Summary: AU - Zero was born in a traditional hunter family, but he has committed a big sin by choosing to spend his life with a male pureblood. When New Year's holidays were coming, he decided to take his lover home to meet his parents. ZxK

A/N: Looks like it is my New Year fanfic, though it comes out too late :-)

It took place in an AU of VK world, where Zero had grown up with a family, and some details of the story were altered, i.e: Shizuka's attack still hasn't happened yet. Zero and Kaname are kind of out of character.

There is a narrator. Could you guess who he was? *wink*

Chapter 1

If one day you had no more worries about failing your term-end examinations, or losing your job, or breaking up with your lover, you had no more worries about what destiny was holding for your future, when your health would decline, or if your wallet could ever get empty. I didn't mean my life was perfect, but... What would you do if you were me?

I used to feel redundant, as if my existence didn't matter any longer, but with time I learned to see the world in my brother's eyes, and enjoy life with his dreams, his hopes, his passions, and his intensities, even though now and then I wished I could somehow find a way to let him know my opinions and persuade him to change a few things. Not that he was wrong, my brother was a great person, I just sometimes felt he was... If you wanted me to polish it, I would say he was kind and selfless, but quite frankly, lots of kindness and selflessness would make people... silly. He cared too much for the others, he only thought about making things best for the others, and unintentionally forgot himself. It just made the others take advantage of him. I was sure about it, because I had heavily relied on him and asked him to help me all the time, I expected him to follow what I wanted, to pick the way I wanted to go, to choose the food I wanted to eat, to take responsibility for what I had done wrong, to fix my mistakes, or simply to be there whenever I needed him.

My brother had never complained about my excessive demands. When I fell into a habit of refusing to resolve any problem on my own and expected him to do everything for me, I realized I had been rottenly spoiled by him. So I decided to separate from him to learn how to stand on my own feet before completely becoming his shadow. Let's not talk about that journey of mine, but those tough years living away from our family had given me enough experiences to enrich my knowledge, mature my mind and deepen my wisdom. Yet my brother didn't change that much when I returned, he was still a very kind and gentle person, who would rather get deceived than think badly about the others, rather hurt himself than seeing the others get hurt. The only difference was both of us had grown up into good-looking men, we inherited the elegance of our father, but his gentleness was definitely from our loving mother, the most considerate and caring woman I had ever known.

White winter had come back to Hokkaido and turned it into a paradise with a bed of snow under your feet, snow-clad trees standing together proudly, and light, powdery snowflakes sifting in the air. I had experienced winter in many areas around the world, but the first time getting mesmerised by this white beauty had engraved deeply in my heart and become one of our best memories. Our home town was Okinawa, the southernmost of Japan, where temperature never got low enough for snowing. In that year, both of us were five, our parents needed to attend a meeting at the HA headquarters which was located in Hokkaido, and they decided to bring us along with them. Unfortunately, the coldness made me sick, and my brother was sad since I didn't feel well, we looked sulky and uncooperative as uncle Cross insisted to get us out for a stroll on a fascinating snow-covered hill and take our photos. In fact, it was a very enjoyable experience, I even told my brother that I wanted to come back, and he said we would go study at Cross Academy together if my condition was improved when we grew up.

My brother did return when he was fifteen, since the HA appreciated his potential and wanted him to relocate to Hokkaido for special trainings. They planned a ten-year period to transmit all techniques and skills of a hunter to him and observe the development of his powers. Uncle Cross and Yagari-sensei, his mentor, became his guardians, and took charge of teaching, guiding, and supervising his achievements. I guess it wasn't a difficult duty as my brother was smart, hard-working, and had a deep passion of succeeding and developing our family's heritage. To their marvelous amazement, he reached the supreme level of powers at the age of twenty five, while other hunters couldn't achieve it until they were over fifty or never got close to it all their life. Our father reached it when forty, and uncle Cross thirty. Of course there were still many ranks in the supreme level, it all depended on the hunter's root and aptitude, their powers would keep increasing with time, though slower than before. My brother was only at the beginning rank at the moment, however, he was expected to overtake uncle Cross one day and even get stronger than him. His achievement was our family's big pride, yet it was the source of his trouble.

