A/N: I'm so happy that you're still around and reading. After a lot of struggle, I've finally finished another fanfic *dance* Thank you very very very much for your support! It will never be completed without you *bow*
To give someone else the right to make decision was to trust him thoroughly.
Zero returned home when twilight was coloring the city a forlorn violet. A thin layer of dust indifferently covered the furniture, hinting that his apartment had been deserted for months. A key was lying on top of the cabinet along the entrance. When he lifted it up, a clean part of the wood surface in that key shape was exposed.
Five years before, he had handed it to Aimi. And she made her decision to return it to him while he was still wondering if she ever showed up.
Nostalgia somehow wriggled in his innermost. Curtains were up as in the very day he left, flowerless rose pots at the balcony were withered with dry, brown leaves. He had never really felt connected to her as lovers, had always been uncertain of the relationship they shared, yet a nostalgic feeling was reminding him of a time when he decided to try building a family with her.
It had only been a couple of months before.
A heavy cough pulled him back to reality. Stretching an arm out, he grabbed the person beside him to bury his face to his shoulder, worriedly rubbing his back to soothe his allergy. It must be the unclean air in this suffocating room.
From now on, this ailing pureblood was his concentration.
"Let's walk out for some fresh air." As the fit of cough was eased off, Zero broke their contact to head to the closed doors leading to the balcony.
It was pretty cold outside, he took off his jacket to coat Kaname a bit more. "Stay here! I'll quickly clean up the bedroom, then you can rest."
The pureblood nodded and wrapped his beloved's jacket tightly around him, savoring his natural sweet odor. They hadn't been that close for years, he should be contented with his lover's considerateness. As always, the young hunter was the only one who concerned about his well-being. Previously, it was because of love, but now, all his care utterly came from gratitude. Since Kaname agreed to go back with him, Zero had several times initiated physical contacts, trying to act as though they were quite relaxed and natural, but each time his arms only stayed around his shoulders, even when holding him and rubbing his back, those tender hands never once reached down his waist. It wasn't hard to see Zero was constantly forcing himself in high caution to make sure the pureblood was in his best care.
Chilly breeze suddenly rushed over, stripping more shriveled leaves off their dry branches. Kaname snuggled up in the wool jacket. It's getting colder at nightfall, but exterior coldness couldn't be as piercing as the storm raging inside him, just as this warm jacket could never be able to replace its owner's loving embrace in the old times.
Another curled leaf wearily fell onto his shoe, rose branches were almost denuded. His slender fingers lightly brushed against a dry thorn.
Pure blood scent tinted the air,
sacred drops dribbled down barren plants.
"Kuran! Are you alright?"
Zero re-appeared at the doors with anxiety. In a worrying moment, he failed to arrange his words wisely, yet the word "Kuran" slipped out of his lips so naturally as though it should be the way.
Kaname looked up. Pain flooded over his senses, but subtly vanished in burgundy depth when he managed to suppress the overwhelming.
His lover shouldn't know he was hurt from that undeliberate word.
A smile delicately curled on withered lips, somber as tears falling.
It's said truth only came out in the most heedless moment.
Before or now, devoting his life for Zero was his utmost contentment. However, without the invaluable feeling of love, the young hunter was forcibly pressuring himself to look after him.
Blood still seeped on the tips of his pale fingers, and roses were magically blooming. The vigorously revived plants showed off their oomph on beautiful carmine flowers, on flourishing branches with green leaves, and a typical, irresistible fragrance spreading around.
But who had the heart to contemplate on their radiance in this moment? Zero brought Kaname to his bedroom, sliding a set of pajamas into his hands, then showing him the way to the adjacent bathroom. While rapidly cleaning up the place and changing the bedsheet, he had hoped for five or ten minutes free to lie down when Kaname was taking his shower. In fact, there was no such thing, he needed to rush for gauzes and bandages as remembering the pureblood had a wound on his left shoulder, which he could easily feel the thick dressing every time touching him.
Then maybe a pot of hot tea. Both of them hadn't had anything to drink since reaching home. He again rushed to the kitchen to boil some water. Would Kaname like it strong or light? How many spoons of tea would fit his taste?
The fridge was totally empty, a few cookies left in the jar had already been softened. What else could be served with tea?
As the kettle stopped, Zero bleakly realized he was being befuddled on some minor thing. It must be the result of no decent rest for two months, an arduous hunting and being torn off by personal relationship issues. After the pureblood killer was eliminated, his tenseness even got higher. If it was just him alone, he would have climbed on his bed the first thing after getting home, and made up for lost sleep until his mind was clear enough to sort things out.
