A/N: Hello! Lea here :) Yes, another AU to add to the collection. Just wanted to let you guys know (for whoever bothers to read these things) that Kaname and Zero are a bit younger. The VK series (as far as I know) hasn't ever really specified Kaname's age, but it's assumed he's around eighteen, and therefore, around eight when his parents were murdered. Here, he'll be around six-ish instead, smaller, cuter, and much more irresistible XD
Zero would be around fifteen, and he and Ichiru were also orphaned at a younger age (eight-ish?) and it wasn't by Shizuka. Zero isn't an ex-human either. And as for Kaito being there, well, I wanted him there XD He's also in another short fic I'm in the beginning of, and utterly OOC there, too :D
Warnings? Redundant for those who've read my fics before, but people will be OOC :) Also, beware the cliched cheesiness! That, and Kaname's cuteness, I guess :D
And, of course, I don't own anything of Vampire Knight.
"It takes a minute to like someone, an hour to love someone, but to forget someone, takes a lifetime." ~Anonymous
Lost and Found
"No Kaname, go!"
Kuran Juri desperately clutched onto her son's tiny shoulders, her slender hands shaking. "Please, Kaname, you can't stay here. I'll be right behind you, Haruka too."
"Kaa-sama, no!" He knew that was a lie. He'd already smelled his father's blood, and could tell the amount that'd been spilled…wasn't from anything small, not even his status as a pureblood could afford to heal such a massive wound quickly enough.
He was probably going to lose his father. He couldn't let the same happen to his mother. "Kaa-sama, please, come with me too, then. Don't leave me alone."
"Oh sweetie," Juri whispered fiercely, pressing a hard kiss to his hair, "I'm so sorry for this, but I need to go. Promise me you'll leave here the moment I turn around. Don't look back, and don't wait for me. I'll look for you."
"Don't cry Kaname," she wiped his tears for the last time, offering the gentlest smile she could muster, and swiftly turned, gathering her skirts, heading for the door, never once looking back.
"Come on, Zero, it's late, you don't need to go," Kaito muttered. "It's not like Cross or I are going to die because we didn't get to eat the perfect meal," he tried to reason, however sarcastic it came out to be. "You can go tomorrow; right when the store opens, even, but it's already past midnight." He raised a hand to gesture lazily towards the bright orange clock hanging by the wall.
"But you always get moody when you don't get your pancakes." Zero raised a brow. "You also get unbearably miserable which pisses off sensei and Hunter Cross which then makes you even more miserable, and you start to pick fights with Ichiru—"
"Fine, damn it! So it's all because of me, right? Ugh, just go and get your damn milk already," he huffed, sticking a hand under his chin and turning his face away with playful petulance. At hearing Zero's light laughter lingering down the hall, his lips quirked into a small smile.
He really was grateful for Zero's attention to detail, especially when it came to their habits and interests. The younger hunter probably knew more about their personal lives than any of them would've liked to think. Due to that, he was…well, more or less, kind of sort of like a substitute mother. It was like that saying, no one knows you better than your mother; Kaito snickered. (Zero would've most definitely had his gun up his nose for that one.)
But if any one of them were in a terrible mood, Zero knew just what to say or do to get them spilling their secrets. It wasn't so that he could always offer a solution; sometimes just having a nonjudgmental ear to patiently listen to the sordid details of their bad hair days could be enough.
But it wasn't always that he'd appreciated Zero's soft side. He'd found it rather irritating, especially when he had to see him interact with Ichiru, who could bend Zero to his will with but a few words and big watery eyes. It was nauseating to watch. He wasn't one to indulge, much less spoil anyone (his worldly logic consisted of 'the survival of the fittest'), and having to see it day in and day out had drove him up the wall.
He didn't understand how Ichiru could so shamelessly demand Zero's attention like a child, how being coddled could benefit anyone, and certainly didn't think it made them stronger. Ichiru was riddled with things he'd been forced to give up, deemed as things that would only keep him back, things he'd learned to hate and abhor in himself. To see him so genuinely happy as Zero not only never reprimanded him for those same characteristics, but actually care for them had felt like a rejection of his own personal experiences, his choices in choosing to become who he was, that he couldn't help lashing out at every opportunity, wanting to somehow prove he hadn't been wrong; that his decisions were made with maturity and practicality.
