This story is written for benforkevin (and again, this isn't a bribe or anything *gives you a look*) and is my pitiful attempt at a TakuZero fic. It has a bit of onesided ZeroxYuuki and onesided TakuxSara and then hints at KanamexYuuki. Like, almost invisibly hints at it. But there is a warped bit of tentative TakuZero. Or ZeroTaku. . I can't tell. But...wow, I'm babbling. I should wait to do that in the end. So shoo shoo, go read now.

Oh! Yeah, I want to thank xSonya and KavanBurningWings for giving me an extra push with this fic. I can be an annoying perfectionist or something or other when it comes to writing. Well, it wont be perfect. I'm sure there are tons of mistakes because I'm senivjkdasfnisjakdn gO READ! *tapes virtual mouth shut*


No Such Thing as Normal Love

by: TheseScarletDropsofINK

The moon hung heavy in the denim night, embraced by a soft glow from the aura that surrounded its crescent shape. Dozens of stars were strewn about like diamonds, veiled by wispy clouds that tarried across the sky. Perhaps, at one point in his life, he may have glanced up to admire their beauty: to find some meaning to grasp onto in his empty life. Now, he hardly noticed it. Even so, the night proudly donned its ambiance like a gown, dancing to the sounds of crickets playing a symphony with the choir of light breezes among trees; their whimsical whispers falling like a thin sheet over the quietness of the town below.

Everything below, down to the last cobble stone, was cloaked in a cold layer of night. Blue hues were interrupted only by the orange glow of light breaking free from the edges of windows and from the lamp posts standing like unshakable guards throughout the town. Despite their valiant efforts to keep the darkness at bay, they were not enough to reveal all that lurked in the shadows. That was fine. He was not deterred in the least by such frivolous matters. After all, he was a hunter.

The staccato of his heart and the steady rush of blood echoed in his head with every careful breath he took. When shadows shifted, his eyes were on the movement in milliseconds. When there was a distant shuffle, he was there before he could register the sound. It was a night made entirely for hunting; it was a night made for more than just hunting. And no matter how many nights he spent this way, they never seized to make him feel disgusted. But at least, for the time being, while he slept with an iota of his thirst quenched, he wouldn't feel the need to claw at his throat or find a nice human to drain.

The next day, however, the guilt would weight on him like lead. It would bite on his skin like shackles and gnaw on him with each kind word of concern from the others. From Cross and Yagari. From Kaito. This was Zero's pitiful attempt at life and he had no one but them to blame. Swallowing heavily against the phantom taste of blood on his tongue, Zero Kiryu stepped into the alley bathed in darkness. He could feel the quivering of the other, hear his broken breaths as his eyes most likely darted in every which way for an escape. But there was none. Zero would catch him, there was no doubt in that.

Kenichi Hoshiyomi, a level D on the brink of falling. He'd taken the lives of six women and four men in the last month alone. If Zero hadn't been watching him tonight, he may have taken the life of yet another woman. She had been drawn to the vampire and willingly followed him down a path made dark by the archway that hid them from sight. Not as if there were many people out at this time of night to bare witness to such a thing anyway. She had come within seconds of an attack, but Zero had been there; his fingers so easily curling around the neck of his prey as he slammed him into the stone wall.

When the woman ran off, she would have no idea that the lips that brushed against her throat would've curled back against the fangs of a ravenous beast. She would have only seen the stranger that had shoved her aside to attack, the glint of an eager weapon gleaming even more beautifully than the moon in his hand. She would not be aware that she'd left behind natural enemies during the height of their game and she would be happy to never know.

The sudden movement behind the door steps on his left caught Zero's attention. He was quick to lift his arm as a clay pot was sent crashing against the hilt of his Bloody Rose. Shaking off the remnants of clay, he chased after the level d. The further Zero sank into the alley, the dirtier and narrower the cobble stone paths became. Uneven, missing and upturned stones marred the alleys; deteriorating walls diseased with age and disaster. It was like a playground to level Es. It was no wonder why there were still so many of them living in a place filled with hunters. Whoever built this town must have had a twisted sense of humor, for the alleyways resembled more a complex spider web in a fun house than integrated footpaths.

