Author Notes: Hello everyone! This is a sister story to my AidoxYori fanfic No Matter What, which is itself a sister story to my ZeroxYuuki fanfic Hold Me. My apologies to everyone who's been waiting for my KainxRuka fanfic and I apologise in advance if I fail to capture the same style and feel of the above fanfics since it's been quite some time since I wrote them :D Hope you still enjoy this one and don't forget to share your thoughts with me!

Pre-requisite: The timeline of this story is the same as No Matter What so it would be good if you're at least familiar with it, if not with Hold Me.

Rating: 'M'

Disclaimer: Vampire Knight could only and does belong to the great Matsuri Hino.

-- Chapter Start --

It was going to be dawn soon. Lessons had ended a few hours ago and having taken their dinner, Kain, Aido, Takuma and Shiki were gathered around the sofa set placed just next to the grand staircase of the Moon Dorms spacious hall, chatting casually to one another. Kain was sitting on the left side of the sofa that faced the staircase, Aido taking up the other end. The tall, copper haired noble leafed idly through one of his books, dimly aware of but not really listening to the endless chatter of his younger cousin as he complained about this and that. Kain was so used to Aido's voice by now that it didn't really register with him anymore. That is, unless the young blond actually had something useful to say...

After a couple of minutes, something caught Kain's attention with hardly any effort at all and he stiffened imperceptibly. Ruka had walked out of the living room behind him and in an instant, he knew it was her. There was her familiar scent - cool and flowery - that was always so pure and perfect but as beguiling as that was, it was Ruka that Kain sensed first. He always knew when she came within twelve feet of him. He didn't know how, he just knew. Perhaps it was because he had known her since he was six... but he knew. His body, his heart, his mind and his senses would all tingle with the most agonising sweetness whenever she was around.

Kain straightened up a little. He didn't move his head but his eyes had already slid to his left side in anticipation of the very instant that Ruka's tall and graceful figure would enter his line of vision. And with a suddenness that never failed to startle him - there she was, walking gracefully past the soft set with Rima Tooya on her other side. Both girls nodded and smiled to the four noble males occupying the sofa and chairs before starting to ascend the staircase.

All four males gave the two girls befitting nods and greetings but only Kain's heart gave a sudden lurch at Ruka's smile and his stoic countenance almost changed. Almost. He tilted his face up just a little... just enough to continue keeping Ruka in his vision without dislocating his eyeballs as she and Rima continued on upstairs.

Ruka Souen.

Little Ruka...

For that was always what she would be to him even though she was now tall, lithe and gorgeous. After all, she would never be taller than him and 'Little Ruka' was Kain's very own and unique pet name for her, formed just a couple of months after they had gotten to know one another. (He had also tried calling his cousin 'Little Hanabusa' but Aido thought it a grave insult and Kain didn't relish the constant icy glares, foot stamping and gusts of cold frost aimed his way).

Once the girls disappeared inside their room, Kain allowed himself a silent sigh. It was so unfair, he found himself thinking almost resentfully even though his expression didn't change. Since when had he started to think of Ruka in ways he never before had? She was his childhood friend, together with Aido. The three of them were inseparable whenever they were together even when they bickered constantly. Well, it was almost always Aido who squabbled with Ruka and Kain was just as often the peacemaker between them. He was the older, taller and more matured one so he soon found himself taking care of his younger two 'charges'. Kain was more like a big brother than a cousin and a friend when it came to impulsive, hotheaded Aido and cool, standoffish Ruka. He found he liked looking after them and watching out for them. He was the one who kept them out of trouble (as much as he could), the one they came to when they couldn't settle any disagreement and needed his help, support and occasionally, even his alibi. He was like their 'protector'.

Kain was proud of the fact that his brotherly and protective feelings had survived all those years of having to look out for Aido but damnit, why had they changed for Ruka? And when?

He wanted to give a bitter laugh right there and then. He knew when they changed. It was after they had enrolled in Cross Academy, to give their support and loyalty to Kaname Kuran. It had to be because up until then...

