A/N: Thank you for sending me your support and encouragement! I'm overjoyed with your reviews, however, I also got reviews/pm's saying that this story has too much angst while is lack of comfort. It made me think a lot about it. If it's the problem, then it's a serious problem, because obviously I didn't plan any comfort in the coming chapters, and angst is increasing again! I wondered if I should lessen the intensity of angst, make things easier for the characters, or maybe put some flashback of ZK's happy moments.
Please let me know what you think.
Chapter 18: He stopped loving me today
A dense flock of belligerent bats hovered over the antique tiled roof of the Shirabukis residence. Sometimes they gathered into a huge carpet which completely shaded the bright moonlight and wrapped the entire palace in terrifying darkness. Sometimes they stretched out as a ferocious dragon floating haughtily in search for their hidden target. Purebloods didn't mix up together in bat form, despite that they were moving to the same direction. One flying flock was one individual, and its density depended on how powerful the pureblood was.
People had once seen those mighty bats flying over the world, hunting for blood. Their re-appearance seemed to be more imposing, though most of the Shirabuki residents didn't understand why they chose to attack their place.
Patent, thriving pureblood scent drew the bats strongly to the east side, where was illuminated in a warm light. It could be a well-prepared trap, however, they were in Sara's land, they had to go to where she arranged for them to meet her.
Bats turned around in circles checking for her proper location. Circles moved faster and faster, forming a strong wind to blow off a mass of tiles.
Bright light spilt over.
Sara looked up with a composed smile.
Zero manifested in front of her.
No trap. She was waiting for this fight to test her reinforced power.
He didn't waste any further minute. His Bloody Rose fired its first shot.
She ducked, and riposted with a slash of her long sword.
Bladed weapon fought against ranged one. Most of hunters exploited guns' ability of decimating the enemies from a distance to make up for their slower physical speed, while vampires preferred blades, because all of them were more or less allergic to propellant. However, cold weapons didn't give them a disadvantage as their speed and endurance were much higher that made it easy for them to get close to their enemies and pull away within an instant.
Zero didn't continue attacking Sara by bullets. To powerful enemies, he utilized the secret weapon inside Bloody Rose, its thorny poisoned vines.
Her sword drew many cuts over his body.
Their arms and wrists were tied by different parts of rose vines. Pointed thorns pierced in their flesh.
A pillar collapsed as she tried to blow him up.
Vines angrily squeezed around her body.
They pushed each other with their full strength.
Both fell down.
Severed parts of vines dropped on broken floor.
Zero instinctively turned to the soft voice which he had been longing for. It was like a miracle that assuaged all his nerves. His beloved pureblood was only a few steps far, beautiful face shaded by sincerest worries. He wobbly stood up, wiping off the blood dripping on his face, hopefully Kaname could see his happy smile. Rose thorns made some light cuts on his cheek, other thorns stuck in his arm.
Zero reached out, quiveringly called his beloved's name "Kaname!"
A tip of a sharp hunter sword suddenly jabbed through his chest and pulled out in seconds. So smooth and quick that he wasn't aware it was real until fierce pain exploded in his open wound.
Another blow assailed him from behind, he fell flat on his face.
Instinct told him to glare at Sara, gathering remaining strength to retaliate her attack.
But her situation was even worse. Blood was leaking out from her lips, she lied very still on her back.
If continued, both of them would die.
He struggled to sit up, slowly turned to his beloved, who was still holding the hunter sword with his blood dribbling along its blade. "Let's go home, Kaname!"
Those simple words were full of an infinite, unconditional love which one could ever wish for, as if Zero didn't mind at all the fact that Sara had sexually abused him hundreds times, as if he had already forgotten who had given him a severe injury just a minute before. The pureblood shamefully evaded his husband's affectionate eyes, hand helplessly tightened the sword handle.
"You have come for me, Zero! I finally could wait for you."
"Don't make a fool of yourself." Sara managed to get up, yet her weakness once again knocked her off. "He's tied with me. He isn't leaving."
"Don't worry about her. She can't do anything now." The hunter's arm once again stretched out for his beloved. He couldn't do anything either, he would also die if not having his bleeding injuries treated fast. Yet he must stay strong for Kaname. Although the pureblood looked much better, Zero was afraid he was more broken inside. "Take my hand!" Firm and gentle voice, he knew the pureblood would never reject him, he knew they would walk out of this place together. Even if he was dying, he couldn't die here and now. Not yet. Bring Kaname back, bring Kaname home safely, each of his cells was screaming to keep his agonizing mind awake.