He just hadn't known how deeply something as simple as acceptance could affect him. And when he thought about it, he'd only began to cut ties with what he'd previously labeled as frivolous or unnecessary when the adults around him had ridiculed and picked at him for it, wanting to humiliate him for no other reason than being able to do so. He never wanted to feel that way again and found a solution he'd felt, at the time (and until recently), would work to his benefit.
"I've been spoiled," Kaito smiled self-deprecatingly, and slowly stood to filch some pudding from the fridge. Zero would never have allowed him to eat this late, but he wasn't here, so…
Zero sighed. Really, did they have to live so far from the rest of the neighbors? It was hell just getting to the store. Their job description certainly required some measure of discretion, but living this far was a pain. He had to make use of the bike just to get near civilization and this time, only for a carton of milk.
Shaking his head, he moved to put on his helmet and tensed, fingers gripping onto the hard plastic. Soundlessly placing his helmet back down, he flipped open a small compartment built into the bike, taking out a gun. It wasn't Bloody Rose, but it would do the job all the same.
Clicking off the safety, he narrowed his eyes and let his hunter senses lead him to his target.
It was a bad idea, chasing after a vampire at this time, with hardly any natural light to guide him, but he couldn't let a vampire roam around unchecked either.
Though it didn't feel like an E… Agitated though it was, this vampire didn't feel like the ones he usually went after for his missions. But if not an E, what would a regular vampire be doing out here? Blood tablets were a common substitute for blood nowadays, and surprisingly, due to constant new developments, many vampires claimed it tasted just like blood.
Tablets weren't terribly expensive and were now widely distributed. Of course, that didn't mean all the vampires chose to take tablets…
Preparing to confront a defiant hungry lucid vampire, Zero raised his gun as he drew closer. Fingers tightening around the trigger, he kept his movements slow and even.
"Who's there? Please, help Kaa-sama!"
A…a kid? Zero blinked. And not a happy one either, if their voice was anything to go by. Quite hysterical, actually. He could certainly tell there were tears involved. But however distraught they were, they still managed to sense him coming. So not a regular vampire…? But that made even less sense. What would a noble B-class be doing out here? A child no less?
Heading up into the small shrine (the irony didn't escape him), Zero frowned softly, stopping short of the raised steps. Its' voice was unmistakably that of a young child's, yes, maybe not even older than five, but he'd also been taught vampires were creatures of deception. How could he be sure that this one wasn't using the form of a child to get him to lower his guard? Higher-class vampires were known for being gifted with extra abilities on top of their physical enhancement.
But could the raw pain he could hear and feel be faked? Zero doubted that was possible. He couldn't claim to be the best judge of character or have sure confidence in his being able to see through lies, but this child was truly distraught over its mother.
Flashes of his own brother's young face, tear streaked, eyes red, and small lips trembling, his frown deepened, his hunter side mentally berating him for his softness. He shouldn't sympathize with it to the point of overlapping it with his brother, he chastised.
Silently damning himself for this (sensei and Kaito would have clobbered him over the head for this, he was sure), he took another step forward. "What's wrong with your mother?"
"She's, she's…" The young hunter lost the rest of the vampire's words to a sea of whimpers and sobs that were only interrupted every so often with wet sniffles and hiccups.
"Hey," he called again, keeping his voice soft and low.
The child didn't seem to hear him, its cries continuing without pause, "…Kaa-sama…"
"Hey, can you come out?" He raised his tone, hoping to get through the grief and gain the child's attention.
There was a loud hiccup followed by a sniffle and bone weary words. "But, Kaa-sama…"
Zero pursed his lips, immediately disliking the deteriorating tone and voice. "Fine, you can tell me about her from where you are."
"No…it's too late now, I know…I know she's g-gone." Zero's hand clenched around the handle of his gun, not wanting to imagine just how its mother had 'gone'. Vampires weren't susceptible to disease, and some even got stronger the more they aged. One of the few likely possibilities were—
He roughly shoved the thought away. "And your father?" He asked, though he feared he already knew the answer to that too.
