I don't own the characters of Vampire Knight. Matsuri Hino does. So there. ;P

Let me thank you for reading in advance and I hope you'll enjoy reading this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it!

X-O-X-O

She walked alone, her long brown hair blowing in breeze of the harsh November night. Yuuki pulled her coat in closer about her small frame, a shiver flowing through her body. She hated this time of year most of all.

Continuing along her way, she passed a couple holding hands, hurrying along to a nearby cafe to escape the cold. Even her heart seemed chilled, the sight enough to make her stomach turn. She herself had never experienced happy times such as this, had never walked hand in hand with someone, a smile upon her face and a warmth in her heart. No, never she, for all those who would have loved her had been lost long ago. Yuuki was an orphan, having been passed around from foster home to foster home all her young life.

After her fifteenth birthday, she had finally had enough and had fled from her last home, leaving that world of loneliness only to find herself stuck in the middle of another.

She continued on, past the cafe, towards the only home she knew. It was nearly dark, and Yuuki knew better than to find herself out after dusk, for that was when things got a bit too exciting for her own tastes. That was their time. Though they roamed at all hours, their greatest joy, the hunt, was set aside until nightfall. That was when, in this city of millions, that they could easily pick off a human here or there, leaving no trace of the despicable deed behind.

She knew of their wickedness first hand. Her parents had been lost to a rogue band of them looking for a thrill one cold winter night ten years ago.

Yuuki still remembered that night, burned into her mind like some vicious scar…the screams of her mother as her father was taken. Her screams had died suddenly as her own life was put to an end, the ghastly sounds of their feast the only sounds echoing throughout the house as the young girl remained hidden, engulfed in fear.

'Damn vampires', she thought bitterly, her sanctuary coming into view up ahead. St. Mary's Church, home to many like herself when night fell. Services of the traditional sort were no longer held there, but faith in the Almighty remained intact.

There resided a man…Cross was his name. His goals in life included protecting the less fortunate of this world, both from themselves and more importantly, from the disgusting creatures that prowled the nights, searching always for their next victim.

Cross was a kind man, always ready and willing to assist others in any way possible. Yuuki was sure he'd offer the shirt off his back if it were to benefit another. He'd become much like a surrogate father to her in the past year, since she'd been on her own. It was never easy, being alone. But Cross made the wreckage that was her life just a bit more tolerable. He saw to it that she had food in her belly and a warm place to sleep at night, that she was educated and kept away from those that wished to bring her harm.

He knew full well that this girl, however small in stature, was no push over. No, Yuuki was nothing close to helpless…just a lost soul like so many others in this city of broken dreams. She'd never really had a chance, her parents losing their lives so early in her life. Sometimes, in times of intense misery, Yuuki wished that she too had been taken, spared this life that she'd come to know.

Looking around one last time, a sudden wind whipping her long brown hair in all directions, Yuuki shivered, knowing that they were out there, watching and waiting on the next opportunity to present itself.

She turned, pushing hard against the huge old church door. It creaked and moaned in protest as she stepped inside, closing the door behind her with much the same effort. With annoyance, she quickly saw that there was a full house tonight, people milling all about the church.

"Yuuki," came a familiar, cheerful voice.

"Good evening, Cross. How was today?" she asked, turning to meet him as he approached. He held a steaming bowl of something in his hands and proffered it as soon as she was in reach.

"As you can see, we've collected more souls today," he joked, noticing her feigned smile.

"I guess more and more are realizing that they have no chance of being devoured here," she said dryly, taking a bite of what appeared to be stew. It tasted terrible, as it always did, but it warmed her and kept her from feeling hungry. That was enough.

"Yuuki, I've found something for you. There's a café on March Avenue. If you like, they're willing to take you on for a few days a week. I know it isn't much and that you'll most likely still be stuck with me, but I thought it'd be good for you. They'd like to see you tomorrow at 10 am," he told her, and she nearly choked on her stew.

