Unexpectedly Close To The Edge

Set 3 years after Vampire Knight Guilty, however, certain enemies aren't as dead as they were thought to be.

~{}~ signifies a change in time or perspective

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, these awesome characters do not belong to me in any way. They belong to Matsuri Hino. I just stole them and put them to use for my own sick mind ;)

Summary: Yuki's death brings the two former enemies Zero and Kaname closer than they ever expected to be. As the two of them - both broken in their own way - struggle to pick up a life again, will they cope by putting each other together again?

Rated M: mature emotions, rape, violence, M/M lemon (seriously, rated M for good reason!)

AN: Hi there. A Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you so much for the reviews, followers and favorites - seriously, my readers are wonderful ^^ (yes, even the critical and impatient ones ^^). For this chapter I decided that after all of that violence, perhaps the story could do with a little bit of sweet tenderness, what do you think? So this is my attempt at a little heartwarming fuzziness, let me know if you like it.

As usual, I sincerely hope you enjoy the chapter.

Chapter 15: An Unambiguous Heart

Zero lay there, his body laden and unable to move. Everything around him was dark and the surface he was lying on was hard und dug into his body uncomfortably. The hunter faintly remembered that he shouldn't be alive, but for some reason, that did not seem to apply to his current state. He didn't know where he was - all he figured was that he was most likely supposed to feel pain. But he didn't.

So, was he dead?

He wanted to move but couldn't. He wanted to speak but he couldn't. It was like his body was made of granite, like a stone statue that didn't belong to his mind. It was - to say the least - very disturbing.

For a while nothing happened, he just lay there, his eyes open and unable to close. Normally, that would frighten him. Zero was used to battling for control over his body, he was used to summoning all his determination to force upon his body what he wanted it to do - be it suppressing his thirst, controlling his emotions or continuing to function when weakened by hunter poison. Zero was familiar with having the upper hand when making demands of his body - but now there was no reaction whatsoever. His body would not budge.

In his state of helplessness, he couldn't think of anything else. Though he wanted to rebuke himself for it, he tried to contact the pureblood through their bond. He let his thoughts flood the mental space he shared with Kaname, searching for the pureblood - but there was no answer. He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. No annoyance? No help? He couldn't decide. But it remained a fact that there was no presence in his head of the other vampire. If he was honest with himself, he felt a twinge of regret.

Then... he must be dead, right? Wasn't that what Kaname had said? If the connection was gone, he'd be either dead or insane...

Zero contemplated insanity and death for a bit, but came up with no alternative explanation. He didn't even know how he should feel about it. He tried to remember what had gotten him where he was, but his mind came up blank. There was no recollection of recent events to be found.

He became restless - there was no pretty view to contemplate, it was all dark around him. There was no sound, only silence. All his body did for him was to allow perception; darkness to his eyes, silence to his ears and discomfort by the cold, hard uneven surface he was lying on.

Time passed, although Zero quickly realized that it could have been minutes or hours - he wouldn't know since he'd already lost track completely. He had nothing to do, only his mind for company and no way to give orders to his body. Resignation spread through him and he just stared into the black nothingness above him.

But then, something did change. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, it first began to get warmer. Then the darkness retreated. The view had no contours, but light was far better than dark, Zero decided. A soft glow - in the color of a candle flame forced the darkness away. Though indeed comforting, Zero reminded himself to keep a certain distrust, who knew what would happen next?

Then he heard a voice. It's sound was most familiar, though he hadn't heard in a while.


It was Ichiru's voice.

Instantly, fear gripped his heart. He had heard that voice too often in his dreams not to understand that he was doomed. Ichiru's presence would let him suffer. Always. And he would be helpless against it. He was lying here - so utterly vulnerable, so unprotected. Zero feared what he would hear. He didn't want to be rejected anymore. He felt as tired and worn out as his body was, his resignation unrelenting in his current state. He didn't want to hear his twin scorn his existence and strip him of his dignity again. Not now, when he felt so vulnerable. But there was nothing he could do, nothing he could say, no way he could move.


Zero wanted to wind out of this somehow, wanted to disappear before his brother found him and mocked his state. But he heard steps approach calmly and their echo was cheerlessly foreboding to the hunter's frail psychological condition. He would have clenched his eyes shut if he could, but they stayed open, staring into the light, dreading what they would see next.

'Ichiru, don't... '

'Don't tear me apart again... '

'I would beg if only you could listen... '

But with ominous steadiness, those footsteps came nearer and Zero trembled internally, though his body remained as still as a statue, unmoving under a soft, pale light. Then a person came into view. Zero stared helplessly into the face of his twin brother. In all his dreams he had ever only seen him distorted, angry or without a face entirely. But here he was, all facial features clearcut and as realistic as any reality could be.

Yes, he had a face now. And he was smiling. Zero stared in astonishment as Ichiru's face didn't morph into some cruel smirk, but continued to smile and gaze at him with a look of incredible softness in his eyes.


Was that... happiness... in his younger twin's voice...?

The hunter could feel Ichiru's silver hair brush against his cheek. It was long now, so different from when they had last met. No ribbon held it back as it fell carelessly around him. How was this possible? He must be dreaming... there was no other explanation...

But all his other dreams had been hurtful, had brought nothing but pain, regret and guilt. How could it be any different now? How could he trust such an angelic image if hurt was lurking just around the corner? If that woman appeared again to take him away, to hurt his brother? If Ichiru's smile turned into fangs to drain his life away?

To afraid to believe his unblinking eyes Zero's thoughts raced through his mind. Still, Ichiru smiled at him. For a long time he did nothing but that - kneel down beside the hunter and smile at him.

And for the first time Zero found himself entertaining the possibility that presented itself so clearly now. He had secretly longed for this for years but he had never dared to hope, had feared to wish for his twin to accept him. And yet, now... perhaps...

Was it possible that Ichiru did not hate him?

His twin didn't answer his musings and Zero could not voice his thoughts. He could only stare in silent vulnerability, hoping that his stupid heart wasn't making a mistake. But Ichiru's eyes were gentle. There was care behind those lilac irises and there was admiration in that soft gaze.

Zero could barely believe it.

His body was like granite when he tried to move it, but when Ichiru reached out to touch his cheek, warmth spread from that caress through his entire body. Feeling came into his limbs, though they were still too laden to move. But at least he could feel a bit more than just cold.

He found his emotions to be uncontrollable as he realized that there were tears pouring down his face. His weakness was foolish, but for once, it was ok to be foolish.

