Author Notes: My apologies to those who are patiently awaiting the next chapter of TOHOM - I'm working on it, I promise! Unfortunately, it's not ready and my inner Cross and Yagari fangirl took control of me for a bit, resulting in this two shot. Well, what can I say - I still love this pairing! :D Assume that this little story takes place some time after Cross and Yagari become lovers, following off of my Brief Reflections story (and that is a side story from my Hold Me one), and about 2 months after Zero Kiryuu comes to live with Chairman Cross and Yuuki. I'm not 100% sure how far his plans for Cross Academy is at that point but of course, this is all way before Hold Me started :D
In any case, I had wanted to write more on Cross and Yagari but I must say the recent reviews for my Brief Reflections stories motivated me even more! :D Hope you all enjoy this.
Summary: A disgruntled Yagari feels that Cross is not paying him enough attention lately but a dinner invitation done with the best of intentions ends with hurtful words instead.
Disclaimer: Vampire Knight could only and does belong to the great Matsuri Hino.
-- Story Start --
With a frown of concentration on his rugged face, Touga Yagari stirred the bubbling contents of the pot then scooped a bit of it onto his spoon. He blew off the steam and tasted the broth. Nodding to himself, he switched off the stove. It wasn't often that he cooked but when he did, the dishes usually turned out quite well... or at least he thought they did. Especially his signature tomato soup.
Cross loved it and that was reason enough for Yagari to drag his soup pot out of the cupboard every once in a while. But this time, it had been a few months since Cross had come over to his place and it had been three and a half weeks since they had last done anything together. The ex-hunter had been exceedingly busy ever since he opened his home to young Zero Kiryuu, right after the boy's vampire hunter parents had been killed.
The word left a sour taste in Yagari's mouth that did not come from the tangy, rich soup he had just prepared. Young Zero was his most promising pupil - he was adept, quick and sharp... and now it was all for nothing. He had been bitten by a pureblood and that only meant one thing – Zero was going to be like them. Well, until he fell and became something even worse. Something that had to be killed...
It sucked, but that was the truth.
With a heavy sigh, Yagari tried to push his dark thoughts away. Tonight was not the night for that. He had cooked dinner because he wanted to surprise Cross with a home cooked meal. Yagari missed his best friend and lover and recently, it seemed like Cross was always deeply immersed in either caring for his adopted children or finishing up his plans to open his new school. After having his invitations being turned down a few times, Yagari simply decided that he would get his lover over to his place for some quiet time.
Well, the thought of making love with Cross didn't hurt either.
- o -
"Oh, what time is it now? Will he be here soon?" Yuuki bounced up and down on the sofa, her small, heart shaped face alight with anticipation. It had been months since Kaname-sama had come to visit her and the eleven year old girl was beside herself with excitement. She was already dressed in a new spring green dress that suited her colouring, and her long, auburn hair was tied back with a matching green ribbon. She looked as pretty as a flower, thought Cross, getting predictably misty eyed at the thought. He surreptitiously wiped at the corner of one eye with his apron and ignored the disgusted look coming from the twelve year old boy sitting in one of the armchairs.
The boy grumbled under his breath and Yuuki glanced towards her left to see two fierce amethyst eyes glaring at her. "Don't expect me to stay out here when he comes," Zero muttered darkly and Yuuki frowned exasperatedly at him.
"Well, stay in your room, then!" she threw back at him and stuck her tongue out for good measure, unaware that many years later... this moody, silver haired boy would be the one to hold her heart in his capable, loving hands.
"Now, now, children!" Cross admonished with hearty cheer. "Dinner's almost ready and our guest will be here soon. No arguments, OK?"
Just as the words left his mouth, the doorbell rang and Yuuki squealed loudly, jumping down from the sofa and running for the front door. Zero watched her go, a thoughtful frown on his face. He knew the young pureblood's visits were rare and top secret, and that hardly anyone else ever came to the house but still, that couldn't be him. Zero was sure of it.
Yuuki pulled the heavy front door open, the happy greeting on her lips dying without a sound as she found herself staring up at a very tall man dressed in a shirt, jeans and boots. His hair was a mass of shoulder length black curls and he sported a blue silk eye patch over his right eye. Yuuki gaped up at him, her eyes wide and her small mouth open. This definitely wasn't Kaname-sempai... but he somehow looked... familiar... as if she had seen him before...
