Heya! This is a request for Yamai-san, based around her OC. Hope you enjoy! XD


TAKING WING

It was stupid, pointless really, to wonder exactly how bad his reaction was going to be. It was really just a matter of really bad or completely awful, and both of those would hurt just as much. But that knowledge didn't stop the tumble of thoughts cascading through her mind; turning and twisting over each other even as she gazed at their stupid pointlessness.

Will he shout? Scream? Just stalk out? Hit me? I won't let him hit me… or will I? Would that make him feel better? No! What am I… Maybe he'll ignore me…

She winced. All of the options, pointless or not, hurt enough even if they were just running through her thoughts. She tried not to think about what would happen when one of them eventually became a reality. With a quiet sigh, she rested her hand against the door, watching the way the dull candle light gleamed off the shiny pink nail polish that had seemed like a really cute idea when she had first painted it on, and now in proximity to who she was about to face seemed like the worst idea ever.

In an effort to ignore it, she clenched her hand, her green eyes instead focusing on the dark whirls of old, old wood she could see through the glazing on the door, her ears switching from listening to her tangled thoughts and returning to the faint sounds of conversation she could hear echoing from the room on the other side. A small smile graced her lips; bare of any lip gloss, yet still a pretty, naturally reddish pink shade.

Separately. Oh yes, warn him without her there. She knew why, she knew the reasons. But it still felt sneaky; to go behind his back like that. Her smile grew fonder, larger without her realising as she heard a deeper voice. The only other committee member was another girl; so that had to be him. Had to be.

It had been so long… Yagari-sensei hadn't let her near him. Her fingers clenched once more, and when she suddenly forced her hand to uncurl, four small crescent shapes were left imprinted in her palm, that wouldn't fade for another few minutes.

Straightening, her hands dropped loosely to her sides and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.

"You can come in now. Don't worry, I've made sure he won't kill you!" That headmaster… was an idiot. There was really no other word. Briefly distracted, she straightened her shoulders and tried again to vaguely order her feelings, before she pushed open the door.

-n/s-

"Now, I'm sure both of you will be very pleased to hear you'll have a new member joining you on the Disciplinary Committee!" The headmaster trilled, as Yuki shot Zero a nervous look. He suppressed a groan, and merely looked at the odd man who had taken him in. His eyes narrowed, and while Kaien Cross reacted rather as if he was about to murder him, he was actually trying to sense what it was that was making the Headmaster so nervous.

Zero might not like him, but he could tell when the man was nervous, and right now he was practically wetting himself.

"Who? Can they be trusted?" He snapped, ignoring Yuki's muttered protest of his name, and Kaien froze, shoving his glasses up his nose.

"Well of course. Aren't you happy to have another Guardian to help you? You were yelling at me just the other day saying that you needed more members." He pouted, while Zero sighed.

"Then who is it?" He asked, ignoring the Headmaster's jibe, and eventually Kaien stopped snivelling, accepted a tissue from Yuki and straightened.

"Oh… well, um. Kiryuu… please don't… kill anyone, okay? Or ruin my desk." He advised cautiously, and instantly Zero's guard was up even higher.

"What do you mean?" He asked, the misgivings he had felt when he had first entered the Headmaster's office stirring with more strength than ever. The Headmaster sighed, and turned to the door that stood incongruously between his bookshelves; leading to what Zero presumed to be the Headmaster's bedroom, though he had never particularly felt the need to investigate.

"You can come in now. Don't worry, I've made sure he won't kill you!" He beamed, and a few seconds later the door tentavely opened, and the person stepped out from behind, looking just as apprehensive as the Headmaster; her eyebrows scrunched together. "Everyone, this is Eve Shiratori." Eve gave a small bob of greeting, though her expression remained passive and nervous, and she did not speak.

While Yuki's first thought was 'cute!', and he could sense his companion regarding the newcomer in front of her with a cheerful inquisitiveness, Zero froze instantly, violet eyes wide. The silence finally seemed to get to Yuki, and she broke off from greeting the new girl to glance at Zero curiously, though Zero barely noticed.

"…Eve…" The girl gave a small smile, while Zero continued to stare at her. That pale, half blushing skin that was always tinged with a slight shade of pink; pale as blossom, no matter the weather. Those elegant arched eyebrows, a darkish blonde colour. The colour was unfamiliar, but the shape wasn't; just as her hair, tied up in a loose side pony-tail with a bobbled hair-tie that was sparkling with blue and white light, was a light blonde that contrasted with his memory, but the way if fell was unbearably familiar. Her face was less chubby; more defined and mature, as was her figure; she had been a bone-thin little girl, all angles, the last time, but now she had filled out into… well. A woman.

And finally those eyes. She may have changed, but he would always recognise her eyes. Green. You'd think mint, at first; soft, and yet lit with a startling intensity, but the more you looked the more you saw the other tones; the moss of forests, the blue of lakes and seas, the brown of trees, the silver tone that could be likened to the sheen over his own violet irises. He would always know those eyes, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

"What…" Words were failing him. "HER!" Ah, no they weren't; here they were, a torrent of them, far too many than he needed really, but words had come through in time. "You picked HER to be the new Guardian! ? Are you mad? She's completely unsuitable! She'll ruin everything! It'll be even harder with her here, not easier; she's incompetent, immature, stupid, naïve and selfish! How can you even think of it? !" The Headmaster flinched, and so did Eve, but he ignored her.

