Author's Notes: Huzzah! My first fanfic on FFN since my old account disappeared (no huge loss - the only thing there was a Digimon fanfic from middle school), and it's for a series I never thought I'd get into...

Takes place after the adventure's over, with no assumptions other than a generally happyish ending. Officially AU with chapter 211. Spoilers from Acid Tokyo, Celes, and Nihon. Enjoy and review!

Kurogane smiled to himself as he polished his sword. The blade didn't really need to be cleaned; he hadn't used the thing for a real battle in weeks. But it was part of his nightly routine, and the slow, repetitive motion had become a sort of meditation. It felt nice to sit alone in his quiet room with his sword gleaming in hands, away from the needs of the other ninja, the quiet but forceful demands of Princess Tomoyo, and of course, the general annoyingness of –

"Good morning, Kuro-tan!"

Speak of the devil…

He hadn't had much of a choice, really. Fai didn't exactly have a world to go back to, considering Celes had nothing left but corpses. And more than that, he needed Kurogane's blood just to live. So they had returned to Nihon together, and the ninja found himself subject to Fai's irritating nature on a regular basis. Coupled with the amount of teasing Tomoyo did, he really needed his nightly meditation to relax. Tonight, it seemed, he would not be lucky enough to have that luxury.

"Good evening," he corrected gruffly.

"Good evening!" Fai agreed amicably, though there was no sign of comprehension on his cheerful face. Fai was not coping well with his language lessons. He certainly seemed smart enough, but the linguistics didn't seem to stick with him. Tomoyo worried that foreign languages just weren't his forte, but Kurogane thought he was just being lazy. In any case, he was certain that when he awoke the next morning, the ex-mage would be happily greeting him with "Good evening!"

Fai pranced into Kurogane's room uninvited, and plopped down beside him on the floor. He instantly started chattering away in complete gibberish. The ninja thought he caught the words "Tomoyo," "Souma," and "Kuro" (the latter always coupled with what he suspected must be another insulting suffix), but the rest meant nothing to him. Fai didn't seem to mind, and continued to talk about his day in his own language.

One good thing about not having Mokona around, Kurogane thought, was that it was much easier to tune Fai's voice out when he couldn't understand the words.

Finally satisfied with the shine on his blade, the shinobi rose to his feet and sheathed it. Fai's voice slowly tapered out while Kurogane got ready for bed, and by the time he had removed his shirt and began the careful procedure of oiling his mechanical arm, the mage was silent. They both sat quietly as he finished his maintenance, lost in their own thoughts.

Fai was the first to break the silence when Kurogane put his oil away. "Kuro-sama?" His voice was soft, and when Kurogane turned to look, he looked away uncomfortably, rubbing his arm as if cold. "I… I can have drink?" he asked with effort.

"…Please," Kurogane reminded him quietly.

"Can have drink please?"

Kurogane nodded curtly, and began digging in a drawer to look for a blade. He inwardly cursed himself for not noticing that Fai needed to eat. Now that he knew, he could see the dark ring under his eye, how pale he'd gotten, and realized how lethargic he'd been lately. The vampire hadn't fed since their arrival in Nihon, but Kurogane had been too preoccupied with being home to notice.

Finding a dagger, he sat down on the bed, leaving room for Fai to sit next to him. He did so, and Kurogane carefully sliced open his wrist. The blond took the offered arm, and gratefully pressed his mouth to the wound.

With his free arm, Kurogane pulled out one of the many manga he'd acquired on their long journey. He did his best to focus on the illustrations in front of him, putting out of his mind the quiet slurping sounds issuing from Fai's mouth and the bizarre feeling of a tongue occasionally stroking the inside of his skin. Fai's eating habits still disturbed him quite a bit, though he tried his best not to show it. The biting and sucking was disgusting on its own, but Fai was also a surprisingly messy eater, and even when he was done eating, Kurogane still had to deal with the mess of drying blood and saliva all over his forearm.

So instead, he focused as hard as he could on the manga, giving the characters individual voices in his head, spending minutes on every single page to examine all the pictures carefully. He admired the detailed backgrounds and the way the artist had drawn every facial expression, found flaws in the hero's sword fighting form, tried to find symbolism in the images, and basically did everything possible to avoid thinking about the sucking sensation at the inside of his elbow. He couldn't read the script of whatever world this was from, so he tried to guess the dialogue himse –

Wait. Elbow?

