Delicate. Innocent. Beautiful. Rare.
These were the adjectives that people used when they spoke of him and he was growing bored of them. So many had shown interest in the strange beauty that was this kappa but no one had come to claim ownership over him.
Until one day, a wealthy looking buyer came to the place he had called 'home' for the last few years with clear intentions of not leaving without him. The slave markets were bland and dirty for most of the year. The same old burly, dirty males, meek females, nothing special. However, Raphael knew, every once in a blue moon, there was the possibility that he would find a rare gem among the masses of boring rocks. He had found a rare few specialties here before, and keen eyes roamed over the stands, skipping over all those uninteresting nobodies.
Until he spotted his gem.
It was a kame, tall and slim, and with a face that made it difficult to tell whether he was a male or female at all. Raphael had to have him. Unsurprisingly, there was quite a bit of competition for this beauty, but Raph had money. And influence. And he had a death glare that could make even the largest men take a step back.
In the end, he was handed the chain connected to this rare beauty's collar, and he sent the taller kame a grin. "Let's get you home."
The kame did not speak during the long walk to his new home. Did not make eye contact either and frankly he even looked quite frightened. He wasn't ignorant to what happened to slaves with the bad or good luck to be considered "beautiful" and over the years he had trained himself mentally but that was just it. Mentally. He wasn't prepared for the real thing, his way of keeping his place with his new master and the thought alone scared him. Raphael could feel the taller male's fear as he obediently walked behind him. It wouldn't do to offer him any sort of comfort or explanation for his new situation just yet. Not while they were out on the streets.
Instead, they walked in silence for a while, through the bustling main streets of the city, until they'd reached their destination. Raphael stopped in front of a large, brightly but tastefully decorated house. A Teahouse.
Looking up to his newest acquisition, Raphael cocked a small grin. "Welcome home." He led him inside, where the decoration, again, was lavish and beautiful, showing off wealth without being overbearing. "Now... you are dirty. Before we talk about your new place in life and other pleasantries you gotta get yourself cleaned up. Mikey!"
Following the call, they could hear the quick patter of footsteps and from behind a thick, silk curtain another young kame appeared. He was smaller than either of them, dressed in a loose-fitting, simple kimono and a flower ornament around his head.
"Yes, Mama-san?" When Mikey spotted the newcomer, his heart-shaped face lit up. "Oh! Oh wow! Hi!" Instantly, the small male ran over, circling around the tall newcomer excitedly. "You're, like, super pretty!"
The kame kept his gaze on the ground, on his toes and the exquisite looking wooden floor. Anything to avoid eye contact with anyone in this place. Yet he felt his cheeks warming up at the cheerful welcome this young kame gave him upon his arrival. This one was not shy at all judging by the way he talked and moved, excited just like a child with a new toy however he wondered if that was real or just part of the façade he had to put on as a servant. Would he have to pretend eternal happiness as well?
Rolling his eyes at the younger's excitement, Raphael cleared his throat and Mikey snapped to attention. "Oops, sorry, Mama-san!" He tried his best to look attentive and serious, but it was obvious the excitement wasn't quelled in the slightest.
"Listen, I have some more business to take care of. I'll be back in an hour. In the meantime, go and get this one cleaned up and get him some proper clothes. When I'm back, I want him to be done. I'll think about rooming later." Raphael reached up, unclasping the collar and dropping it along with the chain on the floor carelessly.
He took his newest kame's chin between his fingers in a firm, but not ungentle way to make him look at him. "You are going to be good and do what you're told. Do that and we'll get along just peachy, understand? Mess up and you won't like what happens next, alright?"
He didn't wait for an answer, letting go and moving out the door without another word.
As soon as it clicked shut, Mikey grinned widely, taking their newest addition by the hand. "Come on, you seriously need a bath. And some lotion for your skin, you look like you haven't washed in ages! Ugh, the markets are so gross."
The shy kame gave him a brief nod that was barely noticeable. He followed this... Mikey... to wherever was it that servants got cleaned. On the way there he could observe the decorations closely and marvel at their beauty. If he wasn't so dirty he would've dared touch the beautifully painted walls and despite his best judgement he found himself reaching for them with trembling fingers when suddenly he felt eyes on him, a piercing gaze from another he had failed to see until this very moment.