His younger twin lay down beside him and nuzzled his cheek, the soft, silver hair tickling him slightly. Still he couldn't move. But he felt warm. So warm. And his heart felt so full. It was so much like those many years ago when they had just been children, when Ichiru would refuse to stay in his own bed for even a second after their parents tucked him in. Internally, Zero wanted to laugh at the memory. The sicker Ichiru had been, the more cuddly he'd become. Quietly, he would crawl under Zero's blanket night after night wanting the company of his older brother. And Zero had always held him. He may have chided his younger twin but he had never sent him away, no matter how delirious with a high fever he might have been.

Now he was the one lying here, helpless. But Ichiru was next to him, warming him. For this one time, just for this once when Ichiru didn't loathe him... why couldn't he speak? Why couldn't he reciprocate?

"Zero-ni." Ichiru spoke. "I'm so happy you came to visit me."

Zero didn't know what he meant, but he cried soundless tears at this moment that was so terribly impossible even if he wished it were true.

"Don't cry, ni-san. Don't cry. Shh..." Ichiru soothed him, stroking his hair.

Ichiru hugged him. It did nothing to stop his tears.

Ichiru seemed to understand that his older brother had difficulties coping and rested his ear against Zero's chest, remaining quiet. For a long time that's how they stayed, Zero's silent tears streaming down his immobile face and Ichiru resting on his chest, his arms protectively around his sibling.

"I can hear your heartbeat." he whispered after a while, as though it was something precious. Though Zero was filled with longing and wistfulness, his tears slowly subsided.

"I'm so lonely here, ni-san." Ichiru confessed quietly.

"It's so cold when I'm alone. I wish so much that you could stay. But you have to go back."

Go back?

Back where?

"Your body is not a part of this place, yet. Your time is not over, my brother. You have to wake up."

Wake up?

"I will miss you so much, Zero."

None of the words Ichiru said to him made much sense. But he could only listen.

"But I will wait." his younger twin said, with a note of faithful conviction.

"I will wait for you, until you call on me. You gave me one more chance and when the time comes, I will not fail you, my brother. I promise."

Zero could only stare up at his twin as Ichiru gave him a kiss on his forehead, just like Zero had always done, before Ichiru fell asleep.

"I am so sorry, Zero-ni." Ichiru whispered. Then, it was his eyes that glistened with unshed moisture. Zero hated that he could do nothing to comfort his brother, that he could not reach out to him. He loved Ichiru above anything or anyone else. Yuki, his parents... they were all forgotten. He loved his brother with all his heart, through betrayal and hatred - he still loved Ichiru as much as he had since the day they were born. He just couldn't tell him that now.

Ichiru's brow furrowed as a tear slid down his cheek.

"I love you, brother." he whispered fiercely. "Never believe anything else again, do you hear me? Never. Me hating you is total nonsense. I cannot hate you." Ichiru bit his lip. Then he swallowed heavily before he continued.

"You're the only one who ever truly cared for me. And I have always been so ungrateful." A look of regret and shame came over his face and Zero wanted to hug it away, wanted to tell Ichiru it was all forgotten. But he couldn't.

Ichiru's lower lip trembled.

"I know better now, my brother. At least I still can tell you. The only thing I hate about you is the hurt I caused you... and what it has done to you. Please forgive me that I hurt you so much, ni-san... please forgive me... I know that you think I scorn you."

Ichiru curled close into Zero's chest. The hunter felt like he would burst with how much he wanted to comfort his twin, but he could do nothing. His twin burrowed into his body, clutching at him as though he had nothing else to hold onto. His chocked voice broke as he continued.

"But I don't ni-sama... I don't. I couldn't."

It took a while for Ichiru to calm down and Zero was baffled by his twin's words. They relieved him so much, they took off a weight from his heart that he hadn't known had been so heavy. Ichiru didn't loathe him. His twin loved him. He loved him...

"I could never again be so terrible to you, Zero. It is my fault that you may never trust your memory of me again, and I'm so sorry for that. But even if I have to remind you a thousand times, I will not change my words again. You are my brother and I will always love you. I will wait for you, ni-san. When you call for me, I will not fail you. I love you, Zero. Never forget that."

They lay there in silence before Zero had the impression that his body was beginning to go numb.

Even as Ichiru softly lifted his head, he began to fade from the hunter's vision. A bolt of fear went through him. Was it only a dream again? Was something going to hurt his brother and take him away again?

"Do not worry about me. I will stay and wait. It's time for you to return, Zero. I'm so sorry, ni-san, but this will hurt."

Indeed, Zero's body seemed to grow hot - too hot for his liking. As his twin's voice faded, Zero could barely make out the words through a slowly growing haze of pain.

"Don't forget - I will wait for you..."

Suddenly, the hunter's body burned with pain. His entire body was on fire. He was no longer on uncomfortable ground, he was falling, tumbling through his own memory.

Dying Level E's, the hunter's blast, the pain...

He screamed.

Just as sudden as it began, it stopped. Everything was dark around him and Ichiru was gone. But he remembered everything. Though he felt terribly fatigued, he found that he could move his body if he wanted to. He made use of that immediately. Struggling to his feet, he was about to wonder what direction to take when he heard a distant call.


Faint and hopeless it called to him. It was not his brother, but he recognized the voice immediately. Without hesitation, he turned to face it.


His gaze lingering upon the hunter's resting face, Kaname contemplated everything and nothing all at once. Everything, because the hunter's life was irrevocably tied to his own and every action of his was bound to somehow influence the pureblood. Nothing, because his musings led nowhere and nothing but the hunter and his fate currently found a place in his restless mind. And yet, there was nothing to do, but to wait.

'So fragile' Kaname thought, his tired mind taking inventory of the hunter's body for what seemed like the thousandth time.

'Like the wings of a butterfly'.

Zero's body lay there unconscious, a very quiet picture of peacefulness in the slowly setting sun. He looked like a sleeping angel to the pureblood, though the hunter would surely have argued the contrary had he had a say in the matter. Though at the verge of fatigue, Kaname did not mind that Zero was currently occupying his bed. Not when he now, finally, didn't look like a corpse anymore. It wasn't over yet, but the hunter was at least looking like his body would be up to functioning again, soon.

Kaname let out a small breath of relief. He had come so close to losing the hunter. So close...