Eternity seemed to have just passed over. Blood-stained, cold hand remained empty. Zero choked in pain, worriedly stuttered to his beloved "I know you love me. I know you didn't mean to hurt me. Let's go home. We will heal each other's wounds."
It could be a good opportunity to kill Sara now. He could have asked Kaname to end the Shirabuki's head by the hunter sword which he had just used to stab him, yet he was letting that opportunity go. His beloved looked quite bewildered, even his reassurance of not blaming him for anything didn't make him feel any better. It was difficult for both of them to see each other again, probably four months in outrageous hardship had eroded the pureblood's faith, probably his incapability had disappointed him, and just like a little bird which had been detained in a cage for too long, he didn't know how to fly up to the free sky when the chance came.
"Please look at me, and give me your hand." If you don't want to hold my hand, let me hold yours. Zero felt his body wasn't able to resist exhaustion much longer, struggling to keep his arm up for Kaname was getting harder and harder. His eyes were pleading, but it didn't seem to lessen the pureblood's reluctance. He had never seen such expression of puzzlement and uncertainty on his beloved's face before. Kaname in his memories was very gentle and sensitive, just his single frown was enough to break his heart, and his little concern would melt him completely, because he loved him, so much that it was unfair.
Why do you neglect me now? Do you not love me anymore?
"The Kuran heart is awful. You have to help me, Kaname!" Sara mumbled. There were many nobles outside, who were her lovers and bodyguards. However, none of them was going to defend her, not only because they had no chance to win, but it was natural law that nobles would lose their will to fight against purebloods when they encountered them face to face. In her and Zero's current situation, the winner would be the one who had Kaname's support.
With Sara's request, the pureblood made up his mind at lengths. Her blast had pushed Zero out a bit further. He resolutely stepped toward him. The hunter didn't sense any danger coming, his look encouraged, his hand held up higher until the sword was raised for the second time.
Turmoil rushed in with the appearance of the four nobles. They couldn't believe in their own eyes when the first scene they saw as soon as entering the destroyed lounge was the pureblood attempting to kill their husband. His slash halted abruptly, created a new small cut on the hunter's shirt, skin was torn, blood leaked out under the sharp tip.
They ran to pull Zero away. Aido instinctively bent down to check his wounds. Takuma and Kain glared at Sara, judging her situation.
Kaname quickly retreated to her side.
Nobles couldn't fight against purebloods, but those nobles were descended from stronger lines, and had indirectly consumed a lot of pure blood. They could gather their will to break the rule partially and temporarily. An evidence was they used to team up to keep Shizuka at bay. If all of them attacked Sara now, out of worries for their husband, each of their blows wasn't fatal, but all at once would possibly take her life.
She discreetly glanced at Kaname. Despite of his indifference and his cold-hearted action, he was deadly worried for his husband's injuries.
"If I'm failing, you will stab him with it. Either dead or alive and damaged, I want his condition to be worse than mine when the fight ends."
Had she not activated the blood-charmed cage which was constraining Yuuki inside, he wouldn't have interrupted her combat with Zero. Although both of them were injured, the hunter would win, severely injured and won in the end. She knew it, he also knew it. That's why she had to play the trump card to convert their situation. His interference obviously saved her and worsened the hunter's condition. It looked like she was getting out safe, but the four nobles showed up all of a sudden, once again put her back to danger.
"Your temper is worse than I thought, Zero-san! I supposed we would have a big quarrel. It turned out you'd rather sort it out by force." Sara tried to make her voice even "Why don't you calm down a little bit to listen to Kaname? Ask him if he wants to go back with you."
All eyes laid on the pureblood, waiting for an explanation of his strange attitude. His look was incomprehensible, hiding storms of agonies which were devastating his heart. He couldn't tell his family the real reason, he couldn't tell his husband how he was truly feeling. Now he understood the pain which Zero had endured in the last five years, the pain of denying love and being cruel to the one he loved. Why did they think it was better for their loved one? Why was there a situation that hurting their lover and shattering their heart was better than letting them know the truth? Zero had hurt his feeling badly because he wanted him to find someone else who could give him an eternity of happiness. And now he was breaking his husband's heart into pieces, because…
"Leave, Zero, before I attack you again!" Kaname loathed himself for his own words. On one hand, he hoped the hunter would leave before Sara forced him to damage him more than what he had already done. On the other hand, he didn't want the hunter to disappear from his sight again.