He looked down at the messy blond head attacking his arm, and sure enough, Fai had abandoned the cut on his wrist to travel further up the appendage. As he bit and sucked gently at the skin, he seemed to be in some sort of trance, his catlike eye unfocused and half shut.

"Oi, stop that," he said angrily, pushing at Fai's head. "You're nowhere near the cut anymore." There was no response. "I said, cut it out!" He attempted to wrench his arm out of the way, but the vampire clutched it tight, holding his prey's wrist with one hand and his upper arm with the other, sucking with unbreakable focus.

It didn't make any sense to Kurogane. Although the smaller man was biting at the skin, it wasn't hard enough to break through, so he certainly couldn't be feeding any more. But he had reached Kurogane's shoulder now, leaving an orangey trail of diluted blood all the way up his arm. This was evidently an uncomfortable position to work with, because in an instant the warrior found himself flat on his back with Fai sitting on his chest. The man's head was buried in Kurogane's shoulder, blond hair tickling his bare torso as sharp teeth eagerly assaulted the soft skin between his shoulder and neck.

"What the HELL are you doing?!" Kurogane yelled as he pushed at Fai's chest with both hands. "Get the hell off of me!" The offender paid him no attention, continuing his journey up until his lips pressed against the side of the ninja's neck.

Kurogane suddenly remembered a conversation with Yuuko back in Tokyo. They had been discussing vampire lore. In some worlds, it was believed that they took their blood directly from the jugular vein, and wouldn't stop until their prey had stopped breathing.

"GET OFF!" he roared in desperation, trying his best to get away without actually harming his friend, but the vampire wouldn't budge, engrossed by the taste of flesh in his mouth, and he just sucked harder. "Wake the hell up! FAI!"

None of this made any sense, he thought, as he felt teeth clamp down on his skin. Fai couldn't understand the language, it's true, but he should have been able to comprehend the tone of Kurogane's voice, or at least his own name shouted in his ear. And he was certain that neither Kamui nor Subaru had once mentioned neck biting when they briefed him on feeding. But then again, he'd never actually seen the twins eat, so he didn't really know…

His eyes were shut tight, anticipating the pain of the bite, but after a long moment of bracing himself, he realized that Fai hadn't actually bit down much harder than before. The soft mouth had actually moved up his jaw, and had just started pulling at his cheek. It stopped abruptly just by his chin, and suddenly the contact was gone. The room sounded strangely silent without the constant sound of gentle slurping.

Kurogane opened his eyes to Fai's grinning face, the single golden eye above him ringing with silent laughter. "Yjana tejan desandu, Kuro-nom?"

The bastard had been playing the whole time. Kurogane found himself overcome with anger, and opened his mouth to roar obscenities at the smiling sonofabitch on his chest, but before he could get out a syllable, he found it filled with Fai's tongue.

He choked in surprise for a moment as the muscle invaded his mouth, still tasting of blood and violently ravaging everything it found. But he came to his senses quickly enough. He growled and gripped Fai's head by the yellow feather duster he claimed was hair, and shoved his own tongue forward to remind the mischievous vampire just who was in charge here.

When they separated, Fai just smiled sleepily at him, then went back to gently licking the blood off of Kurogane's still bleeding wrist. Eventually the flow of red liquid slowed to a stop, and the vampire curled up on the bed next to him, a soft smile on his still bloody lips.

Fai was always tired after he ate, and despite his strange game from earlier, it seemed to be the same tonight. Kurogane wasn't sure if it was the act of drinking itself that exhausted him, or if it was because he always waited as long as possible between meals, or even just the fact that they always seemed to do it late at night, but he always slept after. Even during their travels, Fai could barely make it back to his own bed. And with the combined blood loss and pressing guilt, Kurogane could never find it in him to kick the asshole out.

He watched the vampire sleep for a while, musing to himself. Eventually he decided it was safe to act. He leaned over his sleeping comrade, and softly kissed his cheek. Assured that nobody else was around to hear, that Fai was safely asleep, and unable to understand the words even if he were awake, he felt safe enough to speak.

"I love you, you goddamned son of a bitch."

He turned and blew out the candle, then pulled the covers over himself with his back to the slumbering bloodsucker. He could wash the red smears off his arm the next morning, though he really wasn't looking forward to explaining to Tomoyo the giant purple hickeys all over the side of his body.

As he drifted off to sleep, he felt Fai shift next to him, to lie facedown in the pillow, and heard a voice say in clear, accent-free words, "I love you too, Kuro-pii!"