Actions

Work Header

Beneath the gaze of Isis and Osiris

Chapter Text

A world where human life can be valued with money will never change. It's a circle what's waiting to be snapped at some point but in reality, that won't happen.

The problems do not go away.

They grow and reshape.

People who have enough money to pay for their freedom and lifestyle are on the higher level of the hierarchy.

Others are unfortunate enough to not being able to pay.

It's the breaking point what makes it possible for some to live like gods while others are going to sacrifice more than their mind and body.

In human history, no one can pinpoint the exact time when people started to deprive freedom from others, when the idea of some being inferior than others began to manifest.

And when that wasn't enough to divide people, something else happened to make this problem extended to the point where it's pure luck if your life wasn't going to be a tragedy from the moment you were born.


 

Eijirou's earliest memories from his parents were filled with love. They never were rich enough to be admired or special but they didn't need that either. Simple lifestyle was all they had known and they didn't feel like anything needs to be changed.

Surely, the lifestyle they had wasn't the best possible. Anyone agrees that with money, many problems would be solved fast and life would be easier.

His father was a simple farmer and so was his grandfather and great-grandfather. They grew wheat for themselves and the extras they got was taken to the nearby village where it was exchanged for other foods or sold to the visiting merchants.

Eijirou always thought that he was going to be next in the line of inheriting their small lands and continue the job as farmer. He'd go to the village and return with a bride and soon they'd have a family, another generation of future farmers.

But life never goes as planned, no matter how much you think about it and try to fulfill it.

Other memories from his early life were full of pain and anguish, mixed emotions and prayers that weren't answered at all. The face of his mother crying uncontrollably when his fate was revealed will haunt him forever.

His hand being hardened to rock hard while his mother cried, begging for every possible god and godlike figure, asking them what they had done to deserve this kind of plague.

This kind of punishment.

The disappointment in his father's eyes while he was staring at him, shocked that his firstborn son was a freak with ability that would stain their family completely.

A gaze that felt like he was trying to end Eijirou's life there at that moment.

For some people, this kind of power was a blessing that helped them move towards the luxurious life and accomplish even more than they originally were going to. Those people who had already been born with the blessings of gods and goddesses, who were favored by society and people.

For other people, it was a curse that will destroy the slightest chances they ever had on this life. For someone like Eijirou, this was a sign of wrath and misery from gods. His destiny has already been decided and there's nothing that will change it.

Despite everything his parents still continued to love him. As much as they could, considering the circumstances and Eijirou's abnormal new ability. It would be very useful in farming but then again, it was like a curse and if anyone finds out about it he would never be able to live a normal life.

Eijirou learned very quickly that this new 'gift' of his was really something what could be compared to diseases. He was different but not in a good way.

At the nearby village someone with special power, 'a quirk', was taken by force and sold to slavery by their family. Their family had no other choice since the pressure from everyone else began to increase to the point where they had to do it even when they didn't want to. A person with quirk in a village like that is an outcast immediately.

First years after discovering Eijirou's quirk their family was very careful with everyone and about everything. They tried to act like nothing had changed and maybe people in the village didn't notice anything.

But Eijirou began to notice changes after his first brother was born.

It became very clear who was the least favored child in the family. It wasn't like he was completely isolated or hated. Being the firstborn probably had something to do with it but he was treated differently.

The atmosphere in their household seemed to tighten every time when one of his siblings reached the age where Eijirou discovered his quirk. But luckily none of them had the same curse as him. His parents were relieved but the person who was most happy about it was Eijirou himself. It meant none of his siblings needed to go through same anguish of everyday life as he did.

No one deserves to live a life like that.

And Eijirou would never wish that the same curse affected anyone else from his family. He may be the unlucky one but he will bear everything on his shoulders if it means no one else needs to be hurt by it.

It was his destiny and he can not complain about it.


 

"It can't be helped. Our fields aren't as fertile as previous years so no doubt there won't be enough crop."

Eijirou couldn't help but sigh and nod. His father was right, the land wasn't as rich as it had been last years. They had sown everything the same way as always but some of the crop was stunted already. It meant there was going to be hard times with feeding the whole family.

The weather had been hotter than usual and ground was getting dried up more and more every passing day. It was getting harder to carry water to the field and water everything properly. Land that had been so rich and given them plentiful of crop was now reminding the hot deserts that burn your feet if you made the mistake of forgetting your sandals.

Changes were visible everywhere. There's always been grass here and there around their small piece of land but now it was really looking like the valley of death. Spots of brown grass were signs of it being dead and it worried them a lot.

Dead grass wasn't good for animals either, lacking the energy and nutrients needed for healthy diet.

It wasn't only their small piece of land that was having problems, the whole little village was in trouble with crops and everyone was already preparing for the upcoming problems. If it turns out to get out of hand and grow into some form of famine, there's no other choice than buy food from one of the bigger cities on the Nile.

But buying food was expensive for them and they didn't have that much money for that. Also the big cities were far away, it would take them days for going there, buying the food needed and then return.

In other hand it would be an opportunity to see how bigger cities work though. Eijirou had only heard a thing or two about them but never even imagined visiting any of them. They never really had a reason to go there.

The subject was rather interesting but at the same time Eijirou preferred the simple lifestyle they have here.

"At the times like these I really wish that we owned a horse or two. Selling them would earn enough money to get through a year like this." Eijirou's words made his father laugh quietly but he probably wished for the same thing.

Selling a couple horses would make sure that they were able to feed their family properly when tough times hit at them. But sadly horses were too expensive for them to even think of owning.

At least it didn't change the fact that they were gorgeous animals. Eijirou had had the pleasure to see them couple times during visits in the village and every time he couldn't help but admire them.

Just something about their eye-catching appearance and biddable personality was different. Donkeys were good at working but their stubborn attitude was really awful sometimes. Whereas every horse Eijirou ever had seen was obediently doing what they were told to do.

Oh how he really wished for a chance of getting to know those animals more. Even petting one properly would be enough for his curiosity, probably making him admire them even more for the rest of his life.

Too bad only people with money and more free time were able to own them.

"What if next year we dig even deeper in hopes for better crop? I mean, I can do it so we don't need extra equipment", Eijirou suggested while he lifted his other hand and hardened it for a moment.

But the way his father glanced at him with furrowed eyebrows told him more than thousands words.

Eijirou knew how much his father hated his quirk. Maybe hate was wrong word to describe his feelings, he was probably more ashamed of it. Ashamed that his family was stained with something so different and strange.

"Stop it, Eijirou. It would be bad luck for us." His father's voice was harsher and that tone alone made Eijirou lower his head little bit, agreeing that indeed it was a stupid idea. There was always a chance that someone found out about his quirk and the whole family would get in trouble after that.

"I'm sorry, father. I won't bring that up again." Eijirou knew he had made a mistake with that suggestion. Of course using quirk would be bad idea but he couldn't think anything else what would help them. With his hardening ability, he probably could do something more to help the crop grow.

It was frustrating because there were other things too what he could do to provide help enough.

And he really wanted to help more. He wanted to make up for the shame he brought with his odd ability.

"Don't worry. We'll manage, somehow. We always do." The words felt like they were empty, lacking the honest hope for better tomorrow but Eijirou decided to ignore it. His father was right, they are going to pull through this somehow. It's better to take extra preparations now before it's too late.

"Let's hope for the best." Eijirou smiled, no need to give up hope yet. He hoped his smile had power enough to change the heavy atmosphere and bring little bit of happiness around them.

However, behind his smile was hidden uneasiness and anxiety. Everything can turn ugly in a blink of an eye and Eijirou would hate to see everyone struggling with hunger.

Lately his mother hadn't been feeling well and taking care of the chores has become harder for her. It's hard to acknowledge the fact that she's gotten weaker over the years and bad crop year isn't going to help her get back healthy.

Eijirou hated how his mother would smile and say that she's feeling a lot better already and that soon enough she would be able to do everything with the same passion as always.

It was a lie and all of them knew it. No one just wanted to accept the reality, instead turning their backs to it and pretend that everything's going to return back to normal eventually. Like things used to be earlier.

That night Eijirou found himself wide awake while his siblings were fast asleep already. The quiet breathing coming from right next to him was soothing but he couldn't fall asleep. His head was full of different thoughts, he wanted to find a solution to the situation before it blows up completely.

Slightly cold breeze blew through the room but it didn't bother him that much. It was refreshing after a hot day like always.

It wasn't unusual for him to stay up like this. Sometimes his head was so full of different thoughts that it felt like it's going to explode at any given moment. Many times he ended up with headache after thinking so hard but he always ignored it.

Quiet whispers caught Eijirou's attention and he closed his eyes to focus more on hearing what his parents were talking. They always talked at the end of the day when everyone else were sleeping and Eijirou had heard a lot of things over the years. He knew exactly what was going on at the time and what his parents were worried about.

With this little habit of his, he had learned about his mother's condition. The reality of it, of course his parents never told how things really were to them during the day.

They were good at keeping their voices quiet but Eijirou had gotten used to eavesdropping them so he knew that when they thought all of the kids were sleeping, they'd talk more about the serious things.

And it was exactly like that this time too.

"It's looking bad. One third of the crop is stunted already and without a miracle this harvest will be sad to look at."

"Indeed. It looks like no one will have rich and plentiful harvest this time. At this rate food won't be enough for all of us."

Eijirou felt like he wanted to hide under his dark bangs. So they really were going to starve and minimize their food portions yet again. It wasn't the first time but it always sucks. Especially since the youngest siblings didn't always catch up with the reason why they were given lesser food than last time.

"We should sell couple of the animals. Maybe a donkey, we still need the ox to plow the yields."

"But will it be enough money to buy the missing food?"

"I'm not sure. We need to do some preparations though or else everything will hit us hard. I will try to find out if we can get enough money from selling the donkey and then we can think more about this."

Eijirou kept his eyes closed and thought every word carefully. Selling donkey wasn't bad idea at all but like his mother doubted, how much money can they earn by doing so? Is it enough to feed them all?

He wanted to believe in positive way of thinking but the seriousness of this complicated situation wore off all of the good ideas and thoughts.

"Do you think we're being punished?"

His mother's tone of voice was enough for Eijirou to know what she meant by that.

"I hope not. It's unfortunate thing that this is happening now but I don't think we're being punished because of him. That would have happened a lot earlier if that's the case."

Eijirou bit his lip hard enough to make it bleed little bit. It always hurt when his parents talked like that. He knew a lot about what they really thought of him, how they hated his quirk and how he would always be an outcast no matter where he goes.

It hurts a lot to hear something like that.

Especially since it's true.


 

They ended up selling one of the donkeys but that didn't solve any of their problems in the end.

The money Kirishima family got from the trade wasn't enough at all to feed their whole family. It was disappointing since selling the donkey had been the biggest attempt to gather up some money for the upcoming food shortage.

Eijirou noticed immediately the despair floating around their home. They couldn't afford for selling another donkey, they needed it as well as they needed their ox.

Plowing the ground was possible with manpower alone but using ox helped it a lot and made everything faster.

The atmosphere was getting so thick that it was almost possible to cut it with knife. The visible anguish and despair ate his mind little by little. It felt like it was getting hard to even put a single smile on the face. Why even bother when there really wasn't anything to smile for?

Eijirou never ever had seen his parents fight that much but during the nights they began to get into arguments. The subjects of them were changing a lot but most common theme was the question about what they should do now, how they'll manage to feed everyone and is there anything else what could fix this situation.

When they started having arguments during day time too, Eijirou always took his younger siblings out of the house. He didn't want any of them to get in the way and they didn't need to hear all of those worries. Obviously they already knew how bad everything was turning to be but Eijirou didn't want to see how smiles from their faces would eventually fade away if they sat there and listened all of those problems.

Sometimes he took them down to the nearby small river to catch some fish. Then other times they went to check the fields and do some chores. All they really could do at the moment was ease off the workload their parents had.

Eijirou was thankful that he was able to keep straight face and calm attitude when he spent extra time with his siblings. They were curious enough to drown him with different questions about the current situation but Eijirou's answers were well thought out and close to truth, but then again maybe they were little bit sugar coated as well.

As the days went by Eijirou began to notice that something was changing. The arguments between his parents were calming down. That was a good sign but then again something had definitely changed and he didn't know what.

He hoped for the best because that was all he could do at that moment. He kept smiling even during the times when he really wanted to cry instead. When he felt like there is no end for this misfortune.

Everything was starting to return back to normal and Eijirou was glad of it. They will get through hard times like always.

Eijirou decided that he will keep smiling no matter how hard it would be. He hoped that at least the smile would share little bit of happiness to everyone around him.


 

"Eijirou, wake up."

A silent whisper near his ear woke him up and startled him too. With drowsy gaze Eijirou found out it was his father who had whispered in his ear and woken him up.

"C'mon Eijirou. Get up, we have things to do." He felt his father's hand stroke his hair couple of times which was unusual thing for him. His father never really showed that much of intimacy but it didn't bother him at all. In fact, it was a nice change.

"What things?" Eijirou asked and yawned soon after. He was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep but his father's behavior was different and at the same time interesting. He wanted to know what he was up to and why they needed to do some things in the middle of night.

"I'll explain it eventually. Eat up little bit, I'll get the donkey ready."

Eijirou couldn't ask anything, his father left before he was able to open his mouth again. His curiosity was getting the better of him already. He glanced around before getting up, his siblings were still fast asleep and it seemed that only he and his father were up at this time.

Even his mother was still asleep which made him little bit suspicious about what was going on. But his kind personality prevented him from being so obvious about this little suspicious feeling. He didn't want to doubt too much let alone disrespect his father. That's one of the last things Eijirou wanted to do.

He hurriedly ate the small piece of bread what was left for him before he got out of their little house. The night weather was surprisingly cold and Eijirou was shivering little bit while he watched his father who was already waiting him with the donkey.

"Forgive me father but I don't understand what we're about to do. Could you explain something?" Eijirou asked with honestly confused expression on his face.

His father sighed quietly and walked next to him, wrapping a blanket around his shoulders. "It's okay Eijirou. Don't worry about it, okay? Just get on and let's go." He couldn't tell much from the expression showing on his father's face but Eijirou could sense that something strange was going on. This behavior and situation was just wrong. What would they have to do in the middle of the night?

But being the obedient sweetheart like he always was, Eijirou didn't ask more about this subject. He got on the donkey's back just like his father told him to and stayed silent.

Moonlight shined their path as the familiar surroundings were left behind. Eijirou couldn't help but every now and then glance back and watch as the place he had always called home was slowly disappearing from the view.

When he couldn't see it anymore at all, he got ominous feeling.

A feeling like this is the last time he sees his home. Some kind of heavy feeling began to press him down. He was still confused but now it was mixed with some kind of bad feeling and fear.

Neither Eijirou nor his father changed words for a long time. His father was focused on leading the donkey and clearly thinking something and he didn't want to be interrupted at all. Eijirou's eyes fell on the neck of the animal under him and he patted the gray fur of his steed, it was little bit relaxing but he wasn't relaxed at all.

Everything felt like eternity now. As the hours passed and night went on Eijirou started to notice how the sun had began to rise already. He had no idea how long they had been on the road already but he could feel how the tension between them began to tighten. His stomach was in knots and his head was full of different thoughts.

It was bright already when they finally stopped. Eijirou curiously glanced around but he couldn't pinpoint their exact location. Far away from home, that was all he knew.

What he could say for sure was the fact that they were close to the river, presumably the Nile since he was able to see a boat far away.

As Eijirou got down two obnoxious looking men approached them. They were muscular enough but at the same time the look on their faces sent shivers down his spine. Those men's attitudes were screaming for trouble and he was surprised as why it seemed like his father had something to do with them. Or that he wanted to speak with them.

Eijirou had seen only once such equally disgusting looking people and it was that time when that one family from the village sold their daughter to the slave merchants who were going to take her to the slave market.

And then the realization hit him like a flash from a clear sky.

"So you're the head of the Kirishima family? We heard you wanted to meet us." The taller man spoke with rough voice, letting a disturbing grin rest on his face. Eijirou had never really met people he considered evil but that man gave him all the red flags with only the way his gaze was like it tried to pierce through everyone and everything.

His father nodded and glanced Eijirou before he turned his gaze back to the men in front of them.

"I heard you're looking for the people with... abnormal abilities."

Eijirou was sure all colors were draining from his face, his stomach dropping at the same time as those words were on the air.

"Father, what are you doing?" Eijirou asked, clearly distressed of this situation but his father just gave him dirty look. Like he was telling him to shut up without using any words.

"Oh I see. Do not worry my friend. It's not uncommon to sweep up the cursed ones out of your life. That's how it works. You don't want to stain the family name, am I right?" the man continued with wider grin and Eijirou was honestly disgusted by everything happening now.

"So, what is his quirk? That will determine his value."

At that point Eijirou was praying in his mind that this was just a dream and he would wake up soon but the reality of this situation felt like crushing him down. Because no matter how he wished things to be different, this was in fact the one and only reality. And this was really happening.

"He can harden any part of his body rock hard and sharp."

"Oh really? That does sound pretty valuable to me. But I need to see it before I can pay you." The man nodded and the other man beside him grinned too.

Eijirou felt his hand on his throat suddenly and before he knew it, he was thrown to the sandy ground by the other man while he was gasping for air. That man's grip had been so tight and everything happened so fast that he couldn't even prepare himself for something like that.

He couldn't stop the tears that were welling up in his eyes already. He tried to make an eye contact with his father, tried to beg him to stop this because it doesn't really have to end this way. But his father ignored his cries and made sure he didn't let their eyes meet.

"The more you resist, the more this will hurt." The shorter bald man had grabbed a whip and was unfolding it, waiting if Eijirou voluntarily showed his quirk. But when he didn't do that, the whip rose above and then landed against his back.

The sharp slap of the whip rang in his ears and the pain he never had felt before was immediately spreading through his back. It felt like his whole skin was gone from that spot but in reality the whip hadn't even broken his skin yet.

Shock from the situation prevented him from screaming during the first whip but when another one was landed on his skin, Eijirou made a sound that he never had imagined was possible for him. A scream that didn't even sound human at all. It reminded him more of an animal that was about to be slaughtered brutally.

Tears escaped from his eyes and ran down his cheeks as he felt like his whole world was crumbling right in front of his eyes. Eijirou was in pain but it wasn't just because he was getting whipped. It was the realization that his father wasn't going to do anything to stop this torture.

It was the fact that his father had thought of this and decided it's the best thing to do.

In all honesty Eijirou understood him very well, even if he didn't want to accept it. He was an outcast. He was cursed with a quirk what would bring them bad luck and stain their family name if anyone found out about it.

But it still hurt because he was betrayed by his family. By the person who was supposed to make sure nothing like this ever happens to him.

"What a stubborn one. You better show your quirk or else you're going to be beaten to death."

He didn't even listen to what the merchants were saying to him. Eijirou was focusing on resisting the need to harden his back. If he showed his quirk, he would be taken away and sold at the slave market. Who knows what would happen to him after that.

Even death sounded better option than that.

"Father please! I will be a good son, I will do everything you want! I will hide from everyone else, just don't sell me!" Eijirou was in tears and sobbing louder and harder than he ever had done. He was still trying to make an eye contact with his father, still wanting to hold on the single spark of hope that his father would change his mind and stop this torture.

But when he finally made an eye contact with Eijirou, the eyes what he had known his whole life were like stranger's.

"I know it, damn it! Your power makes your skin hard like a rock but deep inside your core is soft and sweet. But it doesn't change anything!" Eijirou winced at the heartlessness of his father's voice. Even the slave merchants were surprised even though they probably had seen similar scenarios many times earlier.

"But you know what? My Eijirou died years ago. He died at the exact moment when that disgusting cursed power of yours manifested."

Eijirou's world was crumbling faster than ever in front of him. His father's words rang in his ears and for a moment everything just felt numb. Like the whole world had stopped for a moment.

Everything felt like it was happening on slow-motion. Eijirou heard how the whip was raised again and was ready to come down on his back again.

Slap.

He felt how the whip hit him again, but this time it didn't hurt at all. He was still sobbing but at the same time he was relieved that he wasn't hurt again by the leather whip.

Eijirou heard how the slave merchants gasped quietly with amazement. And he knew why.

The secret what he had always so carefully kept was revealed now completely. His back was hardened and if anyone tried to whip him again, it would do nothing to him. At least it wouldn't bring him any pain.

"Well, Mr. Kirishima. It looks like we have a price to negotiate." The taller man grinned, clearly satisfied that Eijirou really had a quirk like it was told. The whip was put away and the shorter man began to tie rope around Eijirou's hands and then pulled him up from the ground.

Eijirou was sure he was in some kind of haze at the moment. Nothing felt real and he was still denying that any of his was happening.

While the other merchant began to talk about the price of Eijirou, the other man was already leading him to walk away.

Eijirou followed like a beaten animal and that probably was more accurate than anything else right now. He felt like one at the moment. He could hear his father's voice but slowly it started to quiet down.

With tears still blurring his vision, Eijirou turned his head and looked behind his shoulder to see his father for the last time.

He was sold to slavery by his family at the age of fifteen.

Like a young child he tried to make the last eye contact with his father but he did not pay any attention to him anymore. It hurt, maybe even more than the whip had hurt him.

But at that moment Eijirou really understood how cruel this world is. How this was his fate and there's no escape from it.

He really understood it finally.

All men are not created equal.

Chapter Text

Eijirou had never been heartbroken before. He never acknowledged that feeling up until now and it felt like he was chewed piece by piece from the inside.

His father's words were still swirling in his mind, repeating over and over again how he thought that the real Eijirou had died at that moment when his quirk was activated very first time. His words hurt like knives that were stabbing him over and over again.

He wanted to disappear from this world.

Eijirou's back was hurting from the whipping before. He was lucky enough that it didn't break his skin but did it matter anyway? What would he do from now on?

He just lost his freedom completely.

Well, if he wanted to think something positive about this situation, the only thing what came into his mind was the fact that maybe now his family is able to get through tough times. To feed every single one of them and since Eijirou was gone, they didn't have to worry about giving him food anyway.

Isn't that what he had wanted? Yes, but this wasn't part of his own vision of how things would turn out. What he thought was rather different but everything was mocking him right now.

Without any hesitation Eijirou was put in the ship to wait for the slave merchants to decide when they would head to the bigger cities. Their merchant ship wasn't the usual big sized ones what merchants typically used, this was clearly more like tailor made for them. They probably didn't have that much of merchandise with them at time and if they focused on getting people with quirks every now and then, they didn't need bigger ships to move their cargo. Smaller boat was good enough to go.

He didn't ask anything, he knew his place already even though it was giving him hard time to accept it. To these men, he was nothing more than a chattel. Something they would sell and make a profit of him. Did they even see him as a human? Who knows but it doesn't change anything.

What he couldn't hide, however, was the pure disgust he was feeling. He got bad vibes from those two men earlier already, but now that they were alone without his father being there, Eijirou was disgusted even more.

Hiding it was hard because Eijirou was always so honest with his expressions. He was unnecessarily easy to read and of course the merchant knew immediately what he was thinking. And it didn't make him happy at all, Eijirou could see how he was getting angrier.

"Don't you dare look at me like that", the shorter bald man grunted and slapped him on the cheek. He was ready to hit him again but the taller man arrived back, he was probably done with the negotiations and paid Eijirou's father the money.

"Stop it, Heqaib. I think you shouldn't beat him too much, his face is quite pretty. We can always sell him to some pervert if his quirk doesn't interest that much."

Man, Heqaib, muttered something but moved away as his merchant partner came closer to take a better look at Eijirou's face.

The way his eyes were fixated on him was creepy in a way Eijirou had never felt before. If he had to describe it, the most accurate one would be wolf what's locked its eyes on its target and was just waiting for the right moment to strike. His gaze felt like it was trying to pierce right through him.

"Such a beauty indeed. His eyes are expressive and especially those nasty old men like that kind of stuff." Smirk on that man's face made Eijirou feel like he wanted to throw up. But instead of leaving him alone, the man placed his hand on his chin and lifted it up to take a even better look of Eijirou's eyes.

His bangs were on the way but the man just moved them aside and stared right into Eijirou's ruby red eyes. That nasty grin was at his face again. "Even I would consider buying you to myself if I was in a need of a slave."

Eijirou wanted to punch the man but he knew it was better not to do that. His hands were tied anyway and if he managed to escape, where would he go? And he was also afraid that it would cause problems to his family and he didn't want anything to happen to them. So he just gave up those funny ideas and surrendered completely.

"His quirk will definitely attract buyers. I guess we hit the jackpot, right Akhom?" Heqaib laughed and grinned after that too.

Eijirou was thankful that the taller man, Akhom, left him alone after that. He wanted to be left alone but obviously those two merchants kept a close eye on him. If he managed to escape they would lose a lot of money.

He didn't want to eavesdrop those bastards but since they were all on a same ship and it wasn't the biggest one out there, he couldn't help but hear little bits every now and then.

What he could caught up were the facts that they'd set sail in a couple of hours and before they headed to the closest city, they were going to pick up another possible slave with a quirk. It made Eijirou scrunch his nose, he was overwhelmed with loathing. He wasn't going to be the only poor soul that was handed over to these disgusting men.

At first he didn't pay any attention to his surroundings but when he finally decided to glance around, Eijirou noticed that there were other things what those two were going to sell. Different kind of jewelry mostly. But the thought of their origin sent a shiver down his spine and he didn't really want to think about it more but he couldn't help himself.

Those men had no problem with whipping him. It almost looked like they enjoyed it when they were trying to get him to show his quirk while he was begging for his father to not do this.

He wouldn't be surprised at all if someone told him that the goodies here were taken by force, stolen or something other like that. Akhom and Heqaib didn't look like guys with good intentions. They were the kind of people that made Eijirou feel sickened by the fact that this world is cruel and humans can do such things to others.

Or maybe his own vision of the world had been so innocent before. He used to turn his back to everything bad and just think other things, ignoring the things he didn't want to acknowledge.

One of the reasons why Eijirou didn't really want to eavesdrop those two was the comments they made about everything and everyone. He was still disturbed by the way Akhom just told him how he was pretty and perverts would like him. He didn't want to imagine what that meant nor did he want to actually experience anything like that.

Also even though he was just left here, they had already made a comment or two about Eijirou himself too and it was really nasty. He would lower his head more down to hide under his black bangs but still he felt whenever they were staring at him or not.

Eijirou really wanted to disappear. Oh what he would give if he got the chance to make a run for it and shake off those two nasties.

But his hopes for that were destroyed completely when they set sail and left the little port where they had been this time. Eijirou felt how his stomach was in knots again because there was no return now. He was really going to be a slave and nothing's going to change that fact.

This was his fate and he had to accept it. It was the curse he carried with him everywhere he went.


 

It took them entire day to get to the next port, to their next stop. Sun was already setting in the horizon when Akhom and Heqaib docked the boat and began to talk about the next slave with quirk what they were going to acquire there.

Eijirou wasn't sure if he wanted to see the entire scene or not. What if it was similar to what happened when he was traded for money? Someone crying and begging for mercy, that they wouldn't be sold as a slave. Seeing it would break his heart even more.

He wondered what kind of person they were going to acquire here. Are they going to beat them too until their quirk will be shown and be proven to be like they were told to? Eijirou hoped he wasn't going to see any of the commotion. The fact that he couldn't go to intervene that person and two slave merchants pissed him off already.

The night went slowly because Eijirou couldn't sleep at all. He was nervous around his temporary 'owners' and he knew they kept an eye on him all the time. When the other man went to sleep, the other one was waken up to watch the cargo in the boat. Including Eijirou, just in case he got funny ideas about trying to escape.

Eijirou dozed off couple of times but mostly he was stubborn and stayed awake. He watched as the night sky soothed everything and couple visible stars were like a beautiful jewelry around the dark sky.

He thought about his family. Did his mother know what his father had planned, had they both agreed that this was for the best? He thought about his siblings who were probably confused as why Eijirou was missing. Most likely their father would give them false answers, something like Eijirou deciding to leave by his own.

Other things what he thought about were his future and what will happen to him now. With a background like his, everyone's going to see him as a cursed one. If he wasn't born to a farmer family, instead to a rich family, his so called 'curse' would probably be praised as unique and extra ability.

World really is messed up place. And unfair.

Slowly, oh so slowly morning sun began to rise and the darkness was fading away fast. The cold weather was warming up and the world was getting ready for yet another beautiful day like always.

Eijirou was tired but he still refused to fall asleep. He was watching as the merchants began to get ready for their next meeting, counting their money and discussing about the quirk this next person possibly had. Eijirou was too exhausted to pay any close attention to them. He wanted to sleep and eat too, his stomach rumbling and mouth feeling dry as the hot deserts.

Before the merchants finally left, they tied him to the mast just in case if he tried to escape.

He probably could if he hardened himself and let the sharper skin cut off the ropes. But he was already in low spirits that he didn't even consider that as his option right now. What would it change anyway? He was still cursed and his quirk won't disappear. It doesn't matter if he escapes or surrenders, nothing changes in the end.

Eijirou was hoping for Akhom and Heqaib to disappear from his field of vision completely but apparently they were not leaving too far away.

He was sure the world was at this point just mocking him even more. The merchants walked away, but Eijirou could see them in the distance. He saw how they greeted two other persons and then began to exchange details of the trade.

What made Eijirou satisfied enough though was the fact that none of the men touched the whip what was with them all the time. Apparently the quirk was obvious enough that they didn't need to beat the spirit out of that poor person. Or maybe that person just wasn't as stubborn as Eijirou had been.

Eijirou dozed off again but he only got a little bit of sleep before he was awakened again by the presence of one of the men.

"What a sight, you're so obedient already. It's easier to just give in, be humble and learn what your place is. But I guess you never had that kind of fierce spirit in you, do you?" Akhom laughed and stopped in front of Eijirou, touching his chin again and moving Eijirou's head side to side.

Eijirou's strong dislike toward this man resulted in him hardening part of his face. He hated how that man had taken a liking on him, clearly the way he kept touching his chin to take a closer look at his face was his way of admiring his new chattel.

He couldn't understand why because Eijirou didn't see himself like someone who can be described as gorgeous or exotic. He was plain normal. He had seen men and women before who were truly beautiful. But he? Nothing that special.

"Tut, tut. Behave or I'll have to beat some manners into you." Akhom grinned and showed the whip what had been in his other hand this whole time. The sight of it made Eijirou stop using his quirk immediately. It was true that he could protect himself from it but he had his limits too. And because he barely used his quirk back at home, holding it on for a long time was quite hard for him.

"That's better." the man laughed and finally moved his hand away from Eijirou's chin.

Luckily they were interrupted when Heqaib walked to the scene, leading their new victim on board.

Eijirou felt bad when he found himself staring at the person following the shorter man. This was hard situation and staring didn't help at all but he just couldn't turn his gaze away either.

The other person they had picked up to be sold at the slave market was a girl who looked like she was around the same age as Eijirou. Her face was very pretty and her eyes were big but she seemed to squint her eyes a lot. At least when she took a quick glance of him, her eyes were squinted and her face was lacking any kind of expression.

It surprised Eijirou because that girl didn't seem to be bothered at all about the fact that she was just abandoned and sold to the mercy of these two merchants.

And as he had guessed earlier too, her quirk was obvious enough that she didn't need any whipping to show it. Her head was covered with green vines instead of hair so no need to even guess what her quirk was. Well, maybe Eijirou could still wonder whether it's just vines that grow from her head or that she can do something with them too.

She was so calm and collected that it weirded him out completely. Eijirou was a mess when he was brought here, mostly because he couldn't believe what happened. And also because he got whipped too. He didn't even want to remember the feeling of leather whip hitting against his bare back. His back sure was still reddish, there's no way the color would fade away this fast.

She didn't resist when her hands were tied rather forcefully and not a single expression changed on to her face either.

Eijirou wondered what needs to happen that leaves person to be so numb to a situation like this. It was confusing but the merchants didn't seem to be bothered at all. Probably just happy that she didn't put up any kind of fight or give them hard time.

As soon as she was tied and sitting down Eijirou was released from the mast and put next to her. She didn't spare a single glance at him, it was like she was in her own worlds. In some kind of trance if that made sense.

They were quiet for a while, the awkward silence falling between them but when Eijirou noticed that there was enough distance between them and the merchants, he decided to speak up.

"Hey, are you okay? They didn't hurt you, did they?" Eijirou whispered as quietly as he could, taking a quick look at the two men before he turned his gaze back to the girl next to him. She still looked like she wasn't paying any attention to her surroundings but when Eijirou was about to ask her the same question again, she finally turned her head and made an eye contact with him.

"I appreciate your concern. I'm unharmed, thank you for asking." Her voice was soft and sweet and the way she spoke was extremely polite. Eijirou was sure his cheeks were taking a little bit of reddish color, he had to admit she was cute. The vines didn't look bad either, they made her look interesting and Eijirou already wanted to know more about her.

"I'm glad about that." And that was the end of their conversation. He wanted to ask more questions, just casual talking and get to know with her but the way she seemed to block off everything around her made it harder to even consider talking to her.

It made Eijirou feel lonely. Even more than he had felt before. At least now there was another person who was in the same situation as him but the way she didn't seem to acknowledge his presence that much was worse than being alone.

He wished that she would start another conversation with him. He really did, but at some point Eijirou noticed that she had crossed her hands and closed her eyes, clearly mumbling something so quietly that no one could hear her.

Yeah, maybe she wasn't going to talk with him any time soon.

Eijirou sighed and closed his eyes too, feeling his stomach rumble again. Who knows how long it will take until they leave this port and begin to head toward the bigger cities.

If he wasn't in this kind of situation, he'd have been excited to visit cities and see how different everyday life is there. He's always been rather curious person, always wanting to try new things and spread positive energy around him.

But now everything's a different story. He lost his freedom and dignity and people will look at him like he's diseased. He did think so though, having a quirk hadn't brought anything else than misfortune to him. It really felt like a disease at this point.

The presence of one of the men snapped Eijirou out of his thoughts and made him open his eyes again, his skin on goosebumps while waiting for another disturbing or nasty comment. Probably Akhom was thinking something very disgusting, judging by the look on his face but his eyes were fixated on the girl instead.

"Such an exotic beauty. I'm sure you will be bought to someone's collection."

Eijirou couldn't hide the disgust on his face but he was surprised how calm the girl was, like that comment didn't affect her at all. She kept her hands crossed but she was now staring at the man standing in front of her.

"If that's what God wants for me to happen, then so be it." She answered without hesitation but that didn't please Akhom at all, judging by the way he frowned and clenched his fist.

"You better drop back to the reality, hon. This is not some kind of rosy dream."

Eijirou was surprised by the small smile that formed on her lips. She wasn't bothered at all by the way Akhom tried to break her spirit. He admired her but at the same time he wanted to tell her to stop, to drop it for now. She was going to get into trouble if she continued that way. Of course she did it anyway.

"I know. But some day God will punish people like you." Her soft gaze was now little bit challenging, like she was mocking him in a way that only she understood. It was working because the merchant got angry.

Eijirou had no idea what kind of god she was talking about but then again he didn't really care. All he knew was that she definitely wasn't referring to any of the Egyptian gods and that seemed to piss off Akhom completely.

"Stupid bitch, I'll teach you some manners. Learn your place, slave."

Eijirou saw how he pulled out his whip and unfolded it fast, ready to hit her without any kind of mercy or regret. He didn't know what else to expect because she had been so confident when confronting Akhom, like she wasn't afraid what would happen next.

But the whip was enough to finally make the girl show more emotions on her face. She moved her hands to protect herself while leather whip was raised up.

Eijirou couldn't let that happen. He didn't want to watch how someone else was going to get whipped now. Especially a girl like her who seemed to be so numb and used to this already.

It felt like his whole body was moving on its own. Before Eijirou himself noticed either, he was in between the girl and the merchant, familiar feeling of whip lashing his back and pain spreading through his body again.

"Huh! You wanna take the spanking instead of her? Stay away from this!" Akhom warned and grunted but Eijirou didn't move. Not even when another hit landed on his back. It hurt a lot and he was tempted to harden his back but with what he had learned already, he knew it was better to tolerate it. If he hardened his back now, the whipping wouldn't stop until he was beaten to the point he couldn't make his skin hard anymore. And then everything would hurt even more and Eijirou didn't want to try that.

He managed to see the horrified face of the girl who was clearly surprised that he had even thought of jumping in between and protect her. It wasn't really his business at all and he wasn't obliged to do so either.

But he still did it.

When Akhom finally stopped whipping him and left the two of them alone, Eijirou couldn't stop tears escaping from his eyes. He was a sobbing mess and at the same time he didn't have any strength to sit up or check if the girl was alright. His body felt heavy and laying against the wooden floor felt better than trying to move and spread the pain around his body.

His father's cold eyes were on his mind again and he swore he could hear his words repeating over and over inside his head. But you know what? My Eijirou died years ago. He died at the exact moment when that disgusting cursed power of yours manifested. Death indeed sounded better than anything else at that moment.

Eijirou was so in his own little world that he didn't notice at all that the girl next to him had moved closer and was eyeing him, uneasy expression on her face.

"You did not need to do that for me." She finally spoke, her hand carefully touching Eijirou's reddish skin. It made him whimper because his back was sensitive to everything right now and just a small touch like that brought more tears in his eyes. It hurt.

She immediately responded to his reaction and pulled her hand away, whispering quiet apologizes.

Eijirou waited for his back to calm down little bit before attempting to sit up. As hard as it was, he was glad that she decided to help him. He got a chance to see that the girl was wearing concerned expression on her face, it made her more human than she had been earlier.

"I can't really understand you but I want to ask you something." Eijirou admitted and his eyes met up with her dark green ones. Her head tilted slightly but she didn't say anything, instead just waited for him to ask his question. She probably didn't expect him to say something like that after getting whipping instead of her. "Do you really believe that all of this happens because your god decided so?"

She looked surprised by his question but without hesitation she nodded. She crossed her hands again loosely and gentle smile appeared on her lips. "Yes. If it's what my God wants to happen to me, then I don't have any other choice than accept it. In the end others will be punished."

Eijirou was little bit weirded out again but he didn't show it on his face. His family believed in different gods and goddesses but they never spoke about religion that much, so hearing someone speak about there being only one god with power of everything was just strange. However, he didn't feel any need to judge her either.

Her calmness proved that she really believed it to be like that. "If you don't mind, I have another question." Eijirou nervously scratched his cheek. He didn't want to pry into her personal life too much, or in this case the way she looked at things. But he needed to admit that he was curious. Her view of things and life in general was very different from his.

As she approved him to ask another question, Eijirou thought for a moment how he would ask it but in the end he decided to go directly to the heart of the matter. "I don't want to be rude or anything. But since your god wants this to happen to you... then why does he allow people to be born with special abilities? Why doesn't he erase this horrible curse?"

These were the questions Eijirou always wondered since he found out about his quirk. He always wanted to find the answer but no one was able to give it to him. He doubted this girl would have one either but he just had to ask it.

The silence between them started to feel heavy for a moment. She looked confused but then she clearly began to ponder his words carefully. Eijirou was sure she was going to say she had no idea but that idea was crushed when sweet smile spread on her face.

"Why, you ask. I think there is no real answer to why quirks exist. But there is one thing I'm sure of", she started her answer before stopping and taking his hands in hers, "everything happens for a reason. It is true that these special powers can cause trouble to us who aren't as fortunate as other people, but this is just part of a greater plan. All of us have our own purposes in this world, we just need to find out what it is." Her smile was genuine and Eijirou can't hide the fact that smile was slowly sneaking on his face, too.

Her words in an odd way were reassuring. At least for now he would settle for that answer until he finds his own. It was his turn to nod in agreement.

"Thank you."



As soon as the boat set sails toward the closest big city, Eijirou felt like his spirit was almost completely crushed and broken. But on the brighter side, after he took the whipping and protected that girl, she began to acknowledge his presence.

In a short amount of time they were together at the mercy of the merchants, Eijirou learned that her name was Ibara. She was sold to slavery by her parents at young age, so this wasn't her first time dealing with slave merchants. It explained a lot why she didn't seem to be so bothered at all and remained calm all the time.

Her quirk was vines that covered her head completely and she demonstrated it little bit by letting them grow long enough to go overboard and touch the water. At the same time she let her vines get refreshed.

Ibara often crossed her hands and prayed quietly and during that time she always shut off everything around her. Eijirou didn't mind though, after a while he just got used to this habit of hers.

With Ibara's presence there Eijirou was starting to get used to this situation. He was still emotional mess whenever he thought of how his family had disowned him or how the bad memories tried to drown him with sadness. But he wasn't able to get angry to them either, leaving him feel like he was between a rock and a hard place about whether he should forgive them or hold grudge against them.

Before he noticed it, he talked about his inner demons with Ibara who listened him quietly. She understood his mixed feelings, nodding and keeping soft expressions on her face.

After Eijirou ranted enough, Ibara admitted that she too was almost consumed by anger toward her parents. It made her hate her quirk for a long time but eventually as time passed, her hatred vanished and she accepted her fate. She started to search some kind of serenity and eventually found it through religion.

What he found interesting and maybe even inspiring was the fact that Ibara didn't see quirks as curses. She thought of them as a gift instead and they made some people special. Quirks could be used to help others but there's always people with darkness covering their hearts.

And then there's people who want to take advantage of others. But that's how the world works.

Talking about quirks with Ibara made Eijirou almost forget where they were or what was going to happen to them eventually. Almost. He wanted to forget but then again Akhom and Heqaib's presence was like a cruel reminder that sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to.

The two merchants didn't seem to care that Eijirou and Ibara started to have conversations and just get to know each other, forming some kind of friendship. In the end it didn't matter because the chance of them ending up with the same buyer was mere impossibility.

Ibara's look was exotic enough that she would most likely be bought to someone's collection. Some people seemed to really enjoy collecting slaves with quirks that affected their looks, making their owner stand out in the society as well. Eijirou on the other hand didn't look any different from the others so his destiny was almost one hundred percent to be working in jobs that were going to bend his back at the end of they day.

Eijirou really appreciated all these conversations and moments with Ibara. For the first time it felt like he finally made a friend. A real friend.

But life was about to punch them in the face again with harsh reality.

Cities that were always praised to be jewels shining by the Nile and part of the land of majesty are hiding shadows of the ugly side of human nature.

The illusion of glory and wonders are one stop away and the truth really is something that people tend to gloss over.

Chapter Text

The city was much bigger than he ever had imagined it to be.

That was the first thought Eijirou had when they started to reach their destination. More boats appearing earlier were the indicator that they were getting close to the city but now it was opening right in front of their eyes.

Eijirou couldn't hide the fact that he was watching curiously everything he could at that moment. How there were lots of people selling and buying things and just minding their own business, going on with their every day life. Ships that arrived or were leaving the ports after they emptied their cargo. Eijirou noticed the animals too like camels and donkeys, even a couple of horses too. He was amazed with everything he saw and while he still acknowledged his own situation, he had to admit that the city was making him curious about everything.

For a moment it felt like the reason why he's here was trying to slip away.

But when he felt Ibara's hand touch his to get his attention, he was reminded that this wasn't just a quick visit to the city. Not any kind of day trip either.

"Don't get too excited. Most of the glorious atmosphere and wonders here are just part of the falsity. This place and humanity here is mostly rotten", she whispered. Ibara was the kind of person who would be described as a party pooper most of the time but then again, Eijirou knew she was right. And she didn't ruin things just for fun, she was being serious like always.

No matter how majestic it is, most of the achievements cost many bent backs and lives that were spent in vain, never having a chance to live life to the fullest.

It was unbelievable how human mind wants to ignore bad things happening around and just focus on the brighter things. Eijirou really wanted to forget that he didn't have freedom anymore, instead just clinging to the lies and despair. It was like believing that your life was going to turn into some kind of fairy tale, that something amazing was going to happen and all the bad things miraculously vanish into thin air.

But deep inside he knew better.

Ibara noticed quickly how colors were escaping from Eijirou's face, the realization sinking again and reminding him that this is it. This place was going to determine his fate, seal everything and at the end of the day break his spirit completely. The way Eijirou began to glance around made it obvious that he was weighing his options about whether he should make a run for it or not.

He looked like he needed to hear words like 'don't worry, everything's going to be fine' or 'this isn't the end of everything' but what would that change in the end? And on top of that those words would be lies, too. No one can promise what will happen after this.

Even Ibara who has been sold couple of times and seen different kind of owners doesn't want to give him any false hope. Maybe it would give him little bit of comfort but she knew better not to do so. If she did that, the reality would crush Eijirou completely and harder than it was going to anyway.

There really isn't a way to sugar coat slavery after all.

As much as Eijirou wanted to try escaping, he was scared of the aftermath of that attempt. If he managed to run away and shake slave merchants off where would he go after that? He could always hide and keep his quirk as a secret like he has done most of his life. But he can't return home, in reality he doesn't have a home anymore. He would always be a nobody, a person without any kind of peace in his life. Living with constant fear and anxiety didn't sound very tempting after all.

And what if he tried to run but failed? He can imagine the whipping he'd get for trying such a thing. The pain that would spread through his body as the leather whip hits his back again and again. People staring but none of them won't help him because he is a slave. Slave with a cursed power. The lowest of low and no one has a reason to help him.

The reality of everything was crushing his spirit, giving him the feeling like he was put under a giant rock and it was slowly lowered to crush him eventually. If he jumped off of the boat into the water, he'd drown because he didn't know how to swim. But that wouldn't be a bad choice either, at least he doesn't have to serve anyone or carry the shame of his quirk anymore.

His inner crisis was getting the best of him and Eijirou didn't even notice it. He felt his heart beating faster, way too fast and cold sweat began to appear on his forehead. The thought of being sold to someone was starting to overwhelm him with fear. He didn't want this to happen, why was this happening to him? What has he done to deserve all this? It really felt like someone or something was punishing from the things he didn't know he had done.

Why does he have a quirk?

When he felt touch on his hand again, Eijirou was startled so bad he hardened his hand and was ready to hit whoever had touched him. He wasn't thinking rationally, instead just following what his instincts were telling him right now. He truly felt like he was a cornered animal right now.

"Calm down Eijirou. You're gonna be okay." Ibara's soft voice was relaxing enough but he kept his hand hardened still. She hesitated little bit before she touched his hand again, ignoring the fact that it was hard as a rock and sharp too. Even small hit with it would leave nasty bruise or even a cut on her skin but she wasn't afraid of that.

"I know it's scary. I know very well how you are feeling right now. But not all people are bad and slaves with quirks are in demand and expensive. Most likely someone rich will buy you too and let you live a life that is nice enough." She was staring at his eyes intensively for a moment before her expression softened. The rare reassuring smile appeared on her lips and she tilted her head slightly.

Eijirou felt his heart still beating faster but some kind of calm feeling began to soothe him. Maybe Ibara was right. People with quirks are rare thing. Slowly, oh so slowly Eijirou calmed down and as soon as his hand went back to normal, Ibara began to massage small circles with her thumb on his skin.

"That's right. I'm sure you are going to be fine. Do not lose your hope, God has plans for you too. Sooner or later you will see it." she whispered. Eijirou didn't really care about her religious talks but at that moment it was kinda nice thing to hear. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to relax as much as he could in a situation like this.

Ibara kept smiling but behind that smile she was disappointed at herself. She did exactly what she was trying not to do.

She just gave false hope for Eijirou because he looked like he was about to pass out any minute now. Maybe some people would say it was a merciful thing to do but Ibara was disappointed.

After all no matter how much money people throw away, some people enjoy breaking the things they buy. Some people enjoy beating the living shit out of you and kill your spirit completely. She had seen it before.

The true nature of humanity is stained and ugly.

"I'm really glad it's you here and not someone else." Small and fragile smile appeared on Eijirou's face, his voice little bit weaker and quieter than usual but when he opened his eyes and looked at Ibara, she could see the uncertainty in his eyes. But at the same time he was happy that Ibara was here with him. She was different and little bit weird after all, but her aura was calming and she's good at choosing the right words. Even when Eijirou himself too knew they were most likely lies.

"You're a wonderful person too, Eijirou. I am so sorry this happened to you but I'll keep you in my mind while I'm praying. I'm sure we won't see again after this, but if we do I'll promise to remember you, my dear friend." Ibara smiled back, which was little bit unusual for her but at this moment it didn't matter. Nothing mattered in fact.

In this short time they had spent together at the mercy of slave merchants, they had formed something that can be described as a friendship. And it was sad that they have to part away so soon while they both knew this was going to be the last time they see each other again. Ibara never made friends with other slaves because she knew there was going to be a day when it was time to say goodbye but she was still grateful that Eijirou protected her from getting the whipping. He was worth enough to be allowed to form this kind of friendship with her, even if it's for a little moment.