God, the pain had been horrible. He had just finished worrying about Takuma and timing the noble's appearance to Aido and Kain's driving route, when he realized that something serious must be happening to the hunter. He had felt it all when the hunter was attacked. Kaname knew the feel of a bite when he felt one. It had alarmed him instantly. It was only a minute later that the hunter had dropped all mental shields toward him.

Sitting in the backseat of his limousine, Kaname had ordered his driver to the clearing immediately as he saw the images through Zero's eyes as he felt the Level E's clawing at his own flesh. He had feared his heart might stop as he realized that Zero was going to sacrifice himself. Seconds later, a flash of excruciating pain had slammed into the pureblood. Luckily, his driver had been too busy with the unknown road to notice him double over in pain.

Kaname had feared the worst, but he already knew what it felt like when your bond mate died. And this was not like that. Their bond had gone dead. The pain had disappeared. But he remained sane and emotionally stable; Zero was unconscious, not dead. His nerves must have been severed to feel nothing, but he had to still be alive. The hunter inside the vampire was obviously stronger than he had thought. Zero's body had not entirely given out at the anti-vampire blast.

Not in the least comforted, Kaname had lost not a nanosecond. With the greatest speed he could muster, he had dashed from the driving car, mentally ordering his driver to follow, and had plowed straight through the forest toward his fallen mate.

When he'd arrived at the scene about half a minute later, the two other hunters were still defending themselves against more Level E's. Their blast had obviously not reached the outer perimeter of the Level E army. Kaname hadn't even stopped moving to take in the scene. Zero's body had been literally torn to pieces, his body parts strewn across the place, barely recognizable as such. The pureblood had fought desperation at the sight of what was left of Zero.

In an instant, Kaname had killed the remaining threats with just a thought, his pureblood anger blowing Level E's away in a storm of smoking ashes. Ignoring the hunter's questions and death threats, he had brought up a shield around himself and what was left of Zero.

Using all his mental strength to put the body back together again, he had mended the pieces as he proceeded. Then he had poured his own blood into that fragile body until he himself almost passed out. Yagari seemed to have gotten the message because he didn't attack him - even when the pureblood swayed at the loss of his blood, leaving the hunters with an easy opportunity at killing him as the shield dissolved. Instead, the senior hunter silently tended to Kaito's wounds, understanding without further explanation that Kaname was the only one who could save Zero now.

After ten long minutes, his driver had arrived. Keeping up a facade of strength, the pureblood had politely asked if the hunters were in need of assistance. As expected, Yagari had gruffly declined needing help, but had agreed to let the pureblood leave with Zero.

"His whereabouts are unknown as far as I'm concerned, Kuran. Take care of him."

Trusting the hunter to want the best for Zero, the pureblood had carefully collected his mate. Kaname didn't know how he did it, but he had managed to carry the hunter's body to the car and clutch it toward his chest protectively for the entire ride home.

He had been more than happy for Seiren's assistance when arriving at the mansion. His own blood loss would have made it nearly impossible to protect the hunter. Even his driver could have killed him and Kaname wasn't certain he could have prevented it. Seiren had aided him in carrying the unresponsive body upstairs. After bringing him half a year's worth of blood tablets and a pitcher of water, she had left on his orders. Kaname had barely moved since.

The state of Zero's health was so critical that Kaname hadn't broken his mental hold on him the entire time. It was Kaname's will that forced his heart to beat, Kaname's will that contracted and expanded his lungs to breathe and it was Kaname's mental force that mended the severed parts together at a molecular level and ordered his blood to flow. As the silver haired hunter lay in his bed, his fair skin still dirtied with smears of blood, Kaname worked on him for more than two days straight without rest. Rarely had anyone had as much insight into another one's body as Kaname had gotten of the hunter. He now knew his mate's body most intimately - he knew of every minuscule imperfection in the hunter's cells, from the smallest blood cell to the largest bone. He knew every muscle, every ligament and every organ.

Kaname nodded to himself, brushing a silver strand from the hunter's face. The pureblood's mental map of his mate was indeed both detailed and accurate, nothing eluded his mental inventory. He had noticed once more, how rough the hunter always was on his body - the state it was in even after main repairs bearing clear testament to its owner's disregard for his own health. It had no resources to spare - all energy seemed to come from the hunter's stubbornness and mental force only. His body may be built as sturdy as expected of a hunter from the Kiryu bloodline, but it was ingrained in every cell that it had grown accustomed to chronic malnourishment and it bothered the pureblood greatly to find that so. For all the hunter's strong appearance, he was truly a very fragile ex-human hunter, surviving on sheer stubbornness alone that had probably saved his life every bit as much as the pureblood had.

Kaname promised himself to take better care of him from now on. This life of his could not go on like it had until now. Naturally, he could not make such a decision without Zero's consent. So he would have to speak with the hunter once he woke.

If he woke.

Perhaps Kaname could attempt to call him back to consciousness, he mused. It would take a lot of strength on his part, strength he didn't have at the moment, yet that was not what kept him from doing it. Rather, if this state was necessary to repair damage not only to the body but also to the mind, it would be counterproductive to wake the hunter to consciousness while he was yet unfit to face the realm of the living. He was too deeply sunken into unconsciousness to simply wake him with a command.

The pureblood sighed inaudibly, bowing his head.

Once the hunter woke, the pureblood would not have to control his body like he did right now. But as long as there was no will inhabiting a body, it was a mere shell, a machine that could be forced to function. And until Zero's will came back, Kaname would keep the hunter's body as intact and inhabitable as possible for his return. With a small smile on his face, that Kaname himself hardly noticed, he continued coaxing the hunter's heart to beat and his lungs to breathe, while preventing certain other muscles of loosing what they held back. The only thing Kaname could not force, was the hunter's waking. It was better for him to wake on his own, even if Kaname wished it otherwise.

So all he could do was to watch over him and wait, keeping his vitals intact.


Hanabusa paced his study. To say he was worried was a drastic understatement. The blond noble stopped, worried his lip and then continued his restless pacing between piles of parchments and books, chemical instruments and towers of ominous liquids and powders. First the meeting with the hunters, then Takuma...

With a shiver, he turned on his heel and went straight to his whiskey. Yeah, a bad habit to get into... whatever. He gulped down two glasses to calm his nerves.

Poor Takuma...

