Disclaimer : Standard disclaimers apply.
The one way Ichijou could be sure that the bastard had completely left Shiki's body was to look into his eyes.
But the smell…the heady smell of Kaname's blood, thick and cloying, still stung his senses; there was no forgetting, no escaping – the scent of ancient blood, how it could drive any vampire insane with want.
Ichijou Takuma could hold his breath if he wanted to; he had had enough practice, having been in Kuran Kaname's presence for so long…
A shaky hand rose to rest gingerly on his forehead as he fought the urge to be ill. Standing over his friend in a darkened room like this, Ichijou could almost dissociate himself from the chaos fast brewing outwith the immediate protective vicinity of his dormitory.
He pleaded silently for Shiki to awake.
"You probably can't hear me…" Ignoring his pounding head, Ichijou kneeled next to the unconscious figure lying on the settee. "It can't be helped, I guess."
Shiki had been so frightened. The one time he struggled to resurface, the one time he decided to fight back, it just had to be when Ridou was engaged in battle with Rima.
A pang of guilt wormed its way into the pit of Ichijou's stomach. It was up to him, was it not? To protect Rima when Shiki could not?
Ichijou's face brightened as an immense wave of relief washed over him. "Shiki!"
He could feel the fog recede little by little. Shiki closed his eyes, but before long, they flew open again, his pale face tight with fear and alarm. "Where am I? What happened-"
Ichijou reached out a placating hand but Shiki shot upright to a sitting position, his vision sharpening to its normal acuity only to fixate on the upper half of the blond vampire's face.
He automatically raised his hand but Ichijou recoiled quickly.
Shiki's eyes were his own once again, yet the rising horror in them was too painful for Ichijou to see. He looked away.
"Ichijou-san…" At the sound of his name, he wavered.
Shiki's voice died to a painful whisper. "Did I do this to you?"
"No." Ichijou's eyes shone hard and cold in the darkness. "You did not."
Shiki's throat worked painfully against the sudden parchedness, his heart sinking- "Ichijou-san, you're lying."
Once again he reached out to touch the livid bruise just barely brushing the outer border of Ichijou's upper eyelid, aware that the hand he was reaching out was the very hand that had inflicted the injury. "I could have blinded you."
"It was not you." Ichijou pried his fingers away, only to hold them against his chest, unabashed and desperate; Shiki needed to understand that he was not the one to blame. "He was not you."
"I should have tried harder. Ruka. Rima." Shiki was close to hyperventilating. "You."
"I should have resisted-"
"Shiki!" Ichijou had to use considerable strength to gather his near-hysterical best friend in a raw embrace, and held him as tightly as Shiki's flailing arms would allow.
"Shiki, listen!" He whispered in Shiki's ear, fiercely, pleadingly. "Listen to me!"
Shiki stopped fighting, his body stilling to a tetanic stiffness at Ichijou's next words.
"There's nothing bad about you, Shiki."
Shiki couldn't understand why Ichijou's voice was shaking.
"You were used. I did nothing to stop it."
A husky, strangled whisper. "I'm the despicable one."
Shiki held his breath in stunned silence as Ichijou's cold fingers, only seconds ago tenderly pressed against the side of his face, were replaced by the gentle brush of his lips. Ichijou's breath was comfortingly warm against his skin as he uttered but two words-
"Do not think badly of me, Shiki." Ichijou pulled away only to gaze at him imploringly. "What must be done…I simply must do."
Shiki's blood ran cold. "Let me come with you."
As was his nature to answer most everything with a smile, Ichijou was not surprised to sense the edges of his lips tilting on their own volition.
Shiki never thought there would come a day when the mere sight of Ichijou-san's smile, that always so infectiously sunny smile, could rouse this indescribable rush of emotions from within him – anger, grief, anxiety, and pain, all mingled together in an instantaneous, tumultuous rage. He knew what it meant.
Its familiar gentleness, the finality behind its sadness…it left no room for contestation.
Ichijou was going by himself, and there was nothing Shiki could say or do that would sway him.
"It has to end with me, Shiki."
Upon hearing his own words Ichijou realised with a sinking feeling, perhaps not for the first time, how being born into the Ichijou family may be the greatest curse he had yet borne.
When did he start lying to himself? When did he become so weak as to not realise the treachery his own family had committed? To stay by Kaname's side as the Council's eyes and ears, was that not the lowest of low?
To be used so mindlessly…what a blind, spineless fool he was.
He looked at Shiki. "Guess we do have something in common after all, eh?"
"Ichijou-san…" Shiki begged. He knew, of all people, he should be the one to have the most faith in Ichijou…but to go against one of the ancient ones, even if it was one's own grandfather-
It would mean certain death.
Shiki jumped to his feet-
Ichijou-san was going to die.
Shiki lunged forward, catching Ichijou's lips in his, and with unrestrained ferocity Shiki kissed him hard-
If this was going to be their last kiss…
Shiki could not bring himself to entertain the thought. Desperately he deepened the kiss, aware of Ichijou's valiant albeit reluctant attempt to hold off his exploratory tongue, boldly yet delicately advancing-
Ichijou was the one thing he could not lose. Not now, not ever.
They simultaneously dropped to their knees, and Ichijou's prized katana fell heavily to the floor with a resounding clang-
"Don't go," Shiki heard himself say, his voice hollow, blunted by the kiss-
Ichijou's only response to his plea was the soft curving of his lips against his, and when he pulled away, all too quickly, Shiki felt his eyes begin to water.
"Remember I love you, Shiki."
Shiki's breath halted in his throat.
The taste of Shiki still fresh on his lips, Ichijou squared his shoulders and climbed to his feet.
Shiki could not take his eyes away, even as Ichijou's shadow grew-
The blond vampire towered over him with his katana firm in his grasp, his majestic frame cutting an impressive figure against the silhouette of the moon. Shiki unconsciously took it all in, bathing and basking in the light of his radiance, perhaps for the very last time-
"You rest now. Everything will be alright in the morning."
When dawn broke and Ichijou did not return, his words stayed with him the whole night, and always. Shiki made sure of it.