Yusuke slips out in to the night after making sure he's locked the door to the room he rents. It's a bit colder than usual tonight so he tightens a piece of cloth over his shoulders. He winces as the wind blows. He looks up and sees stars shining on the dark sky above. There will be no rain or storm.
The street is quite and Yusuke walks toward the marketplace. The place is deserted at that time of day. Shops are closed and vendor carts have left the place to be back again in the morning. During the night, only people of negotiable affections roam the place. They linger near the fountain in the middle of the plaza or hiding behind pillars and alleyways. And Yusuke is only one of them.
He just wishes he'd be lucky and find a customer who actually has money. It's been two days of a very quiet night. Maybe because of the weather (it's been raining a lot lately) so people choose to stay inside or go to a legal establishment where they can have fun inside instead of between dark and damp alleyways.
Yusuke finds a nook near the plaza. He gazes around. It's very quiet except from several people who gather near the fountain. They laugh and then talk in hushed tone and laughs again before leaving the plaza. Yusuke sighs. He has nothing to do but wait. After some time that feels like forever, someone comes his way. His forehead creases in to a mild frown. The person is coming from the alley behind him, staggering.
Great, a drunk. And it's not even midnight. Yusuke sighs and decides to ignore the person. He never likes dealing with a drunk. He's not that desperate and a drunken man most probably doesn't have much money left.
Yusuke fumes as the person clearly heading his way. When the person reaches him, Yusuke scoffs.
"Sorry. I'm not--" he begins, trying to stare down the person and makes him go away but before he can continue, the person grabs his arm and falls on his knees. "Hey!!" His reflex moves his body to catch the man but he's quite heavy and ends up falling on his knees, too.
The man coughs and laughs a little. "I'm sorry but can you help me?" his voice is raspy and it sounds like he's having difficulty breathing.
"What? Hey, don't die!" Yusuke demands in panic as the man lays on the cobbles.
"Sorry, just--" the man coughs and there is blood. Yusuke feels like his own blood is drained away. He looks up, trying to find if there's someone else coming behind this man but he can see no one. Yusuke bites his lips.
"Is it.." the man whispers, "...far from the...palace?"
"Yes. This is the slum." Yusuke tries to help the man sitting up. "You're bleeding," Yusuke hisses, pointing at the man's left torso.
"I know that." The man smiles then he look at Yusuke for a moment. He groans as he tries to shift his body. "You're a... prostitute." The man states.
"Is that a problem? Are you going to call the guard and blame your condition on me?"
He put a finger in front of Yusuke's lips and shakes his head. "Do you... know Yuuki? The merchant? I think... he has an... establishment ...nearby."
"The Pimp? Yeah, I've heard of him."
"Can..." he coughs again and Yusuke is worried that he'd lose more blood, "would you...mind bring me...to his place? I'd pay you...for your trouble..."
"I, uh..." Yusuke doesn't know what to answer to that. He can just leave the man there and not think about him but problem is, Yusuke knows he will think about the man's fate after he leaves. Most likely, he'll over thinking it and ends up feeling very guilty. If he takes that man to the Pimp's place, he'd receive at least some money but that also means he has to drag this man along alleyways and this man is bigger than him. And what if once they reach the Pimp's place, the man will forget his promise to pay him?
The man grabs his wrist, looking at him intently. "Please...?"
Gods damn it!
He is told to wait. Yusuke leans his back against a wall and stares at the backyard in front of him. His shoulders and back feels a bit sore. When Yusuke hoisted the man to help him stand, he found out that the man was not only bigger than him but also really tall. They had to walk in a very awkward position and Yusuke still wonders how they could manage to get to their destination.
The man told him to bring him around the back. They entered through a small gate and Yusuke knocked on the back door. A young boy opened the door, eyeing them suspiciously and the man whispered something to him. The boy quickly ran inside and came back with another boy. They took the man inside and told Yusuke to wait there.
So he waits. After a few minutes, the boy comes back and asks Yusuke to follow him. He brings him to the kitchen.
