The need to write something Rido related struck me as I was reading through the manga again, trying to sort out a few details in my other VK story. As of the latest manga chapter...well, let's just say that I sort of...felt bad for Rido. Poor guy, always getting the short end of the stick, huh?
In any case, this one-shot was the result of all of that sudden...pity. It's long, and...yeah, I'm not sure how it is exactly. It was somewhat difficult to write what Rido could have been like before he turned...mad.
Disclaimer: It's all Hino Matsuri's. Not mine.
Torn by the Beast Within:
He was quiet as he observed the beaming, so visibly happy couple, as they spoke to the well-wishers that gathered around them. The handsome brunet and his almost sinfully beautiful chocolate haired wife.
Wife –the word tasted bitter in his mouth, and he doubted if that bitterness would ever go away. For it should have been him standing next to her, with his arm around her waist; it should have been him accepting the congratulations and wishes for good health from the other Nobles --it should have been him, dammit, and not his idiot younger brother.
And what added to the bitterness was the fact that neither of the pair, neither of his dear siblings, had acknowledged him in any way, even though they knew that he was there, for not only did his pure blood stand out, but he was just the type of person who normally stood out in crowds. Unlike his darling little brother who always tried to blend in, and blend in he had -to the point where he had not considered the younger one a threat to his conquests in any way.
And how had that way of thinking helped him?
It had not.
He had slowly but surely started to lose favour with their father, who was the one person other than his sister who he wanted to please...even if it was only because of his anticipation of the future.
And he had lost the only thing, the only person he had ever thought he could love. No, the only person he had ever loved, for all those long years.
Seeing his brother and sister standing in the middle of the gathered nobles sickened him to his very core, but there was nothing that could be done. For he was well aware of how well-liked the two were in their society; his brother was the strong, silent type who was loved for his clean reputation...and his sister, well she was the sweet-tempered darling of their Vampire society. So, leaping forward and killing his brother out of a fit of rage and jealousy would not go down too well with the nobles or with their father –who was no doubt testing him, waiting to see if he lost his cool. Him and his absurd, demeaning tests!
Besides, killing the insolent young one who had snatched what should have been his would not endear him any further to his little sister. No, he thought ruefully, she already looked at him with disdain...he did not need to add utter loathing into the equation.
...The fact that there was absolutely nothing that he could do...hurt the most.
He would have to put up with these functions, with the couple being the main focus; he would have to deal with their public displays of affection –especially when the whole family was together-; and...he would have to endure the thought that beautiful, dear Juuri had already been claimed by someone else and would therefore, possibly, never be his.
He shook his head in carefully concealed disgust, casting his eyes once more on the joyous, affectionate couple, and scoffing under his breath as the nobles 'ooh-ed' and 'aah-ed' about something relating to them.
"Is there something I can help you with, Ichijou-san?" he questioned, not removing his eyes from the scene before him even as he felt the familiar presence approach him from behind.
"As sharp as ever, Rido-sama," commented the Vampire, his youthful appearance belying his ancient existence.
"Of course," said the striking, tall male, "It would not do for a Pureblood to let their guard down after all." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the light haired Vampire nod in assent, before he too glanced at the Vampires before them.
"I must say that some of us were rather surprised with this turn of events," he mused, after a moment or two. "For we had all thought it would be you, Rido-sama, who would claim Juuri-sama..."
"Indeed?" Despite the polite tone in his voice, the Pureblood was far from pleased with the direction this conversation was heading in. He was already rankled and irritated, and if the ancient, well respected Vampire Lord chose to press the matter any further, he just might find himself losing all vestiges of his control.
Ichijou Asato nodded once more.
"Oh, yes. We had never imagined... That is to say, she was always so affectionate towards you when you were younger..." He trailed off briefly. "As common as it is in our society, we never would have thought sweet Juuri-sama would be the type to... 'entertain' two suitors..."
The light haired Vampire knew he had pushed things too far when his companion's mismatched eyes turned on him, for the dark mist that clouded them was unmistakeable fury, even though he controlled his aura well enough to prevent it from being sensed.
"Are you...questioning my sister's purity, Ichijou-san?" questioned the Pureblood, his gaze dark as he unconsciously straightened his shoulders before pulling himself up to his full height. The older Vampire paled.
"Rido-sama, I never... that is, I was not-"
"If you ever repeat anything of the sort, in my presence or in the presence of others, ever again... You will regret it." And despite his irritation, the Pureblood knew that he meant every word. Yes, he felt betrayed, yes he wanted to hurt someone –preferably his younger brother- but he would not allow anyone in their society to sully his Juuri's name. What they said of his brother, he cared not one whit. But that was not so when it came to Juuri. Oh no...
