The Locked House
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.
Zero froze, he could feel is heart thumping against the inside of his chest as he braced himself for being naive enough to trust the Vampire.
It was stupid of him to believe that someone that his family had imprisoned would be willing to uphold anything that resembled a deal with him!
He didn't realize when he closed his eyes and turned his face away from the man towering over him; his whole body was tense, preparing himself to be some bloodsucker's beverage.
But nothing happened, and soft laughter reached his ears.
"There's no need to fear me, Kiryuu Zero."
Zero's fair lashes fluttered open slowly, as if still unsure of the absence of danger, and held his breath when he was greeted head-on with a close up of that terrifyingly handsome face.
It was impossible not to appreciate the angles of that face - that elegant nose, smoldering, half-lidded eyes framed by dark chocolate lashes, milky caramel complexion, lips though still chapped, looked absolutely alluring, and when all those elements came together, framed by wavy chestnut locks, Zero was having trouble believing that he was looking at a real human being.
Or something that resembled one.
He then remembered that he was holding his breath, and felt light headed as he tried to get his raging pulse under control.
The taller man did not pull away, instead leaning closer, his nose brushing against Zero's, that sly smirk on his perfect face.
The artist quietly continued to study the Vampire, and wondered how such a face could exist, despite looking so tired and worn, it was beautiful, and he itched to put it down on paper.
A gentle chuckle reached his ears.
"You seem to have gotten attached to my face, Kiryuu Zero."
The fair-haired man jumped, jerking away from the wall and away from the brunet, he stuttered as he mentally berated himself for being so obvious.
He turned, his face feeling hot, and he cursed the artist within him as he watched the Vampire watch him from his comfortable position against the wall, wine red eyes regarding him with blatant amusement.
"I'm still in need of clothes, Kiryuu-kun."
Zero started, before inching his way to his cupboard, keeping cautious eyes on the Vampire, his back against the wall.
The Vampire began, leaning forward onto the table, a smug look on his beautiful face. He was now clad in Zero's spare clothing - a smart black t-shirt and cargo pants, and the Sasuke bedroom slippers his American friend had gifted him on one of his birthdays.
Zero leaned back in his chair across the brunet, just a little bit intimidated, which was silly, because he was only an ancient vampire wearing his old t-shirt and Anime bedroom slippers, wasn't he?
The amusement in the Vampire's eyes wasn't lost on him.
"What do you want to know first?"
Zero gave himself a moment to think about it. He had a lot of questions that he needed answering, but he didn't know where to start.
"Well, I guess you can start with the thing about Vampires then."
The brunet didn't show any visible reaction, but kept his gaze on the artist for a while, keeping silent.
The Vampire's gaze was making him uncomfortable, and Zero was about to ask him what he was going on about when the brunet spoke.
"What about Vampires?"
Zero pondered again for a moment.
"Who and what are you? Where did you come from? How come the world doesn't know about you?"
The brunet continued to stare with that unwavering gaze.
"My name is Kuran Kaname. I am a Pureblood Vampire. My birthplace is in Japan, but if you're talking about the origin of my species I'm afraid there are a great many versions of how we came to be, but most of them involving a lot of grief and bloodshed. The world does know about us, but chooses to romanticise us, though partially I believe it to be the fault of individuals who are charmed by our physical appearances, and also because neither the Hunter Association nor Vampire Senate has bothered to correct these disillusioned fools."
The Vampire paused, judging Zero's confused reaction before continuing.
"The Hunter Association and Vampire Senate have been in operation for almost as long as my kind has existed. You can see them as the respective governments of our respective races. They work together to maintain peaceful coexistence."
Zero nodded, pleasantly noting that the Vampire was being very helpful and thorough in his explanation so far.
He still didn't like the way he looked at him though.
Kaname continued, shifting his weight so he was more comfortable.
"Now it's time for you to answer some of my questions."
Zero tensed a bit, and the room fell silent for a moment as they regarded each other quietly. The Vampire broke the tense peace of the room, his smug smile dropping to reveal an emotionless mask.
"Who are you?"
The artist's heart quickened. A deaf man could hear the threat laced in the brunet's quiet tone.
"I-I'm Kiryuu Zero. I'm an artist...currently exhibiting at several galleries in the city -"
A fist slammed against the table, making Zero almost jump out of his chair.
"That's not what I want to know, Kiryuu-kun."
Kaname leaned forward, rising from his chair, almost brushing noses with the younger man. Zero steeled himself and looked defiantly back.
"What I want to know is why you don't know anything about me, despite living here, despite obviously being a member of the clan that put me in this ridiculous predicament in the first place!"
Zero was in stunned silence as Kaname collected himself after his small outburst. The brunet watched him expectantly, and Zero tried to think of what to say.