Nevertheless, it wasn't the case. Despite of his exhaustion, he was still the healthy one, while Kaname was the patient, who needed a constant attendance that he himself had insisted to offer. So he wasn't going to fail him. At least he could look forwards to sitting down when the tea was done.
It's not that Zero had never experienced tough time. He had gone through many strict trainings and a lot of works to catch up with the others in the last five years. He was used to pushing himself beyond limit and extending his endurance to re-achieve the supreme level of hunter. In those wearing moments, he often encouraged himself by saying a short break was coming soon.
Though it wasn't usually true.
When he returned to the bedroom, Kaname was walking out from his shower.
Meaning there was no break.
Trying to hide his tiredness, he carried the tray to the small sofa.
"Let's have some tea."
The pureblood quietly followed him to sit down at a further seat.
Pretending to focus on filling up their cups, Zero avoided looking at… His savior? His special guest? Or his roommate? Kaname hadn't said what kind of relationship he wanted them to be, but whatever it was, they were living together until the pureblood drew his last breath, and it was his responsibility to make him feel at ease.
"If you feel well, we can go to your place tomorrow to get your belongings. Please tell me anything you want, anything you like and dislike to keep here, I will quickly rearrange for you."
It might be overcautious, but they were different races, grown in different cultures. There might be some habits or items in his apartment that the pureblood was uncomfortable with, especially when Zero was a hunter.
Kaname was guilty seeing his lover keep working without a respite since they prepared to go back. Those elegant grey brows was unconsciously frowning of anxiety, hands rather gawky as he almost spilled tea out of his own cup. Zero must be very tired, but with his health conditions, he couldn't help him at all, on the contrary, would depend on him and put him under loads of pressure. "No hurry, my daily stuff are little and simple, it's easier to buy new ones here. But after you have enough rest, we can go to get some important things that I want to return to you. They are my books with lots of your handwritings, and the photos you sent to chairman Cross during your childhood."
Zero looked up with curiosity. How could it be possible?
"When you and Ichiru came to Hokkaido for the first time, chairman inspired you to photography, and encouraged you to take photos of everything around you to send to him. A part of the reason was he knew I craved for a connection with you, and wanted to help me. He even let me reply to you on his behalf. I should have returned all the photos to you when your memory lost, but I only gave some, because they were the only things of yours I could have."
The photos which Kaname had returned five years before had helped Zero to know how his parents, his brother, and his relatives looked like. When the chairman gave them to him, he said there were more that he would look for where they were being kept. In fact, the pureblood was holding to the rest of them as his greatest treasure.
It was kind of flattering, but at the same time very weird that their relationship hadn't begun when they both were mature. Zero knew there was a twenty year gap between them, however, they should only start when he was at least eighteen and the pureblood had finished with Takuma Ichijou. Otherwise, what they shared was merely a result of lust and betrayal.
"You were already in love with me when I was a child?"
"I was living with Ichijou at that time, I didn't have the right to love you." Kaname answered honestly "But if you insisted, I wouldn't be able to resist."
Because they were fated lovers, Kaname was attracted to Zero as much as the hunter to him. So he had avoided meeting Zero in person. His original plan was to protect the young hunter's future from afar, it started changing when his relationship with Takuma was broken up and Zero made the first move. He was too scared of blemishing him with his tainted past, but as a mayfly, he couldn't get away from that fervent flame. He yearned to be burnt in his love, he yearned to become his, even if it would cost his life.
Unfortunately, such a passionate feeling wasn't as adorable in the hunter's current opinion. Zero didn't want to dig deep into who might have insisted and who couldn't have resisted from the pureblood's answer. He had forgotten their past, but he should be as sinful if they had had a licentious beginning. Nevertheless, Kaname had lost everything because of him, he deserved to be compensated for his sacrifices.
"We'll go get your belongings." Zero changed the topic back to their plan for the next day. "From tomorrow, I'll cook. You can tell me what you would like to eat and how they should be served, I'll try my best to fit your appetite. But right now, can we order some food? What do you feel like having?"
"I'm fine. Just order enough for you." Kaname sipped his tea and placed the half-full cup back to its saucer.
"But you didn't eat anything." Zero meant the pureblood hadn't eaten on the flight, nor before that. To be exact, he had never seen him eating anything.