"Wait here. Have some soup." The boy says, turning to Yusuke again after talking to a woman who's currently chopping some leeks.
"Umh, is he going to be okay?" he can't help to ask.
"He's being looked after and he asked for you to wait." the boy informs him and Yusuke doesn't like the way he's looking at him. But Yusuke nods and after the boy leaves, he finds a chair near the fire.
The woman gives him not only a bowl of soup, but also a piece of bread, a slice of cheese, a string of dried meat, and a glass of warm goat milk. Yusuke blinks at the small feast. He thanks the woman with a little doubt in his voice. The woman laughs.
"Well, eat up, young man. It's very rare for the master to give food to someone. Not that he's a mean person, mind you, but this is a business, after all. So, eat, eat."
It's delicious, Yusuke must admit. He gazes around, watching as the woman (the cook, apparently) orders a couple of servants to do this and that, another servant coming in and out with food and beverages. Yusuke knows the place by reputation only. The owner is a rich merchant who owns several businesses but night people know him as the Pimp. Not only because he also owns a pleasure establishment, he also provides for other establishments. It is said that he also provides for lords and ladies, even kings and princes from other countries.
He wants to ask more about the place and the man he brought here but he doesn't seem to get the chance since the cook and the servants look very busy. After a couple of hours of waiting, Yusuke considers to just leave. It's possible that the man has forgotten about him, anyway. He sighs and is about to call for the cook to say that he's leaving when the previous boy appears again.
"The master wants to meet you." he says, tilting his head as a gesture for Yusuke to follow him again.
The boy brings him inside. Yusuke never sees such lavish and luxurious place. They walk pass rooms and nooks, beautiful cloths draped here and there. The light is dim and the whole place smells of bakhoor. Yusuke can hear soft voices coming from here and there even though he doesn't really know where they come from. The boy takes him upstairs. The second floor is quieter than the first floor, somehow. For no reason, Yusuke feels a bit nervous.
They enter a room at the far corner. The boy sweeps away a curtain and reveals a bedroom. Yusuke can see the man is lying on the bed. Two other men are standing near the bed. One is stout in build and has a concern look on his face. The other one is very handsome and he smiles as he notices them.
"Thank you, Ameer. You may leave." the handsome man says, waving his hand. "Come," he says then, clearly talking to Yusuke.
Yusuke stops a couple of feet away from the bed, just enough for him to be able to see the man he helped earlier. A blanket covered him up to his chest and he looks like he's sleeping but then he opens his eyes and smiles as he sees Yusuke. He beckons for Yusuke to come closer.
Yusuke looks at him. The man is younger than he thought. Yusuke suspects they must be the same age, at least. His face is pale but very handsome. Such nice cheekbones and jawline. His folded arms look really long, too.
"Can you leave us?" the man asks the other two men.
"Your Highness--" the stout man hisses but then he sighs and bows. "As you wish." He leaves the room with the other handsome man.
Yusuke looks down at his bare feet, thinking how unfit they look standing on the soft carpet beneath. When he raises his head again, the young man pats on a space beside him on the bed. "Come, sit here."
"Thank you," he says again once Yusuke sits, a bit too carefully and still maintaining a distance.
"No worries," Yusuke answers. "Uhm, if you're already taken care of, can you release me?"
The man laughs, and then winces as he touches his left torso. "Are you in a hurry?"
Yusuke shrugs, "Not everyone has the luxury to be hurt. Other people need to bring home bread."
The man blinks. "Wow. Forgive me."
Yusuke shakes his head, "No. Forgive me." He then falls silent for a moment. He almost jumps on his feet when the man touches his hand. "What--"
"I promised I'd pay you for your trouble but right now, I don't have any money with me. And I'm very sleepy. Stay here a little longer and I promise you'd be rewarded handsomely."
Yusuke sighs. He thought as much. "Look, now that I know you're hurt and clearly not able to move for at least three more days, I'll just go, okay? I feel bad for expecting money from the unfortunate, anyway. Wait. I mean," Yusuke coughs, "I'll just go. So you can rest. And... I hope you will get better soon."