Mikey gently and excitedly pulled him along, already thinking about which soaps and oils to use on him, when he noticed the sudden shift in the atmosphere. Stopping in his tracks, he looked up at the newcomer, then followed his gaze over to where he was looking. Over to the side, leaning lightly against a doorway, he could see his 'brother', eyeing them.
Never one to be intimidated by those storm-blue eyes, Mikey grinned widely. "Leo! Come over here and look what Raph got us!" Since Raphael wasn't around and in his excitement, Mikey didn't bother with using the proper title for their owner.
Of the kame known as 'Leo' only those terrifying cold eyes could be seen and the shy slave felt judged again, harder than when he was out at the marketplace. He had to guess this one was one of the high ranked servants and to his eyes perhaps he was less than dirt so he didn't made more eye contact with him.
"He's filthy" Leo said with no distinguishable emotion in his voice. "Get him cleaned fast and then we shall see if he's worth my time"
Rolling his big, baby-blue eyes, Mikey shook his head. "Well, duh! He's just left the markets, you know how gross they are. How about you try and be nice and make some of your tea for us? Pretty please? I'm sure- uh..." He paused, looking up at the newcomer. "What's your name, anyway? We didn't have time for introductions. I'm Mikey! Well, it's actually Michelangelo, but Mikey's fine. That over there is Leonardo, he's basically second-in-command when Raph- er, I mean, Mama-San isn't around. And you are?" The young kame chattered away, visibly bouncing in excitement.
The kame's eyes widened as he gave a step back in fear. The little one was truly a chatterbox that could make even the bravest of men feel intimidated and he wasn't even being mean. Perhaps too loud for him? Too cheerful? Didn't this poor creature realize what kind of life this was? And now he demanded a name... a name! 'Rare beauty' was the title he was given all his life but a name? Did he have one before? He couldn't remember and his prolonged silence was changing Mikey's smile into a sad pout.
It took a moment for the silence to sink in and Mikey's expression fell. "Aw.. they took it, didn't they? Or didn't bother to give you one..." For a moment, a gently, sympathetic look took over Mikey's big eyes.
He reached out for the newcomer's hand again, giving it a soft squeeze. "Don't worry, we'll give you a new name. And a new home. C'mon, I'm sure you're dying to get all that grime off of you."
Ignoring the silently staring kame on the side, Mikey gently tugged him along further, down a small staircase until they reached a spacious, simply furnished bathroom. The main feature of the room was a big bathtub and Mikey guided the new kame along until he could sit him down on a wooden bench.
"Alright... I'll go get everything ready and you can get undressed. I'll be right back!" Mikey ran off without missing a beat.
This felt nice to some degree. No one was there to judge him and he would finally get to see the real color of his skin after years of careless treatment. For someone who claimed him to be one of his most precious slaves, his previous master was ignorant to basic hygiene. No matter, he thought, those days were over. It didn't take long for two little servant girls to enter, carrying buckets of steaming water to fill the tub. They obviously were lower of rank than the other two kame in the house, but even they were dressed properly and seemed well-fed and healthy. However, they did neither speak nor look at the newcomer, purely focused on their task of filling the tub.
A couple minutes later, Mikey returned, his kimono exchanged for a simple yukata, sleeves tied up and arms full of bottles and towels. He grinned widely and placed everything down on a low table. "Come on, get out of those yucky clothes!" Picking up two of the bottles, he poured bathing oils and scented soap into the water, filling the whole room with sweet, floral scents.
The kame tugged at his dirty robes, looking at the excited kame preparing his bath. There was no way he was expecting him to undress just like that with him in the same room... right?
Mikey didn't seem at all prepared to leave, watching the newcomer eagerly. Until something clicked and his expression brightened with amused understanding. "Aw, don't be shy. You've got nothing I haven't seen. Come, I'll help you."
Walking over to him, Mikey simply started undoing the few knots of string that kept the dirty kame's clothes in place. Exposed. Yes that was about it, that described perfectly how he felt right now. But curiously enough, this wasn't a bad exposed? Mikey was very gentle and seemed to understand his fears and worries, his delicate looking hands working the old disgusting rags off his body without hesitation.
Without looking up, Mikey added in a softer tone, almost as if he could hear the new kame's thoughts. "I won't do anything to you. We're just here to get you properly cleaned and settled in."