"Cross, that's awesome. Thank you," she said, a smile gracing her face. It suited her, he thought, though it didn't seem to occur nearly enough. This girl had been through hell and he was determined to help her have a decent life. Everything had been taken away from her so early in life, but she was so intelligent and had such a pleasant demeanor despite her position that he knew things would turn around for her some day.

"Think nothing of it, Yuuki. Now, you'd best get some rest before tomorrow. I've left you something on your bed. I hope you like it," he said with a smile.

"Oh, thank you. I'm sure I will," she said, finishing the contents of her bowl and handing it to him.

"Goodnight, Yuuki. Sleep well," he told her, smiling as she turned to make her way to her quarters.

Her bed was in a room down a lone hallway, away from the cots and sleeping bags that lined the room where the sanctuary had once been. Only a few broken pews remained, along with the intricate stained glass windows. Yuuki entered her room, bolting the door behind her. No use in having any unwanted visitors during the night, she thought.

Fumbling in the dark, she found the oil lamp on her night table, soft light soon bathing the small room. The electrical wiring in the church was nothing to be proud of, so Cross had such lamps in many of the rooms, along with lanterns hanging in the hallways. She didn't have much to her name, but what little bit of clothing and personal items she had was stored in the large dresser against the far wall.

Turning to her bed, Yuuki's mouth dropped open in shock. A new outfit lay across her bed. It was just her speed and she immediately thought Cross must really pay attention to details. He surely wanted her to look nice for tomorrow. She tried them on, smoothing the skirt down and looking at herself in the mirror on top of the dresser.

"So thin and pale," she muttered, frowning a bit in the mirror. She'd never been of any size, but lately she'd become even more gaunt, her hip bones protruding a bit more than she would've liked.

Her thoughts had gotten progressively bitter as of late, only contributing to her diminishing stature. Though relatively comfortable and out of harm's way in Cross's care, Yuuki longed for a life with more substance. A normal life was something that seemed totally out of reach, but was something she so longed to have.

Cross had seen to it that she was schooled, having her attend classes with him almost daily. Yuuki had always been intelligent, being born with an innate common sense that many in this world lacked. Her classes bored the life out of her, but she went just the same, not wishing to displease her caretaker or make him think she was ungrateful. It gave her something to occupy her time with at least.

Still looking into the mirror, she began to brush her long dark hair, a feeling of melancholy descending upon her. She sighed mightily, finishing up and laying her brush on the dresser.

Turning, she walked to her bed, crawling under the sheets and staring up at the ceiling. As hard as she tried, she couldn't shake the feelings she'd had for so long. Lonely. Empty. Cursed.

Heart heavy, she turned down the lamp, casting pitch blackness over the room. That night was like most others, leaving her tossing and turning, the nightmares chasing her from any possibility of sleep.

X-O-X-O

Yuuki woke in the morning, feeling worse than she had the night before. It was 8:27, giving her just enough time to have a shower and head for the café.

Zipping up a tall black boot, she wondered if this job would work out. It'd be nice, she thought, to be involved in something new. The money would be nice, too, she added with a small grin. Though she knew he didn't mind it, she was sick of Cross having to provide for her. He was a great man, but she knew that he had others to worry about as well and she didn't want to make a burden of herself. She walked down the corridor to the sanctuary, where she found Cross entertaining some of the younger children who were currently staying at the church.

"Sorry to interrupt," she said as she approached, "but I'm off. Thanks again, Cross," she said, meeting his smile with one of her own. She was wearing the outfit he'd left for her, and it pleased him to know that she was fond of it.

"Yuuki!" the children squealed in unison, several of them waving furiously at her. Children loved her, though she didn't know why.

"Hi, guys. Are you behaving well for Cross?" she asked, receiving zealous nods in return.

"Good. I'll see you later," she told them, waving goodbye as she turned to go.

"Yuuki," Cross called, halting her retreat.

"Yes?"

"Be careful out there. I'll see you later," he said, turning back to the children.

"Sure thing," she muttered, disappearing into the hallway once more.

There would be no punishment from Cross should she decide to stay out after dark. However, should she do such a thing, it would also be her own fault should she find herself victim to a demon lusting for her blood.