She was sad too because of the fact that they won't see again. And she really hoped that everything would turn out to be fine for Eijirou. His sweet personality and soft core were a rare sight in this cruel world but it made her scare for his life. It made him a perfect target for people who had already lost their humanity ages ago, who were consumed by the evilness that turned their hearts dark.

Some sadistic people would really enjoy to break him completely if he doesn't learn to harden his heart and adjust to the fact that this world is ugly and not all people are worth to be called human after all.

What Ibara was mostly afraid was that some day Eijirou would snap completely. That he would let that pure and good heart be consumed by the same darkness and lose even the smallest rays of hope.

It would destroy him.


 

When the boat arrived to the ports and they were getting ready for landing, two other men were waiting them. They seemed to be Akhom and Heqaib's companions. After they changed some information, they began to unload the ship while Akhom and Heqaib took care of the most important chattel they had.

Eijirou didn't like how his hands were tied again, this time much more tighter than before. But what almost freaked him out was when they tied another rope around his neck. He knew they did it so he doesn't get funny ideas about trying to escape or try to struggle against them but it scared him.

Ibara didn't seem to react at all when they did same thing to her, she just stood there still and let them do whatever they wanted. She was so used to it anyway but when Eijirou looked like his thoughts were racing again, she smiled to him quickly as to reassure that everything's going to be fine. It was enough for Eijirou to calm down for now.

It felt so weird to step on hot sand again. They had spent time in the boat enough that Eijirou almost lost his balance once he was on the land again. Akhom who was leading him just chuckled, more mocking way than anything else and slightly pulled him from the rope around his neck to follow him. Ibara was following with Heqaib right behind them.

Eijirou had almost forgotten how hot sand can be nasty under bare feet. But it wasn't that unbearable as long as he kept moving and didn't stay still. His feet were probably tender to everything anyway because he was so used to wear sandals and protect them. He could always harden his soles but keeping up the hardening for entire day was impossible.

Even though he knew what was going to happen to him, he was still curious about everything around him. Everywhere he could see market stalls and sellers who had so much different things they were selling. Food, clothing, jewelry and even animals. Things what he hadn't seen before, things that they didn't have at the village either.

The city was full of hustle and bustle with people everywhere. Some of them were wearing clothes that looked expensive, something Eijirou had never seen even in the village. Then there were others who wore just plain loincloth that was nothing special. Maybe the only differences were the material of the clothes.

He could tell from a single look who was a free man and who was a slave. It was quite clear.

He was surprised to see every now and then people who obviously have a quirk. Most of them were in the position of a slave which honestly wasn't new to him at all, but what confused him was the fact that some of the people with quirks were wearing expensive clothing and jewelry and were in the middle of buying things only rich and independent people were able to. Damn, he even saw a person negotiate the price of a horse. A horse! That's an animal only rich are able to buy and own.

It was so absurd to think that there were people with this same unfortunate curse as he has, but those people are living just like gods. They have money to buy their freedom, they have power to be admired by others. They don't have to serve anyone other than Pharaoh, they can do whatever they want to do and make their slaves do all the hard work for them. And people look up to them! It was so absurd.

How could they do that though? Eijirou couldn't understand. Those people were special with their quirks, just like the ones that were sold to slavery because of it. What makes those people better than others with quirks? Eijirou felt like his head was going to explode at this rate if he started to think this too much. This world really is fucking unfair.

They walked past the regular slave market where normal slaves were sold. They all looked so miserable, just patiently waiting for someone to buy them. Other people checking them eagerly, calculating whether they're worth their price or not and deciding are they good enough for them.

He could see how some of those people were full of scars and the life was already beaten out of them. It was disgusting, really. Eijirou couldn't wrap his head around the fact that people do these kind of things to other people. He couldn't understand why people were so cruel and what drives them to do such horrible things. How anyone can be so cruel to another human being?

Maybe he just didn't see the glory of this. Maybe he was overthinking this subject and the answer was just something so simple he wasn't able to see. But Eijirou was left with bad taste in his mouth. Ibara was right when she said that everything here is full of lies and this place isn't as glorious as everyone claims it to be like.

Eijirou was seeing more and more of the ugly side of humanity. He knew he had seen it before but at the village he just closed his eyes and pretended he didn't see anything. When that girl was sold into slavery back then, he ignored it and thought it's not his business anyway. But now he couldn't help but think that back then he had been as terrible as these people here. Or even more hideous since he has a quirk too and he ignored what happened to a fellow person with same status.

"Hey, keep going. No time for daydreaming." Akhom's words suddenly snapped him out of his thoughts and hard yank around his neck hurt, forcing him to move faster.

Eijirou hadn't noticed he was so deep in his thoughts that he was slowing down his steps. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Ibara looking at him, slightly nodding like she was trying to say that it was better to keep moving.

Sigh escaped from his lips while he turned his gaze back to Akhom's back, trying to ignore everything around him now. But it was hard because he has this curious nature and he wants to see everything he can.

This time when Eijirou glanced around, he noticed how people were now staring at them. Or more like they were staring at Ibara because she stood out with her unusual look like a sore thumb. But that didn't stop people from watching him too, they probably put together everything and because both of them were with slave merchants, it was obvious that since Ibara has quirk so visible, it meant that Eijirou has one too but it's not visible.


 

The walk felt like eternity, never ending humiliation they deserved because of their quirks but Ibara was not affected by it. Eijirou on the other hand hated it. He hated how everyone was staring them now and he wanted to disappear. He never had craved for attention.

But then the slave merchant stopped, stopping Eijirou too. They arrived to their final destination here.

While normal slave market was quite close to the middle of the other market areas, the slave market for people with quirks was on the outskirts of it. At first it made Eijirou confused but he very quickly learned why.

Slaves who were sold here had to demonstrate their powers and some of them had rather strong quirks or one that needed more space. And not everyone wanted to have a slave with quirk, let alone even see them that much. Some people just seemed to hate the cursed ones, at least the ones who are nothing more than just slaves to others.

Eijirou couldn't do anything else than just stay still and watch silently what was happening in front of his eyes.

At the small platform stood four people, two with visible quirks and one who had to show her own and their seller was excitedly describing everything about them, making a sales pitch what was convincing people by the look of it. No one seemed to think this was anything unusual and Eijirou could hear people whispering around him, telling their opinions about the merchandise and whether it was what they were looking for or not.

And when it was time for bidding, it was like a pure chaos was unfolding right there. One after another was sold in a boisterous bidding, some of them were more popular and more wanted than others. But the prices were astonishing. Eijirou never had even seen that much of money, let alone heard that someone was willing to spend that amount to something.

With the amount of money like that, his whole family would never have to worry about bad crop year! They would be able to buy more animals, even horses! Repair their house, plant a garden next to it too. Eat and live like gods! It was crazy how much money and property some people have and they were throwing it at something like this.

Eijirou just couldn't understand this madness.

Their little break was over when Akhom pulled the rope, starting to lead Eijirou again through the crowds. For a moment Eijirou had been so shocked that he forgot everything else but now he was back at the reality again.

His heart skipped a beat when Akhom stopped at the table where he informed about two slaves they wanted to sell. The person on the other side of table seemed to recognize and know him because he nodded and just inquired about the quirks they had this time and what was the asking price where the bidding would start.

Before Eijirou had time to process everything happening, Akhom put another rope around his neck with small wooden tag hanging on it, something written on it what Eijirou couldn't read. But he assumed it was the price he had decided for him. Ibara got same thing on her neck too but the writing on it was slightly different.

Eijirou couldn't help but glance around again, trying to see if there was any kind of escaping route. This was his last time when he weighted his options, thinking carefully if he should try to run or not. If he could just disappear and live somewhere the rest of his life alone, at least having some kind of freedom with him, unlike here where the last remain of the freedom he ever had was being torn away from him.

The sad expression on Ibara's face felt like dead weight of pain and agony was put on his shoulders. She knew what he was thinking but her expression just told him that this is it. Nowhere to run now after this shit show is done. It was depressing to realize everything again. He wanted to live in a lie, think that this was still a nightmare and he was going to wake up soon at his home with his family. He really wanted it to be like that.

But as they got up to the platform and he was able to take a good look at the people who were staring at him and Ibara back, he knew this was all real.

Disgusting faces of men and women who were curiously watching them, waiting to hear what their quirks are (or more like what Eijirou's quirk is, because everyone could see Ibara's) while viewing their looks and thinking whether they fulfill their disturbing visions or not.

In all honesty Eijirou just felt disgust as he watched those people.

Akhom started his sales pitch with Ibara being the first one to be sold because they expected more money from her anyway.

What was highlighted in his speak was Ibara's exotic look, the way her green vines made her pale skin stand out even more. How she could control the vines as she wishes and in general other comments about her looks that were at the same time nasty and even inappropriate. Eijirou wanted to hit him because of the way he kept talking about Ibara and even criticizing her religious nature. She wasn't the humblest slave but with right treatment and teaching that would be no problem anymore. Eijirou doubted that, Ibara had been slave for so long already but she was still fighting back in her own way. She wasn't going to give up yet.

Even after telling Ibara's bad features the crowd seemed to be very interested and whispers were everywhere. The way they stared at her wasn't even humane, they looked at her like she was a piece of jewelry or an animal that was just perfect for their stupid collection.

Eijirou noticed couple men who looked suspicious and their gazes were full of lust as they kept staring at Ibara. He couldn't help but scrunch his nose, he hoped none of them were the final buyer. Everything was disturbing and Eijirou was getting nauseous just thinking about what kind of intentions some people had when they bought slaves with quirks.

As expected, when the bidding started it was crazy and one big mess. Everyone was yelling their prices, trying to make their voice to be heard among the others and many raised their hands as well.

The asking price of her was starting to look ridiculously small when listening the prices people were bidding. Akhom and Heqaib didn't seem to mind this chaos at all, they were happy that the price was going up in the skies.

The amount of money that was bid for Ibara was ridiculous but what Eijirou could see among this chaos of auction, the two men with horrible looks in their eyes were eagerly bidding... And bidding... And bidding... Until the price seemed to get too high for their budgets. That at least made Eijirou sigh quietly, none of those dirty old men were getting Ibara and that was all that mattered at this moment.

When the final price settled in, Eijirou was shocked by how much money someone just paid to get Ibara. But to his surprise it was actually a woman who won her. He had no idea if it was normal that women were buying slaves too but he was somehow feeling happy about it. Maybe Ibara was going to have a new home where her life wasn't as harsh and cruel as it had been.

His happiness didn't last long though, he soon realized that it was his turn to get the same treatment. And the results for him won't be the same. It scared him, this whole situation was turning out to be scary and Eijirou bit his lip, his heart beating faster against his rib cage.

He was yanked again by the rope and he almost lost his balance, taking a step or two closer to the edge of the platform while he heard couple people chuckle in the crowd. Everyone's eyes were on him and Eijirou felt like he was shrinking smaller under their gazes. Gosh, he wanted to be swallowed by the ground and disappear forever.

Akhom had already started his sales pitch again but Eijirou didn't listen what he was saying. His gaze was on the ground and he was still biting his lip, waiting for everything to change like hiding under his bangs was going to help him somehow. The last hopes of this being just a nightmare were slowly vanishing and the true ugly nature of humankind was overwhelming. The atmosphere was heavy and felt like it was crushing him slowly.

He was startled by the sudden touch when Akhom grabbed his chin and lifted his head, showing his face properly to the whole crowd. Eijirou wanted to hide himself but there was no way of doing it. He almost felt like naked when his bangs were moved away to show everyone his face. The way people focused their gazes on him was making him anxious.

"As you can see, he has a very gorgeous face too. He does have a small scar above his right eye but it doesn't ruin the overall impression. His eyes are very expressive but his teeth are quite pointed. But that's not a problem either! Filing them is possible if necessary!"

Eijirou was dangerously close to bite Akhom's fingers but he probably noticed it, tightening his grip and making sure Eijirou kept his mouth closed.

"What's great about him is the fact that he's already very humble and won't cause problems. He will be a great and obedient slave with little to no resist at all, just like a dog that will follow its owner everywhere."

Akhom's word felt like they were trying to go through him completely, like he was tearing him little by little until what was left of him was a pile of rubbish. And he was doing a damn good job with it, Eijirou felt like everything what made him human was slowly taken away. He was turning into an animal with no rights, no freedom, nothing at all.

And people didn't mind it at all. He felt those intensive gazes on him, the way the crowd was watching him, fascinated by the fact that he was so beaten up he didn't have the spirit to fight back at all. He didn't want to look at those people but the way Akhom kept his chin lifted enough, he had no other choice than watch them.

The crowd was fixated on him, staring at him from the top of his head all the way down to his toes. They were scrutinizing him and maybe imagining how they could use him, was he worth enough to be bought and what they would make him to do.

"And then to the best part. His quirk. I'm sure none of you can guess what it is but no worries. When you see it, you can imagine all the possibilities what he can be used for. Even if it's just to make your wildest fantasies true, that's okay. I'm not here to judge any of you." Akhom grinned and turned his gaze to Eijirou, expecting him to show his quirk to everyone.

He didn't feel like he wanted to do it, to show it at all. His quirk was disgusting and no one needed to see it. Eijirou didn't spare a single glaze at Akhom, he was watching the crowd with eyes that were probably looking little bit dead. He felt like he was slowly dying from the inside and showing his quirk at this moment was the last thing he wanted to do.

He could see how people were getting more curious, waiting for it to happen. Both men and women, some of them doubting while others just waited. Whispers here and there every now and then and intensive gazes at him. Everything made Eijirou even more nervous. He could feel how Ibara was staring his back too and he imagined what kind of expression was resting on her face at this moment. She was probably worried but at the same time hoping for the best. Maybe she had even crossed her hands slightly.

Eijirou was surprised to see even people who looked like they were around the same age as him in the crowd, waiting eagerly for him to show his quirk. He tried not to make an eye contact with anyone but that failed since there were too many people watching him. At some point his eyes met with one of the clearly younger persons in the crowd and his intensive gaze felt like it was trying to pierce through Eijirou completely. How determined even the people who are probably same age as him are.

Eijirou heard Akhom chuckle loudly and saying something that made the crowd laugh. But then he heard how the merchant whispered his warnings in his ear. "You better show it now. I'm ready to whip you in front of everyone if you don't do it and your family will pay for the price of your actions."

His words made Eijirou's shoulders wince and when he noticed that Akhom had taken the whip in his other hand and was showing it to him, the fear of getting whipped was getting overwhelming. The breaking point for him at that moment was just the sight of that leather torture device.

He closed his eyes as his quirk activated, hardening his other hand and face as to protect him from the possible whipping. He waited when that too familiar whip would hit him again but that never happened. Instead he was greeted by people gasping in amazement. He couldn't understand why anyone would react like that, they should be gasping in fear! He was disgusting and his quirk was something that was better be kept as hidden.

"Good boy." He heard Akhom whisper into his ear before he continued to provoke the crowd as how useful this quirk would be and what were the possibilities with it.

And it seemed to work too well, when Eijirou finally opened his eyes again, people started to bid like crazy. Akhom and Heqaib probably didn't expect them to be this much interested of Eijirou but it seemed that the sales pitch was doing good job with it. Of course people weren't as eager as they had been with Ibara but still the price was growing way too fast.

It gave him mixed feelings. Eijirou was disgusted by everything but at the same time he felt like he still had some kind of hope. Maybe, just maybe someone nice enough buys him. Maybe he would end up being a servant and his new owner would be nice.

That was just wishful thinking. There was no guarantee that would happen and seeing how people can be cruel to others, Eijirou didn't want to believe such dreams that were lies.

He saw how couple younger ones in the crowd were bidding as well but the adults were clearly at the advance here. They had all the money needed. There was one young man who was bidding actively but when the price hit certain point, only the richest were able to continue bidding and he had to retreat from it. Akhom looked like he was pleasantly surprised that Eijirou attracted that much of attention too. Well, the price would never get as high as Ibara's had gone but it was at least double of the asking price they had put on him.

That was more than enough to satisfy the merchants. When the bidding slowed down and eventually was drawing near the end, Eijirou lowered his head and let his bangs fall in front of his eyes again.

Eventually the auction came to an ending and he was sold. The price was probably a lot more than what the merchants had paid to his family.

And even though it was high and expensive, to Eijirou at that moment all that money felt like small amount.

The price of his freedom was more than just money. And he just lost it completely, the small bits of what had been left of it were gone now. He wasn't a free man anymore.

He had to kiss goodbye to his freedom and move on.

After all, he was only a slave now.

Chapter Text

Heavy loads of building material on his shoulders felt like someone was constantly trying to press him down or more like bend his back in a painful way. Eijirou had gotten used to hard farming work over the years but this was something he never would have imagined. If something was going to kill him, it was most likely going to be the amount of work and heavy load here.

After moving from owner to another one and getting sold more than once, he ended up in a construction site that was quite common working place for some slaves. This was something he expected when his first owner got disappointed in him. He just had known that sooner or later he's going to find himself on hard physical work since he wasn't very good at anything in particular.

What surprised him completely when he was brought here was the fact that not only slaves with quirks worked here but also normal slaves too. They all were almost equal here but on the other hand it was kinda unfair that normal people had to do as hard labor as the ones with quirks that help them handle things better.

But that's just the cruelty of humanity. Something that can't be changed since people enjoy oppressing others. At this point Eijirou wasn't even surprised by the things he saw every day because he's gotten used to it. As much as he hates to admit it, he was slowly getting used to to fact that some people are on the higher level of hierarchy while others are the lowest of the low.

To the fact that no matter how much you try to oppose this, it's just better to give up.

Eijirou winced slightly as the person next to him got whipped, the Egyptian guard cursing at him to move faster as he hit him again. The urge of going in between wasn't as strong as it had been earlier but by now Eijirou knew he should focus on his own work and ignore others around him. He didn't want any trouble for himself and intervening would only lead for him getting whipped again and again until his skin was full of bloody cuts.

Whipping had become something what he had gotten used to, but Eijirou couldn't really hide the fact that even the sight of whip made him little bit scared. No matter how much you get used to the punishments, it didn't mean he wanted to get them and get whipped either. Eijirou did everything he could to make sure he doesn't get it anymore. He had lost the count of the times the leather whip has hit his back.

It didn't mean he closed his eyes to this cruelty completely and pretended that everything is alright either. Every single time when he refused to help someone he felt like he wasn't better than the ones who were on the other side of the whip.

He felt guilty and anguish when he turned his attention away from the people who got punished. He wanted to intervene and protect them but he was too scared of the whip to do same things again.

Every step felt like his whole body was too heavy for his feet to carry on and maybe that was true, considering the heavy load on his back as he carried giant sack of building material, whether it was mud or sand or both mixed in. Other times he was forced to carry water and that wasn't better either but he had no right to complain about it. Not like he wanted to say anything, it would only mean more whipping for him and Eijirou didn't want that anymore.

The amount of work he was put through every day left him dead tired at the nights and painful aching all over his body. Never had the work on his family's farm made his body so drained of all energy but this was of course so much different than that.

Eijirou almost looked forward to the end of the days, when the working would stop for the night. Nights were more like sacred things at this point, the only time when he got the chance to rest and think everything carefully. At first he hadn't noticed how much his head was filled with different thoughts and sadness during the days but very quickly he realized that if he didn't do anything to it, they'd start to consume him and his motivation would drop dramatically.

He had made the mistake of falling into his own thoughts in the middle of the work on his first day at the construction site but soon he was taught why that wasn't good thing. The whip they used here was much more nastier than the one what the slave merchants or his previous owners had used on him. Couple hits with this one were enough to break the skin and drain blood.

"Hey! No slacking, keep moving!"

Eijirou felt how someone pushed him to keep moving and he realized he was daydreaming again, lost in his thoughts. He hurriedly quickened his pace and kept going before the man would find a reason to hit him with a whip.

He really has a bad habit of falling into his own thoughts in bad times.

He raised his gaze toward the clear blue sky where sun was watching him back, the weather being so warm that his forehead was sticky from the sweat. His throat was dry and he would give anything for a cup of water and little break. But under the burning hot sun he had to keep going, no times for breaks no matter how much he felt like needing one.

The final point where they carried all that heavy material was the site where they had began to build another temple for one of their gods. Eijirou paid little to no attention at all to whom it was since he was already ignored by every possible god and goddesses, even the godlike figures seemed to laugh at him and bring more misery into his life. The moment his quirk manifested had brought him only misfortune.

Still, Eijirou tried to look at the things the way Ibara taught him to look. Quirks weren't curses, they were gifts. Well, at least that is what she thought of them. Eijirou had tried to look at them from her view but it was harder than expected, especially when every time he got more troubles his quirks was the reason of it. It was hard to see it as anything else than a curse.

Every now and then Eijirou couldn't help but think about Ibara. He kinda missed her, it felt like he had lost a friend that day when they both were sold at the slave market. Honestly it was like that, Ibara was the only friend he's ever had even if she didn't see him like that. But to him, she really was someone he considered as friend.

He really hoped that she was doing okay and has finally found a home and owner who respects her enough. Maybe even help her ease off the numbness she felt and carried with her.

Eijirou had seen her in his dreams more than couple times. Dreams where they just talked casually and were able to laugh together were the best ones. But they were also the bittersweet ones, they made him miss her even more than he already did. He wanted to know how she was doing and if everything is okay. It would give him some kind of peace.

And he wished that Ibara didn't forget him either. He hoped that she cherishes the friendship they had as much as he does every day.

As the day was passing and sun started to set, Eijirou couldn't feel more happier. He used to love day time but now when everything during the day was only hard work, pain and misery, nights began to be his new favorites.

After the architects announced the end of this work day, everyone was discharged for the day. Guards made sure slaves returned to their own resting areas, making extra sure to keep quirkless slaves separated from the ones who have quirk. It had probably something to do with the fact that slaves with quirks were more valuable than the normal slaves.

Eijirou, however, never really felt like he or any other slave with a quirk were more valuable. In fact it felt more like they were the lowest here because even normal slaves sometimes looked at them like freaks. Maybe it was deserved, they really are freaks with abilities that never should have exist.

Quirks shouldn't even exist. They brought nothing more than harm to everyone. Eijirou was getting used to blaming his quirk about everything that's happened to him. If only he didn't have his quirk... he would still be at home with his family. He would be treated with love and respect.

Instead of that he was oppressed and used. No one gives little to no damn about him and he understood and accepted it. He has always been a mistake and since there's no way to fix him, it's only fair that no one cares or loves him either.

It makes so much sense in the end.

When guards left the resting area some of the slaves were letting their real feelings come out. Everyone knew guards were still somewhere around but since they weren't at their field of vision, they pretended they didn't exist. It just helped them coping with everything and let some kind of reassurance take over the atmosphere.

Before Eijirou realized it, he had secluded himself from the others and preferred staying in the corner while everyone else was talking and just trying to hold out hope for others. They all knew what was the connecting factor for them and with that it was easy to make friends with others.

Normally he too would be happy to make new friends and Eijirou really needed one at the moment but he was holding himself off against that decision. He never had regrets for speaking with Ibara and getting to know with her but right now he felt like there was no point of befriending anyone.

What Eijirou wanted more than anything was to be left alone and he got what he wanted.

During his first night at the resting place many others seemed to want to befriend him and lift up the mood since it was obvious and showing from his expression that he was feeling down. But they realized fast that Eijirou didn't want that right now. He needed his own time and after a while he was given that plenty. He wasn't the first one to be like that, there were others too who wished to be left alone instead of anyone coming to chitchat.

While he appreciated the space he was given, it made Eijirou sad. He was full of mixed emotions but he decided to become numb for them.

Everything became a routine faster than he expected. Their work started early in the morning and ended when the sun began to set. Most of the food they got was at the night and many saved some of it for the morning before work started.

Eijirou hated how he was getting used to this. He still had some of that fighting spirit left in him, small part of him that wanted to go against this and regain the freedom he once had. But it was just the pitiful part of him that didn't have enough strength to actually do anything.

Carrying heavy sacks of sand and mud was becoming so normal for him that he didn't pay any attention to how time seemed to fly right in front of his eyes. Day after day his body felt like it was on the verge of breaking down completely. He was handling it quite well somehow even though he too was already seeing some changes what all that work did to him.

The most noticeable change was the fact that he had lost weight. A lot. One night when Eijirou looked at his hands, they looked different. Bonier than before and his skin was more dry than it had ever been, no surprise since he handled so much water and mud daily. Whatever muscles he ever had gotten through farming work seemed to disappear right in front of his eyes.

Eijirou was glad that he couldn't see himself. He didn't want to see what he was slowly turning into, he wouldn't recognize the person looking back at him from the reflection on the water.

Was there any way to escape from this nightmare?


 

"The work shall continue tomorrow!"

And with that, they were dismissed for another night after another harsh day under the hot sun.

Eijirou had already lost his count of time and at this point he didn't even care how many weeks he had spent here. All the physical work was getting the best of him and beating the last piece of spirit he still has in him.

As usual when they finally reached their resting place, Eijirou quickly grabbed his own portion of food before secluding himself away from the others. The loneliness was starting to chew him but he was stubborn enough to stay alone. He really wanted to have a friend, or at least someone to talk with but since he had decided to stay away from the others since day one here, it was hard for him to even consider talking with someone.

He was quietly eating his bread and lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice two approaching shadows. So when he suddenly heard someone say something right next to him, he winced.

"Is it okay if we sit with you?" Eijirou's eyes met with other pairs of eyes that were watching him curiously, waiting for his answer to the question. At first he was going to refuse it, but small voice inside his head almost yelled at him to let them sit here with him. Maybe it was his real personality, trying desperately crack the walls what he had built around him.

In the end Eijirou just nodded and watched as both of the boys sat down next to him, close enough but not too close, giving him the space he wanted.

The one who had asked the question was a guy with brown hair and muscular built. How he managed to keep it up was a mystery to Eijirou since it felt like he was withering no matter how he ate everything he managed to grab.

The other guy with him honestly frightened Eijirou at first when he started his pitiful slave life here. While the brown haired guy's quirk didn't show at all, the other one had a quirk that was as visible as bright sky. His six arms made him almost look like a spider, the way they were attached together with web of skin fascinated him but at the same time also disturbed him slightly. He was muscular too and Eijirou in all honesty was little bit confused and jealous, it had probably something to do with their quirks that they still had their muscles but still he couldn't help but envy them.

Awkward silence fell upon them as they ate quietly but after the two boys exchanged gazes, they decided to break the silence while trying to find a way to make an eye contact with Eijirou again.

"I think we haven't introduce yet, right? I'm Rikidou, nice to meet you!" the brown haired boy said first and smiled big toothy smile. Just the way Eijirou had once smiled too. Eijirou stopped eating for a moment and just watched him quietly, wishing he was able to smile that same smile like before.

Now even the thought of smiling was unfamiliar and distant. He really, really wanted to try it but he couldn't curl up his lips into any kind of happy expression.

Eijirou's stare didn't seem to affect Rikidou at all, he kept that friendly smile on his face while glancing the gray haired boy next to him. His friend nodded as agreeing with him and turned his gaze to Eijirou, now it was his turn to introduce himself. "My name is Mezou. I may look a bit scary and I'm sorry about it, it's just something I can't control."

He didn't get any kind of reply from Eijirou but he probably didn't expect that. Eijirou felt like he was being real jerk here but honestly? He was surprised that they came to talk to him. Or that they even bothered to sit next to him and enjoy their dinner.

Rikidou and Mezou started to chitchat little bit but never ignored Eijirou. They clearly wanted to get to know him but since Eijirou had been lonely wolf for a while now, they figured it's better to let him speak and introduce himself when he feel like it.

It was weird to have people around him. In all honestly Eijirou was glad that those two decided to make an attempt to speak with him and he really, really wanted to join their conversation. He wasn't sure what was holding him back so much but he appreciated all of this.

"I'm Eijirou... nice to meet you too." Eijirou finally managed to say quietly, almost whispering it when they were finishing their meal. He noticed immediately how Rikidou and Mezou glanced each other again before both of them turned their gazes back to him.

They didn't try to pry into his personal life. No more questions, just gentle smiles and nods. Even if they wanted to chitchat with Eijirou too, both Rikidou and Mezou gave him all the space and time he needed.

Before Eijirou realized it, this became some kind of habit for them.

After long day of working Rikidou and Mezou waited for Eijirou to take his usual spot and they let him be there little bit before they finally joined him and ate together. It was quickly becoming so normal for them that Eijirou didn't mind it at all, in fact he was getting more and more excited when he knew his new acquaintances were going to keep company to him.

At first it was just Rikidou and Mezou talking while Eijirou listened them but after a while he was joining their conversations as well. Slowly it felt like his real personality was starting to bloom again.

Rikidou and Mezou were very patient with him, letting him take as much time as he needed to becoming more talkative. They never interrupted him, instead listening everything he had to say with pure interest.

And their friendliness was never limited to the night time only. At some point both of them were everywhere with Eijirou. If he was has carrying heavy sacks, so were they too. If he was helping making the correct building material, they were also there.

Having them closer to him made Eijirou feel little bit better about everything. He had no idea did they do it on purpose and change their tasks with someone else or was it just pure luck but Eijirou didn't really care at all.


 

They formed quickly some kind of friendship which honestly made Eijirou so happy and grateful. He was happier than he could be at this position. Even slavery didn't feel as bad when you had someone who was there to comfort you at the end of the day and who would listen everything what was on your mind.

But Rikidou and Mezou kept surprising Eijirou again and again.

They had noticed very early how Eijirou seemed to wither right in front of their eyes, it was almost scary to look at him carrying all those heavy sacks when his body was starting to look like it was running on fumes. And what little information they managed to gather while talking with him, they figured he was the kind of person who would half his own food portion if someone else needed more food. He was just way too kind to be here.

So when Rikidou put another piece of bread in front of him, followed by Mezou offering some dried fish and even a piece of delicious looking meat, Eijirou had no idea what was going on.

"Uh, I appreciate the thought but I can't really take your food." Eijirou politely refused while he was wondering where Mezou got such a rare treat. Meat definitely wasn't something what they served for the slaves, only very occasionally. Eijirou was lying if he said that he wasn't tempted at all, the sight of meat and fish made his mouth water. In fact so much that his stomach rumbled even though he just ate.

"It's okay, we have a friend who'll give us more. And I've already finished my dinner so dig in." Mezou said calmly while Rikidou nodded next to him and agreed with his words.

Eijirou was still unsure and asked again if he was sure he didn't want to save any of the food for later but Mezou and Rikidou encouraged him to eat everything they offered.

And they didn't have to tell him twice. Eijirou snatched the meat super fast and took a bite of it like a starving animal that was given food for the first time in its life. But his appreciation was all over his face, his eyes getting watery as the taste of something other than just plain bread and soup was spreading inside his mouth, almost caressing his taste buds.

He knew he was devouring this special delicious treat faster than necessary but he couldn't help it. For the first time in a long time it felt like his stomach was getting full from the dinner.

Both of his new friends couldn't help but stare at him but he didn't care. It was like Eijirou was falling into his own world and he wouldn't give a damn about the stares he got right now. He was so happy to taste something else for a change.

"Geez, how long it's been since you've gotten a proper meal?" Rikidou asked but figured it was way too early for that question. Eijirou was so focused on eating the extra food he was given than it made him ignore everything else. Not on purpose but seeing his reaction they understood everything.

Rikidou glanced at Mezou's way and they watched each other quietly, like they were exchanging words without actually saying them.

"I guess this was perfect idea", Rikidou laughed and Mezou nodded, soft smile appearing on his face. They had talked about this topic for a while in secret and seeing their new friend eating happily the food they offered was heartwarming.

They let Eijirou finish his meal in peace before they tried to start a conversation with him again. They were curious to learn more about him.

"How old are you, Eijirou? We've been wondering that for a while now." Mezou asked carefully, not trying to pry into his personal life too much. Well, into the few personal information they still had here.

Eijirou hadn't expected that kind of question so it caught him off guard. His eyes widened in surprise while he tilted his head slightly, trying to figure out why they were so interested about that. He wasn't really interesting person, he never had been in the first place. Just plain normal, excluding the quirk he has.

But Eijirou had to stop to think about the question too. How old is he now? 

"I think I already turned sixteen. I've honestly lost my track of time." Eijirou confessed while he scratched his neck, embarrassed to admit that indeed he wasn't even sure if his birthday already passed by or not. But after going through owner after owner his sense of time was getting little bit hazy and he decided to ignore everything else and just focus on staying alive.

What else could he do?

The small doubt that was visible in Rikidou and Mezou's gazes hurt little bit but Eijirou was telling them the truth.

He was blocking so many things from his mind that losing track of time wasn't that surprising. Time itself didn't matter either because knowing his destiny already, Eijirou just knew it was better to focus on other things. At this point he was eventually going to lose his strength and maybe finally he'd escape from this life. Maybe life beyond death wasn't that bad.

"Ah, I see. It's not that uncommon, many others have lost it too at some point of their lives. Especially if they've been tossed around a lot, changing owners so fast that they never even managed to get used to their previous one." Mezou's gaze was suddenly sharp and investigative. He was waiting for some kind of reaction and he noticed how Eijirou's shoulders tensed slightly. Bingo, it was exactly the reaction he was looking for.

"I am right, aren't I?"

"Mezou, I think that's enough." Rikidou whispered while nudging the other boy with his elbow but Eijirou just shook his head.

"No no, he's right. It is exactly like that." He sighed, it was fair to tell them the truth since they offered him some extra food. And it wasn't like Eijirou was trying to hide anything from his life, there really wasn't anything that was worth to be hidden. He's always been just a nobody, someone who was destined for a shitty life like this.

His very first owner wanted to use him and his quirk to blackmail some of the people who were indebted to him. If they couldn't pay their debts in time, he had tried to make Eijirou scare them to take him more seriously and pay.

Unfortunately that kind of plan was doomed to fail from the beginning.

It didn't work as he had wanted because Eijirou was too kind to do such things. Even if it meant that he was going to get punished, he couldn't bring himself to harden his own hand and begin to threaten others. Not to mention beat anyone either. It wasn't in his nature to do such horrible things.

He had seen the disappointment in his master's eyes when he realized that Eijirou wasn't worth the price he had paid of him in auction. And he showed it through different punishments and humiliation. But Eijirou was lucky too since his owner didn't want to have such an incomplete slave. As soon as he knew Eijirou was a mistake, he wanted to get rid of his useless slave.

And he did it.

Eijirou's second so called 'home' had been little bit better than his first one. His second owners were an older couple who were rich enough to live in a house that didn't look like it was going to fall apart at any moment. They even had a small garden and couple donkeys so Eijirou had felt like he was going to be in better hands.

At least some of the work there was familiar with him and just the presence of donkeys were enough to calm him. He knew how to handle them, his family had owned couple of them too so it was going to be easy, right?

Well, it felt like that at first.

He had taken care of the garden and the animals. He did house chores and helped them grow grapes that were going to be turned into a wine. The time he was at their house was the longest he had ever spent as a slave before getting sold again. The thought of finally finding owners who were going to treat him well was a big motivator for him to work his hardest. But at some point he started to notice something about them that he didn't like, or what made him feel kinda nervous.

It wasn't like he didn't get along with the couple. The old man seemed to like him enough and was willing to teach him. He even spared Eijirou couple times of getting whipping and punished when he made bigger mistakes. He appreciated him enough to make Eijirou feel like this was the place where he could see himself spend the rest of his pitiful slave life. And where he probably would be treated as human instead of a object.

But as it was obvious, someone had different plans for him.

The woman had taken a special liking on him.

At first it was innocent things like her giving Eijirou extra little tasks that weren't difficult at all but were a reason enough to keep him closer to her. When it was just asking him to help her with shopping trips or cooking, other times just casual conversations and spending more time to getting to know each other.

But at some point it started to turn into clear flirting and Eijirou couldn't help but feel awkward and even ashamed. He was so much younger than the woman and everything just felt shady and wrong in that situation. If he had given her some kind of signs that he was interested in something more than just typical slave and master relationship, then he needed to act before it gets out of hand.

What turned out to be hard was the way how he would turn down his mistress' extra kindness and attention. And the hardest part? He needed to find a way to do so without his master learning anything about the situation and what was going on.

She was tougher than he had thought and refusing her kindness was almost impossible. She seemed to find different ways to create moments where they would be alone without his husband being present.

As Eijirou tried to turn down her acts in the most polite ways he knew, he felt like it wasn't helping at all. He wasn't making any progress as the woman was trying harder every time he refused her.

The situation got out of the hand in the end when her husband found out what was going on. He was disappointed, but his disappointment seemed to direct toward Eijirou and he got punished again from trying to woo his wife. Eijirou wanted to explain everything and avoid the punishment but deep inside he knew he couldn't say anything to prove his innocence. So he took the punishment without complains. It felt like he was starting to get used to whipping at that point, he had already lost his counts about the times he and the whip met yet again.

It hadn't surprised him that after he got punished, the old man decided to get rid of him. Eijirou found himself at the slave market yet again. In some odd way it chewed him little by little because not only he was starting to be familiar sight there but also his self-esteem was dropping faster than ever.

He felt even more useless because his masters were changing way too fast in a short amount of time. He didn't know if it was common among the slaves with quirks but his life had started to feel like every day was the same typical rat race. At the end of the day he was either getting complains, punished or sold.

It really made him feel like he was bad at everything he does and that he's going to spend the rest of his life in this limbo.

His third and latest owner was just a drunk who was wasting his life with wine, beer and stupid evening gatherings with his friends. It was sad to watch how he was drinking his life away but then again it wasn't Eijirou's problem.

He had accidentally spilled some wine while serving him and his buddies which lead for him to get punished. Everything he did was either wrong and bad and even the drunkard got tired of him after too many mistakes and decided to make him disappear from his eyes.

And the most effective way for it was to sell him to architects who were starting their new projects and were looking for slaves with quirks and who would be useful.

As Eijirou quietly told everything about his previous owners, he couldn't help but feel some kind of emptiness. He felt like he wasn't good enough for anyone. He can't live as a free man, but he doesn't seem to be be able to serve anyone correctly either. He was between a rock and a hard place.

Eijirou could see Rikidou and Mezou getting more serious and upset, clearly thinking whether they should say something or not. But he didn't really need any pity at that moment. Pity wasn't going to help him.

Maybe a blessing from gods would do the trick.

At this point Eijirou was sure gods and goddesses had turned their backs on him and left him to struggle with his small and pitiful life.

He was already withering away so maybe everything was finally coming to an end. Sometimes he really hoped for something like that to happen.

On other days, the better ones, he couldn't help but feel like he shouldn't let go of this grip of the last remaining hope he still had.

There has to be a sparkle of hope left somewhere.

But where? 

Chapter Text

"Work faster!"

The sound of whip hitting the air was becoming so normal that it didn't make Eijirou wince as much as it used to before. He was getting used to it by now. And he knew that if he kept working hard and didn't slack at all, his chances of not getting whipped grew higher.

His emotions had been better lately and no matter how much the guards yelled at them and used the whip, something was definitely different now.

What he had noticed these past weeks was the fact that even small human contact can make miracles to your mind. He was sure at this point he could say Rikidou and Mezou were his friends.

They eat together, they talk a lot before going to sleep and it eases his mind. Even during the day time when they're working, either one of them is close to Eijirou and when they're very lucky, all three of them have same tasks and can keep an eye on each other without a worry.

His friendship with them was making progress with the way Eijirou felt about everything. Earlier he was slowly turning into a different person, becoming numb to everything that it scared him. To become someone else who he even couldn't recognize anymore. But now he was feeling like everything was slowly turning back to how it had been. Eijirou was even able to smile more again, something he had almost forgotten he was capable to do until Rikidou and Mezou decided to befriend him.

It didn't change the fact that the environment they were living and working was harsh and it wasn't unusual to see how some people were growing weak every single passing day. The food they were given wasn't always enough and the guards or even architects didn't seem to care about it. Sometimes Eijirou was sure that they were losing their humanity piece by piece, there's no way they would just watch and do nothing. No matter how many slaves they had working there, taking care of them was part of their job too and losing slaves would eventually just give them more harm than necessary.

And speaking about lack of food, Eijirou still had no idea where Rikidou and Mezou were getting all that extra food. He was suspecting that they were stealing it either from the guards or from somewhere else. It was wrong but then again he didn't complain or say anything about it. If he asked where they got that delicious meat or different fruits, they just smiled and told him it's from a friend. Every single time when Eijirou asked, the answer was always the same.

So he decided that it was no use to ask about it anymore. It was clear they were not going to tell him. Fair enough. The three of them ate all of the extra food in secret when other slaves were too busy or sleeping already, if guards got a wind of their little secret, they would be in trouble.

Eijirou didn't want to complain either because he was slowly gaining back the weight he had lost. His hands weren't as bonier anymore but definitely not back to normal either. But everything was getting slowly there. He knew he wasn't going to be like he used to be because of the heavy work but at least he didn't look like a walking corpse anymore. And it was enough for Eijirou, at least for now.

Everything was same as always. They carried heavy sacks of building material, others were making it and the last part of slaves were building the temple. Nothing different from normal. It was going to be another normal day in their life.

Except in the middle of working Eijirou suddenly heard a sound of horses cantering toward their area. At first he wasn't sure if his mind was just tricking him but as the sound of hooves hitting the ground got closer, he knew he didn't just imagine it.

That was definitely something different.

Eijirou turned his head toward the sound and he saw two grayish horses cantering toward the platform where the architects were with their papyrus full of designs for the temple and the statues what were going to finish the project at the end. They didn't seem to be surprised or bothered at all about the approaching chariot.

He stopped for a moment to move the sack from his right shoulder to the left one, at the same time buying little bit of time to admire those two horses. It was a rare sight here and he knew he had to admire them now because he wasn't going to see them after this.

The horses soon changed their canter into trotting and then slowed down to the walking, eventually stopping completely next to the platform. The man who had been in the chariot what the horses were pulling hopped off and walked to meet the architects, exchanging words with them and then checking their plans.

Eijirou felt an elbow poke his arm, moving his attention from the horse chariot to Mezou who was now standing next to him with two sacks of building material hanging on his shoulders.

"You better continue, that guard there just glanced at your way and is clearly checking if you're slacking or not. I can see him fidgeting the whip in his hand so I suggest we move now before he decides to punish us." Mezou slightly nodded his head toward the direction where the guard was and Eijirou quickly glanced that way before nodding back.

"Thanks. I guess I just spaced out again." Eijirou smiled quickly and Mezou couldn't help but roll his eyes and then snicker little bit. He was starting to understand Eijirou's personality more and more and this seemed to be something he noticed from him quite early. Indeed one of Eijirou's bad habits was letting his thoughts run free, making him sometimes forget what he was supposed to do.

But Mezou wanted to make sure that Eijirou doesn't do that too often. He didn't want to see him getting punished again and again over that kind of thing, so every time he could he brought Eijirou back to Earth from his thoughts.

"What was distracting you this time?" Mezou asked when they finally were able to lift the heavy weight from their shoulders and put it down with the other sacks that were left there.

Eijirou wiped his forehead and then watched the other boy before turning his gaze away. He didn't want to admit that the horses were enough to distract him this time but Mezou probably knew the reason already.

"Oh, was it the chariot?" Mezou asked and Eijirou sighed, nodding slightly. It was definitely the chariot what distracted him this time.

"I was just surprised because I thought all of the architects were already here and none of them use horse chariots." Eijirou admitted and followed when Mezo left to walk back to the start point where they would get more sacks to be carried here.

Mezou hummed in agreement, Eijirou did have a point. None of the architects used horses to move from place A to place B but he knew more than him. Mezou had seen that man before and recognized him, it was more of a surprise to him that he had paid a visit here this early.

"You're right, he isn't part of the architects who work here. He's Bakugou and he often visits to check these kind of projects when he has free time. It's a rare sight to see him here this early", Mezou explained. Eijirou couldn't hide the fact that the name didn't ring any bells at all. Unlike Mezou who seemed to recognize that man, Eijirou had no idea who he was or what he was doing here.

"Bakugou?"

"Yes, Bakugou. Masaru Bakugou, he's a member of the chariot unit in army. Quite a big deal, I've heard he has a part of the unit he leads. He's interested about architecture and designing too so whenever he has more time, he pays a visit to the closest construction sites. He has even helped to plan some of the buildings and statues."

Oh. That explained more things. Eijirou couldn't help but look again when they were closer to the platform. Indeed the brown haired man didn't look like the architects. He was wearing a leather armor around his torso while the architects were just wearing linen tunics and even silk sometimes if they were famous and rich enough.

They passed them quickly and Eijirou took this chance to take a final glance of the soldier. He never would have guessed that someone who's a soldier would be interested in this kind of thing. Who knows, maybe Masaru at some point wanted to be an architect or some kind of designer but for some reason he ended up as a soldier. And not just a soldier, leading part of the chariot unit was a big thing. Very manly too.

"There's another interesting thing about him", Mezou said and took a quick glance around him, making sure no one was close enough to hear what they were talking about. "His son has a quirk too. Well, that's what I've heard anyway."

Eijirou couldn't help but stare at him for couple minutes straight, almost forgetting where they were going or what they were supposed to do. Even his mouth was slightly open and it made Mezou chuckle, Eijirou was so honest with his feelings and thoughts sometimes. It was kinda adorable and made him act little bit childish but in a good way.

"You're joking, aren't you?" Eijirou asked but Mezou just shook his head.

"Nope. That's what I've heard. And I'm sure I once heard them talking about it too, his quirk is powerful enough but not visible all the time like mine. Lucky bastard if you ask me, must be nice to be respected and to be looked up. And to not worry about anything."

Eijirou noticed how Mezou clearly was little bit puzzled about the way this society worked but they didn't have time to start pondering about that. One of the guards noticed them walking slower and came over to yell at them to move faster if they didn't want to get punished.

The rest of the day felt like he was walking through some kind of strange haze.

Later that night when everyone else was fast asleep, Eijirou kept lying on his back and stare at the roof of the resting place. He was going through the information Mezou gave him earlier. It wasn't brought up again during their dinner but Eijirou wasn't able to ignore it either.

Like Mezou said, Masaru's son was lucky bastard indeed. Having a quirk and being respected. Great example of someone who was more than just blessed by gods. Eijirou didn't want to feel like he was jealous but he had to admit that the thought alone made him at least little bit jealous. Who wouldn't want to be treated well?

Society indeed is full of hypocrisy at its finest.


 

One night Eijirou noticed how Rikidou and Mezou were more fidgeting and active than normally. It wasn't really anything so visible and different from their normal behavior but he noticed it because he knew them better now to recognize that kind of behavior.

"Is everything okay?" Eijirou asked and took a bite of his bread. Something was definitely going on and he wanted to know what those two were up to.

They both seemed to be surprised that Eijirou asked that question.

"Huh? Oh, it's nothing. I think it's just the full moon making some of us restless. Sometimes it's just kinda hard trying to sleep during the night when it's full moon, you know. It's so bright and stuff", Rikidou squeaked quickly and Mezou nodded. They both probably were aware that Eijirou didn't believe that explanation at all but he just hummed in agreement.

"I guess. My little sister was always antsy during full moon and falling asleep was harder for her those nights." Eijirou never really spoke about his family but this time he decided to share a small piece of information. Nothing special or important really. He usually dodged questions about his family and his past because thinking about them hurt still. Not as much as it used to when he had just started his life as a slave.

Rikidou and Mezou appreciated it though. Every time when Eijirou felt comfortable enough to share more about his early life, they couldn't help but feel some kind of pride swell inside their chests. Eijirou trusted them enough to talk about this kind of subject what clearly hurt him at some level. And they knew speaking about the subject would ease the pain but they never pushed Eijirou at all.

They continued eating at peace until Mezou decided to break the silence what had fallen between them.

"Oh, I almost forgot I got some dates. Let's enjoy them before they go bad." Mezou showed the small bag what was filled with fresh dates and earned curious gaze from Eijirou. Where did he get fresh dates?

"I think I'll pass. I think my quirk sometimes activates after eating dates and I don't want it to happen here", Rikidou refused immediately. It made sense since his quirk increased his strength and he didn't need that to happen here.

"I thought so. It's okay, more for me and Eijirou." Mezou chuckled and offered the bag to Eijirou.

The dates looked delicious and refusing the offer would be rude and stupid, so Eijirou happily accepted them and took a handful of dates from the bag. He let the taste of bread disappear from his mouth before finally tasting one of the dates. Instant feeling of being in some kind of paradise took over his body and Eijirou found himself licking his lips after he had eaten the first date.