The elder Vampire quickly bowed his head in deference to the Pureblood.
"Forgive me, Rido-sama, I meant no offence... I apologize profusely for not thinking on my words before speaking them," he said, a genuine note of apology in his voice, which the Pureblood knew to be borne out of fear –fear of what he would do to him if his apology wasn't accepted. And he had half a mind to not accept it. None in their world, in their society, should be allowed to insult Juuri and get away with it without being made to hurt for it.
The only thing that kept him from actually inflicting harm on the ancient Vampire Lord was his awareness of his surroundings; it was supposed to be a 'joyous' occasion for the Kuran family, and he doubted if any in his family would approve of such a...violent interruption of the festivities.
His idiot brother might not mind too much, seeing how the other man had insulted their sister, but he knew, he knew that his sister would not appreciate the defence of her character. Especially if he was the one defending her. She had wanted the event to go smoothly till its end...and he would respect that, only because it was what she wanted.
"Never do that again," he said, coolly, as he turned his gaze away from the light haired Vampire and back to the centre of the room, effectively –if not somewhat haughtily- indicating that he was done with their conversation.
The Vampire Lord seemed to have taken the hint, as he quickly inclined his head once more, before he excused himself and left him to his thoughts.
Thoughts which darkened considerably when the beautiful brunette smiled at something her husband said, before raising her head slightly and placing a quick kiss on his lips.
He pressed his lips together in a straight line in an attempt to prevent the sneer that desperately wanted to be released. There were other nobles around him, his father had his eyes on him –from where, he could not tell, for the sly royal was shielding himself well from his acute senses-, and this was Juuri's big day, so he could not, should not lose control, dammit.
It was just a kiss, a quick, affectionate, happy kiss -- one that he should have been on the receiving end of, not that...that young usurper. What did he plan on doing next? Stealing his claim to the Pureblood throne? It was bad enough that he had been granted the undying love of their sister; he would not allow him to be granted the throne. That at least, was rightfully his, as the elder son.
More out of his desire to distract himself with anything, so as to be allowed to keep his control over his rage than anything else, he turned his head and glanced around the room. He took in the faces of the Vampires around him, taking great care to ignore those still speaking to the blissful couple. There were some familiar faces...but none appeared appealing in his eyes. Oh yes, they were impeccably dressed, particularly the female Vampires, but they were not appealing...
He laughed softly under his breath. Of course they were not appealing; they were not Juuri after all. After all those years of concentrated love, how could anyone ever hope to replace her in his heart, if he still had one? For none would be as beautiful, or as otherwise appealing as she was.
Feeling a surge of something decidedly unpleasant within him, he knew that he needed to leave the room –not permanently, for his absence would be noted and questioned, but at least for a little while. The longer he stood in place, watching the couple, the greater the risk of him giving in to his desires.
Gritting his teeth for a moment, he quickly schooled his features into a polite yet distant mask before he turned on his heel and headed towards the balcony doors at the far corner of the room. Perhaps some cool, fresh air would do him good. If it did not...he would have to think of something else, for he would not risk losing control.
He did not know how long he had been away from the ballroom, and he was not at all surprised to find that he did not care. The chilly night breeze did not affect him, but it certainly did feel better than the confining, almost muggy sensations inside. Tilting his head upward, he took note of the stars; to normal eyes, they would appear as distant, faint spots of light amidst the black backdrop of the night sky...but to his Vampire eyes, they were bright, much brighter than humans would have thought.
And he hated it.
Everything seemed to be bright, just when he wanted it to be dark. The ballroom inside, although it was dimly lit with both elaborate chandeliers and torches, was too bright; the stars were too bright; the jewellery worn by the female Vampires were too bright; her smile was too bright; her eyes were too bright; her cheeks were too brightly flushed... ...
The topmost bar of the railing he had been idly holding onto slowly began to splinter as he squeezed it, momentarily relinquishing a fraction of the control he had on his abilities, and, again, he found that he did not care. It was only a railing. He would stop when the glass panels on the doors behind him began to crack –for that would certainly be noticeable to anyone with eyes.
That is, anyone whose eyes were not on the Pureblood couple who were madly in love.
