A Different Kind of Craving

A fan fiction written by Ryuko Ishida

Ryuko: This is finally completed after… what, 3 years? Yeah. I had a writer's block that lasted that long in the middle and I finally manage to finish this in the past few days (when I'm supposed to be reading school material). They're actually my favorite pairing in the series, so I hope you enjoy this one-shot!

Summary: They're vampires, so it's normal for them to crave for blood. But there are also things that Shiki and Rima crave for: chocolate Pocky sticks, for one thing, and maybe even each other.

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Growling that did not resemble anything like a human – more like a wild animal – erupted in the dead of the night. However, it was not the only source of noise in the area. Some distance away, the few cars that still ran at this hour were speeding away on deserted roads and the hot summer breeze waltzed in between branches of a few trees that existed.

The night was deep, but not necessarily dark.

Droplets of the silver moonlight showered through the gently waving leaves, casting shadows that hovered ever so softly at the slightest of motions; orange street lamps brightened up every shadow in the corner.

Low roaring that was far too low for human ears continued to vibrate through the air. The sounds indicated its owner was impatient, whoever, or whatever the noise belonged to – impatient and restless unless it got what it desired. And after what seemed like an eternity, with nothing still in sight, its patience was running dangerously low.

'Where the hell is it?' Shiki Senri wished that Level E vampire would come out already; he really didn't have that much time on his hands considering he still needed to complete his English essay and chemistry lab exercises that were due in two days. His companion Touya Rima – a female with pale blond hair tied neatly into pigtails – was looking as bored and indifferent as ever. His guess was: she wanted this to end quickly as much as he did.

A quick flash of blinding white that contrasted immensely with the shady surroundings streaked past his sight, catching the immediate attention of the dark-haired male, who followed his prey's every movement with his emotionless lavender-toned eyes. The girl situated silently adjacent to him merely turned her head sharply to the source of the rustling noise. Their senses were snapped on to their fullest extent, attempting to catch even the tiniest of further movement from the supposedly insane beast who was once a normal human.

To them, the once-human but now-monster only meant a threat to society – something that had to be eliminated immediately. That was their job. Well, technically, that was the job for the licensed hunters from the Association, but for some reason, the members from the Council of Ancients wanted their younger generation to compete with the professionals. That also translated as: once appointed, you have no choice but to follow your order to hunt, regardless of whether you have finished your essays or not.

Shiki sighed once the thought of his waiting essay and other unnamed homework seeped into his head but he made sure it was a quiet one. Despite the fact that a Level E vampire had lost their sanity, their senses were still as strong and sharp as any other vampire's.

Time continued its passage.

Within the fragile silence, a small rustle broke the cycle.

The two hunters froze upon hearing it, the noise originating directly from a few feet in front of them.

'Finally,' Shiki thought with delight. A tiny grin plastered on his lips, revealing his menacingly sharp fangs. With a low growl, which basically acted as a signal for Rima to take action, Shiki slowly approached forward, his eyes flashing a dangerous shade of violent purple similar to the color of the sky before a horrific storm, while his partner had already disappeared into another direction in wait to trap the beast after Shiki's successful attacks.

Once he made sure the exact location of his target, which was confirmed by the strong, despicable scent that was rudely intruding his sensitive nostrils, the vampire readied his stance and gracefully bit the tip of his index finger. The smile never left its respectable place.

Ruby streams shot out from the tiny cut into several different directions, and like aggressive, uncontrollable serpents, these ribbons of liquid blood pierced through the night air as fast and unforgiving as lightning strikes, aiming directly at its target not a few feet before him.

He heard, with satisfaction, the crunch of his weapon stabbing into the beast's flesh while a few shots missed their intended mark and ended up cracking the dry earth beneath its feet instead. Either way, Shiki was positive he had injured the animal enough for Rima to finish the job. He waited for the sound of the final utter of defeat from the non-human, then the inevitable crumbling of aging corpse as it turned into nothing but dust.

But before anything could happen, he heard a gun shot. Shiki grimaced slightly at the loud, displeasing noise as it echoed on his poor, over-sensitive eardrums. The disgusting scent of gunpowder after the shot was nauseating even though he was sure the shooter wasn't very near.

