Author Notes: From accidental lovers to friends… just wrapping up the ends.
Again, am inspired by 2 events from Blackened Wing's Blood Moon story. One is the Moon Dorm library, the other is something that was found at a certain gala party. I'm sure you'll know both when you come across them :D
And… If Only is now complete! I've really enjoyed writing this 'What if' scenario between Zero and Aido. I know some of you have suggested making it a threesome i.e. KanamexZeroxAido but as delicious as that idea is, well, let's just say I'm not accomplished enough to take on such a task and I sort of lean towards KanamexZero pairing. But yes, I really like Aido very, very much now :D
Thank you for reading If Only, thank you again for reviewing and a third thank you to those I mentioned in Chapter 1. I'm touched that you have enjoyed every chapter of If Only and have taken the trouble to let me know. Each review to me is like what blood is to a vampire… LOL!
-- Chapter Start --
"Not another class project" moaned Senri Shiki as he trailed after Takuma Ichijo, Ruka Souen and Rima Tooya. The four Night Class students were walking into the Moon Dorm library as he spoke and the fierce librarian immediately pinned the part time professional model with a glare.
"Didn't we just finish one yesterday?" Shiki grumbled, but he dropped his voice lower. Takuma glanced behind and gave him a good natured smile. "That was actually two weeks ago, Senri" he reminded his roommate and lover as he led the way towards the deserted tables right at the end of the vast library, where they preferred to sit. Unfazed, the brunette just blinked sleepily at him. "Was it?" he drawled. "Wow, however did we occupy our free time last week then?"
Takuma's step faltered as he glanced back again but he didn't answer. He'd caught the silent words 'in our room' added to that question and he bit his lip, hoping his face wasn't flushed… too much, anyway. He knew very well how they'd occupied most of that free time - in a most pleasurable if rather exhausting way, of course. Shiki knew that he knew as well, judging from the teasing grin lighting up his face now.
Ruka missed, or rather ignored, their silent exchange and rolled her eyes. "Some of us had other non photo shoot-related assignments" she said in a bored tone, not bothering to look at either one of them. A moment later, she caught sight of a tall brunette vampire male taking down a book from one of the top shelves at the end of the library. "Ah, Akatsuki's here already, good!"
Then it was Ruka's turn to falter. She frowned as Kain walked to a table and sat down facing them. Opposite him was Aido – Ruka recognised that mop of tousled blond curls straight off, even from the back. But it was the tall male sitting on his right that had caught her attention, with his longish silvery hair. Light glinted off something metallic in his left ear as he turned his head to speak to Aido and Ruka's mouth actually fell open a little. Kiriyu? Zero Kiriyu? OK, it wasn't as if the ex-human wasn't allowed in the Moon Dorm library and he was Kaname's lover and all, but what on earth were Kain and Aido doing sitting at the same table as him? Ruka flicked a quick glance around the library – most of the tables were unoccupied as a matter of fact.
Kain had already noticed their approach and he nodded at his friends, his steady gaze lingering for a moment on the surprised expression on Ruka's face.
"Ah, so this is where you two have been hiding" Takuma greeted the two cousins casually with his customary smile. Aido and Zero were deep in discussion and only turned their heads when they heard the Assistant Dorm Leader's voice behind them.
Aido raised his eyebrows. "Hiding? More like waiting for you guys to come here in your own sweet time" he replied in his usual slightly sarcastic manner. The other nobles were used to it and Takuma grinned then nodded amiably at Zero. "Kiriyu-kun…"
Zero nodded in turn. "Ichijo-san" he murmured. He had nothing against the Assistant Dorm Leader especially since Takuma always treated him well but it was a bit difficult to work up a smile when Ruka, Shiki and Rima were staring at him as if he were the latest acquisition to join the Strange Finds section of a museum. Catching his eyes on them, they looked instead at Kain and Aido with similar amazed expressions.
Aido caught their looks and glanced at Zero. He could tell the ex-human was feeling a bit uncomfortable now. Kaname had successfully broken their blood bond in his room four days ago but it looked like some stray remnant of it still remained. He and Zero couldn't feel each other's emotions through their severed bond anymore, but they could still sense how the other felt if they happened to be physically within a few feet of one another. Aido didn't know how to explain it but it was akin to the affinity that existed between identical twins. They were now sensitive to each other's moods even if that strange and intense sexual attraction didn't exist anymore.
