Title: Puberty

Rating: 16+ for some adolescent fooling around

Pairings: Zero x Yuuki

Warning: Non-consensual stuff, but nothing too severe. Some unobtrusive canon inconsistency with school layout (I can't imagine anyone cares). And spoilers up through the first half of season one (Volume 3 of the manga) or so.

Zero had insomnia. He wasn't good at hiding it.

"Zero?" Yuuki asked, her pencils rattling as she zipped up her pencil case. "Are you okay?"

His head was buried in his arms, his long legs crammed under his row's platform desk. The students chattered as they picked themselves up from the seats around him and scurried off to the dorms. He stirred slightly, but didn't answer.

"Class is over. You want something to drink?" She reached over to grip his elbow.

He shrugged her off. He lifted his head with a muted grunt, his purple gaze focusing on her unsteadily.

He had bags under his eyes. Yuuki frowned, wondering why she hadn't noticed that in the morning.

"Not sleeping well?" she asked quietly.

"I'm fine," he murmured.

"You look sick."

He dropped his head back into his arms.

Yuuki stuffed her schoolbag. "The chairman wants to see us today," she reminded him. "Something about next week's school trip. Should I tell him you're sick so you can take a nap instead?"

He groaned. He slowly pulled himself up to lean back in his seat, the old wood creaking under his shifting weight. "I'll go," he murmured.

"Are you sure? I'm sure he won't--"

"I'll go."

Yuuki dropped it. She had the feeling he wanted to avoid the chairman's questions more than he wanted to feel better. She gathered her things and exited the room, stopping in the hallway to allow him to catch up. It took a minute. She let her arms fall slack to swing her bag, back and forth, back and forth, letting it bump against the knees left bare by her pleated skirt.

He finally came. She gripped his sleeve and pulled him to walk behind her. He pulled back a bit, almost out of habit, but her fingers stayed firmly pinched. He tiredly let himself be led along.

The chairman wasn't in his office when they arrived, so they took the two padded chairs directly inside his doorway. Zero fell into his, letting his bag hit the floor by his feet with a clunk. He rested his temple in a propped hand and closed his eyes.

Yuuki didn't like to sit for long; she grew restless when she did. A moment of silence and then she stood, the leather of the chair peeling back from the sweat behind her knees.

"I wonder where he is?" she asked aloud. "I think I have the time right."

Zero said nothing.

"Maybe something came up last minute," Yuuki mused as she absently walked around the room. Her eyes fell on familiar sights--the bookshelf, the mahogany desk, the pictures of her as a young girl in frames on the desktop. She stopped by the window to look down at the courtyard.

Several more minutes passed in silence. She looked at the clock.

"Maybe I did get the time wrong."

"No," Zero murmured at last. "I remember him saying it. He either forgot, or something came up."

Yuuki frowned. "How long should we wait?"

"I don't know."

She paused. "Zero," she said at last, turning to him. "Are you getting nightmares again?"

Zero sighed. He rubbed his eyes with a fist and lowered a tired gaze at her. "I said I was fine," he said.

"Then were you up late studying? Exams aren't for a while."

"No, I just..." He trailed off, then sighed again. He gripped the armrests of his chair with both hands and pushed himself to his feet. "I said I was fine," he repeated.

She frowned at him. He walked over to her and flicked her cheek. "Give it a rest," he muttered. "Nobody can sleep well every night."

"Zero." She flicked him back, on the forehead. He blinked in surprise. "You've got too much on your plate to be tired all the time. I stayed up all night to study once, then I did bad on exams and let a few Day Class girls break through the ranks to harass the Night Class. We need our sleep." He pushed a fist against her hip. "Both of us. Every night."

He stared down at her a moment, then looked away. "Whatever."

"Why don't you take something?" she asked. "You know, to help you get to sleep."

"Take what? A pill? I take enough pills, thanks." The look on his face darkened.

Her eyes traveled across the room. "We can ask the nurse, or..." He gaze fell on the cabinet cubby behind the chairman's desk. "Or there! There."