Please don't mind my words
Please don't hate me for hurting you
Please don't leave me here too longer
Next time you return, the poison will have weakened her, you will easily win
Zero… please bring me back...
The hunter was speechless, he still hadn't figured out what Kaname was going to do if his other wives didn't interrupt them in time. In the instant that sword aimed at him, he thought the world had stopped rotating. So it was that kind of pain, when the person you loved at most intended to kill you with his own hands, just as the time he pointed Bloody Rose at Kaname. The act being completed or not, his being dead or not didn't matter, because that act itself had already killed his soul. He gazed at the pureblood in despair. Opacity and reality seemed to have mingled with each other.
He loved him
He loved him since the first time he felt missing someone.
He loved him since the first time he had stayed up overnight because someone by his side could only sleep at dawn at soonest.
He loved him since he started comprehending what love was.
He loved him... more than anything else in this world.
As pain finally turned unfeeling, his love memories drifted him from excruciating reality to murkiness.
"Kaname, please return to us!" Shiki pleaded.
On the contrary, Takuma didn't want to waste more time in the enemy's residence. "Let's go! We need to treat the injuries immediately." He grabbed one of the hunter's arms around his shoulder and stood up.
Kain took the other. They carefully made it gentle so that Zero wouldn't be startled in his swoon.
Nobody stopped them. Sara was actually relieved that they were leaving. As long as she was alive, there would be another chance. Some of her ribs had been broken, her healing power wasn't working properly. When they fell down, she was weaker, but in the very end, Zero was worse as her plan. She needed Kaname right now, she needed to drain his blood and his energy to recover her strength.
In no time her bodyguards and servants rushed in to take care of her. They put her on a stretcher and hastily carried her to the feeding room, where was arranged for the sexual sessions with Kaname.
"Prepare him." She stuttered. Even in such a hurry, she still wanted him to be cleaned up appropriately.
Kaname turned around to stare at the empty entrance when being escorted to the cleaning room for that humiliating process. The sword had dropped on the floor, yet his palm remained the burning sensation of anti-vampire substance, the burning sensation of his unforgivable act. When he thrust the sword into his husband the first time, Zero was actually expecting to receive his hand and not at all in the slightest guard. Indeed, he had never defended himself in front of him. The second time Kaname raised his sword, as sharp as he was, Zero must realize it might be another stabbing, all experience of a seasoned warrior should urge him to shield his weak points as fast as possible, yet he remained unguarded, persistently keeping his hand up readily for him to take. He did not learn the lesson, he did not believe Kaname would really kill him.
"I will love you forever. Wherever I am, wherever you go, you're holding my love with you."
Lying on the special-designed bed and resting his ankles on the separated brackets, Kaname closed his eyes, braving himself for the routine. They were cleansing him, but the cleansing itself actually tainted him deeper. There was no part of his that could be considered private or personal, many had touched him, many had checked and put things inside him. There were people whose faces he still remembered, and people whose faces he had never seen. He wasn't Kaname Kuran since losing his almighty strength and becoming a puppet in the other's hands. He wasn't Kaname Kuran since betraying his husband's trust to join hands with his enemy to beat him. When he felt weak, the presence of that poison in his system became clear. Sara couldn't sense it yet, because she wasn't weakened enough. However, she wasn't the only crafty one in this scheme. He had seen Takuma's elusive eyes when he looked at him. Aido, Kain and Shiki were angry at his attitude, but in the said noble's expression, there was a hidden delight.
Their husband's injury looked bad, however, it wasn't a grave one that would threaten his life. Sara had forced Kaname to injure him, but didn't hope he would really kill him. And in the eyes of the others on scene, his stabbing was more like a breakup statement. Once he wounded Zero to protect someone else, it clearly stated that he wasn't coming back. While the other nobles were disappointed and angry, Takuma couldn't help feeling contented, but cleverly exasperated his worry to cover his satisfaction. He had hastily run after Zero to the Shirabuki's residence, and hastily took him back before Kaname got a chance to imply the poison. In fact, as soon as receiving it from Rima last month, the pureblood had suspected it to be a move behind his husband's back.