Coming around a curving path, Zero easily avoided the boxes that had been knocked over by the vampire that had just taken a sharp turn down a closed alley. He had him now, Zero knew. He had to make this quick. Rushing around the building, he was taken back by a gust of wind and the rush of ashes that sprayed against him with a sharp intensity. With an arm lifted to shield his eyes as best as possible, his Bloody Rose readily aimed, he watched as the dust began to settle.

There was a bounce of light reflected from the tamahagane, jewel steel, of a blade followed by a soft clink as the man before him straightened, his weapon safely inside its sheath. Cast in shadows between the narrow gap of buildings was someone Zero had not seen in a while. If Zero didn't have such a hauntingly good memory, he wouldn't have recognized the nineteen year old before him, looking as though he'd aged more than a measly year.

The blond of his hair was sullen; still beautiful and alluring, but no longer bright. No longer carefree and buoyant, but weighed down. The cheerfulness and the annoying sparkles of joy that used to clutter his every movement had melded into a barb-edged barrier that promised danger were one to step too closely. Without a doubt, the noble before him was a different Takuma Ichijou than the one Zero once knew. It was the difference that abraded shiny eyes of emerald down to a faded jade; a welcoming demeanor to a stand offish manner; an annoying nuisance to something more dangerous. Which was why Zero waited for the other to drop his sheathed weapon to his side before he lowered his own gun and murmured a quiet, "Ichijou-senpai," into the chorus of crickets and rustling leaves. Whether it was a greeting, a warning, or a need for confirmation- it didn't much matter.

The strands of their hair fluttered as the night air came to play, flicking at the edges of their coats and lightly sweeping at their feet, clearing away the lingering dust from the level D. "Kiryu," Ichijou spoke, and even his voice lacked the welcome and friendship it was once lacquered in. "It's been a while."

What screw had gotten loose in his head this time to have made Zero invite him home, Zero wondered as he set down the long white plate he'd placed the wagashi on onto the table and took his seat. His apartment was small, meant only for one. That had always suited him. He hated company, yet he'd invited someone home. Worse yet, it was a vampire.

Ever alert around blood suckers, Zero's eyes immediately darted to catch Ichijou's movement. The noble gave him a (very harmless) nod, hands reaching out to take the tea mug. Zero watched as Ichijou shifted it to his left hand, turned it with his right, then carefully brought it up for a drink. When he set the cup back down, he wiped the lip of his cup with a forefinger. As he began turning the cup once again, Zero was struck with a sudden memory of being rudely woken from his nap back in the academy. It had been over a year ago. He'd been forced awake by Wakaba, who'd come on behalf of Yuuki, in order to deal with yet another incident involving the Day class girls.

From what he remembered, the hallway had been packed with students crowding a certain classroom. Yuuki had been lost within the sea of black skirts, long ago loosing the battle to these raving lunatics. Forcing his way towards the commotion and issuing threats left and right, Zero came upon the scene of the Night Class's Vice President, Takuma Ichijou. He sat on a tatami mat, posture perfect, face serene and Zero had- for just a second- been caught up in the movements; in the enchantment of watching Ichijou prepare tea for the day class girls as though it were some sort of surgery or dance. And there had been a beauty in that that took Zero by surprise.

Ichijou tapped the plate of sweets with his right hand, bringing Zero back to the present as he took one of the white, round confections and brought it to his lips. Zero averted his gaze, taking a sip of his own tea and being forced to realize his lack of etiquette where Ichijou's prevailed. He wasn't familiar with tea ceremonies and so he had no idea what he was supposed to do. Even if he did, he didn't feel the need to do much. This wasn't a tea ceremony, it was just...just- Zero didn't even know what it was. But that was fine because it didn't need to be anything.

If Ichijou felt the need to stand on formalities, that was his incentive. This was probably just one of his idiosyncrasies, anyway. Something he found comfort in because he was used to it. What did Zero know? He was still too busy wondering why he had bothered to invite the vampire to his place to even begin contemplating his formal mannerisms.

Maybe he was curious, Zero rationalized. After all, no one had known where Ichijou had gone after that last incident with Sara. Yet here he was. In Zero's apartment. Eating confections and drinking tea like it was a meeting between two old friends. Except they weren't friends. It was punctuated by the stifled silence that floated around them. They were merely two worn out members of opposing factions who had the misfortune of crossing paths with a pureblood too many and were now having tea in the quiet of his apartment like it was completely normal.