Zero looked up as she squeezed behind the desk's chair. She grabbed her foster father's silver tray with both hands and brought it to rest on the desk, the glass atop it clinking.

Zero watched the amber liquid in the tall bottle sway gently with the tray's movement. "Scotch?" he asked, narrowing his eyes skeptically.

"Sure. The chairman said he puts some in his tea most nights to help get to sleep. I know you're underage, but he lets the Night Class drink wine. If it's just a little..." She pulled out the glass stopper, sniffed the Scotch, then made a face. "It smells so sour."

Zero tentatively picked up the bottle. He stared into the golden liquid.

"Do you want me to make tea? So you can put some in it."

"No, I...I can just drink it. I guess." He flipped the empty glass on the tray rightside up. He slowly poured the Scotch into the glass, careful not to fill it more than a quarter of the way up.

Yuuki watched him lift the glass, stare into it, and frown. He closed his eyes and drank it in two gulps. He grimaced after each.

"What's the matter?" Yuuki asked.

He put the glass back on the tray and wiped the back of his mouth with a hand. "It burns," he murmured.

Yuuki was suddenly curious. "Burns?" she repeated. "What, like something spicy?"

"No." He picked up the bottle. "Like...mouthwash."

Yuuki felt something muted in her heart start up--some excited tingling. She felt like she was standing on the edge of a chasm, one that started at childhood and ended, way at the bottom, with adulthood.

"Can...I try?" she asked, feeling her heart beat a little faster.

"No." He poured the Scotch again and capped the bottle.

"Just a little, Zero."

"No," he said, more adamantly this time as he poured the new glass of Scotch entirely into his mouth. He swallowed hard, blinking. He turned watery eyes to her.

"I'm not doing this because I want to. It's not fun."

Yuuki wilted. Her heartbeat slowed to its normal pace. "I didn't say it was fun," she retorted with a little sniff, picking up the tray and once again sliding it into the cabinet cubby. "I was just curious."

"Don't be. Not everything is worth trying." He walked back to the chairs and fell back into his. He slid down in it until his head rested against the leather back.

Not for the first time, Yuuki felt a little frustrated at how Zero was so serious about everything. But, also not for the first time, she felt that frustration melt away. It was just the way he was. And after everything he'd been through over the past four years, she couldn't blame him for having a dark outlook on life.

She sighed a little and looked out the window. At least Zero didn't seem to be suicidal anymore. And with her blood, he was somehow staving off madness--for now, at least. She had no reason to be frustrated.

But she was.

Sometimes, anyway.

And she wasn't always sure what she was frustrated about.

Two Day Class boys were throwing a ball around outside, so she locked her eyes on them and let her mind wander. Before she knew it, the faint sound of the grandfather clock's chime from the main hall reached her ears.

She looked at the clock. She was surprised to see they'd been waiting there for almost an hour.

Zero hadn't moved from his chair. "Zero?" she called, a little worried. His eyes were closed, but his head had only drooped slightly forward on his neck.

He didn't reply. She walked over to see if he was asleep--if he was, she wanted to wake him up just enough to walk him back to his room. She leaned down closer to his face.

"Zero?" she whispered in his ear.

He awoke with a start. He panted, his eyes whipping back and forth to take in the room before gazing up into Yuuki's curious stare. He stared back, his eyes wide, as if he still weren't entirely sure where he was.

"Zero?" she repeated gently.

He just continued to pant. She noticed a bit of a flush to his normally pale face. He swallowed, trying to catch his breath, before his eyes slowly traveled down from her face.

And to her neck. And to the bow that rested right under her collar. And to the buttons on her jacket. And then back up again, to that bow.

His eyes deliberated there, almost confused.

She looked down to her bow. Was it torn or something?

He looked away abruptly, his fingers burying into the leather of the chair. "Wh-what time is it?" he stuttered.

Yuuki's best guess was that he'd been dreaming. She had her own set of nightmares; she didn't want to deliberate on what his own were probably like.