She shuttered at the thought, a chill running up her spine. Yuuki wondered how many of them dwelled in this city. Noticing that her thoughts were making her stomach churn, she forced herself to concentrate on the task at hand: getting a job.

X-O-X-O

The door chimed as she stepped through, poking her head in cautiously as she surveyed her new surroundings.

"Hello!" came a cheerful voice, almost startling her. A beautiful girl with wavy, ash blond hair emerged from behind the counter, appearing before her with alarming speed.

"How did you…oh, never mind," Yuuki muttered, smiling at the girl who was now looking inquisitively at her.

"I'm Ruka," she said, introducing herself. "And you must be Yuuki."

"Yeah, that's me. Nice to meet you," she said, shaking the hand that was offered.

"So, you're Cross's daughter, then?" Ruka wondered, releasing her hand as she spoke.

"Well, not exactly. He's kinda' like my foster father. My parents, they…" she trailed off, the hurt obvious in her voice. Feeling dreadful for asking, Ruka quickly moved to change the subject.

"Well, he said you were looking for something, and I'd love to have you," she said.

"Let me show you around. It's small, but we have quite the following here," she told her, maneuvering around a table as she began the grand tour of the café.

Yuuki took in the art prints and murals covering the walls, which were painted a deep crimson. Ruka showed her around, pointing out this and that. There were tall black stools along the counter and more bottles of wine than she'd seen in her life behind it.

"We have a pretty diverse clientele and everyone's pretty polite. Of course, there are some that feel as though we're here to see to their every whim and fancy, but they're few and far between. All in all, people that come here are pretty decent," Ruka told her as she slid into a nearby chair.

"So, what do you think? Would you like to work with me?" she wondered. This girl, she thought, would get along well here. She was cute, friendly and from what Cross had said, was able to get along with just about anyone.

"Yeah, I think it'd be great," Yuuki said with a grin, a smile likewise erupting across Ruka's face.

"Excellent! Well, how about we get started today, then?" she asked, her eyes glittering.

"Sure thing. What do I need to do?" Yuuki wondered, watching as Ruka disappeared behind the counter once more. She rummaged through a box for a moment before appearing once more with a short black apron in her hands. She proffered it to Yuuki, who then went about tying it about her small waist.

"There, now. You fit right in," Ruka noted cheerfully.

"People don't usually start coming around until later, so I don't officially open until 3. We're open pretty late, though," she informed her.

"How late?" Yuuki asked. Surely Cross had known. Did he actually want her out after dark?

"Well, we're open until 10. Is that a problem?" Ruka asked, concern written across her lovely face. Yuuki thought for only a moment before giving her answer.

"No, not at all. I can stay as long as you like," she said. Not often did she stay out after dark, and each time she did, she would become so paranoid that she couldn't even enjoy herself.

"Good. You'll be working a few days a week. I've got someone else that works for me, too. You'll be meeting him later," she said.

The day passed fairly quickly, with Ruka showing Yuuki the ins and outs of café work. She showed her how to take orders and showed her the order of the many wine bottles in house.

"Why is there so much red wine?" Yuka wondered, causing Ruka to blink.

"Ah, well…there's a much higher demand for it than the white, so we keep more of it on hand," she explained.

People started coming in after 3, Yuuki hustling around and seeing to their needs. Ruka watched her interact with people, impressed by the way she handled their customers. It didn't hurt that Yuuki was incredibly adorable, either. Ruka had already noticed her male customers ogling her. She'd be making a killing in tips alone, she thought with a smirk.

She was so preoccupied with taking orders and checking up on people she'd served that Yuuki didn't notice the door chime, nor did she hear the footsteps coming across the floor.

It wasn't until she turned, hurrying back to a table, that she ran smack into a hard body, nearly falling backwards onto her backside. Two strong arms saved her from that fate, however, holding her up as her wide eyes took in the sight of her savior.

