25th story in my series of short stories with various VK characters.
Independent from the previous 24.

#: 25



They were like brothers. Inseparable for better or for worse, from the very moment they each came into the world.

It had always been like that.

From the fiery summer evening in which he'd been born, and in which his parents had rejoiced saying that within a few months, he'd be able to be a companion to his younger cousin about to be born in the main branch of the family.

From the chilly winter morning in which, a mere season and a half later, said younger cousin was born, his vibrant blue eyes opening full of curiosity over the world a few days later.

Their parents had been plotting their offspring's future friendship already from the time the mothers were still pregnant.

And so it was.

Although not even they could have foreseen that the two boys would grow so attached to each other. Akatsuki was just a small baby still walking on his fours when he was introduced to his newborn cousin, but the proximity between them was immediate, and only grew as they themselves became older.

And somehow, all that Akatsuki did, his young cousin did in a more hurried and prodigious manner, always bringing excellence, chaos, or both into all that he did. The older boy was only starting to walk steadily when the smaller one decided to take his first steps himself, much too early and immediately falling over, but not before first reaching for Akatsuki, grabbing onto him, and accidentally dragging him in his fall too.

That seemed to be an ongoing pattern for them both, from that day on. Everything they did, they did together, Aidou inevitably doing it with complete flair and brio even when his adventures ended in catastrophe, and Cain inevitably following him through after him even though he was the older one. Generally, he was rushing after Hanabusa to try and prevent him from getting into trouble, although it usually ended with Akatsuki taking the fall or being punished along with him, for whatever bright idea it was that the blond had had that had caused them to get caught.
In a way, he was his little cousin's shield, albeit a most odd type of shield, since he never managed to stop Aidou and was simply there to share the punishment with him after being dragged into whatever mischief by the blond.

At times, Akatsuki worried if their families would finally decide that he was worthless as a protector to his cousin, and would separate them. But it was never the case, and the Aidou family treated him as if he was the brother Hanabusa had never had.

The Cain family was related to the much more powerful Aidou clan by marriage, and it was an honor to have their heir grow up as close to his cousin as if they were brothers. But the two boys never considered the political implications of such things.

No, they were so much more than social considerations could have limited them to be. Their closeness and trust was like that of heroes of times long gone.

Akatsuki was to Hanabusa as Patroclus was to Achilles or Hephaestion to Alexander.

Minus the sexual element, of course. The occasional youthful experimenting aside, Akatsuki and Hanabusa had never seen each other that way.

And then, there was Luca. The delicate flower that Akatsuki's thoughts would have always revolved around if not for the fact that most of the time he barely had enough time to think, too busy trying –and failing— to keep Hanabusa out of trouble.
Together, they were the three musketeers of the young vampiric aristocracy, inseparable regardless of gender or social distinctions.

And regardless of unrequited feelings.

Akatsuki was resigned to be forever Luca's unrequited love, and Hanabusa had always had a marked interest for the fair sex, albeit Akatsuki suspected that might actually have always been a façade to cover the blond's true interest, a love as impossible as Luca's, and ironically aimed at the same person.

It seemed that it was Akatsuki's destiny to see the people around himself burning with passion for Kaname Kuran.

As the years passed and Luca and Aidou's passion for Kaname grew to even higher heights as they competed against one another, if not for his love then at least for the title of who loved him most, Akatsuki wondered why he'd never fallen for the young pureblood's charms, and even tried to see if he could feel the same way as his two cousins, thinking that he might perhaps be less lonely in his heart if he knew how it felt to be in love with Kaname Kuran too.
But much as he may agree that the brunet was undeniably incredibly beautiful, as was to be expected of a pureblood, (and definitely made wonderful material for those idle nights in which teenage boys find in their hand a companion that they may not yet find in another person –a habit he quickly dropped, feelings as if he was desecrating something precious to Hanabusa and Luca by doing that to the image of their beloved pureblood) Akatsuki finally never fell in love with Kaname.