Kain had never before felt such rage.

It was the night he saw Ruka in Kaname's arms in the old Moon Dorms. She was unconscious after requesting the pureblood to drink her blood instead of Yuuki's. Kain was enraged that someone had dared to take so much from Ruka and that he could do nothing other than voicing a verbal threat in a pathetic attempt to assuage his own anger, even as his arms took the weight of Ruka's slight form and cradled her protectively against his chest.

Kain had never before felt such pain.

It was the night of Ichijo Asato's visit to Cross Academy, when Ruka had come out of Kaname's room in tears because he refused to drink her blood again. Kain had waited patiently for her, already knowing what the outcome would be. He was in pain that she was knowingly suffering from a one sided blood bond and a broken heart and that he could do nothing in return but offer a brotherly hug and a broad chest even as his arms shook with the effort not to crush her against him.

Kain had never before felt such desire.

He was as familiar with Ruka's blood as he was of his own and of Aido's. The three of them had grown up together after all, and cuts and scrapes were the norm. But never before had he smelled the alluring scent of her blood and suffered deliciously erotic, darkly forbidden thoughts about it on both occasions, keeping him wide awake with embarrassed longing until the sun rose again.

Kain had never before felt such admiration.

He had touched Ruka's hair before, of course - untangling long strands of it from tree branches, rescuing fistfuls of it from Aido's petulant clutches. But never before had Kain felt it on his skin and thought of a whole new world of adjectives for what had merely been just long blond hair to him.

Kain had never before felt such... love.

He was aware of Ruka now as never before, not as a childhood friend but as a beautiful and desirable young woman who filled his dreams during the day and occupied his waking hours at night. She was now the sole reason why he attended Cross Academy and she mattered more to him than any other girl he had ever known. But none of that mattered because of Kaname Kuran. Kain wasn't a dreamer. Daring to love Ruka was a lost cause and he knew it better than anyone else. No one could measure up to a pureblood vampire prince. Kaname Kuran was a God in Ruka's eyes and that meant no one else would ever come close. No one would even dare.

Kain blinked, coming back to the present as Aido had resumed his endless chatter. The grand staircase was now empty but Ruka's faint, flowery scent lingered in the air, teasing Kain's senses and softly striking an echo in his heart. He looked down at his book without seeing it as lilting music from a past memory flitted through his mind. It was the night of the school dance and Ruka had looked radiant. Kain was all too aware that it was all for Kaname. The tall beauty had her hair caught up in a knot behind her head, tendrils of honey blond silk curling about her face. She was bewitching in a dress that encased her slim figure to perfection. She was alluring with her pale neck bare and her slender shoulders barely hidden by that gossamer shawl.

And she was Ruka Souen without fault - she had turned down all the hapless Day Class boys who dared to approach her, and Kain could only feel pity for the blushing and stammering Day Class President who beseeched her for a dance. Kain knew he had fanned the fire that time but he couldn't help it – the sly demon in him wanted to shoot down whichever peasant who dared to ask her for a dance and really, who better to do the shooting than Ruka herself?

Kain shifted a little in his seat as the memory of a more recent dance intruded. Kain, Takuma and some of the other Night Class boys had danced with Ruka too but Kain was sure he was the only one of her partners who had felt something more than just friendship or admiration. He was powerless to stop staring at her and was uncomfortably aware that even one of his Day Class dance partners had noticed – Sayori Wakaba whose green eyes were as observant and quick as their owner, even if she chose not to comment on the inattentiveness of her dance partner. Still, Ruka remained oblivious to Kain's aching heart and his eyes closed in a rare instant of despair.

She had never seen him as anything other than a good friend and he knew she never would. As the nights, weeks and months passed with steady and monotonous persistence, Kain found that he no longer dared to reveal his feelings to her. Not when friendship was all that tied them together.

Little Ruka... how can you still long for the one you could never have when the one who would die for you is already by your side?

But how can I think of competing against Kaname Kuran, my own leader and a pureblood prince at that?

No... it was hopeless.

-- Chapter End --