"Zero?" Yuuki asked.

"Huh?" I replied, looking over my shoulder.

"What's wrong?" She said, placing her hand on my shoulder.

"Nothing." I growled. "I'm fine."

I jerked away from her hand and started to walk away.

Yuuki sighed.

"Friends, huh?" She said, so quietly I doubted she meant me to hear. I paused, wishing with all my heart I could tell her. But I couldn't. How could she understand?

I continued walking away, but I was raging inside, with pain and fear and, most of all, desire. I wanted Yuuki, and I hated that I did. I hated myself, hated the monster I was, hated that Yuuki was in danger whenever she was near me. So lost was I in my thoughts that I didn't really register the quiet footsteps behind me.

I bit my lip, and blood started to trickle from it. I licked it away, and suddenly a stabbing pain entered my chest. I grasped at my shirt, slumping against the wall. The fire ripped through my throat and burned through my stomach. I stumbled the short distance to my room, shutting the door loudly. I fell to my knees, gripping my sides tightly. My breaths gasped through my teeth as I fought to stay in control.

A knock sounded on my door.

"Zero, let me in." Yuuki said. I jerked up.

"Go away, Yuuki." I snapped, getting shakily to my feet.

"You know I won't." She said stubbornly.

"Yuuki. Leave." I choked.

"Zero? What's wrong?" Yuuki exclaimed. The door flew open and Yuuki ran in.

"Yuuki. I said go away!" I snarled, turning to look at her. "I just need to be…alone, right now."

She gave an angry sigh, but I could see hurt beneath her blazing eyes. I continued to scowl. And then the pain emanating from her was undisguised, and I realized it had always been there. I also knew that she wasn't going to bother hiding it anymore.

"I wish you would talk to me Zero." She said sadly, then she turned her face away. "Even just a little."

"I can't, Yuuki. I really can't." I said angrily.

"Zero…" She said uncertainly.

"Leave me alone!" I shouted.

She looked at me with shining eyes, then at the floor.

"I'm sorry. I was just worried about you." She turned and went through the doorway. Before she disappeared, she paused with her hand on the doorframe, and looked back at me.

"For just a minute, I thought you might actually have let me inside your shell. That I might actually get a chance to understand what you're going through. But I guess I'm the only one I'll ever know."

"No!" I cried, automatically reaching out to her.

But she'd already closed the door quietly behind her.

I looked at the place where she had vanished, kicking myself internally. No matter what I did, I only ended up hurting her more. All I cared about was protecting her, but I couldn't talk to her about anything, for fear of hurting her or scaring her. But was I really thinking of her, or was I being selfish and not telling her just so I wouldn't have to lose her? I truly was a monster.

"Yuuki…I'm more sorry than you know." I whispered.

"Hey, Zero?" Yori asked.

"Mm?" I said.

"Have you seen Yuuki? She wasn't in the dorm this morning, and she's not in class." She said.

I blinked and looked around. Yori was right-Yuuki wasn't in class today. I wondered where she might be, if she wasn't in the dorm either. Was that because of me? Because of what happened last night?

"No, I haven't seen her." I replied. I stood up and walked down the stairs. As class hadn't yet started, no one questioned me when I left. Then again, people generally wouldn't question me anyway; they were all too afraid of me.

As soon as the door closed behind me I started running for the girl's dorm. I know Yori said she wasn't there, but it seemed the best place to start looking.

Damnit, she was probably gone because of me. I wouldn't be surprised if she hated me. I bit my lip as I ran, wishing again that I wasn't so afraid to open my heart, just once, for my best friend. For the girl I loved. Why did I only cause her pain? I shouldn't exist.

I was so caught up in my thoughts that I almost missed the trail Yuuki had left behind. Almost. I doubled my speed, following Yuuki's path. It continued out of the dorm and out into the grounds. The sun had cleared the horizon a few hours ago, but clouds kept the light dim, for which I was grateful as I followed Yuuki still farther from the buildings. I was only aware enough of my surroundings to not run into anything, so I didn't immediately register that I was dodging trees as I ran. But after a few minutes I slowed down, and became curious as to why Yuuki had gone so deep into the forest.