"Touga?" Yuuki swung around to see Cross standing behind her. Guessing that the tall man must be here to see her adopted father, she slipped around him and went back to the living room, a disappointed look on her small, expressive face.
"What are you doing here?"
Yagari frowned. There was an unexpected note of uneasiness in Cross' voice, something he had never heard before... at least, not when it came to him. Pushing away his initial disappointment at not getting a more exuberant welcome, the tall hunter shrugged. "I cooked dinner at my place and came to get you. You've been holed up here all this while..."
The clear, light brown eyes widened behind the spectacles but sadly, not in delighted surprise. Cross gave a quick, slightly uneasy look behind his shoulder.
"That's great, Touga, that really is, but... I'm sorry, I - I can't," the ex-hunter apologised hesitantly. "Not tonight, anyway," he added more decisively. Yagari placed his hands on his hips and frowned his displeasure.
"And why not, Kaien? You going out?" It didn't look like it since there was an apron around his lover's waist...
Cross sighed soundlessly. Wasn't it obvious? How could he just leave his house when he had two young charges at home and in his care? Did Touga expect him to just leave them here and have them forage for dinner on their own?
"I cooked dinner... and I'm expecting... er, someone," he hedged, very unwilling to say who it was. Yagari's frown remained as he debated with himself for a moment. He wasn't keen on seeing his ex-pupil now, knowing what he would become in time but the signs hadn't appeared yet and he had missed Cross. So perhaps...
"Well, what I've cooked will keep. Maybe I can join you guys for dinner instead?" Yagari offered, trying not to sound too disgruntled. After all, it wasn't really fair for him to just spring this on Cross out of the blue, especially when he knew his lover wasn't exactly a swinging bachelor anymore. To Yagari's surprise, Cross looked even more uneasy and his gaze dropped.
"I - perhaps some other time, Touga? I – he's coming."
Yagari merely cocked a dark brow. "Who?" he asked crisply. Cross just gave a small shake of his head without answering, his eyes apologetic, and in that moment, Yagari knew who it was. Something squeezed his heart tightly and out of habit, cold anger flared up, mixing with his disappointment and sending it soaring. The tall hunter frowned fiercely as he planted his booted feet further apart and crossed his arms before glaring at his lover. To his credit, the ex-hunter returned his look calmly.
"So. That pureblood brat is welcome in your house but I'm not. Is that it, Kaien? Or are you afraid I won't be polite to him?" Yagari spoke snidely, his voice cold and his stern face flushed with anger. It really was an unfair dig since he knew very well that even if Cross had invited him in, the one eyed hunter would still have turned him down flat. It was the one thing they disagreed on. It was the one thing they didn't see eye to eye on. It had always been there between them... something that niggled, but not directly voiced out.
Not until now.
Cross frowned, looking mildly exasperated. "You know it's not that, Touga," he chided. "I'd invite you in a second if it's what you really-"
Yagari snorted rudely, cutting him off. He knew at the back of his mind that he was behaving badly but right now, he couldn't stop himself. "Forget it, Kaien. I should've have known you'd put those bloodsuckers first! You're playing with fire, you know that? This pacifist cause of yours is going to come round and bite you in the ass! It's sheer stupidity, for God's sake, hopeless, nonsensical and naïve! To think you're even opening a school for them – how could you be so stupid...!"
The damning words had tumbled from his lips before he could stop himself and Yagari felt his pounding heart drop to the worn soles of his boots in a gut churning motion. Cross was staring at him, his expression stricken and his brown eyes shimmering with sudden, barely suppressed tears.
Crap! I – I didn't mean...
Yagari swallowed. OK, so he had never thought much - or at all - of Cross' dreams but damn, now he had gone and put his booted foot in his mouth. Big time. He knew how important this was to his lover. Cross had always been this way. He had always believed wholeheartedly that vampires and humans could co-exist peacefully side by side if they could just set aside their differences... Of course, it was something that Yagari had never understood or frankly, even wanted to, but he had simply tried to ignore it before, knowing how much it meant to his best friend and lover, a skilled and respected hunter in his day. Unfortunately, being the rude, uncouth and complete idiot he was, Yagari had now put his foot in it. For real.