Maybe it was because deep inside, he slightly resented the young pureblood for being loved so deeply by the only two people Akatsuki loved more than anything else in the world.
Or maybe it was because whenever Akatsuki laid eyes on Kaname, he felt as if he was seeing something no one else –not even Hanabusa and Luca— seemed to notice...

As a child, Akatsuki had a particular fondness for taking long walks in the large woods surrounding the Aidou domain, to admire the peacefulness of nature –and its striking contrast with the constant agitation the world seemed to take around his prodigious cousin.
And so during one of those walks, the young boy happened upon a broken nest, fallen from a tree after a storm. The bird parents were nowhere to be found, nor any other siblings, but there was a single little brown bird left abandoned in the remains of the nest, shivering miserably from cold and injured from the fall. Filled with pity for that little broken form, Akatsuki had picked the little bird up and brought it home, tried his best to warm him up –even using the warmth of his hands while being extremely careful not to produce actual flames— but in the end, it was to no avail, and the small creature died a few hours later, in his hands. He'd blamed himself for not being able to save him, and had been inconsolable at the loss of that tiny life that seemed to have suffered so much in the short amount of time it had been alive.

And even now that years had passed since then, he was still surprised by the fact that whenever he looked at Kaname Kuran, he didn't simply see the mask of perfect control and strength that the young pureblood projected for all to see… Akatsuki saw instead the image of that broken little bird, superimposed over the image of the young brunet.

He'd never mentioned it to anyone, nor even to Hanabusa, but it was in part why he felt such an urge to protect Kaname. He may not know what gave him that impression, but he realized that deep inside, the young pureblood was as broken as that little bird he'd been unable to save all those years before. It was why he'd immediately offered to let Kaname play with them the first time they met, and it was why he'd guarded him with such care all those years since then. Something inside Akatsuki hoped that by soothing whatever was broken inside Kaname, and keeping him out of harm's way, he would be making up a little for the baby bird that died in his hands.

Of course, that was a mere additional reason, one that came back to his mind every so often when he considered why he felt that odd protectiveness, but that was nevertheless by far secondary to his primary reason to stand by the young pureblood.

Hanabusa and Luca.

As long as those two loved Kaname with all their soul, and were ready to give their lives to protect him, Akatsuki would stand between the brunet and any harm that may ever threaten to come his way.
He would take any blows for Kaname Kuran, because it meant those were blows Hanabusa and Luca wouldn't be taking. He had no doubts that should anyone ever try to harm Kaname, those two would immediately move to protect him, so by protecting him first, he was also protecting them.

Akatsuki may never have managed to get a clear idea of what he wanted of life or where he ever wanted to go, but he didn't really need to worry with that. Hanabusa and Luca both knew where they wanted to go, and he'd never have considered going anywhere else than wherever they might go, so the path was already all traced for him.

Perhaps even from birth.



~ The end ~

Notes: I fixed a few details in the fic, because I'd written it on a spur of a moment and while pretty busy, so I hadn't had time to go and check some stuff in canon for the fic beforehand, and today I was taking a look at the Aidou family tree and noticed with horror that I had various discrepancies in the fic. XD;;

Since I hate messing up that sort of canon detail, I fixed the fic, and just in case anyone is interested, Hanabusa Aidou and Akatsuki Cain are cousins (as you already knew XD), because according to the fanbook Cain's mother married into the Cain clan but is the sister of Aidou's father. Similarly, Luca Souen and Hanabusa Aidou are also cousins, because their mothers are sisters.

Luca and Akatsuki appear to not be related by blood (though they grew up close together due to being Hanabusa's cousins), but it's hard to tell for sure because the tree shows the early times, then cuts away and shows the most recent generations, but we don't know if there were any intermarriages in between those times. (They're not purebloods so there wouldn't be sibling marriages most likely, but cousins etc. might have married maybe.)
I hope we'll have a second fanbook one day with more family trees, it's endless fun. X3