The next thing he knew after that unscheduled gun shot, a small, yet unmistakably painful moan reached his ears. He thought his heart had stopped beating for a second.

'Rima?' He didn't voice his thoughts out loud, but even without his own voice, Shiki could feel his senses failing as panic took place. Weird – he was never the one to panic; hell, he never found himself in a situation in which he needed to, and yet...

Using his born reflexes, the black-haired vampire quickly sniffed out his companion and soon found the girl slumped carelessly against the foot of a tree trunk. Her already pale complexion was even paler, if that was possible, and her lips had turned to a distressing shade of unnatural purple. All the blood had drained from her face as her breathing continued, but in a fairly irregular pattern. He carefully inched closer to his injured partner, trying to locate the wound that had caused her to experience such pain.

"Rima?" He was surprised that his own voice had sounded very slurred – soft and clearly very worried. Shiki Senri was the perfect definition of the word 'indifference', whether it was his attitude towards another human, or a fellow vampire, and here he was: a man supposedly to be level-headed in these sticky situations was loosing his cool.

The pronounced scent of blood drifted into his nostrils, and Shiki finally found the source of the blond-haired teen's pain – the bullet had punctured her left foot just above the ankle. Scarlet streams of liquid were pouring out in an abnormally quick pace. He feared that Rima would loose too much blood before he even had a chance to stop further bleeding, and then there was the insuppressible surge of anger. "What happened?" He tried to even his voice, but he wasn't sure if it was working or not.

Rima's aqua-toned orbs glazed with a kind of anticipation when Shiki addressed her a second time. "A hunter from..." she replied weakly, gulping air down with difficulty before continuing, "from the Association..."

"Bastard," Shiki snarled nastily, but Rima was slowly loosing consciousness without the notice of the male and didn't get a chance to tell her partner that the most important matter at hand right now was to get rid of the Level E vampire.

Rapid, uncontrolled thoughts of ripping that hunter into delightful pieces raced across his mind's eye; he really didn't mind all that extra work because that son of a bitch had injured his partner which... concerned him, how?

'Of course it concerns me!' Shiki thought savagely, as his stormy eyes flickered from the female to the direction where the escaped hunter was presumed to have disappeared. 'Rima's my hunting partner! Without her, I'll... I'll have to do her portion of work, too!' And it wasn't as if he would get paid extra for doing her parts either, or get paid at all, now that he thought about it. Basically, this whole hunting deal was solely voluntary work, save for the 'doing it out of his or her own free will' part.

The thought of tracking the shooter down was very tempting, but with one more look at Rima – her eyes had closed despite her mental fight to force them to stay open, and loose, straight locks were falling into odd places – all traces of these thoughts disappeared when he realized just how bad the situation had become.

Shiki massaged his temples with his fingers – it always worked to get him calm down and think rationally. With a soft sigh, he dropped to his knees beside the unconscious vampire to take a closer look at the bloody mess that was the wound.

For a terrified second, Shiki was afraid to touch her. Blood had started to accumulate into a shallow pool of rose red, and the pale – almost transparent – layer of skin didn't make him feel any better. She seemed so fragile right now – with her eyes closed, loose strands of hair flailing in the soft summer breeze and the delicate skin tone – that Senri was afraid he might break her if he was not being careful enough. But he knew if he didn't stop the bleeding in time, it would definitely be the end for her, and that horrific thought pushed Shiki to timidly brush away the blood around the actual wound with a handkerchief he found in his pocket. The dark-haired vampire took a brief glance at Rima's face to see if there were any signs of waking up, or indication of feeling the pain. When he detected none, he shifted his body into a more comfortable position to continue the cleaning process.

Minutes passed without any commotion as Shiki patiently tended Rima's injury with utmost care. He felt a strange feeling of peace washed over him at this point, when he could feel Rima's pulse returning to its regular rhythm, but the peace didn't last as long as he had hoped.

"What the hell are you still doing here?" was the first thing Rima demanded after she had regained her consciousness; what Shiki supposed to be her annoyed tone came out quite pathetic and breathless. When her raven-haired companion resorted into ignoring her, Rima got even more worked up, and though her voice didn't show it, her face – despite the lingering pain – certainly did the job. "Go chase down that Level E vampire. Forget about my injury; it's nothing."

