Chapter Five: "Vulnerability"
Kaname made his way swiftly to where Chairman Cross and the doctor had moved Zero. It wasn't hard to find. Kiriyu must have been badly hurt indeed; the scent of his blood was strong and completely unmistakable. Cross and the doctor were too busy working to answer the door, so Kaname let himself in, Cross wouldn't mind, he never did.
Kaname frowned as he made his way to Zero's room and saw the damage. Kiriyu hadn't just been attacked… he'd been bloody butchered. His throat had been slashed, his wrists had been slashed, and he'd been stabbed multiple times in the chest with apparently no restraint. His dark uniform and white shirt, completely stained with crimson, were in a dirty heap on the floor. The doctor had stripped him to the waist and bandages wrapped his wounds, but it was too little, far too late. Whoever had done this wanted Zero to bleed to death, that much was obvious.
It made Kaname sick to think of Yuki finding Zero this way. And yes… it made him sick to see the boy, so normally healthy and vital, if irritating as hell, laid out looking so pale and broken. It hadn't even been done by someone looking to feed… as far as Kaname could tell; it had been done for nothing but pure, evil spite. It was despicable. Yuki had not exaggerated. Kiriyu was dying.
Cross, kneeling by Zero's head, wiping his pale brow and looking suddenly a hundred years older than the last time the vampire had seen him, noticed Kaname first. He rose to his feet, looking exhausted and pained. The red rim to his eyes, hiding behind his glasses, betrayed that Yuki was not the only one who had shed tears for Kiriyu. He simply gestured to Zero. "It was not a vampire," he said quietly, for Kaname's ears only. He assumed that was why the Night Class president had come. Of course, the vampires would have smelt Zero's blood. He was a school guardian, and Kuran would undoubtedly want to be sure his people were not involved. Kuran was good about keeping on top of things like that.
But Kaname shook his head. "I know, I have already spoken to Yuki," he returned just as quietly. The Chairman hadn't seemed to notice the red smudges Yuki had left crinkled into Kaname's white uniform. "I'm here to see if I can help Kiriyu."
The Chairman looked surprised, but there was an unmistakable flicker of hope that sprang to life in his worn eyes. Kaname smiled faintly. "I don't know if I can do anything for him, his wounds are severe, but I will try," he half-clarified, half promised. "Please see the doctor out and shut the door. I need to be alone with Kiriyu."
Chairman Cross did as he was asked without question, escorting the doctor out and starting to close the door. He hesitated with it halfway shut, clearly wondering what exactly Kaname was up to. Kaname fixed him with a steady, even look. "Lock it," he said quietly. "Let no one enter until I leave." His tone and his gaze brokered no disagreement, even from the Chairman, who merely did as Kaname said.
Once he heard the key turn in the lock, Kaname made his way over to Zero's side. The boy was deathly pale and barely conscious, although his eyes were open. He'd awoken a few minutes ago, but he had not been able to speak. He was aware enough to turn dull, glazed eyes towards Kaname, however, and even managed to put a faint hint of dislike into the glare. But it was so weak, it was sadly pathetic.
Zero was in agony – blind, consuming, nerve-shredding agony. The doctor had tried to give him something for the pain, but he'd reacted badly to the medication and they'd had to quickly abandon the idea at the risk of sending him into shock. There was nothing to dull the raw, throbbing torture of his wounds or ease the agony of his blood loss, and the savage, hopeless hunger that accompanied it. Everyone had been trying to avoid saying anything, but Zero already knew… he knew he was dying. He could read it in their eyes. Zero wasn't afraid of dying. He danced with death every day. It was an unavoidable eventuality that he felt was closer to him than most. But he hated to leave… he feared for Yuki, when he was gone and worried what his death would do to her. The pain was so intense, however, so horribly unbearable that right now, he just wanted death to come swiftly.
He became hazily aware of a new presence in the room. Kaname. He had no idea what the vampire was doing there. Drawn by the scent of blood no doubt, like the vulture he was. Zero wasn't aware of the doctor and Chairman Cross leaving, but the next thing he knew, he was inexplicably alone with the pureblood. Despite the pain, and his near-delirium, that frightened Zero just a little, which made him angry. What, he couldn't even die in peace without this man hovering around?
He glared at Kuran as much as he was able. The bastard better take good care of Yuki after he was gone. He talked about protecting her. He'd better really do it. He'd better not take advantage of her. Zero would come back from the grave to haunt him if he did, he swore that to himself.
