A/N: Thank you very much for your wonderful reviews. I'm really worried that you, my dear readers, may have left the fandom. Even I got surprised that I updated! I'm such an irresponsible person…
Chapter 20: I only feel alive when I dream at night
Since vampire kind first appeared on this earth, their physical strength had always been stronger than humankind's. Their life was longer and their mind was smarter. Yet they remained a minority of the population after thousands of years and still kept hiding their existence from the radiant sunlight. Because humans were protected by the vampire hunters, who attained their power from the essence of the vampire ancestress. The war between two sides was ironically, if one looked straight at the fact, the war of vampires against themselves. They had fought and failed to their own ancestress, not the human hunters.
For thousands of years, vampires yearned to absorb that powerful essence, but nobody was successful, though their dreadful ends didn't waver the reckless attempts of their next generations.
Yuuki had given up on the hope that some day she would be able to leave this palace. After Kaname got married to Sara, she was moved to a small room at the back side. Although it was narrow, it was her own and more comfortable than the cage which confined her during the first four months.
It even hadn't been a full year yet. Merely ten months. Ten months ago, she was a naïve girl, who had just managed some trick to carry the child of the man she wanted to marry. She dreamed about a beautiful future where he would treasure her child and satisfy whatever demands she asked him to. She dreamed about getting married to him and enjoying a graceful life where he would shower her with luxurious things and an indefinite love. Yet reality was quite the contrary when she was captured by Sara and nobody seemed to be aware of her missing.
Sarcastically, she was only a secondary character, though all the pain, the torture, the suffering that she had been through was so true. She could have lost her life anytime and nobody would know, nobody would remember. Her fatal mistake was she hadn't thought about his enemies. In her view as a human, Zero was a famous song writer, he had great relations with many important persons, he lived a wealthy life. As a matter of fact, his main occupation was the president of the Hunter Association. His enemies were not human beings, but real vampires with supernatural powers.
She had put herself in a lethal, indefensible danger.
But today, she was leaving this palace.
Kaname told her Sara was going to let her and Kazuki go.
Kaname Kuran. This man was too mysterious and unreachable that she usually felt uneasy in his presence. When they were still in school, she was very upset since Zero stayed close to him all the time. After graduation, they got married, which in her view, was a betrayal. Reality betrayed her wish. If Zero had married a girl, she wasn't sure if she would have taken it less that hard.
To marry a male vampire, Zero registered himself to the vampire society. Although their laws acknowledged plural marriages, one could only marry the persons of the same gender with their first spouse.
It put an absolute end to her hope.
She remembered feeling satisfactory thinking about the pain Kaname had to take each time Zero got a new wife. For five years of their marriage, she considered Kaname her rival, she was contented that he wasn't happy.
It could be bigoted and childish, but she had believed Zero would have been happier with her. Then it turned truly sarcastic when Kaname was the one who tried to save her life and improve her condition in their confinement. He restrained himself from drinking her blood and accepted the sexual abuse for her safety. He kept his bed clean for her use, he requested for nutritious food for her child's growth.
Nevertheless, they didn't become friends. She could feel all his concerns coming from his love for her child, though she didn't understand why he cared so much for the child of someone who attempted to destroy his marriage.
He named him Kazuki.
Indeed, he was more like Kazuki's parent.
Because of her psychological issue, Yuuki had a deficient secretion of milk. She actually didn't want to acknowledge the boy. At some point, she accused him of being a reason of her suffering. At first, the cradle was in her room, but she didn't lay an eye on him. When he cried, she got hysterical, even attempted to strangle him. After that accident, Kazuki stayed with Kaname.
Today those frigid servants handed her a thick envelop, containing two passports, two airtickets and a bank letter with her new bank account and a pin code.
She was going to be free.
However, they led her on the familiar way to Kaname's room. Her footsteps were reluctant, feeling unwilling to return to the place where she had experienced the worst moments of her life. His room was the very first place she had been constrained upon coming here, then locked in a cage and endured the frightening days when time was a meaningless conception. It's too painful that she couldn't think the place was also where her little son was staying.
