Title: Blood and Boots
Summary: She's counting down to zero.
Genre: Romance/General
Rating: T

"Zero..."

"…Again?"

Headmaster Kaien Cross sneaked himself in the veranda of his newly built home where Yuuki Cross, her adopted daughter, was staring into space. The moon was shining arrogantly, and ruins of the Cross Academy stood before them in a molehill of sediments. Kaien clung to his robe and adjusted his glasses. It was cold.

"…one, two, three…"

He smiled despite himself. No matter how his two children tried their very best to keep each other at a bay distance, he knew better. Both of them had been very keen in keeping their silence, but he knew that the time was almost there. He was almost excited with the thought of being the witness to Yuuki and Zero's grand epic dramatic reunion and he had to stop himself from laughing out loud. His daughter might think he had gone insane.

Little did he know that Yuuki was actually convinced he was.

"Ah, you're counting," and he turned away, "…forgive me my intrusion, dear Yuuki." Kaien then proceeded to turn off the lights. He stopped when he almost reached the door.

"Aren't you going to sle—do something else?"

Yuuki finally looked at him. She had grown so much more beautiful than the last time he saw her—which was just this morning. Kaien thought that maybe he only took notice of it now; in her five years of absence, he had missed her terribly and every moment with her made him feel like he was rediscovering the vampire princess.

As an afterthought, he added that he sounded just like a creepy old bastard entertaining disruptive thoughts of incest—like someone he knew, minus the thousand age gap (at least he was only a few years away from Yuuki) and the supposedly sexy brooding look girls go gaga after.

He cleared his throat.

Yuuki smiled at him.

"I'll only count until a hundred."

She turned back to the cold.

And a thousand other hundreds, because you'll keep going back to zero, and start all over again. Kaien shut the lights off and closed the door.

Heavy boots covered with mud paddled to the door and disturbed the silence of the eerie night. As if he was just out hunting for a stray deer at the middle of the night, he flung his trench coat by his shoulders and trudged to the front of the steps. He stopped unknowingly, when he caught his reflection by the glass portion of the archway.

His white shirt was drenched with dried blood; and the stench of it plus some mixed sweat and salty water came to his senses. He then remembered his dead mother who used to scold him when he got himself dirty with playing outdoors; he remembered his father who would smell of dried blood from hunting. He remembered his twin brother who always ran to him whenever he came back, his welcome an embrace of sweet sibling sweat that reminded him of home.

Then he also remembered that they were gone.

The closest thing he had for a family in his manipulated after life was Kaien Cross, who took him in his home after the tragedy. He never liked calling him father but he had always been thankful for his care—though he would die first before admitting any of it.

Kaien was with a girl named Yu---let's not talk about that anymore.

He opened the door and flung himself lazily to the couch. He bowed down and proceeded to take off his boots when a long-haired girl by the stairway caught his eye. That was probably her again, waiting for him always; it was not as if he really cared, no, not really; but he was sure she never failed to wait for him and his return. A part of him wanted to advice her that she should have done this before—perfect attendance in classes, higher grades, a more disciplined guardian--when they were still studying in what now looked like a construction site experiencing budget deficit.

"Have you eaten?"

Zero ignored her. That was not really new.

The war between vampire hunters and vampires stretched for a bloody consecutive three-year span after the Kurans had left the academy. It was not even drawing to a close in the two calmer years after that, and Zero predicted that the war would stretch farther than his poor Level D lifespan. Not that he really cared nor he had wanted to live; although now, as he stole a pregnant glance to the girl who still stood by the stairway, his end might be nearer than he thought.

She came back after all those years. She had been back for six months. They never spoke a word to each other. Zero learned something in his pretentious ignorance of her---it was bliss.

Yuuki spoke in a whisper to disrupt him from his thoughts.

"Sorry," she took a step higher, "..I was just waiting for you…good night, Zero—"

"What's your problem?"

Zero put aside his boots and massaged his shoulders. He wondered what was going through her mind.

"…I was just worried for your safety."

"Tch." The hunter slumped back and looked at her sternly.

His gaze did not fail to catch that bare smile.

"But you don't need that, right? Someone worrying for you…"

You've grown so much more now. You've learned to really live...even without me. My heart aches with so much pride.