He made a soft, choked sound that sounded something like 'come to finish me?' but it was hard to tell around the damage done to his throat. Just that effort was hideously painful and Zero choked, coughing, a racking wheeze rattling through his punctured lungs and damaged throat. It felt like he was being slashed to pieces all over again and he groaned in agony, his silver head tipping back on the pillows, his features twisting in torture. A normal human would already be dead, even a normal ex-human. It was Kuran's latent strength in him that had allowed him to survive this far, with these kind of severe injuries, but it wasn't nearly enough to save him. His fingers clawed weakly at the bloodied sheets. God… please… let him die swiftly, he couldn't take this pain. Silent, hideously shameful tears of pure agony escaped down his pale cheeks. He couldn't even die with dignity… damn Kuran, did he have to stand there watching like he enjoyed his suffering and humiliation?
But Kaname was enjoying nothing about what he was seeing. There was absolutely no pleasure to be had in seeing a noble spirit broken. And as much as he hated to admit it, the boy did have a noble heart. He dropped his hand down to rest comfortingly on the youth's punctured chest, stilling Zero's coughing with the indefinable strength that seemed to flow from his touch.
Zero stared up at the vampire in shock as his pain actually eased marginally, or at least, he was able to stop coughing.
"No, Kiriyu… I've come to try and save you," he said quietly as he knelt down beside the bed. "Yuki offered herself to me completely, if I would keep you from dying," he said softly, sadly.
Zero's silver eyes sparked in horror and loathing and he actually tried to pull away, struggling to sit, although it was impossible around his ruined body. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. Dying or no, he looked ready to try and rip Kuran's throat out.
Kaname quickly pushed the boy back down again with iron strength that Zero could not hope to match. His eyes flickered darkly for a moment. "I told her that was unacceptable," he said coldly. "And if you think I'd take those kind of terms, you know absolutely nothing, Kiriyu. I will save you if I can, but only for Yuki, because it will break her heart if you die. Because she is willing to sacrifice so much for you. You had better be worthy of that kind of devotion, Kiriyu," he warned with lethal quietness.
Zero was only partially appeased, but he relaxed on the bed again, mostly because he had no choice. The world was spinning and everything seemed very far away. Kaname peeled off his bandages. What the hell was the vampire doing?
The strange, hot feeling of the vampire's mouth trailing across his naked chest jerked Zero a little bit back to coherency. What in the blazes…? Zero moaned in complaint, hands batting weakly at Kaname's head as he bent over him, trying to push the vampire away. God, the guy was licking him as he lay here dying? Pervert.
Kaname patiently took hold of Zero's arms, avoiding his injured wrists, and pinned them easily down at the boy's sides, continuing his ministrations. His touch, his saliva could heal and numb pain; it was a natural part of the vampire physiology, or pureblood physiology anyway.
Kaname lapped carefully at the wounds on Zero's chest before sliding up to trace the sad, awful mess that had been made of his neck. He licked and caressed the damaged flesh with his lips and tongue with incredible gentleness. Zero squirmed weakly, obviously deeply embarrassed, but his protests were growing more and more feeble.
A blessed numbness was spreading across his wounds in the wake of Kaname's disturbing caresses and Zero couldn't pretend he didn't feel it. Couldn't pretend he wasn't desperately grateful for the relief, despite its source.
Kaname wound his fingers in Zero's silver hair as he concentrated intently on Zero's neck, because the young ex-human was going to need to be able to suck blood, and soon. That would be difficult unless they could do something about this grievous wound. Kaname's dark hair brushed Zero's chin and chest as he worked. It was not an utterly distasteful job. Zero's blood was tangy, but pleasant and the feel of torn flesh under his mouth was not at all disgusting to the vampire. Kaname went ahead and let himself enjoy it. Enjoy the taste of Kiriyu's blood on his lips and the way he was starting to respond instinctively to Kaname's touch, almost whimpering softly. From pain, Kiriyu probably told himself, but possibly from other things as well. Kaname knew he might as well let himself enjoy this while he could. The pureblood was not going to enjoy what he needed to do next.
Zero stared up at the ceiling, wondering if he was going mad. There was no explaining the weird sensation of what Kaname was doing to him. At first it'd hurt like a billion hells, but the pain had numbed quickly, and now the sensation, even in his weakened state was… disturbing. Yes, it was disturbing, that was all, having that arrogant bloodsucker licking and… and kissing all over his neck! Gross. It was absolutely gross. But… it didn't feel gross. It felt good. Disturbingly good.