"I'm sorry."

Lavender eyes shaded a muggy green over the reflection of tea sharpened into focus at the quiet voice that disrupted the silence. A subtle shift of his head and his eyes were on Ichijou. "For?" There may have been a jaded edge in his expression, chiseled around the edges so it lacked the bite it would have had in the past. Like he'd given in, but still couldn't bring himself to surrender completely.

"About what happened the last time we met." Green eyes held lilac like an invisible hand that gripped his throat and forced him to face the unspoken words: when I held the gun to your head.

Zero's head titled slightly, gaze breaking free easily. If he could escape a purebood's hold, a noble's had no effect on him. Whether the vampire was purposely trying to intimidate him or not, Zero didn't know. Didn't care, as a vague memory of being threatened fluttered across his memory (his Bloody Rose, cold steel, heart thudding, death a trigger away) before being shrugged off. "It doesn't matter." When his gaze returned to Ichijou's, it spoke his sentiments quite clearly: It wasn't anything I'm not used to.

"Life has been unfair to you." Ichijou gripped his warm cup of tea with both hands, taking the moment to stare into the comforting liquid. His jaded reflection stared back and the words he'd directed at Zero seemed to bounce back to himself.

"I'm not looking for pity," Zero said and Ichijou broke the gaze of his reflection, wishing he could say those words himself. "No. I don't suppose you are. You're too strong for that."

He tried to hold back the bitterness in his voice, but it wormed its way out, spoiling his words like a rotten apple. Deceivingly sweet, yet rotten to the core. Yes, that was him, wasn't it? A rotten Takuma Ichijou who had fallen in love with a pureblood. Zero said nothing, watching with eyes so closed off they were impenetrable. Distracting himself by drinking tea, Ichijou couldn't suppress the envy he felt.

"We are the inevitable victims in their games," said Ichijou, putting down his tea. "It is useless to be weak."

Zero wasn't a part of anyone's game. If Ichijou was fine with being some sort of pawn on a chess board to those damn bastards then he'd already lost. They ruined lives. They cared for no one and stole what remnants of innocence and happiness they could. Wasn't the vampire sitting before him a fine example of this?

Gone was the old Takuma Ichijou that had been so annoyingly vibrant. The open and wide eyed innocence in his eyes had sunken into a half-lidded and jaded reality where only the dead lied. Looking into them was like watching a child slip from his childhood to the sudden and harsh reality of an adult's life in a matter of seconds. The corner of his lips were pressed down, smiling suddenly becoming too much of an effort -this...this is what they did.

Back at the association, Ichijou had stood up to Kuran. He'd wanted to protect that female pureblood who had become precious to him, even knowing that she was manipulating him. Ichijou had known he was being toyed with, yet he had still fought to protect her. And in the end...

"He took her from you." He didn't meant to sound angry, but Zero couldn't understand. How could he be so blind? Why was he still loyal to someone who had manipulated him? To a so called friend who had equally used him?

When green eyes focused on him, there was a sharp spark that flared in them. It gave the impression of a forest being set alight by a rampaging fire. And when his lips parted, the words that slipped past were sent with a deliberate blow. Cause, after all...

"He took her from you, as well."

...he was right.

He should have seen it coming, he knew he should have. But he hadn't. Fingers pressed just a bit tighter on his cup, eyes darkening into a darker shade, closing off even further- Zero's reaction, while noticeable, was subtle. It was a standstill. They stared at each other quietly over the table. Were they enemies? Were they on the same side? Two people who had gone along different paths, both broken from their encounters with those vampires feared even amongst their own kind...Were they allies?

Zero sighed, leaning back into his chair with a suspicious and weary gaze. "Are you siding with him?"

Ichijou didn't answer immediately.

Kaname had been his best friend: they'd grown up together; Ichijou had loved Sara: he had assumed she'd felt the same, if only in a twisted way. Both purebloods had done horrible things. Things with reasons that Ichijou couldn't fathom. They had manipulated him and yet he still did not want either of them to die. With the still fresh memory of Sara's lips sealing his own, Ichijou found himself unable to answer.