"Well… shall we?" asked Ruka after a few moments of silence as she tilted her head none too subtly at the cluster of empty tables situated on the other side of the library. The vampire beauty was, as usual, in the same group as Kain and Aido for their latest class project. Takuma, Shiki and Rima made up another group. Ruka was looking at Kain as she spoke and it was a rather broad hint to the two cousins that they should move to another table with her in order to start on their project… preferably apart from Kiriyu who didn't belong in the Night Class anyway. Ruka assumed that Kain and Aido had somehow landed with the ex-human's unwanted company and were too polite – heaven forbid! - or afraid of Kaname-sama – a more likely reason - to do anything about it. Honestly! She resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
Kain hesitated, knowing exactly what Ruka meant and how rude it would appear to Zero at the same time. He glanced at his cousin. Aido was just about to say something when Zero spoke up. "Go ahead… you guys have work to do" he said quietly.
Kain gave an uncertain nod but Aido frowned immediately. It meant that Zero would be sitting alone… and he didn't want that. Not anymore. "No, that's OK, Zero, we can have our discussion here if it won't disturb you. There's one more seat left – sit next to Kain, Ruka" Aido urged her, only to blink as the vampire beauty's lips pressed into a thin line and she gave him an almost imperceptible shake of her head.
But Kain and Zero caught that look as well and the latter closed his book immediately. "That's all right, I think I'll read this in my room" He moved his chair back and stood up.
"No, don't go, Zero!"
"You can stay with us"
Both Aido and Kain had spoken up immediately, the former even laying his hand on Zero's arm to stop him. Ruka's mouth fell open for the second time. "What?" she asked, unable to stop herself. Behind her, Takuma was looking from one to the other, his eyes lingering on Aido's hand on Zero's arm. Both Shiki's and Rima's eyes went wide as they took in this strange scene.
Kain kept his steady gaze on Ruka's shocked face as he spoke. "Zero stays. Would you please sit down, Ruka?" Without looking, he reached for the back of the chair beside him and pulled it out in silent invitation. Ruka blinked, her gaze shifting to Aido, then back to Kain. The bronze haired vampire's gaze was steady. Serious. Without a word, and not daring to look at either Zero or the other three nobles beside her, Ruka flounced over and sat down next to Kain, keeping her gaze on the table.
The silence stretched on as Zero hesitated, still standing. Aido's fingers tightened slightly on his arm, pulling him down in a silent request for him to stay. The request was echoed in his earnest blue eyes and Zero finally sat back down, opening his book once more. Everyone else seemed turned to stone.
"Let's get started, shall we?" Kain finally suggested, more to break the small, rather awkward silence than anything else. He raised an eyebrow at the Assistant Dorm Leader and Takuma smiled and nodded immediately. "I fully agree, Kain" he said, his tone and warm smile conveying his complete and wholehearted approval of the two cousins' actions. "We'll get started as well, then" he continued and glanced at Shiki and Rima meaningfully. Takuma nodded at Zero once more and started off towards one of the empty tables, far enough for them not to disturb each other, but close enough in case they wanted to go over to talk. Rima glanced at Shiki who shrugged, then they both turned to follow Takuma.
Zero kept his gaze on the book, even though he'd stopped reading. Kaname was meeting with the Night Class teachers tonight hence he didn't have anything to do. He was touched at what Kain had done just now, having seen the look on Ruka's face himself. Zero had assumed that Aido and Kain would be more than happy to keep their distance from him once Kaname had broken his bond with Aido, but he couldn't be more wrong. Still staring intently the page in front of him, Zero thought back to the blond bond severing ceremony of a few nights ago…
-- Start Flashback --
Blood was required to spill, of course - his, Aido's and even Kaname's. The four of them including Kain were gathered around the pureblood's desk in his rooms at midnight, Aido and Kain sitting opposite Kaname. The Night Class teachers had been duly informed by Seiren that the two cousins were carrying out an assignment for Kaname.
On the desk was Kaname's small dagger. Aido stared at it as he tried to ignore Zero who was standing beside Kaname – it was obvious both of them had just recently showered… Then the pureblood spoke and Aido looked up. "Since Kain knows about the bond, it's only fair that he witnesses it being broken as well" The brunette vampire sitting beside Aido nodded silently. Zero didn't say anything but he couldn't help wondering if Kaname actually meant for Kain to continue to keep an eye on his young cousin.
"Zero and Aido, your right hands" murmured Kaname, looking down at the dagger held loosely in his long, elegant fingers. Silently, they extended their right hands, palm up and the pureblood started quoting the required words.
