Disclaimer: Vampire Knight © Hino Matsuri

A/N: Hey, y'all! I'm really, really sorry I haven't updated since . . . July, was it? Wow, three months. Anyway, sorry! I moved back to my birth state not long ago and had all the unpacking/new environment crap piled on top of me. Plus, school just started, so I'm still adjusting to that as well. But I've finally finished the chapter! So read, read, read! (And BlackenedRose13, I know the first POV is really short, but bear with me, okay?)


Suzune's POV
I was worried. Of course I was worried. It was Kumori, for heaven's sake. My best friend. It was more than that, actually. I lived with her since I was eleven. We were practically blood sisters. If it was anybody else that was sick and had weird black things all over her body, I probably would say something along the lines of, "Psh, whatever," or "What a freak." But it wasn't anybody else. Because it was Kumori.

"Heaven help me," I whimpered, dropping my head onto my hands.

Aido's POV
She was sitting by herself in the seat Kumori normally occupied. Her shoulders slumped, head in her hands. Dull, limp orange hair fell over her face, hiding her expression. A few shaky sighs escaped, and her body would tremble. She looked . . . defeated. Utterly defeated.

The other students regarded her with either distaste or curiosity, or they ignored her all together. Some blamed Kumori through her for Kaname's absence in class. Some blamed her just for being Kumori's—Kaname's "enemy"—friend. Others were curious as to why she was so upset; Kumori supposedly only had the "flu" and was going to "get better" soon.

"Suzune."

"Hm? You say something?" Kain glanced lazily over to me, bored on break. There were fifteen more minutes until Yagari came back, and that was just to spout pointless information we'd "need" later in life.

I shook my head. "No. You're hearing things, Akatsuki." Did . . . did I really just say her name out loud?

He gave a nonchalant shrug. "Whatever. Thought you said 'Suzune'."

Crap. He heard.

Leaning back in my seat, I feigned amusement, but my shoulders were tight with apprehension. "Why would I say that?"

Kain propped his head up on the palm of his hand. "Relax, Hanabusa. It's not that big of a deal."

Forcing my body to relax, I let out a long sigh, trying to reassure myself. It's no big deal, Aido. No big deal. Glancing around the room, my eyes landed on Suzune's lonely figure. Maybe I should go tal—

"Aren't you gonna go talk to her?"

I flinched. It was kind of creepy how well Kain and I knew each other.

"Well?"

Crossing my arms, I asked, "Why should I?" with a childish pout on my face. We both knew I was just being stubborn.

"What happened to your plan? It's a good time to find out more about her. Besides, your last attempt was horrible."

Blood rushed like a flood to my cheeks.

"Honestly, Hanabusa. 'You come here often?' Even I know pick-up lines better than that."

"U-urusai [Sh-shut up]!"

"What did you expect her to say? 'Oh, yes, Aido-kun. So often, in fact, that we should start dating!'"

"I-I'm warning you, Akat—"

"And then you'd date her, break her heart, and leave her longing after you like all the other fan girls? Or would you two get married and live happily ever after?"

I stood up and marched over to where Suzune sat—tomato red—dead intent on proving my cousin wrong, and to get away from his taunting. It was only when I reached her desk did I realize that he had used reverse psychology.

Crap! Stupid Akatsuki and his stupid mind games, I cursed in my head as Suzune's puffy, bloodshot eyes met mine, somehow feeling his victorious smirk from the other side of the classroom.

"Ano [Um] . . ."

What do I say?!? My mind was frantically searching its database for a reasonable subject to talk about.

Suzune managed a weak scowl past her runny nose. "What do you want?" she growled, voice hoarse.

"Well, you see, I was, uh, wondering . . ."

What am I wondering?!? Aido, think!

Her scowl grew, eyes narrowing. A few sheets of loose leaf on her desk rippled; I shuddered to think about what paper cuts would do to my complexion.

"How did you and Kumori first meet?" Blurting out the first thing that crossed my mind, I wanted to kick myself. Way to make it sound like they're dating, Aido. Good going.

It might have been a trick of the light, but her scowl lifted for a second before coming back harsher than ever. "What's it to you?"

"N-nothing. I just . . . wanna know." A wince quickly followed the end of my bad cover-up. 'I just wanna know'? Jeez, Aido, is your brain vacationing in the Caribbean?!?

Cue Suzune's heated glare.

"Well, 'cause you and Kumori arrived at Kurosu Academy at the same time, right? And you're always together, so I figured you two must've known each other before. And you're always randomly hugging her, and jumping on her, and talking to her, and you seem to know her really, really well. And Kaname-sama seems to know her pretty well, too, so I thought if maybe you knew her, maybe you'd know how Kaname-sama knows her since you've known her so long, but that's an assumption since I don't actually know that, 'cause I haven't let you . . . explain . . . yet . . ."

Cue my rambling.

Suzune raised an eyebrow, one corner of her lips quirked upward. Her eyes had a dull twinkle, but a twinkle nonetheless, like she used to before Kumori got the "flu". Head leaning against the window, she regarded me with an amused expression.

"You're that curious, huh?"

Blushing, I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment. "I guess." It was all pretty spontaneous, actually.

She sat forward and tapped her chin with an index finger, thinking back. I pulled up a chair and settled myself across from her.

"She's been my anchor since I officially met her about seven years ago—"

"'Officially'?"

