Summary: A year has passed, and as Yuuki grows out of their reach, Zero and Yori find an unlikely source of comfort and support in each other.
Vampire Knight © Matsuri Hino
Sometimes, I wish it were all a dream.
Maybe if it was, then things could have been easier. I wouldn't have to hear the Day Class girls endlessly sulking over the disappearance of the Night Class or witness the sadness and longing concealed behind Zero's haunting gaze. I wouldn't have to catch myself accidently glancing at the empty desk beside me during classes or the empty bed in my dorm room, an ever reminder of the loss of my dearest best friend. Sometimes, I want to forget. Forgetting it all would be much easier and much less painful.
But… I couldn't do that for two reasons.
Yuuki meant too much to me, and… I couldn't possibly let Zero suffer alone. We shared the same loss. That, our knowledge of the existence of vampires, and most importantly our mutual connection to Yuuki, were the only things Zero and I had in common.
After everything that's happened this past year, I'd like to believe that Zero and I have become friends, but that's probably wishful thinking on my part. We were never really "close." I would always keep Zero at an arm's length. I'm not too sure why. It's just the type of relationship Zero and I would have—classmates and being a friend of friend, but not too distant to be acquaintances.
Even with… her gone, I guess that's how I wanted things to stay.
Today, I was caught staring at her desk again.
I told myself over and over to never look at that empty desk. I told myself that if I did, nothing would happen. My best friend wouldn't magically appear. All I'd receive would be disappointment. And yet, in spite of my inner lectures and warnings, I found myself looking at that very desk. At the same time, I was being called on to read the next paragraph in our textbook, but I wasn't paying attention. I wasn't even on the right page. For a split-second, my world centered on that simple desk beside me and nothing else mattered. When I realized my foolishness, there were a few snickers in the classroom as I apologized for my distractedness. Takamiya-sensei told me to see him after class. I know I should have felt a little ashamed or embarrassed by my mishap, but in all honesty, I felt nothing at all. Nothing at all.
"That wasn't like you, Wakaba-kun. Usually, you're a pretty decent student," Takamiya-sensei said, frowning.
I nodded. Takamiya-sensei wasn't really scolding me, but I never liked being scolded, even as a child. But this situation couldn't have been helped. "I'm sorry," I replied. "There's no excuse really for my behavior."
Takamiya-sensei sighed and crossed his arms as he pondered for a moment. "Normally, I'd have to give you supplementary classes, but I know you're a good kid. I'll let you off the hook on this one."
But I shook my head. "No, it's all right, sensei. I'm not looking for special treatment of any kind. I'll take the supplementary classes," I reassured him.
I knew Takamiya-sensei was just trying to be nice. I don't really see what all the Day Class girls see in him—after all, he is a teacher, or at least a teacher-in-training. I don't see why the girls would swoon over him as if he was another Night Class student. Takamiya-sensei has this enigmatic vibe he gives off that no one really seems to notice, but I'll have to admit that he'd been helpful with me in the past. He even let me see her once. But even so, maybe a punishment would teach me a lesson. Maybe then I would stop giving myself false hope by glancing at that desk that would never do me any good.
Takamiya-sensei gave me a long stare before he finally relented. "Eh, whatever you say. Be my guest. I don't really have any work for you, but I guess you could grade last week's exam papers. I haven't finished grading those…," he muttered, standing up. "I have to go to a teacher's meeting right now, so you two behave while I'm gone."
I blinked. "You two?" I repeated.
"Yeah," Takamiya-sensei mentioned as he left the classroom, "Zero will be joining you with the supplementary classes. He's been sitting there the entire time. … Haven't you noticed?"
I paused for a moment before slowly turning to find Zero sitting at his usual spot, the aisle seat a row behind mine. He gave me his typical bored expression, his flat stare as hand rested against his cheek. No, I thought, I haven't noticed him there at all.
I knew Zero would always have supplementary classes when he used to have to patrol the Night Class because of how tiring the task can be at such late hours at night, but with the Night Class gone, I merely assumed that he wouldn't have supplementary classes anymore. I guess his business with the Hunters Association must have taken a toll on him as well.
I gathered the stack of papers and two red pens before walking up the steps to the row of seats. Before I entered my row, I stopped and let myself linger near Zero. I never minded being alone with him, but the very situation felt strange. We never really spent too much time together, aside from his visits to check up on me or our occasional and brief discussions, so I wasn't used to his company.