"The first to bite, the first to bleed"
Kaname grasped Zero's arm and drew the blade of his dagger across the soft skin of the ex-human's inner wrist. Red blood welled up.
"The second to bite, next to heed"
He did the same with Aido's wrist. All four vampires' eyes started to glow crimson with the scent of blood in the air.
"A bond that should never exist"
Still holding the dagger, Kaname brought both bleeding wrists together, palm meeting palm.
"It must be broken, I insist"
Firmly but not roughly, Kaname pulled the tips of their fingers in opposite directions so that Aido's and Zero's palms no longer touched, only their wrists. Then he drew the dagger across the pad of his thumb, coating the blade with his blood.
"So severed now for all to see"
The dagger flashed downwards between their hands from fingers to wrists in a precise blur of a movement too fast for the eye to catch.
"Broken now what can never be"
The heated blade whispered past their palms and separated their joined, bleeding wrists. Both Zero and Aido inhaled sharply as a pulse of energy burst from the silver blade as it touched the mingled blood, flinging their hands at least two feet apart and ruffling the papers on the desk.
For a long moment, no one spoke and the only sound heard was Kaname's breathing, slightly increased. Zero and Aido were still staring at their wrists where the cuts had healed and only dried blood remained on their skin. Then Kaname exhaled softly and put down the dagger. "It is done" he said simply.
They looked at one another. Yes, eyes were still glowing and fangs had grown but behind that, there was relief… and hope… for a new beginning. Zero's eyes caught Aido's and both were stunned. That insane, compelling awareness of each other was suddenly and irrevocably… gone. There was no lust now, no desire… only memories of what had happened stayed with them. For a moment, the look was awkward, like facing a spouse you were now estranged from, or an ex-lover. Then Zero smiled in relief and Aido followed.
"It's over now" Kaname said quietly, his hand reaching for Zero's left one. Zero turned and smiled down at him. "Yes" he agreed quietly. The look in Kaname's eyes was making his face heat up again.
Kain cleared his throat discreetly and Zero glanced up at him, then avoided his knowing gaze. But somehow, he couldn't look at Aido and the young noble avoided his eye as well as the cousins bowed and left after that…
Kaname was almost frighteningly formal during that little ceremony but after he and Zero were alone again, the pureblood took out a bottle of blood wine and two glasses and they spent the next hour slowly enjoying the smooth, warming taste of the liquor as they sat on the sofa together, not talking much. Kaname leaned his head on Zero's shoulder, enjoying the feel of his lover's strong arm around his waist. Breaking the bond had required a certain amount of his pureblood power, hence the heat that was contained in the blade of his dagger. He would recover soon enough, but for now, it just felt so good to be with Zero, sitting next to him and breathing in his scent. And it felt especially good that they now knew how the other felt.
As they finished the wine, Zero' fingers combed through the silky brown hair. "Kaname?" he said softly. "Hmm?" Kaname's voice was a sleepy purr and Zero's heart melted. He dipped his head to drop a kiss on Kaname's hair. Zero wanted to say something… but he didn't know how. And while he wanted to say it and have not to always worry about it anymore, he also didn't want to break this soft, magical moment. For once, they were not bickering or arguing or even wildly making out, but just… sitting quietly together. It was such a precious, rare moment that Zero wanted to treasure.
Kaname stirred, pushing up to sit a little. "What's troubling you?" he asked and Zero smiled a little wryly. Precious, rare moment was over…
He put down his glass and cleared his throat. Kaname waited, eyeing him closely. Zero sighed. "Kaname, are you still… angry?" He couldn't mention that bond or even Aido's name but he suffered a small pang as Kaname sat up straighter. "I don't know" he said honestly. "I know he took you, and that you kissed and… touched each other. I can't ignore that…" Zero opened his mouth to speak but Kaname shook his head. "And yet, I was the one who had asked Aido to feed you that night" A hint of frustration crept into his voice, dispelling the softly seductive tone that had been there earlier. "I should not have chosen him"
Zero's hand closed over Kaname's. "And I should not have bitten him that hard. I was angry" he admitted quietly.
Kaname nodded. "Because of what I asked him to do" It was a confirmation rather than a question and they were silent for a moment. "Aido's suffered enough" said Zero and Kaname nodded again.
"I'm sorry, Kaname" Zero said finally as he gave Kaname's fingers a soft squeeze. Kaname looked deep into the dearly familiar silver eyes before he smiled and brought up Zero's hand to his lips. "Me too" he said.
