Rewind 9

Their connection was like a whirlwind and a safe-house combined, tearing at their mental states savagely while making them feel safe and secure that they were there, real, alive and with each other. Neither of them understood it fully, and they were tired, so very tired of the doubts and insecurities regarding their standing with each other.

But now, everything was clear.

Zero arched backward against that solid chest, turning his head so he could reach the pureblood for a fevered kiss.

Everything was clear.

It felt nice.

It felt good to be in someone's arms, to just be held, and not care about anything else. He didn't know how long it had been since he'd been held in someone's arms.

The rays of sunset crept in through the crack in the heavy curtains.

Zero shifted in Kaname's embrace.

"What are you going to do now?"

Kaname's arms tightened around him slightly, a wistful sigh tickling his ear as the brunet exhaled, thinking of an answer.

"I don't know, Zero."

Zero stiffened then, making to sit up.

Kaname let him, his hand still lovingly lingering on the fairer boy's arm, languidly stroking the fair skin.

Kaname couldn't stop himself from touching that beautiful face that looked simply angelic in the light, despite the tired weariness reflected on it.

"...are you okay?"

The hunter pushed his hand away, his cheeks colouring a soft pink that did nothing to dampen Kaname's affection for him. The brunet pressed light kisses to the fair-haired boy's knuckles in silent apology.

"I'm not glass, Kaname. I may heal slower than you but I can take that much pain, alright?"

Kaname chuckled, leaning closer to take a whiff of the younger boy's hair and press a light kiss on his temple.

"I love you, Zero."

The fair-haired boy flushed a stronger colour, but replied with a light peck on the brunet's cheek.

Kaname was ridiculously happy; he hadn't been so content in a very long time, and he was thankful that Zero was feeling the same. They were finally on the same page. In his arms was the person he was going to protect and cherish for the rest of his life.

They shared a long kiss, before Zero pulled away and rested his chin on the taller boy's shoulder.

They remained like that for a while, both waiting for the other to speak, and it was the ex-human who broke the comfortable silence.

"I was scared, you know?"

Kaname hummed, unsure of the direction of the conversation, but Zero continued.

"I was afraid that everything was a dream - and there was a time that I felt like two different people."

The brunet's hold on his waist tightened, but there was no reply.

"I hated my 'past' self for a while," Zero confessed, chuckling to himself, nuzzling the older boy's collar bone.

"I blamed him. I felt like a part of me was gone, and although I wanted it back, I was deathly afraid of what it could mean to whatever I had now."

Zero paused, taking a deep breath.

"I was afraid that by becoming Zero Kiryuu again, the Zero Kiryuu that I was then would be gone, and yet, if I didn't return to being Zero Kiryuu, I would never be complete."

Kaname ran a comforting hand through the prefect's hair.

"It's natural to be afraid of the unknown, Zero."

The silver -haired boy pulled away, peering into the wine-red irises of the Pureblood. Kaname's cool fingertips touched his cheek.

"You don't understand."

Kaname pressed a soft kiss to a fair cheek.

"Help me understand."

The brunet tried to press the slightly smaller boy closer, but the prefect removed removed himself from his arms and rested a comfortable distance away, so they could both look at each other properly; formally.

"I'm still afraid."

Three words, and Kaname already felt horrible.

What had he done? What can he do to take that pained expression away? But he steeled himself and waited for Zero to continue.

Zero hesitated.

This was it. Make or break. If Kaname rejected him after hearing what he had to say, he wouldn't blame him. They would just go their separate ways.

"...I lost my family to Shizuka Hiou. She took everything that had ever meant anything to me in a single night. My mother, my father, my twin brother -"

The prefect kept his gaze on the ceiling as his clasped his hands tighter together.

"But then Yuuki and Cross found me. Those two-" he chuckled, and it was warm, and Kaname hoped that the conversation would continue going in that direction-

"-they forced themselves into my heart, and stay there. I love Yuuki as I love a sister, and I wanted to protect her; to do what I couldn't do with my family. But then you came along." The fair haired boy sighed, thinking of what to say next.

"And in my eyes you were a potential Shizuka Hiou."

Kaname remained silent. He wasn't surprised by this confession, in fact, he had vaguely understood Zero's psyche a long time ago. But none of it had actually mattered until now.

