"Thank you, for letting me in."
"Please be quick Lord Kaname, Ms. Shizuka could be back at anytime." Kaname nodded in understanding. Shooting Shiki another thankful glance, Kaname deftly crept into Zero's room. Disappointment was a hot spike in his chest. Zero's condition had not improved in the many days since he'd last seen him. His eyes were open but were casted in milky film, his pupils no longer reacting to light. He laid still and stiff as a course, a shuddering breath making itself known every few tense seconds. Zero's braid had come undone, and his long hair was a sea of silver spanning across the bedsheets. Kaname closed his eyes for a few moments, biting his lip in grief and worry. Shiki silently closed the door behind him, leaving his master and the distraught guest alone for the time being. He settled into his chair outside the door, eyes sharp and keeping watch once again.
Kaname hesitantly settled himself onto the bed beside Zero's head, concerned eyes watching his every movement. The room was submerged in uneasy silence. Kaname's mind was mostly blank, wondering what he was doing here exactly. With all his money and power and own exclusive talents, he was powerless to his knowledge, of curing Zero and putting Ichiru to final rest. His fingers skated the vast ocean of mercury-colored hair that lazily drifted across the bed.
"Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence."
"A Lover's Complaint, William Shakespeare." Kaname answered an unspoken question. For a few hopeful seconds he was almost assured that he'd seen something stirring in Zero's blank slated face, recognition maybe. But those hopeful seconds had soared past and were replaced with bitter acceptance. There was nothing for Kaname here, not any longer. Not with Zero in this empty, sickened state. He had to do something, damn the will of Ichiru and his averse conscience!
Yet even with this knowledge and new ambition, he still had not removed himself from Zero's bedside. Instead, gently lifting the other man's head, he freed the frosted mane from underneath him, tugging the locks to the side gingerly. And with swift fingers, he began to braid the hair into one lone plait as Zero had worn it when they first met. Each twist was another promise, every strand that fell loose around his lovely face was a wish. Each end that tucked and turned was riddled with memories and assurances of a better future. When the last curl of hair had been braided, Kaname softly settled the long thick plait onto the bed beside Zero. He was positive that if Yuki had been there, she'd be grinning with pride at his excellent work. Slowly, Kaname ran a palm over Zero's scalding forehead, turning his gaze towards the door. He decided he should leave soon. Stepping towards the door Kaname gazed back once more towards the sickly boy. A strangled puff of air rose from his lips, a quiet name rolling off his tongue. "I..ch..iru.." he wheezed.
Kaname left the room quickly, stepping over Rose, as she had taken to prowling the perimeter of Zero's door. He thanked Shiki once again, quickly making his way down the stairs to find Ichiru. His will was set his ambition rediscovered and lit in passionate flame. He was met on the first floor by emptiness. Even the usual bustling of busy servants had been dulled that brisk cold morning. The house lacked warmth and life as all were down and silent with grim purpose. Not even in the dining room did Kaname find Aidou. The plates were stacked upon the table and cups of tea had gone cold. The house was deserted in body and soul. Startled and cautious, Kaname crept through the house. He was met by no servants nor Shizuka herself. But then a cold hand of ice gripped his and he understood.
"Kaname! Can we play today?" Ichiru chirped, unaware that his strengthened presence had spooked everyone away and back into their quarters. Kaname agreed hesitantly. "Of course, what would you like to play?" he asked. Ichiru didn't bother answering, instead dragging him up the servant's entrance to the second level and down the hall. "Where are we going?" Kaname asked politely, his fingers red and numb. "The playroom, of course. That's where all my toys are!" Ichiru said as if this was obvious. They stopped in front of a door that looked like it had not been open in ages. The knob was dusty and spiderwebs laced the doorway. As Ichiru faded through the door, leaving Kaname standing in front of the locked room, he cursed his cowardly refusal to bring up the topic of Zero. The door opening with a rusty click. Ichiru stood in front of him, hollow cheeks stretched in a wide grin. "Well? C'mon!" Ichiru commanded, dragging him inside the room.