"Four," she said, pulling one of his arms toward her. "Let's get you to your bed. The chairman--"

He pulled his arm back from her, as if burned. He stumbled to his feet and backed away from her.

Yuuki frowned. "Are you okay?"

He swallowed hard. His eyes settled on her face, then the bow, then back to her face.

"I'm...fine," he breathed as he backed toward the door. "I have to...go."

She picked up her bag. "Okay," she said. "Let me walk you."

"No," he said sharply. He turned and stumbled out the door without looking back.

Yuuki sighed. "Fine," she said, although he was already long gone.

Zero being Zero, she wasn't really worried. A little confused, maybe, but she was also used to that. She was about to go back to her own dorm when she realized Zero had forgotten his bag.

She picked up the bag, not realizing the top was unclasped. A few of his notebooks spilled out and onto the floor. Clucking her tongue, Yuuki got to her knees to collect what she'd dropped.

And froze.

There was a picture of her among the notebooks. Well, not just of her--of the two of them. It was from the early weeks of school, based on the seasonal background. It was a shot of the two of them sitting on the edge of the school fountain; she smiled and waved at the camera while his attention was diverted to something off-screen. She vaguely remembered the photo being taken by a classmate.

It was worn down at the corners, and it looked like it had been crumpled a number of times.

It was...odd. A little. Not the picture itself, but the fact that he kept it with his notebooks...and possibly in his pocket, based on the wear.

Her heart beat a little faster. Once again she felt like she was standing on the edge of something...older.

She swallowed away the feeling and stuffed his things back in the bag. Hefting it onto the shoulder opposite her own bag, she left the chairman's office and made for the boy's dorm.

****

She didn't remember that Zero wasn't staying in his normal room until she was halfway there. He'd been transferred to a guest suite near the chairman's room recently. His own room had been...trashed. And as much as the chairman brushed it off as a prank by his "classmate friends," Yuuki could guess the truth.

Zero had probably trashed it himself. His normal temperament with his budding vampiric strength could be a violent combination on bad days.

Yuuki sighed. He was getting better, she had to keep reminding herself.

When she at last made it to the room he'd been moved to, she could immediately tell something was wrong. Quietly, she lowered his bag to the floor of the hallway. She perked up her ears.

He was behind his door, all right...she could hear him. But he was gasping in there. Heavily. She'd heard him gasping similar to that once, and she'd pushed into his room to find him puking on his floor. Was he sick again? Was he upset? Maybe that nightmare in the chairman's office had been worse than she'd thought.

The mental image of his destroyed room came back to haunt her. She had to do something.

She knocked on his door, quickly but carefully. "Zero?" she called.

No answer. His voice was muted enough that he was possibly in the attached bathroom.

The memory of him kneeling in a pool of his own vomit came back to her. She tried his knob; his door was unlocked. She opened it and pushed her head in. "Zero?" she called again.

"Nn," was the only response from his bathroom, and she wasn't sure it was aimed at her. With her head in his room, she could now hear the sound of running water from the bathroom.

Privacy be damned--they never had much of it between them, anyway. She shut the door behind her and marched over to the bathroom. First checking to make sure it was unlocked, she threw open the semi-opaque glass door.

He was in the shower, which made her freeze. But he wasn't naked. On the contrary, he was wearing street clothes. Which meant he had changed out of his uniform, into his normal clothes, and then had jumped into the shower to turn the water on over his head.

It was very confusing.

"Zero?" she asked tentatively. She was starting to think something was really wrong.

His head suddenly whipped to her. His eyes widened, clearly because he hadn't noticed her come in.

"Wh-what?" he breathed.

Yuuki left the bathroom door open behind her. "Zero," she said carefully, reaching into the shower to turn off the faucet. "Are you okay?"

He grabbed her wrist to stop her.

Yuuki noticed, in surprise, that the water in the shower and on his hand was cold.

He abruptly shifted his grip on her. He stepped out of the cold shower, pushing her toward the bathroom wall.

