by Blackened Wing
Summary: Yuki's death shatters Zero's and Kaname's world and drives them forcefully apart. Torn by guilt and blame but bound by blood, they must either salvage their relationship or face the reality that they will destroy each other. Is there any common ground left for two broken and angry hearts?
Warnings: Male/male relationships. Highly citrusy in places. Blood, violence, vampirism, character death (remembered), attempted suicide, character whumping and intense angst. If any of the preceding disturbs you, please don't read this story. There may be additional warnings on individual chapters, please always check the author notes at the top if present.
Pairings: Kaname x Zero
Series: This story is part of the Duet Series, which follows Kaname and Zero and their relationship as based off of my story "Crimson Door".
Important: This whole series splits off and is AU from the Vampire Knight Manga as of Chapter 33. In this universe Yuki really was a human, born of human parents who were friends of Kaname's parents. Kaname's parents were both murdered by Rido, Kaname all but killed Rido to avenge them and keep from becoming his ward, and Yuki's parents were killed as a result, leaving Yuki with no memory and Kaname the only one left to look out for her interests and his own. Everything else is in accord with the Manga version of events up to right after Kaname asks Yuki to be his lover. Everything from there on out, as told in my story "Crimson Door" is different. As long as you know that, you don't absolutely have to have read any of my other stories to read this one, but it may make more sense, and will certainly mean more if you've read "Crimson Door" first.
A/N: This story takes place around a year or so after the events in "Crimson Door". Some parts, especially the beginning chapters, are very dark and angsty. Usually I try to break that up with a little levity or tension-escapes somewhere and we'll get to that point eventually, but due to the nature of what's happening and the emotions being dealt with, there isn't a lot of opportunity for that initially. So you've been warned; there's a bit of a stormy ride ahead for a couple of chapters at least.
Disclaimer: Vampire Knight and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to their inspired creator Matsuri Hino. I borrow them without permission, but with great affection. This story is for entertainment purposes only; no money is being made from it.
Chapter One: "Ashes to Ashes"
The moon was silver on the black, gently rippling surface of the glassy lake. Silver hair glinted dimly in the moonlight as it rippled languidly with the dark waves, like a phantom, a ghost of that which no longer lived. Silver eyes unblinkingly watched the moon become wavery and distorted as the still head slipped slowly beneath the surface, body sinking into the peaceful, chilly embrace of the lake. Invisible in the darkness of the moonlit water, crimson spread freely through the lapping waves creating an
unending red tide visible only where it made the sinking silver hair turn blood colored in the light of the unmoved, unreachable moon. The moon... it looked so big tonight, like it might slide gracefully down from the sky at any moment and crush the earth softly below it, putting all foolish terrestrial suffering to rest. But it wouldn't happen soon enough... not for him.
His heart and soul had already been crushed and this was the only escape. She was gone, and her death had taken everything good out of the world, including Zero Kiriyu's will to live.
He'd always expected to protect her until his fatedly short life should end. Never expected her to feel about him the way he did about her, but it was enough to be close to her, to be sure she was happy and safe... but so much had happened this past year, so much had changed. The events put in motion by Kaname's scheming uncle Rido had opened a world of strange possibilities that he'd have never considered before. Not only had things changed in unexpected and wonderfully with Yuki, but... there'd been Kaname in the picture too. Hunter, human, pureblood... unthinkable, but the three of them had been so happy for a little while.
A little while... so brief. So brief a time to live in a beautiful lie. Like a flicker of sunlight in the middle of a dark winter. Somehow the few moments in the sun just made the darkness afterwards all the worse. The hesitant beauty of the lie he'd almost let himself believe made the truth all the more unbearably ugly. Life had proved again just how cruel it could be, as if any of them had needed the reminder. Of all the things Zero had expected, he'd never expected her to leave him like this. To go where he could not follow... but no, he was following now. Soon... soon... if there was any mercy in death where there was none in life.
Yuki... I never imagined you would die before I did.
He couldn't stand to think of her, the way she had been these past weeks. Fading slowly like a flower after winter frost, so pale and in so much pain... it was a mercy, really, when it was finally over. She had looked so peaceful lying there where pain could no longer trouble her, where she could dream beautiful dreams for eternity. If there was a heaven, Yuki was there, Zero felt sure of it. She had always been an angel in life; she would surely be with them in death. He doubted he'd be bound for anywhere so bright, but still... something in him knew that he'd see her again, beyond. He didn't want to wait. He couldn't live in such an empty world; he envied her that peace he'd seen on her face.