He had a lover. For a twenty five year old guy, having a lover should be a good thing, but in his case, I was certain he would hardly receive anyone's support. The Kiryuus were a very traditional and ethical family with lots of rigorous regulations. One of the reasons I left our family very early was I couldn't stand all of the rules and disciplines which we were forced to follow. On the contrary, my brother had obediently complied with them until he moved to Hokkaido, and I assumed ten year of living away from home had somehow given him some nuts to commit this sin.

His lover was twenty year older than him. I didn't think it could be easily accepted in any family, let alone our family, where all members had got married according to their elders' arrangements. Love wasn't an important issue to a Kiryuu. Strengthen relationships, strengthen powers, strengthen the next generations, strengthen foundation to accomplish our missions were what mattered. Our grandparents and the others of their time hadn't met their spouses before marriage. The first time our father went on a date with our mother was when they needed to discuss about their wedding. They had already found a suitable bride in Okinawa for my brother. Since he was the heir of the Kiryuus, his wife must be selected carefully.

His lover was a male. Even I couldn't believe it when they started going out. If you looked at my brother, there's no chance you would suspect he was the type of man who could hold another man. His head was high, his look straight, his voice low, shirts were plain and in soft color. He usually offered a hand when you needed him, and if you put a mirror on his way, I could bet with all my money that he wouldn't bother to glance at it even for a second to check his appearance. In short, being with a man didn't make my brother less manly in any aspect. Well, you might think I was putting gays in the same category as cross-dressers. Not at all, I only meant gay men were highly conscious of their looks, or people wouldn't say most of handsome and single guys were gay. It was totally true to his lover, who didn't have the fantasy of dressing as a woman either, but if you looked at him, anywhere he was, anytime during the day, the only word that appeared in your mind was "gorgeous". There's no chance you could find a single strand of his hair which was in disorder, they all were in their rightest places, in their rightest length, beautifully shining as a result of a frequent hair care. He dressed his best-tailored suits precisely and properly, walked in a graceful manner, and each of his gestures was elegant as a dance. If people called women the fair sex, then he was too beautiful to be a man.

I understood why my brother accepted his confession. He had stayed in a dorm with a lot of guys for ten years, slept in the same room with male roommates, trained with several fellows, but never grew any tiny piece of interest in anyone, however, it usually created a different atmosphere when he stayed with him, when looking deeply in his eyes and finding his desperate desire to be accepted, to be loved. As I said, my brother was too kind to the point of becoming silly, how could he have the heart to shatter the other's hope?

Nevertheless, those two reasons were nothing in comparison with the last one. His lover was a vampire, a pureblood to be exact. His name was Kaname Kuran, the owner of Kuran General Hospital, where my brother planned to spend his two-year internship in, while our father wanted him to return home and started in the public hospital where he worked as its director. Did I forget to mention our father was a surgeon, and our mother was a nurse? That's why my brother was guided to follow their career. Since he was required to move to Hokkaido for the hunter trainings, he had to continue his education here, his dream was to become a cardiologist, and Kaname happened to be a cardiological surgeon of a great renown, who used to study at Cross Academy as well, he was my brother's idol to start with. Thanks to his vampiric genes, he didn't look any older than mid-twenty, and somewhere in their meetings to discuss about cardiology, he captivated my brother's heart.

But Zero asked him to keep their relationship a secret to everyone, not because he was afraid of public opinion, though he understood they wouldn't receive any sympathy. From the bottom of his heart, I thought he still wasn't quite sure what kind of feeling he harbored for Kaname. He had admired him for a long time, even before they had a chance to speak with each other. They finally were introduced to each other through uncle Cross, and got into a long conversation. At first, the pureblood seemed hesitant on my brother's approach, but after six months, he started initiatively contacting my brother and asking him out. Sometimes he was declined, but then Zero would proactively call him back as afraid he would be upset. Kaname had wide knowledge and experience in cardiology, he's willing to listen to his every question and explain to him in details, my naïve brother couldn't find anything strange, so he was absolutely shocked when the pureblood confessed. You might laugh hearing why he hadn't rejected him right in that instant. He thought his rejection would hurt the other's feeling!