"That's delicious. Where did you get fresh dates?" Eijirou asked and Mezou scratched his neck and chuckled again.

"From a friend. But that's another story! They're good, aren't they? Next time I'll give you a whole bag of dates if you like them that much."

Eijirou wasn't satisfied by the fact that Mezou dodged his question but he couldn't help but sigh and eat another date. And dates were good enough to distract him from now on.

He was still curious about this friend and where they were getting all this extra food. And Eijirou was going to find out what's going on, no matter how secretive both Rikidou and Mezou tried to be.

So when everyone was fast asleep, Eijirou stubbornly kept staying awake even though this could turn out to be waste of his time and energy. He was curious though, Rikidou and Mezou had been so out of character the whole night that he has to know what was going on.

And his final conclusion was that they were meeting this friend of theirs during the night when everyone else is sleeping. There simply wasn't any time during the day and since all of that extra food kept appearing almost every day, Eijirou just knew something was going on. How often they met that friend? No idea. But he decided that tonight he'll find out.

He waited.... and waited.... and waited.... But nothing happened.

Eijirou couldn't help but sigh and when he was about to finally give up and go to sleep, he heard something. At least he thought he heard, it sounded like one of them just whispered something so quietly that he almost missed it.

He closed his eyes and listened. Rikidou and Mezou stayed silent after that, but after waiting enough, he heard them getting up and starting to walk toward the door.

Eijirou carefully opened his eyes slightly, watching as his friends were sneaking their way out of the resting place. But before they completely vanished from his sight, Mezou turned around to take a final glance at the room. Eijirou had quickly closed his eyes again and pretended to be asleep. Good thing he used to stay up late listening his parents' conversations, these skills were useful now.

When he couldn't hear them anymore at the room, Eijirou opened his eyes and as quietly as he could he got up. This was getting interesting and he wanted to know very badly where Rikidou and Mezou were sneaking at this hour of the night.

He tiptoed his way out of the room as well, being careful to where he stepped because he didn't want to wake up anyone else. If someone saw them sneaking out of the resting place and informed guards, they were going to be in big trouble. He didn't even want to imagine what kind of punishment would wait them.

If his curiosity wasn't getting the best of him, he would still be pondering whether he should follow them or not. But since Eijirou had always been such a curious person, he couldn't help himself.

He just has to know what they were doing and where they were going.

It was little bit nervous to step out of the house, Eijirou kept glancing around incase guards were lurking just around the corner. He started to understand what was making his friends so fidgeting earlier, it was the full moon what was illuminating everything. It made it harder to sneak away since the chance of getting caught was higher than usual.

Eijirou bit his lip while observing the area, making extra sure guards weren't anywhere nearby before he finally left the house. It didn't take him long to find the way those two had walked, if he focused enough he could see couple silhouettes far away.

He took a deep breath, deciding whether this is a good idea or not. But it was like his feet were moving on their own, Eijirou was following them and ignoring the little voice inside his head that told him this wasn't a good idea. He should be asleep and getting energy for the next day.

Well damn that, he wanted to solve this little mystery since Rikidou and Mezou never told him where they got the food or who that mysterious friend is.

If they didn't want to tell him, then Eijirou was going to find out about it by himself.

He realized soon how hard it was to follow those two, especially because Mezou's quirk made him notice even the most quiet sounds too. So when Mezou and Rikidou stopped to glance behind to make sure they weren't followed, Eijirou always hide behind a house or a stone or whatever there was at that moment to help him.

He knew Rikidou and Mezou weren't stupid either and the more they had to stop to look back and make sure they weren't followed, the more they began to doubt about everything.

It was getting harder and harder to stay at their tracks and keep up with them without Eijirou revealing himself. So far he had done good job with it and he was surprised that they hadn't noticed him. Well, at least that's what he hoped for. It would be little bit embarrassing if they found out about Eijirou sneaking around and following them and he wasn't sure how they'd react to it.

The walk felt like never ending dream and Eijirou had no idea how long they had been walking already. The resting place was far away and so was the construction site as well. The guards hadn't even noticed them either so it left him wondering why Rikidou and Mezou just didn't escape. This was way too easy for them and Eijirou was at this point sure they did this very often.

As the surroundings started to change, Eijirou finally was able to see where those two were heading for.

Ahead of them was a temple, not as big as the ones Eijirou had seen but it was decent enough. In front of it stood a giant statue of a god with head of a falcon and Eijirou recognized that god.

This was a temple of Horus, or at least it had been at one point. Now it looked like time had beaten it and the building was starting to crumble, but still it looked like someone was taking care of it regularly.

What Rikidou and Mezou were doing here at the time like this?

Eijirou hid behind another big rock when he noticed his friends stopping at the front of the temple. They waited for a while before third person walked out of the building and then they began to talk. They kept their voices down so Eijirou couldn't really hear anything they said. But at that point he didn't really care about it at all. The sight of this new person made Eijirou gasp in surprise.

He wasn't surprised because there was a third person. He had expected there to be one. But it was the person's look what surprised him and caught him off guard completely.

The third person was wearing a tunic with black and white stripes on it, similar to what priests often wore except the coloring. He was rather short compared to Mezou and Rikidou who looked like they were towering beside him. But Eijirou had never expected to see that his head was bird's head instead of human head.

Was there a real god among them? Was Horus himself here?

Eijirou started to back away slowly, not sure what to think of this and starting to regret that he ever decided to follow those two. What he didn't notice was another stone, much smaller than the one what was hiding him. His left foot hit the stone and Eijirou found himself losing his balance completely, falling on his butt and groaning in sudden pain. Damn, why hadn't he paid more attention to his surroundings?

The conversation at the temple's door quieted down and Eijirou was sure they had heard him.

Damn it, what was he going to say to them? What if Rikidou and Mezou were unhappy about the fact that he followed them?

The night air was a lot more chilly than the air during daytime, but Eijirou still felt couple drops of sweat forming on his forehead. He had no idea why he was suddenly so stressed out about Rikidou and Mezou finding out about his presence here, maybe the guy with bird head was the reason. Or maybe he thought that they would think he didn't trust them enough and that's why he'd track them down.

"Dark Shadow, find the intruder."

As Eijirou was getting up from the ground, a sudden shadow appeared in front of him. His eyes widened in fear as he was faced with a birdlike shadow. Eijirou managed to harden his hands and part of his face before the shadow wrapped around him and without any problems he was lifted in air. Like he was as light as a single feather.

If he tried to wiggle out of its grip, the shadow just tightened around him, not giving him any chances to escape from the situation or its grip. No matter how Eijirou tried, he was trapped and couldn't do anything else than just give up.

"What should I do with him?" the shadow asked when it got closer to the trio. All three of them inspected the intruder under the moonlight. Luckily Rikidou and Mezou both realized very quickly who has been eavesdropping them.

"It's okay to let him go, Dark Shadow. He's our friend Eijirou." Mezou said calmly while turning has gaze toward the boy with bird head, the one where the shadow was attached to. He glanced Mezou back before nodding and telling the shadow to let him go.

Eijirou let out a sigh of relief when he felt the ground under his feet again, the shadow unwrapping itself around him before retreating back behind its master.

Still, he had his hands hardened in case he needed to defend himself. Even though the shadow was away from him, Eijirou was still shaken up and didn't really trust this situation. But as Rikidou began to calm him down, Eijirou ended up letting his guard down eventually and his hands reverted back to normal.

"What are you doing here, Eijirou?" Rikidou asked when he was sure he wasn't on the defense mood anymore.

Eijirou felt his cheeks getting warmer and he turned his gaze away for a moment. He felt like he was a child who was caught doing something naughty. Honestly, maybe in some way this was exactly like that. He got caught after following his friends.

"I'm sorry. I just got curious." Eijirou wanted to disappear, he wanted the ground to swallow him so he doesn't have to face Rikidou and Mezou again. He was waiting for some kind of reaction, knowing very well that all three of them were watching him. Or four, if the shadow thing was counted in as a person too.

He got surprised when he heard his friends laugh at him and he couldn't hide it either. His gaze turned back to the trio and both Mezou and Rikidou were laughing. Not in a mean way, they were still surprised but at the same time they found the whole situation funny.

"You did quite good job keeping with us while dodging our gazes. I felt like we were followed but every time when we stopped to investigate it, we didn't notice you. Good job with that." Mezou laughed while looking at Eijirou's direction. He better be proud of himself, if Mezou didn't notice him then it meant he did good job with the tracking and following.

After they laughed for a minute or two, both Rikidou and Mezou got serious. The smiles disappeared from their faces and then the gazes Eijirou got were disapproving.

"But seriously, that was stupid thing to do. It's full moon and if you get caught by the guards, only gods and goddesses know what happens to you. The punishment will be the worst of all. Architects don't joke around when they deal with disobedient slaves." Mezou continued and Eijirou couldn't help but lower his head little bit, letting his bangs hide his eyes from the others. He knew Mezou didn't mean anything bad, if anything he was more worried than angry.

"Give him some credit. He didn't get caught, he even managed to fool you. That's amazing accomplishment if you ask me." the boy with bird head stepped in before Mezou managed to scold Eijirou even more than necessary. "Besides, you two are sneaking in here too. Maybe even way too often."

Eijirou noticed him walking closer to him and when he lifted his gaze from the ground, the third boy was standing right in front of him. The shadow behind him made Eijirou tense up little bit, but he didn't feel like a cornered animal at all. In fact, he didn't feel so bad or anguished anymore.

"I'm Fumikage. And you're Eijirou, aren't you? These two have told me about you. It's nice to see you in person finally and to see someone else beside Rikidou and Mezou in general. As you can see why, I don't really leave this place at all." He introduced himself but when the shadow behind him complained something, Fumikage sighed loudly.

"And this is Dark Shadow. Sorry for scaring you but it's easier to make him search any unwelcome visitors." Fumikage introduced the shadow as well and Eijirou watched as Dark Shadow leaned over his shoulder and greeted him as well with a little 'helloo'.

Eijirou, being overwhelmed with different feelings, couldn't say anything. He just nodded awkwardly and tried to figure out what he was supposed to say now. Greeting a shadow like creature was definitely something he least expected to do here.

"I think you broke him already." Rikidou laughed after seeing how Eijirou was clearly out of words to say at that exact moment. Mezou smirked and agreed, indeed it seemed to be that way.

Fumikage glanced at their way before sighing and focusing back on Eijirou.

"Wanna grab something to eat? I have plenty of spare food, that's the main reason those two keep visiting me."

"Don't be like that. We know you'd be sad if we stopped visiting you." Mezou was now smiling but Fumikage just ignored him. He didn't even spare a single gaze at his direction.

"In your dreams, Mezou. In your dreams."


 

Eijirou learned one or two thing about Fumikage that night.

First, he wasn't Horus like he had thought earlier, not a god either. His head resembled bird's head only because of his quirk. Well, it was part of his quirk. Dark Shadow was his main quirk if you could call it that. The shadow wasn't really shadow, more like a creature that lived inside him. It even has its own personality so Fumikage wasn't really anything else than a host to it. He didn't control it that much. They more of cooperated with everything than just him controlling it.

Eijirou had never heard anything like that. A quirk that made you to be a host to some kind of creature. It sounded horrible but Fumikage didn't seem to mind it at all. Except during the times when Dark Shadow went berserk, which usually happens when it's exposed to darkness. That night the moonlight was keeping it on the line but if it had been new moon, Eijirou may not be so lucky as he was.

The second thing what he learned about Fumikage was the fact that he lives in a temple of Horus. At least it had been at one point. More and more people started to forget it when the new temple was built and they preferred to go there instead.

It didn't mean the temple where Fumikage lives is completely abandoned. There's still quite a lot of people who come there almost every day to give their offerings to Horus. The extra food Rikidou and Mezou brought was actually just part of the food that was offered directly to Fumikage. And he got that treatment a lot. Some people didn't want to accept that he's just a kid with a quirk, instead thinking he's real Horus or at least an envoy of the said god.

Yes, it was kinda awkward for Fumikage but he didn't complain since he got free food and a place to stay. He didn't want to leave the temple anymore, he didn't want to freak out people or take a chance that he'd become a part of slave trade. In return he took care of the temple as much as he could.

Rikidou and Mezou just happened to meet him couple years ago and even though they were moved from one construction site to another, they kept their contact with their friend. They just had to sneak out when they wanted to meet him. Fumikage had offered many times that if they ever decide to escape, they're always welcomed to the temple with him.

Eijirou couldn't help but feel a little jealous about their friendship. But at the same time he was happy that Fumikage was there and he was friends with Rikidou and Mezou. They all seemed to be in good terms and benefit from that friendship.

One thing what Eijirou also learned in a hard way was that it was a mistake to follow Rikidou and Mezou that night. They returned back to the resting place very late and getting back to sleep was almost impossible. Well, at least for Eijirou because he was going through everything in his mind.

Rikidou and Mezou had fallen asleep faster than he would snap his fingers. They were out like a candle while Eijirou just couldn't help but organize everything he had learned that night.

It really was a mistake because he didn't get enough sleep that night.

And it definitely backfired against him the next day during the working.

"Hey, are you okay?" Rikidou asked when he managed to catch Eijirou and walk next to him, carrying another sack of sand and watching his friend worriedly. Eijirou quickly smiled to him and nodded, he didn't want to make him feel too worried.

"Yeah, just didn't get enough sleep last night." He answered and then could feel a gentle slap coming from behind to his head.

"That's why you weren't supposed to follow us. We've gotten used to that little habit and the occasional lack of sleep." Mezou scolded, keeping his voice so quiet that only Eijirou and Rikidou heard him. Rikidou chuckled and shook his head but he was still little worried.

Even though he was getting scolded, Eijirou just couldn't hep but smile back at them, letting his typical toothy smile show for a moment. It had taken some time for him to be able to smile like that, but with Rikidou and Mezou he felt himself calm enough to smile that way.

After they managed to take the sacks where they were supposed to go, Rikidou went to help someone else while Eijirou and Mezou walked back to the start point. They expected getting more heavy sacks, but this time they both had to carry giant pots of water to where the sacks were left.

Eijirou and Mezou walked next to each other until something caught Eijirou's attention completely. He turned his gaze to the left and there it was.

A single black horse was galloping toward the construction area. Only one horse, not two like usually when horses were pulling the chariots. Eijirou had seen them do so only a few times while being in the city and there's always two horses.

Couple guards seemed to move their gazes toward the source of the sound too. The horse was getting closer fast and at one point Eijirou even got scared that it was going to gallop right through the area, ignoring every working slave and just ram its way through the slaves.

He heard how the horse let out loud neigh while it was getting closer. Eijirou could feel the tension going through his whole body, he was really afraid that the horse was going to ram its way through the slaves without thinking it twice. At least he could always harden himself enough to not get hurt but others won't be as lucky. But he was surprised when Mezou sighed right next to him.

"Great. It's him now."

Eijirou wanted to ask what Mezou mean and he probably would have done that if he wasn't so fixated on the horse.

The horse suddenly made sharp turn when it was close to the slaves and then continued galloping toward the platform where the architects were standing. Surprisingly even they had stopped whatever they were doing and just watched as the horse and its rider got closer.

And then the horse stopped at its tracks and Eijirou was scared for a moment that the person on its back would fall from that speed. But no, he had no trouble sitting there. Even when the clearly irritated horse tossed its head couple times before trying to stand on its hind legs. But the boy on its back was faster and reacted immediately, stopping his steed from doing that.

Eijirou almost forgot how to breath for a moment as he watched the scene.

The horse was gorgeous already, the way the sunlight made its completely dark coat shine little bit. It looked like it didn't belong to this world at all, no. It was more like a horse that only gods and goddesses could ride. And he was sure that the horse knew how beautiful it is as well.

"That's dangerous, isn't it? You shouldn't do these kind of tricks. Horses are better to be used to pull the chariots." one of the architects said, clearly not amused by the show.

"Oh shut up you extras, you can settle for camels but I want something more."

The rider got down from the black horse's back and Eijirou got a better look at him.

A big mistake.

Eijirou had seen beautiful people before. Yes, nothing wrong with that. But he had never seen someone who was so beautiful that he forgot what he was doing or how to breath.

The ash blond hair, the way kohl made his eyes stand out more, his fine upper body what was showing since he was wearing only a loincloth. A very expensive looking loincloth, mind you. The quick smirk that appeared on his face.

"That's the son of Masaru. Katsuki Bakugou. It's rare that he came here instead of his father. But I guess his father was way too busy today so he sent him instead." Mezou whispered while he nudged Eijirou with his elbow, trying to get him back from whatever fantasy world he was falling into right now. They couldn't just stand there and watch, they have work to do.

"I see..." Eijirou mumbled and felt how his cheeks were getting little bit warmer. But at the same time he was thinking about the fact that it is the son Mezou was talking about one day. The one with quirk. Well, seeing him now with his very own eyes, Eijirou understood why he was in a better position. It's unfair but that's just how everything works.

Eijirou may have been lost way too much into his thoughts that in the end he dropped the giant pot full of water and as expected it broke, wasting all the water he had carried so far.

He got punished but this time it didn't matter. It was his own fault anyway.

That blonde had stolen his thoughts for a moment.

Chapter Text

Katsuki Bakugou ended up visiting the construction site couple other times too. Eijirou noticed his presence every time when he arrived, whether it was in a chariot with his father or just him being stubborn and riding that black horse again. Even one time he arrived to the construction site with his horse, only for his father to show up little bit later with a chariot.

Every time Eijirou had to remind himself that he can't just stop everything he's doing and stare at him. The first time when he dropped the pot full of water and got punished was enough. But still, whenever he had a chance, he stole glances at him.

He just couldn't wrap his head around the fact that Katsuki Bakugo is in a way similar to him, but only because he has a quirk too. But while Eijirou and others are working their asses off, Katsuki could do whatever he wanted without a worry of someone stealing his freedom. It was unfair and Eijirou had seen and heard how Mezou and Rikidou were in a way not very happy that he was hanging around the area.

But Eijirou didn't complain. Yes, he too was jealous of the position Katsuki was in, but he couldn't dislike his presence at all. The way he rode that black horse, the way sun hugged his tan and muscular body. The way his ash blond hair looked like a soft cloud just waiting to be touched.

In every way he was elegant looking and gorgeous, but at the same time very manly too. At least Eijirou thought so.

Katsuki was everything he wasn't. Eijirou on the other hand was just plain normal, nothing special at all. And while Eijirou had seen people he considered beautiful before, Katsuki Bakugou just took the whole cake. Like a cherry on top of it.

Rikidou and Mezou noticed very quickly how Eijirou seemed to look forward of seeing Bakugou family here. Well, mostly Katsuki. The way his thoughts began to sidetrack a lot when he was around was painfully obvious clue. It was typical Eijirou behavior but the timing for it was always wrong. In the middle of working under harsh eyes of the Egyptian guards was definitely not the correct time or place to have your thoughts fly into somewhere else.

They confronted him about it couple times during the night when they were eating their dinner, but Eijirou denied everything. Not completely but mostly. He just told them he was amazed by the way he handled the horse and that he has a quirk and is still a free man. Even though he never has seen his quirk.

Other slaves probably would buy everything Eijirou told them but Mezou and Rikidou had learned more about him and his personality, so they knew better.

Eijirou admired Katsuki. That's the fact. He didn't look like he was that much of a jealous of him and his position, he admired and looked up to him. Fair enough.

There was nothing wrong about it as long as Eijirou didn't fall into his own little world. Which he unfortunately seemed to do more often than usual. It always ended up him getting punished, the guards getting really tired of having to tell him to move and work. Rikiodu and Mezou tried to keep him focused on the work but Katsuki clearly was taking his thoughts somewhere else.

They were scared that it would get worse and out of hand but eventually Katsuki stopped visiting the area. His father occasionally came to help the architects or share his opinions about the designs.

Eijirou got little disappointed when only Masaru started visiting the place but after a while he seemed to forget that Katsuki Bakugou even exists. At least that is what his friend thought.

Maybe that was the best thing to happen. Katsuki messed up with his attention enough so him not being there was like a blessing for motivation.

Sometimes during the nights Eijirou wondered about Katsuki. If he ever had a chance, he would want to ask him how it feels like to be on top of the hierarchy, while people who share same kind of abilities are forced to work until they're so weak they die. Maybe he wouldn't care at all, but Eijirou always wondered that. Ever since he was brought to the slave market for the first time.

How can people with quirks just watch while others similar to them are oppressed? Cornered like an animal and forced to give up their freedom?

It would be really interesting to hear another opinion from someone in the position where Katsuki is.

But there was no way Eijirou would ever have a chance for it.


 

"Are you alright? You seem kinda off lately." Fumikage's words turned all the attention on him. All four of them were sitting on the floor of one of the temple's smaller rooms and eating a melon they had cut into smaller pieces earlier. Fumikage's red eyes were on Eijirou and he was studying the expression on his face, trying to figure out what was going on in other boy's mind.

Mezou and Rikidou turned their gazes to Eijirou as well, making him feel like he had done something wrong and they were interrogating him.

"Me? Everything's fine, I swear. I guess I was just lost in my thoughts as usual", Eijirou answered, laughing quietly and then taking a bite of the piece of melon in his hand. He tried to ignore the gazes that were on him but it was hard.

"He's upset that Katsuki Bakugou hasn't visited the construction site lately." Eijirou's gaze moved on Mezou who was smirking, knowing he was more than right even if the other tried to deny it.

"No! I mean, maybe but it's not like I'm sad about it or anything." Gosh, Eijirou felt like he was making everything just worse than it was already. Mezou chuckled in a friendly way while Rikidou sighed.

He wasn't really sad about it. Maybe little bit disappointed because it was always such an astonishing view when the blonde was handling the black horse, making it look like their minds had combined together when he was on the animal's back. If anything, Katsuki was so damn manly that Eijirou couldn't hide his admiration at all.

"Don't tease him. It's not nice, you know", Rikidou said while nudging Mezou with his elbow. They started to argue for a moment playfully and while they were at it, Eijirou felt how Fumikage was the only one who was staring at him now. He didn't care about the two other boys or their argument, he just watched Eijirou and studied him.

Eijirou turned his gaze away again and just watched the room they were in. It was full of candles to light it completely, only small shadows in the corners were dancing with the light coming from the fire. Couple bigger statues of Horus felt like they were staring right at him and judging him, like the pictures carved and painted on the walls too.

This wasn't really the kind of situation he wanted to be in. He knew Mezou wasn't making fun of him or anything, just friendly joking as friends usually do. But Eijirou wasn't sure about that because he never had any real friends before. Luckily he knew more about Mezou and Rikidou, so he knew he wasn't being an asshole or anything.

"There's nothing wrong to admire someone like him, you know. I've never seen any of them but I've heard enough to know that Bakugou family is admired. It has something to do with the military background they have", Fumikage said while shrugging his shoulders. He has a point though, of course they would be seen that way. It makes sense so much but still Eijirou felt like he was starting to overthink it now since Mezou was calling him out about it.

Eijirou sighed quietly and focused on eating instead. He listened what his friends were talking about around him, very quickly they changed the subject to something other since they didn't want to keep talking about Bakugous.

He had to admit that he was really curious. Everyone else seemed to know so much more about the Bakugou family while Eijirou had never even heard of the name before. Maybe he just hasn't been slave long enough or live in the city that much to hear of them.

Well, it wasn't important though. It wasn't like he's going to serve them ever so there is no need to think about them either.

The conversation died down eventually and they were silent for a moment. It was appreciated silence, nothing awkward or awful.

Eijirou had started to follow Mezou and Rikidou whenever they sneaked out to meet Fumikage. At first they didn't approve this, but after a while they just gave up when they realized how insistent and stubborn Eijirou could be. It was hilarious at times too, he really acted like a little child sometimes. They didn't see it as a bad sign because Eijirou was just getting more and more of his real personality back. And the way he was always pouting when they tried to refuse him was adorable.

As long as he could do his work during the day with the little lack of sleep, it was okay for him to follow them.

Fumikage seemed to be surprised at first when Eijirou began to appear at the temple more, but after a while he accepted the fact that he was part of the deal now. He didn't dislike him at all, Eijirou was clearly the type of person who could be friends with everyone no matter how different their personality is from his.

And Fumikage was interested to see how Eijirou was slowly becoming out of his shell, the walls he had built around his real personality were cracking and breaking down. He was turning from a nervous and easily frightened little mouse to a bright and bubbly person. He could be described as a literal ray of sunshine, just the way he smiled created soft and gracious aura around him. The change was amazing and Fumikage was kinda proud of being part of it.

Even Dark Shadow didn't freak Eijirou out anymore. At first he was clearly afraid of it and it was understandable. Dark Shadow isn't exactly the kind of thing or a quirk that people need to see. But after seeing it enough Eijirou just got used to its presence whenever it was showing itself.

Well, even though he was used to Dark Shadow by now, he didn't want to see what would happen if it was under little to no light at all. Fumikage had told him what would happen and the thought of it was enough for Eijirou to think about it only.

The nights at the temple were always calm and peaceful, letting them have a rest in a different way. Of course they were left with a lack of sleep every time but being somewhere else than in the middle of resting place for slaves was worth it. Fumikage appreciated it too, even though he didn't always let it show from his expressions or words. At first Eijirou had been little anxious about what he would think of him tagging along with the others but Mezou and Rikidou convinced him that Fumikage was okay with it.

Eventually the calm silence was taking over them, letting the atmosphere turn even more relaxing that it had been before. Eijirou really enjoyed being here instead of the resting place. Something about the way it was cramped out and full of mixed emotions affected him and his moods as well. It reminded him the ugly truth of the slavery. He was getting good at turning his gaze away from the things what made him upset during the day time but it was another thing during the night when he couldn't move his eyes away.

And maybe one blonde boy had helped him getting distracted during the days, too.

"What's going to happen to us after the temple is finished?" Eijirou asked out of nowhere, earning curious gazes from his friends. He really hadn't thought of it before but now he couldn't help but wonder. Mezou and Rikidou seemed to know more about this stuff than him, anyway.

Eijirou realized at that moment that he really didn't know anything about this kind of life. The life of slave. He has been a slave for how many months now? He can't remember exactly how long. Losing the track of time has been one of the biggest mistakes but it's not like Eijirou wanted for that to happen. It just kinda did on its own.

Fumikage looked like he had something on his mind but instead it was Rikidou who answered to his question. "It really depends whether Pharaoh and the people like it. If the architects did good job with it, they'll most likely start another project soon. Some of the slaves might be sold but it's rare, except if they find better ones. You know, the ones who are a lot better than just regular slaves."

He didn't want to say exactly what kind of slaves architects seemed to prefer but it was obvious without saying the word out loud. They were interested in the slaves with quirks, they could be used twice as hard as the normal ones. Especially the ones with quirks that makes them physically more fit than others.

"You know, most of the slaves here are meant to be only workers in construction sites. But there is some who are borrowed from their masters. Then there's also normal people. Paid laborers. That's messed up, you know? Putting slaves and normal people side to side, only for the others to be paid by the work while we're paying with our lives." Mezou usually wasn't a party pooper but he couldn't help himself at this subject.

But he was right. It was absurd idea that slaves were working 'till the last breath left from them, while some other people here worked and got paid as well. They most likely were not whipped at all either.

And now that Eijirou thought about it more, it made sense. He had seen people in better tasks. People who wore a little better clothes than slaves. Even a situation where someone made a mistake and normally guards would whip the hell out of them, but instead they just let that person go with a warning, knowing that they weren't a slave. Only slaves earned whipping from their mistakes.

"You know, if you ever want to make a run for it, this temple is always open for you. I mean, sure the guards will search you for a while but eventually they'll forget you even exist. They are busy with others." Fumikage decided to take a part of the conversation, offering a safe place for them in case they wanted to escape from the construction site.

Judging by the reactions of Rikidou and Mezou, Eijirou figured out this probably wasn't the first time when Fumikage had made this kind of offering. He could remember him offering that even when Eijirou was here at the first time, when he had been secretly following and eavesdropping them. It made sense and if he has to be honest, Eijirou wondered why those two didn't accept it the first time they got it. But it wasn't his job to bug them and ask those kind of questions. If they want to talk about it, then they will talk when the timing is right.

The sudden appearance of Dark Shadow made everyone almost jump. No one really expected it to appear like that at the time like this.

"What is it, Dark Shadow?" Fumikage asked when the shadow creature was acting up more than usual, moving its head back and forth, from left to right while paying extra attention to its surrounding.

"Someone's lurking around. It's him again. Want me to finally scare him away?"

Fumikage sighed while others watched him curiously, trying to understand what Dark Shadow was talking about.

"Excuse me, I have to deal with this." Fumikage apologized while getting up, clearly irritated by whatever was happening.

"Are you in trouble, Fumikage? Need some help?" Mezou asked worriedly but the other just shook his head.

"It's not a big deal. Just wait a moment, I'll be back soon."

They watched as Fumikage left the small room where they were, Dark Shadow leaning at his shoulder for a while before it disappeared again. Probably its host told it to hide. It's understandable, Dark Shadow most likely freaked out everyone who saw it for the first time and at this time of the night it wasn't worth to scare anyone.

When they couldn't see him anymore, they exchanged confused gazes.

"Well that was strange", Rikidou was the first one to say something and both Mezou and Eijirou agreed. They were worried that Fumikage was in trouble, but the way he reacted to Dark Shadow's words didn't imply that at all. It was more like something that happened often and he was used to it, maybe even annoyed by it.

Mezou glanced at the direction where Fumikage had left before shaping one of his arms into an ear, trying to hear what was going on. It was also a sign for Eijirou and Rikidou to stay silent while he was listening them. They kept staring at Mezou, waiting for some kind of change in his expression but he was just focusing on to eavesdropping Fumikage and the other person Dark Shadow was talking about.

Somehow Eijirou expected to some kind of commotion happen outside the temple but that never happened. Rikidou and Mezou didn't seem to know anything about this either, so they probably need to ask Fumikage to explain everything.

It felt like he was gone for hours when in reality it was more of a fifteen minutes at most.

So when Fumikage finally walked back, he was met with curious gazes. Mezou had turned his hand back to normal, not really wanting to show that he had been eavesdropping. Fumikage probably knew about it though, but he didn't really care.

"Everything okay?" Rikidou asked when Fumikage sat back down to his own spot.

"Yeah. It's just tiring to face that guy almost every other night. Persistent jerk if you ask me. Maybe I should let Dark Shadow finally scare him away so I can be in peace" It was rare to see Fumikage speak that way, especially about someone. He was polite enough most of the time so Eijirou was caught off guard when he suddenly turned his tone into complete opposite way.

"How long has this been going on?" Mezou sounded little bit worried but Fumikage seemed to take this thing rather easy, just finding it annoying that it happened so often.

And so Fumikage began to explain everything.

The man who kept bugging him was twisted one, one he would describe as a collector. Collecting everything exotic and different was his hobby. And it wasn't just goodies he was interested in. No, he was curious about people with quirks.

Apparently he had set his eyes on Fumikage at the moment he had seen him for the first time. For someone like him, his looks was peculiar but at the same time interesting. Also since some people seemed to see him as Horus or something other close to gods, it made him only bugging Fumikage even harder.

He didn't know about Dark Shadow, in fact only a handful of people knew about it. Rikidou, Mezou and Eijirou were part of it.

"Maybe you should really let Dark Shadow scare him away. I'm sure he won't come back anymore after that." Mezou suggested and they all managed to chuckle to the idea.

"Mm, maybe I should. But then again I don't want him to spread rumors about it. Dark Shadow isn't exactly something people could understand. Only gods know what happens if they learn about it." Fumikage's voice was serious and he had a point. If people learned about Dark Shadow, who knows what they'll do to him after that. They probably won't see him as a godlike figure anymore and maybe even try to get rid of him.

They dropped the subject very quickly after that and everything went back to normal. Just small talk, chuckling and for dessert they had some fresh dates and even date loaves. Eijirou never had tasted it but the loaf left him licking his lips afterwards. It was delicious and he wished that Fumikage would give him a small piece of it when they leave.

Before they even noticed, it was time to pack up things and leave. At least if they wanted to have some sleep before the work began again.

"Are you not coming with us, Eijirou?" Rikidou asked when he and Mezou were already outside the temple, waiting for him to follow them.

"I have something I want to talk with Fumikage. You two can go ahead, I'll be following you soon." Eijirou watched as Rikidou and Mezou glanced each other before nodding and leaving. They didn't have to worry about him, he knew the way back and he wasn't going to stay here too long.

When both of them had disappeared from his view, Eijirou turned around and saw Fumikage standing close to him, clearly curious about what he wanted to talk with him.

"So, you wanted to talk?" Fumikage asked after short silence and Eijirou nodded, trying to form some kind of sentences in his head. It shouldn't be hard since Fumikage had earlier offered it, but still he didn't want to give an impression that he was nosy or meddlesome.

"Is it really okay if we move in the temple with you? I mean, I don't know about Rikidou and Mezou but sometimes I feel like I can't handle this kind of life. I'm not good enough to do anything, I mess up a lot and I've lost the count of how many times I've gotten whipped. I'm willing to take a risk and escape if it means that there is a place where I can go. I know this isn't very manly at all but if you were serious, I'll gladly accept your offer."

Eijirou had never said these words out loud, never admitted how he really felt about himself and his skills. His family had gotten rid of him because of his quirk and because they needed money, very understandable. His previous owners all got rid of him as well when they realized he wasn't good at anything in particular and messed up things. That's understandable as well. And what he had seen and experience in the construction site, he felt like he wasn't good even at the simplest of the simple tasks. Maybe it was his bad habit of getting distracted but still, he hated the fact that he was feeling pretty useless all the time.

Fumikage tilted his head slightly while he listened Eijirou, clearly taken aback by the words. It was probably hard to understand those words coming from someone like Eijirou. He had heard about the way Eijirou had been from Rikidou and Mezou, back when he was brought to the construction site and isolated himself from others.

But then again when Eijirou started to visit here, all Fumikage ever saw was kindness and a person who clearly was made to smile. Well, of course he had been careful at first, not showing his true emotions or let the walls he built around his real personality crack. But slowly that plan had started to fail and when Eijirou finally was showing his real personality, Fumikage always felt bad that someone like him was forced into slavery.

He had never seen anyone like him before.

"I wasn't joking when I made that offer. Rikidou and Mezou are both stubborn, I'm not quite sure either why they haven't escaped when they clearly have chances but it doesn't mean I'm going to turn them away if they decide to do so. And I'm not going to turn you away either. This temple's doors are always open for you too." Fumikage's voice was surprisingly soothing, it probably had something to do with the way Eijirou talked about himself and his feelings.

His words earned a small smile from the other boy and he was visibly relieved. "Thank you Fumikage, this means so much to me." Eijirou thanked. His eyes were getting little teary but he stubbornly hold his tears back, it wasn't time to cry. And he didn't want to cry over nothing, though this was big thing and it's not a shame to cry.

They talked little bit more about the subject, agreeing that it wasn't good for Eijirou to immediately ditch the construction site and leave. They'd have to plan this through before anything could be carried out.

As they walked out of the temple finally, Eijirou stopped and turned around to face Fumikage with a little smirk on his face.

"By the way, if that jerk is still bugging you by the time I'll be here, we're going to do something about him. I won't watch through my fingers if he keeps bothering you. That's what friends are for, right?" Eijirou claimed while hitting his clenched fists together and even hardening part of his face and his arms. It was for the show mostly, to prove that he was serious about it. If Fumikage was having trouble with someone, Eijirou wasn't going to ignore it.

Fumikage couldn't help but chuckle, something he very rarely did and nodded. "Well I guess that's what we're going to do. But you better leave now or else you won't be able to get any sleep. We can start to plan things next time you come here."

Eijirou nodded and smiled his big toothy smile while he turned his skin back to normal and began to leave. He was in a high spirits because the idea of getting out of the slavery was something he had only dreamed from the very first night. But now it felt real and he couldn't hide his excitement at this moment.

Fumikage watched as his friend began to disappear from the view, finally letting out that sigh what he had been holding this whole time.

He was little bit worried about Eijirou. His real personality was showing, the walls clearly cracked to the point where he was getting comfortable to let them see more. He was the kind of person who was very nice to have around. But he noticed something what Rikidou and Mezou probably hadn't.

There was a very small part of doubt and even self-hate what Eijirou seemed to bear with him. It was mostly hidden under that bubbly person he was becoming again, but Fumikage could see through him. He recognized those emotions very well.

It really made him worry about him.


 

"Someone's been in a good mood lately. What happened?" Rikidou asked after catching Eijirou's smile quickly while carrying another heavy sack. Not many noticed it but Rikidou and Mezou did.

Eijirou clearly was in a better mood, has been for a while now. If they tried to ask why or what was making him so damn happy suddenly, he didn't say anything. He promised to eventually tell, but right now it was some kind of secret.

Fair enough. Mezou and Rikidou had kept secrets from him so it was just fair that he didn't want to answer their questions. But it really caught their attention when they saw small smiles every now and then on Eijirou's face even in the middle of working.

"Nothing particular. I'll explain it soon", Eijirou answered. He heard Mezou chuckle behind them before he finally was walking next to Rikidou, amused by the whole thing. Or just by his own thoughts.

"You're being so mysterious. Did perhaps Katsuki Bakugou conquer your dreams?" Mezou jokingly asked, making Eijirou click his tongue and sigh. It was a running joke at this point and Mezou knew Eijirou admired Bakugou more than anything. But he couldn't help himself when he found a chance to strike and joke with Eijirou. He didn't take it seriously so they were okay with it anyway.

"No, don't be silly. I would tell you if something like that happened. I'll do anything to make you jealous, Mezou", Eijirou snickered and watched as Mezou couldn't help but shook his head and chuckle while Rikidou laughed quietly as well.

They quickly dropped the subject and calmed down, not wanting to attract any attention. It would be really weird if everyone noticed them joking and laughing, maybe even making the guards suspicious about what was going on. They really didn't want to get any extra troubles. If guards began to suspect that something weird was going on, they'd start to take extra shifts to make sure nothing was happening during the nights.

"Speaking about the lucky bastard, look who's here."

As Mezou finished his sentence, the sound of galloping horse confirmed that in fact the said person was here again. It's been a while since the last time the blonde was seen here with that black horse.

Eijirou glanced at his direction, admiring the way the horse galloped so smoothly. The way the wind from the speed played with Katsuki's ash blond hair and how he made it look like riding that horse was a piece of cake.

It made Eijirou want to experience that too, though he would be scared of falling from the horse's back and hurting himself. It was enough to watch how the blonde boy handled it, making the horse obey him without using too much force. It made him wonder what kind of person Katsuki is, he never really has a chance to know since he doesn't stay long enough here and they'll never have a chance to interact. Well, not that they'd have a reason for that either.

As Eijirou put the sack on the ground next to others and was about to leave to grab another one, one of the guards grabbed him by the arm. "You're coming with me."

"Eh?" Eijirou was surprised and couldn't even ask why he was getting dragged away. His confused gaze moved to Mezou and Rikidou, both of them as confused and surprised as Eijirou himself.

What was going on?

Eijirou didn't like how the attention was suddenly turned into him, some of the slaves who watched the scene gave him a sympathetic look while others clearly were pitying him. Most of them just ignored everything and turned their gazes away, knowing that it was better to keep working if they didn't want to have same thing happening to them.

He wasn't stupid, he knew something bad was going to happen because guards just didn't pick up someone without a good reason. He could feel the panic bubbling inside him, what did they want from him? Had he done something wrong, had he fall into his own thoughts way too many times and now they were going to punish him?

As they were getting closer to the architects' platform, Eijirou couldn't help but feel even ashamed too since the black horse with its rider was there. Gosh, why was this all happening now?

But he also noticed that the architects were talking with a man he had never seen here before.

Eijirou didn't have time to wonder about that, as soon as they were close enough and the architects moved their gazes on him, the guard pushed him to the ground on his knees. As if that wasn't enough, he felt a hand grab some of his black hair and yank his head back to make him look straight into the staring eyes. It hurts how much force the guard used but that was the least of his problems right now.

The way the architects were watching him felt like they were trying to see right through him. And it didn't help at all either that the strange man with them was staring at him too. Or the fact that even the black horse was turned in a way that Katsuki could see him. It was the first time he would even acknowledge his existence. And probably the last time too, Eijirou had a bad feeling about this.

"Is he the one you saw?" One of the architects asked and the man nodded, slight grin creeping into his face as he stared Eijirou, his eyes curiously scanning every inch of him.

"Yes. I'm sure of it, especially if he's the one who can harden himself."

Eijirou felt his stomach drop, how did that man know what his quirk is?

"Slave, you better show your quirk right now."

He felt the guard tightening his grip on his hair but that didn't make Eijirou scared that much. The sight of whip on one of the architects was enough for him to harden his face, scared that they will whip him if he doesn't do what they tell him to do.

"Well, it looks like you've been a bad slave. Sneaking up during the nights, that's definitely calling for a punishment."

Chapter Text

Under all of the gazes Eijirou felt like he was getting crushed completely, intimidated by the way the gazes went right through him. He wasn't seeing anything humane in their eyes, just straight up nothingness. Like they had lost everything what made them human at some point during their lives. Maybe that was true, Eijirou was sure most of the people here anyway were already consumed by something that helped them see others as nothing more than a chattel.

As one of the architects nodded, the guard pressed Eijirou's head to the ground, making him practically lay there while he was folding his own whip. The thought of getting whipped made him close his eyes and wait for his skin to get cut, the whips the guards used easily broke the skin and drained blood.

"You do realize that doesn't change anything in the end, right?"

Eijirou turned his head slightly, seeing mostly the black horse's legs but he was able to catch a glimpse of the blonde as well. He looked bored. Like he was so used to seeing this kind of scene that it didn't make him react to it at all.

Every image Eijirou had made up about him was shattering very fast. Of course Katsuki Bakugou would be like others, his quirk didn't change the fact that he was a free man. Free to do whatever he wanted, no need to be afraid that someone would oppress him and steal his freedom.

Not having to be afraid of failing something so badly that only whip was the right answer to correct his behavior.

"Slaves will never learn if you don't set a good example to them. If he's stupid enough to continue after this, then it's his own fault. But this will also warn others to not do the same mistakes." As the architect finished his sentence, the guard raised the whip and hit him with a force.

No matter how Eijirou had gotten used to the feeling of getting whipped, he couldn't stop the wail of pain escaping from his mouth. It hurt so much. The pain that started from his back and spread through his body, it reminded him the cruelty of humanity. How cruel people can be to those they don't recognize as equal.

Humanity is truly very ugly.

Another hit of the whip broke his skin, Eijirou just knew it did because he felt the hot blood starting to bleed from the fresh cuts on his back. It wasn't the first time when he was whipped so badly with different kind of whip that cut his skin to the point of bleeding, but it hadn't happened that many times either. The pain was on very different level when the whip ended up cutting him.

As the whip was once again raised up, the sudden movement made the black horse react to it.

"Woaaah, calm down girl."

The horse reared at the sight of whip in the air, its ears pinned against the black mane while Katsuki was leaning forward, trying to stay on its back. Architects were clearly shaken by the sudden reaction of the animal and they immediately commanded guard to stop using the whip for now.

As soon as the horse got back on all four legs, Katsuki clicked his tongue and looked pretty pissed off while commanding his horse to walk in a small circle. Keeping it occupied while the punishment was happening was better idea than just standing close to the one being punished.

When the situation seemed to clam down enough, the whip was raised once again and hit Eijirou's back. Sharp breath escaped from his mouth and for a moment it felt like he was going to suffocate as well while his whole body was in constant pain. He closed his eyes, letting the tears flow while he was at this point almost praying that he'd just die here right now.

It felt like this torture was never going to end. Like pain was going to consume him eventually and the only time when he'll get a break from it will be the moment he dies.

"Isn't that enough already?! Are you blind or just not seeing how submitted he is? He won't do that again! My fucking horse is going to get spooked again if you keep this up. It's ridiculous." Katsuki was almost growling at this point. His hand was carefully petting his horse's mane while its ears moved back and forth. The animal was clearly checking the situation and trying to figure out whether it was okay to calm down or stay ready to flee at the right moment.

Eijirou heard his words but he couldn't open his eyes to spare him a look or focus on to anything else. His body felt like it was going to tear apart soon, the pain was so overwhelming that he really prayed that he'd just die here instantly.

The guard behind him dropped the whip when he was signed to do so. They probably would have keep going with the punishment if Katsuki wasn't there, but at this exact moment the blonde indeed had a point. His horse could rear again and if Katsuki fell from its back and hurt himself because of their actions, the architects would be in trouble. They respected Bakugou family enough to back away, though it probably pissed them off to listen young boy who was only a brat in their eyes.

Eijirou was breathing deeply, his whole body shaking and trying to tolerate the pain. As if he wasn't enough in pain, he felt the guard grab his hair again and yank his head up to face the architects. The way his hair was pulled felt like his whole scalp was going to tear off soon but the pain wasn't as bad as the one what was caused by the whip.

Tears escaped from the corner of his eyes while his gaze was locked with several architects. The guard even put his other hand on his jaw to make sure Eijirou won't be able to move his head to look away.

"There's still something we need to know." The main architect, probably their leader, said while tapping his own whip gently against his free palm, making sure the gesture reminded Eijirou the position he was in. That if he was lying to them, he'd get another round of whipping.

No one really expected Eijirou to say anything back, in fact they probably tested if he really was surrounding to their power enough to not answer if not asked. He passed the test because Eijirou was so beaten up that such thing never came to his mind. This seemed to satisfy the architects, he really was submitting under their power.

"Was there anyone else with you? Is someone else stupid enough like you to do such a thing?"

They waited for some kind of reaction to show whether he would lie or not, but Eijirou probably was so beaten up that he looked more dead than anything. That was his luck at the same time, he felt small panic swelling in his chest. There was no way he was going to betray or rat out his friends. After everything Rikidou and Mezou has done for him. It wasn't an option.

"Well? You may answer now if you don't want second round with the whip."

Tears were still rolling down his cheeks but at this moment he didn't care that they saw him so vulnerable and weak. They probably enjoyed it, seeing how he was at the bottom of the hierarchy here, crumbling into pieces right under their gazes.

"There wasn't anyone else..." Eijirou mumbled between his quiet sobs. He was ready to take all blames on his shoulders, Rikidou and Mezou never deserved to be pulled into this mess as well.

Eijirou was sure he was seen because he stayed at the temple longer than his friends. It was the only explanation what he came up with while getting whipped. He was seen using his quirk as well, confirming that quirks indeed didn't bring anything else than harm to people. At least his own quirk did nothing good to him, it had brought only never-ending misfortune and pain.

"What did you say? We didn't hear you." The main architect asked, his icy cold gaze trying to pierce through Eijirou's eyes while looking for the truth. He was going to see if Eijirou was lying to him.

Even though the sight of whip made him scared for life, Eijirou didn't hesitate to answer back immediately. Had he hesitated even a little bit, he most likely would have blown his cover up completely.

"I sneaked out alone. No one was there with me."

The investigative gaze felt like it was never going to stop and be satisfied by the answer, leaving Eijirou feel like he's trapped forever in this situation. But when the main architect finally nods and he can feel the guard let go of his hair, small relief relaxed his body little bit. Even making him ignore the constant pain or the warm liquid that was coming out of the wounds on his back.

The clop of hooves stopped as well as the blonde stopped his horse and watched the situation unfold right in front of his eyes. Even though they had heard what they wanted and punished the slave, Katsuki wrinkled his nose in disgust because the atmosphere was still thick and heavy. Almost so thick that someone could cut a piece from it.

Small relief washed over Eijirou's whole body when the guard finally grabbed his arm and lifted him onto his feet, ready to be taken back to work. It was going to be a mystery how he will be able to work with his back bleeding and the pain what was sweeping over him in waves.

But at least he wouldn't have to face the architects anymore. He wasn't going to move his gaze to Katsuki's direction either, knowing this really is the only time when he'd even acknowledge his presence.

"How can you be sure he won't do it again, though?"

Eijirou's eyes widened slightly as the mysterious man among the architects asked his question, his eyes still fixated on him. He could see that small smirk what was trying to creep on his face but he managed to keep it hidden enough that others didn't seem to notice it. Only Eijirou could see it and it sent shivers down his spine, he had seen somewhere same kind of gaze and smirk before.

"Well, if he has any common sense and survival instinct, he won't do that again." Eijirou refused to glance at the blonde's direction, in a way his words hurt because he clearly was just saying the same things as others. Also it was proving the theory that in the end it didn't matter that Katsuki has a quirk too, he just sees slaves with quirks as any other slave. A chattel that will serve under its master.