"We were so different, and I never actually hated you, except for the fact that you had the one thing I didn't have-"

Zero finally looked up at him, and the emotion the Pureblood found there was painful.

"...strength."

Zero shifted slightly.

"You can protect Yuuki so much better than I ever can, I know that. But I just didn't want to lose. Losing would have meant that I didn't have any place here - anywhere. I'm a hunter, Kaname, but I am also a Vampire; I'm an existence rejected by both sides. I managed to find some semblance of belonging in this school: I'm a paradox that was never meant to survive the night my family died. I am not supposed to be-"

Kaname didn't want to hear anymore, moving so he could embrace the now trembling boy, but was stopped by a raised hand.

"Don't spoil me, Kaname." A broken smile was on those perfect lips, and the

brunet's heart throbbed painfully. He had no idea of the full extent that Zero had gone through, and he couldn't even begin to comprehend it. He had knowledge of what had happened in the hunter's life, but none of it had directly affected him until now. These were the experiences of the person he had come to care for and love with such passion and earnest, and he was sharing his darkest secrets with him. And Kaname appreciated this honesty, reveled in the fact that he was trusted to this extent. The pureblood smiled, and the prefect took a deep breath before he found the strength to continue.

"I'm not supposed to be alive."

"Zero, please-"

"Let me finish, Kaname."

Kaname fell silent, but held Zero's hand.

"I wasn't a permanent existence in my own eyes, I had existed solely for revenge against the Vampires that took my family from me; but when Yuuki wormed herself into my life it felt like I could finally live like a normal person again. She made me forget my anger and spite, so I clung onto her like a lifeline. She was the only thing keeping me grounded, and it didn't matter that you loved each other, it didn't matter that I was only an obstacle for the both of you, because at least I had a purpose. But you, you were like a poison, I could never know what you were thinking or what you would do. I went against you because you threatened everything I had. You had the power to take everything from me, even if in a different manner from Shizuka. You would have left me with nothing."

Zero looked into Kaname's eyes.

"I blamed your race for what happened to my family, and in relation, I blamed you for my conversion into the very thing that had taken everything from me, I blamed you for being what you are, I hated your kind with every fibre of my existence because I didn't have anywhere else to direct it. I couldn't accept the fact that I was weak; that I wasn't strong enough to protect my family, and that I would never be strong enough to protect the people i care about. I had no idea where to start getting my revenge, so I just grew into this being of fury and spite. I was afraid to see behind the monstrous masks I had cast for you, to acknowledge there was something more behind the demons i saw you as. But when I lost my memories, I was forced to look and accept that you're not the one-dimensional character I made you out to be."

The prefect snorted bitterly.

"...I suppose I have to thank Yuuki for that."

Kaname squeezed the hand in his encouragingly, he could see the light flush on fair cheeks, understandably from the embarrassment of talking about his feelings like this, but Zero needed this, to get this out of his system, to tell him exactly how he felt. And as he held onto the prefect's warmth, and listened to his voice, everything that he didn't understand had now made painful sense - the reactions that he had found irritating and irrational were explained in searing clarity.

"But you... You cared for me when I was at my weakest and now you're offering me a place to be."

"In short," Zero said, a warm look that Kaname found so rare on his beautiful features. "I'm sorry, and...thank you."

Kaname smiled, squeezing Zero's hand again.

"I have my fair share of things to confess, Zero." Kaname paused, unsure of whether to continue, but decided it fair that since Zero was baring himself to him, that he should do the same.

"I'm not as good a person as you think me to be." He trailed off, watching Zero for a reaction, only continuing when the younger man just continued to watch him quietly, expectantly.

"I am a selfish man, Zero. Before my feelings for you, I saw you as nothing but a tool. In my defense, everyone aside from Yuuki was dispensable to me. She was my destined one, my sister, and the one who would continue my line by my side. I took advantage of the feelings that you had for her so you would serve as a bodyguard to her, to keep her safe until I had prepared the stage for her. Your feelings would not have mattered; I would have crushed anything that stood in my way."

Zero looked uncomfortable, but Kaname refused to let go of his hand.

"When you lost your memory, I thought it was a plot to get near me tasked to you by the association. I was ready to kill you once evidence presented itself."

Zero could not read Kaname's expression, but noticed that the hand holding his had tightened its grip.