Now you understood why I said lots of kindness and selflessness would make people silly and be taken advantage of. Zero knew Kaname wasn't the type who ran around to seduce young guys, so he couldn't break the heart of someone who held deep feelings for him. He accepted to be his boyfriend. Since then he would answer the pureblood's phone calls, reply his emails, text him back, go out for dinner with him. He also stayed overnight at his house now and then, yet they had never slept with each other. In our family's tradition, we couldn't have sex before marriage, and the only person we slept with for our all life was our spouse.

New Year holidays were coming. Tomorrow we would take the earliest flight back to Okinawa, and stayed for two weeks to celebrate the occasion. It was our tradition to gather together on New Year Day. In fact, most of the Kiryuus resided in Okinawa, where the head of our family was the Chief Hunter of Okinawa prefecture, except a few who were assigned by the HA to temporarily locate in other areas. Zero was supposed to move back this year, he was the Kiryuus heir, his life was fated to attach with Okinawa, just as the Kurans' territory was Hokkaido, you wouldn't find a Kuran permanently located in another area. It was an agreement between pureblood families. If a pureblood resided in another pureblood family's territory, it would be judged as an unfriendly motive. It took six hours from Hokkaido to Okinawa by air, and Kaname had his own plane, however, it wasn't the matter of time and distance. They had never talked about their future, the pureblood seemed more and more depressed recently.

Tonight he invited my brother to stay over at his house, Zero agreed and was taking his luggage with him, so he could go straight to the airport in the next morning. It was heavily snowing, temperature was somewhere around minus six degrees Celsius. He's wearing a black fleece coat with its fur hood drooped behind, both hands were in black leather winter gloves. He was silent, vaguely looking at the white-snowed leafless trees through the cab's window, probably still thinking about his phone call with our father earlier this afternoon. I knew this gathering would be more stressful to all of us as our family were pressing him into an arranged marriage with a daughter of our father's best friend. And Zero said he had a lover. Yes, for the very first time he announced he had found a lover of his own choice. I need not to say how angry our father was to hear such news. My brother's long brows frowned and created a wrinkle in between, lips tightened, he must be deep in contemplation and struggle for the best solution. Even as close as we were, I couldn't predict how he would resolve this trouble. He didn't want to hurt Kaname, because the pureblood was his senior, someone he deeply admired and respected, but he would surely not disobey our father, he was his own son, he had been born to abide by him and succeed him.

We soon reached the Kuran palace, snow had piled up thickly over the yard, Zero was astonished to see Kaname waiting for him at the veranda. The pureblood immediately stood up from his chair and ran out to the open air to greet him as soon as he saw the cab. It was snowing heavily, he only wore a casual white shirt and a pair of black pants, his lips had turned white from coldness. My brother hastily got out of the cab, pulling his freezing bare hands in his warm gloved ones.

"You should stay inside."

"I wanted to see you as soon as you come." Kaname smiled weakly.

"You are silly." My brother felt guilty as brushing off the snow on his shoulders, and tugging him back in.

Actually Zero was the silly one, Kaname was a pureblood, could he really be able to get sick or something? Nevertheless, I admitted it was quite touching. They quickly got inside, a servant took my brother's luggage and brought it to his room. He released the pureblood's hand, but Kaname held his back, and gently took off his glove, he did the same to his other hand, then unzipped his coat, and walked behind his back, helping him to pull it out. Zero didn't protest it, but cooperatively followed his lover to get it done, Kaname even went to the extent of kneeling down to change his shoes. It was warm inside, there's no need for any winter clothes. My brother got more comfortable in a pair of slippers, his head bowed down to look at his lover "Thank you."

"You are welcome." Kaname looked up, smiled with him happily.

In our family's tradition, husband and wife were not equal, the wife must respect, obey and serve their husband as their superior. There were still other strict rules which they must follow which indicated their lower position in the relationship. My brother had been raised in such an environment, he wouldn't think it was wrong to have his wife serve him in the future, however, he hadn't imagined having a twenty year older male to do those things for him. Living independently for ten years in an industrial society, he usually behaved as a modern courteous gentleman, which made his acceptance to receive the pureblood's service have a special meaning, it was his acceptance of their relationship, it was his acknowledgment that the pureblood was his "woman".