So this is what you really think of me...
Cross found himself staring numbly at the man in front of him as if he didn't know him. There was a huge lump in his throat and a sharp, stinging ache in his chest that wouldn't go away, as if someone had stabbed him right there. How... how could Touga say those things to him? Deride his beliefs and even insult him like this? Yes, Cross knew that his lover hated vampires with a passion that had helped to make him one of the best in the business. Yes, he knew it was the one thing they had never agreed on but the ex-hunter had always respected his friend's feelings and thought Touga did the same with his. They both tried not to bring work into their lives, knowing they didn't share the same views when it came to vampires, especially purebloods. But they were more than just ex-partners! They were best friends... they were lovers.
How could you say this to my face, Touga? You know it's my dream! I don't expect your understanding or your help... I would be so happy with just your support...
But that was it – because Yagari didn't understand, he couldn't support him and Cross was at a loss of how to make his lover see the things he saw, or at least accept him the way he was, however stupid, hopeless, nonsensical and naive he thought him.
How can I explain these things to you when you've never seen how excited Yuuki is to see the person who saved her that snowy winter day, when you've never seen the way her eyes light up when she sees him coming up the drive? How can you empathise with me when you've never spoken to Kaname-kun, when you don't know the things he's been through, the things he bears with in that mansion he has to call home, when he risks his very freedom just to enjoy a few, precious minutes with Yuuki? You can't... you've never seen how his eyes soften when he smiles at her. And Zero... he needs love, too. Do you know of the nights he's spent, crying quietly in his room so that no one would hear? Do you know how it hurts me to see such pain and anger in the hurting, grieving eyes of such a young boy? The boy you once called your star student, no less...
At that moment, Cross felt crushed and hopeless beyond belief but he tried his best to hide it. Drawing in a slightly shaking breath, he blinked, trying to clear the moisture from his eyes and lifted his chin a notch. He wouldn't back down from this – he couldn't. Pushing for peace and co-existence had been his first love even before Yagari came into the picture and in any case, backing down now would only make the one eyed hunter lose whatever respect he had left for him...
"Then I suggest you leave before he comes, Touga," Cross managed to get out even though the words twisted the knife deeper in his heart. He hated the fact that his voice trembled slightly at the end, just as he said his lover's name. Crap.
Yagari looked stunned. He was stunned, both at his outburst and at Cross' reply. The tall hunter's mouth opened and closed a couple of times but nothing came out. Finally, he shook his head, swung around and stomped down the drive.
Cross bit his lip and blinked away more tears, his fingers unconsciously still gripping his front door. He had hoped so much that the one thing they never agreed on would never come between them but it looked like it finally had. Because there was no way that he would ever give up his precious cause, or stop looking after Zero despite knowing what he was going to be, or stop welcoming young Kaname Kuran into his house despite what he was.
- o -
Touga Yagari was one of those people who got angry as fast as they cooled down. By the time he had reached his apartment block, his temper had completely dissipated and he was now only angry at himself. Furiously angry. He really was an idiot and a jerk as well. It had only been his pride that was initially hurt but he had gone on to make a colossal mountain out of that and ended up hurting the one gentle soul he never wanted to hurt.
Guess it's just as well Kaien thinks more of that pureblood brat than he does of me, he thought bitterly as he let himself into his apartment.
Perhaps it wasn't really love that Cross had for him. Perhaps it was only... pity. Pity for a gruff voiced one eyed hunter who had no one else but him. Yagari let out a short bark of laughter that sounded terribly pathetic to his ears, as he shut the door behind him with a snap.
When he caught sight of his dining table, Yagari's steps faltered. He was such a goddamned idiot, to have gone to all the trouble of actually setting his table. Setting his table, like some... housewife. For a moment, the sheer temptation to sweep his best china and silverware - all carefully washed and dried - right off the table in an admittedly petulant but utterly satisfying manner almost got the better of him but Yagari resisted, large hands clenched into tight fists by his sides. That would be even more... housewifely.
