Disclaimer: I do not own Vampire Knight.

Summary: AU. Zero Kiryu disappeared the night Hiou attacked his family and the VHA assumed him dead. Years later, as Rido Kuran threatens to rise, a feral Zero appears at Cross Academy.

Rating: M

Warnings: Blood, Death, Language, Mentions of Sex (F/M, M/M)

A/N: As this is an AU things are happening differently than they did in the manga. [SPOILERS] For example, this starts when Yuuki is a human second-year, Rido is not free yet, the VHA is still messing around, etc…

Zero Challenge

By Cariad Dewin

Chapter One

Cross Academy was a rather unusual school. The private boarding academy was separated into two classes, a Day Class and a Night Class. The Day Class was for students who were by no means average, most being the children of wealthy and influential people or were intelligent enough to afford scholarships. They took classes during the daylight hours and lived in the Sun Dorms. Students in the Day Class almost to a man agreed on one thing: the members of the Night Class were the coolest kids alive. The Night Class, as the name suggested, took classes at nighttime and lived in the Moon Dorm. Like the Day Class, the Night Class was by no means for the average person. The number one qualification for the Night Class was to be a vampire.

Cross Academy was truly an unusual school—the only place on Earth where humans and vampires lived in harmony. Of course, barring a few exceptions, the Headmaster and the prefects that guarded the school, none of the humans knew the Night Class was composed of vampires. The Night Class preferred to keep this information to themselves and allowed the Day Class to admire them from afar.

Kaname Kuran served as president of the Night Class. He was a pureblood vampire having no human blood in his ancestry, one of the elite of the elite. He sought to create peace between vampires and humans in honor of his late parents and also for a more personal reason. He was the one who led the young purebloods to Cross Academy, hoping that instilling them with a sense of knowledge and respect for average humans would carry over to their political views once they replaced their parents. It was a slow plan, but as vampires were near immortal, Kaname was willing to take his time.

As president, Kaname dealt with the human aspect of the school more often than the rest of his classmates. He was personally acquainted with Kaien Cross, founder and headmaster of the school, as well as the three prefects from the Day Class. The first prefect was Yuuki Cross, Kaien's adopted daughter. Kaname had saved her from vampires when she was five years old, and the rest of background was a mystery. The second prefect was Saboten Hageshi. She too was parentless. She had fled her orphanage at a young age when it was attacked by rogue vampires. Eventually she wandered to Cross Academy and trained herself as a vampire hunter. The final prefect, Kaito Takamiya, was a young vampire hunter from the Japanese Vampire Hunters' Association. He had been trained by Toga Yagari, a long time friend of Kaien's, and though Kaito hated vampires with a passion, he performed his duties faultlessly.

It was a Sunday evening in early April. School had been in session for barely a week, and Kaname was responding to an urgent request from the Headmaster. A light breeze brought the sweet scent of a new spring as he walked across campus. The cherry trees were going to blossom soon, but Kaname was in too much of a hurry to reflect on the beauty of nature. He had a feeling that Kaien's message was related to the news he had been hearing from the Vampire Senate.

Kaname glided smoothly into the headmaster's office with nary a hair out of place. Even if he was anxious, he could hardly let it show. The three prefects were already waiting as well as the vampire hunter Toga Yagari, Kaito's master and occasional substitute ethics teacher. Kaname nodded his head lightly in acknowledgement, then took the ornate chair waiting for him next to the fireplace.

"I apologize for bringing you all here on such short notice," said Kaien. "But the Hunters' Association has released some information that I think you all need to hear. Toga, if you would?"

Toga Yagari was the top ranked hunter in the VHA. He was a dark, intimidating man and had lost an eye at some point in the past. Kaname had never inquired as to how. His relationship with Cross was surprising to say the least. Their personalities were as different as night and day.

"For the past few years, the Hunters' Association has been tracking a curious phenomena. Level Es, vampires that have lost all traces of their humanity, have been killed in large numbers. The locations are seemingly random but almost always within a few days walking distance of the last. Teams dispatched to the locations affected have found the occasional pile of dust but nothing substantial as to tell us who is doing this. The dustings have been attributed to a single vampire killer as a larger group would be easier to track.

"Ten months ago, the Association thought the vampire killer had met his match, but then six months ago he reappeared on the mainland. Since then, he has been unerringly making his way toward Cross Academy. The last report put him in a city ten miles from here. That was two days ago," said Yagari.

