Disclaimer: Anybody who's actually reading this would know that Vampire Knight is the creation of Matsuri Hino. I am merely a fan.
Potential spoiler alert: This story is set post-83 so if you haven't reached that bit of the manga yet and don't want spoilers, then don't read ahead.
Sunshower Part III: Kaleidoscope
Prompt: Rain. Drawn. Light. Post-83 angst/bittersweet
Kaleidoscope: Derived from Ancient Greek kalos "beautiful, beauty", eidos "that which is seen: form, shape" and skopeo "to look to, to examine", hence "observation of beautiful forms." [Source: Wikipedia]
A complex pattern of frequently changing shapes and colours [Source: ]
They've often said that revealing your deepest and darkest emotions were a cathartic experience. Telling the person you loved your true feelings was exhilarating and liberating. Living was a gift and every day was an experience worth journeying through.
They were all just a bunch of idiots.
Everything was just painful. Plain and simple.
Alone in the kitchen, Akatsuki rifled through the cupboard for bandages. But all he could dig up were a couple of rolls of paper towels. He decided it would have to do. In his current frame of mind, it didn't matter if his wrist was throbbing painfully as blood continued to spurt out from his arteries. He was in a world of pain anyway.
But, he noted without much interest as he wiped his wrist with the paper towels roughly, the rate of his blood loss had declined significantly in the last five minutes. The room temperature was a bit colder than what he would have liked. He was also getting a bit sleepy. Normally, he would have put it all down to the blood loss and then done something to heal himself – say, take a bottle of blood tablets. But right now, all he wanted to do was sit down next to a warm fireplace and stare at the blood trickling down his hand into the kitchen sink.
Then, his view was obstructed by a hand.
A warm hand, slender and feminine, had placed itself over his wrist.
Akatsuki blinked and followed the hand up to the arm to find its owner.
"Let me help," Ruka said quietly.
"It's okay," came the automatic reply, trained after years and years of saying it.
"No, it's not," her eyes, teary but determined, were staring up at him.
"I'm fine," came his second most common reply.
"No, you're not." She sighed as she tugged gently on his back with her other hand, guiding him down to sit on one of the kitchen stools. "You're hurt because of someone else's fault. You're losing blood at an alarming rate. Yet despite all that, you are not blaming the person who hurt you even when that person is standing right in front of you."
With both of her hands on his broad shoulders, Ruka stared into his eyes. "Remind you of someone you know?"
The answer was at the tip of his tongue but he knew it didn't need saying.
She tugged another stool closer and sat down directly in front of him. "You said your blood," she swallowed as she turned her face away, letting her hair fall down and hide her expression. "You said they were all mine."
She paused for a moment as she placed the first aid kit that she had brought with her on the kitchen counter and opened it. Picking up a roll of bandage and some gauze, she turned back to gently dab at his wound. In silence, Akatsuki stared down at her bent head as she worked.
Eventually, she started speaking again. "I'm not perfect. I'm selfish and rude. And if you believe Hanabusa, not at all lady-like no matter how good I am at pretending." She looked up at him again. "So I'm going to be selfish right now. Your blood are mine and I don't want them dribbling all over the kitchen, going to waste."
He didn't know how to respond to that.
Silence fell over the kitchen once more as her attention was once more drawn back to the wound on his wrist. She cleaned it with gauze before wrapping it up tightly with a roll of bandage. Once it was all done, he raised his wrist up and tested it out. It was still sore but with the bleeding stopped, his wrist would be as good as new in a day or so.
"Thanks," he thought to say.
Ruka shook her head as she slowly tidied up the area. "It's nothing." She closed the lid of the first aid kit. "But you know what? We've grown up together. I've known you and Hanabusa all my life. There has never been a side of me that I haven't shown you. No secret that I haven't shared. No memories of me being truly alone. Yet," she glanced up at him. "You've practically kept a whole part of you away from me."
"No," he said without thinking. "Not a part."
"Right," Ruka blew out a breath and nodded, lowering her head once more. She understood the meaning behind his words. "So basically, after all those years and all those time together. I –" her breath caught as she raised her head, tears streaming down her face. "I don't know you at all."
Akatsuki shook his head. No! This was not he meant. He was still him. He had always been him. "Ruka," he began.
"No," she shot him down. "You've dumped a lot on me in the last five minutes so I feel I have the right to dump all this back on you. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Because if I did, this would happen!" came out before he could stop it.
They stared at each other from their respective corner of the kitchen, both breathing hard from the outburst.