"You can put anyone on the Committee, but not her." He finished severely, and Eve's green eyed gaze finally dropped and left his conscious in peace.

"But, Kiryuu, you were telling me just the other day… besides, we do need more people on the Committee; or people will think I'm showing preference for my own adorable son and daughter!" The Headmaster pleaded, as Zero glowered.

"I'm not your son. …" There was a small silence, while he could tell from the glimpse he caught of Eve from the corner of his eye that she had gone into her shell again. He closed his eyes.

"Fine. But I won't work with her. I'm going on patrol." He snapped, before storming from the room. Eve winced again.

-n/s-

Yuki did not understand why on earth Zero had reacted so horribly to Eve, but the fact that Eve was now upset was obvious to her, and she reached out her hand to pat her on her shoulder in comfort.

"Don't worry, he's like that with everyone…" She trailed off as Eve raised her head, smiling in such a self-deprecating way it made Yuki want to hug her.

"No," Eve spoke, shaking her head a little, and her voice matched her exactly; light and supple, Yuki got the impression that it could be moulded into whatever emotion she needed and still sound just as beautiful. "It's me. He hates me." She shrugged, still smiling that painful smile, and this time Yuki did hug her.

"It's okay." Yuki whispered, while the Headmaster reached for another tissue, his 'moe' overflowing. "I'm Yuki Cross, by the way! Nice to meet you." Eve's emerald eyes widened, before she smiled properly.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Eve Shiratori." The two girls grinned at each other, already sensing something in the other that they immediately liked.

"Here, we have to patrol the grounds to make sure that the Night Class and the Day Class are all peaceful, oh…" Yuki paused mid-way to the door, and Eve tilted her head curiously.

"I know that they're vampires, if that's what you're wondering. Our roles as Guardians is to make sure that the Day Class doesn't find out, right?" Eve queried, and Yuki nodded, relaxing slightly, and they both left the Headmaster weeping tears of happiness in his office.

-n/s-

It hadn't been too bad. Or had it? It hurt, whether it could have been worse or not. He had only looked at her once. Though then again, at least he hadn't hit her. But he hadn't spoken to her either…

Eve shook her head, strands of blonde hair catching on her silver rose earrings.

"Geez. I'm supposed to be patrolling! Get with it girl!" She snapped to herself, before abruptly her cute, cheerful persona faded in an instant; her head flashing to her left as she stared through the trees, her eyes more silver than green, expression grim.

She took off through the forest, leaping and bounding with breathtaking grace and agility, her eyes focused. You would have thought it was a different person, but for the sparkle of her hair bobble.

-n/s-

Zero was so wrapped up in himself that he didn't notice the Level E until it scratched three long, barbed lines right across the side of his face.

Which was pathetic, to say the least, and really quite embarrassing.

But once over his initial moment of shock, he regained his cool remarkably quickly; instantly flipping backwards out of the way while simultaneously reaching into his jacket to draw his Bloody Rose; ready to shoot and back on his feet in under half a minute; finger resting on the trigger.

He was just about to pull it when she entered the clearing. She wasn't a vampire; she possessed no superior powers of speed or strength to his own; they were both Hunters, and they were both almost equally matched in terms of power.

But she'd gotten better. That was the first thought through his mind. That scythe; previously too big for her to even lift, was now like a natural extension of her arm. More, it was a beautifully dextrous extension; she wielded it with such precision that the Level E barely had time to think 'pretty' before she sliced through its abdomen.

As it shifted into sand, Eve raised her head, her face still set in her hunting mode, and although Zero had seen it before, he couldn't stifle his noise of surprise.

She was a Hunter. In that moment, none of the usual trappings of her personality that usually so annoyed him were present; all he saw was a focused, strong fighter.

And then she smiled, her scythe collapsing back into a cylinder as she grinned, assuming the face he had seen most often in the past.

"Ha! Hey, I saved the great Zero from a Level E!" She exclaimed, giggling, and he scowled at her, putting the Bloody Rose away as the blood continued to pour down his face. "You aren't going to thank me? You really should you know, seeing as I just saved you." Eve continued, strapping her scythe into a spare brace of Yuki's that her fellow Guardian had lent her, while Zero stood, still grumpy.

"Go away." He said, and her teasing face dropped, leaving behind concern. No. That was worse. That was so much worse, but he was losing blood; his coherency for escaping her was fading. It was not by any stretch of the imagination the worst injury he had received, but it was by no means pretty. Eve sighed.

"Here, let me. You'll infect yourself." She muttered, retrieving her hankie from her pocket. He scowled at her, but let her wipe the blood from his face, closing his eyes so that he wouldn't have to see her.

He didn't know what he was expecting when he opened his eyes. She had stopped wiping, simply holding the piece of white cloth to his face to try and staunch the flow. He had to suppress a smile at that; she had never been a very good healer. She was like him; a fighter. Annoyingly cute, naïve, foolish, but overall a very good fighter. He thought he'd see her trying to find some way to keep the handkerchief on his face. But when he opened his eyes, all he saw was pools of silvery green, shimmering in the moonlight.

