Kaname raised a hand as if to caress the priest's cheek, but stopped short, forcing himself to pull away, his eyes cast to the floor.
"I don't deserve any of this."
There was a soft click, and Zero was left alone again, with nothing but his sorrow and confusion to keep him company.
The Vampire society has a hierarchy – the untouchables, Level E, feral Vampires that have lost rational thought were at the bottom of the triangle, and Purebloods sit at the very top. The Kuran family is argued to be one of the "roots", otherwise known as the oldest bloodlines in existence.
A Vampire could grow stronger by ingesting the blood of humans, and the effect was amplified manifold when a Vampire ingests the blood of another Vampire, and even more so if it was the blood of a Pureblood. Naturally, most Vampires who wish to attain power would try to consume Pureblood; and if Pureblood can be attained, why not a Kuran's?
It all started with Kaname's Uncle.
Kuran Riido. He was a power hungry, greedy, self-centered piece of work, and he had been trying to get stronger since he first learned of it and could exercise his powers. Naturally, familial bonds and kinship meant little in his eyes. He wanted the best of everything – and he settled no less than Kaname's parents, his own brother and sister. It sickened Kaname to even think about it now, how he could share the same blood as such a man – but his father, his father was strong, and didn't go down without a fight. His parents had long foreseen the threat that Riido posed, and his mother wanted to protect them, Kaname a youth at that time, no more than twelve, and his younger sister of seven, by sending them away. She sealed his sister's memories and gave her the characteristics of a human, and Kaname was to watch over her. And so, he and his sibling were sent away, while their parents fended off the threat. But somewhere along the way, he lost her. Through the many systems that he had to go through being only twelve, he couldn't stay with her. He was frantic when he heard of the death of his parents. He was ashamed and enraged at himself for not being able to protect the only thing left to him that was truly important. He felt like a failure.
So he worked hard.
He slowly built up his reputation, gathered allies that he could trust with his life, pulled strings with his superior bloodline, learned to maneuver the ropes of politics with such ease and mercilessness one would regard him with awe and fear.
He became the Kuran Kaname, Pureblood prince.
He built a wall around himself so that no one could get near him, an impenetrable defense in the form of a kind smile and a level crimson gaze.
But Zero, Zero managed to crack that defense with his patience and charm and beauty. It was something Kaname had never expected. Until he met Zero, his sole purpose of existence was to protect his sister and revenge his parents. It was what was expected of him, it was what he owed himself. He had not expected to need to create an outlet for romance – the idea had seemed so ridiculous and redundant that he had almost sworn it would never happen to him. He was too soiled in the things that he did, he was convinced that no one would want him. No one would want him as him. Given, he had received countless propositions of marriage from many females and advances from males, but no one knew him; no one cared to. Until that very night he stepped into that church with a blood-soaked shirt and his mind at breaking point that the thought of spending the rest of his life with one person might not be as superfluous as it first occurred to him.
Zero, so pure, so bright in his innocence and strong in his beliefs – Kaname was afraid – he knew that he was falling, being sucked into a whirlpool of desire for the priest; but he could not resist the urge to return to the church night after night just to catch a glimpse of the younger man. But a glimpse was never enough, and Kaname found himself talking to him, touching him.
In love with him.
He didn't understand.
Why was Kaname pushing him away? Did his feelings change? Was his presence no longer desired now that he wasn't human anymore?
Insecurities were eating at him like a disease.
After their little encounter, Kaname did not show himself in front of him again.
Zero sighed, going back to chopping his carrots, adding the pieces to the pile of other ingredients to his stew.
Idly, as his hands worked, he thought about Yuuki.
…Was she alright?
What was she doing now?
He had been so caught up in his own problems, he had completely forgotten about the brunette. He made a mental note to visit the girl, but in his current state it would be almost impossible.
He looked up at his reflection on the window pane.
He looked like he had been through hell (which was not untrue) and he had regained some of his previous weight, thanks to Kaname, but his eyes were blood shot and dimly glowing, like he was one of them – but he always forgot.