Kaname would have spent more time on Zero's neck, but he knew that time was a luxury they didn't have. He was numbing Zero's pain and helping his body a little, but it was not nearly enough. Kiriyu was still dying. He could feel the boy fading under his touch, slipping away like sand through his fingers. No. It could not be allowed.
Kaname straightened on his knees. He shrugged out of his rumpled white school jacket, quickly shedding the red tie. Unbuttoning his shirt he slid out of that too. This was probably going to get messy, no need to completely ruin any more of his clothing. It felt like an odd, disassociated move though, because part of Kaname was aware that after tonight he might not need his clothes again. Kiriyu was very far gone. There was the possibility that Kaname would not have enough strength for both of them. He wondered, sadly… if his death would evoke as much sorrow in Yuki as Zero's obviously would. He had no intention of dying, however. He had far too much to live for. Too much he needed to accomplish, and avenge. A nearly eternal life was not something to be wasted. But Kaname was no fool and knew it was a possibility. A risk he took on in fulfilling this promise of his.
Kaname slid his hand along his neck, lifting his hair out of the way as he bent, placing his throat at Zero's disposal, bending close so the injured boy could reach him without straining his wounds. It was the second time he was going to let Zero bite him. And Zero was still the only one who'd ever bitten him. It would be amusingly ironic, if it wasn't so pathetic. In a twisted way, they were practically going steady.
"Drink me, Kiriyu," he murmured quietly, leaning an arm on either side of Zero's body to support himself as he curled over the other vampire, knowing he would be needing support before this was over. "It is your only hope to survive. You need to replace what you have lost, and you need to heal. My blood is strong, if there is anything in this world that can mend your body now… it will be this. You will need much, so do not hesitate to take it. But Kiriyu… understand that if you kill me… the others will not take it lightly," he warned softly, but seriously. That was an understatement. There would be no need for the Council of Elders to pass sentence of execution on Zero for the death of a second pureblood… Kaname's friends right here on campus would already have torn the ex-human to shreds by then. Not that the council would mourn Kaname's passing, even if he was the last of the Kuran line. But it would be a hideous rift that would destroy everything he and Chairman Cross had been working for here. The night class would dissolve without him. Kaname hoped that Zero could keep that in mind. If not, Kaname intended to. It was not merely arrogance alone that he counted his life as important.
It seemed to take Zero a moment to absorb what Kaname was saying and confusion flickered through his silver eyes. Drink? Save him? Could anything really save him now? But Kaname wouldn't be offering if he didn't think it would work and Zero felt a small, irrepressible surge of hope in his stomach. All this was rapidly eclipsed however by the naked neck hovering temptingly in front of his mouth. He was ravenous, famished, dying of it, and there was no way he could refuse, even if he'd wanted to. Kaname's scent was intoxicating and Zero's body clearly remembered the taste of his blood. That incredible, horrible blood.
His teeth sunk into Kaname's neck almost before the other vampire had finished speaking, biting deep and desperately seeking what he needed to stay alive.
Kaname closed his eyes as he felt the other's teeth at his throat. He held very still, resolutely letting Kiriyu take his fill. He had to believe this could save the boy, and with his chest hovering right above Zero's, he would be able to feel whether or not it was working, whether Zero's ruined body was responding. Zero was drinking without hesitation or restraint, but it wasn't making a difference yet, and Kaname's fingers knotted in the bloody sheets on either side of the boy.
It was like before... Kiriyu still had no idea how to give a proper bite, and in his condition, Kaname couldn't blame him for being desperate to the point of savage. Kaname's blood ran down his shoulder and chest, dripping down onto Zero's body as the human vampire fed at his neck. Still, the fervent, fevered working of the boy's untrained mouth and the sheer intensity that he put into his bite, as if Kaname was now the only thing in his entire world... Kaname could not pretend he did not find those at least a bit enjoyable, despite himself. Even the pain and the rawness of it as Zero devoured him, was strangely stirring and compelling. Perhaps because no one else would ever have dared take him so hard, or perhaps because his first bite had been so and Kaname's body had impressioned upon that.