He should have realised, by the soft breath caressing his lips as she breathed; in and out, erratically. She hadn't meant to come this close. He could see that instantly. She was a klutz when she wasn't concentrating; she must have slipped. But she wasn't moving, and he found that he couldn't either. He didn't even know if he wanted to.

All he could see was her eyes. Green… so many memories. Too many memories.

So his cheek continued to bleed through the white of Eve's hanky, seeping to her hand in places even as the scratches clotted. Her hand remained on the folded square of material, indirectly resting on his cheek. Their noses bare centimetres apart, him sitting with her kneeling over his legs. Gazing at each other unblinking. Remembering.

-flashback-

"Zero, this is Eve Shiratori. She'll be training with us from now on." That was the sentence that had started it all. He looked around, his fingers automatically switching the safety back on his gun as he lowered it from the shooting range, his already precariously balanced earphones slipping from his ears.

His teacher gave the person he was referring to a gentle push forwards, and Zero felt Ichiru look up from his book to see the new arrival. She was small, with large, breathtaking green eyes set in her thin, gaunt face. She was all angles and bones and sharp edges, the alabaster of her skin stretched to almost breaking point over the hard brittle framework of her skeleton. Coupled with the dark shadows that were almost carved beneath her eyes, it told Zero that this girl had not slept nor eaten properly for quite some time.

He felt Ichiru, sitting on the bench behind him, lower his book in his inquisitiveness, as both boys stared at the new arrival. Yagari-sensei gave the little girl another gentle shove; more of a light encouraging gesture than an actual movement, but still she stumbled slightly, unsteady on painfully thin legs.

"Well? Eve?" He murmured, and slowly she raised her large eyes to meet Zero's, with much flicking about before she finally met his gaze, shaking. He was astounded to see the panic in her eyes; he knew that as a Hunter he may give some reason to fear him, but the depth of her terror froze him in place. Was he that scary? And Yagari-sensei, he could see she was scared of him too. Scared of everything. Was she really going to be a Hunter?

There was a decisive, if soft, thump from behind him as Ichiru lowered his book to the plastic bench, pages facing downwards to keep his place. He stood, and Zero turned to watch his mirror stand and approach the girl cautiously, a hand outstretched in peace. A flicker of a smile crossed Zero's face as he watched him; if anyone could calm Eve, it would be Ichiru, he was sure.

"Hello. I'm Ichiru Kiryuu, and this is my twin brother, Zero." He said gently, leaving his hand there as an invitation, but not pressing the issue when Eve did not take it. Instead, he bowed, as was the custom in Japan, and her head made an almost instinctive nodding movement in return; fast as a startled bird. Ichiru smiled, and Eve worked to meet his gaze as well, and Zero could see it was a great effort of courage for her.

Whatever Eve had been through, it had affected her greatly, and while he admired her perseverance in trying to overcome her fears, even if her efforts appeared pathetic, he could not help but wonder how on earth she was going to face vampires if she cowered in the face of two children such as he and Ichiru.

Eve still didn't speak, but she didn't flee when Yagari-sensei stepped back, watching the three with wary eyes, as if waiting for an imminent eruption. She stood quite still, her green eyes darting around the room, but ever frequently returning to grace both the twin's faces.

xxx

It became clearer as the weeks grew on, as Eve filled out a little, as she relaxed and became a little braver, that she was a Hunter, through and through. She was strong, she had unerring accuracy that Zero was hard pushed to beat in their little jousts in the shooting range, she was braver than any of them had ever given her credit for; a fact that was proved when Zero and Ichiru encountered their first level E.

She had been their school nurse, nice and soft, and both Ichiru and Zero took to her instantly. She was always smiling, always there for comfort of any kind, and then her face twisted, her fangs slid out, saliva dripped.

That was Zero's first realisation that the world was not a nice place.

The second was when he misguidedly tried to protect the woman, and Yagari-sensei nearly lost his eye. He would've lost it, if not for Eve, who leapt with startling agility that she had never displayed before through the window from outside, where Yagari-sensei had stationed her, earning herself several scrapes from flying glass, and a long scar along her abdomen where the level E's claws had scraped into the soft skin of her stomach rather than Yagari-sensei's eye.

And even bleeding copiously, she had still managed to stab the vampire with the small dagger she had been handed. It didn't kill it, but it was enough for Yagari-sensei to grab his gun and dissolve her into sand with one shot.

That was the first time Zero truly saw Eve Shiratori for who she was; brave. Loyal, fiercely so, and also very, very, very hurt. She shook until she fainted from pain, but she didn't cry. Her lack of tears spoke more to Zero and Ichiru than if she had cried; the way she looked as if she was crying and yet no tears fell, the way her body wracked with a pain that had nothing to do with the gash in her body.

She was bedridden for three weeks, and those three weeks were the building blocks for their entire friendship.

Ichiru dragged Zero with him to visit her every day, and every day they saw a little more of her smile, a little more sparkle in her green eyes.