For a brief moment, he relaxed his tensed posture. What did it matter? Who would care if he lost control? His father would be displeased, but, as of late, it seemed as though the mere sight of him displeased the Kuran patriarch. The nobles in the room did not really matter, for, really, who were they to criticize a Pureblood? And even if they did dare, they knew him well enough by now to know not to cross the elder Kuran son. Haruka, he thought with a sneer, dear, good little Haruka would be highly displeased, but it mattered not for he had betrayed him. And Juuri...
Juuri had never looked at him with kindness, not as of late in any case...so why should he care so much about her? It was evident that she had...that she had chosen someone else to spend her eternity with –to carry on the Kuran Pureblood line with...
He shook his head, feeling vaguely ill at the thought. What was he thinking? He could not do that. Not to her, he could not. Despite everything, she...was still his precious Juuri...
He idly wondered what his new fate would be, concerning the idea of his marriage. Despite his father's ideas of equality in Vampire society, he knew that the older Vampire would like it better if he were to be betrothed to another Pureblood, as was the way with their society. And there was only one other Pureblood that he knew of, who was close enough in age to him; the woman who had been brought up in discussions as a possible fiancée for Haruka –of course, that had been before this bombshell had been dropped.
Hmm, what was she like...that woman...? He remembered long, pale hair...and beautiful, sharp eyes. His lips curled; he also remembered a certain disregard for tradition and expectations of those around them. Interesting. They shared something in common, then...except he had not yet reached the point where he could allow himself to let go of all of his cares and simply do as he pleased. No, he could not afford to do that yet.
So, that would be his fate, then. An arranged marriage to another Pureblood.
To one who was not--
"If you hold onto that railing any harder, Kuran-sama, you will completely destroy it."
The familiar voice brought him out of his thoughts –thankfully, since he grudgingly accepted that neither he nor anyone else at the gathering would benefit from the dark feelings that were building up inside of him- and he turned his attention away from the garden he had been unseeingly staring into.
There stood a burgundy haired woman, clad in a short-sleeved dress of what appeared to be various hues of yellow –a sharp contrast to the dark colours he had seen adorned on the bodies of the other female Vampires inside. Her hair was pulled into a loose knot at the back of her head, and was interspersed with jewelled pins.
He could not help but think she painted a rather pretty picture, especially amidst the backdrop of his darkness.
Seeing how she held his gaze, he immediately forced his thoughts together, attempting to push back the dark thoughts he had been previously entertaining.
"It is a very old railing," he said, with a casual shrug. That was something he would not have allowed himself to do in the presence of most other nobles...but this one was different. Not only was she the niece and ward of one of his...trusted acquaintances, but he had known her for a while, now –even if it was only in the sense that they were capable of carrying on civil conversation without her fawning over him or him emphasising his position in society. "It could do with being replaced."
Silence engulfed them for a moment.
"Forgive me for interrupting your thoughts, but...should you not be elsewhere?"
He shrugged once more and proceeded to press more of his weight against the balcony railing.
"Probably," he said, his voice low, as he eyed her carefully. "Am I to assume that you were sent to fetch me back into...that?" He fervently hoped that he had not hissed out that last word. That would not do, after all. The young burgundy haired noble may be less respectful of him than others of her class were, but it did not mean that she was not intelligent or observant.
"You may assume what you wish," she said as she turned her gaze away from him and into the darkness of the gardens beyond him. "I merely wished to distance myself from all of 'that' for a moment or two. But seeing how this place is already taken..." She trailed off, seemingly uncertain as to whether she should stay or not.
He remained silent, a slight twist to his lips as he watched her jaw set. "I hope you do not mind another presence here, Kuran-sama, for I am most determined to get at least a moment or two of fresh air."
Despite the politeness of her statement, the steely tone underneath it all said that, on the contrary, she did not care if he minded or not, for she had made up her mind and she was going to do as she said she would.
It really could not be helped; he smirked.
"Not at all, my lady," he said, causing her to turn her piercing blue eyes back on him as she, no doubt, heard the mocking tone in his voice.
If he had been expecting a darkening of her eyes usually clear, light blue eyes, he was sorely disappointed. For he had observed before that all one needed to do was to look into her eyes to gauge her emotions; they darkened in anger, sparkled in amusement and cleared up incredibly in happiness.
"Why the sudden inclination to be polite, Kuran-sama?" she questioned, innocently. "I would have thought that someone of your reputation would not deign to return the respect you demand from others...?" She shook her head, a mocking tone in her voice this time as she said, "I suppose you cannot believe every rumour that you hear, hmm?"
He surprised himself with the rumble of laughter that left his lips, and saw that he had certainly surprised her too –a fact which he filed away in some corner of his mind.