He was one of them.
It was like a never-ending nightmare, he didn't know how he could continue living like this – he had to keep the church going, he had sermons to deliver, people to save.
But who was he kidding?
He couldn't even save himself.
He felt like some expensive pet.
Zero flinched, bringing up his bleeding finger to his mouth immediately, trying to numb the slight stinging as well as dull the intense smell of his own blood. He had barely walked to the sink to wash the wound when Kaname's loyal 'servant' was behind him, trying to catch a glimpse of the wound.
"Are you alright, Kiryuu-sama?"
Zero nodded, a small smile on his pretty face.
He didn't want anyone to worry about him, even if it was through obligation.
"I'm fine, Seiren. Thank you for your concern."
The girl had nodded, and bowed out. Zero watched her go a little sadly.
It took another two seconds before the wound healed completely.
He was a monster now.
He went back to his curry.
The fragrant smell of curry filled the room.
Zero put his hands on his hips, thinking for a moment, before heading into the kitchen to get a knife.
He was lonely.
He rolled up his sleeve, making a small incision on his arm, shaking off the aroma of his own blood, he waited.
It didn't take long for the young woman to show herself in his room the second time that day.
"Kiryuu-sama, are you alright?"
Zero smiled, grabbing a tissue to wipe up the excess blood from his open wound, he gestured to the table.
There, neatly placed out were two sets of dining utensils.
"Would you please join me for dinner, Seiren?"
The vampire looked utterly stupefied at his request, unable to respond for a near two seconds, before she bowed deeply.
"I would not dare to, Kiryuu-sama."
Zero sighed. He knew that she would say something along those lines.
"Call me Zero. I've already made enough for two. You wouldn't want to waste my efforts, would you?"
The girl seriously looked troubled as she debated over in her head whether she should accept his offer or not, and when she sat down the priest laughed, and took his seat as well.
"Dinner should be eaten together, don't you think?"
Seiren had blushed, but acceded, timidly digging into her serving of rice and curry, secretly relishing its outstanding taste.
"This is delicious, Kiryuu-sama."
Zero smiled, he had settled for watching her eat for a while before actually starting on his own portion. He took a small bite, not understanding why his throat felt dry and irritated as he swallowed, why his chest felt like it was being crushed.
He had mustered up the courage to visit Yuuki the next day.
She hadn't woken at all, and it worried him. Not to mention that Cross was a total wreck in the time that Zero had disappeared – he had hit him on the head before pulling him into a bone-crushing hug that Zero found he didn't dislike. Zero was thankful that Cross didn't question him, and had instead made him a nice cup of tea as they sat at Yuuki's bedside and 'caught up'. Zero brought up the topic of closing the church for the moment and finding someone to take over him, because at the rate things were going, he didn't know whether he could find the strength to continue.
Cross had simply listened, holding his gaze. Zero felt so incredibly guilty that he had looked away, to the floor.
"I won't ask you what happened, Zerorin. But I want you to know that I'm here for you, Yuuki's here for you, and that we love you and we care for you so much. As for the church, I've been taking care of things, and Toga has been back for about two days; he wants to see you, but if you're not comfortable with that yet I could probably tell him that you're busy with other things for a bit."
Toga Yagari was the person who had inspired him to become a man of God, he had personally groomed him into the man he was. Strong, unwavering faith; his personality was like a whirlwind of determination, wisdom and responsibility. Not to mention a scarily quick temper. If he saw him in the state he was in now, there was no doubt he would be getting one of the worst scoldings of his life.
"Thank you, Cross."
The older man had chuckled, squeezing his shoulder affectionately.
"Call me daddy, Zerorin!"
Zero flashed him a rare smile, before turning to look back at Yuuki.
"How is she? Did the doctors say anything? Do they know the cause yet?"
Cross frowned, shaking his head.
"They still can't determine what caused her to lose consciousness."