Ichiru brought books, and they took it in turns to read to her. She liked fantasies, fairytales, she hated anything that didn't have a happy ending. She liked sweeping romance, and dazzling tales of faraway places, until Ichiru figured it out, figured out something about her past that had never been divulged to Zero.

xxx

That day, Zero came late. Ichiru had gone ahead, Zero following barely ten minutes later after finishing up his essay. He told himself he was only going because Ichiru was there, because Ichiru would want him to come, but really it was because Eve had grown on him. With her startling, larger than life smiles that lit up her whole being. With her soft, delicate stature that did nothing to hint at her strength. With her bell like chimes of laughter, far too infrequently heard, with her beautiful, beautiful eyes, with her little fluttery, bird-like movements when she was nervous that could so quickly become deft and sure when she knew what she was doing.

Eve Shiratori had endeared herself to Zero in the way that people usually did; without him noticing until someone else got there first.

"Please, Eve, talk to me. Tell me what's wrong." Zero paused outside the door, taking in his brother's concerned voice in a flash. The next instant, he heard a small, choked noise, as well as a rustling sound.

He peeked around the corner and instantly froze again at the sight that greeted him; Eve in her bed as usual, while Ichiru sat by her, holding her hand. She was crying, shaking her head uselessly as Ichiru sighed.

"Come on, Eve, please. I just want to help. We all want to help." He murmured, standing to take her much smaller, shaking frame in his arms. Zero stared, feeling something pull at his heart at the sight of his twin hugging Eve, before he turned on his heel and ran.

xxx

When he returned five minutes later, Eve was somewhat calmed down, and he was composed. He had taken too many things from Ichiru. He refused to take Eve from him too.

Over the next few months, Eve was extremely fragile, any progress made with her emotional state severely wrecked by their experience with the level E. The whole Kiryuu family and Yagari-sensei tried to break her out of it, but none of them succeeded.

In the end, it was Kaito who managed it. Nobody knew what had been said between them, only that they had a laughing, close, sibling rivalry from then onwards, and Eve recovered.

She was stronger, she laughed more, she gained confidence. She began to talk back, to tease and even play rough with Kaito and Zero, and sometimes even Ichiru when he could be persuaded. She danced, she sang, she forced Kaito to take her shopping, and began to completely embrace her dressy, cute side; appearing at training and donning earphones over bedazzled hairclips and handling various guns and knives and swords with shiny, manicured nails.

Zero did not know how to react to this new Eve.

So he did the only thing he could; he assumed a similar role to Kaito. Rivalry, teasing, sniping, stealing each other's stuff, ratting on each other, rough-housing a lot more than was strictly necessary for training.

She was the only one to ever best him in a fight, and for three years he was content to be her friend of sorts, content to simply be in each other's lives with Ichiru, Yagari-sensei, Kaito and his parents all together, training and hunting.

Hunting was never a happy job, but they had been as happy as they could be when all of them daily killed vampires.

xxx

They had been twelve when the first bombshell dropped.

They were outside, on a small, private field that they used for training when the weather permitted and often when it didn't, all of them separately absorbed in their separate tasks. Ichiru was sitting under a tree, idly sharpening a knife. Yagari-sensei had taken one look at the bags under his eyes, glanced at Zero and Eve's worried faces and sent him to sit there peacefully, ignoring his disgruntled look.

Zero and Kaito were sparring with wooden practise swords, with a lot of sniping and insults being traded as well as blows, sweat dripping from their faces. Eve had recently fixated upon a new weapon; a scythe which she insisted upon practising with despite it being far too big for her still small, pre-pubescent frame, and Yagari-sensei had grudgingly agreed that he would train her to use it, though he set the silver blade aside to prevent her stubbornly breaking her arms by attempting to use it.

So it was that it was sunny, but cold, with a sharp wind biting at them as they all sat, occupied, both Eve and Ichiru occasionally catcalling Kaito and Zero as they fought, when Yagari-sensei strode in, coat flapping.

"Zero, Eve." He barked, setting his gun down and removing his wide-brimmed hat. Instantly, Kaito let Zero out of a headlock and turned to continue fighting on his own, while Eve turned and skipped over to him, bunches flying in a combination of wind and swift movement.

"How would you two feel about becoming Hunting partners?" Yagari-sensei didn't believe in beating around the bush. Zero's eyes flew to Eve to find her looking at him too, her (stunning, beautiful, breath-taking) eyes wide.

"Um…" She murmured coherently, eyes returning to Yagari-sensei, looking confused, and Zero's stomach dropped.

She didn't want to.

He couldn't blame her. Partnering was a common occurrence among Hunters, with very few extreme circumstances resulting in the partnership being terminated. Zero's parents were Hunting partners, Yagari-sensei and Kaito both hunted solo. Not every Hunter had to partner, and by no means was the partnering for life.

It was, however, a very serious bond, and while it wasn't common to be partnered quite as young as Zero and Eve, it usually occurred in the Hunters' teen years.

It was a commitment, and Zero had never wanted and not wanted something simultaneously as badly in his life before.

"Yes. I mean… if Zero, wants to, that is. I'd be happy, to uh, partner with him. If he wants to." Eve began to babble, the decisiveness of that first syllable trailing off as her eyes widened once more in panic.

"Yes. I agree too." Zero said shortly, barely managing to stop staring at Eve in amazement and biting his tongue to stop himself from saying anything more. Yagari-sensei looked a little surprised, like he had expected the need for more persuasion, but satisfied nether the less.

Eve smiled at Zero tentavely, and he managed to smile back, all the while feeling simultaneously joyful and guilty, very aware of Ichiru's eyes on his back.