"But you are so pure, Zero. You are everything that I could not be. You fight against your very existence each day you take breath, and that in itself requires more strength than most can muster."

The gaze that met his own spoke volumes of warmth and affection, and Zero couldn't help but look away shyly.

It was simple and clear - Kaname did not blame him, or judge him for what he had just revealed about himself, and that, to Zero, was enough.

"You have a place, and your place is right here, next to me. There are individuals who value your existence, and are thankful that you're in their lives."

Kaname's gaze was soft and full of affection.

"You said you were weak," the brunet began, his fingers gently stroking Zero's wrists now, bending a little and leaning forward so that Zero would meet his gaze.

"But you're the strongest person I know. No one is invincible, Zero. And when you feel that you're weak, I will be your lifeline. I will remind you of your strength and I will do my utmost to protect you. I will be your family and your anchor, Zero."

Zero felt something in his heart crack, because someone who could fully accept him for being who he was was finally within reach.

The bed sank as the brunet shifted to seat himself next to Zero to gather him into his arms, leaning in playfully for a nip to Zero's ear, but was denied with a small smile and a soft shove.

"Get changed you idiot."

And as Kaname watched Zero move about the room to grab his shirt and couldnt help but appreciate how adorable the younger man looked blushing up to his ears.

Class was tense.

It was painfully obvious that Ruka was seething, while Aidou and Ichijou were watching their handiwork (although they really didn't do much) with smug and wistful expressions.

By scent, the whole class knew that Kaname and Zero were now an item.

There were many looks of disapproval from random nobles, but most of

Kaname's inner circle welcomed the change.

"Thank goodness you're no longer dancing around each other." Kain remarked to Zero during supper, which earned him a glare.

"Saves us a lot of grief."

"We were never dancing around each other."

The redhead shot him a look, before nodding just to humor him.

Aidou, on the other hand, was grinning with inexplicable self-satisfaction.

"Be thankful, Zero! Thanks to the vice dorm leader and myself, Kaname-sama and you are such a blissful sight!"

Zero raised a fine eyebrow, but said nothing; instead just smiling awkwardly around the spoonful of cream soup he was eating.

Kaname, on the other hand, was in his room discussing a few matters with Ichijou, of which mainly concerned Zero and his subsequent actions from there.

"My grandfather should have gotten word by now, Kaname."

The brunet lay back in his chair, holding an elegant hand to his temple.

"I am aware, Takuma. I am regrettably still in the process of deciding what to do about the current situation for things to work in my favour."

"He will ask that you justify your choice in partner, and Zero isn't exactly easy to defend."

The pureblood sighed. He didnt need Takuma to tell him that - he already knew. Zero was male. He could not produce off spring. Minus. He was also ex-human, threatening to fall to Level E in the blink of an eye. Not ideal. What's more, he was of Hunter Origin, and not just any lineage, but one of the most renowned and respected in their field. Brilliant.

Just running those points over in his head had Kaname getting a stomach ache.

The next week saw Ichijou Asato sitting in his study, a stern and irritable expression on his aged face.

"You must explain yourself, Kuran-sama. I come on behalf of the Council to understand the rumors that have reached our ears of your relationship with the Level D hunter Kiryuu Zero." the old man said Zero's name with utmost distaste, as if he was speaking of something that was infinitely below him.

The Pureblood resisted the urge to roll his eyes, instead settling for his business smile as the old man continued.

"It must only be that- a false truth that has been fabricated in an attempt to sully your esteemed image, I am sure-"

"...It's true."

The noble vampire sat in stunned silence, absorbing his young King's words, looking at him as if he had lost his mind.

"Kuran-sama, you jest, it cannot be that you actually have feelings for the boy-"

Kaname's gaze turned icy almost immediately, and he rested it on an obviously alarmed Ichijou Asato.

"I do not see why I have to justify myself to you, but if you must question me, know that my relationship with Zero is something that you cannot change my mind on."

The noble fell silent, willing to listen to any explanation that the Pureblood had to offer, evidently doing his best to hold his tongue.

The brunet noticed a presence by the door, and smiled.

"And here he is."

The door opened, and a very grumpy Zero stood on the other side, clearly unhappy that he had to sit in during this "meeting". The Pureblood made a gesture with his hand for Zero to come closer, and sat him down in his chair with purposeful intimacy.