" 'Nothing', my ass," Shiki retorted with an edge to his usually collected, deep voice. His head was lowered as he continued to wrap the bloody wound with torn strips of material of his shirt, and his long bangs veiled any emotion that might be evident in his eyes. "In case you haven't notice, you're still bleeding," he told her matter-of-factly, and as a second thought, he added, "Plus, I hate this whole cat and mouse chasing game."

"Shiki," the lean female pronounced his name in a warning tone – soft from loss of blood, but deadly serious.

"Would you just shut up for a minute?" His voice was never loud, but it held a certain degree of authority that Rima couldn't help but follow. Her eyes just grew a bit bigger – knowing Shiki Senri from the time she entered Kurosu Academy, which wasn't a very long time in truth, she never saw this side of him before. The Shiki Senri she had always known was stoic to others' feelings – cold and emotionless, even. This was definitely new to her. Rima silently watched the male vampire working fixedly on her leg, wincing and gasping lightly now and then when sharp pain shot from the spot, which instantly reminded Shiki to handle her more gently.

She had lost a great deal of blood, but being the vampire that she was, Rima was recovering from her rapid blood loss from before, and Shiki saw with relief that color was returning to her cheeks. After Shiki was done wrapping her injury with the makeshift bandages that used the sleeves of his shirt, the two had agreed – though not without some quiet grudge from the girl claiming she could maneuver just fine on her own – to let Shiki carried the injured female on his back. With that settled, they began their way back to the school.

"Where're we going?" After some moments of silence on both ends, which were filled in occasionally by the hoot of an owl, or a bark from a canine, Rima – comfortably situated on Shiki's warm, strong back – decided to ask. The balmy air of the night encased him, but he paid no heed as he was more conscious about the other presence currently speaking on his back.

"Back to the Moon Dorm. We're going to need to ask Headmaster Kurosu for a human doctor to get that bullet out. I imagine there are some spells cast onto that damn thing. It'll be risky for any of us to try anything." After hearing his uncharacteristically long explanation – Rima figured that was the longest 'speech' Shiki had said with one breath yet – the girl obediently laid her head back down with one side of her cheek lightly touching the fabric of his shirt.

Shiki, on the other hand, attempted to ignore the unfamiliar, but rather comforting warmth rising in his stomach. 'It's just the weather, just the weather,' he told himself in his head. The chanting method apparently wasn't working very well on him.

"Kuran-sama will be mad once he finds out that we've lost track of it," Rima murmured her comment, her words vibrated on his backside as her head was still lying there. Shiki realized she was talking about the Level E vampire they were ordered to destroy, but that wasn't what had caught his attention, not at all. It was the mention of a certain someone's name that had set him off.

"Not if he knows you were injured by a hunter from the Association," Shiki decided his voice sounded neutral enough as to not let any unnecessary emotions leaking out, but it had came out resembling the unfamiliar voice of a possessive child who was annoyed by the fact that something of his – or he thought that was his – was being taken away. This direction of thought wasn't right, but he wasn't about to admit his mistake anytime soon. "Why do you care so much anyway?"

The silence that followed after his question was so long that Shiki thought the girl had fallen asleep, or had simply chosen to ignore him all together. When Rima did answer, what she said didn't exactly make Shiki feel that much better; in fact, it seemed her reply had added gasoline to a fire that had started without the notice of the man himself. "I don't want to disappoint Kuran-sama."

"You admire Kuran Kaname?" He bit out sharply before he could stop himself, and finished the sentence in his head with 'like all those other girls?'

Rima noted the venom in his tone, now very obvious in the short retort. She wondered if it had anything to do with the topic they were currently discussing.

"I respect Kuran Kaname," she replied carefully while thinking over the appropriate phrase to continue, "as a leader. It's nothing more than that." Shiki fell silent when he came to his senses that he had taken her comment the wrong way. It wasn't that, though, that had caused his sudden loss of words, because most importantly, why the hell should he even care if Rima admired Kuran Kaname the way Shiki had initially thought?