Her trail was getting stronger, and soon I could make out the sounds of small splashes and her steady breathing. I slipped through the trees, until I came to the edge of a small clearing with a pond in the center. Brightly colored koi swam through the clear water, flashing their vibrant scales in the sun. And laying at the edge of the pond with her back to me was…

"Yuuki…" I whispered.

She stirred, and I realized she was asleep. I walked out into the clearing and kneeled down beside her. I moved to touch her shoulder, but pulled back. I shook my head. I had no right to this girl-no right to touch her, or care about her.

"Zero…" She muttered. I snapped my head around to look at her. Had she woken up? No, her eyes were still closed, her breathing still fairly even. So…she was dreaming about me?

"Zero…" She said, her voice closer to a whimper this time. I blinked. Her face was pinched, her muscles tight. Tears gathered in her closed eyes.

A nightmare? Ha, it was ridiculous and egotistic to think she was dreaming about me. Any dream she had of me couldn't be anything but a nightmare. I stood to leave.

"Don't…leave…" She whimpered. I looked back at her. Her hands, which had been fisted to her chest, twitched open.


"Please…Zero…Talk…to me…" She murmured.

She…wanted me to stay? Her dream was that I was trying to leave? And she didn't want that?

"I can't, Yuuki. But I promise I won't leave you." I said, sitting down beside her and placing a hand on her shoulder. She relaxed a little at my touch, and for a moment, I could pretend she cared for me as she did Lord Kaname Kuran. I brushed her hair out of her face, my hand lingering on her cheek. I wished I could hold her forever, that my caress wouldn't end, but that was silly and selfish of me.

Her eyelids fluttered.

"Yuuki?" I said, gently pulling her into a sitting position.

"Zero?" She sounded surprised, and her face was a little pink. "How did you find me?"

"I was trained to sense presences. Yori and I noticed that you weren't in class; Yori said you hadn't been in the dorm when she woke up. So I came out to look for you." I said, doing my best to sound nonchalant. I don't know how well it worked, though.

"Oh, I see." Yuuki said.

"Why were you skipping?" I asked. Her cheeks turned a little darker.

"I just needed a break." She said quickly. "You know, same reason you ditch so much."

I forced a smile. I wouldn't call her on the lie this time.

"Fair enough. But you should get back-Yori was worried."

Yuuki sighed and nodded. I helped her up, then started to lead her toward the dorms.

"Zero?" She asked after a moment.


"You still won't tell me what's bothering you, will you?" She said. I knew she wasn't expecting me to change my mind. There was no hope in her words. She just seemed to feel obligated to ask at this point.

"I've told you, it's nothing."

"I don't buy it, Zero. I'm smarter than that." She snapped.

"Please, Yuuki, let it go." I begged, stopping and turning to face her. "Please."

Yuuki looked surprised.

"Zero…" She sighed. "I really can't. I'm sorry, but I won't leave you alone."


"I won't leave your side, Zero. I swear I'm going to stay by you. You can hate me for it, but it won't change my decision." Yuuki said, touching my face gently, as though I might break. I remembered back, all those years ago, to when I first met Yuuki. Headmaster Cross had taken me to his home, and his daughter opened the door. I remembered thinking dimly that she was very pretty.

Be good to him, Yuuki. Cross had said. His family was attacked by a bad vampire.

He'd left to sort out issues with the police, and Yuuki had led me inside. She asked my permission every time she did something, but I never replied. I thought that, if I opened my mouth, my scream of pain and rage would come out. She'd taken me to the bathroom and helped me take off my shirt. She's looked horrified when she saw the blood that covered half my chest. She took a wet towel and started to clean off the blood, touching me carefully, gently. As though I would break if she didn't.

I snapped back to the present and I pulled her against me, wrapping my arms tightly around her.

"I don't think I could…ever hate you, Yuuki." I whispered.

After a moment, she hesitantly hugged me back.

"Zero?" She said softly.


"I've been trying to get you to tell me…what's bothering you. I was hoping you could tell me yourself. But…if you won't, I need to tell you something."

"What?" I asked, my heart beating a little faster.