The fair haired man continued to watch the sleeping girl, so blissfully innocent and carefree. He reached over and brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face and gently ran a finger down her cheek.
Cross regarded the scene before him fondly, before glancing at his watch.
"Zerorin, I need to go back to the church, will you be okay here on your own?"
"Of course, I'm not a kid anymore." The younger man shot him a dirty look, before smirking.
Kuran Kaname walked through the electronic doors with a heavy heart.
He had been searching, searching for so terribly long, and he was finally going to meet her.
He almost couldn't believe that she had been so close and he didn't know a thing. It was almost like a dream come true. He had been waiting all his life to meet her again – his precious angel. The one person that he could love unconditionally and who would love him back.
He was finally going to see his sister.
It had taken ever so long – the association wouldn't divulge her whereabouts, and the guild didn't know a thing. He had had to overtake the association by force to get to where he was now. Now, everything was under his control, everything was going to be okay.
His strides were long and swift, his heart pounding in excitement and earnest – he hoped that the information wasn't another shot in the dark.
He stopped in front of the door, frozen in shock.
What was Kiryuu Zero doing in that room?
In that moment, he was torn between going in to see his precious sister and running from the man he knew he loved.
He knew what he was doing to the man, he wasn't blind; he watched over him everyday, and he could see exactly how lonely the man was, but he couldn't bring himself to be in his presence.
He had brought about Zero's now unchangeable fate. Zero didn't realize the gravity of the situation – but Kaname knew. He knew that he had condemned him to a fate worse than death.
It was better for Kaname to cut things off now, to distance himself from the man who made a difference to his life. To spare him from any heartbreak. To protect him, and to protect himself.
But he couldn't. He felt so unbearably half-assed that he wanted to slap himself.
The brunet reasoned that it was better to guard him from a distance, where Kaname felt safe and in control. Where Kaname felt comfortable.
He knew it was selfish, but it was what he believed was best.
Zero set the flowers on the bedside table quietly, sensing movement, he turned and looked up, to see the person that he most wanted to see standing at the door with a look of utter desperation on his face.
The brunet had lowered his head and turned away, swiftly making his way to the lifts.
He could hear Zero calling after him, and only stopped when he felt familiar hands on his arm, trying to stop him from taking another step.
Kaname cursed himself mentally for being so weak to that voice.
"What are you doing here?"
Kaname didn't feel obligated to answer, but replied anyway.
"I'm here to see my sister."
Zero raised an eyebrow.
He didn't know that Kaname had siblings.
Kaname's expression remained stoic, as he elaborated.
"I've been searching for her since we were separated when I was twelve. She was taken from me."
Zero took in the information slowly.
Kaname nodded mutely.
"Where is she?"
Kaname turned, gesturing to the room that the fair-haired man had exited.
"She's in there."
Zero's eyes widened a fraction as he tried to understand what Kaname was telling him.
"Her name is Kuran Yuuki."
Kaname was stroking her hair.
It seemed like a dream, that he could be next to her, to touch her, to speak to her.
Zero was outside, the brunet had asked to be alone with his sister, and Zero had awkwardly obliged, not knowing how to react.
The priest was standing at the door peering in, watching how at peace the both of them looked even in such a state of despair.
Zero didn't know what to do. He was strangely numb to the information that Kaname had shared, that Yuuki was related to him by blood – his younger sister. Did that mean that they shared a sister? Without knowing it? It was so coincidental that Zero was still having trouble believing it. Yet he never felt more at peace. His two most important people were in the same room, and they were related. His two most important people were now closer to each other than he would ever be.
The young man fought away the seedlings of jealousy that took root to his heart.
This was foolish. It was selfish of him to think that way. He should be happy for Kaname, that he's finally traced his sister here. He should be happy for Yuuki, both of them being orphans, Yuuki had always needed someone to care for her and love her; and who better to than her biological older brother? Yes, this was a good thing.
But Zero couldn't pretend that his chest didn't ache.
Kaname had stayed until visiting hours ended.