"I was separated from my brother when I twelve, and raised by a family friend in the States. My brother remained in Japan. He had always been more interested in the family business than I was anyway. We were 10 when he told me to stay out of the family business, that he would handle everything and I would only slow him down. So I let him." Zero bit back a grimace. He regretted leaving, regretted allowing Ichiru to protect him from this.
Kaname listened quietly, his wine red eyes thoughtful.
"Your brother and yourself - were either of you born weaker than the other? Physically weaker?"
Zero looked up surprised, but nodded.
"Ichiru was always sick. But what does this have to do with anything?"
Kaname remained silent, his gaze trained on Zero.
"Hunter twins are rare. Normally the stronger brother continues the bloodline, but they allowed you to live without this burden."
The Vampire's gaze seemed to pierce through his entire being, and Zero couldn't help but unconsciously bring a hand up to his chest to steady s breathing.
"Where is your brother?"
Zero tensed visibly, his gaze lowering.
"...he's gone. He passed on slightly before I moved in."
Kaname watched him sympathetically.
"Your brother must have loved you very much." Kaname's eyes softened, and a small smile graced his lips.
Zero felt warmth fill his chest, and he nodded.
A pained reflection of Kaname's smile found its way on Zero's lips, and Kaname gave in to the inclination to lean over and touch the young man's shoulder.
"Can you tell me what the situation was before you moved in?"
The artist gave the question some thought, before acceding.
"My brother lived here with the caretaker, an old family friend. Well, instead of caretaker, he's more of a freeloader." Zero made a face.
The fair-haired man nodded, feeling slightly more relaxed as they conversed.
"He's a man named Kaien Cross-"
Kaname jerked forward, grabbing Zero's hand that was on the table tightly, his wine red eyes shining with an emotion Zero couldn't quite place.
"Kaien Cross! Is he still here?"
The fair-haired man shrugged.
"He drops by from time to time, and sometimes stays over for a few days."
"I would like to speak with him."
Zero was undoubtedly confused at the brunet's sudden excitement, but nodded, and took out his phone, a sleek black device that had Kaname staring in half concealed wonder.
The artist couldn't help chuckling and holding out his phone, showing Kaname it's lighted flat screen and sharp images.
"This is my phone."
Kaname watched him quietly, resisting the childish urge to reach out and touch the device. Zero tried his best not to laugh.
"I'll call Cross now."
Cross sounded extremely alarmed on the phone, and had exchanged words with Kaname on the line, before declaring that he would be on his way down as soon as he could.
Which led to Zero sitting next to Kaname on the couch, with him watching television, while trying not to get distracted by Kaname's 'exploration' of his phone.
"So you can watch television on this tiny thing?"
Zero nodded distractedly, as Kaname continued to poke at almost every application on his device.
"This is..." Kaname began, now settling for just swiping his finger along his home pages in childish persistence, "...absolutely amazing!" The brunet then put the phone next to him gently, before turning his attention on the large television and the HD images reflected on it.
"Colour is normal? This is like a window!" He hissed, getting up to check behind the television.
Zero had outright laughed at him then, because although he understood Kaname's circumstances, it was weird to see a young man act like a grandpa in front of technology.
The brunet turned to glare at him, and Zero mumbled an apology, before getting up and offering the brunet something to drink.
"Would you like some coffee?" He asked, before adding, "…if you drink normal stuff."
Kaname's look softened, and nodded.
"Yes, that would be great, thank you."
Zero smiled awkwardly, before heading into the kitchen to grab two mugs and start the coffeemaker.
There was silence between them as Zero busied himself in the kitchen and Kaname explored the cabinets in front of the television.
"What are these discs? They don't seem to be sound tracks." Kaname examined a CD, holding it up as Zero peered in from the kitchen.
"It's a CD," Zero explained. Kaname made a face that said that he knew what it was, but not what it contained. "Umm...You put stuff on it, like movies and music and data. You play them back with specific machines."
Kaname frowned, mumbling something to himself as he put 'Space Jam' back into its case.
Zero returned with two steaming mugs of coffee that smelled absolutely divine, and the fair haired man smiled at the small mess in front of the television.
"You want to watch something?"
As Kaname looked at him Zero could imagine the sparkles in those dark wine red eyes.
So when Kaien Cross arrived at the Kiryuu residence, Zero and Kaname were doing a good job of blending into the couch as the Cat Bus flew through the night sky on the flat screen TV. Zero was sniffling, and Kaname was just watching the moving images in rapt attention.
"K-Kaname-kun!" The blond dropped his things, looking as if he'd seen a ghost.
The brunet's attention finally shifted to the new person in the room, and Zero scrambled to pause the movie.
"Cross," Kaname greeted, his voice quiet and still.
Kaien looked absolutely heartbroken, and he was almost crying, but nothing prepared the brunet for the crushing hug that he had found himself in half a second later.