"I already know, Zero." She said, pulling back so she could look me in the eye.

My shock and fear must have been etched in my face, because she brought her hand up to touch me again. I flinched as though she had slapped me, and I waited for her anger, or her hurt, to cut me like a knife.

"It's alright, Zero. I don't care. You're still my best friend, and I understand why you didn't tell me. I made my promise knowing very well what you are." She smiled, but it slid off her face quickly. "I also know that you're rejecting the tablets."

My jaw locked and my fists clenched involuntarily. I looked away from her, removing her hand from my face.

"If you know that, why bother with me? I'll become a Level E before long. It's a fact." I said coldly. I pulled an anti-vampire pistol from my pocket and put it in Yuuki's hand. "It'll happen, and when it does, I want you to kill me."

She jerked her hand back.

"I can't Zero. I won't take your life. And I won't let you devolve into a Level E either. It won't happen while I'm with you." She said firmly.

I blinked in surprise.

"But what can you do?" I demanded. "How could you-"

I stopped abruptly because Yuuki had pulled her hair away from her neck in a very clear invitation. The burning pain sprang into being in my body, brought on by the fierce desire I hated to feel.

"Yuuki. Do you know what you're doing?" I demanded, stepping away from her. She followed me.

"Yes, Zero, I do. I'm keeping you safe." She said. "Take my blood."

I leaned forward, my hands on her shoulders.

"Yuuki…" I said, trying to resist the burning need inside me.

"Zero, you need blood. Now." She said firmly. "Take what you need, for once."

My tongue tipped out toward the artery, licking her throat as a predator. The hot, pulsing blood beneath her skin sang to me, speaking false promises of life and strength. And yet, against all my better judgment, I did what I hadn't allowed myself to do since that woman had changed me. Shaking slightly, I gave in to the painful longing. My fangs pierced her neck, and her blood exploded in my mouth. Yuuki's breathing hitched, but she placed her hands gently on my back. My hands trembled with my conflicting emotions. Pleasure. Hatred. Desire. Fear.

"Zero…" Yuuki said softly. "What's wrong?"

I fought to stay in control, and I pulled away from her, gasping. I wiped her blood away from my mouth in disgust. Not at the taste, but at the fact that I enjoyed it so much. I slumped against her, my forehead on her shoulder.

"Yuuki…" I sighed. "If I take blood from you…I won't ever be able to forgive myself."

"I'm sorry, Zero. But you need blood, and your body can't take the tablets. Again I say, you can hate me if you want. But I will give you my blood as often as you need it." She said, and placed her hands on the back of my head, stroking my hair.

"Yuuki…Why? Why do you care so much about me?" I asked. "You have no reason."

"Zero." Yuuki laughed. "I have every reason to care about you. I've known you for four years-you're my best friend."

"Really?" I said in surprise. I pulled back.

Yuuki smiled and nodded.

"We should get back." She said, taking my hand and pulling me toward the dorms.

"Wait." I said, resisting her. "We need to go by my room first. You need a bandage."

Her hand drifted up to my bite mark and she nodded.



I'm scared…

I trembled in the freezing snow.

I'm scared…That scary vampire…is going to eat me.

I clutched at my sides, wanting to get away, but unable to move my legs. I could feel a malevolent presence nearby. I could hear the rasping voice. I could see the red eyes, full of bloodlust. This evil creature, whatever it had been, wanted blood. My blood.

I felt a rough, cold hand grasp my face and shove me back into the snow. I squirmed, trying to get away, but there was no escape. I longed to feel that other presence. The kind, protective one that had saved my life when this had first happened. But there was no one there to help me this time.


I heard someone's voice over my cries. A voice other than the rough, harsh one that was lusting for my blood.

"Yuuki!" The voice called. "Yuuki, wake up!"

My eyes snapped open and I sat bolt upright. I was shaking uncontrollably, and I had been curled into a tight ball. Zero was watching me, his face extremely worried. He had a hand on my shoulder.

"Yuuki? Are you alright?" He asked, moving his hand away from me.

I took a shaky breath and tried to slow down my shudders.