Zero had been allowed back into the room, but both men hadn't spoken since their little confrontation before.
As the nurse politely told them that they had to leave, Kaname had a look on his face that Zero hadn't seen before.
Zero felt a particular violent tug at his heartstrings.
Both men walked in pregnant silence as they made their way to Kaname's vehicle. The brunet had opened the passenger door for him, and Zero embarrassedly got into the car without voicing his displeasure at being treated like he couldn't do things on his own.
He waited anxiously as Kaname walked round to the driver's seat, thinking about what he should say.
"Does this mean that Yuuki is a Vampire as well?"
Kaname froze in the middle of releasing the parking brake at Zero's sudden and seemingly unwelcome question.
Kaname resumed functioning, trying his best to distance himself mentally from the beautiful man who he knew he desired with every fiber of his being on his right.
"Do you know what's wrong with her?"
"I believe so. Something triggered her withdrawal. It's only a matter of time before she wakes and starts to remember her heritage…her family."
He quietly waited for more questions from the priest, but was surprised when there were none.
Kaname's amber gaze flitted to the passenger's seat.
"Aren't you going to ask me what happened?"
Zero didn't reply immediately, and Kaname could feel that stunning violet gaze on him.
"I won't ask if you don't want me to know."
It was times like this that the Vampire felt that he was really blessed to meet and love someone like Kiryuu Zero, but caught himself.
"I'll tell you everything you want to know, Zero."
Zero was taken aback at that statement. He didn't expect Kaname to be so open to telling him about his past. The little spark of hope in him had grown to a small ray of light.
"Tell me, please, Kaname."
Kaname nodded, his expression still apathetic.
Zero tried not to keep staring as Kaname slowly opened up to him.
After their talk, Kaname continued to appear before him, replacing Seiren himself, but he always kept his distance – he didn't make eye contact, he avoided physical contact, and he hardly spoke more than necessary.
Zero didn't know what to think.
They felt like strangers.
Zero couldn't help but think…
Was the Vampire beside him in obligation?
Kaname was at his desk, finishing some important looking paperwork, and Zero was by the bay window, his book propped in his hand.
The silence and tension was thick enough to slice with a knife.
Undoubtedly, Zero was upset.
He had lost everything in the short span of time he had knew Kaname – his home, his humanity, his faith. He had been forced into a being that killed to survive, like a beast; his feelings towards the Vampire were muddled yet unnaturally strong. And yet somehow he had a feeling that all this had happened for a reason – that he was a part of a larger plan by the Man Upstairs.
He didn't want to trouble the Vampire – he hadn't wanted the Vampire to feel responsible for anything that had happened. He simply wanted him to be there. But now that he was here, it felt as if they were further apart than ever before. He itched to ask Kaname about why he was physically here if he didn't want to be, but he didn't dare to.
He didn't want to break the fragile sense of normalcy they had returned to.
…But he hated how things were now.
He noticed he had been reading the same page for the third time.
He frowned, closing his book and looking over at Kaname, who had a face of concentration as he sorted out paperwork and wrote down a few things.
Zero couldn't take it anymore.
arts"…it's not your fault."
Kaname didn't look up; the scribbling sound of pen on paper grew slightly louder.
Zero leaned back against the wall, looking out the window.
"I don't want to argue with you."
Zero paused, regarding Kaname's face as the brunet feigned annoyance and continued writing.
"Are you here because you feel responsible?"
"Are you here because you want to be?"
"Do you hate me?"
Kaname put his pen down, his amber gaze still trained to the floor.
"…I don't know."
Zero's heart sank, but he made no sign of it, hiding behind his façade of strength and nonchalance as he continued to stubbornly stare out the window.
"So you hate me."
He hated sounding so whiny, like some love-sick heroine trying to get answers.
Kaname didn't answer, and the scribbling had resumed.
Zero lowered his head slightly, leaning against the glass as his insides churned.
There was a pause in the scribbling, but it resumed a second later.
