that he will turned her down now, she certainly needed to learn more about him.
Unfortunately, life and past experience had taught Kain never to blindly conform to another person's request which didn't contain at least some explanation. Up until now, except for requests from someone he really trusted − like Kaname, for example − Kain had always reasoned. "I just wanted to know why," he said sternly.
Ruka shifted uncomfortably on her feet, uptight and not quite daring to hold his searching eyes. Kain could see a mixture of emotions on her beautiful face − anticipation, uncertainty, desperation, reluctance, and guilt − though she deliberately tried to hide it. "I… can't explain it now, maybe later…" she said quietly. "For now, just answer yes or no, would you?"
Okay… this had never occurred before. Ruka had just denied his rights for an explanation. Kain frowned a little. Logically, Kain knew that he was supposed to insist on getting some reason or else decline her request. But somehow Ruka's unspoken but clear request − please trust me… − inside her silent pleading eyes, stirred something inside him and he knew instantly that he had no other choice but to comply.
"Okay then," he nodded, silently contented to notice the way Ruka's tense shoulders started to relax. Relieve was clearly written all over her face. "So, that's leaves me to give Aidou some explanation. You know, for changing plans so suddenly," Kain ran his finger across his hair. It would be awkward to explain to his cousin that this time he was unable to tag along because he had been invited exclusively to Ruka's place.
"Oh, you don't have to. I think he already kne−w…" Ruka replied swiftly without thinking, and stopped short. A second too late to realize her mistake. She found Kain stunned eyes stared at her intently. She groaned mentally. "I... at least to some… extent," she added stiffly, trying to mend her own mistake in vain. She hurried to turn on her heels, better leave now before Kain started to ask her more questions she couldn't provide with answers. "I'm going back now. Get ready at one pm, will you? And try to get some sleep too…"
Kain was taken aback, a little too dumbstruck to stop her. Aidou knew…? That − that pesky-ungrateful-mischievous-bastard knew! But he had been playing dumb with Kain, cunningly suggested him to go ask Ruka himself! Oh wait, this is not the first time Aidou had done this to him, hadn't he? He'd been like this too - hiding something from Kain - when Shizuka Hiou had died at Cross Academy. That time, Kain had been let him.
"Oh, that's not going happen again!" he gritted, snapping out of his dazed state and beginning to sprint back to his room. He promised himself would make Aidou speak this time. A devious grin fashioned his lips. He knew Aidou was still sleeping soundly, but that would definitely be his last concern. After all, he knew a 'perfect' way to wake his cousin…