A deed without a name.
We watched the ex-human writhe on the floor with nails extended into claws that caught on the carpet, tore it viciously from its netting. His eyes were glittering vermillion, staring unfocused and bleary through fluttering eyelids at the ceiling. His pale face, usually impassive and smooth, contorted in agony as a thin sheen of sweat dripped down his brow. A shirt lay torn on either side of him, framing his torso, seeming to accentuate the unfathomably rapid rise and fall of his chest cavity. The breath quickly passing though his lips was thin, as was his lifespan.
A uniform circle of minuscule puncture wounds oozed droplets of blood down the center of his stomach. It was an injection of some sort that caused Kiryuu's back to life off of the ground in a jagged arch. Crimson lines ran in rivulets down his insipid, shivering skin, stopping only when they could go no further at the waistline of his jeans. Blood stained the blue denim fabric, bleeding through the particles and spreading as a marker would to wet paper. The smell was tainted, famished, like something that had been cut open and left out to rot.
Yuuki's nails dug crescent moons into the inside of my wrist. A shattered whimper tumbled from her quivering lips as the silver haired hunter screamed a cracked and strangled noise. The underside of his nails were beginning to tint a gruesome shade of black. The tight skin around wounds on his stomach turned blotchy with bruises. His body seemed to be depleting into a carcass, fading heartbeat resembling the echo of thunder. He was unwillingly shutting down.
"He's dying," Takuma observed from my right. He was the first to speak of Kiryuu's dire situation.
Everyone watched with calculating eyes, unblinking while the strange oddity that was a vampire's grotesque death unfolded before us. Underneath the intrigued exterior blanketing the expressions of my nobles, they were each stupefied.
There had been no utter lack of interest from the moment Aido had dragged the injured Level D to me, for even now they were studying intently. None of us had seen such technique before: some type of shot, and to the stomach of all places.
Was this some newly configured hunter weapon? Was the Association testing out its efficiency on its own prodigy? I thought to myself that the boy would be thankful. He had never wanted anyone to fret over him, not that a pack of vampires of high status would.
"Perhaps we should end him quickly. A death so brutal is quite shameful really. Look at the tears in his eyes."
Yuuki released an offended gasp. Aido's suggestion had awakened a dark rage hidden deep inside of her fragile frame. I could feel her fury before she voiced it, startling ever present vampire.
"I'd like to see your reaction as your body eats you alive from the inside out." Her voice was cold and hard, a strange combination for such a little girl. Aido's features gave way to an apology, for not only was Yuuki my territory but also his superior, no longer an oblivious human.
Too enthralled by the dying ex-human, I flippantly disregarded their disagreement. Time was a crucial aspect at that point and I needed to make a decision quick. A decision based on the reaction Yuuki had given at seeing her Zero disappear from this world, and a decision based on how greatly the affect on me―suspecting I go through with my plan―would be.
"Please release your grip, Yuuki." A heart-stricken expression transformed her face into a crumpled mess. She looked as if she knew that the only person she truly had the world in common with was going to be put to death and that I wasn't going to be there to lead her through the ache the repercussions of Zero's passing would bring. "You have nothing to be afraid of." My words seemed to touch a place of understanding inside of her heart, and as I pulled away from her, she let me go.
Stepping forward, I unclasped the cusps of my top: a dapper dress shirt that was dear to me. My nobles switched their immediate focus from the gasping body on the floor to their pureblood, uncertainty consuming the fascination in their glowing eyes. As my fingers smoothed out over my neckline, starting first with the top button before dropping to the next, each one of my comrades stared as though they were witnessing some obscene gesture.
"Kaname―" Takuma began, hushing hurriedly as elegant sleeves slid free from my arms, as my torso drew fourth from the confines of my clothing. "...You've never..." I pushed the article into his hands. There was no use wasting an irreplaceable shirt on an already soiled cause―even if that cause was just as irreplaceable.