That was not natural. He was afraid of how far his thoughts would take him, so he ended up not thinking any damn thing at all, which was getting harder by the seconds of silence that ticked by awkwardly after both had decided to shut their mouths.

"Would you mind taking the pack out of my left pocket?" He really couldn't stand the heavy stillness anymore.

"You smoke?" Rima asked in surprise but dug out the designated package nevertheless. Instead of a paper rectangular box like a cigarette box should resemble, Rima found, in her hand, a long, slim, gleaming package instead. For a really short second, the confused girl stared long and hard at it, trying to make some sense out of it all.

"Sure, if Pocky is smoke-able," Shiki grinned with amusement even though Rima couldn't see as her attention was still transfixed as if by magic on the silvery plastic bag of sweets, which probably was a good thing to begin with.

"Why on earth did you bring this along on a hunt?" Rima finally seemed to snap out of whatever trance she was in before and tore the package open. The sweet, rich fragrance of chocolate almost instantly overwhelmed their senses and covered up the earthy scent that surrounded them from before.

"Anything wrong with that?" The blond-haired vampire took out a broken piece of the chocolate stick, looked at it intently for a short second as if inspecting for any impure substances before putting the treat in her mouth.

"No," she finally decided as she savored the gentle sweetness swirling in her mouth.

"Who would've thought human food can taste this good?" He uttered while balancing a biscuit between his teeth that Rima had fed him; the injured female on her back hmm-ed with agreement. A peaceful sort of silence settled over the pair again like a warm blanket on a wintry night as they enjoyed their – albeit slightly melted – chocolate treats and continued their way back to the school ground.

Suddenly, Shiki felt a jerk on his back, as if it had been electrified. "Rima?" He turned his head slightly, trying to see what the problem was, but her face was hidden at an angle on the back of his neck where Shiki couldn't quite see her.

"It's nothing," she assured her partner, but it was said through tightly clenched teeth, as if she was attempting to subdue the pain. "Just a little stinging on the injured leg is all."

"Are you sure?" His steps were already slowing down.

"Yes," Rima snapped, a bit more sharply than she had intended. "Sorry."

A few more minutes had passed, and Shiki could no longer disregard the quick and labored breathing behind him, each mouthful blowing a warm, moist caress on his bare neck. "I'm putting you down – you sound terrible, and don't argue. You'll just be wasting your breath."

"I wasn't going to," she muttered softly after Shiki had placed her gently against the closest tree. The forests were thinning, meaning they must be near their destination. The pastel moonlight managed to rain through the gaps between the rustling branches and singing leaves, and scattered shadows on their faces. The weak light enabled the male vampire to see the bluish-violet bruise that was blossoming around the bullet wound on Rima's ankle, which was still ornamented with a few trails of dried blood flakes.

"Shit," Shiki murmured, frowning, and then he looked at Rima. "How're you feeling?" His face seemed to display no signs of outward distress that he was currently experiencing inwardly; he didn't need to make her more distraught than she already was.

"What do you think, genius?" Despite the intense pain that was evident in the way she kept shifting her body, trying to find a more compromising position that caused her the least level of agony, the paleness of her clammy cheeks, the biting of her full, though colorless, lips, and the beads of sweat trickling down her skin, Rima still managed to pull off a sarcastic remark.

"I think," Shiki wasn't about to let her have the upper hand verbal-wise, "the bullet has been tainted with poison."

"This is just marvelous," the female vampire slumped down against the trunk. "Damn that fucking hunter." Even if the statement was meant to convey annoyance and menace, even Shiki could tell that his partner was stretched thin by the turn of the day's events, since it was rare for Rima to use such "ungracefully coarse language", as she usually put it.

He settled beside the injured vampire – their shoulders almost touching with how close they were – pushed up whatever was remained of his shirt-sleeve, and bit the inner part of his own wrist before Rima could comprehend his trail of actions.

"Shiki, what are you…?"

"Here," he offered her his bleeding hand and held it out before her face. With a vampire instinct that she couldn't control, Rima sniffed his blood cautiously and closed her eyes, letting the frenzy of the sweet, tangy scent lingered in her mind. Then something seemed to jolt her out of the trance.