Kaname asked her to visit Kazuki now and then, hoping to restore the feeling between them, but Yuuki had never established a connection with the boy. She had carried him for ten months, yet never once got the feel of a mother.
Since Kaname needed to look healthy and his strength needed to be recovered for Sara's plan, the she-male had ordered to re-arrange his room.
In Yuuki's memories, it was a nice, well-furnished room.
That's why she was quite astonished to see it's totally empty now, plain white walls made it even larger and colder. The only furniture, if it could be considered one, was a white coffin in the middle of the room.
Kaname was carrying her son in his arm "Just a moment, Kazuki is finishing his bottle."
The milk in that breeding bottle had a pink color as it was mixed with his blood. While he looked contented seeing the boy enjoying his meal, Yuuki got a nauseous feeling. She hadn't seriously thought about it until witnessing it with her own eyes. There existed a race in this world who took blood drinking as an important part of their nutrition. In that nasty, stinking liquid, they found a delicious taste. Deceitfully, they wore a very charming appearance as though that ignoble food turned into a great nourishment in their wicked system.
Different than whatever Yuuki could imagine, the real drinking sessions she had ever seen were when Sara drank from Kaname. No thoughtfulness or tenderness, the she-male treated him no more than a prey, not considering who were watching them or minding how he was feeling. It wasn't about offer and receive at their free will, he was enforcedly restrained, all skin exposed, elegant, attractive looks in everyone's memories was completely wiped off, blood smeared his exhausted, defenseless body.
That same kind of blood…
was mixed in the milk for the boy.
"They are going to drive you and Kazuki to the airport. The tickets are for you to fly to London. From there you can choose a certain place to go and use the money in your account for the upcoming days." Kaname said "I know it'll be very hard to be alone in an unfamiliar country. But in this hasty situation, I can't think about all difficulties you may encounter and tell you what to do. All I can promise is Shirabuki won't threaten your life, and this whole thing won't last long."
He looked up, seeking for her eyes "This situation will be resolved soon. Zero will win. You can contact him to tell him about Kazuki."
Yuuki didn't know about what was going to happen between the hunters and the vampires, she simply found the pureblood's words were too easy to be true. After all horrible things she had been through, it would be cruel to give her a vain hope. Would she be able to go to London? If she could be there and Sara wasn't chasing after her, she wouldn't care who won who or whatever happened next in their abnormal societies.
This thought danced in her mind as her eyes widened with disbelief.
"Do you remember Kazuki's real hair color and eye color? He took after his father, he has silver hair and amethyst eyes. Shirabuki consumed his gift to heal her poison and my poison, I had to feed him with my blood to heal him, but drinking my blood too early has changed his looks. Now his features look similar to mine and hers, but he will return to his true appearance after a couple of weeks. Zero will be happy to see him." He gently kissed on the boy's smooth cheek and handed him to his mother.
Yuuki held him mechanically, somehow managed to get used to his weight. The boy squealed as the warm embrace suddenly disappeared.
Kaname caressed him and wrapped his fingers around the tiny cute hand. "Be a good boy, Kazuki! Mother will bring you back to father."
Yuuki gripped the envelope which was more valuable than the boy in her embrace, afraid of dropping it. She gazed at Kaname for a second before determinedly turning around to leave.
"I wish you hadn't got involved in this situation." His words halted her steps, without turning back, her eyes stung.
"Chairman and Zero tried to keep you away from our issues. For this reason, I'm sorry that you didn't get the full picture of our world. You can despise me for what you have seen, but Kazuki is pure and innocent. You are his mother, you wanted to bring him to this life. Could you promise me you will protect him and bring him back to his father?"
Yuuki resumed her steps to the door which responsively opened for her without an answer.
Sara laughed as entering the room shortly afterwards. "I'm not surprised at your silly hope, but… is she reliable? Will she take care of the boy?"