Pulling the dirty clothes off of him, Mikey simply dropped them to the floor. They wouldn't be needed anymore. "Come, the water's perfect and hot and I bet you haven't had a bath in forever." He grinned, tugging him along over to the tub, just short of pushing him right in.
He didn't need to be told twice. Water was the kame's element and knowing he would be gleaming like a recently polished jewel after this was a good incentive too. He allowed himself a little smile as he let his body be taken by the warm and soothing waters.
Spotting the smile, Mikey smiled widely, too. "There you go. That wasn't so bad. Now..." He picked up two sponges and a bar of scented soap and worked up a lather with them. "Let's give you a good scrubbing and see what's underneath all the dirt."
Handing one sponge to the newcomer, Mikey took the second and moved to kneel behind the tub. With broad, but gentle swipes, he started cleaning the kame's carapace, letting the dirt soak before carefully rubbing it away with the sponge. The new sensation felt so good it was enough to make the shy kame let out a churr of satisfaction. He even leaned into the touch willingly.
At the noise the kame made, the freckled laughed outright. "See? It's all not that bad. Believe me, it's way better here than on the markets." He said, keeping up his scrubbing and adding in a few gentle pats or almost-caresses, too. "You haven't said anything yet. Are you mute? Or just shy... is there anything you wanna know?"
The kame's happy moment came to an end abruptly. Of course he knew how to talk, he knew several things the other slaves didn't and he could be envied for it but it wasn't his place to reveal any of those secrets to anyone.
The silent kame grabbed the sponge that had been left floating before him and started cleaning himself to avoid conversation. When there was no reply, only another shift in mood, Mikey gave a sad little sigh. "That's okay, you don't have to talk. Do you know how to write? You can write if you need something. Or sign it. I know how to write!" He said, obviously a fact that he was very, very proud of.
Finishing his task of cleaning the taller male's carapace, Mikey reached for a small bottle of oil, pouring some into his palm before thoroughly rubbing it into the roughened surface. "Your carapace will need some work, but you'll see, it'll be smooth and shiny in no time."
So the servants weren't ignorant, that was a relief. Perhaps he would be allowed to have his books back or practice his calligraphy or make his beloved paper dolls. He didn't want to imagine the impossible though; he was a new acquisition, maybe he didn't have those rights until he earned them later but knowing Mikey could and seeing how proud he was about it gave him hope.
"You... can write?"
The sudden sound of another's voice nearly startled Mikey into dropping the little bottle. "You can talk!" He said, excitedly shuffling to the side so he could look at the tall kame. "And yeah, I can write! And read. My writing isn't pretty, I'm told, but I can do." He laughed. "Leo taught me. He's really smart, but a little scary when he wants to be." Now that he knew the other could speak, he was excited all over again. "Are you from around here? Or did they bring you here from somewhere?"
Going back to those memories was always painful but he owed it to Mikey, he deserved to know. Besides who could say no to a face like that? "I'm from another colony, far far away. My family was moderately wealthy but my father made some bad decisions and... and I paid the price"
Again, Mikey gave a sad sigh. "That sucks... Sorry to hear that. I bet you miss your home. And your family..." Still, Mikey managed a small smile. "But in all honesty, you being here is a good thing. I'm sure you don't think so, yet, but out of all the places you could've ended up in, this here is really neat. We all gotta earn our keep, but there's awful places out there."
Baby-blue eyes lost focus, for a mere second, before he collected himself. "One thing I can promise you, you will always have enough food and nobody's gonna beat you."
"I don't miss them" The kame said suddenly without a hint of remorse. "They weren't a family, they just tolerated each other for the sake of money... what I do miss are my books. I love books... I haven't had a chance to hold one in a long time"
Blinking at him, Mikey tilted his head. "Oh, I see... I don't think you'll get those back. But we have a couple books! They're nothing fancy, mine are mostly story books, fairy tales and such. Leo has some of those heavy, boring history books. You can definitely borrow mine! As for Leo... I think it's safe to say he won't let you have them right now. But maybe once you've been here a bit."
Picking back up the sponge, Mikey wriggled it between his hands. "Now, come on, we gotta get you cleaned up, and then we'll go have some tea with Leo. I'm sure you can do with something warm in your stomach. I'll try and get him to share some cookies, too. But if that doesn't work, there's plenty fruit for you if you're hungry before dinner."