She sent me an annoyed glare. "I had heard of the Tsuki family like everyone else, but I hadn't actually met them, y'know?"

"Ah. Gotcha."

"Can I continue now, or do you have any other questions about the first sentence? Grammatical structure problems or anything?"

"Iie [No], iie."

"Good. Like I said, I officially met her about seven years ago . . ."

Suzune's POV
I was ten then, my eleventh birthday only three weeks away. My mother was busy planning for the big party behind closed doors in the master bedroom. She was always tired, her voice rough. I'd always hear the same excuses: "Mommy stayed up all night getting ready for your big day," or "Daddy and I couldn't decide on a color for the balloons."

They argued a lot, my parents. Sometimes, when it got really heated, I would hear them from my room on the other end of the hall. It never really bothered me though, because my mother would always smile the next morning like nothing had happened. And I believed her. Mommy and Daddy were just arguing over little things.

It was a few days after their latest disagreement when the decorations for my birthday—only thirteen days away—were due to arrive. My mother and I stood outside to wait for the truck, bundled in thick winter coats. I remember insisting to stay with Mommy so I could play in the snow.

The cold had managed to seep through my coat as I lay on the ground making snow angels. Innocent white flakes were still falling as I paused in mid-jumping jack form, my warm breath clouding the air.

"Suzu-chan, you'll catch a cold if you stay on the ground much longer." Wise words sang from my mother's mouth.

I rolled my head towards her and childishly stuck out my tongue like most six-year-olds did. "We're vampires, Mommy. Vampires don't get stick that easily."

She laughed, the ends of her eyes creasing and her pearly white teething showing. "True, true. But in ten minutes you're going inside. We may be vampires, but we still get sick."

I moped a little while before rolling around in the snow some more. It must've been a pretty strange sight to see a ten-year-old all poofed up in thick winter wear rocking back and forth on the flaked ground. Eventually I got tired and just laid there, listening to light chirps as two small birds flew together overhead, their paths weaving together gracefully.

A sudden thought occurred to me. "Mommy, where do birds go in the winter?"

No reply.

"Mommy?"

I noticed then how quiet it had become. My mother's gay laugh no longer floated in the air, nor did I hear the quiet engine of a limo that was turning the corner. Propping my self up on my elbows, I took in the scene before me.

My mother stood on the front steps of our modest house, hugging herself. The winter temperature reddened the tip of her nose and both her cheeks. Thick, rich red hair framed her pale face, tumbling onto the green knitted scarf snugly wrapped around her neck.

My father stood opposite her, his cheeks also tainted pink, but I just knew it wasn't from the weather. His black leather jacket, speckled with white, was stretched taut over broad, tense shoulders. Spiky, platinum blond hair only intensified his electric blue eyes as he glared, searing harshly into my mother's docile brown ones.

I watched silently as they stared each other down. Everything suddenly seemed like a weapon. The garden shears propped up against the front of the house by my mother's feet; one good swing and bam! No head. A dead tree branch yet to be cleared away lay on the white lawn. I couldn't help but wonder how much blood there would be if someone were to pick up the hefty object and jab it into a naked eye or a certain male body part . . .

My father broke the tense atmosphere. With a few long, easy strides, he stood directly in front of my mother. I blinked, and it was over. She sprawled out over the snow, head bowed. Wavy red locks covered her face.

He had backhanded her.

"M . . . Mommy?" I sounded weak, uncertain. Scared.

It was a while before she stirred and shakily got to her feet, saying nothing. My father looked smug—triumphant even, when his head held high and shoulders drawn back. Almost like a hunter standing over his dead prey.

"This . . ."

My father clenched his hands, knuckles cracking. His prey was fighting back.

"This is exactly why I plan on putting Suzune in an orphanage! How long will it be before you starting hitting her, too?"

I stopped listening halfway though her angry cry. My mother—my own flesh and blood—was going to give me up?

"She's my daughter! I'm the one whose sperm got you pregnant! You need my consent before you can do anything drastic!"

My father was shouting back. The fight once hidden in the master bedroom had begun, and I was no longer safe at the other end of the hall, drowsy with sleep.

"I'm not going to stand by and watch you abuse her when you come home drunk! An orphanage would be safer."

"Suzune isn't going anywhere near an orphanage without my say so."

A car door slammed shut. I turned to see who had arrived. Maybe they were the orphanage caretakers, here to take me away.

It was the limo I had heard earlier sitting on the slick road, engine idle. How long had it been there? How much had the occupants heard? Neither of the adults seemed to notice.

Snow crunched softly nearby. "I'll take her in."

My parents continued arguing, ignoring the soft-spoken girl. She looked to be my age, which surprised me. I expected her to be an adult by the way she made the situation sound like she was talking about bringing something inside. Long, dark side-swept hair rested on the shoulders and back of her fashionable winter coat. Calm eyes stared steadily at my parents, patiently waiting until they acknowledged her presence.

"A-ano . . ."

The dark-haired girl looked at me, her eyes oddly blank. "Hai [Yes]?"

"Who . . . who are you?"

She blinked slowly, long, snow-caught eyelashes brushing against her pale cheeks. "You don't recognize me?"

I shook my head dumbly, starting to wonder if she was some type of high class aristocrat I was supposed to bow to.

A light smile teased her lips upwards, her eyes starting to warm. "Good," was all she said, and she left it at that.

Little did I know I had just met my savior.