"Don't be an idiot," she turned her head stubbornly away from the welcoming, warm blood, away from Shiki's disapproving expression.

"You're the idiot here, Rima," he didn't hesitate to tell her. "My blood is going to help detain the poison from spreading even further into other parts of your body. So if you don't want to die, you better shut up and drink."

"Are you threatening me?" She glowered at him, even though the supposedly fearful effect was ruined by her heavy breathing and pale features.

"No," he sighed. "I'm stating the obvious." He should learn by now that, with Rima, using force was the worst method in trying to persuade her into doing anything.

"Please," Shiki placed a gentle hand on her cheek and turned her face towards him slowly but surely. There was only silent pleading in his amethyst eyes, and she found that she couldn't really deny what those honest eyes wanted.

'He's just saving my life because I'm a fellow vampire and a friend,' she attempted to reassure herself, but honestly, she wasn't sure who she was trying to fool. Gingerly, as if she was afraid she would break his bones if she wasn't being careful, Rima held his bleeding wrist with one limp hand closer to her mouth and she tasted the red trail with a tentative lick of her tongue.

It was almost imperceptible, but Shiki thought he could see a small, satisfied smile beginning to form on her lips.

"Is the taste all right?" He tried to make light of the situation. She ignored him; her eyes, with the slightest flavor of blood, had transformed into a pulsing rose-tone from her previous calm aqua-colored. With a more renewed, vigorous grip of his wrist, Rima sucked the flowing liquid thirstily, like she had been stranded on a desert for far too long without a drop of water in her throat. Somehow, with the saccharine taste of the chocolate still swirling at the back of her mouth, Shiki's blood felt especially thick and sweet when the two combined, and she had a rush of intense need to drink, to inhale the intoxicating mixture.

After a few minute in which neither spoke – only the little noises of slurping and Shiki's shuddering breaths were heard – his wound started to heal. The heated rush that Rima was experiencing had died down by this point and she was currently licking the remnants of the ruby droplets that had escaped down his palm, the back of his hand and his fingers. Each wet, careful flick of her warm tongue was surprisingly carried out with a sense of tenderness, and for Shiki, who was now slouching against the tree as support, it was almost too much.

The way she put his blood-covered digit into her mouth and suck on it softly to make sure she didn't let any blood went to waste was almost sinful, and Shiki could feel a warm, liquid fire slowly winding its way down his abdomen, causing him to feel hot and strikingly cold all at the same time. 'Damn it! What the hell is wrong with me?' Shiki was yelling at himself in his head; the misunderstanding when they were talking about Kuran Kaname was bad enough, and now he was getting aroused while giving blood to his friend? There were so many kinds of wrong in that thought that Shiki wondered where the hell he should even start.

"Well, someone's getting a little excited, aren't they?" The blonde vampire moved her head away from his arm finally and gave a tiny smirk of teasing.

"S-shut up," Shiki didn't like being the subject of mockery, and he was usually witty enough to avoid it. But this time, even when he tried to quickly turn away, Rima could tell, by the slight blush on his cheeks, that he was embarrassed.

"No use denying it, Shiki," she put her hand over his healed one, and he froze at the contact. "I can feel it here, inside me, when I take in your blood and it mingles with mine. I can sense your emotions, so don't lie to me." She tugged his fingers more insistently and the dark-haired vampire finally turned around again to face her. Rima leaned down, a few strands of stray blond hair lightly brushed across his cheeks, and she kissed him firmly on the lips.

"Thanks," she murmured, her lips still lingering close to his and her breath blew an enticing scent across his skin. "For the blood donation and the chocolate." She leaned back and gave him a small grin.

"Yeah, well," Shiki mumbled, and shrugged nonchalantly. "Once you get better, I should drink yours in return. It's only fair if I could sense your emotions as well to balance out this whole deal."

"Fair enough," Rima chuckled, and Shiki cracked a tiny, but genuine, smile in return.

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Ryuko: Not the best ending ever, but meh. The last bit with the blood bond thing comes from watching too much 'True Blood' these days, so I apologize for that. Otherwise, please be awesome (because you know you are) and comment.