Zero's point of view:
Slivers of ice stabbed like a resonating beat against the tissues, fibers, the muscles and hollow veins of my body. My fingers were numb or maybe I didn't have any at all anymore. The entirety of my stomach was boiling as if someone had surgically implanted a slab of hot metal between the layers of my skin. Where there wasn't oceans of agony, there were islands of throbbing. It felt like my bones were the gongs, and in a reoccurring succession of patterns, a player was pounding away with their massive drumstick. Perhaps a mallet.
Through my vision that was shaking and drowning in and out of darkness, I could see the figures of Kuran's nobles as well as the pureblood himself. I could see Yuuki and I tried to imagine her crying in my mind, but it hurt so much that I couldn't even conjure her eyes. Everything was just black inside.
An electric-like spark of fire ignited at the base of my spine, seeming to split my back in half. It felt like I was screaming but I wasn't even sure if I could still do that. The only thing I knew for certain was the pain as it spiraled through to my brain. If migraines were land mines, then someone had just shoved one inside my head and let it explode. That's when I knew that I was definitely screaming.
Hands were on my shoulders, palms that were too warm and just added to the inferno that was my skin, forcefully pulling me up. I didn't have enough voice left in me to shriek so I choked on my breath and fell against somebody's chest. My hands lost their grip on the floor, the only thing keeping me grounded, keeping me from floating.
Something made a gruesome click inside of my body and then it was like my center of gravity was askew. Bile rose from the back of my throat as I clawed welts into the skin of the body kneeling before me so I wouldn't drift away.
The person was trying to speak to me but I couldn't comprehend. There were plugs in my ears, or maybe like my fingers, they no longer existed.
Raising my head caused my neck to shake, to unfurl an agonizingly slow shudder from my body. Through my dozy, wobbling vision I saw Kuran looking down at me with indifferent eyes. They were striking, the color of melting auburn through the dimming of my sight. He pointed toward his neck where the skin was clean and spotless, lucky to have never been bitten unlike the unlucky strike that had been me.
Vomit crawled up the contours of my throat; this time it was harder to keep down. Kuran's fingers were slipping through the seam of my lips, opening up my jaws where the pads of his fingers rubbed senseless circles against my gums. Appealed, my canine incisors elongated. Their growth sent an aching hunger throughout my already parched body. The pureblood nicked his index finger as it retreated from my mouth where he then swept the bleeding appendage across my bottom lip.
The scent of his blood cracked the glass of agony that had cocooned me in its feral grasp. Kuran had a unique scent of lavender and vanilla. Under a rush of pain, I felt my taste buds salivate as my brain imagined his taste. Sweet and rich, thick like honey.
I couldn't think straight, now fogged with hunger and drowning in pain. He'd touched my lips and his blood was there, but what did he want me to do? Unable to conjure any rational thoughts, I rebelled against my body and leaned into him, smearing his blood as I captured his bottom lip between mine because that's what I thought he wanted.
Strange how you're fine with dying one day but when it actually happens, your body realizes that's not what it wants and doesn't listen to your brain when it tells you that you're okay with this.
Was the pain really too much for me? Was that why my body had reduced itself to kissing Kuran in the hopes that that would save me?
I licked the blood from his mouth, catching that hint of sugary vanilla before his hand was on my jaw and he had my face pulled down against the crook of his neck. My veins were bottomless pits, singing in an enraged starvation that was so loud, so ear piercing, that I had my teeth sinking into Kuran's flesh before the multitude of pain signals became too unbearable.
Thick blood bubbled through the gaps between skin and fangs, spilling into my mouth like a hot river. As it pooled around my tongue and slid down my throat, I thrust my teeth in deeper with an uncontrollable thirst. The way it swam through my body caused my toes to curl, evoking a soothing warmth to spread into all of the deteriorating parts of me. His blood sent a flood to the minute crevices that were packed tight with pain and consumed them until the misery washed away.