The playroom was dusty and dark. Mold spotted the once wallpapered walls and small furniture, built for two children was rotted through. Spider webs waved like streamers from the ceiling. Dead insects littered the room like confetti. It was set like a gruesome tea party, old, falling apart stuffed animals set around a dusty table, broken and chipped tea cups placed upon shattered saucers in front of them. Dolls littered the floor where they had run out of seats. As Ichiru raced across the room towards a creaky rocking horse, Kaname knelt down on the floor and gingerly lifted a doll to eye level. The room was dark besides the light that flooded in from the open doorway, yet it was bright enough for Kaname's eyes to widen in shock at the appearance of the doll.
The doll was a little boy, with wide lilac eyes and silver hair, dulled with age. Even despite the small cracks in the delicate china face, it was still a very beautiful doll. The small violet bow was worn, and the dingy white sailor uniform was thin from constant handling. Kaname felt a small smile sneak across his face, and the doll smiled back at him. It was a lovely doll.
"That's Zero." Ichiru said. Kaname jumped, he hadn't notice the boy approach him. Ichiru's face was blank, his see-through eyelids lowered in indifference. He took the doll from between Kaname's hands with surprising gentleness and placed in back to where it had been seated on the floor. Kaname felt a pang in his chest as he noticed the second silver-haired doll beside it. The second doll had lavender eyes, very much alike Ichiru's. It wore a violet sailor's uniform, with a white ribbon tied around his neck. It was much less worn that Zero, left entirely alone, almost. Webs tied the doll to the ground, and filth clouded it's face and uniform. A bug crawled out from beneath the doll's collar as Kaname reached out and caressed it's hair. "Is this one you?" he asked quietly, eyes as red as rubies softening. Ichiru nodded, casting it a look of disinterest. "It's very ugly, isn't it? I like Zero's much better." he said with disdain, picking up the Zero doll and hugging it to his chest. Kaname disagreed. "I think yours is much prettier," he assured, picking the doll up from it's spot in the grime. He cradled it between large warm palms. For the first time Kaname saw another look besides anger and hatred on Ichiru's small face. It was surprise.
"Y..you do?" he asked softly in that echoing voice of his. Surprise and vulnerability shadowed his face. "Of course I do, why would I lie?" he asked genuinely. Ichiru's grip on the Zero doll loosened. "C..can I see him?" he asked, holding out his hands. Kaname happily handed over the doll. Ichiru grasped the doll by it's arms, eyes searching it's china face for some answer. They sat in silence for awhile. Kaname had drifted off into his own thoughts when he was snapped back into reality by a resounding question in the partial darkness of the playroom.
"Kaname….do you love me?"
Kaname started at the sudden question. Ichiru's lavender eyes were searching his own, his facial expression unreadable. Kaname answered immediately.
Ichiru's eyes narrowed in suspicion. His head cocked to the side. "Do you mean it? he challenged, face serious for a six year old. Kaname didn't even think twice. "Of course I do. I love you very much, Ichiru." he said calmly. Ichiru's face softened, and Kaname was able to see the innocent, vulnerable child once again. It was a rare sight, and Kaname made sure to commit the sight to his memory. He was assured that when he left the Kiriyuu manor, he would leave with unforgettable experiences. And this, the youth and gentleness returning to a cruel child's face, would be one of the most memorable. He stood, dusting his knees and made his way to the door. As he shut the door behind him, throwing the playroom into darkness, Ichiru did not follow. He sat there, soaked silver hair falling into his eyes, gripping the doll with lilac eyes between bony frozen fingers. And his dead, stony heart warmed slightly. His eyes filled with love, and small, minute smile appeared on his face. He set down Zero's old, worn doll and lifted his own to his chest. He squeezed, holding it tight. He liked his much better in the end, he found.
His was much prettier after all.
A/N: Hey guys! Sorry for such a short chapter, I just really wanted to get the story moving again! Ahh I'm sorry if it's really crappy and it answered NONE of your questions. But a good mystery shouldn't do that right away, yes? Thanks for your reviews on the last chapter. I probably would've finished this earlier but I was sick and my headache basically did NOT allow me to get on the computer long enough to actually write and form plot. So have a short chapter. The next one will be longer, I promise!
Review please, tell me what you think of the story, and who you think our mysterious murderer might be!