"How did you end up here?" The kame asked trying not to sound demanding. The last thing he wanted was to scare away the only... ally he had in this place.
"Oh, me? Raph- I mean Mama-San bought me off a sleazy guy on the market. I wasn't even up for sale. But when Mama-San was done with my owner, he sold me for peanuts." He grinned. "I think he didn't like the way the guy treated me and took pity on me."
"So... Mama-San is good? I've heard so many things about owners and none have been good"
"Well, he looks out for us. He is still our owner and all, and he'll kick our butt when we do something stupid. But look at all the stuff here! We get all the food we want, we get nice clothes and our own rooms and we're safe here. We gotta work for it, of course, but... he does look out for us so that our clients stick to the rules." Mikey smiled.
"I will tell you something that you can never ever let him know, alright? Mama-San puts up a really tough, strict face, but down beneath, he's a real softie. You probably won't see the softer side for quite a while, but... just remember he IS looking after us."
The kame nodded "I'll have to take your word for it... but he does look like a nice master. So... what's that we do here anyway?"
"Oh, weren't you told? We're a whorehouse. Well... also a teahouse. But mostly, whorehouse." Mikey said, without even missing a beat.
The kame's face went one shade paler. Of course this was a whorehouse, how couldn't it be a whorehouse? His father once had taken him with the excuse of going to have tea but it was merely a facade to meet with his favorite mistress at the time. It was how his whole hell has began in the first place so how fitting that he would become part of that.
Mikey noticed how the new kame paled. "Don't worry though! You won't see clients for a while yet. And they're good people. Mama-San makes sure we're treated right. We're no cheap street whores. We're top-notch! First of all, you'll get the whole shebang about our rules, some basic training, all that. I also think you'll start out helping around the house, so it's nothing to worry about."
"But we're... we're whores, we're prostitutes! Don't you see that's just... that's just barbaric and wrong!"
Quieting a little, Mikey kept his smile regardless, even if it lost some of its sparkle. "It's so much better than being someone's whipping boy, or working yourself raw in the streets, or just being used as a sex slave. In here... here, at the teahouse... Mama-San looks out for us so we're treated with respect and nobody would ever dare hurt us."
"Well I don't care what he does to me, I am not letting anyone touch me..."
"For now, you'll be alright..." Mikey said, running the sponge down over the newcomer's carapace once more. "Just try to be open minded." A little quieter, Mikey returned to helping the kame wash, pulling a face at the murky color of the water. "Alright, you can come on out now. We'll get you dried up and I'll share my body oil with you."
He had offended Mikey, he wasn't an idiot not to notice but he couldn't keep quiet. The other kame would surely get to know about this conversation but he would deal with the brunt of it later. Wrapping himself with a large towel, he waited for Mikey to finish up draining the large tub of disgusting looking water. It was amazing that all of it had been on his skin once. Mikey quickly went to fetch a small container, decorated with sparkly glass stones and gold colors. In it, there was a sweetly scented lotion, which Mikey quickly scooped into his fingers to start spreading it over the newcomer's skin.
"Hm... maybe we're gonna put some make-up on you, too." Mikey said, reaching up to spread some of the lotion over the taller male's cheeks as well. "You're really pretty."
"Everyone says that. I'm starting to think it's not true but something people have to say so they can get into my good graces"
"Pff. I don't have to be in your good graces. Why would I bother? There's nothing you have that would make me suck up to you. I'm just stating facts. Besides, Raph wouldn't have picked you up if you were ugly."
Now it was his time to feel insulted. Good looks weren't the only thing he had been blessed with... or cursed in this case. He was more than just a pretty face and he wouldn't even get to demonstrate it. Or perhaps he could? Deeming this conversation pointless, the kame went back to his silent state.
Pouting at the silent treatment, Mikey put away the bottles and soaps, grumbling to himself as he did. Once he was done, though, he was almost back to his cheery self, looking the newcomer over. "Will you at least come with me to choose some clothes? Or do you want to keep your may-or-maybe-not pretty butt on display?"
His cheeks darkened at the somehow crude use of words and he had not other choice but to follow Mikey.