"Z-Zero," she breathed, slightly alarmed. "Do you need...blood? Are you okay?"

His wet hand pushed her own against the condensation of the tiled wall. "Yuuki," he breathed, his eyes hazy.

She looked up at him. He loomed over her, breathing heavily, his eyes dark with some unusual emotion. It was when he breathed on her that she smelled the faint remains of something sour.

The scent of alcohol was what pushed her over the edge of alarm. That tingling started up in her heart again...along with that sense of being on a cliff's edge. Something new was here. Something...adult.

Something dangerous.

She swallowed hard. "Zero," she whispered. "Did you...drink too much?"

And then his mouth was suddenly open against hers, his gasps garbled by his frantic, tangling tongue.

Yuuki couldn't react. Yuuki couldn't breathe. His mouth pushed her head back abruptly, and the back of her head hit the wall unexpectedly hard. Everything went dark for a second, but when it came back, his hot tongue was twisting around hers and the world was swimming and his hands were grabbing at her chest under her collar's bow.

"Zer--mmn." She wanted to push him off, but with the way fear seared through her veins, all she could do was clutch at his hands weakly. He wasn't kissing her--she wasn't reacting enough for his actions to be kisses. But he was trying, she was pretty sure. And he was clutching at her breasts, his fingers digging through her clothes enough to hurt a little.

He moaned and pushed his bony hips against her. She noticed, despite the way her mind swam, that there was something hard digging at her from within his jeans. He rocked against her, that hard something grinding against one of her legs.

Her heart thundered in her ears. When he finally pulled his mouth off hers he instead latched it to her neck. She squeezed shut her eyes in anticipation of that familiar, dull stinging as he buried his teeth in her neck. But after a number of panicked seconds, she realized he wasn't biting her. He was just sucking at her flesh and moaning.

Some strange warmth pooled between her legs. It seemed to be linked to her fear.

"Z-Zero!" she finally managed to gasp, her hands coming up to shakily grab at his shoulders. He was grinding hard against her now, his legs closed tightly around one of hers, his tight jeans against bare skin as her pleated skirt was bunched up at the top of their hips. She dug her fingers into his shirt. "Zero...wait!"

"Yuuki," he moaned at her neck. He dragged her necklace into his teeth, the chain catching between his teeth. He bit down on it, groaning. "Mmmki," he moaned around gritted teeth and silver. "Yuuki...Yuuki...!"

He suddenly made a strangled gasp, pausing for a second before his hips bucked uncontrollably. She felt something warm spread across the front of his jeans.

Yuuki was terrified. Her vision went fuzzy, almost as if it were trying to block out what she saw. Zero's flushed skin, his open mouth, his gasps as he squeezed shut long eyelashes. She felt like she was peeking into another world that he she hadn't earned the right to. His body was releasing something powerful and terrible at her--something she hadn't known existed until 30 seconds earlier.

And then it was gone. Zero slumped against her, panting, his eyes closed.

Yuuki couldn't move. Her heart thundering in her ears, she watched with wide eyes as he slid to his knees, the weight of his body pulling her down with him. Her knees folded under her. The tiles were wet and cold and leaked a chill under her skirt. As his hands dragged from her breasts to her arms, his cheek fell against her bare calf.

"...Mmmnot..." He murmured against her skin. He shifted his face, and the hot, wet trail of his mouth made her shiver. "Mmmnot...wanna..."

And then he was silent.

Yuuki opened her mouth, but she couldn't speak. The pounding of the shower water against the ceramic floor couldn't drown out the blood rushing through her ears. She finally found enough strength to raise a hand and gently, barely touch the top of his head.

"Zero?" she whispered.

He was asleep. His shoulders rose and fell with his breathing, his hot breath rhythmic against her thigh.

Muted footsteps from the hallway creaked through the wood of the floor, touching even the edge of the bathroom they were sprawled in.

Yuuki's head jerked up. For one, heart-stopping moment, she thought the chairman had come to look for them.