Because he trusted that Zero would never sacrifice him.
They had been separated for four months, yet he could always feel his love around him, comforting him, encouraging him to keep going on.
The best evidence of Zero's intense love was the platinum stud on his tongue. Even when he was in the worst condition, it didn't hurt...
"On my strength it will rely
With my feelings it will comply
If I love you
It will cause no harm
As long as I live
It will stay calm."
proving his husband's love for him had never been wavered. Since Zero inserted the stud with his name in his tongue seven years ago, he had formed a habit of moving it lightly or pressing it up the hard palate to feel the pierced platinum bead, many times he just did it unconsciously, and when its familiar sensation registered him that it was still in place, solace gradually eased his soul.
What he had left for Zero was his own heart. Even though it had been turned into medicine and no longer carried traces of his passionate feelings, the remedy wouldn't have worked out if he hadn't loved him. Their true love for each other, which could be comprehended without any evidence, had been thoroughly proved through the course of life. Since their relationship founded, he had always submitted to him, followed his decisions, accepted whatever he wanted him to, because he loved him too much, and wanted to indulge him in his boundless love, to make up for what the hunter had generously given up to get married to him. Just this time, he turned him down, but deep inside, without an explanation, he hoped Zero would be sympathy for his unjustified act.
Would a woman sacrifice the love of her life to protect her baby, the result of her love for the man she loved? One might choose her baby over her love, the other might let her baby go to save her lover. Kaname didn't know which was right, he could never understand a mother's feeling, because he wasn't a woman, he couldn't have the bliss of bearing his lover's children, and what he was feeling, what he was thinking might be wrong. That injury, if Zero didn't bear it, it would fall onto his child. Sara wouldn't kill the baby as she still wanted to keep Kaname in control, yet she would cause some damage to warn him. He wouldn't have interrupted their fight earlier if the cage which was constraining Yuuki hadn't started contracting to narrow her space. The baby had been conceived by his mother's scheme, and was growing day by day in difficulty and misery. There was only three months left and he would open his eyes to see this world. But his mother had given up on him, because it turned out her scheme was a severe mistake. Kaname didn't know which future was waiting for him, what Sara was planning, whether they could escape in time. He wished he could be able to free the baby, to give him to his father, where he would have a happy life with lots of love, care and protection. His desire to free the baby had grown progressively in the past four months, and eventually become much stronger than desire to be free himself. What he had been enduring, from the beginning was for survival and waiting for Zero, had turned into exchange for the baby's safety. Except for killing his husband, there was nothing that Kaname wouldn't do for him.
The nozzle was replaced with a plug to retain the water pumped in, a large volume which got him quite strained. His prostate was heatedly in pain.
Could you forgive me?
After what we have been through, you will never betray this marriage to sleep with a woman for a child.
I am not your only wife.
But he will be your only child.
If there is a chance, regardless of how fragile and how dangerous it is, or what price I have to pay, I will seize it to free him.
The ceiling fan kept rotating lightly above the large bed where Zero was lying unconsciously with a bag of fresh blood being transfused into his vein. The lamp at his nightstand cast a gloomy light around his room, two shadows sitting still on the velvet couch, another was on the bed with him, worriedly holding his motionless hand. Similar scene had once happened half a year before, after he consumed the pureblood's heart. That night was more dangerous as greeting doves were hungrily managing to attack him, but that night they were waiting for his wakening.
Blood was an important part of vampires' nourishment. If absorbing through digestive system, all types were good, except that one might find a certain type was tastier than the others. However, as a human, a vampire needed compatible blood if it was given by a transfusion. Zero's was O type. He could only receive Kaname's and Shiki's blood, which was also O. This's already his second bag since returning from Shirabuki's residence, the half pureblood had been worn out, yet refused to get back to his own room for a rest. None of them wanted to separate from their husband at the moment. Tonight those greeting doves were not coming. Their enemy this time wasn't fragments of dead purebloods, but a very living one, getting healed effectively by the nourishing blood of the strongest pureblood line.
When she came, it would be the end of their family. If Zero was conscious, they might cling to him for a hope of survival. Each of them had instinctively thought about it, but soon determined that their husband getting fully recovered was the best chance for his own survival. They needed to flee away, they needed to give him proper time for his healing power to work out, even though such chance would cost their lives.