"…I see…" Did this child have no one else to look after it? Letting out a gusty sigh, he shoved his gun down the waistband of his jeans and determinedly crossed his arms. This kid was obviously lost and emotionally drained, and there was only one thing it needed at this point.
"Come out here, now," he ordered, "I'm taking you to the store and you're getting something warm down that throat. Crying makes everyone tired, hungry, and thirsty." He paused. "I'll give you a minute to step outside. If not, then I leave, and you can stay here and go on with your cry-fest. I won't come back a second time."
Well, that last bit wasn't entirely true, but it might give proper incentive to get the kid moving.
The silence continued to persist.
Zero gave a noncommittal nod and shrugged, turning to leave. His steps measured, he slowly counted down from five.
And just as he reached one and a half, the door to the shrine cautiously creaked open.
Lips quirking in a small smile, he kept walking.
He'd reach his bike soon.
"Um wait! Please!"
Stopping without turning (another clobber to the head for that one, keeping his back to a vampire), he tilted his head. "Yes?"
"I…I would like to go with you."
Zero pretended to think about it, casually sticking his hands in his pockets and leaning his weight on one leg, giving out an air of lazy confidence.
He'd never heard a vampire utter that word so many times. In fact, he'd thought they were incapable of asking for anything sincerely.
"You can come with me, but I want you to do something for me first."
"You listen carefully to what I tell you when we get into town; I know what you are. I don't need the people there finding out, and I don't think you do either."
The kid gave a light squeak, but gave an affirmative.
Zero nodded. "Now I want something else, and this one's big. Really complicated. Extremely difficult. Can you do it?"
Zero held in a grin. "I want to know your name."
An incredulous pause before, "W-what?" Surprised sputtering. "But you said-you said it was difficult!"
Zero finally turned and offered a disarming smile. Wide wine red eyes shined as they gaped up at him from a tiny face.
"My…my name is Kaname."
"I'm Zero." He closed the rest of the distance separating him from his bike, lightly patting the leather seat as he discreetly stuck the gun back into its compartment. "Hop on." One graceful leap and the kid was looking down, eyes still wide, as his short legs struggled to straddle the seat properly, his small hands falling flat against the smooth shiny metal.
Kaname squeaked as the human boy, Zero, shoved something onto his head.
Zero snickered lightly as he tried to adjust the helmet so it wouldn't be sliding all over the place, clicking the strap on. It was much too big, but he didn't want to take any chances, vampire or no. The little one was still a child, and he'd no idea about healing abilities of vampires when they were so young.
Strapping on his own helmet, he sat behind Kaname, taking a short moment to consider his choices before deciding to turn the child around to face him. "I don't want you falling off," he said by way of explanation, "so hold on tight."
The tiny vampire seemed hesitant about having to hold onto a human until he kicked the engine into life and startled him into grabbing for his waist. Pretending not to give notice to the disgruntled glare aimed his way, he sped out down the highway.
"Kaito. Zero will kill you in the morning for that."
"It's just one cup of pudding," Kaito drawled smirking around a spoon. "How's he ever going to know?"
Ichiru shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you." He smiled. "But don't forget; he does control what we eat."
Kaito gave him a bemused stare until the implications of the younger boy's words sunk in and he paused, swallowing, slowly pulling the spoon out of his mouth. "He wouldn't," he croaked. "Would he?"
Ichiru shrugged again, going for a cup of water. Watching the glass steadily getting filled, he lowly murmured, "Hunter Cross wouldn't go near the kitchen for weeks when he stole some ice cream a few months ago for a late night 'snack'." Knowing he'd probably burst out laughing if he turned around to see Kaito's face now, he busied himself with getting some ice cubes, plopping a couple into the water, hearing the soft crackle it gave as they were submerged in liquid.
"Shit, you're serious." Kaito said faintly. His dark eyes slid down to look forlornly at his cup of pudding. Would Zero at least go easy on him if he only ate half?
Lips twitching, Ichiru swirled the water around, the ice cubes clinking together as they hit against the sides of the glass cup. There really was no question as to who held the title of being Master of the house.
"…Chocolate balls? You sure you want this junk?" Zero inspected the box of sweets as though expecting a flesh-eating alien to come bursting out of it. "If you want sugar, I've got some pudding at home."