Yuuki chuckled. Zero raised an eyebrow. Their ignorance—it was bliss.

"Sorry…that's the first time you've talked to me. I feel, a little, oddly…happy."

She wished he felt the same.

"I'm in my room, in case you need anything."

I don't know how to cook, but I'll cook for you if you like. I'd even clean your boots, or massage your feet. You can call me flat-chested. I miss you this much.

Before the tears made her a fool out of herself, she almost ran into the stairs to her door. She thought that blood in this never-ending war had made her numb. She had changed she knew. But no matter how Kaien thought she changed, or Yori, even Kaname, she would always be this weak when it comes to him.

It is kind of annoying really—you build yourself a wall to keep you from hurting, from feeling, yet someone's mere touch sends it crumbling into pieces like your own Tower of Babel. Then you don't understand it at all.

"YOU are worried."

The crumbling started.

It was not a question, but a statement—and a statement of mockery at that. She knew that he was an unforgiving jerk, and he could not blame him; but she hated herself more that she could forgive him even at that.

She heaved a sigh.

"Sorry…I, I…understand. I do. I do really—"

He waited.

"…but you don't know anything. Why I am here, why I even came back. You told me—you told me you'd kill me if we see each other, right? You said that," a step down, two steps down, three steps down, in a whisper, "but I thought that," she heaved a sigh and stopped herself from walking further down the stairs.

He waited.

Ignorance was bliss. But the truth, and facing it, could set you free.

"I thought that I'd die anyway—whether I wait for you to come slit me in the neck, drain me dry or shoot that gun at me. I'd die anyway—even if I don't wait. I'd die anyway, even when I wait for you and you don't come to me at all, it doesn't matter. But here…

"I'd get to see you. I'd still be by your side, like I promised. At least that, I'd have."

Yuuki held on to the rail and sat down. She was breaking down, she was crumbling and it made her tired. She talked about dying in front of someone who had all the reasons in this world to kill her. He would probably kill her now; she wondered why she was not afraid at all.

"Come here."

The princess raised her head and looked; she felt a wave of tremor pass over her upon seeing the Bloody Rose aimed directly at her head. She inwardly smacked herself for giving him ideas, but then she reasoned that she trusted Zero's judgment. She must have forgotten the 'when he's not genocidal' part. She almost felt fear but if she had, she had not recognized it.

The crumbling was done and at that moment, she just did not understand.

She walked a few cautious steps to the couch where his whole body was calm, Bloody Rose still aimed directly at her head. Tears were flowing from her eyes but again, she did not understand if they were that of joy or sadness.

"Why are you crying?"

Zero had spoken it to her so softly; she almost believed that he was not very intent in killing her even with the gun at her head. She smiled and she was not thinking anything at all.

"I get to see you up close."

That must have sounded so lame, like a girl in front of the boy she liked for so long, it was not funny. She could not laugh because that was exactly what was happening.

He pulled her to him and she staggered to keep herself upright. He held on to her wrists rather forcefully, and she found it odd that his kind of killing was this sort of intimate. It was just like having conversation over tea.

"Have anything to say?"

"This might add up to some of the…some of the reasons to kill me, but, can I hold you while you shoot me?"

If a slight twitch of an eye was any indication of a response, whether that of a swift rejection, a resignation born out of guilt, or merely of acceptance, Yuuki held on to that. She flung herself in him almost too desperately that Zero lost his weight for a moment. But the gun stayed at his hands, and pointed to some part of body that was probably as vital as her head.

What does one say at this particular moment, Yuuki did not know. Five years worth of tears and of holding back flowed from her eyes until it created a pool in the hunter's shirt. She could not say anything, it must be the choking from her tears, or probably because neither word, nor words could amount to every little thing she wanted to say to him. She could only hold him now until she could hold him no longer.

When unexpectedly, his arms held her all the same, she thought she was devoid of any fluid in her body and cried them all as tears. She was wrong.

She had spent crying all night.

"Yuuki, you're drooling already…"

//end?

A/N: I am not even sure if I'll post this or not because I was just having a fic dump. I already forgot the continuation of this story, but I was pretty sure this was supposed to be multi-chaptered. Oh well. Maybe reviews will convince me and chase my muse back? *hint hint*