Icy blue eyes seemed to be fixed on a computer screen spilling endless columns of data, but they focused on nothing physical. Then the noble resumed his pacing. For all his genius and countless affairs, Hanabusa Aido was still a very sensitive person. The lady's man didn't take well to personal changes involving anyone important to him. There were certain constants in his life, things that didn't change and were vitally important to his emotional wellbeing, people he looked up to and cared for - in his own strange way; Akatsuki being calm and responsible for one (and keeping him out of trouble - even Hanabusa had to admit that much), Kaname-sama being a steadfast leader whatever the political weather and Takuma being his joyful, happy self as Kaname-sama's right hand.

Seeing Takuma in such a desperate state... Hanabusa shuddered at the memory. Takuma in the middle of a dark road... naked and entirely lost, confused and dare he say it... traumatized? By what? Hanabusa shook his head and furrowed his brow. It was good that Akatsuki had been there in his collected and unimpulsive manner. Hanabusa was entirely aware of the fact that he himself was ill-suited to comfort people or help them. He hung his head ashamed at his rash behavior. Really, he chided himself - he hadn't been of any use to Takuma whatsoever.

First, he had jumped out of the car and raced to him, fussing over him and reprimanding him for scaring the hell out of them. He blinked away tears - he was sorry now for having upset the poor traumatized vampire even more than necessary. His cousin had dealt with the situation so much better. Akatsuki had simply shrugged off his jacket to put it around Takuma's shivering form, taken the noble into his arms, and murmured gentle nothings to their friend.

Hanabusa simply couldn't deal with this. Takuma was the one who kept all vampires together in Kaname-sama's stead. He had authority. He was strong and always in a good mood. He wasn't weak like himself... he didn't just break like that...

Poor Takuma. Poor, poor Takuma...

Those happy green eyes had been like an empty chasm for their entire ride home. Takuma had shivered wordlessly beneath Akatsuki's jacket, even though they had turned up the heat to unbearable sauna-like levels. The catatonic noble had reacted to nothing. Looking back, Hanabusa noticed that he hadn't even recognized the two of them. It was of little comfort to him that Takuma had most likely not registered any of Hanabusa's initial accusations. And then, when a branch had almost hit the car, Hanabusa had jumped a mile out of his skin. But Takuma hadn't even flinched.

Akatsuki had kept up a calm, if slightly worried composure while his own mouth had given away to useless babbling. The more frustrated he was, the less control he appeared to have over his useless oral communication device...

Dissatisfied with himself, Hanabusa put his face into his palm and shook his head. He was a scientist. Give him a lab and some science work. Chemicals, books, formulas - not people. Not hunters. Not Takuma...

The blue-eyed blond furrowed his brow, looking up again. So he was no use as comfort. Great. No achievements to be unlocked there. No surprise there, either. Use your mind, Hana... it's the only thing you're actually good at, he reprimanded himself. Takuma was important. He was steadfast and entirely trustworthy, he was Kaname-sama's right hand and...

Holy crap!

... and Kaname-sama's mate!

Hannabusa slapped his forehead - hard.


He was such an idiot!

If his mate looked so terrible - what about Kaname-sama?! Here he was, worrying about Takuma - but he should be worrying about Kaname-sama!

What had happened? What on earth had happened? Was the pureblood in danger? Was he hurt? Was he traumatized? Naked? No wait... he hadn't just thought that, had he... Hanabusa winced, then blushed a dark crimson. Really, his mind was such a disgrace!

He plopped down into a chair, hardly noticing that he was actually sitting on an enormous pile of data print-out and chemistry books. In his mind, images of the lost and naked Takuma overlapped with his imagination of a lost and hurt brunette pureblood in dire need of comfort. With slightly shaking hands, he poured himself another glass of liquor. What was the world coming to?

Another two shots of whiskey followed while Hanabusa stared dejectedly onto the ground before him.

There was a knock at his door, just as he refilled the glass for yet another drink.


It was Akatsuki's voice, but he didn't answer him. The door opened hesitantly and his tall cousin entered, eyes patiently trained on him with worry as he took in the scene.

"O Hana..." he said.

It was a mystery to Hanabusa how his cousin always knew. Really, always knew. For just about every break down large or small, Akatsuki had been there. Like now. With patient movements, the tall blond took the decanter and glass from his fingers and set them on the table. Then he pulled his smaller cousin into his arms. It was about half a second before Hanabusa started crying like a little child.


Akatsuki held his cousin tight. Sometimes, Hanabusa really was like a child. An impulsive, and lovable but brilliantly annoying bundle of trouble. He knew the blond noble better than anyone else and in some regard he was more predictable than the rise and setting of the sun. Hanabusa couldn't keep his emotions inside, it just wasn't in his nature. Though he tried to meet the standards - and Akatsuki was probably the only one who realized how hard Hanabusa truly tried to imitate the image of a calm and collected authorative noble - he just couldn't. Hanabusa needed to vent his frustration, his anger or his happiness and excitement immediately.

His subordinates knew this and often times made fun of him behind his back, but they all respected him nonetheless. Hanabusa was nothing if not dedicated, brilliant and studious. But whenever something in his life didn't match his need for being grounded, the firey emotional genius was sure to be entirely overwhelmed. And no one but Akatsuki or sometimes Ruka dared to approach the volatile noble. Only Akatsuki knew that his cousin was in reality a very fragile, troubled and easily intimidated person.

"Akatsuki..." he sniffed.

"Is Kaname-sama ok? Is Takuma ok? Is everything alright?"

Akatsuki smiled. "Takuma is at Kuran mansion. Everything is alright now. Takuma will be taken care of and in a few days, he'll be as good as new."

Hanabusa nodded. Akatsuki smiled at his smaller cousin. He couldn't tell him the truth. Not right now. He had been to Kuran mansion today. He had visited the noble. And nothing was alright. Takuma's state had worsened. He still did not respond or give any indication that he recognized him. Kaname-sama had not shown up for work, but Akatsuki had felt his presence at Kuran mansion. Seiren had made it clear that he wished to be undisturbed. But to the noble it was clear that something was very wrong. His pureblood aura was weak - much too weak for the usually powerful pureblood, not to speak of how the entire mansion was drenched in the smell of blood. Not just any blood - pure blood. Akatsuki was terribly worried, but right now he needed to comfort his cousin.

There was no point in musing since no one knew anything about what had happened. But that didn't keep him from being worried. What made everything worse was the fact that there were rumors about Rido Kuran being alive and negotiations with the hunters weren't exactly going well. Trying to push that all aside, he kept a comforting embrace around his cousin.