I tried to crawl closer toward the pureblood but my body was too fraught with alternating sensations. Hunger made me suck his skin, pain fought against my reborn strength, and something vivid and warm was rising fourth as if from a stowed away box hidden in the attic. The pureblood's arm encased my waist, dragging me forward until his chest rubbed against my own. His other hand found the back of my head and wound through my hair, urging my fangs to slide farther into his throat.
My arms wrapped around his back, fingers pressing, kneading, into his skin. I relished how soft it was as the feeling in my tips returned. Heavy breath panted against my ear. The hand in my hair tightened. The arm around my body tugged me further into his lap. My legs on either side of his thighs squeezed when his blood seemed to turn syrupy, or perhaps my sense of taste had just decided to return to me.
A heat I hadn't known my body could possess took over, assaulting my brain, sending it into a whirlwind of blissful nothingness. My hands turned into fists against his shoulder blades. When the pureblood spoke, his voice was sultry and husky, rumbling against the shell of my ear. "Don't stop until all of the fever has fled."
Sharp nails pricked my waist, sending thousands of tiny little shivers coiling up my spine. It felt like the imaginative split in back that had occurred earlier was melding together, while an ache continued to fuel the figurative hotplate beneath my skin. Although it was a hindrance, it almost coupled with the other heat, the intoxicating one, that I was feeling everywhere else.
When my eyes had drooped to a half-lidded state, I wasn't sure, but now they were so heavy that I let them close as my own nails grew jagged, pressing close to the pureblood's skin. My body was subconsciously responding to him through the maze of bloodlust that was building up inside of me.
The hand in my hair sidled lower, down to the nape of my neck, where his fingers curled over the side and their pads gently touched the edge of my cursed tattoo. My entire body shuddered in something far different from the pain it had previously succumbed to. Against all better judgement, my shoulder―hiked high as if to hide the mark―dropped at the joint.
Kuran's fingers slid with ease over my blemished skin. I gasped, fangs floundering as they momentarily lost their home before they sunk back into the flesh of a fresh, new spot on the pureblood's neck. His breathe grew labored next to my ear and that's all I heard as I sucked thick blood turned spicy like cloves.
A tugging sensation. The pureblood's hand was no longer on my neck but on my shoulder now. I made a noise, refusing to let go of his skin. He tore me away though, cradling me as I nearly fell backwards, limp with my head tilted back.
My eyelids were fluttering again and my fangs felt lost, worried, afraid that they were never going to eat again.
When Kuran brought my head up, my vision spun but I looked him straight in the face. I'd never seen his eyes so half-mast, vermillion, and hungry before. "Good job, vampire."
"He did what he had to do." Takuma's voice came through the large, ornate door. I was inside one of the many moon dormitory guest rooms. The particular door I was situated behind had been set up as a temporary nurse's office. Small arrays of equipment―regular tools like a stethoscope, thermometers, blood pressure wraps―and serious doctorate's degree utensils―syringes, tubes, odd mechanics that look genuinely terrifying―were set up on wheeled-in carts.
I sat there, craned back in a portable chair with foam covered in plastic like the ones at the dentist's. My shirt was rolled up to expose the circle of needle marks that I had been injected with the week before. A woman sat between my legs, inspecting the unhealed scars with magnifying glasses covering her eyes and a sharp tipped pencilesque tool in her hand.
She poked and prodded at the ring of spots, quiet and straight-faced, giving no indication of what she thought about my injury in her expression. Her attitude reminded me of Kuran and the other nobles, the other vampires in general. All of them were too regal and stoic, too much like cardboard and not enough like a person. At least the woman had a warm touch to her, like a mom or something like that. Maybe a sister.
"He didn't have to do anything." Aido sounded angry, an angry piece of cardboard. He'd been pissed all week as though I'd put a damper on his pureblood extravaganza.
Yeah, well there was a damper on mine too.