They were partnered a week later, their blood mingled under the white cloth that bound their hands together for the ritual, as Eve peeked at him with shy eyes.

Ichiru had assured Zero that he was fine with it, happy even, but something in his eyes dulled a little, even though Eve remained just as cheerfully irritating and cute as ever, naïve to the last and yet still powerfully brave, one of the few Hunters who could match Zero in skill at that age. Plenty of other Hunters could best him at that point, but they were all older with experience on their side. She was one of the few who came close to matching his power.

xxx

The second bombshell very nearly broke Zero's world apart.

It had been raining, suitably, on that day, nearly a year and a half into their partnership, when they were all nearing fourteen; Eve's birthday the closest.

"You're what?" his words were brittle, flying from his mouth to echo harshly around the room, and Eve flinched.

"I'm leaving, Zero. There's a new movement; a new faction of Hunters. They're breaking away from the Society, and the Senate. They're going to hunt vampires, regardless of their standing. They're not going to peace-talk with anybody; just fight, all out war. So far, their numbers are small… I'm going to leave here, and finish my training with them." She explained, the words tumbling over each other and he could see a pleading look of desperation in her eyes, begging him for something.

He didn't know what she wanted from him.

He stared.

"You're… leaving. You're leaving us? Leaving me, our partnership, Ichiru? Kaito, Yagari-sensei? Everyone?" Eve closed her eyes, her head jerking in a sharp nod.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because I… I want to join them." She whispered, her words pleading with him for that unknown thing, that unknown factor in this confusing equation of heartbreak and loss and anger that didn't make any sense.

"Them?" he asked, his own voice dropping. He knew who she meant.

She meant the Predators.

Stupid name.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, name.

A group of new, emerging Hunters, unwilling to listen to anybody but themselves, flitting around the country exterminating vampires in the way it should have always been done.

And Eve.

Precious, precious Eve was going to join them.

She was going to leave them, and then she was going to die. It was suicide.

And Zero didn't do a thing to stop her. He refused to speak to her again, even look at her, while she packed all of her sparkly pretty things, her nail polish and lip glosses, her make-up and bedazzled accessories, while their bond was broken, while she turned and walked out of his life with as much sudden startling intensity as she had entered it; like a whirlwind that left everything behind slashed and broken and useless.

Only the adults seemed unaffected by Eve's absence; worried for her, they were, but sad?

No.

Not like he and Ichiru were.

You would have thought that this shared grief would bring them closer together again, but it made the rift wider, and it was barely a year until the next bombshell completely ruined everything.

Shizuka Hio slaughtered his parents, drank his blood, and killed Ichiru.

And he had to try and build a life for himself out of broken, useless pieces, at Cross Academy.

Xxx

"Get away from me." Eve jolted, the words stinging into her brain like whiplash, and jerked away from Zero as he scrambled to get away from her. A few breathless moments later found them standing, metres apart, staring at each other.

"Why? Zero, I know that you… I know that you never liked me, but… why do you hate me so much now?" Eve asked, genuinely curious. Zero's eyes, previously avoiding the sight of her like the plague, snapped to fixate on her face instantly.

"I never… what do you mean, I never liked you?" He asked, eyes still narrowed, while Eve opened and closed her mouth a few times, struggling.

"Uh… well you always just seemed to hate me, even when we were Partnered, that's all. But… I thought we… got on. And I know that you… disliked my decision to leave. But what did I do to make you hate me? What did I do Zero?" She sounded tired, and it was that, more than anything, that made Zero's walls break down. She sounded as if she had been waiting and hoping and wishing for all of this time, and suddenly she couldn't do it anymore; like she was just so close to letting go, letting it all go, when Zero wanted nothing more than to hold on tighter than ever.

"You left. You left us, for other people. You dropped us like we were trash, you moved on as if we hadn't helped you the way we did. It hurt." He said softly, watching the way Eve's eyes widened and then narrowed. She strode towards him, crowding into his space and staring into his eyes.

"You idiot. You stupid, stupid, stupid idiot!" she hissed at him, grabbing his arm when he tried to move away. "You think I just left? Are you really that stupid? God, Zero, use your brain! Do you really think Yagari-sensei would let me just up and leave like that?" She asked him viciously, something having snapped in her eyes as she yelled at him.

"N-no… well, I don't know! What else was I supposed to think?" He murmured to her, slightly fixated by the close proximity of her eyes. She sighed, but refused to step back.

"I joined the Predators - oh, wow, I really don't like that name, ugh-" she broke off with a little shudder, while Zero tried (and failed) to hold back a little laugh. "Anyway, I joined because Yagari-sensei asked me to." She was still pleading with him with her eyes; asking him for that same thing she had asked for when she first told him she was leaving all those years ago. And just like then, he had no idea what it was.

"Oh, go ahead, Eve. I know you won't be able to hide it from him much longer." They both started and jerked apart at the new voice suddenly entering the conversation, staring as the shadowy figure of Yagari-sensei slowly became clearer.

"But-what, why are you here?" Eve spluttered, while Zero drank in the sore sight of his master; whom he hadn't seen for nearly a year.

"Master." He murmured, bowing respectfully, and Yagari-sensei nodded in return, still staring at Eve as she babbled with a slightly exasperated look on his face.