However, that man's grip around his wrist is strong. Too strong for someone who's supposedly hurt. "Please, stay."
"I can't. I don't work here." Yusuke tries.
The man shrugs, "It can be arranged," he turns sideways, his eyes flutters before finally closing.
Seiyadina, as the man claimed himself to be, gets better by the day. It seems that his wound is not deep and his young age allows him to recover quickly. Yusuke stays with him, as Seiyadina asked him to. Yusuke can't really fathom why he obliged him but there's something about Seiyadina that makes Yusuke unable to refuse.
He doesn't do much, though. He changes Seiyadina's bandage, giving him medicine, wipes his body once a day, and converses with him. Seiyadina asks him a lot of things but always tactfully dodge when Yusuke asks him something about himself. He's a very nice fellow, though and Yusuke finds himself thinking that he likes him. He jokes about Yusuke's small figure but quickly apologizes when Yusuke puts on a face and threatens to do something harmful to his healing wound.
On the third day, Seiyadina is fit enough to walk around the room and he concludes that maybe it's time for him to leave.
"Oh, great." Yusuke smiles, genuinely feeling happy but at the same time, this means he also have to leave the establishment. He's not sure which one is making his chest churns, leaving the comfort of that establishment or parting from Seiyadina.
"You never told me where you come from, though," Yusuke says, folding a blanket then sits on the bed while watching Seiyadina putting on a tunic.
Seiyadina turns his way and smiles meaningfully. "Not far, I assure you. In fact, it's very close." Yusuke frowns but Seiyadina approaches him and touches his cheek with the tip of his fingers. Yusuke looks up and gasps when Seiyadina kisses him. The tall man is all smile when he pulls back seconds later. "I always wanted to do that. And I'm right. You tasted really sweet."
".....thank you?" Yusuke mutters, trying to recover from the slight shock. He coughs softly and turns to Seiyadina again. He braces himself to touch Seiyadina's face. Color has returned on his handsome face and Yusuke must admit he looks even more astonishing in such close distance. He smiles a little. "Is that all?"
Seiyadina raises an eyebrow, amused. "I almost forgot you're a prostitute."
"Well, yeah. I just thought since you asked me to stay here with you and you're about to reward me - I hope you don't forget about that, by the way - and you seem healthy enough..." Yusuke starts to move and climbs on to Seiyadina's lap. He's being careful, looking at Seiyadina's face, watching if any movement he makes will make him feel uncomfortable. "And must admit that you're really handsome..."
"Why, thank you, Yusuke," Seiyadina laughs and welcomes his kiss.
And just like any other good moments that just have to be ruined, a cough comes from the doorway, startling the both of them and Yusuke quickly detaches himself from Seiyadina. The stout young man is standing there, looking a bit awkward but determined enough to stay.
"Forgive me, Your Highness. Should I come back later?"
Seiyadina pouts, "Yeah. Can't you tell?"
"No!" Yusuke quickly cuts in, "No. It's okay. We were just... it's okay. I mean, I'm about to leave, anyway. So, umh, if you please---"
"Whoever said you may leave?" Seiyadina stands up, reaching for a pair of tunic.
"But, you're healed. I take it I must leave once you're healed. You have to go home and I can't stay here, right?" Yusuke stands up, too.
Seiyadina approaches him, pulling all his height over Yusuke and Yusuke has to strain his neck so he can look at Seiyadina's face. "I've decided that your reward would be coming with me to the palace."
Yusuke gapes. "The pa-- are you out of your mind?" he hisses, pulling Seiyadina's tunic hem so their faces come to the same level. "What do you mean the palace? And you can't decide on something like that! Don't even joke about it! And why is he calling you 'Your Highness'? Is this some kind of a joke?"
Seiyadina touches Yusuke's hand and smiles. Yusuke doesn't like that smile. "Yes. I do mean the palace. I don't joke about this. And of course I can make such decision. I'm the prince. The crown prince, to be exact." He bends lower so he can drop a kiss on Yuusuke's nose. "Come, Shohei. Let's go home before Father looks for me."