No... no, this wasn't worth it. Calm down, man!
Still breathing somewhat raggedly, feeling agitated and restless, Yagari stuffed the soup and salad bowl back into his fridge. He had no wish to eat anything tonight. A beer would be good, though...
But two beers, two hours and a horribly boring movie on TV later that he couldn't for the life of him remember, Yagari sighed heavily. The silence of his now empty apartment was mocking him. To hell with it, he thought morosely. He was the one who had blown up at his lover, so he should be the one to go apologise, right?
- o -
Cross awoke just moments before someone knocked on his front door. Sitting upright, he was somewhat chagrined yet amused to realise that he had nodded off for a few minutes there. It was now half past nine and all his three young charges had fallen asleep after an uneasy meal where Zero had glared at Kaname for the most part while the pureblood ignored him and chatted with Yuuki, the girl mostly torn between soaking up the pureblood's attention and glaring back at her adopted brother. After that, they had watched a cartoon Yuuki had selected but now, all three had nodded off to sleep.
Stifling a yawn, the ex-hunter went to his door. His eyes widened as he saw Yagari standing there, still dressed in the same clothes as before but with a marked difference. The coldly angry hunter was gone... in its place, a quiet and apologetic man. The two of them stood there in silence for a moment before Yagari cleared his throat.
"Kaien?" he ventured tentatively.
"Touga," Cross murmured, giving what he hoped was a casual nod. His fingers were unconsciously gripping the side of the front door again and he was more thankful than he realised to see the unspoken apology in the single blue eye looking back at him. From the sleepy look on the ex-hunter' face, Yagari knew what had happened and found himself shaking his head in resignation.
I was right, Kaien had indeed fallen asleep and with that pureblood brat still in the house, no less. One of these days, that idiot is going to- No. Focus, damnit!
"I..." Yagari broke off and cleared his throat again. If he had his cowboy hat in his hands, he would be twisting it shapeless by now.
"Can I... come in? Just for a moment..."
Cross hesitated, casting an uneasy glance behind him for the second time tonight. That simple gesture made a white hot knife stab right into Yagari's chest.
He doesn't want me here. Why should I be surprised? I made an utter fool of myself earlier...
"I... can't, Touga," Cross whispered. "He's still here." At that moment, he felt downright miserable. He could see that his lover was no longer angry and was almost positive he had come back to apologise. Cross so wanted to drag him into his house... and into his arms. But Kaname was still in his living room, still sleeping next to Yuuki on his sofa. Cross trusted Yagari with his life but... sadly, not with Kaname's life. Or even with Zero's. Both were much too precious to him to risk right now.
He doesn't trust me... not after what I'd said...
Yagari nodded slowly, numbly. He turned to go, his gaze falling away embarrassedly. And then he stopped and swung around. No. He could be trusted, even if it was for someting he didn't like. He could. And suddenly, it was vitally important to Yagari to have his lover see and believe this, at least. "No, Kaien! Just let me... just for a moment..."
Before Cross could even guess what Yagari was up to, the one eyed hunter brushed past him and strode right into his house. By the time Cross came to his senses and sprang into motion, the dark haired hunter was already at the living room entrance, taking in the strange sight that met his eye. No wonder it was so quiet - the pureblood was sitting next to little Yuuki on the sofa. Her head was leaning on his shoulder and his head was resting on the top of hers. They were both sound asleep. In the armchair opposite them, Zero's head was resting on his arm that was lying on the cushioned arm of the chair, his silvery hair half obscuring his face. He was asleep too.
Yagari swallowed hard. It was a sight he had never expected to see. A pureblood, a human and a hunter... all in one room. All peacefully asleep. No hatred. No fear. No antagonism. No distrust. Just three innocent children sleeping, vulnerable and unaware.
Yagari felt his remaining eye smart and he swallowed again. Yes, the lack of antagonism right now was probably because both Kuran and Zero were soundly asleep but... was it any wonder why Cross was the way he was when this unexpected scene was probably something he witnessed more often than anyone else in the world? Was it any wonder he believed that co-existence could truly work? Really, was it any wonder that he had poured his hours, his money, his enthusiasm and his energies into starting a school for both humans and vampires?