Kaname swallowed and tipped his head more to the side, his elbows leaning on either side of Zero's head, one hand knotting instinctively tighter in the silver hair. He was trying to give Zero better access so the boy's fangs didn't have to keep thrusting in and out of the wound. That motion hurt like hell. If they both survived this, Kaname was going to take Zero aside later to smack him and inform him that there was no need to keep moving your fangs around inside the bite wound once the initial bite was made. It could be deeply painful to your partner if you did that. But right now, Kaname simply forced himself to endure it. In a dark, primal way, even the pain was exciting. As he felt himself starting to drain, starting to hunger, Kaname's breathing increased to a steady, controlled pant as he fought the blood urge rising in himself. He wanted to bite Zero back. Needed to sink his fangs into the soft, torn flesh his face was resting against. But he couldn't. It would form a bond neither of them wanted and in Zero's current state, it would be deadly for the ex-human.
Kaname's body was weakening as his lifeblood flowed into Zero and his weight shifted more and more to rest against the boy he was leaning over. Zero seemed to lose his place because his fangs slipped out and then dug back in nearby, overlapping the first wound. Kaname's body tightened in pain and he half groaned, half growled against the side of Zero's face. God... that hurt. Unfortunately, his response was not lost on his partner. Zero didn't have a malicious bone in his body normally, and especially under these circumstances, when he knew what Kaname was trying to do for him, he would never have consciously, rationally tried to hurt him. But Zero was neither rational nor particularly conscious right now. His torn body was weak and he had no resistance to the dark, vicious streak that the pureblood's blood brought out in him. It was not for naught that he'd called Kaname's blood poison. It was incredible, intoxicating poison that seemed to blacken Zero's soul from the first, delicious taste. Perhaps it was because of the vampire who had made him this way, because of the hate and rage Shizuka had imparted with her life-changing bite, or perhaps it was simply dark, vampire instinct at work, but Kaname's groan of pain was deeply intoxicating and stimulating… almost arousing.
Zero slid his teeth out and bit the tender flesh again, and again, the bites crisscrossing and causing blood to well and seep freely from multiple puncture points. It filled Zero's mouth, even as it drained rapidly into his body through the channels in his fangs, and the dark bliss was enrapturing as he lapped and sucked urgently at the wounds he was inflicting.
Kaname groaned again, sharply, his eyes snapping open and widening slightly at the vicious way Zero was mauling his neck. The pain of bite upon bite was breath-taking. The skin, made naturally sensitive by the first bite, screamed sensation and agony at each successive penetration and the heightened awareness of feeling it brought. Kaname shuddered, dark pain and an even darker, deeper thread of animal excitement raking harshly through him. He couldn't explain why he responded so intensely to Zero's roughness and domination. Damn this stupid little brat for doing this to him, for making him feel this way... Kaname wanted to kill him, if that wouldn't have been so ironically counter-productive.
His fingers tightened painfully in Zero's hair, giving it a sharp yank, jerking the boy's head back to give himself a small respite from the intense, searing attentions of the other's mouth. "Stop it, Kiriyu!" he hissed through his teeth, a dangerous, red haze coloring his dark eyes. "You do not need to tear me to pieces. Drink, do nothing more than that," he snapped. But Kaname's usual sheen of control and command was nowhere to be found. His chest was heaving, he was panting, his face pale and yet flushed at the same time.
Broken from the life saving connection, all the fight seemed to drain out of Zero immediately and he laid still on the pillow, ashen – a waxen doll slipping from life.
Kaname swore silently. Gritting his teeth, he dipped his bleeding neck back to the other vampire's lips, his fingers gentling their death grip on the silver hair as he pulled Zero's head back in against him, almost cradling him. "Come on, Kiriyu... don't give up," he murmured, both commanding and cajoling, his chest still heaving. Kaname's head was spinning dizzily and he tipped it to rest against Zero's.
"Come on, Zero, you're a fighter, fight..." he murmured, using the boy's first name as he so rarely did. This wasn't just about Yuki anymore, not entirely. Kaname had poured too much of himself into Zero on more than one occasion now. Like it or not, a certain part of him felt for the boy. At least, he did not want him to die. Especially not after the pureblood's efforts to save him, that would be so inconvenient and futile.
Kaname closed his eyes and drew in a deep, sharp breath as Zero's fangs found him once more. Zero soon started re-biting him again, apparently enthralled with the sensation of his fangs sinking repeatedly into Kaname's flesh, and not content to let them simply stay in place.
Kaname curled his head down tightly against the pillow and the side of Zero's face, his ragged breaths groaning softly into the other vampire's silver hair. He couldn't stop Zero again; the boy obviously was depending on this connection for his very life. So Kaname grit his teeth and endured as Zero punctured his bleeding, screaming skin over and over, the boy's teeth wringing sheer agony from his partner, and the intent, lavish attention of Zero's tongue and lips that followed wringing sheer, unwanted, but complete pleasure.