"We've searched everywhere for you! Where have you been? What have they done to you! I-" The blond stumbled over his words, clumsily releasing the Pureblood and searching for his phone.
"I need to call Takuma-kun and Aidou-kun!"
Zero watched the exchange in confusion, but kept quiet as Kaien hastily dialed some number while pacing the length of his living room. He looked completely on edge.
The brunet had returned to sitting on the couch, a complex expression on his face.
Kaien was visibly upset.
Zero had never seen him this angry in all the time he'd known him.
"This can't be true. They would have known better than to do that!" The blond hissed, resuming his pacing.
Kaname had calmly explained everything to the ex-hunter, and everything up until Zero's involvement in all this was now known to the blond.
"They would not have done this unless they had no choice!"
"It still does not alter the fact that I've been locked up for all these years, Cross."
"It doesn't make sense, they supported co-existence!"
"While they kept me in their cellar?" Kaname growled, his eyes flashing a dangerous shade of crimson.
Kaien had nothing to say in response, but he obviously did not feel the same way.
"You have to understand, Kaname-kun," Kaien pleaded, his eyes shining with untold emotion. "I knew the Kiryuus. They would never have done something like this unless they had no choice."
The Pureblood scoffed, unintentionally looking in Zero's direction, and at eye contact, his gaze softened.
The loud knocking on the door startled all three of them, and The fair haired man quickly left his position at the counter to open the door.
Zero was rudely shoved out of the way by a blond man, who ran into his house without even removing his shoes. Another blond had sheepishly apologized on his companion's behalf, but once his own shoes were off, he had speedily walked into the living room with an icy expression on his face.
The artist followed them after locking the front door again, making a mental note to mop the floor once they leave, and reached the living room to see the first blond kneeling in front of Kaname, with the brunet's hand clasped in his own in some dramatic display of loyalty that Zero thought he would only see in movies. The other blond was kneeling next to the shorter one, both with their heads bowed. It took him another moment to realize that the shorter blond was crying.
"Aidou, Takuma." Kaname whispered, the expression on his face was something Zero had yet to see on those handsome features.
The man named Aidou choked back a sob.
"Kaname-sama!" The short blond gasped, and the other blond continued.
"We thought we had lost you - but we never stopped searching." It was obvious they had so many questions, but they held their tongues.
The Pureblood nodded, withdrawing his hand from Aidou with an elegance that Zero found extremely bewitching.
"What happened in my absence?"
Takuma nodded, immediately beginning his report.
"Rido-sama has risen to power. Yuuki-sama is currently in hiding at Safe House 24. The HA president and Rido-sama have been working together under the guise of co-existence; they have seized the Kuran assets and are manipulating hunters so that Purebloods and Nobles have priority. Most of the Council Elders support Rido-sama in his endeavor. The number of Level Es in the past years have risen considerably. My Lord, your absence has seen a failure to uphold the initial contract with the Hunters. There is unrest, and word of a Hunter rebel faction in operation."
Kaname frowned. The air around him changed as Takuma's report had continued, crackling with his barely contained rage and discontent. Zero didn't dare to move - it was difficult to breathe under the weight of the Pureblood's anger, so he close his eyes and clutched his chest, holding his breath as he hoped that Kaname's tantrum would be end soon. The two noble vampires on the floor tensed visibly, but made no further movement. Kaien frowned at Kaname's reckless use of power, and steeled himself and shouted at the brunet.
"Kaname, control yourself!"
The oppressing air lifted almost immediately, and Zero struggled to catch his breath. He heard the soft apology that the Pureblood threw his way, and shook his head slightly to show he didn't mind it.
Kaname's face softened considerably, and he patted the empty space on the couch, which Zero shook his head to and only complied when the brunet patted the space again, a little more aggressively.
So Zero made his awkward way to sit next to the Pureblood, the two kneeling blonds not daring to look up just yet, which made the artist extremely uncomfortable.
"This is Kiryuu Zero." The brunet began, meeting the fair haired man's gaze, before looking back to the two men in front of them.
Zero was surprised when he was met with two sets of stunning eyes - the coolest green and the sharpest blue.
"He will aid us in retaking the Senate, and appeasing the Hunters."
A/N: Oh dear. I'm really, honestly, sincerely sorry I took so very long to post this update, and the atrocious and inexcusable length of it. *slapped*
I really appreciate all the reviews and PMs to get me to continue my fics, and I'm so very flattered by the pleasant responses to them! Thank you all so very much for the support! I will do my best to finish all the VK fics I have on hand right now, so please bear with me for a little (or very long) while more. :'D (I'm terribly sorry for the weird formatting as well, it's been a while since I've written anything so it somehow got all funky.)
I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Please leave a review if you'd like (please, please, please!) Thank you for reading!