"Thought so. C'mon, I'll show you some pieces. I'm not sure if any will fit properly, you're so tall... but at least you'll find something to wear for now."
Leading the way back up, Mikey took the new kame to a different part of the house. Here, there were the private rooms, and Mikey didn't hesitate to take him into his own. It wasn't too large, but held everything one could ask for. A comfortable looking bed with an overabundance of pillows, a small bookcase, a wardrobe, a fluffy rug and here and there a few trinkets, mostly covered in sparkly glass stones and brightly colored.
Without looking whether or not he was followed, Mikey threw open his wardrobe, revealing a beautiful array of kimonos and other clothes, most of them made out of shiny, finely spun and hand painted silks. "What's your favorite color?"
"Does it matter?"
Deflating some, Mikey pouted again. "You know what? If you're going to be like that, you can dress yourself. I'll be in the main hall." With that, Mikey grabbed one of the kimonos for himself and left the room.
'Alone at last' He thought. This was so much more comfortable than being forced to talk and pretend he was fine with whatever was happening around like Mikey did. The poor kid had to be in denial to like this kind of life but then again his previous master had been awful according to what he'd been told by the cheerful kame himself.
While he had an internal debate with his thoughts, he went over to the wardrobe and searched for one that pleased him. They were all beautiful and felt soft to the touch, just like ones his mother wore... rest her soul. One in particular caught his attention; a long lilac kimono with lilies at the end. The matching sash was a deeper shade of purple and it looked like it would hug his slender figure perfectly.
Outside, Mikey simply redressed himself in the hall, not minding the few servants that spotted him. They were used to seeing worse things. His own was a dark red color, with lighter, orange flowers painted along the edges and one large one right in the middle. He moved to sit on the ottoman to wait for the newcomer to join him.
"The tea has grown cold. Do not expect me to reheat it"
Without really looking up, Mikey nodded. "Yeah, I figured as much. Sorry. I'll drink it cold." Stretching a little, he finally did look up at Leo. "He's not happy about being here. But he IS very pretty."
"No one is when they first come. He'll get used to it. As for his... looks... we shall see if those are enough to earn his keep"
"I'm sure they will. He's got something exotic. People will fawn over him no problem." Mikey grinned. "I'm still the prettiest, though."
"Whatever you say. Do tell him to hurry, we don't have all day"
"I'll go see if he's ready yet." Mikey said, pushing himself up. Walking back to his room, he paused in front of his door. "Are you done? Leo's waiting for us."
The kame turned and it wasn't hard to see why Raphael had bought him. Now free of the rags and dirt, the newcomer was truly a gem and the color of his chosen kimono just accentuated that. Letting his eyes roam freely over the tall figure, Mikey hummed in appreciation. "Good choice! It suits you. Come on, let's get some food and drink into you, hm?"
Nodding, the shy kame followed Mikey keeping his gaze on the floor. He could've sworn he heard Leo just outside the room but no there wasn't even a scent to follow. This one was very sneaky by the looks of it.
"Come, this way." Mikey slowly led them towards another room. It was considered Leo's room, though it wasn't his private room, but rather his personal room to hold tea ceremonies and where meditation was held. Knocking softly against the door frame, Mikey stepped inside. "We are here."
The nameless kame stopped right outside the doorway, unwilling to go inside with Leo there too. He was just too scary to deal with and dammit he was not ashamed to admit it. Pausing, Mikey turned back towards the newcomer. "Hey, don't worry. Leo won't bite. Right, Leo? We're just going to have tea." Catching the look Leo sent him, Mikey rolled his eyes. "Cold tea."
Figures he wasn't going to be treated like a prince anymore. That was fine, being a poised and refined little boy was tiring at times but cold tea? Really? Hesitant and fearful he went inside the room, avoiding looks as much as he could.
"That used to be mine" Leo said and the new kame didn't know what to expect. Would he be ordered to change? Right there? Stay naked?
"It is... a decent look for you"
Mikey smiled at the not-quite compliment, knowing it meant Leo really did approve of his looks. Leading the taller male over to the low table, he tugged him down to sit next to them. "Have you ever had a tea ceremony before?"
The kame nodded. "My mom... she... Uhmm... before she... passed, I mean-"
"I'm sorry to hear that" Leo cut him off but by the sound of it, he was actually sincere.