In the stretch of silence that followed, a familiar sensation like an embrace from the devil crept upon Zero. Lowering his gaze, fingers curling around the porcelain cup, Zero focused on breathing steadily. There was never an easy way to abate his hunger (the ache at the pit of his stomach swallowing him whole from the inside; the burning of his throat, the tremble in his fingers and the desperate need in his mouth while his fangs hummed in their desire to pierce someone- anyone), but if he could hold it back for only a short while...

Ichijou looked at Zero knowingly. The hunter wasn't looking at him, but Ichijou could sense the hunger in the air. It was almost suffocating how sudden and intense it felt. To think that Kiryu could manage like this... "How are you holding up?"

Not pretending to misunderstand, the corners of Zero's lips sunk, a scowl being veiled by silver strands.

"I was wondering why you hadn't taken that level d out sooner. It should have been very simple for you..."Ichijou watched him closely. "But you weren't intending to kill him, were you?"

Zero's sharp grip on the tea cup caused a crack along its surface. Despite his efforts to keep himself calm, Ichijou could see Zero's eyes flickering back and forth like a match fighting to survive against a harsh wind; swaying so easily in every which direction.

"It must be difficult. Living with such a terrible thirst." And again, Ichijou couldn't help but admire that. Zero had always been admirably strong against such base instincts that brought even some of the strongest vampires simpering to their knees. Zero had always been able to resist them.

Ichijou had to admit, there was something dangerously alluring to Zero in this state. To watch the struggle as he fought himself; the way the ink on his neck bit into his skin, burning the same shade of crimson as his eyes- like a beacon for others to keep away, even as the beast within was brought to the surface. And still, he fought it back, forcing the huger to slide away from his gaze and allowing the clarity of his lavender gaze to glare at Ichijou.

Fuck off, it seemed to say.

Ichijou was undaunted. "It seems I have stolen away your meal." Rising fluidly to his feet, Ichijou stepped forward. "It would only be fair of me to offer you my own blood in return."

With an ounce of pleasure at cracking that stone faced expression on the hunter's face, Ichijou stared firmly back into eyes wide with surprise. "It wouldn't hurt to have blood that doesn't taste of insanity and death," he encouraged.

Green eyes watched closely as a pale throat swallowed hungrily, the glow of the hunter's tattoo swarming about like a live thing. He moved to raise a hand in order to remove the barriers around his throat only to have his wrist caught in the shackles of Zero's hand. He could feel the way Kiryu trembled. The gaze that was fixed upon him was like a clash of violet gray and scarlet, unwilling to lower his guard even at Ichijou's generous offer. His expression seemed to be seeking confirmation.

Are you sure?

That Kiryu was even able to hold himself back to make sure was impressive. Even so... Ichijou undid the buttons of his coat with his free hands and began to mimic the action on his under shirt, tugging the material away from the column of his creamy throat. When he glanced down at Zero, the hunter's gaze was no longer on his face, but rather on the intricate vine-like trails of veins visible to him. With a softening of his expression (eyes becoming less hardened, jaw less tense and lips dipping into an upwards curve too subtle for most to notice), Ichijou gave his reassurance.

I'm sure.

Taking up the invitation, Zero's lips parted, the gleam of his fangs pressing onto his lower lip. He stood steadily, not rushing or pouncing like a proper predator would- which Ichijou was thankful for. Though Shiki had drank his blood before, he had never been pierced by anyone's fangs.

Fingers warned by tea reached out, touching the side of his neck in a whispered touch, testing the waters. Ichijou didn't flinch or show much of a reaction to the way Zero's fingers slid slowly down his neck, the tip of his finger nail lightly drawing a path as it dipped beneath his shirt collar.

Ichijou's wrist was still held captive while Zero's left hand began an almost caress over Ichijou's left shoulder, warming it with his touch, then making him want to shudder at the way he left it exposed to the cool air, taking the material of his shirt as far away with him as possible. When Zero's hand held Ichijou's shoulder bare, those fingers around Ichijou's wrist tightened their prison.

Ichijou, who kept his gaze over Zero's shoulder, shifted his stare to the hunter: Zero's eyes were a ruby red, fixated on the exposure of his neck and shoulder. They were still at arms length from each other, but Zero stepped forward and changed that. Their clothes greeted each other as the sudden scent of the hunter attacked him.