"You can't even see the bite marks, Aido. Just let it go." Kain spoke now. Jesus, were they all outside the door acting like huge pansies or something?
No―they weren't. They were probably sitting in their little lounge area that each of them thought was the shit. I just had ridiculous hearing skills now thanks to Kuran's blood.
After all of the daily checkups, I'd learned a lot about blood transfusions with purebloods. Specifically how a fraction of Kuran's power was just permeating inside of my body, not unlike how all of his fools meandered out in their gay ass lounge. Eventually it would go away, and most of it had, but I was still waiting for his heightened hearing capabilities to leave me alone.
After coinciding with a fraction of the pureblood's power, I've come to realize something that I never took into consideration before: Purebloods were serious creatures. I mean, I had always known that nobody ever really stood a chance against Kuran. But it was an utterly mind-altering experience to feel that power. It would definitely make you rethink your actions the next time you thought about double-crossing him.
It would take a lot to be reprimanded for double-crossing, though. Kuran had complete control over himself. He knew exactly how to manipulate his strengths for the safety of everyone. For that, I―actually it was more like some awakened, uncontrollable part of me―wanted to feel respect towards the pureblood, but the original side of me wouldn't allow it, and by the term "original", I meant the me before my uncontrollable awakening.
"Of course you can't see them! But they're there. He had virgin skin until that stupid Level D marred his innocence." There was venom in Aido's voice, venom like the kind that had been syringed into my stomach the night Kuran made me bite him.
"He had virgin skin until that stupid Level D was given the okay to mar his innocence," was what he should've said. I wasn't the bad guy.
"You can hear them," Yuuki stated, reaching out to hold my hand. Her palm was warm against mine, reminding me of how hot Kuran's skin had been when my body temperature had been fluking during my sickness. A shiver begged to race up my spine but uncontrollable me wasn't going to win this one.
"You're not good at controlling your facial expressions." The little girl smiled sadly. Little vampire girl. Little pureblood girl. "I know they're out there and I know that you can hear them."
"Don't worry about what they're saying," I assured her, honestly not caring about what was said about me. I was sure it wasn't the first time, anyways. I knew it wasn't the first time. "This is just like your average high school. Shit talking and whatnot. Except this talk is more about who sucked whose blood and who no longer has a virgin neck."
When the words came out, I internally winced. I guess I did on the outside too by the way Yuuki was looking at me. It wasn't about the talk, though. It was about how disgusting I was for being desperate enough to―without even meaning to―feed off of blood so that I could revive myself. A second life. And vampires got them all the time; third ones and fourth ones, too. Humans didn't get second chances like that and that's all I ever wanted to be.
I could sense him before I could smell him, and when I smelt him I wanted more. My throat felt too thick to swallow as I forced this new, uncontrollable side of me not to inhale deeper. It was another side effect of drinking his blood, except I had been told that this one was here to stay. I wasn't sure how I was going to live with it, seeing as I was completely torn.
I wanted to throw up all over Kuran's shoes while my... other wanted to―fuck, I wasn't even going to think about what my other wanted to do to him.
"You didn't tell me that Kuran was going to show up." My accusation was directed toward the doctor. She glanced up at me with her cardboard face and smiled before dropping her tool into its little basket of other sterilized pieces, then she stood up and went to take off her plastic gloves.
"The young prince asked for me not to inform you of when he'd be arriving. His order comes above yours, I'm afraid." Of course nobody could do me the one favor of letting me know when not to show up for my doctor's appointment for the specific reason that I was avoiding the pureblood. How could I have been so selfish?
I frowned at her. "Thanks."
The least I could do was cover up my midriff. "Kaname-sama would like to see the result of your injection. Please keep your shirt raised until he says otherwise."
Yeah, it's cool, just let me get naked while I'm at it.
My brain froze the instant the thought had formed. Yuuki squeezed my hand as if saying, It's okay.
It's okay what?
It's okay that Kuran just wants to check up on me or It's okay that I just fucking thought about getting naked around him?