"Y-yeah. I was just having a bad dream." I sighed. His lavender eyes flashed.

"Again?" He asked, touching my face hesitantly.

I sighed and nodded. He sighed as well and closed his eyes.

"And you're still going to insist that some vampires are different?" He demanded, abruptly angry.

His fury contaminated me, and my own anger rose up.

"Yes, I am! Because some are! Kaname is, and so is Akatsuki, and Takuma, and the rest of the Night Class!" I shouted, jerking away from his hand. "I know not all vampires are like them. And I know what happened to your family. But you can't judge every single vampire because of Shizuka Hiou."

Zero stiffened and looked away, clenching his teeth. His hands balled into fists.

"I don't know why I bother trying to make you see sense. You're completely insufferable and stubborn." He snapped, and he stood to leave the clearing. My anger dissipated and I reached out to stop him. It had been weeks since I'd told him what I knew. In that time, I had finally been told about his past. About the cruel, awful vampire that had killed his family. I'd struck a really low blow just now.

He paused when I grabbed his trembling hand. Surprise at his…vulnerable reaction helped me calm down. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"I'm sorry, Zero. I shouldn't have brought that up."

He turned around slowly, and his eyes were shining.

"I'm sorry." I repeated, standing up beside him.

His hand tightened in my grip, and his eyes cleared.

"It's alright. I was being stupid." He said softly. I put my other hand on the side of his face; his other hand moved over it.

"Yeah, a little, but I was still out of line." I said guiltily.

"No, you weren't. I overreacted. And I was being kind of…" He said something unintelligible. I was pretty sure I knew what it was.

"Sorry, what was that?" I said playfully.

He said something, a little louder, that started with a p.

"Forgive me, but I still can't really hear you." I teased.

"Prejudice!" He snapped. "I was being stupid and prejudice! Happy?"

"Extremely." I smiled, squeezing his hand.

He snorted, then gently pulled his hand from mine.

"You fell asleep on the job. You should probably head back to your dorm." He said.

"Yeah, I guess." I yawned, trying to hide my anxiety at falling asleep again. I was exhausted, but I didn't really want to fall asleep and have that nightmare again, without someone to wake me up. I grinned at Zero, who gave his lip-twitch version of a smile, then disappeared through the trees.

I yawned again and started to head back to my dorm before I realized that my uniform was a mess. Dirt and leaves clung to the black jacket and refused to be brushed away.

Sighing, I acknowledged that I would have to go by the laundry room on my way to my room. I jogged down the walkway and through one of the side doors into the main building. Not sure which way to go-I'd never used the school Laundromat before-I just took a right and started walking down the long corridor. To my surprise I stopped outside a door with a sign that read LAUNDRY SERVICES tacked on.

I slipped in and walked to the nearest washing machine, slipping off my jacket as I did. I tossed in the normally soft clothing and set the machine running. Unsure of what to do while I waited for the machine to finish, I walked back into the hallway and continued down, not really searching for anything.

Vaguely I wondered where Zero had gone. Had he been heading to his dorm, same as me? If so, he had been going in the wrong direction. Actually, the completely opposite direction. He'd been going in the direction of the main building.

Whatever. I said to myself. It didn't really matter what he was doing, did it? It's not like he'd actually be reinforcing his duty as a guardian. He'd either be off slacking under some random tree, or figuring out the best way to pick another fight with Aidou or…

I bumped into someone, and immediately jumped back with a hurried apology that died in my throat.

"Kaname!" I exclaimed.

Kaname smiled warmly at me.

"Hello, Yuuki. Aren't the guardians supposed to patrol the outside of the building, rather than the inside?" He teased.

"Aren't the Night Class students supposed to be in class until dismissal?" I threw back at him. He laughed.

"Fair point. But we already have been dismissed." His mahogany eyes regarded me gently. "So why are you here? Not that I object."

"Oh, well, I was actually washing my jacket, and I didn't really want to sit and wait in the laundry room for the machine to finish washing it." I said. Kaname laughed again, then pulled me into a tender embrace.

"You are an entertaining creature, Yuuki." Kaname whispered in my ear. "I am glad to know you."