Zero smelled of the night. Almost like the scent of the Earth after it rained. A fresh scent that mingled with gun powder and hunter magic, but also held a lingering taste of darkness. It made Ichijou's lips tingle and buzz from standing so close. It wasn't a painful sensation, instead it sent a bit of a thrill through him. His heart picked up a quiet pace, giving him a strange urge to bite or lick his lips; he swallowed instead.

A part of him wondered if Zero was purposely doing this. He was also a vampire who could lure in his own prey. So, was this the scent of Zero's pheromones? The kind that beckoned prey and threatened vampires? Closing his eyes and taking a breath, he inhaled the scent, savoring it. It made his mouth water. It was strange. He almost seemed willing to do anything the hunter asked of him. Was this what humans felt when vampires lured them?

Turning his head slightly towards Zero, Ichijou felt the hunter's hair mingle lightly with his own. The scent he picked up this time was more human. Fresh. Innocent. It was like a bouquet of fresh lavender flowers that filled him with a sweet feeling.

Zero lowered his head till Ichijou could feel the hot breath that broke against his skin. The hunter nuzzled the area of his neck and Ichijou found a similarity between the movement and the way he'd tapped the plate of sweets while drinking his tea earlier- it was the way he'd been taught to show respect. Then the flat of Zero's tongue ran over the curve of his neck and shoulder- hot and slick- and he'd managed not to flinch. Unfortunately, the second Zero had moved away and breathed over the skin, Ichijou felt a shudder scuttle down his spine in a telling rush of excitement.

Paying Ichijou's reaction no heed, Zero ran his tongue over the noble's milky cream skin again, trembling at the silk and salty taste that, in some way, managed to seem sweet. He was trembling with the effort to be courteous and take his time to prep the skin, lavishing it well so it would heal quicker and be less painful. He knew how much it could hurt without the preparation- both physically and mentally. So when he pressed his fangs onto Ichijou's neck- the twin points dipping into the skin- it took little to sink them down in one fluid go. The moment Zero pierced through the skin, his fingers tightened in a sudden attempt to hold himself back, nearly breaking Ichijou's wrist in his desperation. The scent of blood rushed through him, blowing out his pupils and causing the searing tattoo on his neck to sink deeper into his neck- admonishing him for what he was.

It hadn't been too painful, Ichijou thought after Zero had bitten down and his eyes had fluttered. He could feel the hunter's fangs buried in his shoulders; an intrusion that made his blood hum and his muscles tense. The only pain he had felt was the damn near crushing grip Zero suddenly had on his wrist. Other than that, he hadn't felt any pain. Perhaps, a bit of mild discomfort. All in all, it was simply an odd feeling...

With his eyes wired shut, Zero held still, not wanting to drink immediately; knowing that if he simply gave in and took what he wanted, there would be a chance he might not stop. So Zero unintentionally basked in the warm scent of the vampire noble. It was a nostalgic fragrance that reminded him of the Sunday mornings his mother would wake up and bake their favorite sweets. The thought made Zero swallow against a lump in his throat, inadvertently taking a sip of blood into his mouth.

Ichijou gasped.

As a child, Takuma had been taught that being bitten was a sacred act. It brought forth feelings of pleasure that should be reserved for those few special vampires that he could trust. It was like revealing a part of yourself, being vulnerable and open. It was ideal for a vampire to be bitten only by one other- the one you'd undoubtedly be bonded to. At least, that was how his mother had put it. Ichijou had been fascinated by the idea of a vampire's bite. He had always imagined it would be painful. So, when he had the chance to witness vampires (and a few times, willing humans) being bitten, he had made sure to take in their expressions of pleasure.

However, standing here with his heart racing at a steady pace, Zero's fangs lodged into his neck and Zero's fingers biting into his wrist and shoulder, he couldn't help but feel (disappointed) as though it had all been exaggerated. The sip of blood Zero took had surprised him, but it hadn't really felt good so much as startling.

The feel of the warm blood that spread over Zero's tongue was deliciously free from the taste of insanity. It was clean, light and fresh. So utterly different than any blood he'd tasted that he couldn't help but let the blood simply sink on his tongue and tease his mouth with its flavor. Despite having the so called blessing of being able to taste the blood of a pureblood, Zero had never enjoyed it. Sure their blood was rich and decadent, but it was also repulsively addicting. It was heady to the point of dizziness and quenched without quenching; it made your belly full, but weighed it down like shackles. It was blood that burned alive within him. Ichijou's blood lacked that dangerous potency. It was a bitter sweet taste. Easy to swallow and wouldn't swallow you whole. It was delicate and clean, but strong and mature. It was such a welcoming taste that Zero tried to savor it as best as he could.