"Her motherly instinct will be awaken. As long as you keep your oath, they will be fine." Kaname replied sternly.
"Good." Sara smirked. "As your legitimate spouse, I vow to give Yuuki Cross and her son complete freedom. I will not directly or indirectly interfere in their life by any means as long as you keep your vow true to me."
"As your legitimate spouse, I vow to put my soul under your control, let me see nothing but your own view, let me hear nothing but your orders. I will serve you with full loyalty as long as you keep your vow true to me."
A cut was made in their palm, blood immediately overflew the surface. They pressed their bleeding palms against each other to combine the fresh sacred blood.
"Till death release us from this oath."
Ruka carefully adjusted the hood to cover her face as turning around the corner leading to the old boarding house where she was living. It had become a habit in the last six months since she fled away from her luxurious life. She had to move from place to place, never stayed longer than one month in the same location, and usually avoided looking straight at the others. Never had she been in such a difficult, dangerous situation, also never had she imagined she would come to treasure it.
It seemed a rain was coming soon Breeze with moisture brushed on her coat, flutter of leaves somehow urged her to walk faster. But she wasn't ready to get in yet. Her steps halted in front of the house, thinking about the cozy scene which was waiting for her inside. If only they were forever on the run, so they would be forever together.
She looked up to the second floor, where their room was. It's unusually dark, in contract with the neighboring ones, hinting something might have happened while she was away. She hastily climbed up the staircase.
Neither of them could fight against Takuma, suddenly the feel of regret overwhelmed her innermost which had already been containing so much regret.
She couldn't cry.
She even couldn't breath.
Things only calmed down when the door swung open, and she found Kain smoking at the balcony.
The noble managed a light smile to soothe her worries. "So you have heard that."
Ruka hadn't wanted to move to this small town since it was pretty close to where they resided. But Kain said the aura of several hunter families in this town would hide their scent. They stayed inside most of the time, just walked out sometimes at night to listen for news here and there. Kain was right, Takuma's inferiors didn't think about seeking for them in a hunter town.
It had been quiet until tonight.
Ruka gazed at him with all her heart "This place is no longer safe. We should leave immediately."
"No, you should leave immediately." He corrected her.
Six months ago, Takuma suddenly killed Shiki, Kain and Aido tried their best to escape the fight against him and flee away for their own lives. Kain took Ruka with him, being afraid of Takuma harming her in some way. Their romance had been finished for years, yet she forever held a weak spot in his heart. He knew he wouldn't leave her alone in danger. They had lived together since, now and then they had no choice but slept on the same bed, shared the same blanket, supported each other to evade the rummage of Takuma's subordinates.
There were times they thought it would be the end.
There were times Ruka thought they could return to each other.
Now she understood why Kain chose this town. He wanted to get the news at soonest, he wanted to return to Zero as fast as possible.
"Let's get out of the country and start all over." She pleaded him.
"Zero is back." Kain didn't hide a deep longing in his sad smile. He knew the hunter was waking up, and no matter where Takuma had brought him to, he was returning.
In the last six months, Kain hadn't heard from Aido, but believing his cousin was coming back too. They had been on the run not for saving their own lives, they lived in a hope of reuniting with their husband one day.
Six months was enough time to figure out why Takuma wanted to kill them and end their plural marriage. He wanted to be Zero's only wife. Kain thought Takuma was a kind, generous type, however, who would be willing to share the love of their life? Kain had never thought about monopolizing Zero. Perhaps he didn't love him that much?
The hunter married him as a responsibility for what had happened between them. He never promised he would solely belong to him. He never explained why he married Shiki later.
And Kain never asked. There were things he had accepted without thinking about his own feelings, things he supposed would never lose.
These days he found himself missing Zero more or more.
"Ichijou would kill you before you met him." Ruka rushed to embrace Kain tightly "I won't let you go. You have to leave with me. Don't you hear me?"
Rain poured heavily to weep over their parting.