Guilt tugged briefly at him, uninvited, as another face passed through his mind.
It would hurt the pureblood, when he died – physically if nothing else, because of the bond they shared. Zero didn't want to care, yet some part of him regretted it, even as he tried to deny that he did. Kaname would be all right... he had to believe that. The hunter had done his homework. He'd performed all the proper charms to try to seal off their bond on his end before he'd waded out into the lake. You couldn't dissolve or unmake a blood bond, but there were ways to temporarily suppress them and lessen their impact, at least that's what the books said. Even in his current state of mind, even with the hurt and anger he felt towards the pureblood right now, Zero didn't want to put Kaname through what he'd seen him go through after Ichijo's death. So Zero had taken as many precautions as he could. Kaname had survived that, and he'd survive this too, although Zero wasn't sure why he should care after... after what he'd done.
Zero just... he couldn't do this anymore. He'd tried. He couldn't. He needed the pain to stop.
It was better this way for both of them. Kaname would undoubtedly be glad to be rid of him, once the worst was over. The pureblood could be free again, to someday bond with someone he'd actually chosen, someone he didn't have to hide. It wasn't like there was anything between them other than biology after all. Zero'd almost thought maybe there was once. He'd let Kuran screw with his head and his heart until he really thought he... he cared. Deep enough to... to... almost... but no. It had obviously just been vampire hormones and pheromones at work and Zero had been confused by a culture to which he was not native. Ever since Yuki fell ill... the hunter and the pureblood had barely spoken to one another. The strain of these past weeks had torn apart their fragile beginnings of a relationship and stretched a long, icy gulf of distance between them once more.
They'd been together when Yuki was attacked. They should have been with her... they should have protected her. Everything would have turned out so differently... but it hadn't. And Kaname hadn't looked at Zero or touched him again from that moment on. Zero felt oddly betrayed, but he'd pushed Kaname away just as hard after that night, he'd felt just as guilty, just as responsible, angrily shunning any possible attempts at reconciliation.
Yuki would be alive if it weren't for me. If it weren't for Kaname.
Pain bubbled raw in his chest, like blood oozing from a wound. No. Kaname wouldn't miss him. The pureblood had made very clear to Zero exactly how he really saw him, what his place was and how little he meant.
"Shut up, Kiriyu! I don't owe you anything! Don't think you can presume to have some kind of claim over me just because you've warmed my bed. You drink my blood; I keep you alive; I've paid for your services. So don't you dare talk to me like that..."
They'd been arguing. Kaname had been furiously angry. He'd thrown Zero back against the wall and accidentally broken a couple of the ex-human's ribs, but that hadn't really hurt. The words and the tone hurt, though Zero denied how much. The truth... the ugly truth... that was what hurt. Yet true it was. That's what Zero had done. Willingly. He'd warmed the pureblood's bed as a pleasurable toy to be used and discarded. He'd lied to himself and tried to believe it was something more than what it was. He'd let himself become a vampire's thrall, an addict helplessly hooked on Kaname's blood. Maybe Kaname had been fooling himself too in the beginning, or maybe he'd manipulated Zero since the start. Zero didn't know; how could you ever know with someone so cleverly skilled at getting his own way? It didn't matter. The end result was the same. Rido had seen it in the beginning, he'd known how the pureblood mind worked, he'd even been inside Kaname's head at the time, but Zero had thought he was wrong. Had thought Kaname wasn't like that. Despite everything, some small, stubborn part of him still thought that, still refused to believe that he'd been that mistaken about Kuran.
Pathetic. It was like when Master Toga lost his eye all over again. Zero really never learned, did he? Never trust vampires. They are not like us. Us... but who was us anymore? What identity, what purpose did he have that made any kind of sense? None. He had nothing. He was nothing.
Zero couldn't actually hate Kaname, even though he'd tried. Kaname hadn't made him into anything he hadn't been willing to become. He hated himself far too much to have much of that emotion left over for anyone else. God... why hadn't he just died with his family, years ago? Life had made a cosmic mistake back then, letting him live. Now, he was simply rectifying nature's error.