Ichijou felt the pressure of Zero's fingers tightening over his clothes as he shuffled closer. If they weren't standing so close to each other, Ichijou might have missed the barely audible whimper that escaped the hunter. Was he holding himself back, Ichijou wondered. To show Zero it was okay, he turned his head away, submissive to Zero's fangs. The move seemed to communicate (well between them) better than words. Zero sucked and Ichijou had to take in a deep breath as he shivered at the sensation of his blood rushing into Zero's mouth.

The feeling left Ichijou's head spinning, his fingers and toes tingling at the sudden rush of pleasure. His mouth felt dry no matter how many times he kept swallowing, but the more Zero drank, the more helpless to the pleasure Ichijou felt. He could feel the flicker of blood lust spark into his eyes, so he closed them. Forced his body to calm down and relax, but this only heightened his senses. There was a heady scent in the air now. He recognized the smells separately, but they seemed to be tangling themselves together. The scent of his blood, which he was too accustomed to to notice; the mixture of lavender and electricity; of mouthwatering hunger.

Shaking his head to free himself from the lustful hold of the mixed scents, Ichijou inadvertently dislodged Zero's fangs. The hunter pulled them completely out, the feeling making Ichijou's breath catch, before sinking them down into the same wounds. Ichijou was fairly certain this angle was different and he would bet an arm and a leg that Zero had chosen another vein. One he wouldn't easily be dislodged from.

Although Zero was doing a good job of preventing blood from escaping him, Ichijou's shoulder felt wet with a concoction of saliva and blood. The mess was most likely his own fault, though. A sharp gasp filled the air at a particular surge in his blood, as Ichijou felt Zero completely sinking into him. It was then that it suddenly hit him: the intimacy of the act. With Zero's body pressing into him, his scent driving Ichijou into an intoxicated state, and Zero's fangs causing him an uncomfortable amount of pleasure- it was all too intimate. But he couldn't deny that it also felt nice. If Sara-sama had been inclined to drink his blood, would it have felt this way? Would his feelings have magnified the sensations? Even if he was being manipulated, would it have felt this great?

The sudden images that hit Zero caused a thud at the back of his throat. Memories that didn't belong to him fluttered by of that blonde pureblood. Waves of gold tumbled before him, a hand reaching out to catch them. She was always so distant, but a part of him truly believed she simply wanted to be loved. No matter how violent she became. Having her claw away at his chest or shove him around, it was only her desire for attention crying out. He could hear it. No matter how warped and twisted the emotion was. It was love. He loved-

Zero fought hard to jerk away. The movement was nothing more than a simple tugging of his fangs pulling away, but the struggle had been internal. He silently caught his breath, forcing himself down from the height of his feeding. It was then he recognized the feel of Ichijou's forehead resting against his shoulder, his hands having reached out to catch him. To catch anything. One clung to his bicep, the other (still very much trapped in Zero's hold) awkwardly held his hand.

Despite the uncomfortable situation, Zero didn't move away. He could see the rise and fall of Ichijou's shoulders as he sought composure (or comfort). Zero tried not to think of it. To not sympathize with how similar the emotions that had come pouring into him had felt. The longing for someone who was only toying with him. Of being but a joke in a game made for power hungry purebloods. So he didn't sympathize. Instead, he focused on the leaking wound on Ichijou's shoulders. He grimaced at the mess he'd made.

When a tongue lapped at his wound, Ichijou's blond lashes fluttered open. His face was in Zero's shoulder and he couldn't help but wonder when exactly that had happened. He felt a bit weak kneed. Maybe offering his blood hadn't been a smart idea. Not when he hadn't had any of the blood tablets (or blood in general) in quite a while.

The sensation in Ichijou's shoulder was tingling against Zero's tongue. The more Zero lapped at it, trying to get it to heal faster, the more the cool air made Ichijou's body shiver. Moving his hand away from Zero's arm to his chest, Ichijou pushed him back. Their eyes incidentally met for a moment.