Slumber gave vampires a complete relaxation and thorough rest to refresh their systems, which was considered the greatest medicine for any mental issues or physical injuries. In their situation, it was the only and most effective method. Aido had stayed in his lab for hours, making a sleeping dose to make sure the hunter would fall into a slumber smoothly and his subconscious worries and tension wouldn't wake him up sooner than it took for his recovery. The more dangerous part was how to disappear safely and how to protect him after that. They agreed six months was enough, taking into account that Sara would be drinking from Kaname everyday. The longer his rest was, the stronger she became. Six months later, they were having another fight, where only one of them would walk out alive.
Aido returned to the room with a syringe ready in his hand. The three greeted him with silent trust and support. Shiki gave Zero a squeeze of encouragement before letting his hand go to stand up giving way for the other noble. Their husband was lying there, unmoving, yet he seemed to be struggling in his sleep. His delicate brows puckered, lips tightened, discolored complexion from blood loss still wasn't restored yet.
It triggered a piercing pain. They were carrying out a resolution without the hunter's consent, however, they couldn't see him keep falling down this path, they couldn't let him struggle until exhaustion eroded his strength completely and took his life at lengths.
"He shouldn't have caused such a serious wound."
Takuma had censured Kaname when Aido was bandaging the injury. His words quietly echoed over and over in their minds. They didn't understand why the pureblood hadn't made it a bit lightly. Deep inside, they avoided thinking about a change of heart. What Kaname had sacrificed for Zero was beyond generosity, if he remained by his side, he would surely continue loving him, protecting him, dedicating to him. Yet they didn't forget how the hunter had treated him in return. Two of them were finally reconciled, but the time wasn't long enough to mend their broken relationship. They used to hope someone else would appear to take Kaname away from the hopeless, depressing depth where he restrained himself, to embrace him with joys and happiness. It's hard to imagine Sara was that person. Nevertheless, Kaname had disappeared for four months, he didn't show up when Zero desperately sought for him every night, or was pushed in the corner by two sides, and when they saw him again, he was protecting his new marriage, the one that Zero had refused to believe in.
Aido carefully pumped the full syringe in his husband's vein, pressed a piece of cotton wool on the tiny injection after taking his needle out. The blood bag was also finished, he removed the IV, affectionately put his arm under the blanket, and stroking his silver hair.
"I'll get the third bag for him." The half pureblood rapidly walked toward the door.
"It's enough, Shiki!" Aido immediately stopped him "He has fallen into a slumber. He won't need nutrition in the next six months, his system will work on its own course."
"Good, now we can settle our issue before he wakes up." Takuma said softly.
"What do you mean, Ichijou?" Aido turned around to gaze at him.
"It's time to terminate our plural marriage." The most powerful noble spoke calmly as those words had been considered carefully. "Anyone with a sober mind knows plural marriage will fail sooner or later. I used to want an exception, but it's too childish to think we would make an exception. You have seen it, Kaname isn't coming back. If you still have doubt of his falling in love with Sara, then try explaining why he turned down the chance to return to Zero and what motive pushed him to wound him like this. We have reached this point because Zero couldn't let Kaname go, and your presence only burdened him with more responsibilities and pressure. Before he regains consciousness, I want to clear things up for him, starting with this plural marriage."
"You have hidden many things from him, Ichijou! I remember your conversation with Zero haven't finished yet. You have no right to order us here." Kain protested sternly. His physique looked towering, which diffused an impression of superiority. His powers couldn't be compared with an Ichijou, however, he wasn't going to surrender to him just because of the difference of their physical strength.
"I'd rather die than divorce Zero." Shiki stated. The society acknowledged him as a half pureblood, on the other words, their leader's cousin. In fact, he was weaker than the councillors and their families. He had never been trained appropriately, and wasn't interested in practising martial arts or supernatural skills to improve his strength. His life had been smooth, thanks to the repute of his cousin and his husband.
And when both of them couldn't defend him in time…
"I'll grant your wish."
Takuma's cold-hearted words astonished all of them. His sword wasn't with him. He threw his empty hand at Shiki, and when they thought it was a harmless gesture, the half pureblood suddenly shattered into dust.
-to be continued-
Posted on 22 March 2014
I'm writing a KxZ fic with Irmima, named "The King Father, The King, The King Consort and The Crown Prince", under the pen name "Irmina Gwen". Please take a look!