"When was the last time you ate?"

Hiei propped himself forward and the hilt of his sword, bracing himself as another wave of pain wracked through his insides, careful not to grip the hilt too hard or pull his face tight. He kept his eyes on the desolate Makai horizon they were surveying and said nothing.

"Hiei," Mukuro's voice came again, a little closer now. "When was the last time you ate?"

"I haven't gone deaf. I simply don't see why I should answer such inane questions. We ate together this morning, and I've hardly left your presence since. Or did you think I was sneaking off to drink tea in the bushes without you?"

Mukuro had sat down beside him. She wasn't touching him, but she was close. Hiei's fingers tightened on the hilt before he could stop them.

It was a usual enough situation. Hiei was in pain. Mukuro knew this. Hiei knew that she knew this. It didn't mean he was going to admit it.

"I suppose the question was too vague. When was the last time you consumed human flesh?"

Hiei forgot his early resolve and turned to her. Her eyes were inches from his own; as usual the flesh and blood eye was much more dangerous than the mechanical one. Right now it was narrowed and staring intently.

"So you don't know," she said.

Instinctual anger briefly blocked out the pain and Hiei stood up and turned to face her fully.

"Know what?"

"You were an A class demon when you first came here," Mukuro continued from her seated position. "You became s-class soon after. What usually takes centuries, you accomplished in a few years. It's not surprising you wouldn't realize. It took me decades."

"Stop being cryptic. If you have something to say, then say it."

"Most demons of your level need to eat humans. That hunger wasn't unique to Raizen. The amount of energy we emit needs a powerful source and human blood is the only way to fuel it."

Hiei actually hadn't know that, and he covered his surprise with disdain.

"Hn. So when Enki set up these patrols and declared humans off limits, he wasn't just idealistic, he was suicidal as well."

"There's only a handful of demons with the power and temperament who need to eat with any regularity. The patrol was meant to prevent excess not to curb it entirely."

Hiei opened his mouth, but the hunger twisted inside him and only a gasp came out.

"Now what will you do?" Mukuro asked in the silence that followed

"You need to ask? You just told me what I need to do."

"At first I thought you might be resisting out of some kind of sympathy. You spent years in human world after all."

"I was trapped in human world. And sympathy is not in my nature."

Another brief silence and then Mukuro replied softly, "No. It's not."

The pain was dissipating and Hiei was left with nothing to say.

"You should eat soon," Mukuro said standing. "It's only going to get worse."