"I wouldn't be quite sure about that. But you're young and naive, so it's understandable."

"Hah?! What did you say?"

The sound of small explosions finally caught Eijirou's attention and he move his gaze to the blonde's way. Katsuki was keeping the reins short with only one hand, while his other hand was moved to the side and raised in the air, his palm open while another small explosion escaped from it. The black horse under him was at the verge of nervous breakdown, its ears pinned against the dark mane again while it was clearly deciding whether it's going to gallop away as fast as it could or listen its rider's judgement about the situation.

If it had been anyone else on its back instead of Katsuki, Eijirou was sure that the horse would have made a run for it already without a second thought.

"You saw him literally getting whipped to the point where he was waiting for death to embrace him. He got the message. He won't do that again." It was weird how Katsuki was in a way defending him but then again, Eijirou wasn't complaining about it either. At least someone was taking his side if you could call this like that.

The man seemed to roll his eyes, which in return pissed Katsuki off even more. But instead of another set of small explosions, the blonde clicked his tongue and lowered his other hand back to the reins.

"I'm interested in buying him. Even if he won't cause anymore troubles with this bad behavior, who knows what might happen if other slaves decide to follow his footsteps. He could encourage others to do same thing."

The architects were clearly surprised by that man's sudden offer while Katsuki just clicked his tongue again, murmuring something about the man clearly not listening what he just said to him.

Everything started to become hazy as Eijirou ignored the topic or the ongoing conversation between the people around him. He was shocked by the fact that everything seemed to fall into a same pattern as before, him changing master after master since he isn't good enough to do the jobs he's supposed to.

But that wasn't all.

As Eijirou was trying to think clearly, his thoughts all tangled and messed up, in his panic he finally realized why that disgusting gaze was somehow familiar. He had seen same kind of gaze before, even though back then it wasn't for him.

It was the same disgusting gaze what Ibara had gotten at the slave market back then. The way some people had looked at her like she was nothing more than a piece of jewelry. Nothing more than a slave who would do anything her owner tells her to do.

The panic was overwhelming at this point.

Before he noticed, Eijirou felt like he wasn't able to breath properly. Well, it probably had something to do the way he started to breathe faster and deeper. His mouth suddenly became as dry as the hot desert sand, his heart beating so hard against his ribcage that he was sure it's going to carve its way through it. He couldn't gather his thoughts either, starting to feel dizzy after all this mess.

The guard next to him seemed to be the first one to notice something was going on and he said something but Eijirou couldn't hear what. Even when the guard pulled his arm, everything was already so hazy that he wasn't able to keep his balance anymore.

"Oi, oi! You extras, can't you see he's about to pass out?"

Katsuki's voice sounded like it was so far away and as Eijirou was trying to understand his words, the whole world became dark.


 

Ever since he woke up Eijirou hadn't moved at all, preferring to lie on his side instead. The pain was still lingering around his body, mostly on his back where the damage was. He didn't need to move to know that the ground under him was probably stained with his blood, but he was glad that the bleeding has already stopped.

He had wanted to scream whenever he remembered the offer the man had made. To buy him, while his gaze has been so disgusting that it knocked his mind back to the slave market where he had seen that kind of gaze for the first time in his life. Even back then he had been disgusted by it, the gaze that was full of emotions Eijirou somehow knew what they meant, but then at the same time he did not really. It didn't stop his instincts to tell him it was nothing good at all.

Knowing the architects and the reasoning why that man had offered to buy him, Eijirou doubted that they'd refuse such an offer. After all, he had been disobedient slave who sneaked up during the nights. And he even planned to escape when the opportunity allowed it.

But now the plans he had made with Fumikage were crumbling hard and fast. This was going to be his last night at the resting place. Last night at the construction site too. Even though he had been brought here after he fainted, two guards were still standing at the door and making sure he wasn't going to escape. He heard them whispering things and that's how he learned his fate and what the architects found to be the best solution. Accepting the offer and getting rid of the slave.

Even when the day was slowly turning into a night and other slaves were arriving back from the work, Eijirou was still lying on his side and facing the wall. He heard them entering to the place, some of them slightly and quietly gasping at the sight of his bloody back. But then again it wasn't something new, things like this happened all the time. He felt the stares too, knowing they were pitying him but Eijirou just closed his eyes. Pity wasn't going to help him either.

The sound of Rikidou and Mezou calling his name tensed his shoulders for a moment before he had to relax them again due to the pain that ached after the sudden movement.

He heard them sitting right next to him, trying to ask him if he wanted to turn around to face them. They asked if he's okay, if it hurts too much, if he wants to eat. All of their questions received silence as the answer. Eijirou didn't want to just ignore them, but at the same time he felt like he didn't want to say anything either, preferring to stay lost in his thoughts. Maybe fall into his own little world and pretend that everything was okay.

"Do you want to be alone?" Rikidou asked after the silence fell between them, but Eijirou didn't answer to that either. Having Rikidou and Mezou close to him was giving some kind of comfort, but then at the same time Eijirou felt like he should be alone. So he ended up not answering to that question.

Rikidou and Mezou glanced at each other, worried but respecting Eijirou enough to not force him to talk to them if he felt like there was nothing to be said.

Eijirou had no idea how long he stayed like that, completely mute and unresponsive to his surroundings. His world was crumbling again right in front of his eyes and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Just like the time when he realized he was sold into slavery. Back then he wasn't able to do anything either. It had left him feeling so weak that he wondered why death hasn't collected him yet. Even the gods were playing a wicked game with him.

When Eijirou finally felt like he had gathered his thoughts enough, he slowly tried to sit up but it turned out to be difficult tasks when even the smallest movements sent waves of pain through his body.

Luckily Rikidou and Mezou were still there close to him and when they saw him trying to sit up, they helped him without even asking first.

"Your back looks awful. Is it okay if I clean it up little bit? I'll treat your wounds too", Rikidou asked after taking a better look of his back. Probably he had thought of asking it a lot earlier but since Eijirou was so unresponsive, he waited instead for him to finally pay attention to his surroundings. The only answer he received was a small nod, so small that some people probably woud have missed it but Rikidou saw it.

Rikidou soaked the cotton cloth he had held in his hand for a while now in a little water bowl and began to carefully clean his friend's back. Eijirou couldn't stop the small hisses as the wet cloth touched his skin and his fresh wounds. He imagined how bad his back looked like with the wounds from the whip, the marks on his skin where the leather hadn't break it, the dried blood that was most likely looking nasty.

They reminded everyone in the room about the punishment what they'd receive if they were as unfortunate as he was. Or as stupid, if that's more accurate.

Mezou offered some food but Eijirou declined his offer, ignoring completely the piece of bread he tried to give him. It wasn't like he was not hungry. No, Ejirou was in fact so hungry that it felt like his stomach had started to eat itself already.

Words weren't exchanged for a minute or two. It was just Eijirou facing the wall while biting his lip and sometimes hissing when Rikidou accidentally brushed the cloth against a wound or two. Mezou didn't have anything to say either, so he just watched and tried to figure out a way to crack the ice between them and Eijirou.

Eventually it was Eijirou who did it. He let out a loud sigh when he felt his sharp teeth bite his lip hard enough to make it bleed little bit.

"I'm sorry. It was my fault they learned about it but I swear, I didn't rat out neither of you. I took all the blame so they won't come after you with the punishment in their mind."

Rikidou stopped his hand, tilting his head slightly while trying to understand what Eijirou was talking about. Mezou looked curious too, wanting to know more about what he was trying to say. However, both of them probably knew somewhere deep in their minds what he meant.

"Sneaking out during the night..." Eijirou whispered quietly, lowering his head and letting his dark bangs hide his eyes. He knew Rikidou and Mezou probably exchanged glances like they usually did whenever they were trying to communicate without using any words. Most of the times they seemed to understand each other enough to know what some expressions or gazes meant.

It didn't take long until Rikidou was back at cleaning his back again, then finishing it and leaving the bloody cloth soak in the water bowl after that.

"We kinda figured out that part. Well, not entirely but we both had a hunch that it might be because of it." A heavy silence that followed after Rikidou's words felt like it was trying to suffocate them. Eijirou nodded again, the gesture being so small that it was a miracle both of them managed to notice it.

"We're grateful that you managed to keep us out of it, but at the same time I can't help but feel guilty. I'm so sorry this happened to you, it should have been either me, Rikidou or both of us to receive that punishment. Not you." Mezou's voice mirrored the guilt that was weighing him down like a pair of chains. Rikidou hummed quietly in agreement before he got up and went to look for something, leaving Eijirou and Mezou alone for a moment.

Eijirou turned his eyes away from the wall, finally making a small eye contact with Mezou. His gaze was so beaten up that it made Mezou feel a sting in his chest, last time he had seen that kind of look in Eijirou's eyes was when he'd been brought here for the first time. When he had isolated himself and withered right in front of them.

He just knew there was something more that was chewing Eijirou's mind constantly, but Mezou didn't know how to turn the almost nonexistent conversation into that topic. How he could make Eijirou spill the beans without being too nosy.

They hadn't heard anything what was going on during the punishment. The architects were far enough from them, but they had seen how the guard had hit him with a whip again and again. They also saw how Katsuki Bakugou for some reason lost his cool and used his quirk, to everyone's surprise. Rikidou and Mezou had been so worried the whole time when everything was just happening right in front of their eyes and the fact that they couldn't do anything was the most devastating feeling they've ever experienced.

Rikidou returned and sat back to his place, opening the small jar he had brought with him. "I'm going to put honey on your wounds. Try to stay still. And I'm sorry if it hurts, I'm trying to do everything as gently as I can."

Eijirou winced when he felt Rikidou's fingers slowly and carefully spreading a thick layer of honey on his back, but he tried to relax his muscles. It felt weird to say the least, but Rikidou wasn't clearly joking or trying to mess with him. It wasn't just a prank to lift up the mood, he was serious with everything he did at that moment.

As soon as he was ready, Rikidou put the jar aside and took a last good look at his back, making sure every wound was covered before finally being satisfied. It wasn't so surprising that he had a jar of honey hidden here, honey seemed to be one of the certain things that activated his quirk.

Rikidou moved to sit next to Mezou while Eijirou was gathering his thoughts again, wiping blood from his chin. He really shouldn't bite his lip too hard, with his sharp teeth he can easily bite until draining blood from them and that probably wasn't the healthiest thing to do. Or if next time he bites too hard and actually bites off a piece of his lip.

Recalling things from earlier, Eijirou realized his eyes were starting to water again when the realization about this being his last night here hit him. Like for a moment he had been busy and distracted by what Rikidou was doing that he completely forgot that. But now when his thoughts weren't as distracted anymore, the crushing realization reminded him that this was the last time he'll see Rikidou and Mezou too. He's going to lose his friends. Again. Just like he lost Ibara.

"Eijirou, what's wrong?" Mezou asked when Eijirou turned his gaze again at their direction, tears escaping from the corner of his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. Normally he would try to restrain them, keep himself control so he wouldn't look so weak or pitiful in front of his friends again. But now he didn't care if he looked vulnerable or weak.

Both of the boys were clearly surprised and maybe even scared at the sight of Eijirou getting emotionally so wrecked that he couldn't hold himself together anymore.

"I was sold again. The man who saw me at the temple, the one who had been bugging Fumikage. He saw me and told them what I've been doing. And then he offered to buy me since the architects can't be sure that I won't do it again. He's going to pick me up tomorrow." Eijirou was a sobbing mess while he was explaining everything, ignoring the fact that his distress earned couple curious and worried gazes from other slaves as well.

Eijirou was surprised when Mezou suddenly moved closer and then wrapped his hands extremely carefully around him, locking him in an embrace while making sure he avoided causing too much pain to his friend's body. It was the act of kindness and caring what Eijirou thought was missing from everyone in this kind of world.

And he wasn't mad at all, in fact he was grateful of Mezou's gesture. Even though it made him sob harder while big fat tears were rolling down his cheeks. Eijirou felt like he was a young child again, desperately seeking comfort from someone and Mezou was the person who was giving it to him at that moment. Eijirou's arms wrapped around Mezou while he accepted the closeness and comforting.

Well, he was only one giving it to him until Eijirou felt a hand starting to caress his black hair, almost making him doubt whether it was real or not. But it was real and happening, Rikidou was petting his hair and taking part of this sensitive situation. Just letting Eijirou know he was here for him too. Showing that he cared and was upset that this is happening to him.

Mezou and Rikidou were sad. Seeing Eijirou's mood drop so suddenly was depressive, but they were probably realizing the seriousness of the situation and the fact that Eijirou was going to be pulled away from their lives too.

It made them want to bust through the door of the resting place while taking Eijirou with them and just run. Run to the temple, grab Fumikage too and then the four of them would be gone before the sun begins to rise.

But they all knew it wasn't going to happen. The guards were making sure no one leaves tonight and sneaking out in the future would be harder than before.

So in the end all they could do was comfort each other. Mezou and Rikidou comforted Eijirou while feeling the anxiety and fear of unknown swelling in their chests. It had taken so long to fix Eijirou's mind and crack the walls around his real personality.

Only gods and goddesses know what's going to happen to him after he leaves.


 

It was probably the longest night Eijirou has ever had.

Sleeping was impossible due to the fact that his back was still aching, but that wasn't the biggest reason for his lack of sleep. He simply couldn't just fall asleep knowing that in the morning he has to say goodbye to his friends and leave.

Rikidou and Mezou were probably thinking the same thing. No matter how much they were going to regret the decision of not sleeping properly, they wanted to cherish these last moments with Eijirou. He looked like he needed it, he was so scared and it wasn't just his back that was in pain. His heart was clearly aching as well.

Eijirou found himself almost craving the affection and closeness when the cuddle session was over. If he had said something, they probably would have continued it but since Eijirou just couldn't make himself say it, he moved back to lie on his side. At least that way he could ease his pain.

Through the night Rikidou and Mezou talked softly and quietly, mostly to keep Eijirou's thoughts somewhere else and distracting them. Every now on then he felt one of them petting his hair but he didn't mind it at all. The way it calmed him was so pleasant that he was happy whenever he felt another gentle touch on his hair.

At some point Mezou and Rikidou dozed off, leaving Eijirou alone with his thoughts. He didn't have a heart to wake them up, knowing very well that they needed to rest and get enough strength to keep up at the work.

He didn't realize he dozed off too couple times but when the morning sun was starting to rise, his anxiety levels were rising as well.

All the rational thinking seemed to wear off and in the end he begged for Rikidou to wipe off the honey on his back, just claiming that it needs to go before he goes crazy. His friend was clearly hesitant, trying to reason with him by saying that it will help his wounds to heal up but Eijirou won at the end. If it made him calm down even a little bit, Rikidou just agreed to do it.

Eijirou just watched as others were getting ready for another day of hard work at the construction site and it made him feel little bit jealous, to his own surprise. He'd prefer staying here rather than being at the mercy of a person who was probably the most suspicious he had ever seen before. And if it really was the same guy who had been bugging Fumikage, who knows what he has up in his sleeve for Eijirou.

When one of the guards stepped inside the room and pointed at Eijirou while telling him to follow him, Eijirou knew this was it. His time here was up.

Mezou and Rikidou helped him on his feet while apologizing everything, claiming it should be them in that position instead of Eijirou. But the black haired boy just shook his head and locked his gaze with theirs for a moment.

"No. I think gods and goddesses just hate me. But it's okay, I'm used to it by now. Don't feel guilty about this. At least I was lead here to meet you both. Thank you for everything, I'll keep you in my mind. Maybe there will be another time when we can meet again." Eijirou managed to curl his lips up into a small and weak smile, but it radiated the warmth and kindness what he's always full of.

No matter how much it hurt to say goodbye to his friends, he wanted to do it with a smile on his face this time. He never had a chance to do it that way with Ibara, but now he wanted everything to happen in a different way.

It was a bittersweet moment between them. He could see how hurt Rikidou and Mezou were, as well as they saw the pain that was pushing his mind down. But there was simply nothing they could do at all.

The guard was impatient and commanded him to hurry up and with that Eijirou made his last eye contact with his friends before leaving. Following the guard and not even glancing at any other slave, Eijirou prepared himself mentally for this.

It wasn't anything new to him to be sold again and changing owner. He was used to it, or so he thought and tried to convince that to himself. This was going to be the typical circle again for him, after this new owner gets tired of him or disappointed, he'll sell him and the same cruel tragedy is going to repeat itself over and over again.

He's just not enough to satisfy any of his owners.

His new owner was waiting him with the main architect and a horse chariot, to his suprise. But then again it shouldn't surprise him that much, of course the guy is loaded with money and property since he bought him without any second thoughts. He had probably thought of it when he decided to expose Eijirou's nightly visits to the temple.

"This won't become a habit, just so you know. We don't usually sell the ones with quirks." The main architect grunted when he noticed the guard arriving with the slave.

"I know. But he won't be a problem for you either so I guess it's a win-win situation?"

Eijirou flinched when the man was suddenly right next to him, putting his hand on his shoulder and guiding him toward the chariot like he was making sure the boy doesn't get any funny ideas.

The man exchanged few words with the architect while gently shoving Eijirou on to the chariot, shortly following after and taking the reins in his left hand.

"I can't still understand why you want to own him. Such a troublemaker if you ask me." The architect's question lingered in the air for a while. Eijirou himself was curious too, but he was scared of the answer at the same time. Who knows what this man is really after.

He didn't have to look at him to see that the man was smiling, his right hand again at Eijirou's shoulder. It felt disgusting, Eijirou wanted to push him away and tell him to not touch him but his fear of getting whipped kept him in control, to not crossing that line. Even when the man rubbed couple circles on his skin, or when his hand moved to caress his black hair while the same disgusting smirk was on his face. He didn't push him away no matter how much he wanted to do so.

"Because he's obedient enough. But also because he's got a pretty face and he's exactly something I've been looking for a while now."

And with that the man moved his hand away, taking the reins finally in both of his hands and then flicking them. The horses in front of the chariot snorted and started to pull the chariot, their ears moving actively back and forth as they waited for another command and listened the surrounding area.

Eijirou's grip on the edge of the wooden chariot was tighter than necessary, his knuckles turning white with the strength. He had never been on a chariot before, never thought of being pulled by the horses. But there he was and he's scared.

His eyes focused on to the horses in front, he didn't want to watch the man beside him or the changing surroundings. He liked to pretend that he was going to wake up soon and this nightmare will end after it, but deep inside he knew that was just his false hope.

The horses began to trot as soon as the man flicked the reins again. Eijirou's eyes were fixated on them and if he has to be honest, he was amazed by the look of the horses. The left one was brown with giant white spots on its coat while the right one was black but it too had white spots. Almost looking like someone had thrown white paint at them.

Eijirou decided to keep himself distracted by the horses. At least they were interesting enough.

The chariot ride felt like it was never going to end, sometimes the horses slowed down to walk when they were going through areas that were full of people, then other times the horses were back at trotting whenever there was a chance to do so.

Eventually the man pulled the reins and stopped chariot completely. As soon as they were stopped, someone hurried from the stable to greet them and take care of the horses while his new owner lead him inside the house.

Eijirou didn't have to time even wonder about the fact that his owner lived in a two-story house, it was nice enough and didn't look like it was about to collapse any time soon. Outside it looked like most of the brick houses Eijirou had seen already. And it was painted white too! This man really was rich enough for such a luxury.

"First you're going to change your dirty blood-stained clothes for something that is properly fitting for you. Then we can decorate you completely."

"Eh?"

Eijirou was confused. What did that man mean?

Before he realized it, he was dragged to the upstairs and his new owner was handing him clothes to change while he left to search something.

He was standing there and trying to understand everything what just happened. It felt like he was getting too much information in a short amount of time and he couldn't process everything that's happening or said. Eijirou sighed and looked around, making sure the man wasn't anywhere near before taking off the loincloth what indeed was stained with blood.

He felt the small pain aching in his back, reminding him about the punishment he received yesterday. Afraid of the possibility of another round with whip, he quickly changed into the clean and expensive loincloth. It took him a minute before he realized there was also a white skirt to be wrap around his waist, hiding the clothing underneath.

Eijirou didn't know what to think about it. It was nice that the skirt hid more of his thighs, at least little bit more than the loincloth alone but then again he didn't like the way the skirt was almost see-through and the silky material was unfamiliar to him. He has never worn anything like that.

After tying the finishing belt around his waist to keep everything together, Eijirou stood there awkwardly while shifting his weight from one leg to another. He tried to ignore the way the strange fabric felt against his skin but it was hard, he wasn't sure how long it will take until he gets used to it.

Waiting made him anxious. And when he was done just standing there like a fool, Eijirou decided to walk downstairs to find his new master.

And there he was. Immediately after noticing his presence, the man admired him before starting to decorate him with several expensive looking jewelry. Once again Eijirou felt like this was just wrong, he wasn't worthy of these and he just couldn't wrap his head around the reason why this man was dressing him up all nice. When he wasn't even that special, he was just so plain normal it even frustrated him too. 

When he looked like a walking jewelry advertisement, his owner started to prepare the kohl and other things he was going to put on him too.

"Don't move or I might accidentally put it in your eye. I'll do everything this time but after that, you'll have to do it on your own."

Eijirou stood still while his owner lined his eyelids with dark kohl, trying not to move away even though it felt weird and he didn't like the way the man was so close to his face.

"So, what's your name?"

Eijirou hesitated, but then again this is his new master. Of course he needs to know his name.

"Eijirou."

"Okay, Eijirou. I'm Nakhti, but I'd prefer if you call me master."

His owner didn't seem to be a total asshole as he applied more makeup on Eijirou's face, putting some blue eyeshadow after he was satisfied with the kohl. Eijirou didn't want to see how he looked like after this is over, he won't recognize the person who's going to look back at him from the reflection.

What made him worry was the way Nakhti seemed like a nice enough guy. Well, probably to people who didn't see him the way Eijirou saw. While he was trying to act all nice and gentle, Eijirou saw right through him, all those disgusting things what he was so eagerly trying to hide. He gave so much bad vibes that it made Eijirou want to just run and never turn his gaze behind.

"Why me?" Eijirou managed to finally ask when Nakhti was done with his face. And just like that, the disgusting smirk came back to his face while he put the kohl and eyeshadow away.

"Why, you ask. Isn't it obvious?" He answered to a question with his own question while moving closer. Eijirou instinctively backed away until his back was against the brick wall, leaving him no room to escape as the man was now close enough to touch his cheek, caressing it for a little bit before his hand slid to his hair. He started to twirl couple tuft of black hair between his fingers while eyeing Eijirou's face.

After he had admired enough, he made eye contact with him. Eijirou could tell Nakhti was now fixated on his eyes.

"It's because I like to collect pretty things and you are pretty, Eijirou. Your quirk is unique too and it caught my eyes immediately. I'm sure you might even be a good rival to Rasui's pretty and sparky boy. Too bad your back was beaten 'till it was bleeding but it's okay. You're still pretty. I especially adore your beautiful black hair. Only negative thing I can see is your red eyes that ruin the image little bit. I don't like red, it reminds of a blood way too much."

Eijirou was disgusted beyond belief.

Chapter Text

Eijirou learned quickly that he needs to be wide awake all the time while he's around Nakhti. If he wasn't, the surprising touches on his shoulders, on his hair or somewhere else easily made him harden that part of his body in defense. And while his owner admired his quirk, the sudden hardening left a cut or two in his hand.

That's what Nakhti didn't like. Like he told him, he didn't like the color red only because it reminded him of blood. And if Eijirou accidentally managed to cut him with his quirk and blood started to bleed from the small wounds, the disappointment what was in his eyes felt like it was crushing Eijirou.

He didn't feel safe around him and the less the man stared at him with those kind of eyes, the better he felt.

Everything was weird. Eijirou didn't even hide the fact that he felt like he wasn't worthy of all these expensive clothes and jewelry his new owner got for him. He never had imagined himself wearing something so fancy and pricey.

If you asked outsiders to describe how Nakhti treated his most precious treasure at the moment, the answers would be all the same. He's treating his belongings good. He feeds his slave with a good food, dresses him up with clothes made of silk and fine linen and decorates his body with various bracelets, necklaces, rings and neck collars.

Many slaves would be happy to receive such treatment. Getting treated like a royal, being spoiled and admired even though being a slave. Many would say that Eijirou was ungrateful and that he should man up and be satisfied by the position he's in. All those gifts didn't change the fact that at the end of the day he was still just a slave, someone who wasn't free man at all. He'd take his freedom any time instead of the fancy clothes and delicious food.

No matter how many beautiful jewelry was put on him or how much he was fed with meat that was the most delicious he had ever tasted, there was still things that disgusted him. Things that made him wrinkle his nose if he even paid a single thought to them.

Nakhti indeed made sure Eijirou looked presentable with everything and that he wasn't starving at all.

But the problem wasn't the clothes and jewelry what made Eijirou hate this even more and feel like he was trapped. His anxiety levels had probably raised to their limit while being here and his new master was the reason for that.

Eijirou caught him often staring at him, admiring the way he stood out from the others. Admired his so said 'beauty' and how jewelry and makeup only bring out his gorgeous face even more. Even though Eijirou felt weird hearing so many compliments, it wasn't the admiring gaze what gave him bad vibes.

It was the other feelings what he seemed to have often in his eyes, too. The feeling of pure lust. Eijirou figured out soon that Nakhti was probably wishing to touch him more, from a places where Eijirou definitely didn't want him to be near at all. It honestly disgusted him so much and if he paid more attention to that, he felt like he was going to gag.

Disgusted to the point where he really started to miss the hard work in construction site. Working there had been hard, leaving your whole body aching at the end of the day and even wishing that the torture would already stop. But he never had to worry about someone having dirty thoughts of him.

His master has other people working for him too. They're not slaves, more like servants. They have their freedom and most of them don't live in with them under his roof. He treats them well, never yells at them or threaten to do something horrible. And they respect him as well, doing their tasks as perfectly as they can.

But they don't appreciate Eijirou that much. Sure, Eijirou's position was technically the lowest, but the treatment he got from his master was in a whole different level. He didn't really have to work that much, being sort of a trophy rather than a slave. His job was to show everyone his master owned nice things and was rich enough to dress his slave in expensive clothes and jewelry as well.

The servants don't speak with him at all, instead preferring to ignore him. Every time when he asked help with the makeup since Nakhti insisted he wears it but Eijirou has zero experience of using any of the things he's supposed to, they just turned their backs or murmured something and excused themselves. Only couple times one of the female servants was kind enough to help him, but eventually he just had to figure it out himself.

And Eijirou tried to learn it fast. If he messed up the makeup, it was another excuse for Nakhti to get more touchy and fix the mess he made.

Eijirou really hated his life even more here. He hated how he has to run on fumes most of the time because he doesn't let himself sleep properly. It's almost like he's half sleeping and half awake, like an animal keeping an eye for its surroundings. He's afraid that if he lets his guard down, his new master would eventually just say heck it and do unimaginable things to him.

Living with constant lack of sleep isn't something he wants to do, but better be safe than sorry.


 

Nakhti is a man who likes to socialize with his friends and acquaintances. A lot. Sometimes it left Eijirou wonder if that man worked at all, only every once in a while Nakhti actually left the house to do some work. Eijirou loved those times because he was left alone and only then he could rest his eyes without the constant fear of something happening while he sleeps.

Another thing what was becoming very clear was the fact that Nakhti liked to boost his ego whenever it was possible. And Eijirou was his tool for that apparently.

Eijirou had lost his count of people Nakhti had visited and showed off. Most of his friends didn't look surprised about the new piece in his collection and Eijirou couldn't help but wonder how many slaves he has had before him. They were probably all dressed up too, but it was a mystery where they were now.

"Were going to spend tonight at Rasui's place. Behave and I think you could try to learn something from his fancy slave." Nakhti informed while they were walking through crowds of people, heading toward his friend's house. Eijirou didn't even spare a gaze at his way, he just nodded and focused on his surroundings.

In all honesty, he hated this already. He hated visiting so many people who were almost as disgusting as Nakhti. They all seemed to do same things as his owner by dressing up their most precious slaves and show off to their friends. It was a constant competition of who got the biggest ego.

They finally stopped at the front of a huge house. It was bigger than Nakhti's, Eijirou noticed that from the first glance. He should be surprised by it, but he really wasn't. All of Nakhti's friends seemed to be loaded with money and property. Clearly they weren't anywhere near the bottom of social classes here.

Eijirou was surprised when after knocking at the door, it was opened by a boy who looked quite young compared to Nakhti's other friends. All of them had been a lot older, close to Nakhti's age but this boy just looked like he was either the same age as Eijirou or couple years younger. He greeted them with a playful smile on his face, looking like he was blessed by their arrival.

"Hey Denki. As pretty as always, looks like Rasui's been spoiling you again with an expensive neck collar? It suits you and matches with your beautiful eyes. Can I take a closer look?"

"Sure, go ahead mister Nakhti! Isn't that why I'm wearing it?"

Eijirou was shocked as he watched how Nakhti so casually put his hand on the blonde's chin to move his face little bit, leaning closer to inspect the golden neck collar around his neck. It was indeed pretty, Eijirou admitted that. And it probably had cost so much that he didn't even want to guess the price of it.

The boy didn't seem to be bothered at all about how close the older man's face was to his. He was just as relaxed as he could be and while Nakhti was busy appreciating the jewelry, the blonde's eyes met with Eijirou's. They exchanged curious gazes before the other one finally was smiling from ear to ear, his gaze full of friendliness and he probably wanted to speak with him.

Nakhti was most than likely the reason why he didn't say anything, however. But his gaze told more than a thousand words.

Eijirou hurriedly moved his gaze away, breaking the eye contact they had. He wasn't sure how to react to that, the smile had reminded him about how he used to smile like that too at one point. Maybe never really with Mezou and Rikidou, but there had been time when his smile had been as wide as that blonde's.

"Denki, don't be so rude to our guests. Let them come in." Another person appeared at the door and greeted them. Eijirou guessed that he must be Rasui, he was clearly closer to Nakhti's age. Well, it had been a clear clue that the blonde boy wasn't the owner of the house since he's name seemed to be Denki. And by the look of it, he was another poor soul who was used as a tool to boost his owner's ego.

"I'm sorry, master Rasui. I didn't mean to be rude." Denki chirped and backed away when Nakhti finally straightened himself and greeted his friend. They were truly happy to see each other, what Nakhti had explained on their way to here, he hadn't seen his good pal in a while.

They exchanged couple words before Rasui's eyes fell on Eijirou, making him feel little bit intimidated by his gaze.

"So this is your new boy? What happened to the one at the temple? You finally gave up on him?"

Oh. They were talking about Fumikage. At least Nakhti wouldn't be creeping around the temple and harassed his friend anymore. Again Eijirou was taking everything on his shoulders but apparently that was quickly becoming his role. He didn't complain though, he was always happy to sacrifice himself if it meant his friends were free from any kind of harm.

"For now. I might try again at some point but Eijirou was such an eye catching thing that I couldn't ignore him at all. His quirk is interesting, even though it's not so fancy."

Eijirou was sure they were going to spent a small eternity at the front door before finally the two older men were done with that conversation. Not like he had paid any attention on it, he wasn't really fan of listening how they spoke about him like he was some sort of object instead of a living person. But they saw him like that so there really wasn't any way he would complain about it. No matter how he hated it.

Inside of the house was full of expensive looking things, especially the vases that were everywhere looked something that shouldn't be even available to anyone else than to Pharaoh himself. But it just confirmed that Rasui indeed was very similar with Nakhti. Both of them loved to collect expensive things and apparently dress up their diamond of the entire collection.

Eijirou couldn't help but feel uncomfortable as they walked into a big room that was already full of people chatting and laughing.

When Nakhti had told him that they were going to spend the night here, he hadn't really thought of anything else than just two friends catching up about what they've been up to. But this seemed to be some kind of party instead. There were slaves (or more like servants if his guess was right) almost everywhere, serving the guests with beer, wine and something small to eat.

It was too crowded for his liking and he wanted to get away from here as fast as possible. But no, it was like gods were mocking him when one group of people turned around to greet Nakhti and then their eyes were locked on Eijirou.

All of them were the same, the sick pattern repeating over and over again. Disgusting gazes and comments that made Eijirou feel like he was going to gag at any moment now. At least Nakhti made sure they should keep their hands off of him. Probably the only thing Eijirou was grateful for his owner right now. One good thing about him being greedy bastard who wanted to show his fancy slave but then keep him all to himself.

Eijirou refused to make eye contact with anyone, so instead he just watched around and tried to understand things happening around him. The room felt hotter than other rooms in the house because of the people there. He heard music being played somewhere, probably on the other side of the room. It was nice to hear music, it felt like small eternity since the last time he had heard anything as playful and happy music being played.

If he has to be honest, he really wanted to walk around and curiously investigate everything. Even if Nakhti decides to give him a permission to do so, he probably won't do that. Even though he disliked his owner, it felt little safer to stay next to him rather than just mindlessly wander around the room.

Nakhti and Rasui were in the middle of conversation, excited to tell everything to each other while they were drinking beer like there's no tomorrow. Eijirou already knew where this all would end up going but it's not his problem. Not like he has any authority to comment what he really thought of this mess what people seemed to call a party.

His anxiety levels were growing as they finally sat down and people were swarming around them, everyone talking with Nakhti while stealing dirty looks at his precious slave. Eijirou never wanted to be in a center of this kind of attention and even though Nakhti had told them to not touch him, still some people put their hands on his shoulders while commenting something about his looks to his master. His shoulders were tensing up and he wanted to escape this whole situation.

Eijirou was just praying at this point that people would find something else more interesting than him. What about that blonde boy who met them at the door? His name was Denki, if he remembers correctly.

What was he doing? Eijirou was sure he hadn't noticed him at all among the people in this room. He probably wasn't here, he'd have seen him since his yellowish hair stood out so well.

Lucky guy.

It was wrong to wish that he was here only to take attention away from him but Eijirou was feeling so desperate.

He was sure he's going to snap at any moment and do something he'll regret later. It would probably shoo away people around him, but he was sure Nakhti wouldn't like it. And he'd receive a punishment if he disobey him or put him in some kind of shame. Damn it.

Slowly Eijirou noticed how the light in the room was starting to dim as some of the servants started to cover up the windows, not letting any extra light get in. It made his mind go crazy, who knows what people would do when it's dark enough so no one else will see! As Eijirou was trying to get up, Nakhti pressed his hand on his shoulder to stop this attempt.

"No, Eijirou. Stay. Maybe you can learn something from this." Nakhti's voice was enough for Eijirou to know that he was probably smirking, that disgusting look in his eyes. But it wasn't on him, which was a nice surprise. His eyes were somewhere else and Eijirou was grateful that he didn't feel that disgusting gaze on himself.

As people started to sit around the room, Eijirou realized they left the middle of it empty with a lot of space. He couldn't understand why. Even the music had stopped and by the look of it, people were expecting something to happen. Something what they were used to experience, something what they were looking for to see.

For a moment it was like everyone were holding their breaths, excited about something.

Rasui was the only one standing and welcoming everyone to the party. His speech was mostly boring blabbering and maybe one of the reasons why Eijirou just couldn't wrap his head around it was the fact that he was so full of mixed emotions. He wanted to get out of here, but he was curious about what was going to happen next. He hated this, but then again he should be happy that his life as a slave was now a lot 'easier' than it had been before. Well, it came with a high cost and Eijirou would rather be doing all that hard work instead this.

He was feeling a little lightheaded after Rasui was done with his speech, mostly because of the emotional mess inside his mind. But as soon as Rasui sat down and music started, Eijirou's head perked up and for a moment his thoughts stopped.

The music started slowly and Eijirou wondered what they were going to look at, but he didn't have to think about that for long. As the music started to take more pace, that same blonde boy from earlier walked in the middle of the room. Eijirou gasped at the sight of what he was wearing.

Couple silky ribbons were tied around his chest in the shape of X while other than that his whole upper body was bare. He had changed the jewelry he had worn earlier, there wasn't nearly as many as there had been. Even bigger and colorful neck collar was around his neck, couple bracelets jingling on his hands and one thicker bracelet was hugging tightly his left upper arm.

His white skirt was completely see through and it showed the small loincloth underneath that hid his private parts from the gazes. Another set of bracelets were around his ankles and they jingled too as the boy started to move.

His dancing was slow at first, just like the music. His slender body moved beautifully, the way Eijirou has never seen anyone do before. It was hard to even think of moving his gaze away, the more the boy danced, the more his eyes were fixated on him.

He spun around peacefully, letting his hips move more while his expression was full of pure self-confidence. He knew what he was doing and wasn't afraid that he might mess up something.

And it didn't take long until his dance was more fast paced, his hips, belly and shoulders moving in a way Eijirou hadn't even thought of to be possible for a male. The more he danced, the more his charm was pulling everyone into some kind of trance. Even Eijirou had to admit that the boy was good and there was nothing to complain about the performance.

The area where he was dancing was the only place in the room what was somehow lighted. The servants were controlling the light coming from the outside so that it was directed in the middle where he was.

The song came to an end and so did the blonde's dancing. His audience was praising him loudly, but shortly after that everyone was silent once again as another song was starting to play and the boy began to dance again.

His arms were now raised in the air while he moved his body, his hips moving more smoothly than before. How he even managed to do that was beyond belief. Eijirou had to admit that his dance was in a way very erotic and he still couldn't move his gaze away. Not that he wanted to do that either, it was interesting to see how the blonde was dancing. Eijirou had never seen anything like that before. In a way it was kinda dirty to look at, but then again it was just a dance performance and dancing is a form of art.

Eijirou ignored the quiet panting next to him, knowing very well what kind of feelings that dancing was bringing out from the audience of nasty old men. Disgusting.

As the music was starting to pick up faster pacing, Eijirou blinked couple times when he noticed something off about the boy. He was dancing his erotic yet beautiful dance, but when Eijirou focused his gaze more, he could see something weird going on. Small sparks of light moving around his skin, from the top of his head all the way to his toes. Like lightning was dancing with him, dancing on his skin the way it sometimes danced on the sky during the thunder storms.

It didn't seem to catch anyone else off guard, so Eijirou assumed it was his quirk. If no one else was reacting to it like it was something new or horrible, then it meant that it wasn't the first time they're seeing it.

The way the sparks of lightning moved across his skin while he was still dancing was like a whole another world. Something beautiful yet mysterious. Eijirou also understood now why they wanted to dim the light from the room.

In the dark room the flickering of lightning was stronger and more visible, leaving everyone out of breath as they watched the dance go on and on.


 

As the night progressed Eijirou wanted to escape even more. The people around him were starting to get drunk and some of them were already passed out after the erotic dancing stopped.

Nakhti had joked something about how Eijirou should learn those moves too but it just made him wrinkle his nose. There was no way he could ever be able to move his body like that, he was way too stiff to even move his hips that smoothly. Not that he wants to dance like that either. He respected and admired other boy's skills but he couldn't imagine himself doing the same thing.

And with a quirk like his, Eijirou would never be able to use it to boost up the level of the performance. His quirk wasn't anything fancy, maybe useful in working and other things but to show off? No. Not in a million years.

Sitting there with drunk people was pretty uncomfortable to say the least. After the certain level of intoxication people were getting more approaching, testing the limits as they got closer. Couple times Eijirou felt someone touch his hair or his hand and it made him very aware of his surroundings. Nakhti was too busy, socializing with his friends and enjoying another mug of beer.

Eijirou was left there to fidget his hands while he just wished to be anywhere else than here.

Even the damn construction site was more appealing than this.

He winced and his shoulders tensed up as he felt someone tap his shoulder, trying to get his attention. He didn't want see who it was, or what they wanted because he just knew there was probably one of those nasties behind him, just wanting to say something disgusting to him. Comment about his body or some shit what he just didn't want to hear. It doesn't help the heavy feeling he had in his chest at the moment either, feeling like he was unable to breath properly.

Eijirou was waiting for the person behind him to leave, usually if he didn't pay any attention they left him alone eventually. But instead he heard a whisper. And that whisper was like an answer to his wishes. "If you want to get away from these people, I can take you to another room. They're too drunk and busy to care that much."

The quiet promise of a chance to get away from here was enough for Eijirou to glance over his shoulder. His eyes met with a pair of golden yellow eyes and the same gentle smile what had welcomed them when they arrived to the party.

He didn't need to say it again, Eijirou nodded and glanced around before finally getting up from his place. Too bad Nakhti noticed immediately.

"Where do you think you're going, Eijirou?" His words came out little bit slurred due to his drunken state but he didn't hesitate to grab Eijirou's hand, stopping him from moving away. Eijirou's was sure his heart jumped into his throat, of course his master was going to prevent this from him. What else did he expect?

Except the blonde next to him bend himself forward to put his own hands on Nakhti's hand, turning his attention completely on him.

"Don't worry about it, mister Nakhti. You can trust me, I'll take good care of him. We'll just talk little bit and then return", he promised while that same smile was painted all over his face again. Nakhti's eyes were immediately fixated on the blonde, before he smirked and let go of Eijirou's hand.

"Be kind to him, Denki. He's still a bit of a scaredy cat", Nakhti snickered, moving his hand enough to brush his fingers against his cheek and jaw before finally leaving the blonde alone. The boy didn't seem to be bothered by his gesture.

As soon as Nakhti's eyes were somewhere else, Denki took Eijirou's hand and started to lead him toward the exit of the room. He made a mental note to thank this blonde later, he really saved him from the trouble and from the disgusting people.

Eijirou felt his anxiety levels starting to decrease when they finally got out of the room. He hadn't even noticed just how hot and warm there had been until now that they were away from it. His gaze fell on his hand, the other boy was still holding it gently and leading him somewhere.

They passed couple empty room before they stopped at the room that was located in the back of the house. The back door was slightly open and cool night air was slowly blowing into the room, relaxing the tension that was in the atmosphere earlier. Eijirou could feel his shoulders already relaxing, he didn't know how long they had been tensing up while he was in the middle of the drunks.

"Sorry for scaring you back there, you just looked like you needed to get away. They're pretty annoying and disgusting when they get to that point. Don't worry, your owner won't miss you back because he'll most likely pass out soon like the others. You can stay here with me, I don't mind company! Our kind of slaves need to stick together, right?" The blonde smiled brightly and let go of his hand. He seemed to be genuinely happy about the company he got.

Eijirou felt little bit awkward and out of place here, the way the other boy smiled just was too bright for him. But he took this as a chance to take a better look at the other. He had changed into another set of clothes, this time he was wearing something more of a white silky tunic with a touch of several golden bracelets and a necklace.

His blonde hair was slightly dampen but now that he had a chance to see him closer, Eijirou noticed the small black streak on the left side of his bangs. It reminded him about lightning and it made sense, seeing that his quirk must be something related to that.

"You wanna sit down? No need to stand all the night."

Eijirou was snapped out of his thoughts and he noticed the blonde had already sat down to the carpets and pillows near one of the corners. He was still smiling while he was cutting small melon into pieces to share with him. Eijirou hesitated for a moment before he finally gave up and moved to sit next to him.

"My name's Denki, though you probably already knew that. But I guess I have to tell my name before asking yours." Denki probably knew his name already, considering the fact that Nakhti had said it while asking where he was going. But Eijirou was sure he was just trying to be polite and get rid of the small tension between them. Trying to be friendly and crack the ice.

"It's Eijirou."

"Nice to meet you properly, Eijirou!"

And then Denki started to blabber like there's no tomorrow. Everything between the sky and the Earth, whatever came into his mind at that moment. It was hard to even focus on what he was talking about, his subjects seemed to change so fast and Eijirou hasn't been talking to anyone recently, so it was even harder to follow Denki's train of thoughts.

What surprised him the most was the way Denki was smiling all the time. He didn't look like he was bothered by the fact that all those disgusting men were probably undressing him in their minds while he had been dancing. He wasn't bothered that he was in this kind of position and clearly the servants here were doing the same thing what Nakhti's servants did. Ignoring him completely.

Eijirou couldn't understand how Denki was in high spirits. Just what kept him so happy and so bright? Why wasn't he at the verge of any kind of breakdown all the time? It felt like Denki was completely opposite of him.

Eijirou was little bit jealous if he has to be honest.

Denki went silent only when he was done cutting the melon and started to eat it, enjoying the flavor and offering a piece to his new friend. After little bit of hesitation, Eijirou took the piece and thanked. But he kept staring at it while listening Denki talk more. This whole situation was so absurd to him.

"Why are you so happy? How can you handle this all with a smile? I hate everything about this. I hate them all, why am I being punished because of the stupid quirk?" Eijirou didn't care what he said at that moment. It just felt like the feelings he had bottled up were finally getting out of control and escaping his mouth before he even could think of what he was saying.

Denki just looked at him, little bit confused before his gaze escaped to somewhere else. Then he seemed to tense up his own shoulders, until he relaxed them again and moved his gaze back to Eijirou's face.

"Dude! That melon did nothing to you, don't waste it! It still can be eaten." Denki's joking words made him realize he had in fact hardened his fingers and was at the point of crushing the melon, almost ruining it. The melon juice was already dripping to the carpet but Denki didn't seem to care about it.

"I'm sorry. I lost my cool." Eijirou quickly apologized but Denki just shook his head while the small smile was at his face again.

"It's okay. It happens to me too sometimes."

Denki offered a cloth where Eijirou could wipe his fingers. He didn't really mean to let his feelings out that way but it happened anyway. The other boy didn't seem to be bothered at all and the atmosphere was untouched too.

"And I know how you're feeling. I hate everything about it too, but it's easier to handle things when you just smile and don't pay too much attention to the details. It's disgusting when they can't keep their hands off but I guess I've gotten used to it. I don't like it but as long as they don't touch my butt or dick, I can tolerate it. And most of those perverts keep touching my face, my hands and shoulders anyway." Denki's expression was little bit more serious now, but every now and then Eijirou could see the sight of that smile underneath it.

He couldn't really understand how Denki tolerated it. The way Nakhti had disgustingly touched the blonde made Eijirou so nervous and worried, even though it wasn't even him who was getting that treatment.

"I also know they jack off while I'm dancing or when I'm done. But if I don't see it, I don't really care either. It's nasty but people who come to these parties are always the same nasties."

Eijirou had no words and his expression was probably horrified, like he had just witnessed a murder or something. How can anyone really tolerate something like that? Eijirou probably would die of the anxiety, fear and other feelings if he was getting touched like that. Or if he even knew that someone was getting off while watching him.

Denki smirked playfully after seeing Eijirou's horrified expression, he couldn't really blame him on that reaction. "But you know, if they try to touch me from the wrong places, I can always use my quirk to make them back away. And I'm sure your quirk can do that too. You shouldn't be afraid of using it at times like that, Nakhti might be a bastard but his head is shoved far too up in his ass with all that ego shit of his that I doubt he'd care."

The way Denki was talking with him in a casual way made Eijirou feel calm, relaxing his mind and giving him a chance to let his guard go down. And he didn't seem to judge him at all, instead just cherished this moment he had with him.

"You're so strong, I can't understand it. How?" Eijirou asked. He already decided that Denki is a good person, someone he doesn't mind talking with. And it was nice to be able to speak with someone, he was feeling so lonely at the place he had to call 'home' because Nakhti's servants refused to talk with him. It was truly hard to handle all that stress and feeling of loneliness when there was people around him, but they all just decided to ignore him like he wasn't there.

"I wouldn't call myself strong", Denki corrected while he took another piece of melon and let his gaze stay on it for a while, clearly letting some hidden feelings surface for a single moment. "I'm just used to everything. I keep smiling because it helps me get distracted day after day, but I guess Hanta helps me through tough times too."

"Hanta?"

Denki couldn't help but smile and move his gaze on Eijirou. "Hanta is my friend. He's a good guy, I'm sure you'll meet him soon. My master and Nakhti spend a lot of time together and they often invite Hanta's master to join them."

Oh. Eijirou moved his gaze away from Denki and sighed. He really missed his friends and the idea of new ones was little bit scary. So far all of his friends ended up leaving from his life, so what's the point of making new ones?

He didn't mean to ruin the easy atmosphere but it happened anyway. Denki noticed the change immediately but he probably was weighing his options whether he should ask about it or not. Even though he seemed to be the kind of person who likes to blabber and chitchat, he was taking things into a consideration too.

"You know what, I think I should teach you to dance too! Dancing is a great way to empty your mind for a moment!" Denki chirped happily, earning a curious and unbelieving gaze from Eijirou. What was the blond talking about now? He caught him so off guard that Eijirou had no idea what to say.

Maybe that had been Denki's plan all along. At least it wiped off the frown from his face since Eijirou was completely confused by his words.