"Oh, fine, I'll tell him then. God knows he should've worked it out on his own, but there you go. I sent her to join the Predators, because the Society wanted an inside agent. As a young female, Eve fit the bill for signing up perfectly. So we sent her to spy." It felt as he'd just run into a brick wall; like the world had been suddenly tilted on its side. He stared at Eve, who returned his gaze anxiously.

"He wouldn't let me tell you." She whispered sorrowfully, still gazing at him. He swallowed, opened his mouth, but all conversation was forgotten in the next instant as something brushed against the edges of their senses, sending familiar tingles down all three of their spines as they stiffened, eyes moving as one to the East, where the faint light of the approaching dawn could be seen.

"The Senate."

Xxx

All Yuki felt was a rush of air; one moment she was just whipping out Artemis to defend herself, the next she was being held on her side like a small animal as Zero held back the clawed hand of the vampire in front of them. When she started to squirm, he set her down, but moved in front of her; his movement alerting her to the presence of Eve and Yagari in his wide brimmed hat wielding a gun; all of them standing defensively as they faced the onlookers; more and more of whom were appearing, all of them vampires.

"Under order of the Senate, the highest governing body of vampires, I have come here to execute you for the murder of the pureblood vampire, Shizuka Hio." Zero glanced to Eve, but she didn't react to this piece of news. Either she had already been informed by Yagari, or most likely she had figured it out on her own.

The man continued, Zero narrowing his eyes as he refused to let go of the vampire's hand.

"You know the vampire society would no longer be able to maintain law and order. The senate proudly protects our pureblood masters. But you slipped through and killed Shizuka-sama. I will imprint on your brain how precious a pureblood vampire is to us… prepare for your execution, Zero Kiryuu." A dark aura began to emanate from the vampire, his guise of humanity becoming less and less apparent as they watched. "The only way you can atone for your sin… is to offer your life. It's a cheap price to pay, isn't it?" Zero's eyes widened, before narrowing in anger as his grip on the vampire's clawed hand tightened.

With a sickening crunch, the bones snapped under the pressure.

"How dare you break my hand…!" The vampire broke off as Zero flipped him easily, sending him crashing to the ground.

"Sorry. But I'm not willing to pay that price." He stated, straightening. Eve's tightening grip on her scythe was all the warning they had before the shadows of the Senate's henchmen began to appear out of the darkness, edging closer as their eyes began to glow with blood-coloured lust.

"And I am not willing to let you reap it." Eve stated, and Yuki was startled by the change that came over the girl; strong and sure, and completely unlike the cheerful, vulnerably cute girl she had met earlier.

"And who are you?" One of the vampires asked, none of them stopping in their movement.

"I am Eve Shiratori, and I speak on behalf of the Predators when I say that we are not willing to let you reap this price. I will give you this last chance to stand down and leave the Hunter Zero Kiryuu alone." Eve didn't move from her defensive position behind Zero, but all focus snapped to her at the mention of 'the Predators'. Zero made to move forwards, but Yagari-sensei motioned him back, implying with a tilt of his head that they were to simply watch.

"The Predators have no say in matters of the Senate. The Hunter Zero Kiryuu is of the Society, and thus is subject to our laws."

"And still subject to our protection. Do you accept this?" Zero was staring at Eve with something like awe on his face, unable to believe the practised authority that was ringing through her words and stature; so different from the fragile bird-like creature she had been when he had first met her.

The Senate's henchmen said nothing; their answer clear in their ever present press forwards towards Zero, the blood-lust that remained in their eyes. Eve's eyes narrowed, the moon glinting off the silver sheen.

She too, didn't say anything in reply, merely closed her eyes. Whatever the rest of them were expecting; it certainly didn't compare to what actually happened next.

Four spots of glowing light began to shine through her shirt, shifting blue energy that crackled with power as Eve shifted. When she opened her eyes, they were an opaque, solid silver colour; dangerous and yet still breathtakingly beautiful; causing Zero's breath to catch in his throat.

And then she moved.

If he had thought her improved, strong and graceful before, it was nothing compared to the sheer elegant speed she moved with now. She was a mere blur of blue light, her scythe an arc of shining silver destruction, wrecking the vampires in the clearing to dust within minutes.

Only Yagari-sensei seemed unsurprised by this display of power; both Zero and Yuki staring with shock as Eve straightened, the blue light fading and the green slithering back into her eyes as she turned, face still set, to meet the eyes of someone beyond them.

"Interesting. We came to assist, but it would appear that our intervention is… unnecessary."

"Kaname-sama!" Kaname turned to smile at Yuki, before once again returning his attention to Eve, who was gazing steadily back at him, eyes still more silver than green and slightly narrowed.

"That was quite the display of power. You have slaughtered an entire faction of the Senate's watchdogs in bare minutes…" He said softly, looking at the piles of sand that were drifting through the clearing. A few members of the Night Class stood grouped behind them; the picture of nonchalance concealing the coiled power hidden in their young limbs; to those who did not know any better you would have thought that they were not even listening.

"I, and thus the Predators, take full responsibility for these actions, Kuran." She stated calmly, seemingly unaffected by the sudden stiffening of the vampires behind Kaname at her blatant lack of respect.