"Pudding?" The young vampire's tone was still meek and shy as well as hoarse from all the crying, but Zero caught onto the hesitant interest that slipped through. Did the little one like pudding?
"Yes, though I think we only have vanilla and strawberry left." Both Kaito and Hunter Cross had black holes for a stomach. His amazement at their appetite was always renewed every time he watched them eat.
Zero smiled slightly. "You like vanilla?"
Kaname's vigorous nod was enough of an answer. Zero's smile widened and he reached down to ruffle unruly brown curls that barely managed to reach his thigh, dropping the chocolate balls into the basket.
As he moved on, pushing the small cart along, he missed the young vampire's eyes widening in surprise, looking after his retreating back in almost a daze before Kaname hurried to catch up, his cheeks flushed.
When Zero looked back down to check if the vampire was still with him, he caught him fingering his hair, his face still red. "Hey, you all right?" Maybe they should head home soon. The kid wasn't old enough to want for blood, but who knew.
Kaname's head snapped up. "Um!" He took a moment to register Zero's question. "Yes, I'm fine."
"Right. I'll just get these paid for and we can go." Upon reaching the counter, the hunter caught a small selection of warm drinks by it and mentally berated himself for forgetting about Kaname's abused throat. Briefly asking which one of them the vampire preferred, he quickly had that paid for as well.
Stepping outside into the cool air, he handed Kaname his drink, which was a bottle of milk tea. A strange choice for a kid, he'd vaguely noted, but then again, if Kaname really was from a noble class family, then perhaps not so much.
Kaname took a careful sip of his tea, refraining from making a face at the bland taste (he chose it after all) and tentatively looked up at his wayward savior. A human too. Zero; he silently mouthed. He wondered how that was spelled. He thought it a nice name, though if the character for it was what he assumed it to be, it was quite a contrast to the young man's kind nature.
The young pureblood had never met a human before, but he doubted many, if any, would offer him drinks and chocolate if they knew what he was. He'd heard Aidou and Ruka talk about how scared humans were of vampires in general, regardless of class, and he supposed they had every right to be. Vampires lived off of their blood, after all, and in Kaname's case, when he was old enough he had the power to turn another human into one of them.
There were those foolish enough to want to be turned, he knew, but there were also those that were well aware of the utter dangers of becoming a vampire. By Zero's attitude, Kaname could guess the young man was of the latter.
And yet…Kaname took another moment to finger his hair, his cheeks growing warm again at remembering the slender hand that had gone through it, and yet, Zero had gone and gotten him out of the ball of misery he'd made himself into and even gotten him food and a warm drink to soothe him. He'd treated Kaname just like he would any crying child and had only required for Kaname to be cautious around humans and to tell him his name.
Amazingly fascinating, this young man was. He couldn't be that old in human years either; Kaname took another glance. And…well, for a human, a race that Kaname had often heard couldn't compare to vampires, Zero was…he was…very nice looking.
The lack of light hadn't at all hindered his sight, and Kaname had had his eyes straying to the young man's light colored hair; a shade he'd never seen before in anyone. And in the well-lit store, he'd been given a chance to see the exact hue of his eyes, which were rather pretty, reminding him of the lilacs back at home.
All in all, for his first time meeting a human, Kaname thought he'd been very lucky. He knew vampires that were well deserving of caution and dislike, and his parents hadn't been shy about telling him of humans who could also be just as dangerous. Just as there were unpleasant vampires, there were also unpleasant humans.
But Zero was different. He'd been extremely kind, especially when knowing what he was. He wondered if he'd ever have the chance to meet him again after this. He doubted he could stay with him. With his parents gone, he would most likely go into the hands of Ichijo Asato, one of the council members, and Takuma's grandfather. As a pureblood, and more importantly, as a Kuran, Kaname would never be allowed for simple freedom such as going down to a human store and buying a drink. It would certainly be out of the question.
Remembering his parents, his mood began to wilt once again. He'd never be able to see his mother smile, never have her read to him, sing to him, or play with his hair. He'd never see his father mess up in the kitchen, never see him laugh over silly things, never have his warm hugs or kisses. He'd never see them again.