Ichijou didn't know why he did it. There was a fog over his mind that clouded his judgment and so, he thought nothing of leaning forward and catching Zero's lips in a soft kiss that surprised the hunter. Before giving Zero the chance to move further away, Ichijou took a step forward, caught him around his lower back and slanted his lips across the stunned hunter's.

The kiss had started out gently, if not a bit forcefully. Beneath Ichijou's own, Zero's lips were soft and obliging, moving with the same slow and gentle pace- slowly thawing from shock, he supposed. Whether it was Kiryu or Ichijou who had began to kiss more fervently was unknown, only that their lips met with more force, more frequently. The kiss was awkward and a bit out of place, but amidst the sudden (desperation) passion that seemed to flare out of nowhere, neither noticed much. Not when Ichijou's hand slid into Zero's hair (giving it a light tug), or when his teeth nibbled on Zero's bottom lip (Zero groaned).

It was only when the reality and wishful longing blurred and it was him, but it was her too, and so long as he kept touching him, he was okay. But then...Zero was never one to forget himself. With an animalistic growl, he pulled away, shoving Ichijou back while his fingers dug into his shoulders. And unlike Ichijou's usual (old) self, he let out a heavy breath and spoke venomously- "You saw-"

"I'm not her," Zero's voice was hard as he wiped away the lingering blood and saliva around his mouth. His gaze unable to meet Ichijou's. "Don't use me as some substitute." Zero knew inviting the damn vampire here was a mistake.

Ichijou stared at the hunter, the fog slowly lifting enough to allow him the benefit of wondering what had just happened. How had it gone from giving the turned human blood to Ichijou mistaking said former human for someone he wasn't; yet still, somehow, knowing it was Kiryu who's mouth he was attacking? Everything was still too raw, Ichijou realized with a heavy sigh. He was emotionally unstable. Quietly fixing his clothes, and grimacing at the wet feel of his shoulder, he muttered a quiet, "I should go."

Zero said nothing, watching as the noble composed himself, walking back over to his seat where he'd left his katana leaning up against the table. Just like before, with his invitation to the noble for tea, Zero had no idea what possessed his mouth to throw up the words, but throw up words they had. "You can stay."

By the look of surprise on Ichijou's face when he turned, the vampire must have thought Zero was possessed as well. The hunter ran a hand around his neck, rubbing at the tense muscles there as he let out a sigh. "Just for tonight. I drank more than I should have..." Zero could tell, even if his eyes were still unable to meet the jade ones that were looking him over curiously. "You can take the bed."

"What about you?" Ichijou asked, uncertain.

"I don't get the chance to sleep much," Zero admitted. "I never have. But at least, tonight, because of your blood, I'll be able to rest knowing I wont do something extreme."

Studying the hunter for a moment longer, Ichijou finally agreed. "Thank you for your hospitality, Kiryu."

There was a loud drumming in the back of his head. It had started off with a muffled thud in the distance, until it slowly worked its way up to a thundering roar that was all but kicking at his brain in the hopes of waking him up. Which it had. Which pissed him off. He couldn't remember the last time he had slept so damn soundly only to be interrupted by someone trying to knock down his front door. With the movements of a predator, Zero Kiryu moved to his feet, striding down the hall, steps faltering as his attention was caught by his bedroom door.

"Zero, I know you're in there! Open the damn door before I knock it down!" With those words, the tall young man with messy brown hair and lacking patience, gave the door in front of him a good, hard kick. The old door rattled in its place, giving a pathetic creak even as it refused to budge. The thought of Cross's whining over the broken door made the man hesitate to kick it even harder.

"Ha ha, damn! Damn! Damn!" At the child-like voice sing-songing behind him, Kaito Takamiya turned in time to see a blond woman hurriedly walking past with her child in her arms. He was cheerfully repeating Kaito's words loudly, filling the brisk morning air with the simple curse.

"Atsushi, you watch your mouth!" His mother chided before tossing Kaito a nasty little glare. He smiled with an apologetic wave, muttering about watching his mouth in the future as she scurried away. With a sigh and a hand running through the side of his hair, he turned his attention back to the door that remained stubbornly closed. He better not be in one of his moods again, Kaito thought as he slammed a fist onto the door and began to shout once again. "Zero-"

"What?!"

