Title: Stomping along the shore
Pairing: Kurogane x Fai (sort of… they're not there yet, don't even like each other much right now ^^;;)
Words: 2060
Rating: R for wrist-cutting? Just to be sure?
Genre: General? Drama? Whut? I can never choose these things…
Spoilers: the Tokyo arc, Infinty hints, and very, very slight hints at Ch 182 (what is it with me and that chapter?)
Disclaimer: I own nothing; CLAMP does. Isn't that lovely?

Summary: Post Tokyo – pre Infinity fic. One possible take on Fai's first feed.

Notes: Take Kurogane's renewed pledge to Tomoyo-hime in Ch 182, compare it with Fai's pledge to Sakura in Tokyo, add musings on Kurogane and Fai's sweet little dialogue in Ch 137 and just what might have happened when Fai drank the first time. Sprinkle some research on actual vampires in Japanese folklore. Stir gently. Add salt and pepper.

Not too sure about this one, but meh…

The days have rolled by, one after the other, and the mage hasn't (drunk? fed? what should he call it?) once since Tokyo. Kurogane hasn't brought the matter up, not openly – he'd look at Fai sometimes, and that would be enough judging from how the mage would turn away, pretend he didn't notice – but it is now too long since then, by even the loosest of standards.

So Kurogane corners Fai in one of the two rooms they board in this new world, sending the children out. The key turns in the lock, as per instructed, and the click burrows, flat and dry, in the silence around. The mage leans stiffly against the far wall, and Kurogane walks towards him, determined.

"Drink," Kurogane tells him, left arm outstretched and sword in hand; Fai, as expected, doesn't answer.

Kurogane almost mentions that none of them can afford being unfit, unready, and that Fai putting off his meals would bring about just that; he doesn't, in the end, since Fai must surely know. And, from the way he holds himself, it's clear he will not listen.

So Kurogane turns away to sit by one of the side walls, lifts Souhi with a steady hand, and slashes his wrist cleanly. He wipes the blade on one bent knee, sets the sword calmly at his side. With his left hand resting limp on the floor, he waits.

The blood feels warm, but there is no other sensation than what it usually feels like when someone's blade cuts into him (and when's the last time that has happened?) Except the fact that Kurogane's done this tohimself, and the whole thing is nothing short of twisted – he should lift up his hand to stem the flow, wrap bandages around the wrist, apply pressure; instead, he's welcoming the blood loss, invites it like a flaunting treat. Doing this goes against all common sense, and this is what he's mostly bothered by, and not the fact itself (though there's the solid truth that the mage lives on blood now, and Kurogane can vaguely remember a childhood tale about a demon cat who did the same, and could it be induced to live off some honey instead? He is barely surprised by the connections, (oh, what a fine coincidence) and doesn't care that, rationally speaking, the mage is in part demon now, something that Kurogane has killed all his life, and now he's trying to give that life, that life force to keep a demon well, only it's not a demon, it's the mage, wretched and pale and weak, and just crazy enough to starve himself to death if Kurogane doesn't take some steps, and this is necessary, matter-of-fact and day-to-day, so here he is, trying to get the mage to drink, and it is not the wrongest thing on earth)

He looks at Fai once, fleetingly, looks at the door, looks long and hard – the kids are just outside the rotten wood; so is the world (another one that isn't safe, something they're bound to come across time and again now, with their little group ripped well apart and sewn shoddily back together). The door is flimsy – Fai could break it, he could leave if he wanted. The door that leads out in the streets is flimsy too; the children are unwatched, unguarded, as they battle their wills here – Fai must know this as well. And Kurogane thinks that the man's stubbornness is pointless – he's pledged himself to the princess in Tokyo, should give everything that he has and is to her, take whatever he needs to ensure he is at his best – maybe that's why he doesn't leave. The mage must know he'll have to drink, eventually, one day. And Kurogane knows that he will not back down. Also, even if the mage hates him, he won't just let him die. So there's only one outcome to this match, and Kurogane waits, though he would like to taunt the fool and hurry this along.

His blood keeps falling, warm and slow, and the very idea of it gnaws down at Kurogane's throat.

He stares long at one wall, looking for signs of dizziness or blurring – there are none, yet, and should be long in coming.

The room is cold and barren, white and gray, and in the silence he hears his own breathing; he focuses on it, checks for shortness or shallowness.

To his far right, the mage keeps himself painfully still.

It doesn't feel like Kurogane's being watched, but Fai must be paying attention – his blood is pooling on the concrete floor; he wonders if the mage can smell it. Wonders what it feels like, to crave that blood, whether it's anything like thirst or hunger, whether the need would incapacitate and just to what extent – if he could see it in the mage, and read the moment and the signs (the man is pale, but he is always pale; and they're, all of them, tired). The Witch had said that he'd heal faster, and Kurogane wonders whether that lets Fai put off feeding for so long – or maybe it's the nature of a vampire to need so little in so long a time; he doesn't know how often the mage needs his blood, or even just how much – he should have asked those two back then, the Witch at least. But they'd not thought, and frankly he hadn't expected Fai to be this distant, not after he'd taken that oath, that he would follow and would help.