"I must say that this conversation has so far been the most interesting one that I have had this evening," he said, once he had gotten his amusement under control, although it still appeared through his voice. His teeth glinted in the dimly lit area as the light from the lanterns caught them. "I suppose I should show you some gratitude, at least, for not sweeping the ground with your nose in deference..."
He was pleasantly surprised when a smile turned her lips upward, lighting up her blue eyes at the same time.
"Someone must try and ensure that your ego does not get too large for your own good, Kuran-sama," she remarked, her eyes twinkling.
He nodded, indulging her in her sudden interest in conversing with him –despite his almost ingrained urge to look upon her with disdain, for really, it was she who he was honouring by deigning to speak with her.
And also because there was only one person who he would freely converse with any day... and she was currently being paraded around the ballroom on her husband's arm...
This has to stop.
Swallowing, he decided to steer the conversation in a direction that would not remind him of the couple inside.
"I had heard..." he started slowly, "that you seem to be taking an interest in the world of acting...?" He observed her shoulders stiffening, and caught the slight strain in her smile as she averted her gaze momentarily, intriguing him despite himself with this most...peculiar behaviour.
"Really, now?" she murmured.
He nodded, although she was not looking at him.
"It seems an interesting choice of career," he commented, lightly, "Although I must say that it is not one I can see your dear aunt approving of." She rolled her eyes at that.
"Is it not a pity, then, that her opinion counts for naught when I make my decisions?" she asked, her...dislike of the older vampire showing clearly on her face. She shook her head slowly, once again bringing her eyes to meet his mismatched pair. "As for what you have heard, yes, I have taken an interest in that field, and I intend on involving myself heavily in it, if I am able."
He raised his eyebrows.
"Is there a specific reason for this, or is it on a...whim?"
"A bit of both," she added, after a short while. A small smile was back on her lips. "Come now, Kuran-sama; I can deeply annoy my aunt and do something interesting for a change –surely you can see how perfect a choice this is?"
If only, if only he could do as he liked, without caring about what his father would say; or what...what she, what precious Juuri, might think...
This is absurd, he thought, I have to find a way to stop...relating everything to...her...
"Of course, the perfection of the selection is quite clear," he said, keeping his tone light. He paused for a moment. "Will you aim to pursue a career with the theatre, and with stage plays, or would you rather involve yourself in the more...modern variations of acting?"
The smile on her lips widened as honest surprise flashed through her eyes. It took him but a moment to realize that she was actually surprised to see that he was interested in her...whim –not because he was Kuran Rido, but because someone was interested in her plans.
"I would prefer the more conventional aspects of acting, which would involve stage plays and the like," she said, after a moment. "But I would not mind trying my hand at the modern film industry. It does seem interesting. And some of the plots that they come up with are rather intriguing, if not implausible."
"Humans," he said, no small amount of disdain in his voice, "are at least useful for something, then."
She raised her eyebrows at his tone, but nodded with a smile.
"They do tend to have some lovely imaginations," she praised, her eyes twinkling as she gazed out behind him once more, a distanced expression appearing on her face as she no doubt let her thoughts take over.
Not quite caring about the fact that staring was considered rude, even in their vampire society, the striking Pureblood went on to do just that. His mismatched eyes were fixed on the girl standing before him.
In the dim light they were in...and if he squinted a fair bit, if she had her hair down...and if it was a darker brown colour, she could almost, almost pass off for his Juuri –in his mind, at least, for his heart knew without a doubt that no one would be able to pass off as her.
He was unaware of the mad glint in his...unusual mismatched eyes as he continued to stare at the female Vampire, just as he did not realize he was leaning towards her... He reached out with a hand and cupped one side of her face with it, his eyes seeing her as someone...else, as someone he dearly wanted to hold...to embrace...to--
"Rido-sama," whispered the burgundy haired Vampire, as she probed his mismatched eyes with her light blue pair. "Rido-sama..." she repeated, an urgent note entering her voice as he stroked the side of her face lightly.
"...I am not her, Rido-sama..." His fingers moved down to trace the outline of her lips. "I am not Juuri-sama, Rido-sama."
He stilled at once, as though frozen, and his eyes slowly lost the mad gleam that had sparked to life in them. All that he could do was take in a quick, sharp breath as he realized what he had done –what he was doing. He dropped his hand from the young woman's face as though her skin burned him.
All those lessons of posture and behaviour in society, lessons that had been all but ingrained into the inside of his head from the time he was old enough to learn, were slowly thrown out of the window as he stumbled back a step until his back hit the railing once more. He brought a hand up to his face, partially covering it as his breathing grew ragged.