Kaname motioned them back with a wave of his hand, eyes never leaving Eve's face.

"I see. And what is the Predators' motive concerning this Academy? It is very dear to me, you see… It would be unwise to make any rash decisions." Eve's eyes narrowed again, but her voice was calm when she replied.

"Our motive is the same as my fellow Hunters. We are merely watching the unusual nature of this place. You cannot blame us for our caution." Kaname smiled a little; that private smile that meant he was internally amused by something that few people would be able to understand.

"That I cannot, young Huntress. Then, I bid you goodnight. I think the Senate will not move against Kiryuu again… though I'm sure you'll see that no harm comes to him, hey little white bird?" His mouth remained tilted in that little smile, but Eve didn't react; she didn't even move until all of the Night Class had left.

"Ugghhhh." She groaned, collapsing her scythe and fastening it into her brace before collapsing onto the floor. "My muscles hurt. I haven't pushed them that far in a while…" She muttered, curling around her knees as she complained.

"Eve… what was that?" Zero asked, his voice carefully controlled as Eve looked up at him, now wearing a small, self-deprecating smile.

"That's what we didn't realise when we sent her to join the Predators." Yagari-sensei replied for her softly, as Zero and Yuki turned to look at him in confusion. He sighed, scrubbing at his tangled hair. "Anyway, we should get back."

Xxx

Eve started a little and turned towards the door, seconds before Zero actually appeared there, staring at her with a closed off face.

"Oh, Zero, hi." She smiled cheerfully, still slightly unsure of how she should act around him. The dynamic of their relationship had changed again, but into what Eve wasn't sure.

"Eve. What… What are you doing?" He asked, still in that carefully controlled, restrained voice of calm. She sighed, sitting down on the couch of her room and patting the cushion beside her, grinning at him ecstatically with a blush when he sat next to her.

"Please don't freak out." His eyes narrowed, but she plunged on before he could answer. "The Predators, they made this spell to make themselves more powerful, and they tied it to a tattoo, um. Here." Nervously, Eve fumbled with her shirt, turning her back and slipping it down around her shoulders so that her back was bared to Zero.

He froze, eyes caught by the markings on her back. They were blue; four of them evenly spaced across her mid-shoulder blades, each about the length of his thumb across and spanning his hand in length. Curved, crescent shapes that shimmered with magic and power, even when inactive. Cautiously, he reached out his hand and brushed his fingertips across one of the imprints, and Eve shivered.

"Sorry." He drew his hand back, startled when Eve twisted around and grabbed his hand, still holding her shirt to her chest and gazing into his eyes pleadingly.

"No, no, it didn't… it… it felt nice." She admitted, blushing as Zero's mouth dropped a little, before he returned his hand to her back. She gave a little sigh of contentment and closed her eyes, leaning against the back of the sofa as he traced the shapes on her back.

During the time Zero had come to know Eve, back when they were children, from the very first moment he had met her right up to that day when he had seen her crying in Ichiru's arms, his feelings had been twisting around his heart, growing and niggling their way into his brain. When he saw Ichiru holding Eve, he had put a lid on it. Squashed them all down, suppressed them out of sight.

But now, with her right in front of him, with no Ichiru, it was getting harder and harder to keep those feelings hidden.

"How… how did you feel about Ichiru?" He asked quickly; the question coming with a rush of exhaled breath before he could think too hard about why he was asking. Eve's muscles tensed under his fingers.

"What do you mean? Ichiru… Ichiru was like my brother. He was my brother." Eve answered. Something released his heart; like an iron band he had never noticed until it was gone. "Why… why do you want to know?" Eve turned to stare at him, blonde hair trailing over her face and falling in those beautiful beautiful eyes.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" Zero replied softly, raising a hand to twine a few strands of hair around his fingers. Eve's breath caught as he held her gaze, his expression serious. "Why'd you dye your hair?" Eve blushed harder.

"I… they used to laugh at me for it. The other Hunters in the Predators." She mumbled, still staring at him wide-eyed and shocked, the bare beginnings of hope beginning to appear in her eyes as Zero didn't look away.

"You shouldn't have. It's lovely, but… your natural colour suits you better." He whispered, causing Eve's breath to hitch again.

"I'm sorry."

"What? What for?" she asked, anxiety flaring in her eyes, and he moved his hand to cup her cheek, feeling her skin soft as blossom beneath his hand.

"For… for being angry with you. For hating you. For resent you. For not… for not being there." He murmured. Silence ensued; the two of them sitting there, staring at each other while Zero stroked across the blush on her cheek.

"Okay, Zero, you're going to have to make it really clear what the hell you're trying to do here, because I am sitting here with my shirt half off, blushing like a fool and not sure what to feel because you're stroking my cheek and hey, that's normally a good sign right, for the guy you like to touch you like that, but now you're being all quiet and it's freaking me out." Eve stopped to take a deep breath, Zero's eyes comically wide as he froze, staring at her in a bemused fashion. "And I've chipped my nail." Zero dropped his head.

"Oh my god, Eve." He chuckled, which soon turned into full blown laughter, while Eve looked disgruntled.

"What? I think that's a perfectly reasonable reaction!" She protested, tossing her hair back and scowling at him, while he wiped tears of mirth from his eyes. It was, unbeknownst to Eve, the hardest he had laughed in a very, very long time.