I felt warmth flood my cheeks as he pulled back, unsure how else to respond.

"I'm glad I know you, too. Otherwise I wouldn't be standing here." I said, remembering all those years ago when he had saved my life from that awful vampire.

"Hush…You should not need to think about that anymore. It was so long ago." He said, then placed a hand on the side of my face. "It is time I went back to my own dorm. You take care, Yuuki, and I will see you tomorrow." And he continued walking down the long hall, out of sight.

I was still blushing as I continued walking in the opposite direction. Kaname had earned my adoration from the moment I had first met him, from the moment he had saved my life. No matter what, I was sure that at least one small part of me would always love him.

And then a beautiful sound drowned all thought in my mind. The sound of a piano sang to me; the notes that were being played creating a lovely, beautiful melody. My first thought was: Since when did the school have a music program? The second was that I was hearing without a doubt the most stunning music that could possibly exist. I kept walking, more quietly now, looking for the room that the piano music was coming from. Finally I found a door that was adorned with a hanging sign saying MUSIC. I snuck forward, glad that the door had been left ajar. I peered through the gap, and froze. A tall, pale boy was sitting at the bench in front of a striking black piano, his fingers flowing over the ivory and ebony keys with a subtle grace.

I was stunned. Zero looked…completely different. He was relaxed and calmer than I had ever seen him before. His lilac eyes-glowing with an understated magic, without bloodlust-roved over his sheet music, but it seemed out of habit. His fingers danced with such sureness that this song must have been long-since memorized. His silver hair framed his face, looking amazingly elegant in the moonlight that slipped in from large windows that must have adorned the far wall. He even wore a small smile.

This was a side to him…that I had never seen. The music I was hearing him play seemed to explode with all of the emotions he had never showed. I could hear so many things in the haunting music: beauty, love, desire, and darker emotions. Fear, pain, loneliness; they all hummed through the air like electric currents. I was surprised-and glad-that he really did have an outlet for the emotions he always hid.

But he'd never told me, or shown me, that he had such a wonderful affinity for music. The notes seemed to float from the piano and flow through the air, wrapping me in a warm and tender embrace. I was drawn by the music, tempted to slip through the door and hear in full glory the story he was weaving with the piano. But, I doubted he would react in a desirable way. So I stayed in the doorway, listening to him play, wishing time would slow down, wishing that I could listen to his song forever.

However, eventually it had to end. It began to slow down, the notes growing more melancholy, then a last note trembled in the air. The loss of the song affected me more than I would have expected. A deep pain entered my heart, and I wished with my very soul that the song could go on. I heard Zero stand and walk to the far side of the room, where a door creaked open. His soft footsteps disappeared, and the door clicked shut again.

Curiosity finally overpowered me, and I slipped inside, just to freeze. Zero hadn't left the room. He stood by the door that led outside, his eyebrows raised. He'd known that I had been listening. Warmth flooded my face, and I registered dimly that I was probably a very unattractive shade of red at present, probably like a ripe tomato. I also noticed that Zero's small smile still played around the edges of his lips.

"You know, spying is rude." He said, but humor made his words harmless.

I struggled to think of something intelligent to say.

"I-I, um…I didn't know you played the piano." I said lamely. I was clearly losing my pitiful struggle.

"No, you didn't. I only come after class and guardian duty when no one's around. Why are you here?" He asked, and honest curiosity laced his words.

Well, at least I could answer that without feeling like an utter moron.

"My jacket was really dirty from sleeping on the ground, as you know full well, so I went to the laundry room to wash it. I didn't want to wait with nothing to do while it washed, so I was just wondering around. And I heard you playing, and I wanted to listen." I said. My face grew a little warmer-how was that possible?- at Zero's amused smile.

"Well? What did you think?" He asked, tilting his head to the side.

I answered automatically, without pausing to think.

"It was beautiful. But I've never heard it before. Did you write it yourself?"

I instantly regretted asking. Zero's face suddenly closed off, and his voice was placid.


I sighed sadly. This brief, real conversation was clearly at an end.

"Well, it was really nice, Zero." I said, and turned to leave.