But then, Kurogane remembers (and how could he forget?) this hadn't been the other's choice (though the mage had agreed, right at the end; there'd been refusal, then surprise, and then the fool had smiled, and it hadn't been empty) and it would be just like that man, to make Kurogane appear to force even this on him, make it clear he does not agree, and never has, and never will.

He thinks it's sad and stupid altogether – if Fai would put this much determination into some will to stay alive, he'd be unbreakable.

More time goes by, and Kurogane shuts his eyes against the stark, white light; his lids aren't quite heavy, but it helps.

He focuses on Fai's presence to put off any drowsiness, and sees it, bright and solid, a tangle of white shades and swirls, a tucked in shape on a dark spread. His feel is somewhat different, not quite so sharp, heavier than before, and with a different glow to it. The mage is different, that is clear, but nothing about him has changed, except the fact that he is angry, and trying to be cold, while lavishing the princess with care that she no longer wants herself to need (those two are so very alike right now – how foolish that she grew to be like him out of all people, and just what brought about this change? New memories? Tokyo? The kid? Maybe the three of them together, they'd be enough to affect anyone, and maybe something else. But he can wait to see what's going on, just what is strange about her now, and the new kid as well – he clearly knows much more about this all than any one of them, maybe just as much as that guy, and why can Kurogane let that slide, but the mage keeps bothering him?)

His breaths are shallow now, and his hand steeped in blood. He thinks that he can feel it seep under his leg, seep in his clothes.

He's starting to feel restless and thinks that it's beginning to go on for too long, though he has never had a wound this small bleed for this long, and he can't weigh it well.

He isn't dizzy now, but then, the wall is hard against his back, and Kurogane isn't moving, and when the mage finally folds he'll have to drink as well, more blood, and then there will be dizziness. If the mage drinks; if he has meant his pledge, or understood its meaning, or hasn't changed his mind. He realizes that, while Fai might not set out to kill him, he could make a mistake and wait too long (though isn't he the mage's prey right now (and oy, that thought is strange), shouldn't the man know… something? He really should've spoken with the vampires back then)

The anxiousness builds up, so does the anger – it's keeping him alert now that he cannot focus, now that he's even lost track of Fai's presence, and it's easy to anger when he remembers what was given to make sure that the bastard lived (the princess might still not recover the full use of her leg) and now the mage is throwing it away.

He should get up right now (can he walk without stumbling?) wrap up his wrist and try again tomorrow, the day after that, later. He should stop this, right now, because the doors are flimsy and he is already unfit. But he won't stop, if he does that the mage won't ever drink – damn the man's vow, it doesn't even matter, it's all in that guy's head, and it's that thing he's running from, a person or his past, and he has to make up his mind, just like he did back then, he has to stop running again, and they're stomping along a very narrow line, the mage and him, because Kurogane is feeling weak, and there's only one outcome, but maybe that outcome has changed.

There's suddenly a hand clutching his forearm, and there's a pang of panic in his chest because he's almost missed the movement, hasn't caught it in time, and when Kurogane opens his eyes (he doesn't think he's sluggish) he sees the mage kneel at his side, face bowed and shoulders tense.

You're mine now
, Kurogane thinks, and part of him is murderously pleased through the slow creeping haze, but there's a pause from Fai, hitching and small, and Kurogane takes a breath through it, still waiting.

Blood drips down on his legs; it's probably staining his clothes (his slacks are black; and weren't they already stained?)

Then Fai leans down, and chapped lips touch Kurogane's skin, a dry tongue laps up Kurogane's blood, and Kurogane's careful with his breathing to not show his relief.

He closes his eyes once again (there is nothing to see) and in the cold, still room, he feels the mage's throat working, and wonders how long it will take until he's feeling well, until he'll have to try this once again, and if he has to go this far each time.

The mage stops (early in; after two moments? three?) and Kurogane drags his eyes open as Fai wraps the cut wrist in his bare hand.

"Take more," he says (his words aren't a trial), and Fai shakes his head, blankly.

"You're wasting this," he says, and Fai narrows his now-gold eye and stares; his lips don't even twitch. Then he lowers his other hand down to the floor and brings it up smeared red. He licks it clean, not blinking, and his hold tightens onto Kurogane's wrist.

"Stupid," Fai tells him, cold and brittle, and Kurogane wants to argue (of course he'd do this, there'd be no point to all the trades in Tokyo if he didn't; the mage is necessary for their current search (almost-new and almost-the-same); and the princess would miss him, she can't lose anybody else). He focuses instead on pulling his wrist free and ripping his left sleeve (short, white and thin) to bandage up the cut. He says "It can't be helped," and he leaves it at that (his breaths are very shallow now, and, just maybe, he might not manage more).

When he looks up, the mage is smiling, drawn out and scarred and all a sneer, and when he gets up from his crouch Fai wipes his bloodied hand down on his thigh (his slacks are also black; the stain won't show). And then he turns around, goes to the door, (knocks once - it opens, slowly; a few words are exchanged) and leaves.

With his cold blood clotting beside him and the bandages turning red, Kurogane thinks that the mage could have taken his words another way. And then he wonders, briefly, who is the bigger fool.