He'd promised Yuki he wouldn't do this. That was his only regret. At least, the only one to which he would admit.
"Promise me, Zero... you won't grieve too much? Promise me you'll find a reason to smile again, that you'll live a full, happy life... for me, Zero, you've got to do it for me, please... promise me..."
Of course he'd promised her. He would have promised her anything. But it was a promise he couldn't keep. She had to know that. She would forgive him... she always did...
Bubbles rushed by Zero's face as the air escaped his aching lungs. But he didn't struggle in the water. He didn't care, and he was already too weak. He'd swum out here to the middle of the lake and slit his wrists under the water. The anti-vampire blade he'd used made sure that the wounds wouldn't close too quickly, and the fact that his blood was seeping directly into the water, diluted and swallowed by the lake, ensured that the vampires at the school would not catch his scent until it was too late. Floating on his back in the still water, he'd watched the moon as his life drained gradually away until swirling dizziness finally started to claim the hunter and he slowly sank beneath the surface.
Zero thought he'd feel peace by now, but still, all he could feel was pain. Would there be no peace for him even in death? Could he never feel whole again?
Yuki had been poisoned, although perhaps infected was a more proper word. They still didn't know who had done it, or why. She'd been attacked and knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant one night when she was patrolling the school ground. Zero should have been on patrol with her... but Kaname had caught him in one of the empty classrooms and he'd quite willingly let the pureblood distract him. Oh God... if only he had been there, where he was supposed to be. If only he could turn back time...
She'd been taken to the hospital and at first it had seemed a pretty minor incident leaving just a few bruises and a small puncture mark on her arm... but then the blood panels came back showing the early onset of a disease that was actively destroying her immune system and attacking her own cells. It was an affliction not quite like anything documented by medical science and the doctors were at a loss. It was a blood-borne disease that had properties similar to Lupus and HIV, but it wasn't either of them and none of the conventional treatments had any effect. She'd been quarantined initially, until the doctors had ascertained for certain that blood-to-blood contact was the only way that the highly destructive virus could be contracted.
Everything had been done to try and save her. Kaname had exerted the significant power and wealth he possessed to bring in every single specialist the vampire and human worlds had to offer. The massive manhunt that he'd orchestrated in order to try to find the ones responsible for doing this to her made the search for certain high profile terrorist leaders look like an Easter egg hunt by comparison. It came as no surprise that Kaname was an ideal universal donor and the pureblood had all but killed himself giving Yuki constant transfusions of his own blood to try to replace her tainted plasma, pouring every shred of energy in his body into hers, struggling to stave off the inevitable. He'd bought her time for a while, but it obviously wasn't going to be enough.
In desperation, he'd finally bitten her, despite the faint, but still real danger that he could possibly contract her mysterious disease himself by drinking her blood. He'd turned her to try to save her, thinking that maybe the strength of being a vampire would buy Yuki more time, would enable her body to heal more quickly and fight back against what was happening – maybe even cure her. It also let her drink his blood directly, which he gave to her freely, practically forcing her to almost drain him.
Unfortunately, it had proved to be a mistake. The process of changing had inexplicably and unexpectedly accelerated the effects of the disease. It had, ironically, saved Kaname from the effects of forming yet another doomed blood bond because of the way the disease had corrupted and totally altered Yuki's blood and physical make-up, making bonding impossible, but unfortunately it also meant that Kaname's bite and his blood did Yuki far more harm than good.
Kaname had been completely and utterly devastated. Zero had been furious that Kaname had just gone and done that to Yuki without talking to any of them about it. It was why they'd had that argument that ended up breaking Zero's ribs.
None of them slept for weeks as Yuki slowly faded away from the long, wasting illness for which there was no cure. No expense or effort was spared. But in the end, it hadn't mattered. Death had been the victor and they'd finally lost her.
As his vision started to fade, Zero thought he saw Yuki's face looking at him through the water. She appeared sad, upset. What are you doing Zero? How could you? You promised you would live for me... that you would see and do all the things I wasn't able to... you promised me you wouldn't abandon Kaname... how could you do this?
But it was too late; he was too far gone, he couldn't take back what he'd done. His dimming gaze begged her to understand. Forgive me, Yuki... I just can't do this alone...