"Have you had breakfast?" He asked.

"No. I was waiting for you." His lover shook his head. It had passed nine, over dinner for humans, but it was "morning" for vampires' biological time. Zero had had to work late to finish everything before the holidays, and his phone call with our father made him arrive later than expected.

"Tsk." He couldn't help worrying for the pureblood. They walked into the dining room, where a big meal had been prepared for them.

"You are a doctor, but you don't appreciate your health at all." Zero sat down, looking around the dishes on the table, lots of seafood, which suited his taste.

"I'm fine. You don't have to worry for me."

"Promise me you will eat properly when I'm not here." His gaze was firm.

Kaname blushed a little, lowering his eyes to avoid him "I know how to take care of myself."

That was one of their lovey dovey moments. They didn't hug and kiss as other couples often did, they didn't say any sweet words, they didn't plan anything for future. It was just the other day a year ago, before Zero went back for New Year holidays, the pureblood said to him "I love you, Kiryuu-kun! Could you be... my boyfriend?" My brother pondered his confession over the two weeks staying at home, and when he returned, he accepted Kaname without giving him an official answer. I wondered how the pureblood would react if knowing he had just informed his father he had a lover, though hadn't made it clear who that person was.

Kaname poured hot sake in a small glass for each, then put a piece of sushi with shrimp into my brother's plate. Sake spread a subtle scent in the air, Zero was silent. He had tried to act normally while staying with him, but failed to distract himself from thinking about what was waiting for him at home. The atmosphere became heavy with their quietness, even I felt bad for them, though I didn't support their relationship. For a smart and disciplined person as my brother, he should have known better than tying himself in this trouble, yet he would also rather hurt himself than hurt the others. Not that he had never declined anyone. My brother was good-looking, he started receiving many confessions since high school, but usually politely refused their good intentions, he understood our family had arranged a bride for him, when it was right time, they would get married, so he tried not to get things complicated. Yet he hadn't refused Kaname, at the sensitive moment he received the pureblood's confession, he couldn't refuse him, he felt responsible to help someone he was fond of.

"Did something happen?" the pureblood asked tentatively "Could I share your worries?"

My brother sighed, slowly held his look up to find his lover's concern. "Do you... want my blood?"

Kaname was stunned, then panicked "No." He hurriedly answered without a thought. Being a pureblood, it was his instinct to yearn for the fresh blood of the person he loved, yet my brother was a human, he could not, never give his blood to him. Plus, a bite from a pureblood would convert a human into vampire. If they were together, how could my brother fulfill all of his needs? "Yes, I crave for your blood, Zero! But I will never attack you, even in the worst circumstances, I will not attack you. Please trust me!"

"Then how will I satisfy you? All vampires have their partners as their source of real blood, don't they?"

"I'm already satisfied with your acceptance." Kaname said honestly "The blood tablets are enough for me."

I was caught with surprise to hear Zero raise such a question. I hadn't thought he would think about giving or not giving his blood to his lover. As far as I understood him, he wasn't in love with Kaname. He didn't have the pureblood's picture in his room or his wallet, didn't treat his presents as precious things. He was touched, he did concern, but I had never seen him miss him or got excited over his phone call, he never initiated a kiss or made a physical contact if unnecessary, never got the anxious flip-flop in his stomach before going to see him. I wanted my brother to be in love and be happy, that's why I didn't support their relationship. You shouldn't be with someone just because it's good for that person, was I not right? In the long run, it would rotten your relationship and exhaust your life, though I wasn't sure if Zero could ever find a true love, he didn't have a choice. If leaving Kaname, he would have to get married to the woman our family had selected for him, there was no chance for true love.