"What?" He asked, he wasn't even sure had he heard Denki right. Why would he teach him to dance? There's no way he'd be able to move like him. And if Nakhti learns that Denki taught him to dance the same way he does, then Eijirou would get new tasks from his master and he'd rather not do something like that.

"You heard it right! Make those hips move, let those idiots fall into their own trance and after that you can mock them all you want and they won't even notice it." Denki smirked, clearly joking but Eijirou couldn't help but be amused by the way he spoke badly about the guests. He was sure Denki was letting his real thoughts out, mocking everyone now since he couldn't do that after they sober up. Then he would just have to put up that smile again.

"I won't be able to make my body move the way you do. Besides you're pretty, while I'm just a normal guy. Nothing special, my quirk is kinda boring too." Eijirou muttered and watched his hand, it was so normal for him to talk like this. He always thought himself as plain normal, nothing special and his quirk wasn't anything fancy or that special. And it didn't bring him any good either, always just attracting more bad things for him.

Eijirou winced when his words earned him a fillip on his forehead from Denki, who for a moment frowned. It looked strange to see such an expression on his face, so far Denki's been mostly bubbly and happy person, even though there were moments where Eijirou could see cracks on his invisible mask too.

"What was that for? That hurt..." Eijirou asked and massaged the space where Denki had flicked his finger.

"Don't talk like that, bro. You are special and I think you're pretty. You're pretty enough to attract attention from Nakhti and that guy really is after beautiful things. Damn it, you don't even know how many times he's tried to buy me from my master!" Denki looked serious, but after the last sentence he laughed quietly, in a friendly way.

Eijirou was staring at him now, confused but his words were repeating in his mind. And before he noticed, his cheeks were getting redder slightly. This was probably the first time he felt like this after someone told him he's pretty because really, he doesn't feel that way at all. But the way Denki said it to him.... Denki, who is really pretty and in a different level than Eijirou.

"Denki..."

"What?"

"Thank you."

It was Denki's turn to look confused, but he quickly flashed his typical smile and nodded. He was probably happy that Eijirou was quickly becoming his new friend, it was most likely his plan all this time ever since he decided to get Eijirou to another room with him.

The thought of making friends with Denki didn't seem so bad to Eijirou either.

Chapter Text

Being able to meet Denki more often turned out to be something Eijirou started to love very fast. Their owners met up whenever they had a chance and it always meant that they would bring their fancy slaves with them as well. It was more of a show off between the two, but Eijirou and Denki didn't really care. They were happy to see each other and exchange all the crazy things they've experienced since the last time they met.

It was more like Denki explaining it though. Rasui seemed to be more active with work and to boost his ego, which always lead Denki to see and try new things. The blonde boy was quite often very excited and happy about it, though Eijirou knew that deep inside Denki too despised many things. It was just a habit of his to look happy most of the time, no matter how much he hated something. And he was curious little shit sometimes, just like Eijirou.

Still, it didn't mean that some of the things he experienced were the worst. At least if you were able to look past the people around his owner.

What he found a bit disappointing was the fact that even though Denki spoke a lot about his friend, Hanta hadn't showed up yet. He seemed to be a good friend, at least if you believe everything what Denki says. Eijirou could see that the blonde has some kind of admiration and respect toward his friend and it made him strangely happy for him. Everyone deserves at least one person they look up and admire. And what Eijirou had heard, the respect between Denki and Hanta was mutual.

In a way it was a nice change to the typical picture. Denki's position and the way he was treated made it hard for him to get friends. It was the same problem what Eijirou noticed earlier. Servants didn't want to talk with them and other slaves turned their backs on them too.

However, Hanta seemed to genuinely respect Denki and interact with him without any sort of jealousy or nasty attitude. It was rare and probably one of the reasons why Eijirou's curiosity was growing. He really hoped that he'll meet this Hanta soon.

"Oii, we're here!" Denki's voice could be heard among the people and a smile was already sneaking on Eijirou's lips. He rarely smiled while he was with his owner, but the sight of the familiar energetic blonde was enough to make him feel happy.

Rasui didn't seem to appreciate the way Denki got easily so loud, so it wasn't unfamiliar to see him put his hand on his shoulder to calm down the boy. Usually it was enough, but Eijirou had seen couple times how Rasui had slapped him if he didn't obey. It wasn't even a proper slap, more like a gentle tap on the back of his head but he didn't like seeing it. Denki on the other hand just ignored it, never really getting upset about it.

Their masters exchanged greetings and got busy talking about the chariot race what was about to start soon. Watching chariot races was one of their mutual hobbies and the gambling what came with it was another one. They liked to gamble a lot and they usually were able to choose horses that either did really well or even won the competition. Not always but often enough to keep coming back and play.

And just like that, as soon as they met in the middle of crowd, both Rasui and Nakhti went to place their bets on the outcome of the race. Eijirou and Denki just followed them rather slowly, catching up with everything since the last time they saw each other.

"Too bad Hanta isn't here today either. I told him about you and he's eager to meet you!" Denki exclaimed and then that familiar smirk was all over his face again. Eijirou couldn't help but smile in response, something about the way Denki smiled just made him feel little bit of happiness too.

"You talk quite a lot about Hanta. Do you have a crush on him, Denki?" Eijirou asked curiously, not really trying to tease the other or anything but the way Denki suddenly just laughed made him raise his other eyebrow in confusion. Oh, this was interesting.

"I didn't know you like to joke around, Eijirou. Hanta's my best pal!"

Eijirou doubted about whether that was the truth or not but he decided to drop that subject. He didn't want to make Denki feel uncomfortable or tease him, being afraid that he'd get mad at him or decide to not talk with him. Though he knew the blonde wouldn't do that, Denki wasn't really a person who'd get mad so easily that he decides to cut you off of his life completely without any warning.

"Well, anyway. It's a chariot race day again. I can't believe they're here again. I think there might be a horse or two what has caught their eyes and they're wondering if it's possible to buy them", Denki explained after their gazes went back to the backs of their masters, changing the topic quickly as well. Their owners were already placing their money on the table and making bets.

It was such a waste. Eijirou couldn't really understand that habit either. Every now and then they won money, but most of the time it seemed like they were losing it more than winning it. All that money's just getting wasted like that. It kinda made him upset at times, there were a lot better ways to use it. At least Eijirou could come up with things to use the money for instead of putting it in a gamble like this.

As soon as they were back to watch the actual race starting, Eijirou couldn't help but sink into his own thoughts again. Seeing horses in a races like those were a whole another world of its own. It was so different from the chariots they usually pulled, but then again not so much. And seeing the horses gallop fast as they were racing reminded him about a certain blonde who could easily participate in a competition like this.

Eijirou had tried to keep Bakugou family out of his mind, but as soon as Nakhti had brought him to watch these races, he couldn't help himself. At some point during the races his thoughts just betrayed him completely.

But really, he could imagine Katsuki Bakugou participating in this kind of entertainment. Judging by all the times he had seen him handle the horses and control the chariot, Eijirou just knew that he would be very good at this.

Maybe he was putting way too much focus into that thought. A sudden nudge on his left arm brought him back to the real world, his head turning to the person who had done that. Denki was curiously studying the expression on his face before he laughed quietly. He probably got some funny ideas again, judging by the reaction he had.

"You looked very serious for a moment, until a soft expression passed on your face. What were you thinking?" Denki asked, being the usual nosy brat like always. Eijirou had learned very fast that Denki was pretty nosy whenever he found something interesting. And since he was trying to make their friendship good, his curiosity got the best of him sometimes. He never really meant anything bad.

"Nothing specific. It's just amazing and kinda manly how they drive those horses. Horses are beautiful animals, I've never had a real chance to even pet one." It wasn't really a lie, Eijirou admired the horses and the chariots they pulled. It was just so astonishing to see a big and strong animal like a horse pull chariots fast and with ease.

No wonder they were seen as majestic animals. Eijirou agreed with that. And it wasn't a surprise that horses were one way to show statuses in this society, only rich people were able to own one or more.

Denki hummed in agreement, but he was still staring at him rather than moving his gaze to the galloping horses. Clearly that wasn't the only thing Eijirou had thought and the blonde was going to find out about it sooner or later.

"Horses are pretty, but they can be really scary too. I've seen the bite marks horses can leave if they bite hard enough and the strength they have in their legs is unbelievable. Just imagine what one good kick can do to a person. But they're cool. I've been in a chariot before and on a horse's back too." Denki was explaining his experiences with horses but he noticed soon the surprised look on his friend's eyes. The way he stared at him now felt like he had grown another head, why was Eijirou so surprised suddenly?

"You've been on a horse's back?"

Oh. That explains the confused expression on his face. Denki nodded and smiled sheepishly, like a kid who got caught from stealing something.

"Yeah. My master had bought another horse and wanted to show off, so he made me ride it. Not like I really controlled it or anything, just sat on its back while he was leading it. I can't say whether I liked it or not. Horses are just so unpredictable if you ask me. And Hanta has told me that they get spooked very easily, so another reason to keep a distance to them." Denki was little bit embarrassed to admit that he was more cautious when it came to horses. But he couldn't help it, better safe than sorry.

Eijirou understood it, however. While donkeys were pretty calm but stubborn animals, horses were the kind that got worked up and while they obeyed better than donkeys, they had more strength to cause bad injuries.

He was honestly surprised to hear that Denki has been on a horse's back. He was little bit jealous to be honest, even though he was sure that if he was given the same opportunity, he would probably refuse it.

And thinking about it, his thoughts were dangerously escaping back to the certain blonde who had visited the construction site. Denki was right when talking about how risky it is to be around the horses, but knowing those facts, Eijirou admired Katsuki even more.

Eijirou shook his head, he really should stop letting his thoughts trail to him. Why does he even think about Katsuki so much? Maybe his admiration was stronger than he thought. Maybe he was even jealous. But he had to admit that remembering how Katsuki made it look so easy to ride a horse, he couldn't help but admire him. There was something about him that stole his attention completely, but he couldn't really pinpoint what.

Sometimes he wondered if it was just the fact that Katsuki was everything he wasn't. He's very gorgeous and handsome, he has a quirk but he's still accepted and admired by the society. His family doesn't hate him and his self-confidence is probably on a whole another level. But the most biggest difference between them was the fact that he has his freedom, while Eijirou will never have that again.

"Oh, I think you're thinking about someone special, am I right? Hmm? Who is it?" Denki suddenly asked, grinning ear to ear while studying his expression and reaction. Damn he noticed little things rather quickly.

"It's nothing like that." Eijirou knew that Denki, being the curious person he is was never going to accept that as an answer.

"Really? I doubt about that."

Eijirou frowned for a little bit before he let that small smile return to his face. He can't be mad at Denki, his positive energy is very contagious after all. "I think you should spill the beans instead before getting nosy about my thoughts."

They stared each other silently for a moment before they both were finally laughing quietly. Eijirou can't even remember the last time he laughed, so it was a very welcomed right now. Their owners were probably confused about what they were doing but they didn't care.

Eijirou was very grateful that he had met someone like Denki. The way he gave off that positive energy was very pleasant.

For a moment, Eijirou felt like he was happy again.


 

Eijirou knew this was all just a theater. It wasn't like he was really anything special to his owner, only something to make him boost his stupid big ego. He hated it so much and he was waiting for Nakhti to snap at him. He was going to do that, it was a hunch but Eijirou just knew it.

It had been couple weeks since the last chariot race and meeting with Rasui and Denki. Somehow Eijirou was disappointed and little bit sad, he wanted to meet his energetic and happy friend because he helped him with his negative feelings. He wasn't sure if Denki himself knew about the impact he has on him, but Eijirou was aware of it and cherished the moments he can have with him.

Too bad Nakhti has been busy these past weeks. He's been busy with socializing with other people, which meant Eijirou had to see more of the nasty people he rather not would want to meet. And all of them were just as nasty as his master, if not even more disgusting. The way they looked at him was horrible and those gazes always made him worry about what's going to happen to him next.

And it was getting worse.

Some of them got too close to him, but it wasn't all that made him so disgusted and feel like he wants to throw up. His hair had grown longer and it seemed to make them be more fascinated about him. And before he was able to react to it, his hair was getting touched more and more constantly. Nakhti didn't even care or just enjoyed it. Enjoyed when his friends wanted to touch Eijirou's hair and then compliment how soft it is.

Eijirou himself hated it. To the point where he started to hate his hair for the first time, he never had a problem with it until now.

That and another problem what seemed to rise up with the longer hair was the chance of pulling his hair if he tried to turn his head and look away. Luckily that almost never happened but one time was enough to bring back the memories of the guard yanking his hair so hard it felt like his scalp was going to tear off.

And a memory like that triggered other bad memories, coming back into his mind like a flood full of despair and pain.

He hated his life. He really hates it.

When the perfect moment appeared, Eijirou didn't hesitate to make use of it.

It was one of the rare days when Nakhti actually left to do whatever work he did and left Eijirou alone. He loved those days because he got an actual chance to be alone and get some desperately needed rest. And since the servants didn't care about him, he really got a moment for himself.

This time he couldn't just sleep. The small voice inside his head told him to do something about the situation, to make it almost impossible for anyone to tug his hair or even play with it like some of Nakhti's acquaintances seemed to prefer. Screw their preferences.

Eijirou will never understand how Denki managed to ignore all those nasty touches, all those disgusting and greedy gazes. He really is a strong person, even though he likes to say that it's because of his friendship with Hanta. He never really tried to pry into his personal life, or what little personal life he has. But maybe there was some truth about his words, too. Maybe having a friend who can be there for you at the worst moments really helps you move forward with all that shit around you.

Without any second thoughts Eijirou cut his hair with the sharpest knife he was able to get a hold of. Watching his black locks fall to the ground was both satisfying and sad. Satisfying because this is what he had wanted and he could feel the heavy feeling on his shoulders vanish slowly. But at the same time he was sad that people around him were able to mess him up so badly that this was one of the solutions to get away from them.

His hair was pretty short by the time he was done. It still covered his ears but it didn't reach his shoulders. He wasn't very satisfied with it but hey, it wasn't that bad either. Good enough.

Eijirou didn't think things through completely when he decided to cut his hair.

He realize it when Nakhti returned home that night.

Nakhti knew something was going on immediately when he stepped inside his house. The atmosphere was strange but he couldn't tell what was making it that way.

Well, he understood it finally when he saw Eijirou.

"What have you done, Eijirou?" Nakhti asked instantly when he saw him. The black tufts of hair were still on the floor and Eijirou was nervously preening his now short hair, weighing his options about whether he should answer to the question honestly or not. He knew his master liked his hair a lot, he had said that when Eijirou asked why he bought him.

He felt the same nervousness crawling slowly back. He never really got rid of it, it just disappeared for a moment after he cut his hair. But now under the sharp gaze of Nakhti, it was coming back twice as bad. His shoulders tensed up and he couldn't make any kind of eye contact with the older man.

"I cut my hair, master." Eijirou felt the gaze getting more intense on him. Like at any point now he was going to get crushed under it.

"I can see that", Nakhti started and walked closer, making Eijirou instinctively back away to his dismay. "Why did you do that?"

Eijirou hesitated. What kind of answer was he looking for? If he answers honestly, will his master get angry? But can he come up with a good lie? Eijirou was one big mess and he knew that. It didn't help at all that Nakhti was getting closer.

He backed away as much as he could before his back was pressed against the cold wall. His escape routes were blocked by the time Nakhti was standing very close to him, in fact so close that Eijirou could feel his breathing on his face.

"Why, Eijirou? Answer to me."

Eijirou was avoiding his gaze, trying to watch anything else except him. He really didn't want to answer to that question. Why did he need a permission for cutting his hair? It's his, he can do whatever he wants. But knowing his master, Nakhti thinks he owns everything from his freedom to his body.

"Look at me."

When he still kept his eyes somewhere else, Nakhti grunted and put his hand on his jaw, turning his head to make their eyes meet. "Why?"

Eijirou was very intimidated by his presence, the way his ice cold gaze just felt like it was drilling its way through his eyes. He was still waiting the answer to his question and now that he had taken the chance of not looking at him away, Eijirou knew he was defeated.

"It was getting too long to be comfortable." It wasn't really a lie, longer hair was harder to keep looking nice most of the time. But it wasn't the biggest reason he had done that but maybe it was better to not tell that to Nakhti. Who knows what he would do if he heard the real answer.

Nakhti was displeased and Eijirou saw that. He didn't like the answer at all and what made everything worse was the feeling like everything had frozen completely. He was just staring at him without saying anything else. Eijirou wanted to escape and run, but his master was so close that there was no way he would be able to do that.

Another displeased grunt escaped from Nakhti's mouth while he moved his free hand to touch Eijirou's hair, testing the feeling of familiar but at the same time completely new hair. The length wasn't really too bad but he probably liked the longer hair better.

He felt his master grab a handful of his hair between his fingers, not really being able to yank them that much. He was secretly happy about it, feeling a little bit more safe now that he knew he had cut enough to safe himself if anyone tried to yank his hair.

"But you know, I still have to punish you because you've been bad."


 

He was able to meet Denki again when another party was finally held at Rasui's place.

Eijirou hated how Nakhti had dressed him up even fancier this time, making sure he attracted enough attention to let everyone know how good things were for him. Well, maybe it fooled everyone else but Eijirou himself knew better that things weren't in fact that good. His whole life was crumbling at this point and he wasn't sure how to even fix anything.

Nakhti had punished him because he cut his hair without a permission, but it was one of the weakest punishments he had experienced. Though whip was present and his back wasn't in the best possible condition, it still had hurt. Nakhti made sure to not hit with too much strength, he didn't want to ruin him after all. The wounds from the time he got whipped at the construction site were still there, slowly healing but visible enough. Maybe that's why his punishment wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Denki greeted them again at the door with his sweet and happy smile, welcoming them and this time letting them step inside before Rasui catches them standing at the door again. Nakhti was soon studying some jewelry Denki was wearing, but the blonde just smiled and his gaze went right past him to meet with Eijirou's eyes. They exchanged wordless greetings.

Everything was going the same way as it had been the first time. Guests were getting drunk very fast and before Eijirou could put his thoughts into this situation too much, Denki was there again to perform his dances and attracting the attention completely to himself. In a way Eijirou was very grateful, but then again he felt bad for Denki. But the blonde was so used to it that he shouldn't feel that way for him.

While watching his dance Eijirou tried to not look around him, remembering very well what Denki had told him about the guests. Absolutely disgusting.

Luckily he was able to distract himself enough by watching his friend and admiring his skills. He didn't want to admit it but his favorite part was when Denki used his quirk, it really looked like sparks of lightning were dancing with him. It was beautiful and nice touch to the whole dance number, especially since the room was dimmed enough to highlight it.

When Denki was done with dancing, it didn't take long until he came to take Eijirou with him. Nakhti was trying to coo him to stay with them instead, but Denki knew how to refuse in a way that wasn't rude. Eijirou was feeling a lot better when they were walking away from the room full of drunk people and being close to his new friend calmed him down.

They were at the back room again and as soon as they arrived there, Eijirou let out a loud sigh, not even knowing he had hold his breath for a moment.

"You okay?" Denki asked and opened the back door, letting the chilly night air come into the room. He turned his eyes back to Eijirou, his gaze investigative as he tried to study his expression and understand what was going on in his mind. He had a hunch that something had happened during the past weeks and he was going to find out about it.

Eijirou just shrugged his shoulders and sat down on the reed mat and pillows, avoiding Denki's gaze for a little while before finally making eye contact with him. "I guess. It's been just... well, rough weeks. I haven't been able to relax that much."

The way Denki raised his other brow was enough to let him know that the blonde doubted that. Though he couldn't complain, Eijirou looked little bit more tired than usually. But he could sense the tense atmosphere and he knew something more was going on. Eijirou just wasn't the type of person to drown others with his own problems, instead he liked to bottle up everything and just focus on others instead of himself. That wasn't very healthy way to handle feelings. That's why the blonde tried to make him tell everything, it would ease his mind.

Denki sat down next to him and stretched his arms, letting his body finally relax while knowing that he doesn't have to dance tonight anymore. The party in the other room would eventually quiet down as the guests drink enough to pass out like always.

"I like your new hair. Though it's a little bit uneven, want me to fix it for you?" Denki smiled as he waited the answer, paying more attention to his hair now that he was close enough to do so. Eijirou knew he didn't mean anything bad but he felt little embarrassed, of course it was uneven because he hasn't really cut his hair that much before.

"If I cut it anymore shorter, my master's going to lose his marbles for sure", Eijirou hesitated, his shoulders slightly tensing when his blonde friend laughed loudly. Did he say something what the other found funny? Eijirou didn't understand.

"Don't worry about that, I'm sure Nakhti lost his marbles long time ago already. But it's okay if you prefer it that way. I mean it doesn't look bad at all, but little bit of fixing might do some tricks and make it look more stylish. I know how hard it can be to cut your own hair in a way that it doesn't end up looking like a mess." Denki's gaze was friendly and he was carefully leaning closer, he probably had that kind of habit to be close to others. But at the same time he was checking if Eijirou felt uncomfortable, ready to back away if he found any signs of that.

Eijirou was lost for words, thinking about the offer until finally he nodded while another sigh escaped from his mouth. Nakhti already punished him for cutting his hair, there's no way he'd do it again just because his friend tried to fix it for him.

As soon as Denki was given the permission, he went to fetch the knife that would do the job and returned soon after. Eijirou was sure he saw some kind of excitement in his eyes but he didn't dare to say anything, letting him do whatever he felt like needed to be done with his hair.

Denki was very careful while working with his hair. He made sure he never tugged it too hard and his usual blabbering was calming the whole atmosphere in the room. Eijirou didn't even focus on what he was really saying but he liked to listen his friend's voice. It was so soothing and full of positive energy, he has never met anyone who could talk nonsense like that without making him feel frustrated or bored.

"What made you cut it?" Denki asked suddenly, earning a groan from his friend. He really didn't want to talk about why he did it, but it was getting way too easy to open up for Denki. The blonde was just a literal ray of sunshine who helped him forget the ugliness of this world for a moment.

"It was getting too long", Eijirou answered, biting his lip while his gaze fell on the floor. "And I hated how everyone wanted to touch it."

Denki hummed in agreement and continued fixing his hair. "I understand very well what you mean. This is the longest I'll ever let my hair grow. People like to touch my hair very often, especially the dark streak because they won't believe me when I tell them it's natural and I haven't colored it."

It was interesting to hear that, Eijirou had wondered whether the black lightning-shaped streak on his hair was done with some kind of color or not. "It fits you. Clever way to drop a hint about what your quirk is, lightning boy." Eijirou couldn't stop the smirk that appeared on his face, it was just so easy to talk with Denki.

The blonde stopped what he was doing and laughed, making Eijirou proud of his choice of words. "Lightning boy? Ouch, Eijirou you're a total meanie. From now on I will call you rock boy if you call me by that name again."

It was Eijirou's turn to laugh quietly and it felt amazing. It's been a while since he's laughed or joked around, so this was a pleasant moment between them. And Denki's nickname for him didn't sound too bad either, his quirk did resemble rocks every time he hardened part of his body.

Their laughs and jokes were cut short when someone knocked at the back door before opening it more. Head of a dark haired boy peeked into the room and when he saw both Denki and Eijirou, his mouth stretched into a wide smile and he greeted them before stepping inside.

"Sorry I'm late, donkeys were giving me hard time with the whole attitude of being stubborn and stuff. And that nasty horse almost bit me again, like always. It clearly hates me for bringing it into the stable every night." His expression didn't change at all while he explained his apparently typical night, which in reality sounded kinda wild. At least the part with the horse, Eijirou was familiar with donkeys and he knew how annoyingly stubborn those little devils can be.

Denki laughed with him for a moment while Eijirou was left there feeling kinda out of the place. Clearly those two have strong friendship between them and it reminded him about the fact that he had lost all of his previous friends. Damn, how world is just mocking him at this point.

"Well, anyway. What are you guys doing?" The black haired boy asked while he walked closer to take a better look at them, but still he kept his distance in case Eijirou didn't like to have him too close. "Oh! Sorry, I almost forgot to introduce myself. I'm Hanta. I assume you're Eijirou, am I right? Denki has talked about you and I really, really wanted to meet you too!"

Eijirou wasn't surprised by the fact that Denki had talked about him to Hanta. He was more likely surprised by the fact that Hanta had wanted to meet him. It made him wonder just what Denki might have told to his friend about him? There really isn't anything interesting to tell about him.

He slightly nodded to him but as soon as he did so, Denki scolded him about not moving his head too much because he didn't want to cut his hair accidentally more. The small apologize was already on his lips, but it was Hanta who instead apologized, saying that he distracted him so it's his fault.

"I'm fixing Eijirou's hair. This is a chance for you to see how stylish I can be and I have skills to cut hair too! Watch out Hanta, you might be my next victim." Denki announced proudly, making both of his friends laugh. It was one of his secret powers, Eijirou decided. It was the only explanation why Denki was able to make him laugh too.

"Denki no. I can cut my own hair, thank you very much. And do you even remember the last time you cut your own all by yourself? What a disaster. I can not unsee it, I'm sure I've had a dream or two about it. Or more like nightmares."

"It wasn't that bad! Be careful or you'll wake up bald tomorrow if you try to hurt my feelings like that."

"You're not that mean, are you?"

"Pffft I hope that horse bites you next time."

Eijirou smiled slightly while he listened the play argument between Denki and Hanta, it was so playful that there was no doubt that they are good friends. Though after hearing about Denki's hair disaster, Eijirou was worried if he ends up with a hair disaster too. Almost regretting to let his friend fix his hair.

It didn't take long until he was finally finished and when Denki left his hair alone, Eijirou run his fingers through his black locks, making sure it wasn't a hair disaster. He was happy to discover that Denki indeed has done good job and his locks didn't get that shorter.

"Thanks Denki, it's good." Eijirou noticed Denki's expression getting pouty for a moment before that trademark smile returned.

"Good? It's perfect! A masterpiece! And no need to thank me, I'm always there out for helping a bro in their time of need." Denki was full of proud by now, clearly showing off Hanta since he dared to doubt his skills. After shooting a glance at his direction, Hanta raised both of his hand in the air in defeat, admitting that he did good job. Denki looked like a spoiled brat, very proud of getting praises.

Denki and Hanta had another round of their playful argument and this time Eijirou was able to just watch them, not paying that much attention to what they were now having an argument about.

Hanta didn't look like a bad person at all. His black hair was straight and at the chin-lenght, with a jagged bangs on his forehead. He didn't look that different from others, except his oddly shaped elbows that stood out. But Eijirou didn't want to stare too long, he knew how uncomfortable it can get if someone keeps looking at you like they're judging. And he's not judging him at all. But he couldn't help but wonder what kind of quirk Hanta has, he assumed he has one because of the shape of his elbows.

Eijirou didn't even notice how he had fallen into his own thoughts again, ignoring everything around him. Only when Denki snapped his fingers in front of him he was brought back from his thoughts.

The two boys had already stopped their argument and were looking curiously at him, probably wanting to know what he had been thinking. Thinking so much that he ended up ignoring them completely

But instead of being nosy they just tried to make a small chitchat with him.

"So you're Nakhti's new addition to the collection? I'm little bit surprised. Don't take me wrong like I'm judging you or anything, I don't mean it that way! Just... I remember how he was so persistent about getting that bird boy and he kept talking on and on about him. What changed his mind?" Hanta asked and Denki slapped him gently on the shoulder, shooting a glare at him because his words sounded pretty bad. Not on purpose of course.

"I guess he got tired after chasing a dead end. I used to work at one of the construction sites but me and my friends sneaked up to visit Fumikage at the temple and he saw me. Saw me using my quirk too and then he one day just showed up, revealed what I was doing and offered to buy me after I got punished because I can't be trusted." Eijirou didn't like to tell those things, it hurt to even recall them. The expressions on Denki and Hanta's faces dropped and they glanced at each other before their gazes returned to him.

"Ah, I'm sorry for being too nosy. It was rude", Hanta apologized immediately but Eijirou just shook his head in response.

"It's okay. The whole world is already mocking me so I don't mind. I'd be a liar if I didn't agree with you. Every day and night I wonder why he decided to buy me because there really isn't anything good about me. Nothing that catches anyone's eyes nor a useful skill." Eijirou hated to admit these feelings but sometimes he felt like he really needed to say them out loud or else they were going to boil inside him. He was sure at some point he'll burst with all negative feelings that's been building inside him this long, judging by the way he was spilling some of the beans already.

He wasn't sure what kind of replies he was expecting from them, but when he felt Denki slap gently the back of his head, his attention was immediately at the blonde. He didn't expect that. And he didn't also expect the sad expression on Denki's face, which just looked so wrong since he was so used to see him being so bright and happy all the time.

"I already told you to not say those kind of things, Eijirou. I'm sure there's many things where you're good at and you're not just someone who looks plain normal. Also your quirk is cool! I mean, it's not so flashy like mine but it's not definitely bad either. Even though I've seen you only using it on your fingers, I think it's great. Please stop being so harsh to yourself, you're amazing." Denki's voice was honest and it sounded like it was about to crack at one point, but the blonde kept himself together very well.

Hanta nodded and agreed with him, though he couldn't really comment anything about Eijirou's quirk since he hasn't seen it. "Plain normal? Dude, can't you see me? I'm the plain normal here! But seriously, go easy on yourself okay?" It was weird to get encouraging words from Hanta who didn't even know Eijirou at all, except the things he had heard from Denki. But he was still there giving him all the support he needed. Eijirou understood why Denki kept telling him that Hanta is a great guy. He really is.

After that they all sat down in silence, waiting for someone to break it. Surprisingly it was Eijirou who this time decided to crack the ice between them.

"I heard I'm not the first person with quirk who's in his collection. What happened to the others? His servants are all quirkless, so I can't help but wonder where are the others."

The gazes he earned with that were kinda hilarious, both Denki and Hanta looked so surprised, not really expecting to get that question. Then they were clearly thinking hard, trying to find out a proper answer to the question.

"Honestly? I'm not quite sure myself either. Do you know something about them, Denki? I'm sure Rasui and Nakhti have probably talked about that subject?" Hanta was the first one answer, leading the question on Denki who was still thinking hard.

Confused look visited his face quickly, before it changed into a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry, my information is almost as limited but I've heard something."

The curious gazes from both Eijirou and Hanta were giving enough pressure for Denki to continue telling what he knew about it.

"I've heard that some of them actually escaped and at least one of them died by her own hands. But sometimes he's gotten tired of them and just ended up selling them. Especially when he was after the bird boy, he was getting so crazy that he sold his previous slaves. I guess he sells them once he sets his eyes on a new one or when the current one doesn't charm him anymore. I'm not sure. "

Eijirou was quietly listening him, taking every word carefully into consideration. He kinda had expected it to be something like that, but Denki was now confirming that small theory.

He repeated Denki's answer over and over in his head, especially one specific sentence caught his attention.

"Hey, uh... there's something I want to do and I think I need your help. Or your advice at least."

Denki and Hanta stared at him now curiously, but they both had a bad feeling about what Eijirou has on his mind now.


 

Eijirou had waited for the day when Nakhti left for whatever he's doing, letting him be alone at the house. It was his only chance.

He was hesitating, knowing very well the effect it would have on his master. Knowing what his reaction is going to be when he sees him again.

His fingers were fidgeting against the small pouch, some kind of excitement and fear swelling in his chest. This was his only shot and if it doesn't work, then he has no idea what else to do. There will be punishment, that's for sure. He closed his eyes, still hearing how Denki and Hanta tried to warn him back at the party.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Hanta asked after he returned back to the room, small pouch in his hands. He looked like he wasn't sure if it was a right thing to give it to Eijirou or not. His gaze moved on Denki, like he was searching some kind of permission but the blonde was as confused as he was.

Eijirou nodded and took the pouch when Hanta finally offered it to him, feeling somehow excited but then again scared.

"That's going to piss off Nakhti for sure. And we can't be sure if it works, you might just receive another punishment, more worse this time." Denki tried to backup Hanta, he was visible uncomfortable now.

Eijirou just smiled like it didn't matter. Of course the punishment was going to scare him, in fact he could already hear a small voice of reason in his head, trying to tell him to stop this childish rebellious act.

Hanta scratched the back of his neck, clearly wanting to say something but instead he just sighed.

"I can't guarantee if it will work, we've only used it occasionally on the horses and the people who participate at the chariot races. It has left visible results but I don't know if it helps your intentions."

If it doesn't work, then it can't be helped. Eijirou didn't really care, he was just desperate to do something to make Nakhti dislike him enough.

Chapter Text

Eijirou stared at himself from the polished bronze mirror while he was running his fingers through his hair, grooming it and trying to figure out whether he liked it or not. The reflection that stared back at him was definitely weird, but he didn't have complains. This is what he had wanted, right?

Nakhti was going to be so mad at him once he sees him.

His eyes moved back to the familiar pouch, Hanta's words coming back to his mind as he remembered how he told him that it might not work at all. Well, it definitely worked, though it took some time and another round before the color really stick in his hair.

If he has to be honest, Eijirou really doesn't have any idea what he is even doing. This isn't clever move at all but he needed to do something. And he wanted to end this disgusting relationship Nakhti was trying to build up for them. He doesn't want to see that lustful gaze anymore, or else he might really throw up in front of him one day.

He's tired of being constantly afraid that his master finally gives in to the temptation and forces him into something he doesn't want to. Well, dressing up to boost his owners ego definitely wasn't something he wanted to do either, but there's even more worse things where Nakhti would try to force him into. And he didn't even want to think about those things, they were too nasty.

As nasty as his owner. There once has been a time when he thought that everyone must have at least a tiny bit of good in them.

Well, that wishful thinking had been crushed ages ago.

If this is enough to make Nakhti want to get rid of him, Eijirou could say that his little mission was successful. Though he would miss Denki, the blonde was a literal ray of sunshine and being with him always eased up Eijirou's mind. Something about that positive energy rubbing into him, he decided.

Denki had become his friend so fast that it scared him. There's a reason why he always tries to avoid that kind of contact with others, the fear of losing friends and getting disappointed chewed him. And every time when it happened all over again, he felt helpless. Why can't he have friends that will stay in his life?

It really felt like he was cursed. Cursed with something that took important People away from him, leaving him suffer alone. He was finally understanding the True meaning of loneliness.

Hanta doesn't seem to be a bad person either. The way he was joking so casually with Denki was kinda fun to watch, but at the same time it made Eijirou feel little bit sad that he doesn't have a friend like him. Or a friendship like they have.

He knows both of them considered him as their friend, even Hanta who had only once met him. He appreciated it.

He needs to thank them both whenever he has a chance. It might be the last time but he's grateful for them to let him have this chance, even though they were against it.

Eijirou felt the excitement and fear swell more when he heard Nakhti's voice, he was back and greeting his servants. Some of them had gotten a better look of what Eijirou had done to himself and judging by their horrified expressions earlier, he just knew this was enough to set him off. To make his owner dislike him. Maybe he was suicidal enough to do something so extreme, something so out of character for him but he couldn't take this kind of life anymore. Whether it's Nakhti who's going to sell him after getting disappointed to his actions, or it's Eijirou himself who ends it all.

He heard his owner moving around the house, getting all comfortable before searching for him.

Some kind of regret was trying to sneak in and for a moment Eijirou wasn't sure anymore if this was what he really wanted. If this was a good plan after all. But he couldn't back away now, no matter how much he might start to regret it suddenly.

No, he has to do this. There's no other way for him to escape.

Eijirou could hear Nakhti's voice getting closer, he was explaining something about how he bought expensive jewelry again but he was cut off when he arrived to the room. Eijirou held his breath for a moment, preparing himself mentally before finally turning around to face Nakhti.

He looked like he had witnessed a murder. His face looked slightly pale, his mind trying to understand what he was seeing. He was lost at words, not really knowing what to say. Eijirou had never seen him like that and he just knew this really had an effect on him. Eijirou couldn't help but feel little bit satisfied by the fact that this shocked his owner completely. But at the same time it was a really stupid idea and he wasn't doing himself any favor right now.

And as expected, slowly his shock started to turn into some kind of rage. He was not pleased at all by the sight he was looking at.

"Eijirou! What is this?" Nakhti yelled, the expression on his face so pissed off that Eijirou even felt like he had put himself in some kind of danger. Maybe that's more accurate than he wants to admit, he was indeed in a danger zone now since he made Nakhti so mad at him. Knowing very well how the older man disliked color red, but still he just had to color his hair with that exact color. Just to piss him off. It was like a death wish but heck it, Eijirou was ready to do anything out of despair right now.

"I wanted to try something new", Eijirou answered with an innocent voice, knowing he wasn't going to fool his master at all. Nakhti probably already knew that he did this on purpose and it made him more angry. It was a rebellious act, something a slave like him shouldn't do. It probably made him look like he's ungrateful but it didn't matter. He hated this, he hated everything about his life at this point.

Nakhti was getting closer, his eyes intimidating as he looked like he might explode with anger at any moment now. "I can see that. But why? Why that color? You know how I hate it so much!"

His hair was almost brick red, still red enough to trigger Nakhti and annoy him. Of course Eijirou knew how he would hate it, he did this all on purpose after all. And it was working, Nakhti looked very displeased by the sight of his hair. He was probably so mad, because first Eijirou decided to ruin his hair by cutting it short and now it was also red.

Eijirou's gaze was now moving around the room, avoiding eye contact with his master. He didn't mean to do that, it was just hard to watch him since he was getting so intimidating. "It just turned out like that. It was an accident."

"An accident? Just how stupid you think I am? It just doesn't turn out like that on accident." He was now so close, leaning forward to look straight into Eijirou's eyes. He knew how his master didn't like his eye color either, but now when his hair was red as well, there was many things what he disliked.

His body was completely frozen still, he couldn't back away or try to escape when Nakhti was close to him. His angry gaze was almost drilling through his eyes and Eijirou knew just how badly he had messed up. But he felt like he had to do it. Maybe, just maybe Nakhti would leave him alone.

He didn't care if people think he's being ungrateful because feeling like he was standing at the edge all the time wasn't worth the treatment he got. It wasn't either worth it how his owner watched him with a disgusting look in his eyes very often, leaving Eijirou feeling unsure about his surroundings and fear that something might happen some day when he accidentally lets his guard down too much.

Eijirou would rather be doing hard work and break his body with it instead of being trapped here with someone like Nakhti.


 

"Well it certainly isn't that bad if you ask me." Denki was clearly fascinated by Eijirou's new hair color, in fact so much that he even asked for a permission to run his fingers through his red hair couple times. It did not feel bad like it usually did when Nakhti was playing with his hair, though it sent a shiver down his spine as soon as the blonde's fingers touched him. Denki noticed it but just carefully touched him, knowing very well how much his friend hated when people usually touched him without permission.

Nakhti was running some errands with Rasui and since Eijirou's whole little hair fiasco was still upsetting him, he had decided to leave him home. Denki wasn't very happy after learning that Eijirou wasn't coming with them, so after pleading and maybe even charming his master little bit, Rasui finally gave in and let the blonde stay there as well. Not like they're going to be alone here, the servants are there and they'll keep an eye on them. Or at least that's what their owners are thinking.

Too bad Hanta wasn't here too, he was probably curious to see the outcome of the henna dye he had given to him that night. Both him and Denki had been curious to see the results, but at the same time they hesitated and doubted his decision. Eijirou was playing very dangerous game with Nakhti.

"My master hates it. But that's what I wanted to happen anyway." Eijirou admitted it finally loudly to someone, even though the blonde already knew it. He never really said it to Nakhti because he wasn't stupid enough to admit it to him, too. Nakhti would be in full rage mood after learning that fact, though he had already gotten so angry with him that Eijirou could still feel the familiar feeling of leather whip hitting against his back. Nakhti usually tried to avoid using it, but that day he had gotten so angry with his new reddish hair that he just had to punish him that way.

It was kinda funny how all his owners used the whip as a punishment. But Eijirou wasn't sure if he'd want to experience any other kind of punishment, who knows how harsh they can be. Even when the sight of whip made him feel like he was going to faint, he endured the pain. He was afraid to use his quirk during it because he's sure every one of his owner would have whipped harder and break him completely if he hardened his back.

Denki's eyes trailed down his red locks to his back and he watched curiously the scars that were left from the time he got whipped at the construction site. He couldn't help but feel little bit uneasy. Seeing those kind of scars reminded how easily he could get same treatment.

"You're a weird one, Ei. Why do you keep doing this to yourself?" Denki looked worried. He wasn't even sure is it a good thing to talk about the topic or if he's crossing the line already but he couldn't just stand there and watch this without saying anything.

"Doing what?" Eijirou asked, confused and turned around to face his friend.

"Hurting yourself in different ways. I mean, I understand what you're going through and how you feel about everything. I can't lie about enjoying this kind of life but seriously. It hurts to watch how you keep punishing yourself over and over again." The way Denki said it sounded just sad. And his eyes were full of worry and even when he tried to hide it, it was still visible. Denki was pretty honest with his feelings when he was around friends. It's amazing, considering how he can put a play with people who he doesn't enjoy. How he can keep his emotions so under control even when he's feeling all that negative energy.

Eijirou wasn't sure how to answer to him. Denki was wrong, he didn't hurt himself. This was just something he did as an attempt of getting away from Nakhti and the things that are around him. Why would Denki even think about him doing that?

He was so lost of words that all he could do was just shook his head, denying everything.

But no matter how much he wanted to deny it, wanted to say it's not like that, the small voice inside his head was screaming. Screaming about how right the blonde was and Eijirou indeed was only getting more troubles with these actions.

They both were silent now. Denki was watching his friend, trying to make some kind of eye contact with him but Eijirou just turned his gaze away and avoided him instead. Suddenly the heavy atmosphere was crushing him, making it feel like it's harder to breath or even think clearly. He could already feel his eyes getting little bit watery, but he was stubborn enough to try denying that too.

There's no reason for him to cry or make himself look pitiful. Not in front of Denki. It was just so hard to believe how anyone could handle these feelings or get used to this kind of life. But there the blonde was, handling everything so well while he just couldn't take this anymore. Eijirou wasn't even trying to deny the fact that his hatred has grown recently to the point where it was hard to keep himself together.

It's hard to try keep on when it feels like you're at the verge of breakdown all the time.

"Eijirou, please. You don't have to endure this all by yourself. You can talk to me, okay? I promise it will stay only between us, I won't tell anyone. Not even Hanta. Just please, look at me and talk with me." Denki sounded distressed. And it made Eijirou just feeling worse because he knew he was making his friend so worried. He never wanted to cause any kind of distress to his friend but this wasn't working either.

Denki placed his hand gently on Eijirou's shoulder, but he quickly pulled it away from his touch. He can imagine the hurt expression on the blonde's face right now. Denki always was giving off a strong vibes, always smiling and acting all tough. But Eijirou knew better that he was very similar to him. Very emotional. The difference between them was the fact that the blonde was just good at hiding his emotions. Good at putting up that invisible mask and ignore things that made him feel disgusted.

His shoulders tensed up in frustration while his sharp teeth bit down his lower lip. This time he was careful enough to not bite too hard, he didn't want to make it bleed again like other times.

He was trying so hard to keep himself together but he was losing the battle. His emotions were getting the best of him and Eijirou just knew it was useless to even try to stop them. Without saying any words, Eijirou went to sit down to the corner of the room where he had put some pillows on the floor so it's not as uncomfortable to sit. He was rubbing his eyes, trying to hold his tears but they were already escaping from the corners of his eyes. Probably rubbing them wasn't the best idea either, he was just making a mess with the kohl on his eyes.

Denki watched him quietly, scratching his other hand nervously because he wasn't sure what to do now. He was never good with words, never really the person who can comfort others easily. Hanta was the one who knew the right words in every situation. Not him.

But still, watching how his friend was slowly revealing the feelings he has been hiding all this time, Denki felt like he needed to say something. And he couldn't just put up a smile and say that everything's gonna be fine, because honestly? He understood Eijirou's feelings so well.

Everything isn't just gonna be fine. You can't just pat someone's head and tell them that it will get better soon. Denki didn't want to tell lies and he was sure Eijirou wouldn't even believe him if he tried to convince him that this is just a harsh moment. Eijirou was already consumed by that pain and sadness that he's never going to believe anything like that.

"I'm sorry." Denki found himself suddenly apologizing while he sat down next to his friend, trying to hold back his own distress. His apology earned a gaze from Eijirou and Denki watched how another tear rolled down his cheek, making a black line with kohl that was coming off from his eyelids. He felt his heart being tugged and for a moment he just focused on breathing.

"No Denki, you are right. Maybe I am hurting myself with all these stupid ideas I've gotten recently. But it's just so hard when everything feels like it's slowly becoming a burden, like a heavy load on my shoulders. I feel like I can't carry it anymore", Eijirou said while deciding to open up his heart and thoughts. These were things what he had kept all to himself, but now he felt like he couldn't stop himself anymore. He needed to say these things out loud before they'll explode inside him.

Ever since he was sold into slavery, Eijirou had bottled up these feelings. Never really wanting to share them with anyone, never talking about them either. He had talked with Mezou and Rikidou, but it wasn't anything like this. He was admitting finally everything he had so much tried to deny or pretend it doesn't exist.

He had tried so hard to be strong and endure everything but now his world was cracking and crumbling. He finally admits that he's not strong at all.

He admits that he is weak.

Feeling Denki's presence in this room was soothing in a way and knowing that his master wasn't anywhere near the house let Eijirou really open up his heart. "Sometimes I just really wish I was dead instead of living like this. I'm so tired and frustrated. I'm living with constant fear and I can't take it anymore. I hate this."

Eijirou's eyes fell on his hands and he clenched them. Lucky for him that his nails aren't sharp or long at all or else he'd make some small cuts to his palms as well.

"I hate this stupid quirk. I hate it so much, it has ruined my life. It truly is just a curse. Nothing more. Just a curse."

The atmosphere felt heavy and intense. Like one wrong move and the whole room would crumble in front of their eyes. The silence between them made it even worse. It was unbearable and Eijirou almost wished that he hadn't said anything.

"I'm sorry, Eijirou. Fuck, I am so sorry, I don't know what to say", Denki finally answered, lifting his other hand enough to wipe his own eyes. "I don't want to pretend like it's okay. Because really, it isn't. I know so well how you are feeling right now. I know, I know so fucking well."

It was Denki's turn to be a emotional mess. It was almost scary because Eijirou always saw him as this strong person who wasn't that much bothered by the position he was put in. Or how disgusting his surrounding area and people are, they never made him flinch. Denki was always handling things so well and without a worried look, so seeing him now losing all that surprised Eijirou.

Denki was better at keeping himself control, holding those tears that tried to escape as well. Eijirou felt bad that he was making his friend feel sad, he never meant for anything like this to happen. But it did anyway, so it's better to try fix things since he started this all.

"I'm sorry Denki, I didn't mean to upset you. I've been trying my best. I promise that, but everything's just too hard. I don't know how to live my life anymore. I just want to get away from him, from all of this. I don't mind if I get sold again to someone who makes me do job that leaves my body aching at the end of the day. At least it reminds me that I'm still alive." While saying all of that, Eijirou was instinctively removing the jewelry he was wearing. He wasn't used to it at all, no matter how much he had to wear them daily. It felt wrong.

The blonde was clearly thinking his words carefully. The whole situation was just awkward, but at the same time uneasy and it was hard to even think of a way out of it. 

"It's okay, really. I'm not mad, in fact I'm little disappointed that I let my own feelings get out of hand. But I hate to see my friends so beaten down. I'm not sure how much of a friend I am to you, but trust me, you're a very dear friend to me already." He wasn't sure was this the right way to approach any of the problems, but Denki didn't feel like hiding that fact either. He doesn't really care how Eijirou sees him or their relationship, but the blonde himself saw them as a great friends. From the moment he met Eijirou for the first time, he knew they were going to get along fine. And he doesn't have that many friends either.

"If it makes you feel better, I can try to ask if my master would be interested in buying you. You know, if we lived in a same house, it might not feel so bad, right? Or Hanta's owner could buy you and make you their stable boy and servant. Then you'd work with Hanta and you wouldn't be alone either."

Eijirou locked his eyes with Denki finally, allowing them to make that eye contact what he had avoided earlier so much. He wasn't very pleased by the fact that his friend wanted him to consider continuing this kind of life, but if he has to be honest, the thought of it doesn't feel as bad as it is right now.

They both knew it was a situation that was probably never going to happen anyway. There's no way Nakhti would sell Eijirou so easily. And no guarantee that Rasui would want him either. Working as a stable boy with Hanta didn't sound too bad either, at least Eijirou was familiar with animals like donkeys.