Zero smiled in relief, his eyes closing as Kaname's next kiss found his lips, then his jaw line, followed by his neck…
-- End Flashback --
Cheeks slightly warmed by the memory, Zero glanced up briefly at the blond noble sitting next to him. During dinner in the Moon Dorms dining hall earlier, Aido had somehow steered the casual conversation at Kaname's table towards books. He mentioned the number of history books they had on vampire hunters and casually suggested that Zero might want to peruse those in his free time. He even mentioned that he would be going to the library after dinner and offered to show Zero where the books were kept.
Kaname's eyebrow rose a little. He had planned on spending more time with Zero after dinner but realised that the young noble's intention was sincere. The pureblood's heart warmed, once more deeply thankful that he hadn't permanently destroyed things that night. Yes… why not take this as a challenge to himself, on whether he trusted both his ability to break the bond successfully, as well as Aido? He then spoke quietly, saying he had just remembered a couple of important calls he had to make after dinner.
So it was settled, and Zero and Aido walked towards the library after dinner in a comfortable if still slightly awkward silence, not speaking. It was the first time they were alone together since the bond severing ceremony and both were perhaps still a little shy of how deeply the bond had affected them. So much had been said and done over the past two weeks and the memories were still fresh and vivid in their minds. Hopefully, the embarrassment would fade with time. Neither Zero nor Aido thought they would ever be able to actually forget about them.
It was good that they could look at one another now without feeling that strange and compulsive draw towards each other and another good thing that had come about was that they no longer disliked each other. A large part of that had been because they didn't really know each other. All they saw in each other was an arrogant, vain noble who bristled at anyone who dared to insult Kaname, and an angry ex-human who showed no respect to Kaname-sama. But now that they understood each other, there was no reason why they couldn't get along well. Especially now that Aido knew how Zero felt about Kaname and now that Zero knew Aido cared deeply for him as well.
But both were still a little shy of meeting each other's gazes. The corridor leading towards the library was deserted now, and Zero stopped suddenly. "Hana – Aido" he started. Aido stopped as well, turning to face him. "Zero, you can call me by my name. I still want you to" Aido said, his earnest tone making Zero smile.
"Hanabusa… you don't actually have to come with me to the library" he said rather awkwardly. "If you have other things you'd rather be doing…"
Aido stared at him. Yes, he didn't have to but he wanted to. Aido didn't quite know how to explain it. It wasn't that he pitied Zero. Yes, he knew the ex-human didn't have anyone truly on his side other than Kaname, but he wasn't doing this solely to keep him company, or even to curry favour with the pureblood. Aido just… liked being in Zero's company. He felt like he could be himself with Zero, in a way that he couldn't always in the presence of the other nobles, what with Shiki's bored attitude, Takuma's too sunny personality, or Ruka's grouchiness. After all, he and Zero had been pretty intimate lately, it just transcended their initial acquaintance into deep familiarity. It was like being with Kain, only minus the big brotherly thing his cousin had towards him. And Zero really was pretty intelligent, they could converse about almost anything, really…
"I know" Aido finally said. "But I'm not doing it just to keep you company, or to make Kaname happy" he added bluntly. "I'm doing it because I want to, that's all" He shrugged as Zero stared at him in turn.
"But – " Zero broke off, his ears turning pink. "But what about… what happened?" They both knew what he was referring to – the mad, passionate kisses, stolen caresses, the urgent making out sessions that had them loving each other and being intimately familiar with each other's bodies.
Aido flushed deeply as his gaze dropped. Then he forced himself to look at Zero. "Yes, I know" he said quietly. "But we can't pretend those things never happened, Zero. I – I can't pretend not to know what you look like, or feel like, or – or even taste like" he paused awkwardly, cheeks burning, then pressed on, speaking faster now, the words coming out in a rush. "I can't pretend I didn't take you that time, Zero and – and roughly as well. I know I did so many things wrongly, but I didn't realise then, only when you – you touched me after that, properly… God, I'm sorry -"
"Don't" said Zero immediately, feeling flushed all the way to the tips of his hair. "You've already apologised enough and you didn't know… "
Aido bit his lip and gave a slightly chastened nod. "Zero, can you forgive me?" he asked in a whisper. The silver eyes widened – was the young noble still beating himself up over that incident? He didn't hold it against him, he never did, even then. "I already told you, Hanabusa, forget it, it's OK" he said.