She could've sworn that her heart stopped beating, her breath catching in her throat as she stared up at him. His lavender eyes seemed to strip her of any defense she'd ever erected, his silvery hair falling into them just so. After a moment, a smirk spread across his handsome face, his smile killing her softly.

"Are you going to make it?" he wondered, steadying her before he released her, leaving her feeling completely abandoned.

She knew she was still staring at him, though she couldn't exactly help herself. This man was absolutely gorgeous and she had the feeling that he was well aware of it.

"I…um…" she muttered, clutching the order pad in her hands tightly.

She noticed a tattoo on the left side of his neck, bold and black, his ears pierced as well. He wore a black leather choker with a steel cross dangling from it around his neck, his white shirt unbuttoned and showing a teasing bit of his sculpted chest. Suddenly, Yuuki noticed that she was blushing, a realization that made her curse herself internally. Snapping back from her stupor, she spoke, her words forming slowly as she did so.

"I should really watch where I'm going. Sorry about that," she said, feeling as though his eyes were tearing her apart. Ruka, watching the scene with great amusement, made her way over to the pair, an enormous smile gracing her lips.

"I see you've met Zero. Zero, this is Yuuki. She'll be working with us." She swallowed hard, watching him clear his hair from his eyes and selfishly wishing she were the one doing so.

"Nice to meet you," he said, amused by the sight before him. This girl, attractive as she was, looked like a deer caught in headlights. Surely he wasn't that intimidating.

"Yeah, you too. Um…I'd better get back to it," she said, managing to tear her eyes off him long enough to excuse herself. He watched her go, his attention then snagged by Ruka clearing her throat.

"Well, that was truly interesting," she pointed out, her eyes sparkling with mischief. She followed him into the back, her arms crossing as he turned to her.

"Why is she here, Ruka? You think that scent can just be overlooked?" he asked, his head swimming from the sweet aroma of the girl he'd just encountered.

"Guess you'll just have to control yourself, won't you? We'll be fine," she assured him, shoving a bottle of wine in his direction.

"Here. Have a drink. That should help you a bit," she said, turning and disappearing through the door. He found a corkscrew in a nearby drawer, bringing the bottle to his lips shortly afterward.

"Damn you, Ruka," he muttered, before taking another drink.

X-O-X-O

She felt his eyes upon her the entire night, and it made working efficiently a bit more difficult than she would've liked.

By closing time, she was exhausted, having been there the entire day. Ruka had left a few hours ago, leaving Yuuki and Zero alone to close up.

Yuuki, busying herself with washing wine glasses, had tried to keep her wits about her, though his presence was making it hard to do. All the customers had left, the doors locked as they finished up in silence. She went to put the glasses up, noting that her 5' 2" frame couldn't reach the wine glass rack above her.

"Here, let me," he said, his sudden appearance behind her nearly scaring her witless. She almost dropped the glasses in her hands, though she recovered in time to avoid disaster.

His took the glasses from her, his larger frame pressing against her back as he replaced the glasses in the rack. Her cheeks went hot, the feeling of his body pressing against hers almost more than she could bear. Suddenly, she realized that his head had lowered, his hair tickling her cheek. What was he doing?

"So how'd you like your first day?" he asked, unmoving. His proximity was beyond unnerving, though she didn't exactly mind it.

"Oh, it was good. I'm kinda' tired, though. I've been here since 10 this morning," she answered, gripping the counter before her.

She could feel his breath beating down upon her neck, sending shivers running along her spine. Turning to face him, Yuuki looked up into his eyes, her heart beating erratically in her chest.

"You'd better get home, then. I think we're all done here," he said, taking a step back and leaving her feeling disappointed.

She hung her apron on a hook on the wall, then taking her coat from the coat rack against it. Yuuki nearly jumped from her skin as his fingers gathered her hair, freeing it out from under her coat.

"Thanks," she managed, watching as he donned his long black coat.

He opened the door for her, switching off the light before locking the door behind them. It had begun to snow, the cold flakes landing in her hair.

"So, how far is home?" he asked, looking out into the night.