"So… you like me?"

"… I didn't mean to say that out loud. Shit, did I say that out loud, I really didn't mean to do that! I mean, it's true, but you know, you kind of hate me and that was too soon and really it's not actually true because I love you, I've loved you since we were kids but that is so not the point here, I wasn't supposed to say that, Ichiru told me it'd be a bad idea and I should wait until you said something but I didn't oh-" She broke off, looking slightly put out as Zero burst out laughing again, even more hysterically than before; an uncontrollable joy bursting inside him as the lid flew off; the feelings he'd been ignoring for several years, squashing them down with resentment and confusion, flying through his veins.

She loves me.

"Well now you're just being rude. Really. I just confessed to you by accident and you're laughing. That's rude. That is rude, right? It is rude. Rude. I hate you. Ugh. And I really have chipped my nail; it's a disaster that you clearly do not see the gravity of. I. chipped. My nail. Zero. This is practically life or death. Come on! Stop laughing damnit!"

Zero gasped, still trying to contain his amusement at Eve's babbling- oh how he'd missed Eve's babbling, so much, he'd missed her so, so , so much-

"God, I love you." Eve froze, and Zero tensed up as he realised what he'd let slip amongst his laughter.

"If you're joking, I'm going to hit you." He laughed again, before surging forwards and pressing his lips to Eve's.

She froze in shock, so he pulled back, keeping his face close to hers; just far enough away to see her expression but close enough that they were sharing air. Eve shivered, staring at him in shock.

"Okay?" He asked, his breath ghosting across her face. Eve grinned slyly, hands coming up to clasp behind his neck as she pulled him closer.

"Oh, yeah."

Xxx

There was more kissing, after that. Quite a lot more kissing - they had time to make up for, after all. And then there was convincing everybody that actually, yes, Zero was dating the new girl (the Day class were in some shock about this; half of them convinced that the Zero who fondly smiled at Eve, who ruffled her hair and laughed, who let himself be tugged around the school by their linked hands, was in fact some kind of alien or changeling and not the real Zero Kiryuu. Zero didn't care.) and yes, that meant that a) Eve was Zero's girlfriend and b) Zero was Eve's boyfriend. Though he didn't seem to particularly care for the term. All he cared about was her.

Eve was spectacularly happy. If Yuki had thought her cheerful and cute beforehand, it was nothing compared to the sheer radiance she shone with now. She let the blonde dye grow out from her hair, revealing the original pale silver, and Zero's smile when he saw that was impossibly wide. And he wasn't the only one smiling, Eve was constantly smiling, even as she berated Zero or argued with him about the cute factor of her hair accessories or the necessity of bedazzling her pencil case or insisted on actually brushing his hair.

They bickered and fought constantly, but it was in an endearingly cute way that nobody could quite understand, and sometimes they had very gentle moments. Yuki often came across them curled up together, asleep or dozing or just sitting with each other, without speaking.

And life seemed to continue, in its normal fashion; full of uncertainties and surprises and pain, but also happiness.

Eve quit the Predators, with the permission of Yagari-sensei, and she and Zero rebounded as Hunting partners.

The Guardians continued to patrol the school, exams came and went, work was done and not done, vampires arrived and left. Nobody touched Zero, even after Eve left the group that she had proclaimed his protection.

The only moment when Yuki truly saw Eve angry after that day was when she discovered that Zero had been drinking Yuki's blood. And she was absolutely livid; it terrified both of them to see her that angry; so angry that the power that sat inside the tattoos she would never be able to get rid of slipped out, so angry that she wasn't even in control anymore.

Yuki never found out why she was so angry; she only knew from that day forward Eve stubbornly insisted on letting Zero drink her blood, and never Yuki's. When she saw the fierce determined love in Eve's eyes when she informed Yuki of this, she thought that maybe she understood a little.

Kaname and Yuki drifted closer, and Zero continued to watch out for his childhood friend, Eve by his side.

Life meandered on, twisting and turning; following its own agenda and path; leaving everyone else to just struggle along the best they could.

And struggle along they did, quite successfully even through it all; the fights and the blood and the pain, the fear and the anger, the love and the desperation. All of it, they survived and fought through, taking wing on the unpredictable breeze of life.

Xxx

"Mama, mama!"

"Yes honey?"

"Daddy's home, daddy's home!" Eve smiled down at her two-year old son; with his pale silver hair and purple eyes.

"And how do you know that, sweetie? Can you see him?" She asked, bending down to take his little chubby hands in her own and looking him in the eyes. The little boy nodded excitedly, vibrating with his joy.

"Shall we go meet him?" Eve giggled as her son tugged on her hands, desperate to get out of the door and down the drive as soon as possible, laughing as she let him go and he shot off, shrieking with excitement moments later.

Pivoting on her heel, she crossed the room and lifted her 9 month daughter from her pram, cradling her gently as she followed her son to meet her husband; standing by the door with their son in his arms and that gentle smile, reserved for her, on his face.

She kissed him, just a short press of lips to lips; a mimic of that first kiss he had given her all those years ago, but more practised and familiar through time.

"Heya, Eve." He murmured, his other arm snaking around her waist as he balanced their son in the crook of his other elbow. She smiled at him serenely.

"Hi, Zero."