The locked house

4.

"But in exchange," the Vampire's ears perked at that, and his beautiful eyes narrowed, a small frown on his face.

"You will not harm me and you'll tell me exactly why you're here, what my family has been doing behind my back and what those things were."

Kaname internalized the conditions, nodding slowly.

"And in the event that I should come into danger…"

Kaname watched the boy expectantly, idly appreciating how the light reflected on his silver hair.

"You have to protect me."


Kaname ran the conditions the boy presented in his brain once over slowly.

He had to credit the boy for being cautious enough to secure his personal safety, something of which he hadn't thought the boy would be smart enough to do.

Needless to say, Kaname was impressed. Perhaps Kiryuu blood ran deeper than just appearances.

The boy was watching him with an intensity that both disturbed and amused the Vampire; those lilac eyes expressed such weariness and confusion that Kaname almost felt sorry for him. The Vampire idly wondered what other feelings those pretty eyes could translate. But first things were first.

"I agree to your conditions, Kiryuu."

The boy seemed to release a long-held breath, lowering his head slightly and breaking eye contact.

"My name is Zero. Stop calling me by my family name."

The boy leveled his gaze with Kaname once more, a small look of insecurity on his face.

"You are safe from me, Zero. I do not go back on my word."

The boy grunted, as if finally setting his resolve, he reached into his pocket and drew out a set of keys, slender fingers closing on the oldest and rustiest looking one, his shaking hand led it to the rustic lock at the metal door.

Kaname didn't know how to describe his feelings as he heard the metal cling as the boy inserted the key.

He was finally going to be free.

He felt wide-awake; as if the every cell in his body was at full attention as the key turned. He could hear every breath the boy took, every beat of his heart. He hadn't felt so alive in ages.

He was going to be free.

But then everything stopped there.

Kaname watched with badly concealed irritation as the artist struggled with the lock.

"Why is the door not opening?" Kaname couldn't hide his anger as the boy continued to fiddle with the lock and key.

"It…It looks like this isn't the key after all."

Kaname let out a muffled roar, slamming his hands against the door; ignoring the burning sensation that ate at his palms, startling the younger man on the other side.

"What do you mean it's not the key? Are you playing with me?"

He felt his rage surge, his aura hardly suppressed, sending wooden splinters and dust flying.

He had waited so long, so long, and when he was finally promised freedom his captor could not deliver? Was this a ruse? A ploy to break his already weakened spirit? Was the boy going to start laughing in his face at his desperate misery?

"I- I have to find the key." The boy appeared shaken by his sudden almost violent outburst, taking a few steps back and looking like it's taking all of his self-control not to start running.

"I'm really sorry. I thought that was the key."

Zero couldn't bring himself to look at the man in the cell, his violet gaze flicking everywhere but the direction of the brunet. The young man was in a state of panic – he didn't know what to do.

If the key that Ichiru left him wasn't to the cell, then what did it open? It didn't make sense that his brother would leave this man in his charge and not give him a key, did it? Perhaps he had figured that Zero would do something stupid enough to let the Vampire out, and Ichiru wanted to make sure that he didn't change anything? But it still didn't answer the massive mystery of the key.

He realized that the whole corrider had fallen silent for a while now, and that the Vampire was watching him with that indignant wine red gaze.

"I'm really very sorry."

Zero didn't know what else he could say. He was so sure that that key would open the door, he was absolutely positive. And yet now here he stood, awkward and in a state of guilt and confusion. Was this Ichiru's way of telling him that it wasn't his place to decide whether the Vampire behind that door should to walk free?

He was having a headache thinking about it, and before he knew it, he had fled from the locked house back to his own living room to mull over what to do.

Where could he go from here? It seemed more and more like a dead end as he thought about it. With things as they were now, the brunet would not speak to him, much less divulge information about his family and their profession. He had himself to blame though – he had been foolish enough to promise the man something that was not his to give.

The fair-haired man sighed, running a hand through his silver locks as he plopped down on his sofa, stretching himself over it with his hand on the low armrest and just staring at the ceiling.

Needless to say, he felt horrible – like he was a con man. He had cruelly given the Vampire a bright ray of hope only to take it away, albeit unintentionally.