They were silent after that, Eijirou still rubbing his eyes to wipe away the last remaining tears that rolled down his cheeks and trying to prevent the sobs that tried to escape from him. He didn't need to check himself from the mirror to know what a big mess he was. A loud sigh escaped from his mouth, he messed up his makeup too.

He caught Denki looking at him curiously and Eijirou couldn't help but laugh at that. It was almost a miracle that he managed to do so. Surprisingly it felt good to laugh after going through something so emotionally tiring. "I know, I look like a mess. I guess I should fix it before my master sees it. He won't be happy." Eijirou was about the get up but Denki put his hand on his shoulder to keep him still.

"Honestly, it looks bad. But I can fix it for you. Just tell me where to find everything I need and before you notice it, it's even better than before." The familiar smile appeared on Denki's face and Eijirou was sure that smile was just making the whole room little bit more brighter. He muttered something about how the blonde doesn't have to do that for him but Denki kept insisting that he wants to.

So in the end Eijirou found himself sitting still while Denki cleaned his ruined makeup, blabbering nonsense like he always did and every now and then chuckling to his own words. For a moment the darkness around him was moving away and this moment didn't feel so bad either. Life wasn't always as bad as he wanted to believe, this was just one of the proofs.

Even when Denki got closer to apply kohl and eyeshadow for him, Eijirou didn't feel like he was too close to his liking. The blonde really was someone he considered as his friend, even though he felt like it was unnecessary to befriend anyone since they always disappeared from his life.

Gosh, how he wished that Denki would stay longer with him. Losing friends over and over again was like another curse put on him. He felt some kind of connection with Denki, mostly because they were in the same position as being tools for their masters to show off. For being ignored by the jealous servants who dislike them without any good reason.

"If you ever feel like you need to talk, just kick Nakhti's butt over to my master's house. We can talk all you want and I will listen to you. You can trust me, Ei", Denki promised and let that bright smile stay on his face. It was unfair how he managed to put up that kind of mask every day and just fool people around him to think he's so happy. Definitely a skill what Eijirou could use too.

Before he managed to get any kind of sad expressions on his face, Denki put the makeup away and ruffled his red hair playfully. He chuckled when Eijirou tried to escape, but in the end he just gave up and huffed, letting his lips curl up to a small smile.

"But really, I think your hair looks nice. Red isn't bad color at all, it fits you well. Nakhti is just a wimp loser."

They stared each other for a moment before both of them laughed. Denki really shouldn't say those kind of words so loudly but maybe it was fair since Nakhti was always trying to find excuses to touch his skin.

Eijirou felt so thankful to have Denki here with him right now.


 

After a while Eijirou noticed the fact that Nakhti seemed to be more tense than before. Maybe it was more accurate to describe him being annoyed. He couldn't help but worry about why his master was suddenly so worked up.

Nakhti was like that the entire day. Earlier his horses got their old chariot replaced by the new one since the old one had already seen its better days but still. Eijirou was almost afraid that the man would snap at any minute while they tested the new chariots with the person who had built them.

It was nerve-wracking to say the least. Even though he had been living with his master for some time already, in all honesty Eijirou couldn't still tell what kind of man Nakhti really is. He had seen bits here and there but his real personality was one big mystery to him.

Maybe that's why seeing him being so different was scary.

Eijirou knew he had already pissed off his master completely with these stupid ideas but he was trying to keep his hopes up about getting away from him. He wouldn't even care at this point if he got a return ticket back to the construction site. Even that was better than living this false fancy life what didn't feel like real life at all.

But seeing the man so suddenly change in front of his eyes made him regret little bit about everything. Just a little bit. He won't admit it though, or else it would be considered as a win for Nakhti.

It was surprising to see how Nakhti was for the first time being so irritated that he used more power in his voice, intimidating the servants who were just doing everything he wanted. Serving him food, pouring more beer when his mug was empty. But he wasn't satisfied at all.

"Enough already. Bring me Eijirou and leave us alone, there's things we're going to talk." And with that, all of the servants left him alone. One of them went to get Eijirou, telling him his owner wanted to talk with him. Eijirou could feel how this wasn't anything promising at all.

When Eijirou stepped in the area and noticed how all of the servants were missing, he knew he was going to hate this. He hated it already.

Nakhti's eyes locked with him immediately and he silently watched him. The more he kept watching without saying anything, the more Eijirou felt his anxiety levels starting to rise up. Whatever his owner was up to this time didn't feel good and he wanted to get out of this situation.

"Eijirou. Come here and pour me more beer", Nakhti didn't even ask him, it was a direct command instead.

Eijirou felt his heart beating harder as he did what Nakhti told him to do. There was awkward silence between them as he poured more beer in his mug, trying to avoid making another eye contact with him. He could feel Nakhti's gaze on him. Like he was staring at him and trying to drill his gaze right through, trying to see more than he could.

When he was done and about to back away, Nakhti grabbed his hand while he got up from the floor. Eijirou's gaze was automatically on the side, staring the room instead of his master while he knew it wasn't going to do any good for him. The atmosphere was slowly turning dark, almost poisonous.

"Look at me."

He hesitated, he really didn't want to turn his gaze and face his master. But making Nakhti wait was a mistake, too. He felt his owner's hand on his jaw and how he turned his head to make it harder for him to look away. His eyes met with pair of brown eyes while Nakhti was staring straight into his red ones.

As minute or two passed by and Nakhti still hasn't said anything, Eijirou was sure his stomach was in knots by now. His intense gaze was almost crushing him, like it was trying to destroy the walls he once had built around his mind. Like he was trying to crack and destroy that invisible mask what Eijirou so often was wearing to cover up his real feelings and thoughts.

"Do you hate me that much, Eijirou?" Nakhti asked, looking for some kind of reaction from his slave. He probably noticed Eijirou's shoulders tensing up slightly and it was enough for him. The question came out of nowhere, so he didn't have any time to prepare himself or prevent the reaction.

The honest answer for the question wouldn't make Nakhti happy, so Eijirou decided to try his best shot. "I don't hate you, my master." It was a lie, he knew that and probably the older man caught it too.

"Then why are you doing these stupid tricks? Why are you trying to make me angry?" Nakhti's hand moved from his jaw to his red hair, brushing and playing with it for a little bit while waiting for his slave to answer to the question.

Eijirou was mentally screaming at this point. Nakhti was jumping straight into the matter of heart and he caught him off guard completely. This was bad, really bad. He didn't want to make him mad because who knows what he'll do when he's blinded by rage.

He hated how touchy people were trying to be with him. And he hated how Nakhti was playing with his hair right now, touching him without any permission. The reason why he tried to color his hair was his attempt to chase him away. To make him hate him so much that Nakhti would end up selling him. Or killing, it doesn't really matter at this point. If only he could just escape this fate, this life and these people.

His silence didn't please his master at all. He has to answer to his question, but what would be the good enough answer?

Nakhti was getting impatient, he can see that. The way the older man's brows knitted together, how his gaze was getting colder and sending a shiver down his spine. His hand what was playing with the red locks stopped what it was doing.

"I think I know what you're trying to do. Why are you being so ungrateful, Eijirou?" Nakhti asked, leaning little bit more forward. Eijirou wanted to back away, he could feel other man's breath on his skin but it was like his whole body was suddenly frozen. His heart was beating hard against his rib cage, like it was ready to explode at any moment from fear.

Nakhti moved his hand again, leaving his hair finally alone but his hand was now back at his face. He was caressing his cheek, trying hard to understand what Eijirou was thinking right now. "You would still be at that construction site, working your ass off and destroying your body if I didn't get you out of there. You should be grateful for me. I'm buying you proper clothes, giving you jewelry, feeding you with fine food and treating you more than the slave you really are and deserve. Anyone else would happily be in the position you are."

Eijirou's entire body tensed up when Nakhti was suddenly so close to him that his lips touched partly his forehead and partly his red hair. He wanted to push him away, this was wrong and the instant feeling of disgust washed over him. His owner was revealing again his true intentions, his true colors and that personality he had hidden most of the time.

"You're mine. If you thought I didn't catch up what you're trying to do, then you really are just stupid, Eijirou. I will never sell you. You'll be mine forever." His whispers were like knives that hit all over his body. Suddenly Eijirou forgot how to breath, how to think clearly.

Nakhti just grinned before finally taking his mug and walking past Eijirou and out of the room.

He was left there just standing like a fool, trying to understand what his owner had just said. His world was suddenly collapsing and the tight feeling of despair in his chest felt like it was going to consume his whole body.

There's really no escape from this prison.


 

Days started to feel like a thick cloud of fog with no way to exit from it. That little spark what Eijirou had tried to keep on and going was now getting weaker as the reality started to sink in.

His plan failed and he was obvious enough that even Nakhti had seen through him. That alone was making the reality even more harder to accept, even more crushing that it had been before. Like the constant weight of it was on his shoulder's and little by little the amount of it was getting heavier. It was destroying him and already his spirit had been crushed, only dust of crumb was all that was left.

Eijirou felt lost and helpless, what else could he do anymore? Nakhti still had the upper hand of his situation. Even when Eijirou did his best to change everything what he liked, in the end it just ended up in a failure. It ended up with his owner showing anger, aggressively showing his dominance too.

He was losing this battle.

When it was finally another day when Nakhti left him alone for the entire day, Eijirou decided to think about his situation and if there's any other choices left for him. There's always that one path what's the darkest one and there's no turning back from it. Sometimes it was tempting, at least it would end this all but it scared him at the same time.

Immediately when Nakhti left, Eijirou began to take off all the jewelry he was wearing. Those things would just earn curious gazes and some people would recognize him. Well, they probably did anyway because of his hair what stood out now little bit more.

Sneaking out wasn't unfamiliar either, Eijirou still remembered the feeling of it when he used to follow Mezou and Rikidou during their visits to the temple. The tingle in his stomach at the thought of getting caught was still there, but this time it wasn't as strong or bad as it had been back then.

It was rather easy to sneak out because the servants already disliked him and didn't pay that much attention to him either. Only because he was Nakhti's important trophy they spared a single glance at him time to time.

As soon as he was out of the house Eijirou felt like he could breath little bit more again. Like an invisible chain that was choking him was slowly growing looser and letting him go, making it possible to feel more things or focus into something else than just to the fact that he's suffocating.

He didn't look around that much, instead just focusing on to walking away from the house and the area that had already begun to be too familiar to him. He hoped that no one pays too much attention to him, Nakhti wouldn't be too happy if he hears that his precious slave has been out of the house without his permission. He was probably paying little bit more attention to everything Eijirou did because he already knows what his slave had tried to accomplish.

Even though Eijirou was finally walking outside with little bit of something you could address as freedom, it didn't really feel like that. It still felt like walking in some kind of haze, just waiting for something bad to happen again.

He wouldn't even be surprised if something like that happened. Bad luck seemed to follow him with every step he takes, every decision he makes. Maybe he does have some kind of curse stuck with him. Most of the time he blamed his quirk for that but maybe, just maybe it's something more than just a quirk.

Eijirou didn't pay attention to anything in particular. Not even when his surroundings started to change. He was so lost in his thoughts, thinking what he should do now. Damn, he even tried to make his owner hate him by coloring his hair to the color he hates so much, but instead it brought only more troubles for him.

His little trip came to an end when he was standing at the shore of river Nile, watching as the water was dancing peacefully right in front of him. His sigh was heavier than he had expected as he crouched down and let his hand sink into the cool water.

He could always try to escape. It wasn't hard to come here and this place was perfect for him to think things through since no one was anywhere near and there was little bit of green plants and couple trees to help him hide little bit.

In fact, you could consider this as an escape already. But he was too scared to leave now. He hated it, because he could just walk away and never return back. The way Nakhti already had messed up with him and the fear he had were the reasons why he's most likely going to return back.

The last time he had tried to plan an escape route for himself, he ended up getting caught and being punished by the guard and the architects. Luck was something he wasn't granted with at all, maybe even the god of luck himself just liked to toy with his pitiful life.

Eijirou's expression turned more darker when another thought was whispering quietly to him. Of course there's always the choice of taking his own life and just end this all. He would be lying if he claims he hasn't thought of that before. He could do that right here, right now and no one would suspect a thing. If he's lucky enough, the crocodiles could eat his remains, leaving everyone just wondering where he escaped. It'd be perfect.

The only thing preventing him from doing that is his own fears.

With frustrated sigh, Eijirou raised his hand from the water, only to hit it with his clenched fist. It was unfair, his whole life was a damn tragedy. He never asked for anything like this.

Backing away and sitting down to the ground, Eijirou kept his eyes on the flowing water as his thoughts were trying to settle down. It's no use to cry or have a childish tantrum. It's not going to help him, maybe just make him feel better for a while but in the end nothing changes.

Eijirou closed his eyes and let out another deep sigh. If he wants to get away from Nakhti, he needs a miracle to happen at this point. That's the only thing what might help him.

He was slowly starting to sink into his own world and think things through. For a moment Eijirou just completely shut down the entire world around him and just let his thoughts fly. He couldn't help but wonder. Maybe Denki will be able to convince his master to buy him from Nakhti. Well, Eijirou is quite sure that Nakhti won't agree with that, he had made it very clear that he's not going to sell him. But he's done so with his previous slaves, so what's stopping him from doing it now?

Eijirou wouldn't really mind at being sold to the same household with Hanta either. He's grateful for him to even accept his request to get some henna for his hair. He had seen how the other boy hesitated, but in the end Hanta gave in.

Maybe he was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice the approaching figure. The clop of hooves as the animal was getting closer, panting little bit after galloping so much. Only when it was standing right next to him did Eijirou notice its presence.

So when his thoughts were cut short and he opened his eyes to see what was invading his small personal bubble, he was shocked and surprised at the same time to see a dark horse.

"What the--" Eijirou managed to gasp as he quickly stood up to move away from the animal, not even thinking how his actions would affect the horse. He automatically hardened his other hand what was closer to the animal, like trying to protect himself from it. And his sudden movements made the horse raise its head while it was startled too, almost jumping aside from the surprise.

All the while the rider on its back cursed to himself and pulled the reins to stop it. When the horse lowered its head and calmed down, Eijirou watched how the rider dismounted and lead the horse into the water to get the needed drink . As the animal was drinking and getting pats on its neck, Eijirou realized he actually knew them.

He was now sure the gods were playing a game with him. It felt more like a mocking though, this can't be just a coincidence that him of all the people just ended up appearing here when Eijirou was here too.

His hand turned back to normal while his eyes were fixated on the blonde, the way he pet the horse and made sure the cloth on its back was not anywhere near of falling into the water. Eijirou heard him mutter something about how he's 'going to show off to that half and half bastard' but he had no idea what the other was talking about. His angry muttering was little bit unclear, but shortly after that he stopped it and just focused on his horse instead.

He looked so different from the time when Eijirou was brought in front of the architects. That time he had looked so bored, couple times some kind of sour expression visiting his face while he had observed the situation. But now he looked soft, so focused on to the black horse that he completely ignored Eijirou's presence.

Of course gods liked to mess up with him enough to bring Katsuki Bakugou here from all the other people they could possibly choose.

Chapter Text

Eijirou couldn't believe how bad his luck can be until Katsuki Bakugou appeared right next to him with his horse, scaring his spirit out of him as well. It felt like a bad joke at this point, like gods or godlike figures were just mocking him as much as they possibly can. It can't be just a coincidence that the blonde was suddenly here, Eijirou just doesn't want to believe that.

Gosh, the whole world is trying really hard to make him a laughing stock.

Without saying any words Eijirou watched as Katsuki let his horse have a little rest and drink some water while he was petting it. It was a moment where Eijirou felt like he shouldn't be here watching it, he doesn't belong to the scene and it's like he's interrupting something.

But at the same time he couldn't turn his gaze away or consider about leaving. He didn't want to return his 'home' so soon. He probably should, if Nakhti returns while he is here, he can only imagine what kind of punishments are waiting for him. Eijirou scratched the back of his head before finally sitting down again. Yeah, he's not going to leave any time soon. Maybe it's better to just stay here.

"And how long did you plan on staring my back? Your eyes might burn through if you keep staring."

Eijirou felt his shoulders tense up, he didn't expect the blonde to say anything to him. Since he was acting like he doesn't even exist, it just made sense that he would ignore everything about him. Apparently that's not the case.

"I'm sorry", Eijirou apologized quietly and turned his gaze away, but now in return he could feel a gaze on him. And when he turned his head, his eyes met with the pair of crimson red ones. Katsuki was standing next to his horse, the water level almost touching his knees while his eyes were fixated on him.

His gaze felt like it was judging him hard and Eijirou is feeling like he's shrinking right in front of him. This really sucks. The least he needed right now was someone like the angry blonde to judge him. Eijirou was sure the time had stopped for a moment, as long as Katsuki kept staring at him the world was staying still.

Eijirou let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding when Katsuki finally clicked his tongue and moved his gaze back to his horse, scratching behind its ear and ignoring the redhead completely again. Or that's how it looked like anyway, he was more interested about the horse next to him.

He could feel the tension between them, the atmosphere turning somehow heavier than before. It was weird, it doesn't make sense why it turned out like that but he decided to not pay too much attention to it either. There's really no explanation for it. This whole situation was just absurd and Eijirou's having a hard time to even believe this is happening right now. No way, it's just too uncanny.

"I would be pretty devastated too if my hair looked like that. You're thinking some dark stuff but that's none of my problems. Actually, it kinda pisses me off because your expression is almost identical to that half and half bastard's face." Katsuki didn't spare a single glance at him, he just kept talking while watching the horizon.

Eijirou managed to laugh quietly. It was surprising, but it wasn't a laugh from amusement. It was just some kind of reaction to his words, Katsuki was clearly making fun of him as well. He was sure about that. And who could blame him? Eijirou knew how ridiculous his hair looked, but he didn't regret what he had done. Not a single regret, at least Nakhti didn't touch it as often as he used to.

"I would be pretty pissed off too if I was watching myself. You're not wrong at all", he managed to mutter, mostly to himself but the way Katsuki turned around to glare at him made it clear that he had heard it as well. Not like it was a secret or something, Eijirou was very aware of the fact how pitiful he looked right now.

"Shit, you're talking like that bastard too." The blonde frowned, his sharp gaze just drilling through the red haired boy like it was nothing. It sent a shiver down his spine and Eijirou was sure that gaze was just cracking him more and more. He'll probably end up crumbling right in front of him at this point. That piercing gaze was just too much to handle right now.

He couldn't help but break their eye contact, this was just too much for Eijirou right now. His feelings were already a big mess and he was very close to snap again and probably do something stupid and regrettable after that. He didn't really need to hear mocking words as well, especially when they were coming from Katsuki's mouth. All of the impressions he had gotten from the blonde were shattering again, just like they did at the construction site back then.

He heard Katsuki click his tongue again, it was probably some kind of habit of his. He seemed to do that whenever he was annoyed. Or Eijirou at least assumed that was the case. "Your pouting is really annoying, you know that?"

And that was enough to make his thoughts snap and for a moment he forgot his sound of reason. Forgot what his position is in this society is.

"Just leave me alone okay? I'm not in a mood to hear anything like that. I'm so damn tired to see how you all are the same", Eijirou didn't even notice at first how his subject was getting out of hand, he didn't want to break down but it felt like the words were escaping from his mouth without his permission.

"If I wasn't such a coward, I promise I would have drowned myself ages ago! I know my place, you don't need to remind me about that. I'm just a stupid slave with a quirk, what else you all want to hear? I admit it that I'm worthless. I wish I was never born and at this point I'm just waiting for my death. I hate my quirk so much."

It was weird to say things like these out loud, especially to someone like Katsuki. He was a stranger, Eijirou didn't know him at all. He had heard about him, but that's all he knew. He doesn't know him personally and probably he's just another weak slave to Katsuki. And the blonde won't care how he feels or what he says. He's just a pebble in his path. Nothing to pay too much attention into, or nothing to even acknowledge.

"I promise when I'm done, I'll disappear from your eyes too so don't worry about it! It's not like I was trying to clear my head here. I'll just go home and do what I'm expected to do." He hadn't even realized he was crying until he felt another tear roll down his cheek. It was embarrassing, the kohl from his eyelids was probably coming off as fast as the tears were escaping from his eyes and he couldn't hide his vulnerable self from the other boy either. The line of kohl that was following the trail of tears was giving it away too easily.

Eijirou quickly tried to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand, only to make the mess even worse while tears just kept escaping. Oh how he hated himself and he just wanted to disappear right now. He could feel the gaze on him as well, knowing too well that he was being watched and judged by the person he had admired. He's still admiring him, no matter how much Katsuki was destroying his image in front of him.

"Well that's just fucking pathetic, Shitty Hair."

He didn't even turn his gaze to the blonde's direction, he already knew what kind of expression was on his face. Probably bored like the last time, but also he could imagine Katsuki's eyes watching him sharply as he was looking down on him. No way he would feel any kind of pity and Eijirou never expected any of that either. Pity wasn't helping him or his feelings. He had just reached his limit again and poor Katsuki was here to hear his pathetic words.

"Not all of us can be proud of our quirks. I get it that it's a blessing for you. But to me, it's just a curse. I'll never see it as anything else than that, so it doesn't matter if I keep living or just end it all." Eijirou wasn't sure why he was getting so fired up about this topic, maybe he was just letting out all that frustration what everything had given to him recently. Katsuki will never understand what it feels like to be oppressed, or to be despised because of something that was given to him as an extra skill or ability.

He knew he was getting judged as the silence fell once again. Eijirou had nothing else to say, he was done with his tantrum. He admitted that it doesn't really matter whether he keeps going or not, his fate will never change. His quirk will always be a curse that follows him everywhere he goes.

"If you are waiting for me to show some kind of pity for you, then you're just fucking idiot. I don't care at all. This is how the world works and if you feel like you're weak and want to end it all, then go for it." Katsuki yanked the reins in his hand, leading the black horse back to the shore.

The slosh of water made Eijirou finally turn his gaze back to the river, but instead he was met by the boy and his horse as they were now at the shore. The horse was sniffing the air before tossing its head couple times, earning another yank of the reins while Katsuki's eyes were still on Eijirou.

His intense gaze was almost unbearable, like an invisible hand that was slowly reaching toward his throat to choke him eventually. Those crimson eyes that were intimidating, yet mysterious at the same time.

"You said you wanted to die. Do you really?"

"Huh?"

"You want that, don't you?"

Eijirou was confused. Katsuki's question was sudden but at the same time so direct that it left him just opening his mouth and then closing it like a fish on dry land. His gaze fell to the ground and he tried to understand why the blonde was asking that. Eijirou had thought about it, even wished that something would kill him so he doesn't have to bear with this kind of life anymore. But now that Katsuki was so directly asking about it, he wasn't even sure what to think or how to react to it.

He shrugged his shoulders, but that just seemed to piss off Katsuki even more. "To me, you look like that. So I guess it doesn't matter if I blow your whole face off, Shitty Hair. You can forget about those damn construction sites and owners who keep their slaves as ego trophies."

His head jerked up upon hearing that. What was Katsuki talking about now? Eijirou was still confused, but now he was surprised too. Did the blonde perhaps remember him from the construction site? From the time when he got punished because Nakhti told his secret to everyone. But how? How does he know about the whole fancy slave thing?

Eijirou wanted to ask about it. Ask what he was talking about, but suddenly Katsuki was so close to him, invading his personal space. He managed to catch a closer glimpse of those crimson eyes before he felt a palm against his face, feeling the heat that was already radiating from it as the promised explosion was getting released.

The moment the explosion escaped from Katsuki's hand, all Eijirou could hear was some kind of ringing in his ears. His face felt so warm, like it was on fire and he didn't notice earlier that he was clenching his teeth now.

Katsuki wasn't lying when he told him how he's going to blow his whole face off, helping him to welcome death like it's going to save him from the horrible things of this world. But he couldn't feel the pain what was supposed to come from all of this. Katsuki's hand was still pressed hard against his face, he could smell the smoke from the explosion but also something sweet, too.

His head was spinning and for a moment everything felt like it's frozen still. Eijirou had closed his eyes before Katsuki set off the explosion, so everything was dark too. The only noise what he could hear after the ringing went away was his own heart beating hard. The blood flowing inside his veins while the adrenaline was kicking in.

Is this what it feels like to die?

"Well, Shitty Hair. It looks like you're not anywhere near of wanting to die, after all."

Katsuki moved his hand away from Eijirou's face, the heat from his hand disappearing too. For a moment the red haired boy was staying still, keeping his eyes closed before he finally dared to open them.

The first thing he saw was Katsuki standing in front of him, bending little bit forward to have his eyes almost at the same level as Eijirou's. His frown was gone, replaced by small smirk what Eijirou couldn't really tell if it was a good sign or not. It didn't last long, but he saw it and that's all that matters.

He had no idea what Katsuki was talking about. He's not ready to die? It didn't make sense, just a moment ago Eijirou had talked about how dying would be a good option to resolve his problems.

Only then Eijirou realized why he was in fact still alive. He touched his face to confirm it and when his fingers brushed against the hard, stone-like surface instead of his skin, he knew what had happened.

It was pure instincts.

As Eijirou was realizing he had in fact used his quirk to protect himself from Katsuki's surprise attack, the blonde moved away to his horse that was standing farther now. It probably took more distance when Katsuki so suddenly used his own quirk, scaring the poor thing with this stunt.

Eijirou got up fast, the adrenaline now flowing in his veins as well while he was trying to calm down from the sudden shock of the situation. His heart was beating harder than necessary, feeling like it was trying to carve its way out of his chest. His gaze trailed to the blonde who was patting his black horse before getting back onto its back. He couldn't let Katsuki leave yet, he still had no idea what all that was about. Why Katsuki decided to do something like that or what he meant with those words.

"Wait! Why did you do that?" Eijirou asked, or more like squeaked since he was still in some kind of shock from the sudden danger he was put in.

The blonde turned his gaze and stared at him for a minute, just being silent and his face was lacking any kind of expression to give a hint about what he might be thinking right now. Eijirou was sure he wasn't going to answer to his question, judging by that gaze and expressionless face. And it was confirmed when the blonde clicked his tongue again for the third time and pressed his legs against the horse's sides.

The black horse took couple steps forward before it was stopped again. It was now closer to Eijirou, but still not right next to him. Katsuki didn't spare a glance at his direction, instead just staring straight forward but Eijirou noticed some kind of change on his face. The lack of any kind of expression was gone, replaced by confidence but also something that looked like a hint of satisfaction.

"Just wanted to know if you're a lost case and serious about your pathetic whining or not."

And with that Eijirou was left alone to the shore, watching as the black horse started walking forward again. The blonde's answer raised more questions what needed answers, but Eijirou couldn't move at all. He stared as the horse and its rider were getting farther and farther before the animal finally started galloping, disappearing from the view altogether.

He probably ended up standing still for a longer than he wants to admit, Katsuki's words playing over and over again in his head.


 

The marketplace was crowded as usual. Everywhere you looked at, there was a stall for almost everything. Farmers selling barley, wheat, vegetables and animals with a proud smiles, the craftsmen selling everything from pottery to furniture and jewelry. It was so fascinating, like a whole world of its own.

Eijirou hadn't been there many times but he was curious. Some of his previous masters had taken him with them to the marketplace time to time, but with Nakhti that never really happened. At least not often. Nakhti usually liked to take him everywhere with him, but marketplace was just something where he went alone all the time or sent his servants to do the extra shopping needed.

So when one day Nakhti suddenly decided to go there and take Eijirou with him, he just knew there's something fishy about it. A catch what he couldn't see and even though he was a curious person, Eijirou wanted to refuse. However, Nakhti never asked if he was interested to go with him or not. He commanded him instead and it left no room for him to refuse it since it's what his master wants him to do.

He would be lying if he said that he doesn't enjoy this at all. Nakhti's company was always something what he disliked, but seeing all the hassle and countless people there distracted him enough to not care about him.

Maybe that's a reaction what Nakhti was trying to achieve. Sometimes his actions were shady and quite unreadable. One of the reasons why Eijirou felt somehow nervous around him very often, he couldn't always figure out everything from him and it was enough to keep him staying on his toes. He just wanted to be careful, that's all.

As Nakhti was talking with one of the craftsmen about the jewelry he was interested in buying, Eijirou's attention was somewhere else.

He couldn't help himself as he watched how one of the farmers was checking his animals more often than necessary, clearly taking good care of them and worrying over nothing.

It reminded him about the times when he was taking care of the animals back at home. His family never had many of them, few donkeys and a pair of oxen to help around the yields. They even had a cow at some point. The other ox died right before the time for sowing so they had to use the remaining one only. The death of the ox was probably the first sign and foreshadowing of the bad luck that had been arriving slowly.

Eijirou couldn't help but feel a little bit of melancholy as his memories from home tried to rise up again. Tried to remind him about his life before all this mess, the life he both missed and even hated. It was strange how mind can change after a while.

If he could go back in time to ask himself does he want to return back to home, his answer would be 'yes!' without any hesitation. If someone now would give him a chance to return home, he wouldn't be able to accept the offer. Some part of him wants to go back home, he missed his siblings and parents. But at the same time the other part of him had tried to forget everything, convincing him that it's not worth it. His parents hate him, his siblings won't miss him either. To them, he's always been just a dirty secret that causes only harm and shame.

He's accepted the fact that there's no home for him to return if he ever manages to regain his freedom. Maybe it's better for the sake of his siblings that they won't see him again. With time they will eventually forget him altogether. Probably forget that he even exists, who wants to remember the black sheep of the family?

His thoughts were interrupted when Nakhti placed his hand on his shoulder, telling him to move. He probably bought that jewelry he was eyeing, Eijirou didn't really care about it. The smug expression on his master's face was telling him enough.

They went around the marketplace, through crowds and every now and then stopping to inspect something. Or more like Nakhti did so, Eijirou couldn't care at all. He was curious and he let his gaze wander freely, but he was never interested in things what his master was inspecting. Somehow the greediness of his owner disgusted him, too.

There were many things what he found either shady or just plain disgusting with the way Nakhti sees and thinks of things or does them. But at the same time he was getting so used to them that he didn't pay that much attention either. It was just easier to ignore everything, just like Denki advised.

Just as Eijirou was starting to believe there may not be any kind of catch with this little shopping trip, Nakhti managed to turn the tables around again. "There's one thing I need to show you before we leave."

Eijirou didn't hide his doubting gaze, not like his owner even cared at the moment.

They walked through the crowds of people and Eijirou was surprised by the fact that Nakhti was now so determined to get wherever he was leading them. Seeing him ignore everything else around them was a clear sign that this was most likely the catch Eijirou had waited to find out sooner or later.

All the noise and bustle started to quiet down as they were getting closer to the remote area of the marketplace. Not many people were there, most of them heading toward the slave market. Just a regular slaves, nothing more. That probably should have been a hint to him about where they're heading toward, but Eijirou didn't catch it at all.

The slave market was left behind and just when he was about to ask where Nakhti is taking him, the realization hit him. And it him hard, like a slap in the face.

Nakhti stopped when they arrived to the other slave market. The auction was going on and Eijirou felt his mouth getting dry as he watched the too familiar thing happening right in front of his eyes. His body felt like it was frozen and he couldn't turn his gaze away no matter how much he wanted to do so.

While Eijirou had talked so much about not minding if Nakhti ends up selling him to someone else, the sight of the slave market and all bad memories that came crashing back with it made his whole body stiff. His shoulders tensed up visibly, his heart beating harder and he didn't even notice how his breathing was getting faster.

"What's wrong? Didn't you want this? I thought you wanted to get away from me so much, didn't you, Eijirou?" Nakhti asked quietly and put both of his hands on his shoulders, leaning close enough that Eijirou could feel his breathing against his neck. He didn't even need to turn his head to see what kind of expression Nakhti had on his face. All that smugness was already in his voice, like he was trying to mock him. And he did a damn good job with it.

Eijirou was lost of words. His eyes were nailed to the boy who was being auctioned. The way the seller was giving his best sales talk reminded him about the times he had been standing there, waiting to be sold. The first time he was standing at the platform and seeing all those people, it had been the moment when Eijirou realized how shitty this world can be. It hadn't been the first time when he realized that, but it had been eye-opening moment in his life.

The way he saw world earlier had been so innocent and sugar coated. Just when the reality hit him in the face he had realized how dark and cold this world really is. How ugly everything truly is.

And now as he watched that boy there being sold, he couldn't help but feel pity. The boy was stubborn and didn't want to show his quirk at first, which reminded Eijirou how once he had been as stubborn too. The person he used to be before all this. If he could see his earlier self now, he wouldn't even recognize himself.

The flashbacks of him getting sold by his father flooded his mind, the memories he wanted to forget and avoid tearing all those old wounds open again. It was clear, like he was experiencing it all over again inside his mind. He could feel the burning gaze of his father as he told him that he's dead to him. He was dead to his whole family, they never cared for him. Probably never regretted what they did either.

Suddenly he isn't sure anymore what he wants. Living with Nakhti isn't always that bad, but most of the time Eijirou felt like he's trapped and he wants to break away from his hold. At least when he isn't being creepy or making him uncomfortable, he isn't the worst.

Or is he?

Eijirou doesn't know.

"What do you want, Eijirou? It's right there. What are you waiting for?" Nakhti's quiet whisper near his right ear snapped him out of his thoughts. For a moment he weighed his options and answers. And then he hesitated. That's probably the reaction what Nakhti was looking for this whole time, his hands started to affectionately massage his shoulders.

"Thought so. Let's go home."

He kept his hands on Eijirou's shoulders while he waited any kind of complain from him, any kind of protest or a sign that his slave didn't want to go home with him. But when he couldn't find anything abnormal, Nakhti finally let him have his personal space back.

Eijirou could hear Nakhti tell him to come along, but his eyes were glued to the boy who was getting whipped as he was still being stubborn. Trying to fight back, but slowly his spirit was breaking down. Exactly like Eijirou's had back then. It all reminded him about the bad memories, the fact that he can't even remember how long he's been a slave. Has it been a year already? Probably not yet but right now as he was having his flashbacks, everything felt like it all had happened only yesterday.

"Come now." Nakhti grabbed his hand and started to lead him away, satisfied by the fact that Eijirou's thoughts were all over the place right now. He was hesitating so much, he didn't know how to organize everything what's going in his head right now.

He hated the fact that he was this messed up that things like a sight of the slave market were able to change his mind. No matter how determined he had been earlier.

Eijirou didn't even notice how fast they got back home, his head was still spinning with everything that came crashing back at his mind.

Why is it so hard to forget?


 

Both Denki and Hanta noticed that something is wrong the exact moment they looked at Eijirou. He's always little bit reserved with his feelings, that is nothing new but something was definitely off.

It was another party at Rasui's place, nothing unusual. It's been a while since he organized new one, everyone's been busy. Denki was thankful that one was finally held, this was always his best shot of meeting with Eijirou and catching up with him. Ever since the breakdown he witnessed, he's been pretty worried about his friend.

And while Hanta has met more often with Denki, he noticed his worries but the blonde never wanted to tell him the whole story. He knew it had something to do with Eijirou, but Denki's lips were sealed and he wouldn't tell too much. It's unusual since he was always blabbering about everything, but with this thing he looked to be very serious.

"Hey, did Nakhti do something?" Denki asked after other attempts to make the redhead talk failed. And the reaction he got from Eijirou told him enough, making the blonde knit his brows together as he huffed with annoyance. "I'm so going to zap that bastard one day, just watch me do that."

Before Eijirou managed to say anything to calm Denki down and explain things to clarify that whatever the blonde thought Nakhti had done was wrong, Hanta was faster to react. Spark of electricity ran across Denki's skin and when he seemed to be more calm with his quirk, Hanta placed his hand on his shoulder to snap him out of his little bubble of anger.

"He didn't even say anything, don't jump into conclusions so fast. Calm down Denki." Hanta clearly knew what he was dealing with, the small anger that was building up inside the blonde was stopping and calming down. Denki's yellow eyes were locked with Hanta's dark ones, exchanging silent words. They understand each other so well that sometimes they didn't need to say a word to know what the other one is thinking.

Eijirou felt like he was out of the place, like he didn't belong to the scene at all. Whatever Hanta and Denki were telling each other through their gazes was none of his business. But at the same time it was fascinating to witness that kind of friendship. Rikidou and Mezou had done that too, but it wasn't anywhere near the same level what these two have. It was so much more deeper.

Denki finally turned his eyes back to Eijirou and scratched the back of his head, slightly embarrassed as his cheeks were getting little bit redder. "Sorry, I lost my cool. But if he does anything, I swear I'll zap him into the Nile." Denki wasn't ashamed of the grin that appeared on his face, which in return earned a groan from Hanta. He was so done with the blonde. But still his lips curled up into a smile too before he turned his gaze to Eijirou's direction as well.

"It's okay. He didn't do anything, I swear." It was a lie. Well, sort of. Nakhti always found a different ways to show him his dominance, break his mind or make him hesitate about things. and Eijirou hated it, too. Nakhti was getting so good at turning his head and making him think things all over again that it's almost scary. If he keeps doing that, maybe one day he can persuade him into something he definitely doesn't want to do. Or just force him, after bending his mind enough to break it eventually.

He knew they didn't believe him. He could see the disbelief in their eyes and feel the pressure. It wasn't anything too overwhelming, they never forced him to talk if he didn't want to. Sometimes he was very grateful of it, sometimes he almost wished that they would do it instead.

"But something did happen?" Hanta asked, going straight into the heart of the matter. His way to find the perfect moments to take that kind of brave move earned him all the respect from Eijirou. Hanta knew when to strike with his words and he knew what to say most of the times, like he could read mind or something.

Eijirou's gaze fell to the floor, making it obvious that something indeed happened. Or more like someone happened. Katsuki Bakugou happened. Out of nowhere, as usual.

He was so lost in his own thoughts that the next time he moved his gaze back to his friends, they were already sitting next to him and watching him curiously. Probably waiting him to spill the beans. Hanta was more patient with it, while Denki looked like he was going to explode with curiosity. Curiosity mixed with a slice of worry. Eijirou always felt bad when he saw his friend looking so worried, he liked better when Denki was more carefree and happy.

A small sigh escaped from his mouth, he felt cornered but not in a bad way like Nakhti usually made him feel like. Even though Hanta would probably drop the subject if he avoided answering enough, Denki would keep going until he says something.

It was hard to answer to the question since it's not just the meeting with Bakugou what messed up with him. The sight of the slave market was another thing, the biggest thing what was making him hesitate. He had wanted to get sold by Nakhti so badly, but when he saw that familiar sight, he started to hesitate. Making up excuses as why in fact living with Nakhti wasn't that bad after all. Even though he still wanted to get away from him.

It scared him a lot. His mind was so messed up right now that he was afraid of Nakhti taking advantage of it. Nakhti was clearly trying to show his dominance and ownership over him, it's the only reason why he had done these strange things lately. Eijirou's childish rebellious acts were probably the reason for it.

Another sigh escaped, this time little bit louder than the previous one. "Honestly, I don't even know where to begin. My thoughts are all over the place and I can't organize them right now. I'm not sure what I want anymore." Eijirou moved his gaze back to the floor, not really wanting to make an eye contact with neither Hanta or Denki right now. They understood though, not complaining or asking him to keep his eyes on them.

"I thought I wanted to get sold again, but now I don't know about that anymore. Fuck, I wanted to die so badly too but guess what? I'm not sure about that either. What do I want? Who cares. I don't care. It's like I'm standing in the middle of darkness and I don't know where to go to find the exit."

Eijirou knew it was wrong to pour his worries at his friends' shoulders but he had to say these things out loud. If he put them into words, they became so unbelievable real to him as well. He admitted of not knowing what to do or what he even wants anymore. He's confused and it's like there is no correct answer to his questions. And he doesn't know what to do either.

Denki and Hanta glanced at each other quickly, worried beyond belief but not knowing how to deal with this problem. They could see how Eijirou was standing at the edge with these thoughts, but there's no clear answer they can give to him.

Staying silent wasn't the right thing though. Their gazes turned back to Eijirou and Hanta decided to push his luck, hoping he wasn't taking it too far with his next question. "What changed your mind?"

Eijirou bit his lower lip gently, pondering what he should answer to that. 'What' isn't the correct term here, it's more 'who' than anything else. But he didn't want to correct the question either. He's not even sure if he wants to tell them who exactly changed his mind this time. It definitely wasn't Nakhti. No, Nakhti just used his confusion and made it worse.

And like he was able to read his mind, Hanta fake coughed to get his attention back to himself. He's slipping back into his own world, ignoring his friends completely. Shitty thing to do but sometimes he couldn't help it.

"Okay. Let me ask another question", he started, his dark eyes studying Eijirou's body language as he asked the question again. This time changing it little bit to be more accurate than the one earlier.

"Who changed your mind?"

With that Eijirou's thoughts escaped completely. Like he didn't want to admit who changed his mind and who made him unsure about what he wants, but then again he couldn't really deny it either. A certain blonde with a black horse had showed him something about himself what he didn't even notice at all, drowning it all under the bad feelings.

"Hanta, I think you crossed the line", Denki muttered, ready to start complaining but Hanta hushed him silent. The blonde looked like he was going to pout but instead he found himself watching Eijirou.

"Who indeed. Someone who opened my eyes little bit. I was so sure what I wanted before he arrived to the scene and gave me more questions than answers. And before I managed to solve any of them, he was gone again and I was left with my mind so confused and messed up. I'm not even sure if I understand myself either."

He knew his answer wasn't helping them at all, they won't understand what is going on inside his head. He's not even sure if it's possbile for either Hanta or Denki to understand him, even if he tries to explain everything.

Denki was about to ask another question but he was interrupted by one of the servants asking him to come with them for a moment. It was rare and both Hanta and Eijirou were curious now. Especially Eijirou, he knew how similar their situations are with the servants, so it was odd that one of them suddenly asked to have a moment with Denki. Whatever they were going to talk about was serious.

"Well, looks like I have to excuse myself for a moment. Don't share too much juicy information with Hanta, I wanna hear more!" Denki joked, trying to lighten up the mood before leaving them alone.

The room fell silent after the blonde left, but it wasn't awkward silence at all. Hanta's presence was never making Eijirou uncomfortable, in fact he wanted to learn more about him. His whole attitude was calming and the way he had handled Denki when he was jumping into wrong conclusions just proved that he's good at reading people, knowing exactly what to do or say.

Eijirou wanted to start a conversation with him, but somehow he just didn't know what to say or how to start it. So instead he just let his eyes wander around the room, studying every single small detail while waiting and hoping that the boy next to him decides to say something. After all Hanta was better at the whole thing about socializing with others.

"So..." Hanta finally broke the silence, just as Eijirou had hoped for. "This person who changed your mind. Nakhti isn't the one, right?"

He shook his head sheepishly. It wasn't Nakhti at all, no matter how much he tries to bend his mind, he usually ends up making Eijirou feel stronger urge to leave. He's good at accidentally chasing him away, though now he's seen the weak point and used it as he pleased.

Hanta hummed quietly in wonder, moving his gaze away from Eijirou. It didn't feel like an interrogation when he wasn't staring at him so hard, making it easier for the redhead to answer his questions without feeling like he's obligated to do so.

"But you know who it is? That person, you know them?"

That left him think more about it. Let the questions swirl around his mind, thinking about the right answer to them. He doesn't really know Bakugou that well, just the things he's heard from others. The impression the blonde has given to him is kinda mixed with different feelings. Sometimes Eijirou found himself admiring the way Katsuki can handle everything without hesitation, at least judging by the times he has actually seen or been closer to him to notice it. He's not afraid of anything, even challenging himself by riding his horse instead of driving the chariot. He's the only one Eijirou has seen riding a horse so far.

But at the same time he feels like he's jealous of everything Katsuki has or what he is. Accepted by society, respected by others. His quirk is probably admired and not a single thought of making him a slave because of his gift crosses anyone's mind.

There's something else, too. Something what Eijirou can't even explain. In a way Katsuki is such a mysterious person, but then again very manly. And rude. Definitely rude. Most of his personal traits so far have been the ones what should push everyone away from him.

For some reason though, it's different to Eijirou. Instead of feeling like he's getting pushed away, Eijirou feels like something is trying to pull him closer. Sure, he doesn't feel like he's going to like that rudeness the blonde seems to throw at everyone, but there's something more than that. He's an interesting person, that's for sure.

"I guess you could say that. I don't know him personally, but I've heard something about him." It's the correct and honest answer. Eijirou knows something, little bit of rumors but nothing personal. He doesn't personally know Bakugou at all. And he never won't know anyway.

Hanta nodded and looked like he was thinking something, probably trying to figure out more. Or just trying to read between the lines, who knows. "Okay. If this person already managed to do all this, don't you think he could do even more? Clearly he has some kind of impact on you."

Eijirou couldn't look away anymore. He turned his gaze back to Hanta's direction and was met by a pair of curious dark eyes. You would think that after saying something like that, Hanta would be smirking or laughing. But no, he wasn't. His expression was serious enough, maybe slightly curious too but he wasn't making fun of him at all.

They stared each other for a moment, letting the silence fall between them. It was broken only when Eijirou let out deep and frustrated sigh, turning his gaze away again while thinking Hanta's words. No way it would do any good for him and he's sure Bakugou doesn't want him either. Can't blame him, Eijirou acknowledged how helpless he is and as Katsuki had said, he was pathetic as well.

"You're overthinking this. He probably sees me as a dirt in his path. I guess living with Nakhti isn't that bad, after all", Eijirou muttered, almost forgetting for a moment how he was disgusted by everything Nakhti had tried to achieve. Probably his earlier self would be disappointed and stunned if he heard what he was saying right now. His fighting spirit was so low, almost defeated.

He was kinda expecting Hanta to smack the back of his head, just like Denki always did when he said something too upsetting or stupid. He felt his friend's hand on his head, but instead of him slapping him, Hanta just carefully patted him. It was strange and Eijirou didn't know how to feel about it, but as soon as he was weirded out Hanta had already left his hair alone.

"Are you sure about that?" Hanta asked patiently. His calm approach to the subject was surely the reason why Eijirou was so easily telling everything to him. If Denki was the one who tried to learn these things from him, he probably wouldn't tell him that much, if any at all.

"It's a hunch. I'm not sure about Bakugou. He seems to be so explosive person in general that it's little bit intimidating." It's not like Eijirou feels like he's scared of the blonde. He's just unsure if they'd even get along or if he can tolerate all that rudeness. He never really thought of serving him either, why would he? If Nakhti ever decides to sell him, it's not like Katsuki from all the people would buy him. He probably has enough servants or slaves that he doesn't need someone as miserable as Eijirou.

Hanta went suddenly very quiet. Eijirou hadn't expected that kind of reaction from him, so when he turned his eyes back to the black haired boy, he was surprised to see the slightly shocked expression on his face. Honestly it worried him, Hanta's reaction seemed out of character for him.

It worried him so much. Eijirou was about to ask if Hanta's okay and why he suddenly went so quiet, but it was the other boy who was faster and cut in with his own question.

"Bakugou? Are you saying it's Katsuki Bakugou who did this all to you?" Hanta looked so surprised, like he couldn't believe what he was hearing. He seemed to know him, but it wasn't really anything new since many people seemed to know the Bakugou family. Or at least had heard a rumor or two about them.

"Well, yeah? Is it too weird?" Eijirou asked, but after that he suddenly felt like he should be ashamed of this all. He's not even sure why, but some kind of shame washed over him. Hanta noticed it immediately and shook his head, his lips finally curling up into a smile.

"No! Sorry, I didn't want to make this weird. I was just taken aback that Katsuki Bakugou can have that kind of impact on someone. He's so rude and angry all the time." Hanta chuckled quietly and the atmosphere what was little bit tensed moment ago was turning back to relaxing one.

Eijirou probably looked like a fool at this point. He had no idea what was going on now. "Do you know him?" he asked, knowing it was probably stupid question because of the reaction Hanta had after learning who this mysterious person was.

The other boy just shook his head and chuckled again. "Nah, not very well. He has visited my owner with his father couple times. He's a odd one for sure and rude. His attitude is kinda nasty, he yelled at me once when he thought I wasn't putting enough effort on taking care of their horses while they were visiting at my place. And if you think about it, he's one of the few ones who seems to enjoy both riding a horse as well as driving a chariot." Hanta was clearly amused when he was telling his experience with the blonde.

But after he realized Eijirou looked like he didn't know how to deal with this little piece of information, he continued. "But even though he's rude and as you said, very explosive person, I don't think he's really that evil. I mean, he seems to care a lot about his horses so I don't think he can be that bad of a person."