Kaname was breathing through his teeth in sharp, tense little gasps that might have been called whimpers by anyone else, but Kaname Kuran did not whimper.
"Zero..." he whispered huskily, not sure if he was even asking the other to stop anymore, his senses sliding into a strange, heady kind of overdrive.
"You like it, Kuran... I can tell you do," the soft, raspy hiss from the other boy that barely even sounded like Zero's voice sent an unexpected shudder down Kaname's back. He wasn't sure Zero was entirely conscious, and he definitely wasn't himself, but... he was right. Some part of Kaname did take dark, exotic pleasure in the pain, and in his own resigned acceptance of it.
Kaname gave up fighting and let the strange, dark mix of pain and pleasure take him, lying on Zero's chest, his heart thudding against the other boy as he let him have his way with his neck. Zero continued to bite him and drink his blood in deep, needy draughts. And soon Kaname felt himself fading. His strength was gone, he'd let Zero take far too much and somewhere without realizing it, he'd passed the point of no return. Passed the point when he still had strength to fight the other vampire off in order to keep himself from being drained completely.
Kaname could barely move; his fingers limp now in Zero's hair and in the bedclothes. Zero, on the other hand, finally seemed to be improving. Color had returned to his waxen face and the grievous, horrible wounds to his chest, neck and wrists were at last starting to heal. He had yet to come fully back to his senses, however, and he did not realize that Kaname was slowly starting to fade, in danger of dying in his arms.
Kaname was aware of his danger, but he was helpless now to prevent it. He didn't have the strength to force Zero off of him, or even to struggle. It was a feeling Kaname had never had before - this powerlessness. He would never admit it, but he was frightened.
"Zero..." his voice was soft, faint, his face ghostly pale as it lay nestled against Zero's head. "I can't... you must stop..." he breathed groggily. He didn't expect the other vampire to heed him. He didn't think Zero had enough control to not accidentally kill him, and a deep, internal shiver of fear chilled the pureblood to the bones. For him, death was not an eventuality. He could conceivably live nearly forever if he wasn't killed, or if his heart was not so broken that his only option was to end his own life. So this strange possibility was almost… bizarre. He had no one to blame but himself. He shouldn't have let it go this far. He'd intended to pull back before he himself was in such critical danger, even if it meant that Zero had to die. Kaname had never intended to have to give his life for the boy. It was, he felt, an unequal trade to say the least, but it looked like that might be what would happen.
"Zero..." it was a small, hopeless whisper.
But it punctured the blood haze around Zero's mind and suddenly, he was aware of how incredibly weak Kaname felt against him, like a candle guttering and flickering in the wind. It scared him. He'd never, never felt weakness from the pureblood before, and certainly not like this.
He realized with a jolt, that he was on the verge of killing Kuran. Much as he'd toyed with the idea before… when it came down to it, he was not ready to do so. Especially not like this.
It took more effort than he would have liked to admit, but Zero jerked his head away immediately, breaking their connection. He blinked, disorientated and giddy, almost ill. Kaname's blood had done the job intended – it had saved his life, but he was by no means completely healed. His wounds were numb, thanks to the vampire, but his body was still quaking and in shock, even as the pure vampire blood now coursing strongly through him induced a state of incredible, dark euphoria. The clash of sensations, of weakness and strength was staggering and not something his body was designed to handle. Zero felt like maybe he was going insane.
He stared uncomprehending at the raw, bloody mess he'd made of the side of Kaname's throat, feeling the heavy, dead weight of the other man's body resting upon him. He did not forget the raw, dark pleasure of drinking and tearing that flesh, it echoed strongly through him even now, but now he was conscious enough to feel horrified and disgusted again as well. How could he have done that? How could he have enjoyed it so much? The innate, internal struggle between his two natures made him feel even more ill.
Trembling softly, Zero leaned up a bit, gently pressing his lips against Kaname's bloody skin. Kissing and licking it tenderly. It obviously was not an action that Zero would have chosen of his own volition, but he was still running partially on instinct and it was what he felt drawn to do. He knew when Kaname did it, it had soothed his pain. Maybe it would do the same in return. Even if he found the actions repulsive, which part of him did and part of him didn't, he owed the pureblood that much. He'd never meant to hurt the other vampire this way. He couldn't explain what came over him the instant Kaname's blood touched his lips and his senses. Why he turned even more into the beast that he hated, who could do such things as this.