A man leaned on the balcony, soaked in rain water. His cold body shook dreadfully.
"It seems warm here." He smiled with them, but those sarcastic words were spoken to himself.
Rain dripping down him was bloody red.
Kain hastily left Ruka to reach for his cousin. "Aido! What happened?"
The noble fell into the other's arms. It's so hard to continue struggling to keep his balance. He was too exhausted. Arriving here was already more than what he could manage. His injuries were very severe that he could have died before the fight finished. But he didn't allow himself to give up.
Kain got whitened when the body in his embrace was totally broken. He could feel under his fingers torn flesh and blood mixing with each other. All of them were well aware who possessed such a ferocious power to defeat Aido that completely.
"If you two want to survive, run as fast as you can." Aido murmured.
"I will not. I have come back here waiting for him since last month." Kain said.
Ruka suddenly heard a thunder by her ear. Those words indicated that their journey had finished one month before. She couldn't say Kain cheat on her, he had never said they were getting back to each other. They had run together from place to place, and while she thought this town was just another place, he purposely chose it to wait for Zero. While she thought some day they would flee again, he awaited the hunter's wakening.
"I couldn't see him. Ichijou stopped me." Aido coughed heavily.
Kain lifted him up to press his cold lips close to his neck "Bite me!"
Aido smiled, but nobody could see that smile from the bottom of his utmost. His cousin was acting like thousands times previously, trying to help him out, trying to fix his mistakes. Kain wasn't better than him, except that he was mature and responsible. In their old time, Aido had been very rebellious because Kain would never let him be punished alone. He was the oldest child in his family, but Kain was like his big brother.
They had grown up together, shared all good and bad things with each other. He hadn't thought Kain would share the same man with him.
Yet they managed to keep their good relation in their plural marriage.
"Your blood isn't enough for me, Kain! I'm dying." Aido stuttered "There are many things I want to tell Zero. Bite me, seek for them in my blood. Hurry up, before my breaths cease."
Only blood in a living body held information. The noble lied limply, making great efforts to catch the air into his lungs with difficulty. Kain didn't want to agree with him that it's impossible to save his life, but realised what his cousin wanted to transfer to Zero must be very important, it was no more time to argue with him.
Aido heaved with relief as fangs pierced into his neck. Blood being withdrawn brought a relaxing feeling, his mind drifted through the sweet memories he had collected in his life.
When Zero glared at him…
When Zero shouted at him…
When Zero argued with him…
When Zero looked at him…
When Zero talked to him…
When Zero smiled with him…
When Zero kissed him…
"Do you regret?"
"For choosing me."
"I married you simply because I wanted to marry you."
"Let's go together!" Ruka murmured when Kain put his cousin's lifeless body down on the cold floor.
Blood stains lingered on his lips, all incredible images reeled in his mind. He comprehended her feelings. He wished he could take care of her, making sure she was safe.
"I saw the fight between Aido and Ichijou. His powers have been increased, each of his attacks was very determined and fierce, Aido couldn't resist them at all."
"Kain, let's leave this place together, at least for now. I don't want you to have the same result with your cousin."
"I won't be able to resist them either. Only purebloods can dissolve those attacks." The noble remained deep in his thoughts. "That's why you have to leave, Ruka. You have to take care of yourself when I'm not around."
"Are you saying farewell to me?" She stepped close to him, getting their faces very close to each other that they could feel their breaths brushing on each other's lips. "If we aren't ready to separate, why aren't we be together?"
Kain tenderly brushed his fingers on her lips to prevent them from getting more intimate. She was so beautiful. In his eyes, she had always been the symbol of beauty and elegance that had inspired him the meaning of attraction. "Although we aren't together, you forever own a great part of my heart. You must be careful, you must take good care of yourself, so I won't get hurt when thinking about you. Since we separated, I couldn't use the part of my heart which belonged to you to love anyone else. Now I'm living with a tiny part left, and this part is bleeding. Only Zero can heal me, just as he needs me to heal him. Please forget me, Ruka! Because I can't suffer another separation. I can't be separated from him."