Aido blinked and nodded. Zero stared at him. Nobody knew who moved first but their sudden embrace caught them both by surprise. Perhaps it was just a habit out of what had happened in the past couple of weeks, perhaps it was not knowing what to say, and hoping that physical contact would somehow make them feel better. But the hug felt good… if rather platonic now. And it only lasted a couple of moments before they both pulled back, grinning rather sheepishly. It still felt familiar, even right, how they knew each other's bodies and their scents… but it no longer felt remotely sexual.
Aido blinked. "That felt… different" he murmured, frowning as if trying to figure out why. Zero ran his hand around the back of his neck. "Yeah" he muttered. He still liked how Aido smelled, but it didn't drive him crazy anymore. Not that the vain noble needed any more compliments…
Then Aido shrugged. "Guess Kaname did a good job then, huh..."
Zero nodded soberly. Aido hesitated then he suddenly held out his hand. "We're on the same side now, right?" he asked impulsively. Zero raised an eyebrow inquiringly. "You know, Kaname's side" Aido explained. Slowly, the silver haired vampire nodded.
"So if we're not enemies, Zero, perhaps we can be - " Aido broke off uncertainly, wondering if the other vampire even wanted the same thing he did.
"Friends?" suggested Zero, quirking an eyebrow and grinning a little. Relieved, Aido nodded and grinned back. "Yeah" And Kiriyu was still a darned good looking vampire, not that he would ever actually say it…
"Done" said Zero and he grasped Aido's hand firmly. They were still grinning at each other when Kain appeared round the corner. "What's so funny?" he wanted to know.
"Nothing" said Aido. "Just Kiriyu being a jerk… again"
Zero rolled his eyes. "You're not making any sense… like always" he returned.
Kain's eyebrows shot up in surprise but he followed the other two vampires into the library. It was nice to see them both behaving more normally with each other now, even if the sting of insults they traded with each other was strangely missing. He remembered when Aido had come back to their room that night after letting Kaname know… Kain had shed his habitual reserve as he pounced on Aido, smothering his cousin in a bone crushing hug.
"Ow, hey! Leggo… let go, Akatsuki! Are you crazy?!" Aido had protested, but halfheartedly. He knew how worried Kain had been and it was rather nice to feel cared for, after all.
- o -
A couple more days passed and it was Sunday evening. Kaname was due to leave Cross Academy for the airport in ten minutes' time and the limousine was already waiting outside the main gates. The pureblood was sitting in the living room of the Moon Dorms with the other nobles, wrapping up a discussion on class syllabus. Zero was perched on the arm of his chair but not really paying any attention to what was being said.
Takuma nodded as he jotted down one last instruction from the pureblood. "Consider it done, Kaname" he said. The pureblood nodded. "Thank you, Takuma. Well, that's it then" he said as he uncrossed his legs and stood up. Everyone stood up as well and started wishing Kaname a pleasant trip before excusing themselves.
Aido loitered at the door, waiting for the other vampires to go out and ignoring Kain's puzzled look. Carefully, he closed the door behind Takuma.
"Yes, Aido?" asked Kaname.
Aido's eyes flicked to Zero, then back to Kaname and he bowed a little. "Kaname-sama, I just wanted you to know that… in light of your busy schedule, I don't mind if Zero… needs to feed"
A somewhat stunned silence followed his words and Aido quickly added "I mean, I would be honoured to help. Really."
Kaname's eyebrows actually rose a little in surprise before he glanced at Zero, who was staring at Aido. Both their reactions made the young noble flush. "If – if you don't mind, that is" he mumbled.
A faint smile touched Kaname's lips. "I think it's a question of whether you mind or not, Aido" he prompted. Aido knew what he meant – he would not be able to take from Zero in return.
"Truly, I don't mind, Kaname-sama" he answered immediately and Kaname nodded, touched. "I'm grateful, Aido" he murmured. Zero was touched too – he'd thought of the same thing Kaname had. The silver haired vampire tried to lighten the sudden, almost melancholy atmosphere. "Thanks, Aido, but you think too highly of your own blood" he teased the blond. Aido snorted at that. "You should be more grateful you don't have to take tablets like the rest of us" he shot back.
Still grinning, Zero stepped forward and ruffled the blond curls, making Aido squeak a protest as he took a quick step back. Kaname hid a smile, nodding graciously as the young noble bowed to him before taking his leave.
Aido's heart was a lot lighter than it had been these past two weeks. Yes, mused the noble as he walked out of the Moon Dorms with his head held high, it was high time he stopped focusing on Zero so much. There were a lot more pleasant distractions he could pursue instead … like the Day Class girls for one.
-- THE END --