"Me too... that sucks." Mikey clamped his mouth shut at the warning look he received for his choice of words.
Quietly, he put three cups onto the table, turning them properly to show their intricate painted decor to each of them. If he'd learned something, it was to pay attention to detail during tea. "Were you really young? If you don't mind me asking" Leo asked.
The kame nodded. "I was eight. I think she was the only one who truly loved me"
"What happened?" Mikey asked, if quietly.
"Poor health... but I think it was mostly heartbreak, if that's even possible"
"Heartbreak can do a lot of things to people." Mikey agreed. Looking down, he waited for Leo to pour them their tea.
"I might not be your mother but I can assure you you will not miss her skills. I have trained to make every tea ceremony special" Leo declared proudly. "Hopefully it will help you never forget her"
Mikey had gotten quiet, simply nodding as Leo declared his ceremony skills. Sometimes it was difficult to keep his own memories buried, but he managed, running his fingertips along the paint on his cup.
Truth to be told, Leonardo was very skilled. A professional almost in such delicate art. His movements were coordinated and the smell of the freshly brewed tea reminded the shy kame of better days, better times were he didn't have to worry about anything. The steaming liquid was poured surprising him and the kame known as Mikey. So... no cold tea then. Alright. Truthfully, Mikey was surprised Leo had actually made fresh tea for them. He'd been served cold tea as a punishment for being late more than once. Then again, Leo was a perfectionist. And showing their newest member his skills was more important than teaching Mikey a lesson.
When it was appropriate to do so, Mikey lifted his cup, inhaling the warm, soothing scent of the tea, appreciating the aroma as he'd been taught to do, before taking a slow sip. "Mh..."
The newcomer inhaled deeply and again his features were decorated with a smile. "Jasmine... I loved this one the most!"
Leo nodded, his stiff posture relaxing just a bit. "I'm pleased to know it is of your liking"
Another sip from his cup, and Mikey smiled as well. "Leo? I'm sure our new brother is reaaally hungry... do you maybe have some of those awesome cookies to share...?" Mikey asked, putting on his best puppy dog eyes.
Being called a brother was strange to say the least but it didn't bother the new kame and apparently Leo didn't mind either. It also became apparent that no one was immune to Mikey's enchanting looks.
"The last time I let you grab those you left nothing but crumbs" Leo replied. "But seeing as this is a special occasion..."
Mikey gave a cheer, throwing up his arms in an adorably excited gesture. "Yay! I promise I won't eat them all. And I promise I'll not leave crumbs either."
"Yes yes promise all you want. We both know none of that is true" Leo said with a teasing smile as he went to retrieve a small brown and round clay pot, also beautifully decorated.
The new kame was offered to grab some of the treats and when he only claimed one for himself he earned an eye roll from Leo. "You look like you haven't eaten in a while and now you're watching your figure? Take another!"
"At least give me the benefit of the doubt, will you?" Mikey chuckled. He watched the newcomer only pick one and chuckled when Leo offered a gentle reprimand. "Here, let me help."
With gentle fingers, Mikey picked up a couple more cookies, placing them in front of the new kame. "After tea, if Raph isn't back yet, I can make you a fruit salad, too."
"Sounds really good..."
"We definitely need to settle for a name. You can't just be nameless if you're going to stay here" Leo pointed out, rubbing his chin in deep thought.
Nodding around a mouthful of cookies, Mikey made sure to swallow before speaking. "Do you remember your name at all? If not, we can give you a new one."
"I... I think it was something with... Eli? I can't remember"
"Eli, huh? I think I can make something out of that..." Mikey loved making up names and nicknames, and his face set into a concentrated mask. He looked the newcomer up and down, tilting his head back and forth until his eyes lit up with an idea. "How about Donatello! It's perfect! It fits with Leo and me and Eli is boring anyway. We gotta have a system here!"
"It's something" Leo seconded. "At least you're not nameless"
"It's a good one. Thank you Mikey!"
At the praise, Mikey started positively glowing. "Yeah? Awesome! Can I call you Donnie?"
"Sure..." So Donatello would be his new identity from now on. It had a nice ring to it and it seemed to match with his "brothers" who deemed him worthy of sharing some treats with them already. Everything was just too good for his first day. Now if only Mama-San would show up and make him come down from the cloud he was currently on.