Zero bowed deeply in front of his master's grave. Incense pervaded strongly in the air surrounding them. His eyes stung.
Cross was standing behind him, silent.
Zero had lost counting how many times he had re-read the few words on the tombstone, which engraved his master's full name, the year he had been born, and the year he passed away.
Yagari-sensei hadn't reached his forty years of age yet.
He had always been as fit as a lion. Zero didn't remember ever seeing him getting sick. His injuries usually healed very fast, and even being injured, he never spent a day without physical training. Cross used to say Yagari would live longer than a hundred.
Zero couldn't actually think about any particular thing. They had shared so many memories together, his master had always been around him. In the end, he created a distance with him and made it clear that he was ready to punish him if Zero was convicted.
The young hunter got hurt by his attitude because he thought about him as his family rather than a member of the trio of master hunters who served as the president's personal advisors to guide him to stay on the right track for the benefit of the Association. Nevertheless, Yagari was an impartial type. More than the parental love he had for Zero, he devoted his life to serve the HA and its missions.
While they were headless and Sara attacked them, he died to protect Cross. Because it wasn't their final battle. When she came back, Cross would be a better support than him to assist Zero to victory.
In his last minute, despite of their rift, he still kept expectations from his dearest disciple.
Their peace treaty was violently terminated. After Kaname transferred his leading position in the vampire society to his new spouse, Sara declared that she would eliminate the HA and whoever opposed her ruling.
Battles between hunters and vampires took place more and more.
Killed and wounded occurred in both sides.
The Kiryuu family disappeared.
Sara attacked the HA headquarters last week, attempting to draw the pureblood ancestress's essence which was mixed with the sacred metal in their flaming furnace. This essence harbored the strongest power which was the root of the hunter weapons' effect and protected the building as a forbidden ground to all vampires.
Sara's strength had been increased considerably as a result of consuming the Kuran blood in a regular basis. Kaname didn't participate in that battle, however, everybody believed she wouldn't be that powerful without his support.
Many hunters were killed in action.
The HA was too anxious at the moment, while Cross seemed to have lost the meaning of his life. As an individual, he was a legendary hunter, to the people who had got to know him, he was usually a great encouragement and inspiration. Having lived over two hundred years, he thought he had enough wisdom and experience to deal with any situation. However, what they were facing was too much to endure. He had to witness the death of the young hunters, many of them he had known since they were born, had watched them grow up year after year, had taught and trained by himself.
With his famous sword sheathed in the cane, he had sworn to protect his students.
Yet he failed thoroughly.
And lost the best friend he had ever had along with his failure. He suddenly didn't know why he was still alive. Why was he the survivor? Why should he be?
"In three days, the event that happens every millennium will come. The pureblood ancestress's essence will be weakened for a day, our defence will disappear, all weapons will be drawn back to prevent the essence from getting scattered. On that day, Sara will spread war to absorb it."
"She better gives this crazy idea up upon hearing my return." Zero said "If she still comes, I will kill her at any cost."
"If she comes…" Cross didn't think Sara would let her power thirst go that easily. Everybody knew her ambition, and things seemed to favor her at the moment. "she probably won't come alone."
In this important battle, Kaname would also be coming…
Zero hoped Cross would tell something different. Unfortunately, Takuma wasn't the only one who said the pureblood had changed. Cross did try to seek for proof to defense Kaname, however, he had no clue of the nobles' whereabouts. He couldn't confirm if they were dead or alive. All he knew was Kaname had completed the ceremony to transfer his position to Sara by himself, and they just had a son together.
In all hunters' eyes, Kaname was a traitor. They had thought he had a kind heart which supported their peaceful co-existence. They had accepted him to be married to their president.
In the end, pureblood wanted to get back to pureblood.
His betrayal to Zero was no longer their personal issue when he assisted his new spouse to accomplish her evil goal.