Hanabusa was so easily appeased, he needed just a little bit of attention and then he would continue whatever he was working on with child-like vigor. But to Akatsuki, in turn, it felt good to be able to do something, anything. He could not comfort Takuma, he could not get close to the pureblood. He understood nothing about the situation and that was frustrating to him. He knew his place and he did not question it, but sometimes it was hard not to be in control, not to know what was going on and who to trust and what to do. In essence, being able to comfort his cousin was actually very much needed comfort for himself.

"Thank you, 'Katsuki." his cousin mumbled.

"It's ok. Everything will be ok, Hana." he said soothingly.

He knew of nothing else to say.


Yagari watched the president of the Hunter's Association pace up and down in pointless anger.

"What do you mean, Kiryu's wherabouts are unknown?" he hissed at the senior hunter.

Yagari didn't bother to grace that with a display of emotional involvement.

"My report is complete." he answered, his composure entirely unruffled. "I have nothing to add, president."

Internally, he wished for a cigarette to calm his nerves - not because he feared to lose his composure in front of this man, most certainly not. The president was a fool - a dangerous and greedy fool, but a fool nonetheless. No, Yagari worried about his student. He would never admit it, of course.

The president turned to face the hunter with a show of anger on his face.

"Toga Yagari." he fumed dangerously.

If the senior hunter hadn't been so worried, he might have cocked an eyebrow to laugh at the man. As it was, he just faced him with a solemn expression - it unnerved the man nonetheless.

"I told you I'd keep an eye on you and your students..."

"Well then I am certain... president... you have kept a much better eye on him than me. Perhaps you could tell me if he is still alive and if so, where he is." Yagari showed nothing of his worry as he calmly challenged the president.

"For someone who wanted to get rid of him, you appear very interested in his whereabouts..."

The president gritted his teeth.

"Your student," he spat. "as you call him, is a Level E vampire. A threat to all of us. A threat you have groomed. He is your responsibility."

"And as such I can assure you that he is a stable Level D vampire and poses no threat. Tell me, president, when were you last in the field? Have you forgotten what a real threat is?"

"I don't need you of all people telling me what a threat is. I know our battles better than you do, Toga Yagari." The president growled.

"Do you now?" At this the senior hunter's voice dropped to a whisper as he leaned in.

"How very convenient that three strong hunters with unbendable loyalty toward our cause were caught in an army of organized Level E's. Someone has gone to great lengths to dispose of a certain faction of hunters."

"I do not like what you're implying." the president said in a low voice.

"Was I implying?" Yagari mocked. "Whatever game your playing, president, whatever goals you want to achieve, whatever profit you want to make, remember one thing: if our ranks fail and the vampires take over, all of us lose. Even you."

Yagari regarded the president for a second, watching the man trying to form a response to his words. After it became apparent that he had nothing else to say, the senior hunter nodded his head.

"Good night."

Then he left. What else was there to say to this man?


The president stood behind his desk for a long time, contemplating the senior hunter's words. He may despise the man, he may be all kinds of jealous for the power his former friend truly held among their ranks, but his words still stuck - every time.

Perhaps he had gone too far. He had played the cards he'd been dealt - perhaps too soon. But he couldn't go back on his word now. It was too late. With shaking hands, he took a decadently priced bottle from his drawer. Then he poured himself a glass of liquor and downed it in one gulp. He stopped himself as he was about to refill it again. He was expecting a phone call and he needed to be lucid for that. Entirely so.

Sure enough, a few minuted later, his phone rang out, its sound eerie and foreboding to the president's ears. He let it ring three times before he found the will to let his shaky hands grasp the receiver.

"Good evening." he said, proud to have kept his voice from shaking.

"O come on, president - you can do better than that." a female voice answered smoothly from the other end of the line.

"When last we spoke you had so much passion for our cause..." she added a sugary sweetness to her voice.

"It's been a long day. What do you want?" he snapped as a retort.

"You had a long day?" the mockery was undeniable in her voice. "Well then, president, I hope you have some achievements to speak of, because our end of the bargain is becoming very impatient." the tone was now icy and the president basically felt her words crawl all over his spine.

"I thought your facilities were destroyed?" the president asked a bit confused.

A cold laugh answered his query.

"President, surely you cannot be so naive to think we wouldn't have bake-up. And with the right... motivation... my staff fulfills its duty at any speed I wish. So... where are my hunters?"

The president bit his lip. He couldn't back out of this now.

"They will be stationed at the appointed location for the Peace Treaty Negotiation Celebrations. If your people are as good as they say, there will be no problem."

"And Kiryu?" she demanded.

The president swallowed hard. He would have to play this one by ear.

"Apparently, someone tried to assassinate him. You wouldn't know of this by any chance?"

"Of course I wouldn't." she answered tersely. "I need him alive, you know this. So... Where. Is. He?"

"Do not worry. He will be there." the president said with finality. It was a bluff. He had no idea where the hunter was or if he was still alive. If Kiryu didn't show up by the time the Peace Treaty was signed, he would be doomed.

A low chuckle answered him.

"Good. Because if not..." she left the rest to his imagination. The president swallowed and clutched the small flask in his pocket. He needed to put it somewhere safe. Perhaps he'd need it as ransom later on. Best be prepared for the worst.

"Then our deal is clear." he said with confidence that only stemmed from desperation. "The hunters will be yours and your prototypes will be mine."

"I like the way that sounds... president." she said, a dangerous smile in her voice. "Good evening to you."

"Good evening, Councilor." he answered, hanging up.

The bottle was nearly empty, before his trembling finally subsided and the president fell into a deep slumber on his desk.


Yagari stood uncertain in one of the deep vaults of the Association. It was a dark room created for secrecy, created for the purpose of keeping in forgetful slumber of darkness what daylight shouldn't see. His single blue eye regarded the glass coffin with reserved calm.

The tell-tale silver hair inherent to the younger members of a well renowned hunter family had grown long in three years while the young man rested. But it suited him well. The hunter charms around him did all they could to preserve his weakened body. In their glow, the young face was soft and frail; there was nothing there that reminded Yagari of a hunter. Even after committing betrayal and fighting for an unrequited love with both heart and blade, after causing and witnessing death and sacrificing himself, this young man appeared to be more fragile than a butterfly.

But Yagari had to admit, of the two Kiryu twins, this one was the more dangerous. Not because he was strong, not because of his skill - no, he was more dangerous because he was Zero's weakness. He was dangerous because he had Zero's unwavering love - always had. And the most dangerous part about that was the fact that he knew how to use it against him, to twist it into unbelievable darkness and damn his older twin to do things he would never have done otherwise.