Was it any wonder then Kaien Cross was the person he was?
"Touga?" Cross whispered. He could see that Yagari was completely stunned at the unexpectedly domesticated scene in his living room and he would have smiled if he weren't worried about what his lover would do. The one eyed hunter uttered a long, deep sigh, his broad shoulders sagging. Without saying a word, without even looking at Cross, Yagari swung around abruptly and retraced his steps. When Cross caught up with him, his lover was already out of the front door.
Yagari stopped and paused before turning around again. There was a rare flush painted across his face and Cross couldn't help but stare. Despite knowing that Yagari shouldn't be here right now, the fact that he was leaving only made Cross feel worse.
Yagari had to swallow hard when he saw the worry in his lover's clear eyes and heard the same worry in his voice. The ex-hunter never bothered to hide his feelings - he... he never did.
"I... it's OK, Kaien," Yagari finally replied, his usually gruff voice embarrassed and a little husky. "I... I'll wait for you to come over. When – when you're free, that is..." he added a little awkwardly.
And if you still want to, I mean...
Before he could embarrass himself anymore, Yagari swung around and strode down the drive for the second time that night. Only this time, he felt about two inches tall. It would serve him right, he thought distractedly, if Cross never wanted to see him again... after how he had behaved and especially after what he had said to him.
- o -
Cross shut his front door quietly and went back to the living room. His heart was still aching but it was a softer, much sweeter ache this time. Yagari had obviously regretted his outburst and had tendered an olive branch to him... something that Cross would only be too happy to accept as soon as he could. He smiled softly as he came into the living room and saw again the unexpectedly sweet sight of Kaname, Zero and Yuuki all sleeping soundly. Was it any wonder that his beliefs only got stronger the longer he cared for these three very special souls?
Quietly, Cross walked over but before he could settle himself in his armchair, Kaname stirred and sat up straighter, rubbing at his eyes and yawning. He looked at Yuuki beside him and then Zero, sitting across from him, the former with a soft smile and the latter with a suspicious squint. Then the young pureblood looked up at Cross.
"Who was that, Chairman?"
Cross had to smile - so Kaname wasn't as deeply asleep as he had thought. The older man reached down to brush back a lock of soft, brown hair as a pair of dark eyes blinked up at him.
"Just a friend, Kaname-kun," Cross murmured.
"Just?" The look in Kaname's eyes told Cross the young pureblood had probably sensed the hunter presence but before the older man could say anything, Kaname sighed.
"I've stayed too long," he observed. "I have to go now..."
Cross nodded, feeling the familiar twinge of sadness each time Kaname's visits came to an end. The pureblood got off the sofa, moving carefully away from Yuuki, not wanting to wake her. He touched her hair just once but looked at her for a long moment before turning away. Cross was ready with his coat and Kaname put it on, his young face as solemn as usual. They walked to the door in silence, Cross resting his hand lightly on the pureblood's shoulder. As usual, the nondescript car had already pulled up at the end of the drive and Kaname got into the backseat before it drove off.
Still feeling the melancholy ache in his chest, Cross went back to his living room and found a sleepy pair of amethyst eyes looking at him through silver bangs. "Where is he?" Zero asked and the slight emphasis on the last word was unmistakable.
"He just left," Cross replied softly. He wanted to smooth back that soft silvery hair now but knew that Zero would just snap at him. The boy sat up and rubbed his eyes in such a similar manner to Kaname earlier that the ache in Cross' chest was suddenly magnified. Zero stole a quick, almost furtive glance at Yuuki who was still sleeping soundly, then stood up.
"I'm going to bed," he said shortly. "Tell Master Yagari not to pound so loudly on the door next time." He didn't wait for an answer before walking off in the direction of his room.
Oh. My. God.
Cross stared at Zero's retreating back with his eyes wide and his mouth open. So both Kaname and Zero had been awake the whole time, or at least since Yagari came? And neither of them had let on! Cross wasn't sure if it was because they hadn't wanted to wake Yuuki up or if it was because they thought the other asleep and less of a threat that way. All he knew was that it had somehow allowed Yagari to see a sight hardly anyone else had the privilege to see and suddenly, Cross was torn between wanting to laugh, wanting to cry and wanting to hug somebody really, really fiercely. The sharp ache in his chest was back and Cross' eyes were suddenly moist. He knew who it was he wanted to hug.