"This is your first time having supplementary classes, isn't it, Wakaba?" Zero asked me, deciding to be the first to break the ice.
"Yes, it is, but I never would have guessed Takamiya-sensei would give you supplementary classes, Zero-kun," I countered teasingly. "You two seem very close."
Zero shrugged. "I guess we're not that close," he muttered sarcastically.
I giggled as I handed him half of the stack of exam papers, the answer sheet, and a red pen before taking my seat. This exam wasn't too difficult if you studied well, but it looked like most of my classmates had a hard time with it.
I stole a glance at Zero. "How's your Hunters Association work going?" I decided to ask him. I knew he would rebuff me, but the question was inevitable.
Zero looked up from his papers and at me, but I knew he didn't meet my gaze. Sometimes, he never did. Sometimes, it was almost like he wasn't seeing me at all.
"You know I can't give you details about my work, Wakaba," he reminded me.
"I wasn't looking for details."
"Then what were you looking for?"
"Why do you hunt vampires?" I asked him firmly, "Please, Zero-kun… Tell me why."
It just didn't sense to me. Zero made it clear that there are both good and bad vampires in this world, just as there are good and bad people in this world too. I wasn't delusional. I wasn't under the impression that all vampires were good. But… Why would Zero hunt vampires, well aware that… that she was one too? Why would Zero hunt vampires, knowing that single and crucial fact?
"Wakaba…," Zero muttered, turning away from me. "You… You wouldn't understand."
"I would if you'd let me try—"
"—But I won't."
I said nothing and returned to my paperwork, and Zero made no effort to say anything else. After a long period of silence and grading papers, I moved a lock of my hair behind my ear. While I did so, I heard Zero stir behind me.
"I wasn't trying to be cold, Wakaba… I just…," he began.
I shook my head. "Don't make up excuses, Zero-kun. It's my fault. I shouldn't have said anything," I murmured quietly, looking over my shoulder. "You're always like this, so I shouldn't have expected more from you."
Zero stared at me. "… What?"
Before he could say anything else, Takamiya-sensei entered the room. "Hey, you two! I told you guys to behave! You're here to grade papers, not socialize, you twits!" he called out at us as he walked over to his desk and slumped down into his chair. Takamiya-sensei groaned, exasperated. "Jeez, that meeting was such a pain…," he muttered.
I batted my eyes and turned away from Zero. I stood up, gathering my bag, the stack of papers, and the red pen. I could have sworn I heard Zero mutter something like "hey" or "you," but I ignored him and left my desk. I approached Takamiya-sensei and handed him the exam papers and pen.
"I finished grading my half of the papers, sensei," I said. "That's all you needed me to do, right?"
Takamiya-sensei exhaled. "Yeah, that's it," he replied, "You're free to leave, but don't you want to wait for your friend?"
I giggled softly as I turned for the door. "Zero-kun and I…," I muttered, stealing one last glance at Zero before exiting the classroom. "Well, we were never really friends to begin with… now were we?"
I shut the door behind me and stood there in the hall. My feet wouldn't budge. I sighed, rolling my eyes. I scolded myself in mind for being even the slightest bit disappointed.
This is why I kept Zero at an arm's length. I never saw a need to open myself to him because I found it unnecessary, and I never saw a need to get him to open himself to me because if I tried to, he would only shut me out. It was ironic. I knew this would happen, and I let it happen too. I really shouldn't have expected anything from Zero.
We were classmates, a friend of friend, but not too distant to be acquaintances. That was the type of relationship we always had.
This was how I wanted it to stay in the first place, so I never should have overstepped my boundaries to begin with.
a/n: I'm a fan of many, many pairings in VK, and Zori is one of them. While I think that Zeki will happen in the long run, if it doesn't and the story goes into a more star-crossed lovers sense for Zero and Yuuki, then I'd love to see Zero together with Yori because she's one of the few people who can support him and knows what he's going through. And it would be nice if Yori could get more love because she's such an underrated character sometimes when she's really a pretty awesome character in her own little way. Now, in this particular introductory chapter, Zero and Yori aren't quite as close as you'd probably expect them to be. This was intentional. Their relationship will grow, but it's a gradual growth. Zero and Yori were never close to begin with, so naturally it would be difficult for both of them to warm up to each other so easily.