But the footsteps passed, and no one knocked on Zero's room door. When the footsteps finally disappeared under the sound of the running shower, Yuuki was overcome with a deep, crushing sense of loneliness.

Her heart half-wished he had come to find her. She wished someone who could protect her had come to find her.

"Father," she breathed. "K-Kaname-senpai." Her glassy eyes stayed locked on the sleeping teenager in her lap. "Somebody...help me."

*****

Zero missed first period the next day. Yuuki was simultaneously relieved and anxious that he wasn't there. But when she looked up after the break and saw him walk through the door with his bag over his shoulder, that relief/anxiety was no match for the rush of feelings that surged through her.

She wanted to run and hide. Somewhere small and dark and far, far away.

She quickly pretended to busy herself with her notebook. She could hear the sound of his footsteps on the wooden floors, slow and deliberate, and each tap against the floor was like a nail in her heart.

"Yuuki?"

She swallowed hard. She wondered if she could pretend she hadn't heard him.

"Yuuki?" Long fingers flicked her forehead.

Yuuki slammed her hands on her desk. "Y-yes?" she squeaked.

She could hear Zero start. Holding her breath, she tentatively looked up through her bangs.

He looked...better. He wasn't as pale as the day before, and the bags under his eyes were gone. He also looked completely surprised to see her on edge.

He doesn't remember.

She'd half-predicted that, actually. Zero had sleepwalked before, and he definitely didn't remember everything he did and said when he was tired. The fact that the old Zero was in front of her, normal as if the day before had never happened, was a piece of relief that she allowed herself to feel.

But she still wanted to run.

"Are you...okay?" he asked, confused. "You have bags under your eyes."

Yuuki blinked. "Oh," she said, looking away. "Um, I just didn't...sleep that well last night."

A pause. A fingernail came up to gently touch the band-aid on her neck.

"Oh!" she said quickly, throwing her hand over it. "It's not what you think."

His eyebrows creased. That familiar sick, guilty feeling washed over his face.

"Did I...bite you?" he whispered.

Yuuki shook her head quickly. "No!" she said. "No, you didn't..." She paused. "You'd...remember that, wouldn't you?"

He frowned. "That Scotch messed me up a little," he admitted quietly. "I don't remember getting back to my room or taking a shower." He looked away uncomfortably. "And it gave me...weird dreams."

Yuuki stared at him, her hand clapped firmly over the band-aid. There was a little color to his cheeks, and his eyebrows were furrowed the way they were when he felt guilty.

Zero.

"I-I was just picking at the old bite," she murmured. "And it started bleeding. Stupid, right?" She smiled weakly.

He turned back to her. He stared into her eyes, a complicated, unreadable emotion behind those purple irises. For a moment she thought he was going to say something, but then he turned away and went to his seat.

Yuuki swallowed. Her knees shaking under her desk, she slowly pulled out her pencil case.

She prayed he didn't pull off the band-aid to check. She prayed none of the Night Class members or Kaname tried to, either. She much preferred everyone thinking there were fresh bite marks under it than the ugly, purple bruise Zero had left after sucking at her.

It was almost impossible to concentrate during class, but Yuuki still tried. It helped keep her mind off Zero. It also kept her from deliberating on the fact that from the corner of her eye, she could see him looking at the bow below her collar.

She started to remember how often she'd caught him doing that lately. She'd always assumed he was looking at her neck or her necklace.

Yuuki buried her head on her desk.

She didn't know when things had things changed between her and Zero. Had she been ignoring it? Was it only him? He was practically her brother. She had no idea how she was supposed to have a working relationship with him if...

She swallowed.

"Mmmnot...wanna..."

The thought of Zero's hot, flushed mouth open against her thigh sent that strange heat to pool between her legs. She squeezed her shaking knees closer together and bit her lip.

Nothing would ever be the same.

Yuuki had a meeting, alone, with the chairman after class. The first thing she was going to do was throw herself into his arms.

The end