"Not very. About ten blocks that way," she told him, gesturing to the right.

"I'll walk you," he offered, starting in the direction she'd pointed. Her hand caught his arm, and he turned puzzled towards her.

"Actually, you don't have to do that. I'll be fine, really," she told him, "but thank you." He smirked, nearly melting her insides.

"I really don't mind, Yuuki," he said, seemingly determined to see her home.

"I'm good. I'll see you tomorrow, ok?" she asked, and he finally gave in.

"As you wish. Just be careful," he told her, fighting the urge to reach out and touch her pale cheek.

This girl looked so fragile, like some costly doll that would break if touched. Noticing the way in which he was looking at her, Yuuki reached out a hand, resting it upon his arm.

"Are you alright?" she asked, her eyes full of concern.

"Far better. I'd better get going. I'll be late for work," he said.

"Work? You have another job?" she asked, removing her hand with embarrassment.

"In a way, yes," he answered, amused by her apparent awkwardness.

"Well, goodnight," she said, giving him a smile as she turned to make her way back to St. Mary.

Cross was going to worry, like he always did when she was out late. But, he'd have to get used to it now, since she'd be working late some nights.

"Goodnight, Yuuki," he returned, watching her small form as she retreated towards the safety of her home.

She made her way towards the church, passing people here and there. Nothing seemed very out of the ordinary, the chatter of passing people filtering into her ears.

But she knew they were out there, watching and waiting. Her thoughts getting to her, Yuuki decided to take a shortcut. No use in being out any longer than she had to be. She made her way down a side street, disappearing into the night.

X-O-X-O

Chilled to the bone, she pulled her coat more tightly about herself, walking carefully through the accumulating snow. Suddenly, she stopped, her ears picking up on a faint sound coming from somewhere close. Fearing the worst, she quickened her pace, her eyes looking back over her shoulder as she hurried down the alleyway.

Her scream died in her throat as she came face to face with a dark figure, still as the night around them. It only took her a moment to realize who she was dealing with.

His eyes were filled now with something out of the ordinary. They seemed to glow in the night, causing her to gasp audibly, her small voice seeming to echo down the alleyway. Her neck craned, she returned his gaze, though her words seemed back up within her.

"You really should avoid being out here alone. You never know who may be waiting for you," Zero told her, noticing her shiver as he spoke. Realizing just how cold it was, he removed his coat, his arms sliding around her small form as she stared agape at him. He corralled her within the circle of them, wrapping his coat about her and pulling her towards him.

His body was warm as she was pressed against him, his arm suddenly rising. With horror she realized he'd drawn a gun, aiming it somewhere behind her.

"Like this bastard," he added, the girl hearing the hammer click.

"You thought you'd take her, did you? Not in this lifetime," he nearly growled. Yuuki couldn't move, his arm wrapped tightly about her as a wicked laugh erupted from the shadows behind her. She flinched as the gunshot rang out in the night, the laughter coming to an immediate end, his arm lowering back to his side.

"You have to be more careful out here. This world is a dangerous place, Yuuki," he told her, holstering his still smoking weapon. She couldn't speak, couldn't hardly breathe as she watched him, his lavender eyes still seeming to glow in the night.

"Thank you," she managed, her heart beating sporadically within her chest.

"You don't need to thank me, Yuuki. Just be more careful. That's all I ask," he said, the snow beginning to fall harder around them.

"It's so cold out tonight. Where are you sleeping?" he wondered, only then removing his arm from around her. She immediately felt cold, his warmth being taken away so suddenly.

So Cross had already told them, had he? Wonderful. So this beautiful man knew that she'd been tossed from home to home from the time she was six years old.

"I was going to stay at St. Mary, as always," she answered, dazzled by the words he spoke next.

"No need. You're staying with me," he informed her, taking her by the arm and turning to go.

X-O-X-O

Okee, thanks for reading! I've done some small updates here and there and will be doing the same with the other chapters as well…trying to make the story more coherent and such. There were a few things I missed and it bothered me, so I'm fixing them. ;P

*Cosmic*