But the fragile and sickly Kiryu still loved his brother. That was the only reason Yagari had agreed to protect him. Because, in the end, he had sacrificed himself for Zero.

"Do you think he will ever wake again?" hearing quiet footsteps, Yagari smiled at Kaien's question.

"As long as this one is still alive I know that his other half is still around, too. But I don't think he'll wake up, unless his brother really needs him." he answered simply.

Kaien smiled. "He already gave Zero all his strength."

"The kid needs it. For all the stubbornness and perfect fighting skills he has, his heart is as fragile as his twin's body always was."

"You make that sound like it's a bad thing." Kaien chided.

"The kid's hurt, Kaien - more than you think."

Kaien sighed. "The kid's a man, you know."

"His heart isn't." the one-eyed hunter interjected.

"The heart isn't supposed to grow up, Toga."

"Kaien, you're a hopeless romantic."

The former headmaster chuckled. "To me, they're just like my own children, Toga."

"Yeah." the one-eyed hunter agreed as he gave the pale face under the long silver hair one more look.

"I miss Yuki." Kaien said in a sad voice. There was none of his exaggeration in it that he had shown at Cross Academy.

Yagari's clear blue eye fixed the former chairman with soft gaze. It was a special gaze, the one reserved only for those very, very close to the fearsome hunter. Kaien stepped close and put his head onto the strong shoulder. Toga put his arms around him and they stood in silence for a while.

"Toga, what do fathers do when their children are all grown-up and strong?" he whispered.

"They watch over the stupid morons in case they get into trouble. Just like they always have." the hunter growled in answer, but not without fondness in his voice.

Kaien smiled. Then he kissed the fearsome hunter very softly.

"Yes, they do. They will always watch over them."


It had been five days now. For five long days, Kaname had stayed at Zero's side, controlling his bodily functions and keeping them intact. Naturally, five days were nothing compared to a potential life span of millenia but they certainly seemed like an eternity to Kaname right now. He was tired, his eyelids heavy and face pale with the lack of rest. He hadn't moved from the hunter's side, hadn't closed an eye to sleep for the entire time. He had sat here, in meditative silence at the hunter's side, his vigil only interrupted by him bathing the hunter once with Seiren's help and giving him more blood after consuming loads of tablets himself.

He hadn't answered a phone or signed a sheet of paper since that night. Work was certain to be piled to the ceiling around him - but he touched none of it. Seiren's order was to inform everyone who needed to know that he was on an urgent business trip to the other side of the globe. Date of return: unknown.

Of course, he could have hooked up the hunter to an array of machines that ensured his survival. He could have let his most trustworthy maids take care of him and though he really was anxious about the hunter's health, that wasn't the only reason for his persistent caring.

Kaname secretly relished this intimacy, thrived on this possibility to be close to his mate - even if he was unresponsive and comatose. He wanted to know everything about his mate - he had spent hours admiring the quiet face and pale neck, though now he struggled more than ever not to taste its flavor. He had come to admire even the earrings the hunter wore and the hunter's seal that marred the skin of his otherwise flawless throat. Though he refrained from caressing what he admired, Kaname let his gaze trail across the hunter with great longing.

Perhaps it was fatigue that made the pureblood so emotional, perhaps it was the lack of blood and nourishment that made him feel more vulnerable to sentiment than usual, perhaps it was also the weeks of being bonded to the elusive hunter that influenced the pureblood so heavily, but as Kaname's mind revolved around nothing but the hunter, he was close to his emotional limits.

The pureblood trembled. For weeks he had pushed thoughts like this away, trying to pursue some form of living, picking up the pieces of his life after losing Yuki. He had tried to disentangle himself, had tried to remain independent, but it was impossible. He needed Zero. Physically, emotionally and in every other way there was.

Kaname had cursed himself repeatedly over this bond, becoming this weak was unheard of - with Yuki this had never happened. Of course he had adored her, had mirrored every smile she showed, had frowned when she did. True, he had felt to be only one half of a whole without her. But never had he felt like this. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that this was his second bond, undoubtedly more deeply rooted than the first. With Zero, he had no control - without Zero, there was not half of a whole missing... no, without Zero, there was no Kaname. Period.

That was scary.

It was unheard of.

He hadn't allowed that realization until now. And the thought was staggering, frightening. Helplessness washed over him with icy claws and his fingers shook slightly where they paused over the hunter's hand. It wasn't just that Zero's death meant his own - Kaname didn't fear death. It wasn't just that Zero's needs had to become his own and his had to become Zero's if they wanted to survive - Kaname didn't shy away from responsibilities however large. It wasn't just that everything Zero did was tied to his own life - Kaname knew all of this in his mind. Rather, it was the implications of all that.

Kaname felt exhausted and weakened after so many days of vigil. He would never admit the toll it was taking on his body and mind, of course. Still, it was no excuse to give in to such shameful emotions so easily. He remained close by the hunter's side. But still, he felt the sharp sting of loneliness. However, it was not the ache of a faraway bond mate.

No... their bond was just silent as he remained at the side of his mate, dutifully watching over him.

It was a different loneliness that opened the door wide to everything that came crashing into his emotional world.

It wasn't bond-induced loneliness - it was his self-imposed emotional exile that brought him to the verge of tears. He needed to make Zero half of his life. He needed to confide in him many things he had easily been able to keep from Yuki. In her blessed innocence, she hadn't suspected any of the darkness he knew he carried within him. He had no reason to hide it with her, because she had never thought to look for it.

But with Zero that would no longer be possible. The hunter would question everything. The hunter would lay bare things that Kaname himself hadn't been able to overcome yet. And the hunter would judge what he found by standards that Kaname could not meet, because he was a pureblood vampire, not a hunter. Because he was the monster that Zero feared to be himself. Because vampire rules were inhuman, cruel and unjust in Zero's eyes. And the hunter might find reason to hate him in so many ways that they would never again see eye to eye.

They were bonded, of course. That meant that they would never be able to part again. But if what Zero found repulsed him, their bond would become unbearable to both of them. It was possible - they had not bonded on the grounds of love - their bond was a twisted one, created by guilt, sadness and hopelessness. It might become a gruelling struggle between the two of them and when that happened, Kaname was not sure they would survive it. His history would be spread out, the darkness of his past brought into the light...

