They're at an uneasy standstill. Neither of them have moved, but they want to give in. He doesn't know what to say, and he wonders if this is the end. He's fought for so long, believing in the one creed that gave him to will to move on.

He looks upon her figure, encased in a delicate white dress clearly meant for the warm confines of the indoors, her neck and arms bared, and despite the ice and freezing wind her skin glowed with an unusual healthiness.

She looked good enough to eat, his eyes strained in their sockets at the drive away the gnawing hunger once more was a welcome thought after holing himself for so long in an attempt to dry out the thirst. It didn't work out all that well, and now he had wandered farther into the woods than he planned. He certainly wasn't expecting to see her in the clearing, standing there and staring as if she were waiting for him.

He feels some more disgust for himself, and then some when he imagines how Yuki sees him. In his half-starved state, with dirt and old bloodstains dried into the tatters of his clothes. He, on the other hand, couldn't drag his eyes away from her. But now he could see she wasn't displeased at his arrival. She was...quite unresponsive, to his growing concern. She just stood there, gazing at him with a blank expression. If he could get closer, he could look into her eyes...

"You're not dressed to be outside in this weather."

"It's not like I can feel it." His breath catches. Damn. Damn damn damn. There was a time long ago when he pushed her away, he pushed with all his might. And it worked. But damn him, damn his pride, he was regretting it. It bled from the pathetic lump he called his heart, and he was paying for it. It was a long time overdue. He may be a bastard son of a bitch, but he needed her to treat him like she used to long ago and make him feel human again. He didn't know how to respond without driving the conversation into unfriendlier territory, so he was surprised when she spoke.

"I was coming down from the party. There's a villa up in the mountains behind me."

"Why did you come out all the way here?" She gave him a look that made him take a step toward her, then looked away.

"I was tired. And the shoes were pinching my feet." Zero watched as she scratched her leg with her right bare foot, and that immediately spurned him to close the distance.

"You damn idiot, why are you barefoot? Where the hell are your shoes!" He makes a grab at her, but his social awkwardness has him resting his grip onto her shoulders. Her bare, rosy shoulders. He turns her to face him, and her head sluggishly catches up with the motion. He's alarmed at how such a strong creature like her can look so frail and weak at this moment. Then her eyes spark with life as her mouth twists into a familiar impatient frown.

"Didn't I just say that my feet were hurting? Besides, they're useless in the snow." A pause.

"Why are you out here?"

"To cool my feet."

"Are to trying to freeze to death, coming out here dressed the way you are?"

Another lengthy pause, dragging on longer than what he's comfortable with. Then she smiled.

"Why would I do that?" His thoughts are running a mile a minute, but she interrupts his thoughts.

"Besides, I walked all the way out here because I smelled you." Zero shifts his feet before leaning his head in.

"Did you come here to die?" Did you want me to kill you?

"Are you going to kill me Zero?" His grip tightens and her smile widens to his shock. She's the last person he expects this from. She has everything; her adoptive father, her brother, her friends, her long lineage of bloodthirsty savages. She's with the person she loves most; he can smell that disgusting bastard a few miles away from here. So why? She was his pillar of support, and now she was tilting her head up and away as if she wanted him to rip her head off. He's at a loss for words, and she has this expression on her face-it makes him want to cry.

She's the only thing he's living for. She's the one that's kept him going so far, he realizes. Even when she belonged to someone else, even when his self-respect was brought to a new all-time low, the thought of her...

So without words, he brings her into her arms, his flimsy way of comfort. He's fighting the hunger gnawing at his chest, the thirst for blood, the thirst for an unrequited love. And she brings her arms around him and buries her face in the hollow between his shoulder and neck.

They stand there, and he has a million questions on his lips. She speaks first, stealing his moment.

"Do you hate me?" He used to think he did. He used to think so. He used to. But he looks at her face and she looks even more human than before. More mortal, vulnerable. Weak. She was always strong for him, was it so hard to be strong for herself? He's unknowingly answered his own question, being such a fine prime example himself.

"I want to drive the shadows from your eyes."

"You can't do that." She murmurs against his chest, and the brush of her lips brings a rise out of him.

"Why not?" Her head lifts to look him in the eye, and he catches a whiff of her hair. It smells like some luxurious shampoo. He must smell like shit.

"You hate yourself." And there they are in each other's arms, resting and resisting to eat the other.

"Somehow, I ended up here. Freezing my ass off, starving, with you." He leans his head against hers, he wants her to get the picture.

"We're not dead. We're still alive, in this godforsaken way." She leans up towards him, and grabs at his face in an unexpectedly aggressive manner. It's the most lively he's seen of her since this whole encounter. Since they had parted ways decades ago.

"Say that again."

"We're godforsaken-?"

"NO!" Suddenly she's pulling back out of his arms and stomping her feet. He finds this hilarious because she's not making much noise beyond the crunch of the snow, and she's barefoot and it's snowing, and he looks like shit and probably smells worse. Not that the humor at her expense shows, what with his social awkwardness and practiced stoic demeanor.

"Say it, you're not dead. I'm not dead." She glares at him, bright and red and all riled up. She's come alive, and he's the cause of it.

"We're alive." And she reaches up to grab at the collar of his coat, bringing him down to meet her breath.

"Then kiss me, you idiot."

Then he picked her up and they went away, away from the lively party in the cold mountains to a warmer climate with white sandy beaches and the smell of the sea.

The end.

And that's the last installment of this series. That's all folks.


"I smell like shit don't I?"

She gives him a coy look, as if sharing a joke. "You smell like dinner." He gives her a once over: from her delectable little toes, to the bright roses of her eyes.

"I could say the same of you."