Zero, he mouthed, and smiled, small and bittersweet as it was. He knew if his parents hadn't met such a tragic end, he probably would have never crossed paths with this young human. But he didn't regret meeting him, and wished he could meet him again, at least once more, even if only to have drinks with him.
"Hey," Kaname squeaked as a finger flicked his forehead, "finish that before it gets cold."
His hand automatically coming to rest on the abused spot, the young vampire squeezed his eyes shut as he felt them burn with the familiar oncoming of tears. Zero treated him so normally, just like his parents would have done if he were feeling down, and he was now even more acutely aware of their loss. Nobody would ever treat him this way, would they, he silently despaired. He'd always be Kuran Kaname, the pureblood. He certainly couldn't ever imagine Aidou or Ruka flicking his forehead or ruffling his hair.
Why did his parents have to go? Why couldn't they all have run away together? Why did they have to leave him on his own? He felt so terribly alone; he now had no one to turn to, no one to trust—
"Hey, I thought we were done with all this crying." Kaname looked up miserably only to have the corner of a shirtsleeve pressed to his aching eyes and his cheeks. "I know you miss them, and you know what? You'll probably never stop missing them, but you can keep them with you every time you think about them. Don't think about how they're gone. Think about how you think they want you to remember them. Would they want to see you crying like this?"
Kaname let out a pathetic hiccupping sob and wordlessly shook his head. Zero's shirtsleeve went back against his face.
"It's hard, I know, and it hurts like hell, but think about it this way. If you tripped and fell, what do you do right afterward?"
"I-I'd get back up."
"This is like tripping. Right now, all you're doing is sitting on the floor and crying about how your bleeding knee hurts. Is crying about it going to make your knee better? You have to clean it up and give it time. It's the same thing you have to do for the pain you're feeling here," he gently prodded Kaname's chest. "You clean it up and give it time."
Kaname reflexively closed one of his eyes as Zero's damp sleeve dabbed at the corner of it, and croaked, "Clean it?"
"Like you're doing now," Zero smiled wanly. "Don't try to keep things too tightly wrapped or you'll break it one day." He'd tried doing the same until Hunter Cross had forced him to break down, never chastising him for his tears or his pain and merely offering soft words and warm comforting arms to relax and pour his anxieties into.
"I'm not telling you to cry some more," he took a moment to choose a drier area of his sleeve for Kaname's other eye, "but it's okay to admit you're in pain."
"Ka-Kaa-sama once said you c-can't help how you f-feel." He hiccupped out.
"Well, she was right." Zero shrugged. "Someone else can't force you to feel what you don't want. Our feelings are our own. I can't tell you to be happy and expect you to feel that."
Kaname smiled slightly. "I feel happy to have m-met you."
Zero blinked and let out a soft laugh. "I'm glad you think so. You still in for that vanilla pudding?"
"Um, yes, if you wouldn't mind."
Zero shook his head. There really was no doubt to Kaname's wealthy background with the way he spoke.
"Well then, get back on the bike; it's time for home."
Getting back to the shrine, Zero had Kaname wait by the steps as he went to fetch the promised pudding from the fridge. Upon finding it, he nearly growled as he saw that the strawberry one, which he quite clearly remembered was there before he left, was now half eaten.
"Kaito, that bottomless pit," he muttered. Hunter Cross slept like a log and he knew better than to indulge in any more late night 'snacks' since the first and last time Zero had caught him at it, so that left Kaito who had also been awake when Zero had left. He probably thought no one would care to notice if a cup of pudding was gone.
But he inexplicably left half of it uneaten, which was completely unlike him. Deciding to attack the problem tomorrow morning, he took out the vanilla pudding from beside it and took a small spoon with him. About to leave, he hesitated before quickly turning back around to the fridge. Just one more thing, and then he'll be ready to go…
Kaname waited patiently for Zero to return, determinedly ignoring the cold biting through his thin jumper and shirt, hugging his knees to himself as he took a seat atop one of the steps. Any moment now, he was expecting to see Zero's light hair and lilac eyes. He didn't even care so much for the pudding as much as getting to spend more time with Zero.