That was what frightened him. No, that wasn't true. He wasn't frightened - he was terrified. This level of dependency was inacceptable to purebloods, especially when it lead to destruction instead of happiness. But if he didn't turn Zero into his slave, it was something he would inevitably have to face. There were many things about their bond that the hunter knew nothing about but that Kaname suspected. An equal bond between an ex-human hunter and a pureblood vampire was extraordinarily rare. Yet, it appeared to be the case between them the longer Kaname thought about it. And if that was true, then he didn't even have the option of making Zero his slave.

Kaname snorted softly in frustration. No, their bond was not one of love. Not yet, Kaname said to himself without real conviction. Overwhelmed by fatigue and hopelessness, he let the moisture gather in his eyes without fighting it, before it spilled over the rim of his tired eyes. Unhappily, it rolled down his cheek, collected in a single tear. His voice of reason telling him that he required no comfort was drowned out in his overbearing wave of loneliness and his fingers softly reached for the hunter's hand.

Barely letting their skins connect, he stroked every finger of that strong, calloused hand, in the hopes that he might overcome this moment of weakness.

How often had it pulled the Bloody Rose on him in earlier days at the Academy in a futile burst of stubborn rebellion... And that stormy night he had pulled it on him on the pureblood's demand - what thoughts had crossed the hunter's mind the night Kaname wanted to die by this hand? What did the mind behind those lilac eyes think of him?

Kaname shuddered. He knew what he thought of the hunter. He couldn't bear the thought that only a few seconds too late after that hunter blast would have meant that this hand might have never gripped his weapon again.

"Zero", Kaname whispered and his voice broke.

'I need you.' his thoughts admitted quietly what his voice didn't dare to say in the hunter's presence. He bit his lip in a very ill-composed manner, entirely unbecoming of his usual composed self.


Zero furrowed his brow, or at least he would have if his body had responded. He hadn't imaged it, right?

Someone was speaking to him, almost desperately whispering his name. No, it wasn't imagination...

The hunter struggled against the heavy darkness surrounding him, he waded through the blackness straining to catch that voice again.

He knew that voice. He couldn't remember how, but he knew it. And because of that and how it whispered in soft desperation, Zero felt like it was important to remember.


His name.

You have to wake up... Ichiru's words reverberated through his mind.

But this wasn't Ichiru... no, sadly, Ichiru was dead and he had perhaps just paid him a visit. Zero knew for certain that it wasn't his twin...

So who was calling?

He reached the end of the heavy darkness, brushing it off though it refused to yield, clinging to him with all its might. Very slowly, consciousness poured into him.

His sense of smell was the first to kick in. Clean sheets... A rich and warm scent that was comforting was there, as well. And the faintest traces of... salt were in the air. Then the input from his ears connected with his brain at last. There was a quiet sniff, as of someone silently crying... Then his tactile sensations registered a tingle in his body, alerting him to the fact that someone was holding his hand. Zero forced his eyelids open. They felt like heavy weights were tying them down, but he finally managed to get a slowly focusing picture.


The hunter's voice was not working, but his mind was. It connected with the pureblood, their thoughts instantly interwoven, their emotions intertwining. And Zero was overwhelmed by the suddenness of their contact. Kaname's mind pervaded his own, the pureblood was all around him, his thoughts and emotions bent on the hunter. Where there had been darkness and ladenness before, he was now engulfed in a tumult of hurt and guilt and relief all at once.

Zero felt disoriented, his mind not fast enough at controlling itself after his near-death experience. He was unguarded against the pureblood and all of Kaname's thoughts flooded his consciousness before he could stop them. With an effort, he managed to at least remind himself that these were not his emotions though in his present state they affected him as though they were his own. It was merely his confusion that prevented him from crying.

Presently, Kaname regained some of his composure and the confusion slowly abated.

"You're awake." he whispered, stating the obvious. A flutter of self-consciousness drifted into the hunter's mind and the pureblood let go of his hand, looking the slightest bit embarrassed. Their gazes locked and Zero saw with bewilderment that there was a tear on the pureblood's cheek. Then the chocolate eyes looked away.

Slow to react, Zero chose to simply regard the pureblood. He was pale. And tired. And after a moment's study, Zero realized that his usually brilliant aura was significantly weakened as well.

"How long... " he began, trying to make sense of the pureblood's emotional outburst and the weary pallor of his complexion.

Without looking at him, Kaname answered, his voice quiet and calm, belying the confusion of emotions that Zero had felt only seconds before.

"You've been unconscious for five days."

There was a short silence between them. Five days? Holy crap...

"You didn't sleep the entire time." Zero stated calmly.

Finally, Kaname looked at him. There was a fresh tear following the first on his immaculate face.

"No." he whispered barely audible.

"How b...bad... was it?" Zero asked.

"27 pieces." Kaname said. "Your... body was severed into 27 pieces."

Zero swallowed. "Are Yagari and Kaito...?"

"Yes." The pureblood looked away, his expression unreadable. Should he not have asked...? But he wanted to know.

"They are alive. And hurt no more then how you last saw them." the pureblood's voice was still quiet calm, but there was a hint of resignation in it.

Zero nodded.

"Kaname." he began, keeping his voice gentle.

Zero could feel the effect his voice had on the brunette just by saying his name. A shiver traveled across his lean and tired body, the pureblood didn't look at him, though. Zero bit his lip.

"You patched me up, right?" he asked tentatively.

Kaname didn't answer.

"You fed me..." he continued, knowing it was true. The taste was still there, lingering on his lips.

Kaname said nothing.

"Thank you." Zero whispered.

"You're welcome." Kaname answered softly. Still, he refused to face the hunter.

Zero didn't know why he did what he did next, but if there was one thing he understood then it was the struggle of hiding one's emotional turmoil. And the pureblood appeared to have a lot of that at the moment. Willing his limbs to obey, Zero lifted his hand with difficulty to touch Kaname's fingers. Shaking with the effort, he rested his hand over the pureblood's. There was a slant of slight surprise on the brunette's face.

"I'm sorry." Zero said quietly, meaning it. He was sorry for obviously causing so much trouble. He hadn't meant to. But he couldn't find any other words to say to do justice to what he meant to say. Instead, he allowed the pureblood to feel what he felt, to gain insight into his emotions. Perhaps it would help...