He groaned, covering his face with his arm, before sitting up with renewed determination and deciding to look around the house for a clue as to where the real key might be.

Zero wasn't the kind of person to just let something like this just slide – he was a man of his word. When he makes a promise, he would do anything in his power to fulfill it. It was just part of who he was. He decided to start in his room – going through all the little nooks and crannies that seemed probably to hide a key. It took him a good half-hour to finally conclude that the key wasn't in the room he was in, and move on.

It was two hours before he finally finished the top floor. He went down the stairs a little annoyed, cursing Ichiru and his meticulous nature under his breath. He was about to look in the cupboard nearest the stairs when something outside caught his attention.

Rustle.

Zero's ears perked, and he moved closer to the glass doors leading to the garden.

He thought he saw something move, and almost immediately, violet eyes darkened and started to search for a potential weapon.

They followed him.

He took a deep breath, picking up a stocker by the fireplace, he pressed himself against the wall, slowing his breathing deliberately to both calm himself down and make it easier for him to listen-

Rattle.

Rattle, rattle.

The potential intruders were at the door. They were trying the lock.

Rattle.

Zero's panicked gaze snapped to the window, where a shadow was obviously outside, trying to get in.

He wanted to run. No, he needed to run. There was no way he could take on those creatures on his own. He slowly inched towards the door. He needed to get to his car. He needed to leave.

But then he heard the sound of a piano in the distance.

Zero's mind raced to understand. Did the brunet know what was happening?

The rattling stopped, and Zero almost allowed himself to let go of the breath he was holding.

RATTLE, RATTLE, RATTLE!

BANG! BANG! RATTLE!

The intruders' efforts were renewed at the sound of the piano music. Why? What was going on? Was the music aggravating them?

His heart was racing, his clouded mind thinking of his options. The thick layer of silence on top of the haunting piano music that met his ears unnerved him to no end. Had they given up? Had they left? Were they looking for another way in?

He didn't know what to do. It was downright frightening.

He had to see the vampire. He would know what to do.

Zero raised his stoker, quietly moving to the back door.

The vampire knew how to handle these creatures. He could help him.

He took a deep breath, hearing distant rattling at the living room windows.

He opened the door and ran.


He didn't know whether he had ever run faster in his life. His legs just kept going forward, one after the other, on the route to the locked house – the darkness and his panic making navigation more difficult than it should have been. He could hear something cry out behind him, but he didn't look back – he couldn't look back – he just relied on muscle memory to navigate the area he had only just gotten used to.

…And sure enough, he found himself dashing into the Locked House in a flurry of confusion and alarm. He practically flew down the stairs, his breathing and heartbeat almost deafening in his ears.

He didn't notice when the piano had stopped.

"Come here Kiryuu."

The vampire's tone was strict, allowing no argument. Zero now found himself staring straight into that little window and into wine red eyes.

"W-what do I do?" the younger man's voice was shaking, something that Kaname took note of instantly.

Increased heart rate, labored breathing, trembling; the boy was genuinely scared.

Kaname didn't know whether to laugh or panic as well. He never thought he'd live to see a member of the Kiryuu family so afraid of Level Es, but this very member was the only hope he had of escaping this goddamn place.

"Calm down, Kiryuu. You're a hunter. The blood that runs through your veins is one of the oldest there is. Get a hold of yourself! You should not be this affected by the mere presence of a couple of Level Es!"

Zero found himself speechless. He would later look back and realize how ironic it was that a Vampire was giving a hunter a pep talk, but he currently could not care less.

Kaname spoke again.

"Did you close the door behind you?"

Zero shook his head, his frazzled nerves completely turning to ice at the annoyed look Kaname shot him.

"There are hunter charms carved into the doors of the place to prevent intruders of Vampire origin. Close the doors now."

Zero immediately made a run for the door, but before he even reached the first step of the staircase, he heard soft laughter drift in like an icy wind.

"I've finally found you…"

Zero retreated, pressing himself against the door, with Kaname on the other side, telling him to stay calm.

The intruder was slowly coming down the stairs, and Zero realized that he was completely and utterly trapped.

"You need to open the door."

Zero turned back to look at Kaname, his eyes wide.