The door had suddenly been ripped away from him and his fist, which had been ready to clam against the wood once more, nearly made him stumble forward. Zero was standing in the door way with that I'm-going-to-kill you expression on his face. It startled Kaito for a heartbeat. Despite the open hostility (Kaito was used to the apathetic Zero lately), nothing looked out of the ordinary with him. In fact, he was looking a bit better since the last time he'd seen him. He was more...how should he put it? More lucid, maybe? Yeah. There was even more color on his face.

"Is everything okay?" Kaito asked in all seriousness.

Zero gave him the dirty eye before sighing and stepping away from the door to let him in. Once Kaito entered the apartment, Zero closed the door and followed him down the hall towards the kitchen. "I'm fine," Zero belatedly answered, scowling when Kaito walked passed his kitchen towards his bedroom. He caught the hunter by the arm. "Is there something you wanted?"

Kaito eyed him suspiciously. "You took too long to open the door," Kaito pointed out.

Zero shrugged. "I was sleeping."

"You never sleep."

"Because when I get the chance, I get interrupted by people banging down my door like animals," Zero grumbled, releasing Kaito and heading into the kitchen for some water. Even as he took a glass and filled it, Zero could hear Kaito checking the place. Kaito liked to consider himself Zero's warden every now and again, and because of the trouble Zero often caused him, he figured he owed it to the hunter to let him look around if he felt like it. As much as he'd want to snap at him for it, he was also too lethargic to even bother. Despite sleeping on the small, uncomfortable sofa in the diminutive lounge room, Zero had slept better than he had in a long time.

When Kaito stepped into the kitchen, he was frowning. There was obviously something fraying on the edges of his senses and it was annoying him. "I can't put my finger on it, but I know you're hiding something."

Zero ignored him. "Does your visit have a purpose or are you here just to annoy me?"

Giving up whatever notion was in his head, Kaito informed him that they'd been ordered to meet Jinmu and Yagari at HQ. They were most likely going to be assigned an out of town mission or something. They'd been getting those more frequently. Zero had to wonder if that had anything to do with him. After the mess with the Kurans, he couldn't imagine why it wouldn't. Nevertheless, duty called. Once he was dressed (having been rushed by an impatient Kaito), they left the apartment, Zero lingering at the steps.

Kaito turned back to him. "What's wrong?"

Zero's gaze was focused somewhere beyond the tops of the buildings across the road from them. There was an unreadable expression on his face- not that any of them were readable to begin with, Kaito thought wryly. "Have you ever been in love?"

"What?" Kaito gaped, giving Zero an incredulous look. For a second, he couldn't believe his ears. It wasn't so much the question that surprised him so much as it was the person asking it. Had Kaito ever been in love? Sure. But since when did Zero Kiryu go around asking about love? Whatever had made Zero ask seemed to have vanished the moment he'd turned to Kaito as he swiftly strode past him. "Nevermind."

"Hey wait, what do you mean 'nevermind'?" Kaito demanded, following at his heel like a lost puppy. "What's with that sudden question? Did you meet a pretty girl or something, Zero? Is that why you're in such a good mood?"

Ichijou watched the hunters from the shadows of an alley from a distance. He'd woken up hours earlier, but had lingered near by in the town. Despite needing to be on his way, he hadn't wanted to go without seeing the hunter once more. Gratitude had made him want to thank Kiryu again, to say something along the lines of, "I understand." However, Takuma knew it wouldn't be necessary. It may very well be pointless. Maybe even unwelcome, especially now that Zero was at the side of another hunter. Besides, the morning sun was becoming a nuisance and he had to get going. But as he turned to leave, Ichijou couldn't help but cast another look at the back of the silver haired vampire.

I knew it, he thought as his finger traced over the lips that had touched the hunter's. In the end, there is no such thing as normal love.

The End


Oh jaded hearts, how I fell for this pairing while writing this. I wanted to push them onto the bed, but it just didn't seem like a good moment for them to do the nasty just because I'm a perverted little girl. So I let it go. ;A; But I will dream of this pairing/lemon. I like Takuma being this way. I mean, I loved him before, but this jaded Takuma is just ngvjhdasnks. XD And Zero? Zero only ever gets sexier the more jaded he gets. But I still want him to be happy. Oh, what to do. What to do. *hides from Kaname for writing another story not involving him molesting Zero*