Because both were definitely not okay.
The door gently, noiselessly, swung open and gently, noiselessly, the pureblood swaggered his way in. Tension all the way from the lounge rolled in like the tide. Then it was sucked back out from beneath the slip in the door as soon as he shut it behind him. It felt like only him and I were in the room.
My breath came out in uneven spurts and I hoped that my palms weren't sweaty or something equally stupid like that. There was no need to tip Yuuki off. This was my first time seeing Kuran since last week, since that night, and I had been praying that the attraction pulling me toward him from afar wouldn't be intense up close. Except it was and the invisible strings tying me to him felt like they were being yanked sevenfold.
He walked toward me with a poised elegance like a cat's lazy saunter, eyes focused on my face. Not on my skin that was pale and there specifically to be looked at. Not on the provocative position I was sitting in, legs spread on either side of the chair.
Just my face.
His eyes were like two auburn diamonds, glittering in a way that was both exotic and devilish. Why did they have to be fixated on me so earnestly? My memory flashed to the last time I had seen those eyes, how wild they'd been. The pureblood had a way of making wild seem tamed and devilish seem suave. Almost as suave as the way his boots didn't tap as they hit the ground.
"I'm fortunate that you did not run away upon sensing my arrival." Kuran's drawl was soothing, his tone collected and regal. It sounded completely different panting and husky.
"Is that your way of calling me a coward?" I asked, obvious offense in my voice. There was no way I was going to let him see the way he affected me. So if I couldn't put on a show of disinterest, I'd play pissed at him instead.
He didn't seem to mind my choice, almost as if he knew what lay behind it. "Are you saying you still would have shown up had you known I would be here?" Thankfully, I didn't have to answer. Vampires could read through lies and that's what would have come out of my mouth.
On the contrary, my lie had been cut short before its birth because the pureblood had come to his knees before me and had his hand on my stomach. I ripped my own from Yuuki's to smack his away from me. "Don't touch me." But before I could even make contact with him, he had my wrist in his grasp, fingers lightly caging my limb.
"I would just like to see the scars," he explained, releasing me.
"Then look. Don't touch."
"I do not believe you are in the right position to be telling me what to do, Quire. Are you not?"
I grit my teeth, lamenting because of his stupid, high status advantage.
The next time he reached out, I let his fingertips skim across my stomach. They traced the ring of pin-sized dots and as they did, my skin shivered beneath his touch. I hoped he couldn't feel my reaction, but when did Kuran ever miss anything?
As a way to distract myself, a horrible way at that, I looked down at his neck. His skin was as perfect as porcelain, smooth and pallid, where I had bitten.
"Of course you cant see them! But they're there."
Sensing the direction my thoughts were going, Kuran seized the moment to glance up at me from beneath dark lashes. I swallowed hard, feeling a thrum in my throat when a spark of red twinkled through his eyes. His hand was on my jaw then, gripping it loosely as he pulled it down to accentuate the seam of my lips.
I was deftly reminded of his fingers arousing my fangs through my gums and for the beat of a second I wanted him to do it again. But they were already halfway there.
"It is time for Yuuki to take her leave." The pureblood looked at the doctor. "I would like to question Kiryuu about Sunday. I would also be pleased if we could set up a time in which you could go over today's assessment. Talk it over with Takuma if you will. He will be able to tell you when I am free." After that, I was the only thing he looked at.
"Of course, Kaname-sama." I watched her cross to the opposite side of the room where Yuuki sat, looking at me with a worried gaze. I was wearing my emotions on my face again. The doctor wrapped her arm around the little girl's shoulders, giving her a firm squeeze that seemed to brighten Yuuki's big eyes just a bit, but it was enough. "Let us leave your boys to their business."
She smiled at she spoke, and the difference was that this one wasn't cardboard at all. It was real and meant something and she knew.
She knew that the one-sided bond I'd made with Kuran had taken its final tug.