Wordlessly, Kaname let his fingers caress the hunter's skin. Zero watched him silently as his immaculate pureblood fingers brushed across the back of his hand. The brunette was beautiful - even tired and sad, Kaname was a beautiful pureblood. The hunter admired how his pale skin stood in stark contrast to his dark eyes. But it was the way his chocolate eyes lit up with quiet happiness at that subtle gesture that made the hunter's heart throb with an undefinable ache. There it was again, that strange vulnerability that Kaname had shown only to Zero. The true joy in his gaze that could not be faked. Zero's brow furrowed imperceptibly as he tried to make sense of it.

"You haven't understood yet." Kaname whispered. And he lifted the hunter's hand to his lips. He closed his eyes and kissed the back of his hand, his lips pressing ever so softly against his tingling skin.

"There is no need to apologize. You're my mate, Zero. I would do anything for you."


Kaname smiled at the words as he said them, expecting the hunter to scoff at them or growl an angry retort. Instead, Zero's lilac eyes just stared at him, openly gaping. Perhaps he should leave the hunter, let him sleep and confront him later. He was confused and disoriented and Kaname wasn't helping. It would be the safest way out right now. But the pureblood hadn't left his side for five days. And now, when his mate had finally woken, the hunter had allowed so much of himself into their bond - how could the pureblood shut himself off from that? There was no way he could lie to himself, Zero's vulnerable body and mind held a lure to him that he could not refuse. His mate needed him. And he needed his mate. He didn't have the strength right now to leave him. So he stayed.

"What... do you...do you mean...?" Zero asked, his voice hiding none of the confusion he felt.

Tentatively, Kaname reached out his hand to caress the hunter's cheek. The hunter's breath hitched ever so slightly as his fingers very slowly traced invisible lines across his cheek, his jaw, his hair, his eyebrows and his nose. But he didn't shy away. His strange lilac eyes just continued staring back at him. Kaname smiled softly and cupped the hunter's face in the palm of his own hand. The hunter needed rest. It would be best to lull him back to sleep this way, but instead, Kaname just enjoyed the moment he had.

Neither of them spoke as Zero's eyes fluttered shut and the pureblood continued to softly caress his skin. A look of peace came over the hunter and it looked almost as though a smile tugged at his lips. Kaname couldn't resist. His finger traced the clearcut cheekbone and wandered down his straight nose.

Zero's eyes flew open as Kaname's finger brushed his lower lip. Kaname froze instantly. But Zero only looked at him. He made no move to pull away. There was no need for words and there was no need for communication through their bond. The hunter could read plainly in Kaname's eyes what he was thinking. There was no need to intrude into their bond for that. Hesitantly, Kaname's eyes searched the hunter's for an answer. Zero nodded once ever so slightly.

Kaname was single-mindedly focused on his silver-haired mate. Usually, his mind would be capable of handling multitudes of parallel thoughts. But not now. Not for five days. Zero was the focus of his entire mind. He could hear the hunter's heart beating faster. He could see the subtle change in color of those wonderfully soft lips due to elevated blood pressure. Cupping the silent face, he leaned in and their eyes locked. Very softly, he brushed his own lips against Zero's. The hunter's breath became shallow as Kaname gently nipped at that soft lower lip almost as though he was asking for permission to continue.

But the satiny feel of that skin was so inviting that Kaname just followed the guidance of his heart. Carefully, he then fully kissed the hunter, pressing the softest of kisses he could muster against those tender lips, committing their taste to memory. Already, he wondered if perhaps he'd gone too far, if he'd again overstepped the boundaries, if his heart would be roughly rejected by this forbidding hunter. With a flicker of sadness, he was about to retreat when hesitantly, he felt the hunter's lips answer.

Kaname couldn't help himself. He had been waiting for this moment, longing for just a flicker of appreciation, craving a token of affection. Never had he felt that so small a gesture could be so rewarding. The hunter answering his kiss was a desperate wish come true. Surely, this was the sweetest thing he had ever experienced. He closed his eyes and gave himself up to their kiss. Very slowly, he let his own lips move across every millimeter of the hunter's lips, kissing them ever so gently. This moment would burn itself into his perfect pureblood memory for ever - the feel of the hunter's velvety lips as they trembled against his own, his wonderful scent engulfing the pureblood and his soft warm breath across Kaname's tingling skin - Zero was a hurricane of intoxicants wrapped in the softest of satins.

Kaname prayed it would last forever. He felt every atom of the hunter's skin brush past his own, felt his breath become more shallow as it brushed against his skin and realized he himself was holding his breath. He opened his eyes again and reluctantly released Zero from their kiss.
His eyes roamed the hunter's face. The skin was slightly pink, but the lilac eyes fluttered open to stare at him in mild confusion. Yet there was also a deep glow behind their surface. Kaname smiled. There was no way the hunter hadn't felt it. Their bond rewarded this closeness, even if Zero felt nothing toward the pureblood, this at least was there. Their bond. No pain, just soft intimacy and the warmth of your mate's company.

To Kaname, this kiss made everything clear. All confusion quieted down. What he'd said was entirely true, whether Zero wanted it or not. But the hunter hadn't rejected him this time. Kaname clutched the thought close to his heart. Perhaps it was a start. But the rest would have to wait. The last five days had taken a gruelling toll on both their bodies and Zero's face was laced with weariness. The hunter needed rest. So did Kaname.

"Sleep now." he said to the hunter. Zero nodded and closed his eyes. Kaname could not stop himself from kissing him once more. Just a butterfly kiss.
After only a few heartbeats, deep breaths told the pureblood that Zero was sleeping.

He had his answer. And if he had wondered at many reactions of his body, here was the explanation. If he hadn't known or hadn't wanted to know before - he couldn't be sure. But it was obvious now. Their bond was special. Unprecedented.

A bond between two equals developed equally between the two. It had been so with Yuki. In other words, usually, a bond between two equal purebloods or two equal nobles would make them equally dependent on each other. But if it happened to be a bond between a lower and a higher class vampire or even unequally committed mates, things were entirely different. Because the stronger mate would have the necessary power to save him, this left the lower class completely at the whim of the higher ranked vampire.

This wasn't even pure spite - it was simply a biological fact. A bond couldn't be controlled at will. The physical and mental status of both participants defined the outcome. This meant that the pureblood was master and the other was his slave - no more than a permanent extension of the other's will. The other wouldn't even notice it or feel like a slave at all - no, he would really want only what the other wanted and act accordingly.

But Zero was different.

Their bond was different.

Kaname wasn't a pureblood who had saved the Level D by forming this bond. No, Kaname had been the one saved. Zero was not his slave.

He had to seriously entertain the idea that he might be Zero's.