Kaname stirred faintly against him, and Zero realized with a shock that the vampire was weakly leaning into his ministrations, tipping his head to let Zero caress the tender flesh he'd so recently abused. Kaname's soft, warm sigh brushed through his hair and across his cheek. This was just wrong on so many levels, but Zero felt weirdly drawn to the vampire, out of gratitude if nothing else. No matter what he thought of Kuran… the pureblood hadn't had to try and save him. Sure, Yuki would have been sad if he died, but she'd have gotten over it eventually and Kaname would have had no rival for her affections as he comforted her through her grief. Zero would never, never understand this creature. This… oddly charismatic and compelling… creature.
He continued to lap tenderly at the wounds to the pureblood's neck, enjoying the lingering taste of the blood, which seemed to help settle his churning stomach. Why wasn't Kaname healing at all, damn it? Because you drained him too much, Kiriyu. Because you're an animal and you almost killed the man who saved your life, his inner demons condemned him.
Kaname hadn't expected Zero to be able to stop. The ex-human surprised him when he released him. Perhaps he'd underestimated Kiriyu's willpower. Good… it would be very inconvenient to die. The faintly wry and amused thought traveled through his spinning, blood-starved brain.
Kaname still couldn't move and he was almost deathly cold. The warmth radiating from Zero's body below him was comforting. As was the young vampire's surprisingly gentle tending of his neck. He sensed remorse in Zero… the boy still hadn't come to terms with what he was, or what he became when the animal side of him came out. Perhaps he never would. It was a pity… because that internal conflict was part of what drove ex-humans insane. If Zero could never accept both sides of himself, then even Kaname's blood could not save him from his fate forever. Surprisingly, that saddened the pureblood, much deeper than he would ever admit.
Kaname sighed softly into Zero's hair, the other vampire's scent surrounding him as he half floated – dazed by blood loss and sheer, debilitating weakness. He'd never been this vulnerable before, but oddly he did not fear Kiriyu. Maybe someday one of them would kill the other. Maybe. But not today, nor in the near future, probably.
Kaname was cripplingly hungry, but he almost felt too weak to even feed without help. Which was just as well, because his face was buried against the side of Zero's mostly healed neck, pressed against the soft, warm, inviting skin. Zero was still too weak to survive being bitten, even if Kaname hadn't cared about the other, more tricky consequences. This side of Zero's neck would have been an unsavory bite anyway, it was the tattoo side. The tattoo was more than just ink, and it marked Zero as a tamed vampire. Kaname wasn't sure who his keeper was, but it was probably Chairman Cross, or… Yuki. Kaname dazedly moved his lips softly against the dark lines of the design. It was a little bit like touching your tongue to both ends of a battery, there was a charge there that repelled vampires, and would have made it a poor place to bite him, but it was not unpleasant to the touch. Kaname's caress was softly sympathetic, his weakened state perhaps effecting his emotions for the moment in a way that would pass once his strength returned. He couldn't imagine being branded like this, being tamed, controlled, subjected to this kind of ownership by another, even if it was power held by people he loved. This was part of the price Zero paid for walking in two worlds and belonging to neither. Perhaps Kiriyu had more inner strength to him than Kaname was inclined to give him credit for most of the time.
"Hey… you're not gonna die on me, right?" Zero's soft, raspy voice broke the silence, managing to sound both concerned and irritated at the same time. His voice was still hoarse, his neck injury needing more time to fully heal, but his wounds now were at least survivable, even if he was still very weak. He was only a little better off than Kaname was doing right now though.
"And let people think I was bested by an ex-human? I think not…" Kaname murmured back faintly, with effort. "I need to rest, recover a little. Then I shall leave."
Kaname needed to get back to the point where he could move. Then he needed to get the hell out of here and flee back to the Moon Dorm before the bottomless hunger unfolding inside of him took over and he killed one of the hapless day students just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Safe in his own rooms, he could down blood tablets until he couldn't take anymore and find a willing donor from among his friends to help him get over the worst of it. Aido had done it for him before… perhaps his friend would do so again. If he couldn't find Aido… he knew Ruka would. He hated to do that to her, again, but even understanding that no deep affection went with it, he knew she'd do it for him. Kaname knew any of them would if he asked them. Anyone in the dorm would consider it a privilege, but it was all a matter of who did he feel safe being weak in front of. The numbers in that group were very, very small. Even with help, however, Kaname knew he was going to have a killer blood-loss hangover to deal with. A faint smile tugged at his pale lips. He didn't think he'd have any problems getting the Chairman to excuse him from classes tonight. Possibly even tomorrow night, depending on how long it took him to recover.