And I understood why my brother asked his lover about blood thirst now. If they were together just for the pureblood's sake, then was he good enough to be with him? Someone out there could be his ideal match. Unlike him, Kaname had his freedom to look for the person he truly loved. Today my brother got me amazed twice. Firstly, he told our father he had a lover, I wonder if the words just slipped out of his mouth, though he wasn't a short-tempered type who could easily lose his composure to say something in a whim. Secondly, it looked like he wanted a serious conversation with his lover right now. Perhaps it was time, things could no longer be delayed. He must move back in the middle of next year at latest, and his wedding would be likely to take place at the end of the year.

One year ago, he thought it would be better for Kaname to have someone to rely on, to think about, to care for, and he took that role to help him go through a difficult period of his life. Things had changed in a better way, the pureblood was calmer now, and all his routines had returned to normal. What my brother was worrying was to hurt Kaname and pushed him back to the mess he had been in when they first met.

There was a twenty year of age gap between them, which meant the pureblood had already been twenty when we were born. Their lives only crossed when Kaname was forty three, most of his past was unknown to my brother. He had never asked him, because the things he did know were all bad things, he didn't want to dig in the other's wound and made him feel worse. They hadn't stayed together as much as other couples did, or been as close as other couples were. He believed he wouldn't be the right man for Kaname, he wasn't free to love, so he didn't want him to love him too deeply.

"Will Rido-san come home on the New Year's Day?"

"Maybe." Kaname was impassive to talk about his uncle. "I'm not so sure. He's out of touch."

The pureblood's parents had passed away, and Rido was the head of the Kurans, however, he rarely stayed in Hokkaido. He spent his life in the pursuit of pleasure around the world, and only came back a few times a year. After the deceases of his brother and sister, he had returned to take care of his nephew for a while, however, he failed to curb his nasty lust and slept with the younger pureblood. I didn't know how Kaname had struggled during that time, anyway Rido left a year later, after trusting him to Asato Ichijou, his loyal follower. From the pureblood's current emotionless attitude, I assumed he had got over that period. Intermarriage was common in vampire society, then sexual relations between members in the same family wasn't a taboo?

"I will be on duty at the hospital." Kaname said "Could I... call you in the evening? I will let it ring twice only, if it isn't convenient for you to answer, I will hang up."

Did it mean he missed my brother? I knew he liked him, otherwise he wouldn't have tried to date with him and confessed to him. But I wasn't sure if he just needed someone to soothe his feelings or truly loved my brother in particular. He was much older than him, and surely had met many people, what did he see in a twenty year younger hunter that made him fall in love? And I didn't believe Zero could really incline this way. When they first started, I wondered how they would be intimate, but as I said, they had never slept together, so far Kaname always degraded himself in front of my brother, and tried to please him as much as possible. With his effeminate looks, I presumed he might be putting his hardest effort to be my brother's "wife", though it was unlikely to come true.

Zero sighed, he couldn't hold it back any longer. If not telling his lover now, it would be a cheating "My father wanted me to meet my wife-to-be and her family. We are getting married next year."

I was petrified at his statement. It was brave, I didn't expect he could make it so straightforward. Their eyes evaded each other, the pureblood's shoulders trembled, a sob slipped out of his lips, he hastily stood up, sealing his face with a hand "Excuse me.", and running out of the room.

My brother remained on his seat, trying to heave a sigh, managing to pull himself together. He had just broken his lover's heart, he felt awkward to face him. Nothing was worse than hurting the person who loved you. He had been taught to treat people nicely, to return kindness with kindness, to treasure the others' good feelings, but he had just acting as a jerk, he told his lover he was getting married to another woman. The glass of sake was still full, the piece of sushi on his plate was intact, many tasty dishes remained untouched on their dining table. Tonight Kaname wanted to have a special meal with my brother before being separated for two weeks. He had no clue Zero had another plan for them. There was no happy break-up, whether love was involved or not, you would never walk out of a relationship with delight. And as conflicting as it sounded, I didn't support their break-up either.

A couple of hours passed by, Zero eventually rose up, walking back to the hall, where stood a large stair case leading to the upper floor. He had been in this mansion several times in the past year, not knowing all the places, but he definitely could locate his lover's bedroom, which was next to his on the left wing. Kaname had prepared that room for him to rest when he came to stay for the night. They were the type of couple who never saw each other in pajamas. In common view, they even wouldn't be considered close friends. Now standing in front of the closed door, he knocked lightly, calling his lover's name with a soft voice "Kaname."