Because as wonderful as it would be to stay with him, he knew he had to go back. He would only inconvenience Zero by staying, and Kaname couldn't abandon his duties as a pureblood simply because he disliked them. Now that his parents were gone, he would be in charge of the Kuran line, and there were responsibilities that went along with the title.
Besides, Zero wouldn't want me to, Kaname rested his forehead against his knees with a small smile. He had to stand back up and keep on walking. He would strive to do both his parents and Zero proud.
A shy gust of wind blew Zero's scent towards him, and soon enough, "Sorry I took a while."
Kaname looked up and smiled fully this time. "No, it was fine." Expecting just the pudding, he was bemused to see the paper bag Zero had with him. It was decorated with colorful lollipops, which also had smiley faces that cheerily looked back at him. He somehow doubted it was Zero who had chosen it.
Seeing where his attention had gone to, Zero smiled exasperatedly. "Yeah, sorry about the bag. One of the guys I live with has weird taste. But I didn't think you'd be staying with us, so I wanted to add in something."
Kaname gently took the bag and looked inside. The vanilla pudding, along with a spoon, was there, with the box of chocolate balls he'd yet to open, and next to that was a thermo, also decorated strangely with flying kittens against a starry background.
"That's for your voice. It's honey lemon tea."
Kaname giggled softly and ducked his head. It was either that, or cry again, and he didn't want to further wet Zero's shirt.
"Thank you. May I…may I keep these?"
"Use them however you like. You should eat the food though." He said teasingly.
"I, I will, and um, thank you again, for all you've done." He felt his cheeks flush, but kept his gaze steady. He wanted Zero to know he meant his words. He was truly grateful.
"You're welcome." The young hunter nodded, and checked his watch. "It'll be dawn soon."
Kaname pursed his lips. It was time, then.
"Take care, and don't cry too much, all right?" Kaname relished the last hair ruffle he'd ever receive, briefly closing his eyes.
"Yes, Zero-san." He managed another smile. "I promise I won't."
"Kaname, eating pudding again?" Takuma laughed lightly. If there was one thing his childhood friend was known for besides his status as a pureblood, it was his fondness for vanilla pudding and honey lemon tea.
He didn't obsessively have it everyday, but it was enough for the cooks to notice as well as those who spent time with him on a regular basis. He still remembered when Hanabusa had tried to make Kaname a cup of pudding for his birthday some years ago, and nearly fainted in happiness as Kaname had smiled hesitantly and commented it was well made.
Takuma, however, hadn't missed the amount of honey lemon tea that'd been consumed right afterwards. Not to mention, Kaname had said it was well made, not that it was delicious.
His smile turning nostalgic, he leaned his chin on his palm and casually asked, "Why do you like it so much?" Vanilla pudding and honey lemon tea weren't anything special or particularly rare. He could only assume they had some sort of sentimental quality and thought his friend's attachment to them rather endearing.
"They remind me of someone."
"Do I know this someone?" He pestered playfully.
"No," Kaname said swiftly, taking another bite of his pudding, "and I'm glad you don't, or else you might be enchanted by their charm as well, and I'd prefer not to have you as competition."
Takuma blinked. "Is this…someone you have that sort of interest in?" His tone turned cautious.
"Even if I did, your grandfather would have nothing to worry over," Kaname held in a sullen glare, "I haven't seen them in years." This year would mark the tenth…
Smiling guiltily, Takuma hummed apologetically. "I think I'm glad you haven't." Ugh, the reaction of his grandfather…
"I know, and I am as well," the pureblood whispered.
Well, that's all :) Thank you for sticking till the end, guys *bows* Hope I didn't bore you. And no, I won't be adding anything to this, I highly doubt it, though it would be fun to see how Kaname and Zero would react if they were to meet each other a decade later, one in charge of a new era for vampires, and the other the leader of the Hunter Association XD That'd be one crazy reunion *snort*
Kaname would be like: O.O and then O///O and then \^o^/ *hearts* Before realizing Zero's a hunter, and then he'd be like TToTT *cackle*
As for Kaname's parents, I suppose I could blame Rido. He's like VK's default bad guy *goes ahead heaps all the Blame onto said pureblood's shoulders*