Suddenly, Kaname's body tensed. Even nearly fainting, he could smell the presence of intruders who had no business being anywhere near the Chairman's living area. Vampires. But not anyone from the Night Class. Outsiders. People he did not know, or at least, not know well enough to recognize by scent. There were five… no, six of them. And he couldn't image they were here for any good reason, especially since he'd gotten the council to agree to not interfere in the affairs of Cross Academy.
Zero had scented the unfamiliar presences as well, although he could not tell nearly so much about them or their numbers, only that strangers were near. His hunter senses, more than his sense of smell, told him that they were vampires.
Kaname struggled to sit up, the effort taking all his strength as spots danced before his eyes and he nearly passed out just from that exertion. Zero wasn't doing much better, but he'd also struggled upright, teeth grit against the pain that the motion reawakened in his partially healed wounds. Zero caught Kaname's arm, half supporting him despite his own state. Kaname realized with a touch of irony that Zero was shifting himself around, trying to put Kaname behind him, trying to protect the vampire from whatever danger might approach. Ridiculous and impossible of course, but the gesture said something.
The strange vampires were already in the room, silent as ghosts and much more deadly. They'd probably come in through the window. Kaname smelt no blood, so they hadn't killed Chairman Cross to get in here. One small blessing at least.
Kaname tried to draw himself up, but sitting half-slumped on the floor, leaning against Zero's bed was about the best he could manage, although his eyes were every bit as commanding as ever as he glared darkly at the interlopers.
"What is the meaning of this intrusion?" he demanded, his tone cold and disdainful as if he were talking to lower life-forms, which he was. These were not aristocrats, they were common vampires. But they had the aura of trained assassins about them, and were no doubt not to be underestimated.
Kaname already knew the meaning, however. It was only too obvious. This was check in a game he hadn't realized he'd been playing until too late. He'd fallen into a trap, not even a particularly clever one. It wasn't so different from the one he'd laid for Shizuka, and unfortunately looked to be just as effective. Kaname should have seen this coming, but his emotions had blinded him… as no doubt, whoever was behind this had intended. The attack on Zero, the fact that his assailant had been so ruthless about bloodletting, and yet had left the young man alive, if barely… it was quite the piece of architecture. Even if Ichiru had carried the attack out, it hadn't been meant for Zero at all of course, that was obvious now. It'd all been a carefully crafted ploy meant to maneuver Kaname into being forced into exactly the situation he was in now. Whoever had done this had done their homework and knew which pieces to topple in order to get to him. Knew that Yuki was his one weakness, and what better way to get to him through her, than through Zero?
Kaname felt the cold chill of ice running through his sluggishly empty veins. And so they had him. Alone. Drained to the point of helplessness and unable to fight back. Brilliant execution of a mediocre plan. But his hard, commanding eyes betrayed no hint of fear, or surrender.
Zero had no idea what exactly was going on, but he knew it wasn't good and he glared suspiciously at the silent, black clad figures standing before them. They felt a lot like the ones who had attacked him with Ichiru earlier, although no longer hooded. Their long hair was tied back in ponytails, their eyes cold and deadly. There was a uniformity to their dress and hairstyles that bespoke some kind of organized training and purpose. Their manner reminded him a little of the executioners who had come for him after Shizuka's death and for half an absurd moment, he thought they'd come because of what had happened between he and Kaname, that he was going to get blamed with harming another pureblood. But it was swiftly obvious that their attention was focused on Kaname, not him. They watched the pale pureblood with wary gazes, not underestimating him even in his obviously weak state.
This, Zero did not understand. He had yet to ever come across a vampire that didn't revere and obey Kuran… himself excepted, of course. But these strangers did not back down under the dorm President's glare. He could tell that behind the calm façade Kaname was tense, worried. The boy shifted a little bit further on the edge of the bed, a protective hand sliding down to Kaname's shoulder. Zero was a guardian here at Cross Academy. The safety of all students was part of his responsibility. And although he'd certainly never imagined being called upon to protect Kaname from anyone, he would. Or at least, he would try.