Yuuki gasped dramatically and glanced fearfully in Kaname's direction. Saboten was mildly perturbed by the information. She was friends with Ruka and Kain of the Night Class but was not worried by the idea of something killing Level Es. Kaito was reliably blank faced. He had likely received a similar report from the VHA and, unlike Saboten, had absolutely no reason to worry about vampires being killed.

Kaname considered his next words carefully. "The Senate has also been keeping track of this killer. I am not sure the Hunters' Association is aware, but whoever this is, he has also killed several C and D level vampires that have acted less than charitably toward humans."

Kaito made an inelegant noise. Yagari shook his head slightly, indicating he had heard nothing of the sort. Kaname was not surprised in the least.

"As there is a slight chance that this killer may attack the school, I would like you three to be on alert," said Kaien, addressing the prefects. "If you see anyone unusual lurking about campus, let either myself or Toga know immediately."

The three students all nodded seriously. "We'll be sure to stay on the lookout," added Yuuki for emphasis.

Kaien beamed at her. "That's my lovely daughter! Give papa a hug!"

Before Cross could start his loving father routine, the other two grabbed Yuuki by the arms and dragged her out of the room. She barely had time to fumble an embarrassed good-bye to Kaname before the door shut.

As soon as the students disappeared, Kaien assumed a more serious expression. "Do you have any other information about this killer, Kaname-sama?"

"Do you remember Maria Kurenai?" asked Kaname.

"She was the pureblood, who arrived with Ichiru," said Toga. "The one that was possessed by Shizuka Hiou."

Kaname nodded. He was not surprised Toga remembered her. Ichiru had been a student of his along with Kaito. The revelation that the last of the Kiryu clan was alive and living with a vampire had upset both hunters. Last year, the pureblood had come to the school searching for something. She had left before the semester had finished. No amount of pleading on Yagari or Kaito's part had kept Ichiru from going with her.

"Ten months ago, I received a letter from Kurenai-san saying that Kuruizaki-hime had found what she was looking for. Two months later, I received another letter announcing that Shizuka Hiou and her servant had been murdered. When the vampire killer emerged again, he was in a city bordering on Hiou's territory," said Kaname intently.

It was more information than the Senate would have liked him to share with the humans, but Kaname had reason to be concerned. While this vampire killer would likely be no threat to him, the other students in the Night Class were much weaker than the pureblood Hiou. Yagari and Cross were both too professional to openly reveal their shock, but they had tensed in a way that betrayed their understanding of the situation.

"The children won't have a chance," said Kaien referring to the prefects.

Kaname held up a hand. "We have no reason to believe the vampire killer will attack ordinary humans. Ichiru Kiryu seems to have been the one exception to the rule."

"But why was he the exception to the rule?" asked Yagari. "Was it because he defended a vampire? If that's so, then kids are definitely in danger."

Kaname hated to admit it, but he had not considered that possibility. All of the other vampires had been antagonistic toward humans. Kaname still did not understand why this killer was coming toward Cross Academy. It was true that they were deceiving the majority of the student population, but they were not harming them in anyway. He, Cross, and Yagari discussed a few more possibilities before Kaname dismissed himself.

The pureblood took the long way back to the Moon Dorm. It would hardly due for his fellow vampires to sense his concern. Such a case would spell disaster. He had crossed the wall separating the vampires from the humans and was walking one of the more artful paths through the woods when something tugged on his senses. Kaname paused and stretched outward with his mind. Up ahead, there was something new among the trees.

Kaname exerted his powers to make himself all but invisible to the senses. He crept silently up the path. Stepping lightly as to not crush a single leaf, he stepped beneath the trees and closer to the "new thing" in the woods. He stopped as he approached a wild cherry tree, one that was likely not meant to be in this shadowed grove of oak and pine. A larger tree had fallen, maybe to some long-ago storm, allowing the cherry to grow in its place.

Lying against the trunk, framed by soft pink petals and moonlight, was a familiar-looking boy. A boy he had just told Cross was dead less than an hour before.

"Ichiru Kiryu," he said quietly but firmly.

The boy's eyes snapped open. Kaname was startled by the bloody red gaze. The boy was feral, an ex-human, and had been one for years to judge by the madness in his eyes. Kaname shook his head slightly. Ichiru had not been a vampire last year. Even in the depths of her madness, Shizuka Hiou had never turned her most loyal follower. He held too much of her regard to suffer that fate. Ichiru had a twin, he remembered now, one that had died when Hiou attacked the Kiryu clan.