"You really think so?" He asked unexpectedly. I paused and turned to look at him. His face was still guarded, but I could see a small bit of relief in his eyes. I smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, I do."

"Thanks." He said.

"See you tomorrow."

"Sleep well." He murmured, then he did slip out of the other door. I cast a last glance over the instrument-filled room, and frowned. Zero had left his sheet music behind. I walked over and picked it up, thinking I would just give it to him tomorrow before class.

I looked over the complicated sheet of notes. He had definitely written this himself. The notes were all drawn in pencil, and there were many eraser marks. It looked like he had made a separate system that was meant for words, but there were none yet. My eyes roved over the page, and ended up fixed on the top, where the title read, in Zero's neat handwriting:

''Yuuki Senritsu'

Yuuki's Melody…

I felt my eyes start to tear up as I looked down at the sheet of paper. What…what did that mean? What did that mean…about how he felt? Did…How did he feel about me? What did the song mean? Did it mean that…that he really cared about me? But how much? Just as friends? Or something more? And then again, maybe he just needed a damn name for it.

But it had been so beautiful. There must have been some meaning behind it, in which case he wouldn't have used some random title. I hadn't realized at first that the tears in my eyes had overflowed until they began spotting the paper I held. I rubbed the water from my eyes and folded the paper so it would fit in my skirt pocket. Then I left the room and walked back to the laundry room. I pulled my jacket out of the machine, ignoring the fact that it was still damp, and shrugged into it. Then I left and headed to my dorm room.

It didn't seem long before I slipped into my room and changed into my night clothes. Sighing, I lay down on my bed and fell asleep with the sound of Zero's song echoing in my mind. That night, my nightmare didn't return, and I slept soundly.

I ducked behind a tree as the mob of girls screamed by.

"Wonderful." I groaned. "I really hate Aidou."

Every single girl from the Day Class was hunting for me after Aidou had hugged me today. Now I needed a place to hide, but I didn't know of a good place to wait out the jealous fangirls. So, right now I was just blundering through the trees, hoping to find somewhere more comfortable than up a tree to wait out the others' fury. I wasn't expecting to actually find anything, so I was a little surprised to come across a grove of trees near the top of a hill. The space was relatively clear, with a small koi pond in the center. I'd forgotten about this place already.

Breathing a little heavily from all the running, I staggered to edge of the pond and slumped down on the damp grass. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the trees, breathing in the smell of the wildflowers growing around the edges of the clearing. A small breeze teased my hair and soothed my racing heart. The koi fish in the pond swam and splashed with a lazy rhythm. My breathing started to steady, and drowsiness tugged at my mind.

The world around me slowly faded away, being replaced by a gentle silence and stillness. The last thing I was aware of was the sound of soft footsteps somewhere nearby. And then I was thrown into a frightening dream.

The smell of blood filled my nose, and no matter where I looked-even if I closed my eyes I saw it-dark red stains covered the expanse of cold white snow. A grating, awful voice sounded from somewhere, and though I couldn't make out the words, I knew what it wanted. Blood. My blood.

This dream, this memory, had haunted me since the very day this had happened. The first day of my life that I could remember. I could feel the unseen, evil creature drawing nearer; could sense his thirst for blood. What I didn't sense was the thing that scared me the most. On that night, Kaname Kuran had saved my life by killing the Level E that had been threatening me. He wasn't there in my dream. I was alone. I felt two vice-like grips on my shoulders, and I let out a whimper. I was too frightened even to emit more than that small sound. Too frightened to scream.

"Yuuki!" A voice said, and the hands on my shoulders shook me.

My eyes snapped open. I was back in the clearing, laying on the hard ground, trembling violently. Zero's face, framed by moonlight, was looking down at me. His lavender-colored eyes were heavy with fear and worry.

"Yuuki, are you alright?" He asked, releasing my shoulders.

"Y-yeah." I said quietly. He looked at me sympathetically.

"That nightmare's been bothering you more and more lately." He commented.

"Yeah. Seems that way. How'd you find me?"

He blushed a little.

Wait. He blushed?

"Well, I saw you dodging the Day Class girls, and when you disappeared, I remembered this place from the other night and thought you might turn up here to hide."