For some reason Eijirou agreed with that. No matter how ruthless or angry aura surrounded him, he wasn't really bad person. The way he had patted and watched his horse at the river, making sure it was okay and drank enough water. His gaze was so soft and there hadn't been any hint of a tension in his body. He had been relaxed completely.

Hanta smiled gently and he didn't need anything else. The corners of Eijirou's lips betrayed him and before he noticed, he was smiling too. Maybe little bit awkward smile, but it was still there and Hanta seemed to be happy to see it.

Eijirou watched Hanta for a while before his gaze moved behind the other boy's shoulder, his whole body suddenly tensing up in a surprise. Hanta turned around to see what his friend just saw and he was surprised that Denki was standing there, close to the doorway like he just walked in and stopped completely. Nothing weird about that, but the fact that he hadn't said anything caught them both off guard.

"Geez Denki, for a moment I thought you were a ghost! Didn't know you can move so quietly", Hanta joked, but his smile seemed to fall as soon as he realized the blonde didn't react to his words at all.

In fact, he didn't seem to react to anything at all. He wasn't even looking at them, his gaze was somewhere at the wall while he just stood there like a statue. It was definitely weird and out of character.

"Denki? What's wrong?" Eijirou asked. No answer, not even a glance at his direction either.

Hanta stood up and Eijirou followed shortly after, both walking right in front of the blonde. Something was wrong, Denki didn't look normal. Like he was there at the room with them, but then again he wasn't. His body was here, but his mind not. His eyes kept staring, he's just staring somewhere in the distance without paying any attention to his surroundings. Even when Eijirou waved his hand in front of his eyes, it didn't cause any reaction. His eyes looked almost dead, the usual spark missing from them.

"Snap out of it! What happened? Denki?" Hanta was starting to sound really worried now and Eijirou couldn't blame him at all. He felt worried too, but he didn't know what to do. This just... it was too weird.

Hanta put his hands on his shoulders, looking right into his empty eyes and tried to figure out what was going on. Denki almost looked like he was in some kind of trance, unable to respond or react to anything.

"Should we tell someone about this?" Eijirou asked, glancing at Hanta's direction before moving his eyes back to Denki. They were still trying to understand what happened, what to do and whether they should tell someone about this.

Hanta muttered something incoherent, probably mostly to himself. Eijirou didn't even try to ask his question again, just focusing back to his friend and trying to figure out a way to snap him out of it.

Lucky for them, they didn't need to find a result for it after all.

As they were worrying and trying to communicate with Denki, his whole body suddenly jolted. Good thing Hanta's hands were on his shoulders, for a moment it looked like he was going to pass out or lose his balance, his eyes closing and quiet groan escaping from his mouth.

"Denki!" Both Hanta and Eijirou said at the same time. The blonde massaged his temples before finally opening his eyes again, confirming that whatever was happening with him earlier was gone now. Denki looked surprised, slightly even horrified for a moment.

"What... How did I get here?"

The horrified look on Denki's face was genuine, he really had no idea how he got here. He wasn't joking around either or trying to pull a prank on them.

"What happened Denki? You were acting so weird, you scared us." Eijirou admitted that the way Denki had acted was kinda scary. It was so out of character and judging by the way he reacted to the question, Denki wasn't doing it on purpose. Hanta was still studying his face, trying to find out any other signs of something abnormal but when he couldn't find anything, he finally let go and backed away.

"I... I don't know..." Denki started as he tried to think hard, trying to find an answer to the question. What indeed had happened? "I was called out to the front door since no one else knew what to do with that guy. I think he was looking for Nakhti."

Eijirou's head perked up when his master's name was mentioned, his gaze turning more curious. No one was ever so desperate to look for him that they'd follow him here or anywhere else.

"And when I tried to ask who he is and why he's looking for him... well, that's where my memories blackout. He said something, but I can't remember what. I'm sure I did something, probably went to look for Nakhti. It's like I just woke up, suddenly standing here surrounded by you two."

Denki's story didn't make any sense but neither Eijirou or Hanta questioned it. They were just happy that Denki seemed to be okay now despite the strange incident.

"Is Nakhti in trouble or something?" The blonde was now eyeing Eijirou, tilting his head slightly while his eyes were full of confusion. The redhead didn't really have an answer for him, so he shrugged his shoulders and tried to remember what Nakhti has been doing these past days.

"I have no idea. Do you know who the guy was?" Eijirou answered with his own question. Denki just shook his head.

"Sorry, I've never seen him before. And he was wearing a wig too, so either he's rich or just wanted to go full on incognito."

While Hanta was asking more questions and making sure Denki wasn't hurt or anything, Eijirou couldn't help but think everything the blonde just told them.

He wasn't sure what to think about it.

But he really hoped that this wasn't going to turn out to be a bad omen.

Chapter Text

After that night at Rasui's place, Eijirou started to notice some changes in the atmosphere around Nakhti.

He was being more cautious about everything, but then again it wasn't anything unusual or far from the normal. Because of it Eijirou couldn't even ask what was going on. He doubted Nakhti would even tell him anything if he asked that, so he just settled for watching this strange mood from the side.

But it wasn't like Nakhti was the only one who had something on his mind constantly.

Eijirou found himself thinking about the strange incident between Denki and that stranger more than he wanted to admit. In a way it was so weird, thinking back the way Denki had lacked any reactions to everything they said. Even when Hanta had put his hands on his shoulders or when he waved his hand in front of him, he didn't have any kind of reaction to them.

He has been trying to figure out what actually happened. Or who that strange guy was. What kind of business he has with Nakhti?

It gave him chills every time he put more focus into his thoughts. This subject in general made Eijirou feel so worried, fearing that it was a bad omen or something other as sinister. He didn't need any more misfortune in his life, it was already full of it.

All the questions he has are piling up and he doesn't have any answers to them, which in return frustrated him even more.

That wasn't the only thing Eijirou had noticed lately.

Nakhti was suddenly making more clear moves and tried to push his limits again. Eijirou had been very grateful for every possible godlike figure when his little rebellious act was enough to put some distance between him and his owner. But now it seemed like Nakhti was starting to crawl slowly closer, looking for a moment to have his way with him. Even the thought of what he was trying to accomplish made Eijirou feel sick.

It started innocently enough. Every now and then Nakhti would brush his fingers through his red hair, admiring it even though Eijirou knew how much the color of it was ticking him off. No matter what he claimed, he just knew that Nakhti hated his hair color. Good.

He was sure his owner was testing the waters again. Eijirou had showed his moment of weakness to him and he's now trying to take advantage of it. And probably it would be successful if he hadn't been able to clear his thoughts. Earlier he succeeded, the sight of slave market was a low blow but it had an effect on him. And with Katsuki's words swirling in his mind as well, it's no wonder why he was so ready to give up with everything.

Somehow the conversation between him and Hanta had helped him. Even though they never really talked in a way that would clear his thoughts that effectively, somehow it ended up doing so. Eijirou was still confused, still not knowing what he really wanted. But in a strange way Hanta had sparked the hope inside him awake again. He wasn't going to give up just yet, he needed to resist Nakhti's unpleasant actions.

But it was damn hard at the same time. The constant feeling of giving up was banging at the back of his head, whispering quietly why it would be great idea to just submit and give up. There were moments of weaknesses when Eijirou felt like he's ready to let that fire inside him burn out. But the stubborn part of his personality had perked up when his thoughts were little bit more clearer again. It was ready for another fight, another round in hopes of finally winning this wicked game.

His mind was a complete mess right now. Even though he managed to clear his head, it still felt like his thoughts were running in circles. He couldn't help when his mind traced back to the same question he had asked from himself too many times already.

Who was the guy at the party and what business he has with Nakhti? Something didn't make sense with this whole picture, like a piece from a puzzle was missing and Eijirou had no idea what it could be. He was unable to complete it without the missing piece, it just didn't make any sense without it.

At times like these he really wished that he was somewhere else, owned by someone who wasn't making him feel like his life is a constant fight and big chaos. Yes, working at the construction site had been hard and very tiring, but at the same time he didn't always have to put his mind into it when he was doing his tasks. He didn't have to be on guard all the time either.

Through the hard work and pain, he felt like he was alive. He was doing something, being at least useful to someone. But now it's more like he's withering right in front of everyone. Maybe not physically since Nakhti fed him and took care of everything he needed. But his mental state was a whole another story.

Living with Nakhti was just one big mess. Surely it was easier than carrying heavy sacks of building material, but Eijirou was already tired of being in constant fear of something happening to him. Especially since he just couldn't trust Nakhti completely, he always gave some sort of bad vibes. Most of the time Eijirou ignored them, but he was still careful enough to stay on guard just in case.

So the sudden appearance of mysterious guy who was looking for Nakhti didn't exactly let him ease his mind at all. It was more like another slap in the face, another heavy load of worry poured down on his shoulders. He's not unbreakable, at this rate he'll drown with all this anxiety and fear. He's going to break down soon. Nakhti probably didn't mind that, as long as his mind was cracking and his stubbornness was decreasing to non-existent level, he'd be so damn happy about it.

Even though he had decided to not give up just yet, it felt like the darkness that was surrounding him was getting thicker and heavier. Like it was trying to suffocate him and it doesn't help if he screams and yells, it's going to fall on deaf ears. No one's there to hear him, to hear his voiceless cry for help.

Trying to get through it was another impossible task. He can't find the light, the exit of this darkness is hidden too well.

He's trying so hard to reach for the light, but there's no one to grab his hand and pull him away from it. No one to save him from this feeling what's trying to consume him and his heart completely until there's nothing left of him.

He doesn't want to let this cold darkness embrace and devour him.


 

One of the things Eijirou liked about nights was the fact that he could finally wash away that makeup from his face and take off all the jewelry Nakhti made him wear during the day. No matter how much he has to wear them, he'll never get used to them. Maybe he's too humble for something as fancy and beautiful as the numerous rings and necklaces Nakhti buys for him, but what else can you except? Eijirou has never worn any of them before.

His family never needed such things since they didn't focus on their looks or what others think about them. Well, sort of. Beautiful jewelry would be on the way while doing farming work, causing just more trouble than needed.

While Eijirou was washing his face, he felt his whole body tense as the memory of his family returned back in his mind again. He hated how he couldn't just forget them. He really wanted to forget, wanted to cut the last connections to his past completely. If he just could forget them and his childhood, he'd be able to move forward. Maybe even regain his stubbornness back, it helped him go against Nakhti when he felt like doing so.

His gaze fell on the ceramic water bowl in front of him, his thoughts running freely. No matter how much he tried to hate his past, hate the family who turned their backs on him and disowned him, he just couldn't feel that way. It felt hard and his feelings were getting heavy whenever he let his thoughts escape into this subject.

He just couldn't hate them enough. Maybe not at all. Eijirou isn't really sure, his feelings were mixed whenever his family overtook his thoughts.

Hate is just too strong of a word and emotion. And no matter how tough he tries to be, he just can't hate them enough. Maybe it's a good thing, living with constant hate and anger didn't sound very pleasant or tempting either. Eijirou had never seen anyone whose heart was consumed by anger and darkness, but he had heard stories of it. And he didn't want to become one part of those stories.

But maybe he admitted that he hated the fact that he understood so well the reason behind their horrible decision. It was his fate, his life was pretty much doomed from the day his quirk had manifested.

And judging by the situation now, his life pretty much was quite pitiful and miserable.

Well, maybe someone else would like the treatment Nakhti gave to his precious slave, but Eijirou just couldn't like it or feel satisfied by it. It would be easier to let everything go and just submit, but he was too disgusted by the ugliness of the world. Maybe little bit angry for himself too. The way he used to think that world isn't that bad of a place had been so wrong.

Eijirou was too distracted with his thoughts that he didn't notice Nakhti's presence in the room at all. Only when he felt a hand on his shoulder did Eijirou realize he wasn't alone. He was startled by the touch, gasping because he hadn't really expected anything like that to happen. He almost spilled the water bowl too, but luckily his reflexes didn't betray him and reacted fast enough for it to not happen.

The way Nakhti caught him off guard just proved how he was getting a stronger hold of him. No matter how much Eijirou tried to fire up his fighting spirit again, he already felt so defeated because Nakhti was getting better playing at this little game of cat and mouse. Whenever Eijirou thought he was finally getting stronger, Nakhti surprised him and showed him his place over and over again.

"You were so deep in your thoughts again, Eijirou. Looks like you're finally starting to relax." Nakhti's voice was full of smugness that was probably painted all over his face as well. It wasn't like that, he definitely wasn't feeling like he's allowing himself to relax. It's the opposite.

Eijirou let his gaze fall on the bowl again, not reacting to Nakhti's words. If he's looking for some kind of reaction to confirm his win, he wasn't going to give that to him. He won't let him feel like he's finally succeeded with his plans, even though that small voice inside his mind was whispering again and trying to convince him why it's better to give up. No way, he won't do that. He has to be strong... He needs to get away from him.

Nakhti was gently massaging his shoulder with his hand, trying to calm him down since he had noticed how he accidentally managed to startle his slave. If he wasn't as suspicious and obvious about what he wanted, Eijirou probably would have appreciated that act. But since he knew what kind of person Nakhti is, or at least had seen glimpse of it, he couldn't help but stay on guard. He couldn't really relax at all whenever he was inviding his personal space.

His hand stayed on his shoulder for a while, before he moved it towards Eijirou's hair and tried to gently tug a handful of red locks between his fingers. Seeing how his shoulders tensed up because of it, Nakhti sighed quietly and played with his hair. "It's okay, Eijirou."

No, it's not. The more Nakhti played and petted his hair, the more he felt uncomfortable. He knew there was some kind of catch, there has to be. It's not unusual for Nakhti to try being more intimate, but Eijirou just knew this wasn't quite right.

When he felt Nakhti's hot breath getting closer to his neck, he couldn't just stay still and wait 'till his lips were going to touch his skin. Instead Eijirou took a step aside, escaping from his touch and turned around to face his master. He didn't care how much his fighting spirit was chewed piece by piece, he still got a small flame of it burning and he's not going to let Nakhti think he's won.

Not yet, hopefully he'll never let that happen but if things keep going the way they've been recently, Eijirou is afraid of the results. Nakhti is way too good with bending his mind enough to make it crack. It's full of cracks already and it's only a matter of time before it's shattered completely.

"Don't be ridiculous. Am I not treating you well enough?" Nakhti's question was trying to guilt trip him and probably at some level he managed to do so, but Eijirou tried to stay stubborn right now. He's not letting Nakhti have his way with him, he will not submit and do everything his master wants him to do.

Eijirou was trying so hard to be stubborn and resist everything Nakhti tried, but that small voice was still whispering betraying words into his mind. Nakhti isn't that bad, right? Well, so far he hasn't been the worst but if Eijirou let's him do whatever he wants, he'll probably hate himself so much afterwards that it's not worth taking the risk. Even the thought of things what Nakhti probably wanted to do with him made him feel sick.

"Well? You shouldn't fight back. Forget that childish attitude already", Nakhti said with way too much calmness in his voice that it sent a shiver down his spine. The older man got closer again and touched Eijirou's jaw, stopping him from turning his eyes away from him.

"You're mine, Eijirou. Remember that. It's not going to change, you'll never leave me."

With every word a piece of hope was crumbling as Eijirou was forced to watch deep in the eyes of his master. He was serious with what he claimed and Nakhti wasn't happy either that Eijirou decided to be stubborn and resist him. He probably thought he had broken his mind already with the sight of slave market, but Eijirou had cleared his thoughts enough to keep resisting. Keep fighting against him, continuing this game between them. That pissed off Nakhti and he could see how he was starting to realize that Eijirou wasn't really wrapped around his finger yet. Not enough at all.

Nakhti's brown eyes were staring straight into Eijirou's ruby red eyes, trying to search something, probably the hesitation Eijirou was still bearing with him. No matter how stubborn he is or how much he tried to resist at this situation, there was still a hint of hesitation in his eyes. And while Nakhti was annoyed that he wasn't as close to break him as he had been, that was enough for him to let go of Eijirou's jaw and leave the room.

Even though he left Eijirou alone, there was still ominous feeling lingering around the walls. The atmosphere was still crushingly heavy and Eijirou was sure that if Nakhti had stayed around a little bit longer, his confidence would have crumbled right in front of him. He had been bending his mind enough that just the flap of a butterfly's wing is enough to break him.

He is weak.

Oh so weak, his mind was so messed up that Eijirou was really afraid of his own future. The whole scene just a minute ago had left him feel like he was dying. His heart was beating so fast that he moved closer to the wall and leaned against it, afraid of passing out if he has any sudden moves right now.

He hated being this weak. He wanted to become stronger, wanted to regain that sweet freedom he once had but his fate was living in a constant fear. Live with the constant reminder that this world is truly cruel.

Eijirou knew he won't be able to sleep at his own bed tonight.

And he was right.

He tried but every attempt of closing his eyes long enough to fall asleep failed. Even though the whole house was quiet and there wasn't anything to worry about since Nakhti was already asleep by the time he finally calmed down enough, he still couldn't sleep.

If he lets his guard down even just slightly, what are the odds that something doesn't happen during the night? Especially since Nakhti wasn't happy about the fact that Eijirou had been so eager to oppose him.

Eijirou was restless, tossing and turning while trying to relax even for a moment. It was impossible, he felt like any given moment something bad would happen. That the walls around him were going to fall and crush him.

After getting frustrated enough Eijirou got up from the floor where he usually slept. He did have a proper bed but he just couldn't sleep on it, he was so used to sleep on the floor with only rugs to soften it enough that he never really thought of sleeping anywhere else. Back in home none of his family members had a wooden bed, they all just slept on the floor with rugs and mats enough to soften the hard surface.

Sometimes Nakhti liked to complain about it but even he understood that Eijirou was used to sleeping on the floor. Maybe with time he'd get used to the bed but right now it was a big no from him.

Eijirou was restlessly pacing around the room, trying to convince himself that it's okay to fall asleep. Nakhti has some business tomorrow and doesn't stay at the house, which meant it was going to be another great day for Eijirou since he won't be seeing his owner until the next night.

It started to feel like the atmosphere in the room was getting too heavy. Like an invisible hand was slowly wrapping around his neck and squeezing hard, trying to suffocate him with its hard grip. He couldn't be in this room right now, his emotions were too overwhelming.

Air. Yes, he needs more air.

Eijirou got out of the house faster than necessary and by the time he stepped outside, he was greeted by fresh and chilly night air. The choke hold he had been feeling just a moment ago was gone instantly and he couldn't help but gasp for air. It really felt like someone had tried to choke him. His feelings were getting too strong, the anxiety mixed with fear and sadness. There's even a tiny bit of anger in it as well.

He needed to clear his thoughts again before this gets out of hand. What frustrated him even more was the fact that he needed more sleep, but right now he was too alerted to even think about it. Not like he's going to return immediately and try to sleep again.

Fresh night air felt good against his face. He didn't even notice earlier how his skin was feeling burning hot, probably the result of him tossing and turning around while trying to fall asleep. But now he could feel how his muscles relaxed, as well as his mind getting empty while he was finally able to relax even little bit. But it was good enough, it made him calmer and his heart wasn't pounding as fast as it did when he was inside the house.

Instead of just standing around he decided to walk little bit, just enough to clear his head even more and let his emotions settle down. But he didn't want to go far enough, especially since it was dark and who knows what is lurking around the corner. Some animals that are active during the night are a reason good enough to stick close to the house. Well, close to the home.

It was probably just some kind of instinct but Eijirou found himself walking into the stable where Nakhti's horses were. He was met by curious gazes from the animals as this was his first time actually being inside the stable, Nakhti never let him go there because he doesn't have to worry about the animals. And since the stable worker was there during the day, Eijirou never had any kind of business in there.

He was very happy to be there, to say the least. The horses didn't even look like they were bothered by this new person either, so it was just a win-win situation.

Eijirou let out a deep sigh, the atmosphere around the stable surprisingly comfortable. He's always liked being around animals, no matter what kind of animals they were. Since he never really had any friends back at home, the animals were there to fill that gap. It's kinda pathetic when he thought about it now. He's always been so lonely, yearning for that little human contact he never really got from others.

After standing still for a while, Eijirou decided to sit on a pile of hay and just watch the horses as he let his mind finally rest. It wasn't the most comfortable thing to sit on but he didn't need any of the luxuries right now. This was enough for him, it kinda reminded him about the good times back in home. His real home. No matter how much he tried to hate his past and his family, there were still memories he held dear. It wasn't just in his nature to hate things so much that the anger tried to consume him.

He let his eyelids close, resting his eyes while listening the quiet breathing around him. There were a total of four horses, Eijirou hadn't even known Nakhti had more than the two horses he usually saw whenever his owner decided to drive with the chariot. Well, it doesn't matter anyway. Every now and then one of the horses swished its tail, but in general the atmosphere was calm and none of the animals were bothered by Eijirou's presence. They were curious but satisfied enough to accept him there instantly.

His whole body was finally completely relaxed.

And if he let his eyes rest just for a little bit, maybe he'll be ready to return back inside soon.

Maybe.

The next time he opened his eyes, he noticed the change in the stable. Instead of chilly night air and darkness surrounding him, he was greeted by rays of light that were coming inside from the windows, through the reeds that covered them.

He was visibly confused now. He had just closed his eyes for a moment, why is it so bright all of a sudden?

Of course he knew the answer, but Eijirou still didn't want to believe he had fallen asleep at the stable. Well, at least he got that sleep he needed so badly.

It's a surprise that none of the servants woke him up, but then again they probably either didn't pay too much attention to his strange sleeping place, ignored him completely or just hadn't noticed him. It doesn't matter which one was the correct answer, Eijirou knew he wasn't really that popular among the servants.

As he stretched his arms and back after getting up and sighed, the thought of Nakhti being away crossed his mind. A small and quick smile visited his face, he knew today he'd take it easy and just enjoy the silence. Nothing to confuse him, maybe he could even clear his head more so he'll be ready when Nakhti tries something again.

"Nakhti doesn't seem to be here today, right?"

Eijirou flinched as he heard someone say something behind him. He had already opened the front door halfway when that sudden question caught him off guard. He turned around and as he guessed, the person who was standing there was someone he didn't know at all. Judging by their question, they were clearly looking for Nakhti anyway.

"Uhh, yeah. My master won't be back until the night, but I can relay a message for him if needed." Eijirou hadn't expected anyone to come here, Nakhti hadn't talked about meeting with anyone either. Especially at his house, it was rare for someone Eijirou doesn't know suddenly appearing here without a warning.

He couldn't move his gaze away from the stranger. And it's not just because he's taller than him. Everything about him caught his attention completely, the way his indigo hair was just one big mess, or the fact that he was lacking any kind of proper expression at the moment. He just looked bored to the core, like he didn't want to be here at all.

But at the same time those deep dark purple eyes were watching him, studying Eijirou's face like he was an open book. Even though the stranger had the typical kohl around his eyes, it didn't hide the fact that underneath his eyes were dark eyebags. He looked like he desperately needed a good night's rest, even more than Eijirou had needed.

"It's okay. In fact I just stopped by to meet you", the boy answered, his deep voice strangely very soothing even though the whole situation was just turning more absurd. Eijirou couldn't believe what he was hearing. Why would this stranger come here, just to meet him? A slave like him? Who would want to meet him?

Eijirou was lost for words. And he was sure the other one noticed it immediately. He was expecting some kind of smirk from this stranger, seeing that his words affected on him this much but there wasn't any grin or smugness in him. And when Eijirou didn't answer, the stranger decided to continue.

"What a mess. I thought someone coming from a family like that has some proper standards but apparently I was wrong. I don't blame you though, you've reached your breaking point already."

"Are you here just to mock me? If you are, then I'm kindly asking you to leave, please." Eijirou tried to be as humble as possible with his words, but he was little bit hurt by this guy's words and it was probably showing as well. They were true though, he already had his breakdown and if he can't collect his thoughts and make himself tough again, he'll eventually have another one and then the game's pretty much over.

As a cue for the boy to leave, Eijirou opened the door completely to step inside the house.

"Your friend Denki seems to be okay with this fancy slave play. What about you? You don't seem to enjoy it at all, do you, Eijirou?"

Eijirou stopped dead in his tracks when he heard his name said by this stranger. When he heard him say the name of his friend as well. He turned around again and he couldn't hide the small fear what was already building up inside his chest, a red flag already raised in his mind.

This guy, he knew him. He knew Denki as well.

Could he be the same guy?

"How do you know my name? Who are you exactly?" Eijirou asked, quickly glancing around to make sure none of the servants were close by to hear this conversation. If it goes to the direction that would make Nakhti angry, he doesn't want to have any chance of someone telling it to his master.

A smirk appeared on his face now and the way those purple eyes kept eyeing him felt like he was suddenly turned into a stone. Eijirou could feel another shiver going down his spine but he couldn't move at all. Something about this person sparked his curiosity, but he was scared more than anything else right now.

"It doesn't matter how or why I know it. And my name's not important right now, at least while I don't know your answer yet. I'm just here to ask you something before deciding whether I'll keep going or stop right here." His answer didn't make any sense and if he has to be honest, Eijirou was getting bad vibes from this guy.

"What do you want to ask?" Eijirou knew he was being too nosy now. It wasn't even his place to ask that question, but he wanted to know what exactly was going on. Who is this person and what they want from him.

The stranger looked around, making sure no one was close to hear them. It surprised Eijirou even more, why would this guy even care whether there's people near them or not? He won't be punished if the topic is inappropriate for them to have or if it makes Nakhti mad.

"If I offered you my hand and told you that I can get you away from Nakhti, would you take my hand or not? I can't say that you'll get your freedom back because that would be a lie, but you'd get away from him." As he spoke, the boy hold out his other hand like he was really offering such a good sounding chance for him.

Eijirou's thoughts were just one big mess at this point. He had no idea what was happening. There was probably some kind of catch, he tried to read between the lines but he wasn't able to see what was hiding behind them.

"Why?" Eijirou decided to confront him and go straight into the heart of the matter. He needed to know what was the catch. Even though the offer sounded too good to be true and he really wanted to get away from Nakhti, he hesitated because he had no idea where he was putting himself into if he accepted it without thinking this.

"You're not as dumb as I thought you would be", the indigo haired boy smirked, tilting his head slightly while maintaining the eye contact between them. "And honestly, I really, really want to tell you the truth. But I promised to not say a word. Well then, let's say that this is just a favor I'm doing."

So he was doing this because someone else had their eyes on Eijirou. It wasn't really that big of a surprise, it could be anyone who was friends with Nakhti. His friends were as disgusting as he is, but then again Eijirou was so desperate to get away from him that right now it didn't sound as bad as it probably is.

Eijirou did not know what to do. Like he was still standing in the middle of darkness, trying to find a way to escape from it but he still couldn't find that spark of light anywhere.

"What do you think? What should I do? Because I don't know." He hated how he was hesitating so much. He hated how he couldn't just make this decision right here, right now. His emotions were just a big mix of chaos, he wanted to get away but he was afraid of the future. Since he won't regain his freedom, is it really worth of grabbing that hand and accept it?

The boy looked surprised by Eijirou's questions. But the sudden surprise vanished as fast as it had appeared on his face. "I'd say go for it. Not because of the favor, but for your own sake. If you refuse it, it's fine. But who knows what will happen to you, your mind is very shattered right now."

That's it. It's the thing Eijirou's been looking for.

That single ray of light that is shining through the darkness. The light he's so desperately trying to reach for in the darkness.

Even though Eijirou wasn't still sure about this. Even though he could feel his anxiety levels rising up, the small voice inside his head telling him that this is very bad idea, it was like his whole body had a mind of its own right now. His hand was slowly moving toward the reached out hand that was still waiting for him to do something.

If this is his chance, he's going to take it. If this is the light he's been trying to reach for this whole time, he won't let it be wasted.

As soon as his hand touched the boy's hand, his legs felt all wobbly and he was suddenly sitting on his knees right in front of him. He wanted to get away from Nakhti. He really wanted to get away. Anything else would be fine, just leaving all this behind is enough for him.

"Please. Help me." Eijirou whispered, not even recognizing his own voice right now. His gaze was on the ground, he refused to make an eye contact right now. He was feeling weak, but at the same time he was asking for help.

It was like he was screaming in the middle of the darkness, but finally he was heard by someone.

"I will. Not right now, but the next time we see."

Eijirou probably looked like a kicked animal when the other boy pulled his hand away from his touch and turned around to leave. He wanted to chase after him, ask him to take him with him now because he doesn't want to stay here any longer. Especially if he has a chance of leaving.

"What's your name?" He asked suddenly. It wasn't anything what he really wanted to ask or say to the other, but it was the only thing what came out of his mouth right now.

The boy stopped for a second, looking over his shoulder and making the last eye contact with him. He looked like he was thinking whether he should tell his name or not, but in the end he gave in.

"It's Hitoshi."


 

As days passed, Eijirou wasn't even sure was the meeting with Hitoshi real or just something he had imagined. Something he may have seen in his dreams.

Nothing changed. Everything is exactly like it's been up until now. He was still Nakhti's fancy slave, something what will boost his ego.

Even though he earlier managed to tolerate this, now it's turning to be too overwhelming. Eijirou found himself looking for any escape route all the time, but even when there was opportunities, he never made a run for it. Instead he stayed, waiting for some kind of miracle to happen suddenly.

But he knew miracles do not happen often, if ever at all. And he was angry to himself, why did he let that spark of hope light up? If he never took that false hope, he wouldn't be this disappointed. This desperate to escape. This ungrateful.

It's easier to give up.

Yes, that's easier than anything else right now. If he just gives up, maybe he wouldn't suffer this much?

In the end darkness consumes light. He knew he was getting his hopes up for nothing, but Hitoshi's words were just too good to be true. Those deceiving words probably were said to him just to make fun of him. Like always. He's only a laughing stock the whole world.

He was getting visibly upset. Even Hanta and Denki noticed it whenever they were able to catch up with him.

It made him feel even worse. He never wanted to worry his friends, but knowing the kind of persons they are, they are worried already. And Eijirou can't blame them, the way his mood has dropped recently is just screaming about something being wrong with him.

"Don't be so upset, Eijirou. Cheer up, if you need something I can get it for you", Nakhti said as they were walking back home from another chariot race they had been watching. He was in high spirits since they had been planning something with Rasui, but also because they'd chosen to place on bet to the chariot what won the whole race.

Eijirou had tried to be cheerful and happy, tried so hard to be his usual self but his mood was just crushed right now so badly that it was hard to pretend anything. He was angry at himself too, because he had worried Denki a lot during the race. Distracted him enough to not being able to watch it at all. He's just a burden to everyone, like always.

He mumbled a quiet and incoherent answer to his master, knowing very well that Nakhti probably didn't like it when he did that. It was little bit rude, but his master was happy that he was finally starting to give up on his plan to resist him. Exactly what he wanted from him, so that's why Nakhti decided to stay calm and not react to Eijirou's disrespectful way of talking to him.

"I know, we should eat some tiger nut sweets when we get back home. Doesn't that sound delicious? What do you say?" Nakhti's voice was disturbingly cheerful, but Eijirou didn't care at all. But the thought of the dessert was good enough reason to distract him for a little bit.

"Yes please, master", Eijirou answered, nodding his head slightly while keeping his gaze on the ground. Even though he was feeling pretty devastated right now, he couldn't deny the offer of some desserts. They did eat them every now and then, but right now he's more than happy to get some of those sweet treats to distract himself completely.

Nakhti was very pleased, noticing the small change in his slave's mood. "Good. It's decided then, we'll eat them when we get back", he announced and patted Eijirou's head gently. Usually the sudden touch made him flinch and take a step away to get some distance between them, but now he was so numb to everything that he didn't bother to do so. More reasons for Nakhti to feel like he's finally won this little battle of dominance.

The rest of the walk was mostly in silence, sometimes Nakhti would talk about something but Eijirou didn't pay that much of attention to his prattling. He just wanted to get home, eat those promised desserts and then maybe fall asleep whenever he's able to do so. Probably at midnight when everyone else are asleep. At least he can always escape to his dream world.

When the familiar sight of the house was in their field of vision, they both noticed a couple strangers standing right in front of it, clearly waiting for them. They were talking something, but when they noticed their presence, both of them quieted down for a moment and moved their eyes to their direction.

Even though Eijirou still felt so defeated, he had to admit that this scenario was waking up his curiosity. Nakhti wasn't supposed to have any visitors today, in fact it's getting late and no one really paid a surprise visits to him.

"Oh? Well this is a surprise", Nakhti commented as soon as they were close enough to be heard.

"Sorry to bother you when it's already getting late, but we have some business with you. I brought all of the documents too, so it'd be such a shame to leave empty-handed tonight." The blonde boy smiled, his blue eyes already sharing a knowing gaze with Nakhti while the other person was relatively more backed out from the start of the conversation. They both were wearing white cloaks with their skirts, which just made it clear that they didn't mind waiting outside while the air was getting chilly as night progressed.

The other person was wearing a wig, but it wasn't really that strange to see that. Many people wore wigs. Especially among the rich ones who were able to afford expensive wigs, it was more of a fashion thing. But no matter how strange the guy looked, Eijirou noticed the familiar looking dark circles under his eyes. Those indigo eyes that were watching him instead of Nakhti, they were familiar too. Too familiar. Eijirou didn't want to get his hopes up, so he looked away instead of locking gazes with that person.

Nakhti seemed to realize immediately what he was talking about, he nodded his head as he greeted them now more properly. Even shaking hands with them, though he clearly knew what this all was about. "Oh yes, come in. We can talk about it inside."

Eijirou watched how his owner was already in the middle of conversation with the blonde, both talking about stuff what he hadn't even heard of. It had something to do with Nakhti's work, about the days when he leaves Eijirou home to do some work. It didn't really interest him that much, but this situation was just getting weird. Seeing Nakhti suddenly so energetic with a stranger was just different from usual.

Apparently the blonde was going to do all the talking. When they stepped inside, both Nakhti and his conversation partner headed toward the main room to talk about that business stuff. Nakhti's attention was suddenly on the other visitor who didn't follow them completely to the main room, instead deciding to stay in the other room with Eijirou.

Before Nakhti even was about to question it, the blonde cut him off and was immediately turning his attention back to himself. "Ah, don't worry about Toshi! This is more of a work where I am needed, handling all these documents and such. If it's okay to you, Toshi stays out of this. He'll join in later"

And that's how Eijirou found himself in the same room with the stranger.

Well, sort of a stranger.

"Are you okay?" Hitoshi asked as he was eyeing Eijirou, his face as expressionless as it had been that day when they met for the first time. Eijirou didn't really know how to answer to that question, so he just nodded and avoided making eye contact with those mesmerizing eyes.

Eijirou really didn't know why Hitoshi's eyes were so mesmerizing. His whole attitude was kinda mysterious, but he just couldn't say why. In a way Hitoshi gave off bad vibes, but then again Eijirou didn't feel like he was actually in danger while staying in the same room with the other.

It was unnerving to say the least, but Eijirou was sure some kind of invisible power was pulling him toward Hitoshi. No matter how mysterious he is, for some reason he felt like he can trust him. Eijirou really hoped that his instincts were right this time about him trusting Hitoshi even though he was giving him mixed feelings.

"That bad, huh? Sorry, we should have come earlier but it took some time to get everything done and ready. Neito wasn't exactly happy about this, but it wasn't too hard to persuade him", Hitoshi explained calmly, every once in a while letting his gaze wander toward the direction where his friend and Nakhti were.

At the same time Hitoshi was scanning the area in case of servants showing up. Whatever he had on his mind was something bad enough. He looked like he didn't want to have any extra pairs of eyes here right now.

Eijirou could hear how the conversation was going smoothly in the other room, but he wasn't able to make any words what were exchanged. Maybe that's better, he doesn't really want to know more things about Nakhti.

"Why are you here?" Eijirou asked quietly, finally locking his gaze with Hitoshi. He really thought that the other boy had made fun of him, it felt like forever since the last time they talked with each other. Eijirou's hope had been up, but after realizing that he will never be able to get away from Nakhti, that flame was burning out. And it was happening way too fast.

Hitoshi kept his eyes on Eijirou, his face as stoic as the faces of statues at the temples. It was making him uncomfortable, but at the same time he felt that little jolt of hope trying to grow bigger. The flame that was almost completely out was trying to get stronger and brighter. The confusion was chewing him, the constant fight between his emotions almost unbearable at this point.

Right now he wanted nothing more than just disappear.

No, not yet.

He wanted to know first why Hitoshi was here now. Why?

"I thought I already told you before", Hitoshi started, glancing around quickly before his eyes stared straight into Eijirou's eyes. "I'm here because of the business. A favor, like I told you. And today, I'll offer my hand again. Do you want to leave?"

Eijirou wanted to turn his gaze away. He wanted to refuse Hitoshi's offer because last time he took it, he got his hopes up. Maybe it was his own fault, the other boy had told him that he'll return and then help him get away. But now Eijirou felt like he was put between a rock and a hard place.

He wants to get away. He really wants that, it's all he has hoped for since the day Nakhti bought him. But the hesitation had a tight grip on him. His answer isn't as clear and obvious as it had been once.

"Do you still want it, Eijirou?" Hitoshi asked again. He repeated everything he did last time, reaching out his hand for the redhead to take it if he still feels like leaving this place.

Eijirou hated how fast he was to touch his hand, it was almost like he was begging him to help him. Maybe it was a silent cry for help. Hitoshi didn't seem to be surprised by it, not getting caught off of his guard about the fact that Eijirou grabbed his hand and hold it tight, maybe even tighter than before. Like his whole life depended on it. Maybe in some way it did.

"Please Hitoshi. Don't leave me here, I don't care if I have to return to the construction site. Just please, I don't want to be here", Eijirou whispered, not even recognizing his own voice at all. It sounded so pitiful and weak, but it didn't matter. He wanted to get away, he really wanted to leave this place and never return. And he wanted to make it clear so Hitoshi understands it and won't leave him here. If he came back just to tease him again, then he's the worst person ever.

He heard how the other boy just hummed in agreement, tightening his own hold like promising Eijirou that this is it.

"How dare you ask something like that?! What are you after?"

The sudden yell surprised Eijirou and he unconsciously squeezed Hitoshi's hand. Nakhti sounded so angry all of a sudden. The change in the atmosphere was spreading everywhere, even to the room where they were.

Hitoshi wasn't affected at all by it. His whole posture was as relaxed as it had been this whole time, Eijirou seemed to be the only one who was getting nervous. Only when his knuckles were turning more white did he realize he was squeezing Hitoshi's hand way too hard. "Sorry." Eijirou apologized quickly while letting go, but judging by how Hitoshi was now staring toward the room where Nakhti and his friend Neito were, he probably didn't even care about that.

"Looks like Neito chose the right time to change the subject." A small smirk appeared on Hitoshi's face, but it disappeared as quickly. He turned his gaze back to Eijirou for a moment, before turning around to walk into the room.

Eijirou wasn't sure if he wanted to follow him or not, but he gave in and did it anyway. It's not like he's going to regret it, right? He'll get away from Nakhti. At least that's what he was hoping for to happen, Hitoshi promised it and he wants to believe it.

The scene that waited them in the room was bad.

Nakhti looked angry when they arrived to the room. He looked like Neito had offended him in the most terrible way, like his whole family had been dishonored. But the blonde was sitting calmly on the chair, watching how pure rage was bubbling inside the older man.

"You heard him right. This is a generous and friendly offer and I suggest taking it. You can always get a new one, why is he so special? I've heard that you get rid of your toys very quickly", Hitoshi said in a slightly mocking tone, watching how Nakhti was getting angrier the more they talked.

"I'll never sell him. This is ridiculous! Who paid you to do this?! Get out of my house, you rats!" Nakhti's words fell on deaf ears, both Neito and Hitoshi didn't flinch at all even though they just got insulted.

"Rats? I think the only rat here is you", Hitoshi said while the corner of his lip lifted into a crooked smile. His confidence was a whole another level, Eijirou was scared for him at this point. Who knows what Nakhti is going to do when he's insulted like that. Hitoshi wasn't afraid of him though, like he didn't even care if the man suddenly decided to charge at him any given moment.

"How dare you!" Nakhti yelled and started to walk toward Hitoshi, clearly getting consumed by the rage what both of his visitors were provoking right now. Eijirou saw how Neito smirked as well, even chuckled like he knew what was going to happen. Wasn't he afraid of Nakhti? What is this madness?

Or maybe the real question. What is wrong with these two?

"I'm getting tired of this", Hitoshi sighed, shaking his head in disbelief before making an eye contact with Nakhti. He got a bunch of insults back, but that made him look more confident than ever.

"Stop right there."

Eijirou was surprised when Nakhti so suddenly stopped. The angry expression from his face was instantly gone as well, like it was wiped off the moment Hitoshi told him to stop.

Something about this scene seemed somehow familiar. Nakhti's face turned just plain and expressionless, like he was lacking the ability to respond to things around him. His gaze was empty and glassy, like his eyes were dead.

Wait a minute.

This is a familiar scene.

"I told him that things would be easier if he listened to me calmly. Too bad he wanted to make things harder for himself", Neito chuckled and got up from his seat, turning around to face Hitoshi. The blonde was full of confidence, not even faced by the fact that Hitoshi's words stopped Nakhti at his tracks completely.

His bright blue eyes were now all over Eijirou, the blonde studying every part of him before sighing and rubbing his temples for a moment. "I can't believe I'm doing this because someone's eyes were caught on a mess like him. Why did we even agree with this?" Neito asked, but he knew very well why indeed. Hitoshi just glared at him for a moment, before his eyes were back on Nakhti who was staying still.

"Sign up the documents", Hitoshi commanded, keeping his eyes tightly locked on the man when he started to move. He didn't even try to say any kind of objection, instead just doing whatever Hitoshi told him to do.

This is weird. But at the same time Eijirou couldn't help but remember how Denki had acted exactly the same way like Nakhti is now. Not responding to anything else around him, looking like he was completely dead inside. Pieces were clicking together pretty fast and Eijirou was now sure that it was Hitoshi who was the stranger Denki was talking about that night.

Eijirou watched closely how Neito collected the scrolls that were at the floor, probably thrown there by Nakhti after hearing what Neito wanted him to do. He wouldn't be able to move his gaze away even if he wanted to, but how could he? This was the moment he had wanted to happen and now it was finally happening. Well, Nakhti was forced to do it but that didn't matter.

He could feel his heart beat faster in excitement during the whole process it took for Nakhti to get the wax, carefully melt it onto the papyrus scrolls and then press his signature ring into it until the wax was hardened.

The whole time he was afraid of something interrupting it. He kept glancing back and forth, hoping that Nakhti doesn't snap out of the strange trance-like condition he was having right now.

Eijirou's eyes moved on Hitoshi, curiously trying to see if he had to do something more to make Nakhti obey him or if just telling him the instructions was enough. He wasn't sure what was happening, but if he has to guess, his best bet was a quirk. Some kind of brainwash quirk. It was kinda scary, but then again Eijirou didn't want to complain either. Hitoshi was helping him and that's all that mattered right now.

As soon as the scrolls were signed by Nakhti, Eijirou pinched himself just to make sure this isn't any kind of dream. Hitoshi noticed it and for a second he looked amused by it, but it was gone instantly while that stoic gaze returned into his eyes.

"If I was you, I'd go change into something not so expensive. We're leaving and we don't need any extra attention", the blonde suggested when he walked next to the red hair, making sure he got every scroll they needed. The other one Nakhti had signed up was his own copy, just a reminder that he did not in fact own Eijirou anymore.

He didn't need to ask twice. Eijirou was in the other room soon enough, getting ready to leave all this behind. He watched every jewelry carefully, inspecting them as he put them away one by one. His mind was just one big mess and his heart was beating fast, like it was trying to jump out of his chest.

Had that really happened? Is it finally over?

Hitoshi and Neito were waiting him at the door, ready to leave whenever Eijirou was ready. And when he finally was ready, Nakhti tried to stop them for the last time.

"You'll get in trouble and I'll make sure of it. This won't be the end of it."

But before Nakhti managed to try scare them more with his words, Neito turned around to face him. His expression turned into an evil smirk, his gaze getting darker as the atmosphere was suddenly getting heavier.

"Did you just dare to say that you're going to accuse the Monoma family for fraud? Well good luck with that. These documents are legal and it's your signature in them. Even if you destroy your own, I've got the other half which proves that you put your own signature in them."

The way Neito talked was in a way very mocking, but at the same time Eijirou could see the dark aura that was suddenly all around him. He was serious with his words, but at the same time he wasn't afraid to challenge Nakhti.

And Nakhti realized that, too. Instead of trying to accuse them, he backed away, knowing not to challenge the blonde. He was defeated and there was no way for him to prove that fraud has happened.

"Thought so. Well then, mister Nakhti. We'll leave now, have a wonderful night." Neito exclaimed, letting the others leave first before he stepped out of the house and closed the door behind him.

Nakhti just lost this game completely.


 

The night air was cooling his hot skin as he followed them. Eijirou still hadn't wrapped his head around the fact that he was never going to stay at Nakhti's house again.

He was free from him.

This felt like a dream, but after pinching himself again Eijirou knew for a fact that it really happened. He couldn't help but smile, even though at the same time he wasn't sure what to think about this situation.

"I won't be doing shit like this again. Next time you'll do it all by yourself and I don't care who is asking for my help. That was too risky, Hitoshi", Neito began to complain as soon as they were far enough and the house was out of sight. Even though he was still full of self-confidence, Eijirou could see that he hadn't really enjoyed that conflict.

Hitoshi just hummed in response, finally taking off the black wig he was wearing this entire time. He probably wanted to hide that unique hair color because it would draw attention on him instantly. And if Nakhti were to complain about him using some kind of mind manipulation on him, it'd be easier to track him down by the color of his hair.

"You did it only because you made him kneel in front of you and beg for your help. Talk about feeling superior", Hitoshi answered, letting a quick smirk appear on his face. Neito looked like he was pissed off for a moment, before his lips curled up into a grin as well.

"Yeah. And it was worth it, can't stand the guy but seeing him being so humble and beg for my help was satisfying."

Eijirou had no idea what those two were talking about. He didn't mean to eavesdrop, but he had no choice. After all they all were going in the same direction, it's not like Hitoshi and Neito magically just let him go and be free.

"So where are we taking him? He needs to clean up, we're gonna get killed if we take him immediately there while he's... well, looking like a stolen slave he is." Hitoshi wasn't even trying to be kind with his words. He didn't mean anything bad, Eijirou knew that but hearing the word slave just left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Technically we did indeed steal him. But this document will protect us since he'll never be able to prove that you... erhm, made him sign it." Neito kept smiling, not really regretting what they just did. "But I've thought about this since the day I agreed with this. We'll let him stay this night at Itsuka's place. He can clean himself up and get ready for his new home."

Neito turned his gaze to Eijirou's direction, the mischievous smile still on his face. "Trust me, you'll need all the energy. I almost feel bad for you, having to deal with someone like him."

He wasn't sure whether the blonde was joking or not, but Eijirou's shoulders tensed as the thought sink in. He wasn't a free man after all. Someone else just wanted him so badly that they were ready to get in trouble, just to get him. He can only hope that his new owner isn't as bad as Nakhti, or else he'll just lose his marbles and end up with a giant breakdown.

"Don't say things like that. If you scare him completely, I'm sure next time you're the one who is begging something from him. And that something is mercy", Hitoshi sighed, but even though it wasn't really showing from his face, he was at least little bit amused by his friend's words. Neito on the other hand didn't seem to bothered at all by what Hitoshi just said, ignoring it mostly.

Though Eijirou didn't know them at all, the atmosphere around them was surprisingly nice. Odd for sure, but it wasn't really that bad. Maybe it's just the momentarily happiness of the situation what made him feel that way, but Eijirou wasn't complaining. Hitoshi and Neito surely were such an odd pair of friends, but at the same time they worked pretty well together.

At least Eijirou assumed they were friends. And thinking about friends, one person came into his mind instantly and he wasn't able to stop the small and pathetic sigh that escaped from his mouth. It earned curious gazes on him, both of the boys turning to look at him and wonder what was all that about.

"Hitoshi, I need to ask a favor from you!" Eijirou started, but Neito cut him off with a loud groan while he threw both of his hands in the air, holding the papyrus scrolls tightly at the same time.

"Noooo, I won't do anything! You're on your own, Hitoshi. I won't help you anymore and don't even think of brainwashing me. I'm done", the blonde announced like he was asked to perform a miracle. All while Hitoshi just glared at him for a while before turning his gaze back to Eijirou's direction, quietly waiting for him to continue.

After Neito had announced very loudly how he wasn't going to help his friend, Eijirou hesitated but decided to go for it anyway. There's nothing for him to lose with this favor, right?