"Zero," said Kaname.

In the space of an eye-blink, Kaname was being pressed back against a tree. Zero was strong despite his skinny frame, and the boy was thin. Kaname could feel every jutting bone through both their sets of clothes. To his surprise, there were no fangs at his throat but the cold muzzle of a gun at his temple. He recognized the Bloody Rose, which had been stolen from the Hunters' Association almost five years ago.

"How do you know my name?"

Zero's voice was a growl, but it was more than Kaname had heard any ex-human speak. The pureblood attempted to maintain his usual authority, despite the tree bark digging into his back, the gun in his face, and the potentially insane hunter-turned-vampire demanding him to speak.

"I know Toga Yagari," said Kaname carefully.

A look of surprise crossed Zero's face, and for a brief moment, Kaname thought he saw a flash of lavender. Zero eased away from Kaname though the gun never wavered. He looked suspicious, not the way a human looked suspicious, but the way an animal did. Kaname was sure if it would not affect his aim that the boy would be pacing.

"How did you know my brother?" asked Zero.

"I met Ichiru Kiryu when he accompanied Maria Kurenai," explained Kaname.

Zero bared his teeth. "Maria Kurenai? Are you sure it was her?"

Kaname was confused—though he hated to admit it even to himself. Every single one of his senses screamed that the boy in front of him was a level E. Except the boy was making conversation, implying that he could control himself and use his brain. More than a little unnerved by Zero's actions, Kaname started subtly gathering his power in preparation to deal with the boy.

"She was possessed by Shizuka Hiou at the time," said Kaname, "but the body was that of Maria Kurenai."

Zero nodded, apparently pleased by the answer. "And who are you?"

"I am Kaname Kuran, president of the Night Class," he added.

The boy tensed unexpectedly. The gun, which had been slowly lowering, was suddenly pointing back at Kaname's head. He responded instinctively, releasing his power not to kill the boy, as he originally intended, but instead to put him to sleep. Zero withstood the assault longer than Kaname had expected, enough time to squeeze the trigger on the Bloody Rose before he collapsed. Kaname dodged out of the way. Letting the anti-vampire bullet bounce harmlessly off the tree behind him.

Kaname approached the fallen Zero and saw to his surprise that the boy was still fighting. His eyes were full of angry defiance, but instead of the bright red Kaname had become so intimately familiar with, they were a softer lavender color. He had only a minute to stare astonished at the change before Zero's will broke and he succumbed to slumber.

Ever so carefully, Kaname reached down and pulled the anti-vampire gun away from Zero's limp grasp. He tucked it into a pocket before examining the rest of the boy. He was messier than Ichiru had been. His hair was shorter but wilder and his face leaner. He had found someone to pierce both his ears multiple times. His jeans and shirt, an untucked, white button-down, were old and faded. He wore dark hiking boots but had not bothered to tie them, only sticking the laces into his shoes. Tied around his wrist was a ribbon with a bell, something Kaname was certain had belonged to Shizuka Hiou. He had completed his outfit with a black duster that had seen better days and an old-fashioned canteen sealed with a preservation spell.

The sleep-compulsion was still holding strong, so Kaname wasted little time in hauling the boy up and dangling him over one shoulder. There were dungeons beneath the Moon Dorm, but if he brought Zero there, then he would have to answer pesky questions. He decided to go to the headmaster's estate instead and moved at a speed he usually avoided. He did not want to run into any of the prefects just yet.

Kaien and Toga were still talking when he returned. Kaname expected they had moved on to more personal matters. Both were shocked into silence when he threw open the door with a limp body hanging over his shoulder.

"Do you have a spare room?" he asked Kaien. Knowing the answer was yes and exactly where they all were.

"Of course," sputtered the headmaster. "Who is that?"

"This?" Kaname paused for affect. He allowed himself a bit of pureblood drama. "This is the vampire killer, Zero Kiryu."


This is my first time posting, so I hope you enjoyed it. Please don't ask me who the pairings are going to be, I don't exactly know yet myself. Please let me know if you felt any of the characters were too out-of-character. I know there isn't much to go on yet, but I don't want have to do any extreme personality shift later.

Thanks for reading. Please review!