Quietly, he continued. "Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen times when I could have told you. The night of our first soiree. When we first moved into the Night Class. During the school break when I found you in Touya's rose garden. During the battle for the Cross Academy. And every single one of the times, in my head, it played out exactly like this."
He smiled wryly. "I'd lose control and reveal everything. You'd deny it at first, then realize I'm serious, then feel betrayed because I've never said anything. And here we are, doing exactly what I had feared all along."
"You're wrong," she said as she took a step forward. Followed by another. And another. "You're wrong. You think you know everything about me. Because I tell you everything. But there's something I've never told you. Something I thought never needed to be said because it was so obvious."
Stopping right in front of him, her gaze softened. "I can't imagine a life without you."
"What?" Akatsuki was stunned.
Ruka nodded in confirmation. "All my life, I've imagined growing up, living day by day with you by my side. With Kaname-sama," she hesitated at mentioning his name but decided it was time. Time to lay everything out in the open. They need to clean out the wounds in order to let the healing start.
"With him, it was awe and adoration and looking back, an obsession. Like moths being drawn to a flame, someone once said. I think that description is quite apt. Even then," she gave a little laugh. "I can't imagine not having you there with me. You and Hanabusa would be his right-hand men. Of course, all little girls need to grow up. I knew I would never be like that to him. Even if my affections were returned, he would have all of eternity and me, a handful of centuries. So I grew up. I just wanted to follow him and be of some use. I wished Yuuki-sama and him could be happy together. Though now, that doesn't seem possible, anymore."
She raised her right hand, sliding it beneath his jacket and laid it over his chest. She could feel the beating of his heart beneath his collared shirt. How many times has that sound lured her into sleep over the years? Even now, with it beneath her hand, she felt soothed and sure of what she was doing.
"As for me, I just wanted to continue being with you. Because I know when I stumble, I'll be picked up. With you, I know if I stuff up, someone will be there to call me out on my faults. With you, I know there will be someone there to share all my joys and tears, triumphs and sorrows. With you," she sighed as she stepped forward one more step, bringing her right up against him. "I know I'll never be alone."
His arms came around her before he was aware of them doing so. "Ruka," he breathed out as he lowered his head to rest it on top of hers. "Ruka. You have to be sure. You have to be absolutely sure."
There was something blooming inside of him. Hope. And one wrong word from her could shatter it completely. But he couldn't bring himself to ask.
Still within the circle of his arms, Ruka leaned back so she could look at him. Her right hand was still trapped between their chests so she brought her left hand up to touch his face. "You're not second best," she said softly.
He stared at her in disbelief. Of course she would know. Only she would know the words he wanted to hear. No, needed to hear.
"You're not," she repeated, her voice catching a little at the end. "Because despite all my selfishness, rudeness, tantrums and hissy-fits, sulking and crying, you're still here. I –"
She broke off as his lips came crashing down on hers. Ruka gasped at the contact and Akatsuki seized the opportunity to enter her mouth. Their tongues met, tentatively at first, before entwining and stroking one another. Ruka sighed as she pressed herself closer to Akatsuki. It felt like saying hello after having not seen each other for a very long time. Her hands, through their own volition, entangled themselves into the thick locks of his hair. His were tightly wrapped around her waist, holding her against him.
It wasn't the perfect start to a relationship, even if that was what was going on between the two of them. They have so much history behind them and so many obstacles ahead. But, on that evening, in the kitchen, they both decided it was a start.
And that was good enough for them.
Akatsuki would have liked to believe that after they've finally agreed to have a go at being together, everything would be smooth-sailing like it always was in the fairy tales. But he knew it would never be that easy. There were still issues and feelings they had to talk through and deal with.
But more importantly, there was a war out there that they needed to re-join.
It took Ruka another couple of days to finally bring the subject up again. But when she did, he knew it was the right thing to do. They were needed. As much as he wanted to protect her from harm, there were some things that he had to let her do.
"I'll be okay," she had said to him on the ride over to the Academy. She had grabbed his hand and smiled up at him. "I have you, don't I?"
In the span of a few short weeks, a lot of things had changed. The hunters, though few in numbers, had always been a force to contend with. But now that their headquarter had crumbled and their weapons decimated, they are a knife's edge from engaging in an all-out-war should the vampires ever decide to attack.
Their only saving grace was Yuuki-sama.