It took a long ten second until he got a low answer from the other side "It's late. You should take some sleep. Your flight is early tomorrow."

"We need to talk." It seemed my brother had determined to settle it once and for all tonight. I felt really bad, but there was no better solution than this.

"We will when you get back." The pureblood tried to delay it. He probably sensed what Zero wanted to say and wasn't ready to deal with it.

"I haven't eaten."

The door clicked open, Kaname appeared with flushed eyes, tears hadn't totally dried on his face. He looked blanched as a patient with a serious illness, a hand tightened the door knob, the other twiddled his own shirttail, still evading my brother's look.

"I'm sorry." It moved Zero seeing how much the pureblood cared for him that he immediately went out when he said he hadn't eaten dinner yet. Human psychology made people grew a fondness toward the person who treated them specially. My brother didn't love him, not meaning he wasn't pleased to receive his special treatment. That's why people usually tried to do many things for the one they loved in order to win their heart. It was also what Kaname had been doing. Looking over his shoulder, there was a vase of dried roses arranged in a heart shape with tiny white flowers surrounding, wrapped in two layers of white rice paper and red mesh. Zero instantly remembered the bouquet, it was his gift to Kaname last Valentine's Day. They had just started at that time, and it was also the only time he had given a gift to him. He was afraid the pureblood would think of bad memories if not receiving anything on that day. Kaname seemed very happy with those red roses, yet I didn't imagine he would keep them that long in his room.

"Do you... love her?"

"I don't know. I haven't met her yet."

As if receiving courage from my brother's answer, the pureblood reached out to wrap his arms around his neck, sobbing into his ear "Don't forsake me, please! Let me be with you until you fall in love with her."

Their bodies pressed against each other, stuck together as one. You couldn't say you didn't feel anything if someone was holding you that tight. You must feel either rejected or accepted, and in my brother's case, I didn't think he was rejecting him, though couldn't thoroughly understand his words. How could one be with the other knowing that person would fall in love with someone else sooner or later? If he could do that, would he also just leave his lover if falling for another person? Of course people shouldn't stay together if no longer in love, but two persons in a relationship, beside love, there were other issues such as responsibilities, obligations, gratitude which developed from the love they had shared. Did they not matter to him?

"I can't betray my wife. As for a Kiryuu, they will only have one spouse and will be intimate with that one and only all their life."

The arms around my brother loosened, gradually pulled back to disengage their bodies from each other, a desolate smile twisted on his pale face "That's why you have never slept with me. I thought it was because I was a male, you needed more time to accept me, but the truth is you've never intended to open your heart for me. You planned to leave me from the beginning. I don't believe you played with me. Then... why is that, Zero?"

It was painful. I heard my brother's heart shatter into pieces. How come things turned out that way? He had accepted him out of good intentions, but now, it seemed he had caused a deeper wound to him, much worse than the ones in his past. With one more stab, would the pureblood ever be able to fall in love again? Zero wanted to explain, wanted to say he didn't play with him at all, but then what was it? At the end, it still wasn't love, wasn't the same feeling as his lover expected from him.

In those moments, you would comprehend the importance of being honest. Sometimes you thought a lie helped, but telling lies could never be a good thing, it would cause trouble, it would hurt the person you wanted to protect with your dishonesty. My brother was good, yet he was... silly. To this point, I knew he was going to make another mistake, but he wouldn't realize it right away.

"My family have many rules, so strict that become cruel in the others' eyes. You are an outsider, you don't need to care, but I was born to obey them. I would never go against what I have been taught and betray my family. Would you still be willing to go back with me and share the punishment I'm going to receive for my sin?"

"Yes, I will." Kaname looked at him resolutely "Even if I have to die, I will not leave you."

"Even if you are dead, you will not be acknowledged as my wife."

- to be continued -

Could you let me know if you would like me to continue this one?

I have been struggling to continue my "Feel with your heart" since my last update in August. I know it's terribly, crazily slow :-( I'm still struggling.