What was wrong with him? What had he...why had he...?
"Do not come near me," he said, quietly, as he heard the soft rustle of fabric as his companion made to move towards him. He sensed her pause, and, for once, was grateful of the fact that Purebloods had to be adhered to, no matter what. All that he knew was that he wanted to retreat, to retreat somewhere far, far away from his family and from these...people who were a constant reminder of what he had yet did not have at the same time.
The dark beast within him surge once more. What was he doing? He had...she –he thought she --his momentary lapse of concentration was unforgiveable. Especially when the...darker part of him was urging him to reach out, to wrap his hand around her neck...to bury his head in the soft skin of her neck...to...to hurt...
...to hurt someone...
Oh Juuri...his beautiful, lovely Juuri...
He had given his heart to her, not out of obligation, but out of...a strong, honest emotion; and she had taken it, oh yes, she had taken his offering. What she had done next was not step on it, but stomp on it, grinding it under the sole of her foot, before handing back what was left of it.
What was she doing to him? Why did he...want to spill some blood...?
Why could she love Haruka and not him? Why could their father not look upon him with pride, the same pride the ever so quickly shone in his eyes when he saw Haruka?
Why, why, why, why, why?
"My apologies," he rasped, his voice sounding odd to his own ears. "I know not what came over me." If he had been his normal self, he would have attempted a charming smile, or an apologetic expression, but that was out of the question given his current state of mind. "I hope I have not...frightened...you?"
Of course, he did not mention having heard what she said, about her not being his Juuri. He would let it rest for that one time, and would not ask her how she...knew.
"You need not-" But the noble was interrupted by the appearance of the well dressed tall Vampire that appeared by the opened doors that led to the balcony.
"Rido-sama," he said, quickly bowing his head at the quickly straightening Pureblood. "Your mother and father request your presence inside. The time has come for him to officially give Haruka-sama and Juuri-sama his blessing."
He did not miss the way the noble Vampire cast him a quick glance, for there were two words running around his head.
Once that was given...there was no stopping it... It would be a definite, unbreakable bond that linked the two together for the rest of their lives.
It would forever be Kuran Haruka and Juuri...with a deeper meaning to it than them simply being siblings.
...Not Kuran Rido and Juuri.
Suppressing the wave of...what exactly he did not know, that threatened to overcome him, he nodded at the well dressed male. He would go. He would be asked to stand as witness to the blessing of course, being the eldest Kuran child... It would be hard, but he...would do it, even if it was only because he had no choice.
Not yet, at least.
"Of course," he said, quietly. He turned to his burgundy haired companion and nodded at her, somewhat unsure as to what he should say, before stalking towards the doors.
It was bright in the ballroom, but he supposed that that was even more so because he had been in the dark outside. Gazing to the front of the room, he saw the four members of his family already gathered there, no doubt waiting for him.
He was going to do this, he had to. It was what was expected of him after all.
His resolve faulted as he headed towards his family and as his eyes landed on her, but he gritted his teeth and continued.
Haruka may have won this one...but he was not going to let him win anything else.
Mark my words, little brother, I will not allow you anything more.
Not one thing.
I get the feeling that that was horrible. Aargh! I honestly don't know how that happened, or why it happened. All that I know was that I really...felt bad for Rido. And then I started to think that maybe he wasn't so bad after all; maybe he had been normal, once –or as close to normal as he could get- before...things happened and he changed. (And I started to think of Juuri as being a bit... 'high and mighty' for some reason, after seeing the small picture of her while Rido was mumbling about how he was never good enough for her... strange).
Based on the last few manga chapters that were released, I gathered that it was Kaname's grandparents who established the Council who would govern the Vampire world. (He tells the Council Elders -when he summons them to kill them- that 'his grandfather' was the last King of Vampires -and I took it to mean Haruka, Juuri and Rido's father...not the...father of the Kuran ancestor or whatever it is that 'Kaname' is). And we know that Rido was imprisoned -or something of the sort- before he hunted down Haruka and Juuri and ended up killing Haruka. My way of thinking was that the three siblings' father abolished the 'monarchy' as it were, somewhere around the time when Rido began to get instable...as he was the eldest child and would be expected to take over from his father one day. Or to prevent people like Rido from ever gaining power -whichever it is.
...Wow, that sounds farfetched, doesn't it? Eek. Just bear with me for that one!
Well, anyways, that's it from me.
Hope you enjoyed it!