"Kaname won't come." Zero murmured. Even if the whole world told him Kaname had betrayed him, he would ignore them all. The world didn't know Kaname had given him his own heart. Maybe Zero didn't understand why the pureblood had married Sara, why abdicated his power to her, why they had a child, but he was sure all those happened against his beloved's free will.
The thought of the pureblood being forced into such a situation cut his heart into pieces.
Yet he was unable to imagine Kaname would appear almighty and powerful to fight against him.
Because if he did, it would be a firm evidence that he had betrayed him.
Although Kaname had stabbed him, Zero chose to trust his love.
He was going to spend his full strength to defeat Sara, even if dying along with her.
He would let everyone see he was not wrong when believing in love.
This mission would be final.
If Kaname was dead, he didn't wish to live.
When Zero met Ichiru, the atmosphere was quite different than how he had been feeling since his return. He needed to see Ichiru before the battle started, because it might be their last meeting, he wanted to see his brother sound and safe, hugged him properly once.
Ichiru lived with Maria in their new apartment in her home town, which was very far from where the HA headquarters and Cross Academy were. Zero didn't have time to travel by normal means of transportation and decided to fly there and back within a night.
Last year had been fateful for both of them. But Ichiru was getting into the right path for a prosperous future while Zero lost everything he had. They were twins, though fate seemed to favor only one at a time.
Maria didn't want to leave Ichiru alone with his brother. The younger hunter had to convince her that they needed some time after such a long separation, and he wouldn't make any decision before discussing it carefully with her.
Zero smiled "It's reasonable. She's pregnant, she needs you much more than before, not only for her, but also for the child."
"I have made up my mind, even if you didn't come here." Ichiru looked straight at his older brother "I will participate in this battle. I will fight for the HA as a true hunter."
"You can be a true hunter, fighting for the Association right here." Zero promptly opposed him "Vampires aren't gathering to besiege the headquarters. Let think what would happen if vampires revolt everywhere on that day, and you're not where you should be to put them down."
Ichiru hesitated for a second, but quickly turned determined "I'm not asking everyone to go with me. It's just me, coming to fight by your side. That's what brothers do, Zero!"
The older hunter smiled. Those words warmed his heart, he didn't hope his little brother would one day want to stand up for him, instead of relying on him, expecting him to get things done on his behalf. Ichiru had truly changed for the better. Perhaps it's a result of what he had experienced in the outside world, perhaps it was love. Zero and their parents had tried hard to make him happy, he thought he had given him all the best, however, it was Maria, who could really understand Ichiru and offer him what he needed. His little brother was going to be a father with increasing responsibilities.
"Have you thought about your child? Would you want to raise him by yourself or be ok with him growing up without you? I'm not only fighting as the HA president, I also want to bring my family back from this battle. You don't need to be with me to fight by my side. Stay here for Maria, for your child, for the continuation of the Kiryuus. I have to put this burden on your shoulders."
They were mature enough to understand what the other didn't speak out straightforwardly. Zero didn't expect to have children, so the heir of the Kiryuus could only be produced by his younger brother. Ichiru should not feel guilty or embarrassed that he must stay behind and continue living.
When they hugged, Ichiru wasn't quite sure that he had been convinced. He didn't feel right letting his brother go into danger alone, but he wouldn't be able to leave Maria in such a situation, just as he knew it's useless to ask Zero to run away on his own. His older brother would surely want to face this obstacle, because it was the only way to find out what had happened to Kaname. Ichiru wasn't aware of the events after Kaname declined his proposal of leaving together. On the outside, everyone saw Kaname had divorced his brother to marry Sara, and been supported her evil plan since, though it didn't seem like what the pureblood could ever do. Ichiru just couldn't ask Zero, not now, when his brother was already laden by so much stress of responsibilities and worries.
"Be careful! You must be present at my wedding. You must be my child's godfather, or I won't forgive you, Zero!"
-to be continued-
Posted on 15 July 2014