Zero tried to keep his voice from breaking.
"…Is it because I'm no longer what you want me to be?"
The priest was startled by the sudden sound of the chair being pushed out, and his lilac gaze watching Kaname, who was now standing, his hands flat against the surface of the table, his head lowered.
"What do you want from me?"
Zero felt his heart break at the evident strain in the Vampire's voice. It broke his heart that Kaname was so affected, but this was something the both of them had to confront.
He steeled himself.
"…I've already told you what I want."
Amber eyes finally met Lilac. Zero was surprised he managed to keep his voice level.
"…But what do you want?"
Kaname broke eye contact first, shaking his head, moving away from the table and towards the coat stand to grab his coat.
Zero's voice cracked as he spoke.
"I want to be by your side."
Kaname paused, his expression unreadable. He had already reached the door.
"But if that's not what you want then I'll leave."
It was quiet, but Zero heard him loud and clear.
"…You can't leave."
Kaname paused, his hand turning slack on the door knob.
Zero waited, his insides twisting uncomfortably as he stood by the window, his hands playing with the hem of his shirt.
Then Kaname finally spoke again.
"I'm afraid, Zero."
The priest listened, stepping closer to the figure by the door, he reached out to tentatively touch his back.
He felt the brunet stiffen, but he didn't move away.
Zero pushed a little bit more, leaning his forehead against that broad back.
He could feel the slight tremor that ran through the taller man's body.
His voice was quiet; as if speaking any louder would shatter this moment.
"…I'm afraid that I'll hurt you again. I'm afraid that you'll become my one weakness, my one strength."
Kaname paused, sighing, gathering himself before continuing.
"I'm terrified of becoming so dependent. I'm afraid that the next time, I…"
The Vampire trailed off, allowing himself to indulge as two lean arms wrapped around his waist from behind. Zero was so warm.
"…I won't be able to protect you."
"But you're protecting me now?"
"I want you to be safe."
"Because you feel guilty?"
"I feel terrible, Zero. I can't sleep at night thinking about the atrocities I've committed against you-"
"Kaname." Zero whispered, nuzzling the shoulder blade in front of him, he allowed himself to squeeze the body in his arms.
"You didn't do it."
He didn't. It wasn't Kaname.
Zero had been both in shock and confusion when he had blamed him, but now his eyes were clear, he saw that he had been wrong – Kaname had been trying to protect him the whole time. He was just too stricken with denial to notice.
Zero released him, gently turning the slightly taller man around; he rested his hands on the side of Kaname's cheeks, leaning up to press a chaste kiss on his forehead.
"It's not your fault."
Kaname's frame was trembling slightly, and Zero pulled him into an awkward embrace, stroking his hair gently. He held his breath quietly as he turned away from the soft sobbing come from the brunet.
No one was watching.
The brunet had fallen asleep against his shoulder; they had moved to the living room, and had sat next to each other in comfortable silence until the older man dozed off. He looked so tired.
Zero's emotions had calmed somewhat, and he reached over to play with stray strands of hair, stroking that proud mane. The priest's voice was so soft it was no more than a breath.
"…What do you want from me?"
There was no reply from the sleeping man, and Zero sighed as he nuzzled the weight on his shoulder; musing about how the both of them had gotten to this stage, and where they could go from here. The short span of time they had known each other seemed like years to him – all the events that happened seemed like a good dream turned into a nightmare.
One he had half the mind to get out of.
A/N: I'm so sorry I took so long to update! I deserve death. OTL
I plan to update more as soon as I finish my mountain of projects and exams! Once again I apologize for all the spelling/grammer errors/inconsistencies and the many time jumps in this chapter (it was really hard to write - so much drama!) and thank you for your patience with me and my writer's block and bad organisation. m(-_-)m I hope I answered some questions in this chapter... OTL I also should apologize for the short length of this chapter and messiness despite how long i took to write it. I'm terribly sorry. TAT Please bear with me and drop me a review please! They give me the strength to continue writing! QAQ