"You don't need to worry about my food and drink." Kaname said softly. "I don't eat."
"What do you mean? Are you trying to kill yourself? You stopped taking medicine, you stopped eating. Do you want to die of starvation in front of my eyes? Is it your intention?"
Zero startled when his harsh thoughts unexpectedly blurted out in rage. Takuma said the pureblood had refused medical treatments since his fight with Shizuka was over. Two months ago, he himself witnessed Kaname cough blood when they met in Naha. Since yesterday, they were together most of the time, and each time seeing him utterly exhausted after a dreadful fit of cough, Zero wanted to find a chance to convince him to visit the doctor. He wanted to tell him to value his own life. But it seemed Kaname was too enthusiastic to destroy himself.
To this point, it wasn't a lofty sacrifice.
It was sickeningly unacceptable.
"I'm sorry." Zero stuttered and swiftly ran out of the room. If staying longer, he's afraid of saying more hurtful things. He didn't like the pureblood's attitude, and obviously held an opposite view to what Kaname was thinking.
All hunters' marriages based on their parents' arrangements. They tended to marry to the family with similarity of social background, and be the first of their partner. The bond was a matter of pride, it would become a serious issue, even fight between families if the bond wasn't created after their wedding night. Although Zero couldn't deny the fact which had been supported by firm evidences, he couldn't comprehend why his past-self had gone against their traditional customs to tie a knot with a male pureblood vampire, who everyone knew had been in a relationship with another vampire for thirty years.
Supposed they had found similar wishes and goals in life, his memory loss unfortunately hindered him from figuring out what they exactly were.
Wind was getting stronger when night was falling deep.
Seductive fragrance of blooming roses invited him back to the balcony.
Cross said those plants came from his home garden in Naha. They were the Kiryuu roses, the symbol of his family line, a part of his heritage that he had tried hard to cultivate with regard and devotion. Yet their flowers had never been that big and resplendent, tonight each beautiful petal seemed to glowing exquisitely in dim light.
Why suddenly they reminded him of the roses surrounding the conservatory on the other day? They turned out to be the same type, the red Kiryuu roses which had been fed on pure blood.
How had they been grown in the Kuran garden?
Was it another way of acknowledgement which his past-self had given to his lover?
Light footsteps ceased from a distance.
Time passed in silence.
Behind the thin curtains fluttering in wind, a handsome man stood quietly by glowing roses.
Moon shone his silver hair, shone his delicate shadow lying still on dark floor.
Kaname reached a hand out to longingly fondle the image of his lover. Since when his heart became overwhelmed with thoughts and desires of this young man? Since when he started craving to snuggle to that broad chest, to belong to those strong arms?
Their happiness only lasted half a night, too ephemeral that sometimes he thought it was just an illusion which his mind created to abate his suffering. Yet he believed Zero had truly loved him, not from that memorable night, but already in the first time they talked.
They met at a ball organized by chairman Cross. His lover was also standing alone at the balcony at that time, and in a gracious manner, turned down all pretty, young girls who would like to invite him for a dance. Moon shone his silver hair, reflecting in his fascinating amethyst eyes.
"Kuran-sensei, I've always admired you. My name is Zero Kiryuu."
If only for courtesy when Cross introduced them to each other, his lover could have used their status as a hunter and a vampire to greet him. But he started their first conversation warmly on the basis that both of them were doctors, as wanting to tell him he wasn't lining a border to separate their opposite natures.
Many times Kaname worried that Zero would make an excuse to end their talk and immediately forget him as soon as turning away. Although they were fated lover, he didn't have confidence to hold any appeal for him. All the men who wanted a relationship with him so far had engraved in his mind that his only attraction was his pure blood. If not for the unique, invaluable blood running in his veins, Rido, Ichiou, Takuma wouldn't have laid their eyes on him. But Zero was a human hunter, he didn't need to drink his blood, he was engaged and had a bright future, he had no reason to pay attention to him.
Nevertheless, the young hunter spent all night speaking with him, even suggested exchanging phone numbers at the end. Since then, he stepped into his life as a new breeze. He was usually calm and behaved with ease. He smiled with him from the bottom of his heart, he cared for him as his dear one. Kaname was so scared that one day this heavenly bliss would disappear. He had lost Takuma after thirty years trying to please him, and Zero was the reason in subconsciousness that encouraged him to survive. He wouldn't be able to suffer the pain of losing him.