Kaname felt a vague tug of wry warmth at Zero's protectiveness, although it was completely useless. There wasn't a damn thing the boy could do, and he was still trying to figure out what exactly he could do. Not much. No one had answered his question, so Kaname answered it for them. "You haven't come to kill me, not yet," he said coldly, leveling the assassins with a haughty, contemptuous glare. "There's not a one here worthy of drinking the last of my blood, and no one would be so foolish as to risk ending the life of a pureblood without the chance to drink of them. You're just slaves who do the bidding of another. It's your master you're to take me to; it's your master who covets what I am. Am I correct?"
Kaname's words appeared to shock Zero and Kaname felt a flitter of either bitter amusement or irritation. Was Zero so naive as to believe that Kaname hadn't a single enemy in the vampire world? Power did not come without enemies. There was a whole world of intrigue out there that the people at this little, cloistered school, knew nothing about. His mind was already whirling with suspicion about who could be behind this. Especially since the dark clad figures seemed slightly familiar. Not as individuals, but in their training and the way they carried themselves.
"Come with us quietly, Kaname Kuran, and we shall not harm you," one of the assassins finally spoke. His voice was low and cool, like oil on ice. On cue, all of them moved forward, one of them on either side taking Kaname's arms and dragging him to his feet. Swords had appeared silently in their hands and all the sharp, pointy, probably poisoned blades were directed towards Kaname. It didn't matter if he was half dead. They were taking no chances. Purebloods were not to be trifled with.
Kaname could not stand on his own and they were as much carrying him as dragging him. The pureblood's fury simmered hotly at this indignation, but he submitted to them with cold, quiet dignity, having no choice but to obey and bide his time as they dragged him towards the window.
Suddenly a gunshot rang through the air and one of the men holding Kaname fell with a cry of surprise and pain. In their wariness of underestimating Kaname, they had paid little to no attention to the half-dead ex-human, who was of absolutely no importance to them. Zero had managed to get to his gun and he held the Bloody Rose steady in pale fingers, already drawing a bead on another of the men surrounding Kaname.
Brave, very brave, but suicidal. Kaname knew there was no way Zero could take them all, although the shots were certain to bring attention. The scent of his blood had no doubt already made it to the Moon Dorms, although respect for Kaname's privacy and for the rules restricting them from being out of their dorm yet at this hour would probably be keeping his fellow students away. But hearing the anti-vampire gun blasting away, combined with the scent of his blood… it would draw them, and it would certainly draw Chairman Cross and the others nearby.
Zero's second shot hit true, but he did not get a chance to fire anymore before two of the vampires were on him and he only just had time to duck clumsily out of the way before a sword would have removed his head from his shoulders. Zero blocked a punch and returned with a swift roundhouse kick of his own, exhibiting much more strength than his wounds and his state of health should have allowed. But his own sheer stubbornness and the gift of Kaname's strength kept him on his feet as he lashed out at his attackers with a snarl. A blow caught him in the ribs, sending him sprawling, his injuries screaming and his head spinning. Zero couldn't recover fast enough before one of the assassins was on him, sword jabbing swiftly through the air towards his heart.
Kaname seized the slight relaxing of the guard on him as an opportunity to act. Summoning what was left of his strength, the pureblood let an intense, powerful wave of kinetic energy explode outward from him, knocking his attackers to the floor and blasting the walls outward like a small explosion. Plaster and brick rained down in chunks and choking dust billowed around them, obscuring the air. Zero's attacker was thrown aside and pummeled by flying, falling shrapnel. The vampire that Zero had shot first was trapped where he fell, half-crushed under a huge part of the ceiling that had fallen in upon him. At least two other assassins had also been struck by falling debris and were struggling out from under it, stunned and bleeding.
Kaname couldn't see Zero amid the ruin, but that was just as well, as the assassins didn't seem to be able to see him either, or at least, had no further time to worry about him. Kaname's move had caught them by surprise, but they were skilled at what they did, and they recovered swiftly. At full strength, Kaname could have taken them all without breaking a sweat. But after his last expenditure of strength, the pureblood felt consciousness fading in a whirling black miasma of dust and angry shouting. He felt himself falling, felt strong arms grabbing him roughly, hoisting him, carrying him through the shattered window and dropping down to the ground below.
The air was cool, twilight was upon the school grounds and Kaname was just aware of the sounds of chaos fading away as he was carried along at an inhumanly swift pace. He had the vague impression of being placed inside some kind of vehicle, but after that, consciousness faded completely and he knew no more.