"Let me explain," Kaname started, showily draping himself at Zero's side, his eyes cold and calculative as he watched Ichijou's reactions.

"He is both hunter and Vampire, and perfectly embodies our ideals of coexistence -our relationship further enforces our cause. I do not see why he should not be accepted into our society, without discrimination and without judgement."

Ichijou listened on with laughable horror, but did not say anything to challenge the brunet.

"...Verily," the old man acceded, nodding slowly.

Zero scowled, unable to stomach the way the brunet talked as if he wasn't in the room, and had actually attempted to leave when Kaname grabbed his shoulder, and continued speaking.

"But of course, that is not the main reason why I want him by my side."

The fair-haired boy was about to attempt to sock him, he could tell, and he couldn't help the smile that broke out on his face.

"...I genuinely love this man."

At this, the Noble was speechless, and even the hunter was a sputtering incoherent mess of confusion, and it took a good portion of his self-restraint not to outright laugh at their faces.

Before this whole event of Zero's amnesia, he would never have fathomed that he would be able to feel so much for an individual, much less Kiryuu Zero. It was illogical, and he was too invested, but at the moment it didn't matter. His grip on the younger boy's shoulders tightened almost protectively as Ichijou rose from his seat in understandable disbelief.

"This is not possible."

The noble turned his accusing gaze to the ex-human, raising a shaking finger at him.

"What vile magic did you cast on my Lord?"

The look on Zero's face had Kaname burst out in laughter, but the brunet fell silent a moment later to cast a sharp glare at the old man, effectively cutting off whatever else the noble had to say.

"Please, sit down."

The words were polite but the tone left no room for argument.

Ichijou did as he was told, not even trying to hide his seething anger.

"Please reconsider, Kaname-sama." He grated out, but the Pureblood was in no mood to listen any longer. Kaname raised his hand.

"Enough. You have confirmed the rumor, so if you have no other business with me, be off. I am no longer your charge. My personal affairs are not affairs that you should concern yourself with."

The councilman looked like he was about to burst a blood vessel, but did not push the topic further, and had left with the utmost reluctance.

Zero was shocked, to be honest. He had not expected what transpired in the meeting with Ichijou to actually happen. He had thought that the pureblood would probably just cook up some strange excuse to explain away their relationship, or just outright deny it, and keep it as a not-so-secret.

It made him happy in a way that he never thought he could be, and he realized that Kaname had done it to assure him, that he wasn't going to be going anywhere anytime soon, that he wasn't going to let him. Zero wanted to slap the smile off his own face as he thought about it, but of course he would die before admitting it to Kaname, especially after that embarrassing heart-to-heart talk they had just the week before.

He wasn't a woman, damn it, he didn't need protecting, but it felt nice to have someone promise to have your back when you needed it. It reminded him of the days before the incident, or the time he spent with Yagari and Kaito. There was no additional pressure, and an established mutual trust. It was nice to be acknowledged as an individual.

If this was what it was to have a partner, he could certainly get used to it.

A small touch on his nose pulled him out of his thoughts.

"Are you alright with that?" Kaname asked quietly, and Zero realized that the brunet was now in front of him, propped against the table and staring at him.

"Alright with what?"

"How I decided to handle that."

Zero didn't know how to answer exactly, but the look on his face seemed to be answer enough for the Pureblood.

"Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of our troubles, Zero."

Kaname touched his face gently, before reaching to stroke his hair lazily.

"But I won't let anything happen to you."

The same hand that was touching his hair now firmly pulled him into a kiss, slow and sure, and with all the emotion that he would never have expected.

"You're stuck with me now, Zero."

The hunter bit back a smile, but subtly leaned towards the pureblood so their foreheads touched.

"That sounds pretty horrible." He teased, a ghost of a smile tugging at his lips.

There was an awkward cough from behind the door. The two pulled away from each other while the door opened to reveal a smiling Takuma and a blushing Aidou.

"My grandfather left in a huff. I expect he's on his way to hatch a plan to get the both of you separated."

Kaname smiled in reply, crossing his arms lazily.

"He is very welcome to try."

Zero looked uncomfortable, but the weight of Kaname's hand on his shoulder assured him that everything would be okay.

It was the start of a new journey. One that he no longer had to walk alone.