He wanted to struggle to gain his love, to secure him for himself, though knowing he didn't have the right to keep it long. In the hunter customs, a man only slept with his wife, but a wife would be executed if unable to bear children. In fact, she would be executed immediately if her husband's family crest wasn't reborn on her arm after their wedding night.
To have the hunter's love, to become his, Kaname would have to pay by his own life. Yet he was determined. As long as Zero loved him, and they could have a short time together exclusively, he was willing to comply with those strict customs.
Ironically, all they had was half a night. As holding his lover's injured body on his lap, the pureblood realized true happiness wasn't to be happily together, but to see his lover truly happy.
"I'm sorry, my love! I can't keep any promise with you." Zero smiled gloomily "I can't take the shame of being turned. Could you please help me to spare that painful fate? Kill me and forget me!"
They cried when Kaname promised to fulfil his wish. Mournful ambiance embraced their falling moment. Around them lying plenty of lifeless corpses of his lover's family, on the yard which had been covered by dark blood.
He bent down to give him the last kiss, passion soaked with the salty taste of their tears.
"You will live as a human and die as a human, I promise."
Kaname resignedly loosened his arm down. He had let Zero go since, he used an eye with half of his strength to reconvert him to human. Their fate was broken, the hunter no longer remembered him or harbored any desire for him. Even now, when he had followed him back, even their distance was only a few steps away, he no longer had the chance to touch his precious heart.
I'm sorry for putting you to too much trouble. I shouldn't have come here and unsettled your life. When you said I could decide the nature of our relationship, I wanted to ask you right away if you would agree to take me as your wife, though I knew it would be a very precipitate and irresponsible request.
Even if you constrain yourself to accept me, my conditions won't allow me to eat on the same table with you, or sleep with you on the same bed. I don't know how long I can still sit up to wait for your coming back each day. I don't know how long I can still walk around to lighten the room at nightfall, so you will be welcomed by a cozy light upon your return and not feeling it is an abandoned home.
I didn't mean to get you angry when we finally had the chance to sit down together. You even didn't touch your tea before rushing out, and it proved that my coming here wasn't a right decision.
So I am leaving to fix this mistake, but I am not running away from you and denying our past ever again. Don't be frustrated, and please keep reading till the end of this letter, because there are things that I don't know how to tell you face to face.
Please forgive my gaucheness that upset you, and forgive me for not thinking thoroughly before taking your invitation. Yesterday my mind was clouded with joys seeing you safe and sound, and I acted on the impulsion of the moment while I should consider more about how you would feel.
My digestive system can't function anymore, I will throw up all food I tried to swallow. That's why I had to stop eating. My illness has reached its last stage, I can still move around because I am a pureblood, my decline is different than a human, and my medical treatment was also different than normal medical treatments. Previously, my blood was extracted from my body, so that it could restore its original structure, then mixed with the medicine, and injected back to my veins.
This treatment became unfeasible this year since my bone marrow stopped producing blood. Anyway, it was ineffective, because the wound on my left shoulder, as you figured out, has ulcerated down my chest and will be the actual cause of my demise.
You said I could decide our relationship. Now I can give you my answer. I want a good friendship between us. I will prepare a room for you at my place, you are welcome to visit me anytime as my friend. This is our only way out possible. I hope you will not oppose it, but agree with me. With respect to the precious love we shared, please don't stress yourself to prolong something that no longer exists.
The blooming roses were my last gift to you, as you once told me they made you recall the serenity of your childhood, when you could always see them from the window of your and Ichiru's room. From now on, they will forever keep blooming in best grace as a reminder that there were good memories and good time in the past, whether you can remember or not.
So don't let the obscurity hold you down.
Move on, as life is moving on.
But right now, please take off your sweated clothes, have a hot bath, and go to bed. You must be fully recovered in our next meeting.
Take your well-deserved rest, and I will be waiting.
I'm sorry that it is not the happy ending which Zero and Kaname deserve, however, it will be unreasonable if Zero suddenly loves Kaname with all his heart. At least the misunderstanding between them has been cleared, and more or less Zero has accepted Kaname. With time his feeling for him will surely grow.
The last part of this series will be "My beloved pureblood once more", in which Zero falls for Kaname all over again, despite of his memory loss. Also reveals the reason of the pureblood's wound on his left shoulder, how they go through the day when Tsubasa gets his fatal arousal, and at the end how they face the day when Kaname draws his last breath.
Thank you again for all your support! Please let me know in your review if you want me to send a pm when the last part starts.
Now I will work on my other on-going stories *sweat*