Damnit, Touga... For now, I may have these three but none of them can hold me or love me like you do. As foolish as it sounds, I don't want anyone else but you. I don't care if you think me foolish or gullible or naive or even stupid. As long as you love me still...
Cross wiped his eyes and looked contemplatively at Yuuki. Then he nodded to himself and picked her up before walking off to her room. It was time he returned the gesture and went to see his proud, stubborn lover. For all he knew, Yagari could be drowning in his sorrows again...
- o -
For the second time that night, Yagari stomped into his apartment. But this time, he went straight into his small kitchen. He still had that unopened bottle of scotch, he knew it...
Damn Kaien Cross! That idiot and his idiotic pacifist cause is going to be the death of me... Yagari growled as he carelessly splashed amber liquid into a glass and gulped it down, welcoming the raw fire that burned his insides. He poured another glassful and downed it just as swiftly.
Oh damnit, Cross wasn't an idiot. And his ideas for promoting peaceful co-existence between the humans and the vampires weren't lame or idealistic. OK, so they were but they were also... genuine. Romantic, even. And... and heroic.
Surprisingly, Yagari meant that. Morosely, he looked down at his empty glass. Despite how odd it sounded, Cross really was heroic to him - he flew in the face of convention, he followed his dreams and he refused to be cowed by anyone... were those actions not heroic in a sense?
Yagari downed a third glass of whisky before slamming the glass back down. He drew a shuddering breath and closed his eye, slipping off his eye patch with a weary gesture. But he - Touga Yagari - wasn't a hero, just a loser. Despite his reputation as a skilled and deadly hunter, his rough ways and confident swagger, despite his tough guy look, he didn't have one tenth of the guts Cross did. Why else had he resorted to hitting below the belt, knowing he had likely destroyed the trust Cross placed in him? Was it in the pathetic and unrealistic hopes that his gentle lover would go across the beliefs and convictions of a lifetime and come crawling back to him, ready to spread more hate and prejudice in a world that needed it like it needed more Es?
Yagari gave a choked sound that sounded like a hiccough and a sob mixed together. He didn't want that, of course... He may deny it to anyone who dared to ask him point blank but Yagari would never, ever want Cross to be anything other than his very generous, selflessly loving, completely naive, aggravatingly kind and hopelessly idealistic self! After all, it was that self he had fallen in love with, and it was that wonderful person who loved him in return.
But still, Cross was so, so stupid! Damnit, he actually fell asleep in the presence of a pureblood! Never mind the fact that Kuran was only thirteen, never mind the fact that he was also asleep, never mind the fact that little Yuuki and Zero were also there. The point is, one should never, ever let down their...
Yagari shuddered deeply, feeling his face flame in renewed shame. One should never, ever let down the one person they were indebted to. But he had and he knew it. Yagari lowered his now aching head onto the dining room table and groaned softly. He had done just that and badly, too. Perhaps too badly to be forgiven.
Ah, hell. I'm sorry, Kaien. I just wanted to spend some time with you... to know that you haven't actually forgotten about me. To know I'm just as important to you as the others are, that's all...
But it now looked like he had missed his lover even more than he was being missed in return. After all, Cross still had Yuuki and Zero, even Kuran sometimes. He had his dreams and his beloved cause, he had a purpose in life that he was determined to fulfill. Whereas Yagari had... no one else. And nothing else.
Lost in his depressing thoughts and with his senses clouded by alcohol on an empty stomach, Yagari didn't hear the doorbell until it chimed persistently as though someone was pressing on the button without letting up. But once it permeated into his clouded brain, Yagari found himself stumbling to his feet and making his slightly unsteady way past his living room to the front door. His heart was pounding and his one eye was glowing feverishly.
No one else would be here at this time of night... so... so it could only be... Oh God, he hoped it was Cross.
Kaien, I need you. I may not deserve you but... oh hell, I need you.
-- To Be Continued --