I blinked several times to shake away the sleep from my eyes and moved to sit up. That was when I noticed the blanket-no, the jacket-that had been wrapped around me. I shot Zero a confused look, and realized that he was only wearing his shirt and pants. His jacket was missing.

"You looked a little cold." He shrugged, looking away.

I blinked, a small smile tugging the corner of my lips up. I moved to hand him his jacket, but he tensed and backed away from me. He tilted his head so that his bangs covered his eyes.

"Zero?" I said hesitantly, moving forward.

"Yuuki. Don't come any closer." He said roughly.

"Zero? Zero, look at me." I ordered.

"Yuuki…" He sighed tremulously, but he reluctantly looked up.

His eyes were glowing bright red with bloodlust. His long, thick eyelashes brushed his cheekbones as he closed his eyes to hide their distorted color. I moved to his side, brushing his hair out of his eyes. His hand shot up and caught my wrist.

"Yuuki, please. Get out of here." He begged.

"No. Zero, you need blood right now." I said firmly. I pulled my hair away from my neck and tugged the collar of my shirt down. "Take it."

Without a wordless sound he pulled me to him and licked my neck. Then he plunged his fangs into my throat, and I gave a small gasp. At the sound Zero made to pull away instantly, but I placed my hand on the back of his neck and held him there. I put my other hand on his back and held him gently. In reaction he wrapped his arms tenderly around me, and I could sense a change in him. Right now, despite his raging thirst, he was completely in control of himself as he pulled the blood from my neck.

I could feel warm trickles start to slide down my neck.

"Don't spill too much, Zero." I told him calmly.

He let me know he had heard by a brief tightening of his embrace, and the warm streams on my neck were discontinued. He pulled away just as I was starting to notice the blood loss.

"Are you alright?" We asked each other in unison. I giggled a little-he gave a small smile.

"I'm fine." I assured him.

"I'm better." He informed me.

After a slight pause, Zero spoke again.

"Yuuki, you're wrong." He said softly.

"What?" I said in bewilderment.

"You're wrong. I do care about you. I could tell how you were feeling when I was…drinking your blood. You think I don't care about you." He said, and his voice had an almost concealed pain behind his apparent indifference.

"Zero…That's not true. I know you care…I'm just not sure how much." I said honestly.

There was a moment of silence, then he asked, rather abruptly, "Didn't you want to know how your blood tasted?"

I was surprised. Yes, I had wondered that, but every time I asked him that he had changed the subject.

"Well, yeah, but why-" I started to ask, but the rest of my sentence was cut off as his mouth was pressed against my own. I could taste the metallic tang of my blood that still stained his lips.

I made a surprised noise when his arms went back around me, pulling me closer to him. I didn't know how to react. All I could think was: Zero…My best friend…is….kissing me.

Although surprised, under his tender touch I relaxed easily, and opened my mouth under his. He tightened his still gentle hold on me and deepened his kiss, and through it I could sense his emotions tumbling into me. His feelings for me were made very clear. He…he loved me. And I was coming to realize that I loved him, too.

His fangs grazed my lips ever so slightly, but I felt a small bead of blood sprout from the scratch. His tongue snaked over the graze, sealing the cut.

Finally he broke away, panting a little, then placed two slow, sweet kisses on his fang marks.

"Well? How was it?" He asked, tenderly resting my head in the crook of his neck.

"Amazing…"I said, a little breathlessly. He laughed and leaned his head on mine.

"I meant your blood, but I'm glad you didn't find my kissing style mediocre." He stroked my hair. Then, in a quieter tone, he asked "Do you understand a little better, now?"

I held my hands on the back of his neck as I answered.

"Yeah, I do. Thank you, Zero." I murmured.

"I just wish I could've have the courage to let you know sooner." He sighed, leaning back against the ground and dragging me with him. "Oh, and by the way, everyone hates Aidou."

I laughed.

"I wish. The Day Class girls are obsessed."

He laughed as well, and he kissed the top of my head.

In each other's arms, we forgot that we were on duty as guardians, or the fact that it was way past curfew. There was only each other.