"I- I can't!"

"Try! You have to get me out! I cannot protect you from here! Try every key you have!"

Zero started rummaging his pockets for his bundle of keys, trying to keep his hands steady as the Level E entered the hallway, with its partner trailing behind it.

"You smelled absolutely divine, boy. We couldn't let you go."

Zero managed to get the key that was most likely to fit into the keyhole, the very same key that Ichiru left him, and he tried turning it with all his strength.

"I-it's turning!"

There was a click, and both the artist and the vampire braced themselves for what they believed was going to happen.

"What are you doing there trying to open that door? You can't escape from us, boy."

The Level D was now two steps away from him, and Zero's whole body tensed and he froze, not understanding why the vampire in the cell still hadn't come to his aid.

"The door is still not open!"

The statement sounded like the very end of the world to Zero's ears.

"…what?"

He felt a hand close onto his neck a second too late.

"Nnh!"

He was pushed against the door, the Level E's nails cutting into the tender skin of the back of his neck.

It was painful. So painful it felt numb. He couldn't breathe, the grip on his windpipe was slowly getting tighter and tighter.

He was quite sure he was bleeding, he could feel the wood behind him wet and cold.

"The scent of your blood is just delicious…"

And then, there was nothing.

"Well done, Kiryuu."

He felt the door behind him give way, and strong arms support his shoulders and waist.

His vision was blurry, and he could barely make out the face of the brunet figure that leaned over him.

"Leave the rest to me."

Then he blacked out.


Zero woke to the ceiling of his bedroom.

He sat up, all the things that happened before he passed out surging back into his mind. He touched the back of his neck, where the claws of the creature sank in, only to find the skin there raw and tender.

Was it a dream?

It took him a while to realize that his shower was running when he heard it stop.

It took all of his self-control not to yell when a completely naked brunet stepped into his room dripping wet.

"Ah, you're awake."

Zero couldn't bring himself to function properly as his eyes greedily took in what was so generously displayed to him – the lean, muscled body, the broad shoulders and angular hips, the smooth skin that covered the expanse of that amazing physique –

"…bathroom."

The artist tore his eyes away to look at the brunet's face, which was, like his body, extremely appealing when cleaned up.

Smooth pale caramel skin, his facial proportions the epitome of perfection, with smoldering eyes framed by ridiculously long lashes. His eyes were the same deep red he remembered, and the brown of the hair that crowned his beautiful head was a brilliant shade of chocolate.

"What?"

The vampire flashed him an understanding smile.

"I said, 'I hope you don't mind me helping myself to your bathroom.' And that I need a towel."

"Oh." Zero sat up straight, getting up and hurrying to the cupboard where he put all his clean laundry to fetch a towel and a set of clean clothes.

He awkwardly handed Kaname the towel and clothing, having the decency now to avert his eyes. Their hands brushed, and Zero nearly jerked back as if burnt but controlled himself – this man, although walking around naked in his house like he owned the place like it was completely normal, had saved his life. The least he could do was serve as a good host.

"D-do you need anything else?"

The Vampire had started drying himself wordlessly, but at Zero's question paused to shoot him a long and meaningful look.

The towel hit the floor soundlessly, and in seconds, Zero found himself pinned to the nearest wall with the Vampire's face just inches away from his own.

"I'm glad you asked, Kiryuu."

A cool hand touched his cheek, trailing down sensuously to lightly caress his collarbone, sending shivers down his spine.

"I would love to have a taste of what those Level Es were after..."

The brunet's lips were at his ear, but Zero couldn't find the strength to push the taller man away from him. All his mental strength went to trying not to stare at awkward places.

"…preferably as my first meal in a very long time."

Zero held his breath, finding himself unable to do much but close his eyes.

The lips that touched the side of his neck was cold.


A/N: I'm so sorry that it took so long... OTL But I rewrote the chapter because I felt it wasn't good enough. I hope this course is better compared to the one that I first started with. QAQ Please forgive meeeee. *shot* I apologise for any and all mistakes that are in the chapter! Thank you all so much for your patience and kind reviews! They really keep me going. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. OTL *dies* Also, the next chapter will explain quite a few things that have happened in this one, so please be patient with me! TTATT