Zero gasped as his eyelids flew up, before turning over on his side and being sick. He could hear faint sobbing and there was a large warm hand rubbing his back as he heaved. "Thank the lord you're okay." someone sighed with relief. Zero really couldn't tell who. His head swam with colors and his temples pulsed. Suddenly he was sick all over again. Zero shivered with coldness when he realized he was wet with cold water. He placed his head in his hands and moaned. He was alive? There was a gentle draping of fabric over his shoulders, and reluctantly, Zero pulled his head from his hands. Kaname stood above him, eyes warm with worry. He didn't bother asking if Zero was alright. He knew he wasn't.
Oddly enough, Zero thought, water and thoughts slushing like sludge in his head, he'd always assumed the first person he'd see after maybe a very close call with his sickness would be his mother. Yet he could hear her distinctly, outside in the corridor, speaking with the doctor through choked sobs. It was strange, the first face he was seeing was of a man he'd met only days ago. Yet they'd already slept in the same bed. His eyes rolled back in his head with a heavy intake of air, and he collapsed backwards on the bed.
Kaname was worried. Very worried. He pace mindlessly through the manor, sitting down in random spots and threading his fingers together, thinking and mindlessly humming. Zero had been asleep for three days with an amazingly high temperature, and he'd been forbidden to visit the sickly boy. The only sign he was alive, Ruka reported, was the uneasy raise and fall of his chest. Finally, Kaname decided, it was time to get out. Pacing and generally being a nuisance to the staff was not going to help Zero's ailment. Throwing his coat on, Kaname briskly asked of Kain to deliver him to the nearby town. He wanted to speak with Cross. Kain dropped him off mere yards from the inviting glow of Cross's shop, and Kaname was quite thankful. The snow was up to his shins and he was shivering slightly. When he pushed through the door to the warmth of the jewelry store, he was immediately bombarded with cheery greetings. "Kaname! You haven't been to see me in forever!" he tutted jokingly around a jolly smile. "How are things at the estate? I haven't had time to converse with Shizuka and-"
"Zero almost drowned." Kaname cut him off, getting straight to business. Cross's cheery expression disappeared and his eyebrows knitted together. "What? How?" he asked. Looking around, he pulled Kaname into the back of the shop, seating himself and Kaname on a fine but worn couch. "He must have seen something, fallen asleep maybe. But either way, he almost drowned it the tub." Kaname sighed, running a hand through his hair. "And honestly, I do believe Ichiru was somehow involved. Zero's too smart to drift off and almost drown like that." he said. Cross nodded seriously, a look of struggle passing over his face. "Zero is like a son to me, Kaname. And Ichiru was too. But while I discourage disrupting the peaceful dead. Ichiru obviously is not, you should speak with him. Ask him gently." Cross suggested.
Kaname nodded shortly, standing up. He hadn't planned to make it a long visit anyways, just wishing to inform Cross of the latest circumstances. Cross stood as well. "Thank you for alerting me. Be sure to drop by if the situation changes. Oh," Cross said with a small sound of surprise. He gave a slight smile, "Did your sister like the necklace you purchased for her?"
Kaname looked away guiltily. "I haven't sent it yet. I was waiting until a couple more days before Christmas to send it." Cross waved away his excuses, bustling him out the door. "Fine, fine. It's your purchase, but make sure it stays clean!" he ordered. Kaname shrugged. "Cross, where did you find such a necklace anyway? I haven't seen such fine silver work upon just any jewelry before." he questioned as Cross hailed a carriage. The older man shrugged, huddling into his jacket as he hurried Kaname into the coach. "Oh, some man dropped if off. Said he was looking for money to get out of town quickly. It was worth quite a lot though, yes." he said, before closing the door of the coach before Kaname could ask another question. He smirked at Kaname's face in the window, annoyed and questioning. And with that, Cross stomped the sludge of his feet and trudged inside. Yes he thought he was so very clever.
After a brief and hesitant visit to the pond, Kaname found Ichiru in the library. The book overlapping the young boy's thighs was The Fairy Tales of Grimm. It was opened to the page of the wolf laying in Grandmother's bed, dressed in a frivolous nightgown. Ichiru's face lit up as Kaname appeared through the door. "Kaname!" he cheered, tossing the book aside and leaping out of the chair as if he could not simply walked through it. He embraced the brunette, leaving him frozen to the core. "H-hello, Ichiru." he greeted. Good with kids, Kaname Kuran was, but never had he dealt with the supernatural sort. Ichiru grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the comfy chairs they'd sat last time they'd met. "You haven't visited me in forever!" Ichiru complained in his hollow voice. Kaname rubbed the goosebumps from his arms. "Yes well, why haven't you simply visited me in my room?" he asked. He immediately regretted it. He didn't wish to give him such ideas. Ichiru frowned, eyes squinting and nose scrunched as he concentrated. "I couldn't enter your room. Bit weird, hm?" he clapped his hands. "No matter! What do you wanna do?" he asked excitedly. Kaname sucked in a breath. "I want to talk about…Zero."
Instantly the temperature in the room dropped.
"What about him?" Ichiru sniffed, crossing his arms beneath his dragging scarf. Kaname mentally sighed with relief that the child hadn't simply disappeared, or worse, thrown a fit. "Do you know what happened in the tub?" he asked cautiously, slowly forming the words. Ichiru glared at the wall over his shoulder. "Stupid Zero almost drowned." he said sourly. Kaname nodded. "And now he's very sick. Do you know why?"
Ichiru perked up a bit. He seemed almost smug, and a black pit dropped in Kaname's stomach. He watched with dread as dead eyes brightened. "Of course I do. I made him sick after all." he whispered, as if it were a big secret.
Kaname leaned in, temporarily forgetting his wariness. "You made him sick?" he echoed. Ichiru gave him a bitter smile. "Now he knows how I felt." he hummed. Kaname gestured for him to go on urgently, and Ichiru frowned once again. "I…was a sick baby." Ichiru started, "I couldn't go outside. My bones ached. I caught colds in front of fires. I had fevers in the summer. I spent most of my life cooped up in a bed."
Kaname's heart twanged with pity.
"But Zero…Zero was strong. Zero was healthy. Zero could do anything. He didn't need anyone's help." Ichiru hissed. The temperature dropped again. "He told me he loved me. He told me he'd always protect me because I was his younger brother." he said coldly, eyes dropping to clenched fists. The chandelier swayed dangerously. "But he didn't care. I know it. He still doesn't. And neither does anyone else. Not mum, not the servants, not even bloody Rose!" Ichiru yelled. Kaname's eyes drifted from the angry boy storming in the seat across from him to the ceiling as it creaked ominously.
"No one says my name!" Ichiru wailed, "They don't speak of me, or toast to me at dinner," Kaname remembered the hearty toast in Zero's name. "Everyone forgot Ichiru! No one will look at me, or talk to me, people hate me!" The book that had been tossed aside earlier slid to the floor. Ichiru glanced angrily down at the image of a smiling Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. "So I made Zero sick. Very, very sick. So he knows what its like to be useless." Ichiru smiled. "So he knows what it's like to lay in bed forever."
Kaname felt chills run up his spine at the dangerous tone. Ichiru gave him a contemptuous smile.
"Now that Zero's sick…I'm the stronger twin now."
A/N: Wow guys, I'm getting back on track. And thankfully, Zero's alright!
And thanks to ReachtheMoon and God-d-e-ss Eternity for such fantastic reviews!
Reviews are such amazing motivation.