She had changed since the last time they saw her. Her long flowing strands of hair were gone, replaced by the short bob from the early days of the Academy. The elegant gowns were traded for a jacket, short skirt and leather boots – clothes more ideal for running. Instead of glittering jewels donning her hands, Artemis became her ever present companion.
Which was why Akatsuki went looking for Ruka after he had been updated by Hanabusa on their current progress. They knew things had changed. But they had underestimated the scope of the change. He needed to make sure she was okay.
He found her hiding in the ensuite.
She was sitting on the vanity table, with her back leaning against the mirror. She was back in the familiar Night Class uniform – to help blend in – and there was a pair of scissors by her side. Her head was tilted up at the ceiling, as if the whiteness of it was helping her thought process. She was lost in her thoughts, her legs were idly swinging against the vanity counter in a way that he hadn't seen since their childhood days.
"You okay?" he asked softly. It had been a long day. There was a lot to take in.
Ruka blinked and turned her head to look at him. "Yeah," she answered. "Just thinking?"
He walked over and hopped onto the counter by her side. "About what?" He bumped her shoulder with his.
"How good you look in the uniform."
He made a face as he glanced down at himself. "Yeah, I forgot to get it ironed before putting it on."
Ruka giggled, a rare sound but one he was getting to hear more frequently these days. She leaned her head against his shoulder. "Don't. You wouldn't be Akatsuki without missing vests, untucked shirts and rumpled jackets."
He couldn't argue with that.
They sat like in companionable silence. Her head on his shoulder. His arm around her shoulders. It was comfortable and nice. If only the peace could last. But they both knew, outside the door of the ensuite, there was work to be done, research to be conducted and a war to be won.
"What's with the scissors?" he eventually asked, gesturing to it lying on the other side of her.
"Oh," Ruka blinked, glancing down as if she had just discovered they were there. "It's nothing."
He waited, knowing by the tone in her voice that it was more than nothing.
"It's just that," she began. "Yuuki-sama cut her hair." She gestured with her free hand, the one that wasn't presently tucked inside his jacket and around his waist. "It was like a sort of cleansing, letting go of who she was, who she can no longer be, so that she could become who she needs to be at the moment."
"And you wondered if you should cut your hair," he guessed.
Ruka nodded, her hair tickling the side of his throat. "Maybe I need to too, so I can let go of the past. What do you think?"
Akatsuki thought about it for a moment. He didn't mind either way. Ruka with short hair always reminded him of the happier times, when life was simple and she was always smiling (well, that or fighting with Hanabusa). But her hair now, he could tangle his hands in it and play with it all day. Besides, it was ultimately her decision.
"Cutting it," he said. "That's like shedding a layer of your past – a part you wish to forget or a part you can no longer be. There have been painful memories, yes. But happy ones too. You," he kissed her forehead. "You have to decide if you want to let go of the past or keep it."
Ruka stayed silent for a while. "Let me think about it, okay?"
He kissed her again. On the lips this time. "Take all the time you need."
"It's just that I don't think I'm ready to let go of the past yet," she mused out loud. "It's been good. And bad. And…" she trailed off as she looked up at him. "It's led me to this."
I love you. He wanted to say it then. The words were at the back of his throat but he swallowed them back. One day, he decided as he settled for tightening his hold on her instead. One day he would be ready to say those words and she would be ready to hear it.
"I mean, you just can't take the good without the bad, can you?" she sighed, resettling her head back on his shoulder.
No, Akatsuki thought as he pressed a kiss to the crown of her head, they couldn't. Just like there they couldn't have sunshine without rain. Both have to exist to place significance on each other. Without rain, you'd never truly appreciate the warmth of the sun. Yet all sunshine and no rain would lead to drought and famine and end of all things. You need both. You always need both.
Better yet, sometimes, when you combine the two, sunshine with the rain, the good with the bad, you can get a rainbow.
Author's Note: And there we have it, sunshower! Hope you guys enjoyed it!
[Not wanting to artificially inflate my word count, there's an extended A/N on my profile page, at the bottom, regarding my future plans post this series for those interested in knowing.]
I hope everyone who has read this and/or any of my other VK stories have enjoyed the ride we've all taken together. Whether you are a first time reader or someone who's been with me since the beginning, thank you! And I couldn't have done it without all your support!
It's been great!
Special thanks to: Winterwing3000, ErisAndTheWhale, Sebuttsian, Lushard, Lucius Vayne, AKA-TSUKI, Athrun-chan. Your reviews for this series have really helped me persevere and finish, giving this series an ending that I've often doubted I could write.