"Please, can you help Denki out of it too? I know he's handling it better than me but he hates it as much as I do..." Eijirou ended up muttering half of his sentence, but Hitoshi seemed to catch up everything he said. He raised his other brow slightly, before his eyes moved away from the redhead.

"I can't promise anything. If too many people learn about my... quirk, it'd be a pure chaos."

Eijirou understood him, but at the same time he was happy that Hitoshi didn't exactly decline the favor either. It made him feel more than just a slave he is, Hitoshi didn't seem to treat him like he's just a property of someone. He's actually seeing him as a human being and it's a nice change. Even though he earlier addressed him as one. But then again it's true, he is a slave and that doesn't change the facts.

They ended up behind a front door of a small house. It was in the middle of the night which made Eijirou feel ashamed to bother the person who lives here. It's too late and they shouldn't be knocking anyone's door at time like this.

Very tired looking girl opened the door after another set of knocks, but when she realized who were standing behind the door, she furrowed her eyebrows in disbelief. "Neito! It's so late, what are you doing here? I thought you were joking when you..."

Her words were cut short when she noticed the presence of unfamiliar person, her teal eyes immediately on Eijirou while she brushed some of her ginger colored bangs out of her eyes.

"What did you two do to that poor boy? He looks awful, you better have a good explanation for this!"

Neito did most of the talking while Hitoshi just stood next to him, every now and then filling some of the facts what the blonde either forgot to tell or didn't actually know.

Their commotion was rather amusing to watch, especially when Neito tried to ignore some of the girl's words by turning his head and looking away. She immediately slapped him at the back of his neck whenever he did that. She didn't use too much strength, but it was enough to snap Neito's attention back to her. Like a silent warning for him to stop trying ignoring her questions.

Eijirou didn't even realize he was smiling little bit while he turned his own gaze away from the trio, focusing on to the night sky and the couple stars shining there. The whole situation was finally sinking in, even though he really couldn't wrap his head around the subject yet.

He really got away from Nakhti.

Chapter Text

Itsuka turned out to be an absolute sweetheart which surprised Eijirou.

Well, he didn't really doubt her but as he was so used to have mean and nasty people around him, her attitude surprised him. It was a nice and fresh change.

As soon as Neito and Hitosti left and the door was closed, the girl turned around to inspect more of her sudden guest while trying to figure out what she should do now. Neito had mentioned something about helping him clean himself up but she wasn't sure where to start. Or if the boy even needed any of that either.

Eijirou was probably as confused about the situation as she was. He didn't know what to say, it was just an awkward silence between them as they changed glances back and forth. Neither of them knew how to react to this or how to ease the strange atmosphere that was lingering on the walls around them.

It was the girl who decided to make the first move. A gentle smile appeared on her face as she relaxed her body, trying to have a chance for their eyes to meet up properly. And when she managed to lock their gazes, her kind smile was slowly breaking the ice and making the atmosphere more comfortable than it was just a moment ago.

"I guess it's better to start by introducing ourselves, right? My name's Itsuka. Can you tell me your name?" She introduced herself but kept her distance, not wanting to invade Eijirou's personal space in case of him not really appreciating that. It left him wonder whether Itsuka knew his position in this society, or if she just didn't care. It would be another nice change since Hitoshi too had treated him like a real human being instead of slave that was seen as a chattel. As a property of someone else.

Eijirou felt little bit shy, to his own surprise. He wasn't sure why because nothing in Itsuka screamed about danger or something he should be worried about. Maybe it was just the way he was so used to be in lower position that he didn't know how to handle this kind of social situation.

It had been a lot easier to talk with Denki immediately. Even though the blonde back then did most of the talking, it was easier because they were equal. They were both in same position, both just the lowest of low. It gave them a special bond, something they both understood very well.

Itsuka tilted her head slightly as she was waiting for the redhead to answer. She probably realized soon that he was feeling little out of place here, Neito had told her something days ago but she never believed they would really carry out such a stupid plan. But after they showed up at her door tonight, she couldn't help but wonder what else Hitoshi and Neito do on their free time.

"Hey hey, it's okay! In this household you can forget for a moment what your role is, no one cares here. I won't judge you, we all have our own backstories. And if Neito said something bad, I'll make sure to scold him later. He's a bit of a jerk sometimes but he's not that bad", Itsuka reassured as she walked past him to grab something from the reed baskets located in the back of the room where her small kitchen was.

"Sit down and make yourself at home. I've got some bread if you're hungry."

The calm atmosphere was so soothing and relaxing, like it was trying to quietly whisper sweet words into his ear. Trying to reassure that it's okay to let his guard down for now, at least for tonight. And Itsuka didn't seem to have any kind of ulterior motives, she genuinely seemed to be nice and kind-hearted person. Her smile wasn't forced at all and the spark in her eyes was honest, exactly same kind of happy spark what Denki often has too.

Before he even noticed it, Eijirou already walked more into the room and eventually sat down on to the floor next to the small table. Itsuka was shortly back, serving him some bread as promised while she took her own seat at the other side of the table. The rugs on the floor softened everything so it was actually very nice to sit on there.

"So, let's start again. I'm Itsuka, it's nice to meet you! Can you tell me your name now? I just want to know what to call you. You do have a name and slave isn't the one." Itsuka was clearly trying again with her questions. They were same as before, but with slight alterations in them. Probably to make sure Eijirou didn't feel like a cornered animal.

Her kind smile was most likely the reason why Eijirou eventually felt like he didn't need to hide anything from her. The aura around her was so natural and benevolent that he decided it's okay to relax too. After all Nakhti isn't here and won't be either. Nakhti will stay out of his life from now on and that's enough to put a small smile on his face. It was quick and gone as soon as it appeared, but Itsuka noticed it. At least judging by the way her smile seemed to stretch slightly wider.

"My name's Eijirou. And I'm sorry to bother you tonight, you probably had more important things than to look after me." Eijirou wasn't even sure why he was apologizing it in the first place. He didn't choose to be left here, it was Neito who planned this thing. And it made sense to keep him somewhere this night, it's already too late to take him to his new home.

Itsuka looked confused for a moment, her smile disappearing as she thought of his words for a moment. "You don't need to apologize. Neito gave me a heads up that something like this is going to happen but he didn't say exactly when. Don't worry about it, if I had to be angry to someone, I'd definitely be angry at him." And the same smile appeared again.

It was his turn to think carefully about the words he just heard while nibbling the piece of bread in his hand. Neito mentioned earlier that their plan was to take him to someone's place to get ready for his new home. So it wasn't just a random idea out of nowhere, he had thought about this beforehand. Good thing he warned Itsuka, even though this clearly surprised her as well.

They ate in silence after the conversation quieted down, but Eijirou was grateful of it. It was a chance for him to just think through everything, he still couldn't really believe what had happened. No matter how the realization had started to sink in, he still couldn't wrap his head around the fact that it finally happened. Everything about Nakhti is now behind and history, he doesn't have to remember any of it anymore.

But at the same time he'd be lying if he told he isn't nervous about his new owner. He can only hope that he doesn't end up in a familiar scenario with this new person. He doesn't honestly know how he would react to it if he found himself being a fancy slave for someone else, right after he managed to escape his previous owner.

It was nerve-racking to say the least. He's taking slow steps in the darkness and he won't know where he ends up when he finally exits from it. He really hoped that his new owner isn't any of Nakhti's friends, knowing how similar they were to him means that Eijirou would end up in the same position if it was one of them.

"Neito talked something about to let you clean up for tomorrow. If you need anything, just tell me and I'll help you", Itsuka said, breaking the silence as well while she was observing Eijirou.

He noticed how her eyes were curiously watching his hair and he really couldn't blame her. It had grown just enough to show some of those black roots underneath the red color. And the color was already fading anyway so it's not like he could fool anyone to think that it's his real hair color. It probably looked funny how his natural color was trying to show up from the roots through the red color.

Eijirou was sure the color was fading faster because even though it had taken couple tries before the redness of it was satisfying, he's never dyed his hair so he probably did something wrong in the progress. But he didn't complain either, it had served its purpose and Nakhti had backed away enough.

"I think there isn't really anything I need. I appreciate the offer though", Eijirou admitted because honestly, how is he supposed to get ready for his new home? It's not like he needs a total makeover.

Itsuka went silent after that, looking like she was thinking something while her eyes were still studying every part of Eijirou's hair. It was little bit uncomfortable, but he tolerated it because she didn't give him any bad vibes. And whenever that sweet smile was on her face, it relaxed the tension in the room. He's sure she noticed it too.

"It's okay. Honestly, if you stayed here longer, I'd offer to help you dye your hair if you wanted it. Red suits you well."

Eijirou tried to search any kind of sign from her expression what would reveal her just messing with him and making fun of him, but there was none of that visible. She was serious and her compliment would have felt nice if it wasn't for the fact that the only reason why he dyed his hair was to piss off Nakhti. It wasn't really any kind of fashion choice and he still got surprised sometimes when his red locks were suddenly in front of his eyes, hiding them.

But at the same time he admits that he liked the color. It wasn't a bad choice, like Itsuka just said. Somehow it fits him well, though he hates the fact that Nakhti made him feel so aware of his own hair that he had to do something about it. It's so stupid in the end, but he couldn't just ignore it.

Itsuka noticed the quick sour expression on his face before it disappeared, realizing that she probably was touching the line already. And she didn't want to cross it, so it was better to try change the subject.

"Well... do you know anything about your new home?"

The question was enough to tense up his shoulders. Maybe this wasn't the change Itsuka had tried to achieve, but her guest looked like he needed to talk about these things with someone. She was approaching these topics carefully, but at the same time Itsuka was always ready to back away if she was in danger of crossing the line and making the other feel cornered.

Eijirou shook his head and couldn't stop the heavy sigh that escaped from his mouth. He really didn't know anything and it was stressing him. But maybe it was better this way, if he knew where he ends up now, he'll probably just get more anxious than he is right now. Especially if his new owner turns out to be as twisted and nasty person like Nakhti.

It was probably because of the gentle aura Itsuka had around her why Eijirou ended up telling her things he hadn't planned on talking about. Especially to her, to a person who was a complete stranger in the end. "I don't know and I'm honestly very scared. I just... I don't want to end up to anyone else who's similar to my previous master. I've seen enough things to feel disgusted and dirty."

"The ugly side of humanity is horrible. I can't really talk about it since I've been lucky enough to not see it that much but I know. Especially when quirks are messing up everything even more", Itsuka pointed out. And she was right.

It wasn't enough that the darkness of humanity is disturbingly ugly. The fact that quirks even exist is like a plague gifted by gods. Eijirou never really understood why they exist, what is their purpose other than just spread misery to people and highlight the inequality between them.

"But at the same time I think quirks aren't really that bad. Sure, they can be used in bad things and are one more reason to value everyone. But there's so many good things that could be achieved by them."

Eijirou couldn't hide his stare as Itsuka kept explaining her own opinion about quirks. Her point wasn't bad but he just wasn't able to think this subject that way. Quirks are something unnatural, something that shouldn't even exist. And still they somehow do, which is definitely why he can't help but keep thinking that they're just a curse. His own life would be so different if he never had his quirk.

Sometimes he didn't really understand how some people liked to think that quirks aren't a bad thing or a curse to humanity. Itsuka wasn't the only one who seemed to be more positive about quirks, even Ibara saw them as a gift instead of being something totally evil. But what kind of gift can this quirk be? Hardening his skin, making him look weird and unhuman. It can't be anything good.

It's just wrong.

Itsuka noticed how Eijirou's gaze fell, he was now staring his hands instead of keeping the eye contact with her. The look on his face revealed that he was thinking a lot about this topic, probably trying to understand the words he just heard. He looked like he was hesitating, not sure what to think.

"You do have a quirk too, don't you?" Itsuka asked finally. The question had been swirling in her mind for a while now but she never really found a proper chance to ask it. Eijirou perked up his head upon hearing that question, his eyes immediately back on Itsuka while he looked surprised.

"I apologize if I crossed the line. It's not very polite to ask about that, but I was just wondering. You looked like you were lost in your thoughts." Itsuka explained and offered an apologetic smile. She paid a lot of attention around her, Eijirou hadn't even realized that she could read him like that. Or maybe he was just too honest with his feelings. It didn't really matter now.

"Don't worry about it, it wasn't a rude question. I just don't like my quirk, that's all." And it's true, Eijirou has always had these mixed feelings about his quirk. Most of the time he saw it as a burden, as something shameful he should just hide and never think about it again. But there has been moments when he's thought that maybe, just maybe his quirk isn't really that bad.

Well, up until to the moment his freedom was sold because of his ''gift''.

What a gift indeed.

"Is it really that bad?" Itsuka asked suddenly, surprising Eijirou. After seeing how she was carefully choosing her words with him, he didn't expect her to ask something so straightforward.

And since Itsuka was approaching this subject with that kind of attitude, Eijirou decided to do the same. So instead of answering to her question, he raised his other hand enough and hardened it, demonstrating his quirk without saying anything. And his quirk didn't really need any kind of explaining, it was simple enough.

She tilted her head slightly as her eyes were curiously studying the sight. For a moment her face was lacking any expression, but in the end that same smile returned on her face while she nodded, telling him without any words that she understood. "I see. But it isn't a bad quirk if you ask me. I can already see possibilities with that kind of quirk."

"Like what?" Eijirou asked while he lowered his hand again, reverting it back to normal while his eyes stayed on the ginger haired girl. He didn't want to show how curious he really is, but he couldn't hide it either. No matter how much he claims to hate his quirk, he's always curious when someone tells him that they see some kind of proper use for it.

"You can harden your skin, right?" Itsuka asked first, making sure that she really understood what kind of quirk it is. When Eijirou nodded, she smiled and continued. "It's really useful. I'm sure even Pharaoh would be interested if he heard about it. You'd make a great guard. A royal guard too! While your quirk is simple, it's usable and nothing to hide, really."

For a moment her smile fell as she thought something. It was only a quick moment, but Eijirou noticed it and he didn't know what to say. Should he ask about it? Mention that she lost her smile? Itsuka probably was aware of it as her gaze was now apologetic and before he was able to ask anything, she just shook her head. "Sorry, I just used to know a person whose quirk is similar to yours. I haven't seen him in a while, I hope he's okay."

Eijirou wanted to say something, anything right now but he still felt like he's lost of words. He hated it. He's never been good with all this social interaction stuff and it really showed up during times like these. Itsuka was the one who handled most of their conversations. She didn't seem to be bothered by it, but Eijirou didn't like it. He didn't want to give an impression that he's rude. He isn't trying to be at least.

"Anyway, what I am trying to say is that you shouldn't really underestimate or look down your quirk. I think it's useful. And it doesn't cause that much problems in the end. You just need to find something where to focus it.

Hitoshi had same kind of problems with his own quirk. He usually keeps it hidden since his quirk can be seen as very sinister power, but he never uses it that way. Well, it's very loose term whether what he does with it is right or wrong, I don't know if you saw a good or bad side of it but trust me, he doesn't abuse his quirk."

Eijirou had trouble fall asleep later that night. Itsuka's words were repeating in his head as he tried to understand what she was going after with them.

She did have a point in one thing though.

Maybe he shouldn't underestimate his own quirk this much.


 

"Looks like Itsuka took a good care of you."

Eijirou's eyes were on Hitoshi as soon as he decided to break the silence between them. He had picked him up from Itsuka's place this morning but after that they haven't exchanged any words. It wasn't really that surprising or even uncomfortable. Hitoshi didn't look like a person who likes to ramble and talk nonsense to kill some time. Unlike Denki who sometimes spoke so much he almost talked everyone's ears off.

"She's very kind", Eijirou answered quietly. He wasn't even sure if Hitoshi could hear him but it didn't matter.

From the moment Hitoshi and Neito left him at her place, Itsuka treated him like an old friend. Without any extra hesitation, without making him feel like there's a big gap between them. Like a big sister he never had. Something about her genuinely kind personality made him relax very quickly and the conversations they had eased his mind.

Maybe that's what Hitoshi and Neito were after this whole time. When they talked about him cleaning himself up at Itsuka's place, maybe they didn't mean it to be taken so literally. Maybe it was more of a mental thing to prepare him for his new home.

He heard Hitoshi just hum in agreement. He knew exactly what he meant by that and agreed with him.

"She is. And she's one of the few people who tolerates Neito and isn't afraid to put him back on the line if he goes too far with his words." Eijirou had noticed it last night. Itsuka wasn't hesitating about scolding Neito whenever he tried to ignore her questions. She probably wasn't afraid of scolding him if he was being rude, too. At least he can imagine it be like that and she earns his respect.

Eijirou was staring the back of Hitoshi's head, remembering everything he talked at Itsuka's place with her. Or what she talked to him, it had been more of a one-sided conversation most of the time but it didn't mean that he hadn't listened her at all.

A good and a bad side of a quirk. That's how Hitoshi's quirk can be seen by others. Eijirou had thought about it last night while trying to fall asleep. In his eyes what Hitoshi did was like a blessing from gods. He saved him from the role he definitely didn't want to be in. But at the same time from the other view, it can be seen as an evil act. Forcing people to do as he pleases, commanding them and knowing they'll do it without objection.

"She talked about quirks too. Told me not look down myself so much." Eijirou wasn't even sure why he was telling this to Hitoshi. His lack of reaction to his words were convincing him quickly that he wasn't really interested in hearing it, but then again he couldn't be sure what Hitoshi was thinking.

But since he didn't seem to give off any feelings of wanting to change the subject, Eijirou decided to keep talking. Hitoshi can always interrupt him or just tell him to shut up if he's not interested.

"She even talked about your quirk, too."

Eijirou tried to see if Hitoshi wasn't pleased by this topic. But he couldn't see his shoulders tensing up at all, or any other sign of annoyance or disapproval. Since the redhead was following him and walking behind, he couldn't see what kind of expression he had on his face. But if he has to guess, Eijirou was sure Hitoshi was as stoic as he often seems to be.

"There's a difference between the nature of our quirks. Yours can be used in many good ways and I'm sure people won't make that big of a deal of it.

But mine? It scares everyone away if they learn about it. They start doubting, afraid of me using it to gain power and play with them as I please. I could always do that, but at the end of the day I'll better be on guard. People act like feral animals when they're facing something they can't understand and what scares them."

Hitoshi sounded so serious, but Eijirou wasn't sure if he just imagined the small hint of melancholy between the lines. It is true, people can be unpredictable when they feel like they're cornered.

"I'm not afraid of you. You're not a bad person."

"You're saying that only because I forced your previous owner to sell you. Your blonde friend probably would disagree with you, claiming he got manipulated by a freak who could have done whatever he wanted to do with him."

Eijirou frowned, he hated to agree with Hitoshi about that. Denki probably saw him in a different light.

"But it doesn't mean that you're a bad person. Itsuka said you're not abusing your quirk and I think what you did to Denki wasn't just because you wanted to do so. He got nosy, but that's just who he is. And it's a normal reaction when facing someone you don't know. He started question you and you didn't want to blow up your cover."

The conversation was getting out of hand, Eijirou was sure if he kept pushing this topic further, Hitoshi will snap at him. He'll get annoyed eventually, but he felt like he just needed to tell him that. Though he claimed not being afraid of Hitoshi's quirk, Eijirou was still feeling more aware around him. But at the same time he somehow just trusted Hitoshi. Maybe the other one was right, maybe he is feeling this way only because in his eyes, Hitoshi saved him. Sort of.

He was waiting for some kind of annoyed reaction. Waiting for Hitoshi to tell him to drop this subject already since it probably felt like listening same things over and over again. Eijirou wanted to make sure Hitoshi knows he's not a bad person, even though his quirk is kinda sinister and can be used to do bad things.

What he didn't expect was the sudden chuckle from him.

"You're a strange one, Eijirou. I guess I can finally understand little bit why you caught his attention. You truly have a heart of gold, that's for sure." Hitoshi stopped and waited for him to get next to him before he turned his head enough to look at him. His stoic expression was replaced by slight hint of amuse, his dark purple eyes watching him curiously.

Eijirou just stared him for a moment, unable to say anything so in the end he turned his gaze away and muttered something nonsense to himself. That amused Hitoshi even more, though his expression was still pretty neutral, only a crooked smile indicating that he was finding this side of him funny.

The silence around them was more peaceful than before, not really making Eijirou feel like it's uncomfortable to be around Hitoshi. He was discovering new side of him and it was fascinating, even though they weren't friends or anything. Hitoshi was just taking him to his new home and who knows if they see each other again.

The thought of friends made Eijirou realize something, a rather familiar scene what was happening all over again. Damn it, it looks like he really has a curse or two on him. It shouldn't surprise him this much that it's happening again, but the reality of it was crushing to say the least.

Another deep sigh escaped from his lips, earning a curious gaze from the other boy. "Why the long face so suddenly?" Hitoshi didn't even try to ask it nicely, he just went straight into the heart of the matter.

"I'm losing my friends again", Eijirou answered, but it came out as a sad and weak whisper instead. No matter how much he hated Nakhti, the only good thing what he got from his master was the friendship with Denki. And with Denki came along Hanta, another person who he considered as a friend. He can't be sure if he'll ever see them again and the idea of it hurts a lot, like a knife that's carving its way through his heart.

He should have learned his lesson from the first time. Maybe he's never meant to have friends, maybe gods are teasing him by bringing all these people for him to befriend. And when they're friends, even good friends, they suddenly decide that enough is enough and pull those people out of his life again.

It's a cruel and wicked game.

"Friends, huh." Hitoshi's expression didn't change at all, giving the impression like the term itself was unknown to him. "You're talking about that other fancy slave. Denki?"

Eijirou nodded and sighed again. "I thought I finally had a friend who won't disappear from my life. I've never really have friends up until now, but all of them are pulled out of my life one by one. I'm sick of it."

Hitoshi huffed and kept his eyes on the road, ignoring every passerby while thinking Eijirou's words for a moment.

"It's easier if you don't make any friends with others."

It was Eijirou now who stopped, slightly shocked by the words Hitoshi just said. He couldn't help but stare at him and after taking couple steps forward before noticing his sudden stop, Hitoshi stopped too and turned around to face him.

"You're messing with me, right? You do have friends too", Eijirou started, but when Hitoshi stayed as stoic as always, his expression not changing at all, he fell silent. He wanted to believe that Hitoshi was just making fun of him or messing with him little bit, but his neutral expression was telling another story.

"I think friends aren't that important. They become one of your weaknesses if you get too invested in friendships", he exclaimed, but he noticed quickly that Eijirou wasn't agreeing with him. The redhead even shook his head, showing his clear disagreement with his words.

"I thought Neito is your friend", Eijirou said with the confusion visible in his eyes. Of course Hitoshi has a friend or two, right? No one can really live their entire life a lone wolf, everyone just need a little bit of human interaction.

Hitoshi just laughed, not really that amused by what he heard.

"You really are a strange one."


 

The rest of their walk was mostly just a silence between them. Eijirou didn't feel like trying to start another attempt to have a conversation with Hitoshi, and the other seemed to be okay with the way things are right now. As expected, the indigo haired boy wasn't much of a talker.

It felt like they had walked for small eternity now. The busy city and narrow roads were left behind for a while now. Apparently his new home wasn't in the middle of city, which was kinda nice to say the least. Eijirou still wasn't used to being in the middle of crowds in a places like the marketplace. It probably had something to do with his farmer family background, the small village near his childhood home wasn't that big either so there never were any big crowds. At least as big as the ones in the city.

What he noticed was the way Hitoshi started to relax more as the loud and lively city was far behind. Maybe he wasn't a big fan of crowds either. At least they both agreed with that.

If he had to think of something positive about living with Nakhti, it was probably the fact that he didn't live in the middle of the hassle too. His house was in a more remote side of it, offering the quiet and peace what Eijirou always appreciated.

But as they kept going, Eijirou couldn't help but feel a big messy mixture of different feelings.

He was anxious since Hitoshi didn't tell him anything about his new owner, no matter how much he asked and tried to beg him to say something.

He was scared because he didn't know what kind of person his new owner is going to be. Or what kind of job he's getting this time. If it's going to be another fancy slave play, Eijirou is sure he's going to lose his mind.

He was relieved knowing that Nakhti won't lay a finger on him, trying to manipulate him into things he doesn't want to do. That disgusting gaze he always had on his eyes was now gone and Eijirou won't see that again either.

And the surprising thing. He was feeling little bit excited, too. This is a new start, right? At least that's how it feels like. Hitoshi can't be so cruel that he gets him away from Nakhti, just to move him to someone else who's exactly the same kind of nasty person as his previous owner. Eijirou refuses to even believe such a thing. Maybe it's just the naive part of him but he wants to believe that Hitoshi was as disgusted to know what kind of person Nakhti was as Eijirou had been ever since the first time he realized it.

Eijirou was getting nervous because slowly the area started to change, the houses that were exact copies of each other getting much more elegant looking and definitely a lot more bigger than the small houses in the city. This area definitely wasn't just for a peasants who lived in a short distance away from the noisy city.

Some of the houses were clearly the houses of rich and nobles, which made everything just feel more intimidating. This is definitely not the place where he should be. His simple farmer's mind just couldn't agree with the idea of living somewhere close to these people, they were way more higher in the social class pyramid.

"Are you sure we're at the right place?" Eijirou asked, earning a curious gaze from Hitoshi. His dark purple eyes studied him for a moment before he huffed and turned his gaze away from him.

"No doubt of it. Just a little bit longer and we've arrived to the right place. Are you getting nervous?" Hitoshi asked. Maybe someone else would have asked that with a joking voice, but his question was genuine and he wasn't there to laugh at him.

"I feel so out of place here", Eijirou admitted and Hitoshi just chuckled quietly, telling him he's not the only one who feels that way.

As he was glancing around and avoiding the eye contact with people who happened to be passing by, he couldn't help but wonder. If his new owner lived in an area like this, how did he want Eijirou, from all people? He didn't want to jump into conclusions too fast, it would only stress him more. But really, there were a lot of better people to choose from.

Eijirou though? He's nothing special. He's little bit clumsy and he has this bad habit of falling into his thought, in his own little world and forget the world around him. Some people say that he just walks around with his head in the clouds and that isn't far from the truth. Maybe Eijirou really just paid little bit too much attention to his thoughts and his little fantasy world.

When Hitoshi finally turned and headed toward one of the houses, Eijirou just wanted to nope out of it. No way he's going to stay at that house. No way he'll ever get used to that. Nakhti's house had already felt like it was too big for comfortable, but this was just getting ridiculous.

A surrounding brick wall was a first cue as to what kind of house was hiding behind it. The wooden gate in front of it was left open, inviting the possible visitors to the yard. Hitoshi was already walking toward it, but when he noticed that Eijirou had stopped moving, he turned around to question him. "What's wrong? Come now, we can't just stand here."

"It's impossible."

Hitoshi furrowed his brows, confused about what Eijirou was talking about now. He glanced at the gate's direction, before returning it back to the redhead. They really should move on, he's not in a mood to hear complaining from a certain someone.

"I can't do it, Hitoshi. I don't belong here, this is not a place where I should live." Eijirou was clearly starting to get more anxious, more aware of the situation. Maybe even letting the realization sink in, finally understanding that this is really happening. It's not just a dream, it's reality.

"It's not like you or I can decide about that. I'm not your owner, I'm just doing a favor. It can't be that bad? If you're worrying about what Neito said yesterday, don't think about that. You're going to be fine", Hitosti tried to reason with him, but Eijirou was clearly too busy thinking some kind of horror scenarios. His words fell on deaf ears.

A deep sigh escaped from his lips as he weighed his options. He can make Eijirou listen to him by using his quirk, but then again Hitoshi really didn't feel like using it in a situation like this. Eijirou was making a mountain out of a molehill, but Hitoshi hated to admit that in a way he understood him.

After having an owner like Nakhti, it's no wonder that Eijirou was getting nervous and even afraid of what might be waiting for him. After everything what he's gone through, it's only natural to doubt his own future. Hitoshi doesn't know anything else other than just the fact that Eijirou was Nakhti's little ego boosting trophy, but judging by the reaction he's having right now, he's gone through a lot more than just that. Nakhti clearly wasn't his first owner.

"It's okay, Eijirou. Everything will turn out to be fine, trust me. You'll be fine, don't worry about it." They were lies. Hitoshi can't really guarantee anything like that, but if those are the words what can calm him down, then so be it. It can't be that bad, considering the kind of person his previous owner was.

Well... it won't be easy, that's for sure. Knowing the guy who lives here and how he can be handful and sometimes hard to handle, Hitoshi kinda felt bad for saying those empty promises to the redhead.

Eijirou was clearly hesitating and when Hitoshi was getting ready to use his quirk to make things easier, the other boy suddenly nodded and gave up. Maybe those words were enough for him. Enough to calm him down for now, but Hitoshi was satisfied by it.

They walked through the gate and immediately they were greeted by a sight of a green garden in a little distance, close to the house that was painted white. As Eijirou had assumed, it was bigger than Nakhti's house. Not a lot but enough to notice the difference in size.

When Hitoshi knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer, Eijirou felt his heart already beating harder against his chest, the cold sweat starting to form on his forehead. He really didn't want to be here right now, but he knew it's too late to leave.

The door opened and a woman behind it looked very surprised like she hadn't even expected to meet them. The sight of her made Eijirou's stomach feel tight, like it was suddenly in knots. She looked so familiar, but then again he was sure he hasn't seen her anywhere. But damn she was almost like a perfect copy of someone Eijirou had seen before.

"How can I help you?" she asked, confused expression on her face. The kohl on her eyelids just highlighted her short ash-blonde hair, while her red eyes were curiously watching them as she waited an answer to her question. She was wearing a white one shoulder strapped dress which was clearly made from fine linen and it was slightly pleated to look more fashionable. Everything was complemented by beautiful jewelry what wasn't tacky or too much.

What Eijirou noticed next was the black cat in her arms. It looked very satisfied by the attention it got from its owner, getting a good stroking every now and then while the woman was focusing on them.

Hitoshi seemed to be fascinated by the cat for a slight moment, before his eyes were on the woman again. "Pardon me for bothering you this beautiful day, but I've brought your new slave here." Hitoshi nodded slightly at Eijirou's direction while the woman furrowed her eyebrows, getting more confused about it.

"I think you're at the wrong place. We haven't bought any slaves lately." Her hand stopped stroking the cat as well while she was now more focused on them. Her words sent a shiver down Eijirou's spine, but it was only the beginning of the madness that was slowly crawling closer.

"This is the residence of the Bakugou family, right?"

"That's correct."

"Then I'm at the right place."

As Hitoshi started to explain about how their new slave was a gift from someone and even showed the scroll he had brought with him, Eijirou felt like the whole world was trying to turn upside down. It has to be another way for gods to mock him completely.

The Bakugou family.

There's only one family with that name and from the looks of it, Eijirou is very aware of it being the same family.

"It's rude to turn down gifts."

The sound of familiar voice made the hair stand on the back of Eijirou's neck while his stomach was just more in knots now. He wished he just imagined that, but when the woman turned around and revealed the person who was now walking closer to the front door, Eijirou wanted to faint right there and right now. Or that the ground would swallow him immediately and help him disappear.

"Do you know something about this, Katsuki?" she asked and glared at him for a moment before her eyes trailed back to them. Eijirou was sure he was close to having an inner breakdown, why in the name of every gods and goddesses was he here? From all places possible?

"What makes you think so? I'm just telling the facts. It's rude. Don't you always nag about that stuff?", Katsuki answered, a hint of smugness in his voice what seemed to piss of the woman. Even Hitoshi took a step back when they started a small argument. It was kinda awkward since both Hitoshi and Eijirou just stood there and watched as the obvious mother and son were arguing about this topic.

As suddenly as the argument was in the air, it disappeared as fast when the woman put the cat back on the floor and wanted to take a closer look of the scroll Hitoshi had in his hands. She didn't seem to like how this whole situation seemed to be so shady, but she wasn't the only one who was feeling that way. Eijirou was confused because what Hitoshi and Neito had talked about earlier, he understood that they forced Nakhti to sell him. He's not supposed to be any kind of gift?

When Katsuki commented something about him being right, another round of arguments were dangerously close to get out of hand. Instead of it happening, Katsuki told her that he would show places for their new servant.

And with that, Eijirou found himself soon at the horse stable where three horses were staying at their own little stalls. The familiar black horse was one of them and as soon as Katsuki stepped inside the stable, all the horses were nickering and greeting the familiar person they knew.

Eijirou stopped and kept his gaze on the ground, trying to figure out what was really going on here. Nothing made sense. He shouldn't be here. He doesn't belong here.

"You look like you've seen a ghost, Shitty Hair. Didn't really expect that, huh?" Katsuki's question finally snapped him out of the haze he seemed to be in. He moved his gaze to the blonde's direction and his eyes were met by pair of crimson red eyes.

"I don't really understand what is happening right now", Eijirou admitted, hating the fact that it felt like he was the only one who doesn't realize what is going on. Or why everything is so suddenly happening.

Katsuki huffed and leaned against the brick wall, crossing his arms while looking at Eijirou. "You're clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed, then. Let me say it straight then to help you understand it, Eijirou. I bought you."

It was obvious enough at this point, but hearing Katsuki admit it made everything just more real. And Eijirou was lost for words, not knowing what he should answer to that. Be happy about it? Ask him why did he buy him? Didn't Katsuki tell him he's pathetic? Everything felt like a one big mess and Eijirou didn't know how to start cleaning it. This isn't exactly what he had thought of finding from that beacon of light guiding him away from the darkness.

"Do you hate it that I am the one who bought you?" Katsuki suddenly asked, catching him off guard completely.

And Eijirou hated that he didn't have a proper answer to that question. Or that in fact, he actually has an answer but he doesn't want to tell that.

He doesn't really hate it.

Chapter Text

Everything felt so unreal, like he was still in the middle of dreaming with a no chance of waking up from it. Like he was stuck in a some kind of fever dream or straight up nightmare what seemed to be themed with never ending humiliation.

Eijirou just couldn't believe it. He was waiting for Katsuki to smirk and tell him that it was actually just a joke and shoo him away, but there he was. Still leaning against the wall, keeping an eye on him like he was reading him that easily. That's probably more closer to the truth than anything else, Eijirou already believed that no matter how rude or even scary Katsuki might make himself to be, in the end he isn't just a barking dog.

He's good at studying others just by watching them long enough and he's aware of things around him.

But if he has to be honest, Eijirou didn't really like the way his eyes were right now feeling like they're trying to pierce through him. He was waiting for him to react to his words, to say something but Eijirou just didn't know what he should be saying now. Thank him for buying him? No, that's just weird. Thank him for getting his head all messed up? Maybe that's not a good one either.

When he finally felt his gaze move away from him, followed by the familiar sound of the blonde clicking his tongue in annoyance, Eijirou felt like he wanted to shrink and disappear. It's not like he's really afraid of Katsuki, he can't be worse than some of his previous owners, right? That's what Eijirou wanted to believe.

The biggest question then? Well, if he's not afraid of the blonde, then why is he feeling nervous and uncomfortable right now? His hands were a moment away from begin to fidget while his heart was being strangled by the cold touch of anxiety. It was slowly spreading in his body, like a poison in his veins.

"Why?" The question was in the air before he even thought of asking it. For a moment the whole place was frozen still. Eijirou couldn't hear anything else around him, only his own heartbeats which were like a bang of drums right near his ears. Or the blood flowing inside his veins, sounding exactly like he was standing in the chilly water of the Nile and listening the movement of the river's flow.

His eyes finally met again with Katsuki's and he could tell by the look of it that the blonde was slightly confused, but not really off the edge. He had the idea of what the redhead was asking, but instead of trying to pry more into the subject he waited for him to continue.

And Eijirou really, really didn't want to ask that question. Even though his mind and mouth betrayed him just a moment ago, he didn't want to ask it again. Didn't want to repeat that question since in a way he was worried about the answer he'd receive. Is it gonna be something bad? Something good? No matter how much Eijirou tried to understand what kind of person Katsuki is, he really had no idea in the end. Everything he knew about him were things he had heard from others. Katsuki has never told him anything. It's not like he never had to anyway, considering the gap between them.

Maybe that's why Eijirou had found himself admiring the blonde whenever he saw him or heard something about him. But now that he was facing the said person he had admired so much and even gotten mixed feelings recently, he realized all the differences between them. And he was becoming very aware of them, aware of just how messed up the situation is.

He doesn't belong here.

"Why did you buy me?"

Eijirou hated how curious he is. It was something that was almost nailed in his personality, he's always been a curious person. And even though he didn't want to ask that question because the answer is stressing him out, he ended up asking it anyway. Like his whole body and mind betrayed him though just a couple seconds ago they agreed with him.

He could feel how the atmosphere was slightly different than before. It wasn't exactly very relaxing earlier, but now he really noticed the small tension between them. It was mostly coming from him since his emotions were all over the place, but the way Katsuki reacted to them just strained everything more.

He didn't need to turn his gaze back to Katsuki's direction to know that the blonde was still staring him. He could feel it, the way his red eyes were watching him closely. Noticing every single thing what the readhead himself probably didn't even realize or do on purpose.

For some reason it felt like he was waiting to be judged from something. Like he's a thief who got caught and is now waiting for his punishment. It's really a crushing feeling and if Katsuki keeps staring at him with that kind of gaze, Eijirou can't be sure how long he can keep himself together. It already feels like there's small cracks forming on him, slowly spreading through his body and just waiting that final blow to shatter him into small pieces.

Katsuki finally stopped leaning his back against the wall, instead taking couple steps toward the redhead. But then he just huffed and turned to walk to the other side of the stable. At that point the horses were curiously watching him just in case if their owner decided to throw some hay for them.

"Why? Why, you ask. Are you going to be disappointed if I tell you that I don't have any particular reason? Just for fun. Do I need a reason? I don't think so." And with that Katsuki's gaze returned back on him, like he was waiting for some kind of reaction again. Testing the waters before diving in.

And this time he probably got what he wanted. His answer was just simply beating around the bush and Eijirou didn't really like that. If he wanted to mock him, at least he should do it directly instead of being sneaky with it.

"You're messing with me. You must have some kind of reason, there's so many other slaves you could have bought instead of me. Why put yourself go through all that trouble just for someone as pathetic as me? I'm sure there's a lot more better choices than me." Eijirou didn't even know why he was saying all this. He acknowledged his position. He knew Katsuki doesn't have to answer to any of his questions or explain himself. But still he wanted to know the truth.

And it definitely wasn't the reason Katsuki gave him first. No one goes through all that trouble 'just for fun'. Katsuki must know what could happen if someone managed to learn about this sneaky little fraud he planned for Nakhti.

If Eijirou knows something about Katsuki for sure, it's the fact that the blonde isn't stupid at all.

"You know", Katsuki started as he finally decided to approach Eijirou again, "for someone in that position, you like to talk a lot. And question things you really shouldn't."

Katsuki was standing right in front of him, maybe little bit too close for his liking. Eijirou wanted to back away, but his body was still feeling like it was frozen in place. His eyes were staring straight back into those crimson eyes, waiting for the situation to start to unfold itself instead of him starting it.

He didn't want to make it look like he was challenging the blonde. He'd never want to do so, because he knows just how much stronger Katsuki is. He can feel it, and it's not only a physical strength that was different from his. His mind is so weak and petty, just all messed up without a way of sorting things out.

Eijirou kinda expected Katsuki to correct him. To show him what his place is because it's true, he was pushing his own limits and saying things what he shouldn't be saying. Especially while he's in a position like this, being lowest of the low.

The sudden silence between them was becoming unbearable and Eijirou really wanted to move his gaze away, but he just couldn't. It was almost like his gaze was nailed on the other boy.

What felt like eternity came to an ending finally when Katsuki turned around and started to head toward the door. He knew what that meant. It meant that this conversation is over and they're going to head back to the house. For some reason Eijirou was slightly disappointed because he had hoped for the blonde to tell him the real reason why he bought him. It can't be just because Katsuki thought it'd be fun to go through that kind of trouble. No one can enjoy something like that, right?

Katsuki opened the door, but then stopped and stayed still. His eyes were staring at the distance for a while, leaving Eijirou to stare his back in confusion. What's now?

"You're interesting enough. That's why, Eijirou."

Eijirou wasn't sure if he heard him correctly. Or if he even understood it right. He wanted to ask what that was supposed to mean, but he couldn't say anything. He was just opening and closing his mouth like a fish on dry land, almost like he forgot for a moment how to speak.

The blonde was already heading toward the house when Eijirou finally felt like he could speak again. He quickly left the stable and after closing the door, he followed him while his mind was cracking with all this information he's gotten in this short time.

It was too much, he couldn't keep up with all of it. His head's probably going to explode at this speed. Everything is happening too suddenly and too fast. And in return it was rising his anxiety levels, giving him that similar feeling like all heavy thoughts and things were dumped on his shoulders and he's desperately trying to carry them. Again.

Hitoshi was done talking with Katsuki's mother by the time they arrived back to the house. She still looked like she was doubting this whole thing but who could blame her. It is kinda shady when one day out of nowhere someone appears and announces that they've brought them something they haven't even bought.

"Well then, I guess it's time for me to leave", Hitoshi said and changed glances with Katsuki, like telling him that it's okay now.

But when he was heading toward the gate to leave, Eijirou couldn't stop his own legs from moving and chasing after Hitoshi. Probably both Katsuki and his mother were surprised by it, but he didn't care or dare to glance at them now.

"Hitoshi please."

He stopped at the gate and turned around to face Eijirou who approached him. "What is it?"

"Don't leave me here. Please take me with you, I can't stay. I don't belong here", Eijirou whined, all of the anxiety spreading in his body. His eyes were reflecting the distress he was feeling right now, it was chewing him pretty badly. Hitoshi almost felt bad for him since Eijirou was genuinely scared. He wasn't being over dramatic, he was afraid. Just like a cornered animal.

Hitoshi stared him in silence, his eyes studying his sad expression and the honest feelings what were showing in his red eyes. He was so damn scared and unsure about everything. Probably the result of what all his previous owners have done to him, he can only imagine what kind of torture someone has to go through to become so broken.

How much bending and twisting needs to be done to crack someone so much that this is the result of it. Something small, even fluttering of a butterfly's wings, is enough to shatter him completely.

Eijirou was clearly at his limits. Back at Nakhti's place Hitoshi had noticed the same thing. He was slowly getting devoured from the inside and if nothing changes, he's going to lose to it eventually. Who knows what happens to him after that.

"You know I can't do that. I'm sorry Eijirou, that's not how this works. This is your new home whether you like it or not", Hitoshi said calmly. Even though Eijirou probably didn't realize or even notice it, he understands all that hesitation. He knows how it feels like to change home, to be around new people and wonder if you can trust them or not.

And he really tried to be nicer with his words. He definitely didn't want to say everything in a way what would make Eijirou feel even worse than how he's already feeling. He didn't want to let the readhead sink more into that bubble of fear and anxiety what was still surrounding him.

Eijirou honestly looked like a kicked puppy at that point, the way his gaze started to wander around uneasily while he was trying to come up with something new this time. Some kind of reason why he shouldn't be left here. It's a sad sight since Eijirou is belittling himself so much that Hitoshi doesn't even want to know how little Eijirou thought of himself. Just how much he was mentally beating and downgrading his own self worth.

"Please", the readhead begged and moved closer, putting both of his hands to Hitoshi's shoulders while his eyes were locked with his. He was so defeated and at this point just standing at the edge, waiting for everything to crumble and make him fall. "It's all I ask. Please."

Hitoshi kept the eye contact with him, even when he didn't really like that fact that Eijirou was so close to him and touching his shoulders. It wasn't like he disliked him. No, there's nothing wrong with Eijirou. It's just something Hitoshi personally isn't fan of. He never liked when people were getting too touchy or too close for comfortable.

Their gazes were separated only when Hitoshi moved his eyes away, staring something over Eijirou's shoulder. Or more like someone.

He watched as Katsuki was approaching them, probably on his way to fetch his slave back. Their eyes met and the blonde stopped at his tracks while exchanging gazes with him. Eijirou didn't seem to notice Katsuki's presence at all since he still kept quietly begging him and with that, he blocked his mind from everything else around him.

Hitoshi and Katsuki exchanged glances, or more like Hitoshi did. Katsuki just glared at him while furrowing his eyebrows and crossing his arms as well. For a moment he looked like he wanted to say something and knowing the kind of person he is, that something wasn't probably the nicest possible thing. But instead he let his eyes trail to Eijirou and after watching him for couple seconds, Katsuki huffed and turned around to leave.

It honestly surprised Hitoshi. But then again, he doesn't know that much about him either. There's more than meets the eye. Same applies to Katsuki, too.

As soon as Katsuki was out of his sight Hitoshi moved his gaze back to Eijirou and carefully, though at the same time slightly awkwardly he patted his shoulder. "Listen to me, Eijirou."

And with that, he got Eijirou's attention. It was kinda surprising since Hitoshi had been sure that the redhead won't listen to him that easily.

"You're going to be alright. I'm not that cruel that I'd get you out of your previous home, just to push you into another same kind of torture." It was hard to come up with words that would have some kind of effect on him. In general everyone always told him that he's quite good with talking to others, but he himself didn't feel that way always.

Even he sometimes hesitated and wondered whether what he's saying to others is good or not. But right now he was focusing on keeping his attitude calm and trustworthy. He wanted to be sure that Eijirou understood everything he said and listened him carefully. "I know you're scared and I think it's okay. There's nothing wrong about it."

He couldn't help but stare into those red eyes that were staring back at him. Eijirou was listening him very closely and he felt how his hands nervously squeezed his shoulders, probably not on purpose.

"Katsuki can be intimidating but he's really not that bad. And it was wrong of Neito to joke about this topic like that yesterday. But I can tell that you're going to be okay with him and his family. It'll take a while to get used to it."

Hitoshi hoped that Eijirou won't notice that he isn't really that sure of the things he's telling him right now. He just had to say something to calm him down if he wanted to leave here without Eijirou clinging on him completely. Katsuki wouldn't appreciate that either, it was a miracle already that the blonde decided to back away instead of just grabbing Eijirou by the hand and returning back to the house with him.

Maybe his words were working after all.

Eijirou finally moved his hands away from his shoulders and sighed. He was defeated and Hitoshi was making it very clear that he won't be leaving here with him.

"Go back home, Eijirou. Give it a chance."

His gaze fell on the ground while he scratched his other hand nervously. Eijirou wanted to say so many other things to Hitoshi, but he decided to give up.

"I guess I don't have any other choice."


 

Falling asleep was impossible.

Most of the night Eijirou just kept laying on his side while staring at the wall and thinking. His mind was a complete chaos, all his thoughts just one big pile of mess. And he didn't know how to organize them.

Everything felt unreal and confusing.

He really didn't hate the fact that Katsuki bought him. In fact, he was relieved to learn that because at least he won't be just a trophy for someone to boost up their ego. Even though he still couldn't quite understand why Katsuki thought he's interesting enough to be bought and owned, at least he isn't into the fancy slave play. Right? Gosh, at least Eijirou hopes so.

He wanted to believe so.

Yesterday had felt like a long fever dream to say the least. It was just absurd that Eijirou ended up here. His feelings were confused and his thoughts just kept swirling in his mind, never really settling in for the decision of whether he really liked this or not. Even though he didn't hate that Katsuki had bought him, it doesn't mean that he enjoys it either.

Who knows if this sudden interest in him dies out quickly once Katsuki realizes how pathetic he really is. For some reason Eijirou is scared of that, too. After dreaming of finally getting away from his previous home and settling in for a new one where life wouldn't be that bad, he really is afraid of getting in the eye of the storm again. And that storm being the cycle of getting sold again and again, changing owner after owner until someone wants to keep him.

He doesn't want to experience it again. He got pretty lucky with how things turned out for him now, but there probably won't be another lucky time for him if the Bakugou family is disappointed and sells him.

With a loud sigh Eijirou turned on his back, staring at the ceiling for a couple minutes before closing his eyes and trying to relax his entire body. At least his bed wasn't anything too fancy for his taste. In fact it reminded him about his childhood home. They didn't give him only one pitiful mat of reed to soften the hard ground, instead his bed had several different mats and it was more than enough for him.

Eventually he managed to catch up some sleep. Though they were only brief moments of sleep, alternating between falling asleep and waking up, only to catch that needed sleep again, it was enough for him. Enough for this night.

So when the morning sunrise was painting the wall opposite the window with its light, Eijirou decided to get up. He didn't like to get yelled at for sleeping in too late and missing his work. Not like Katsuki or his mother even told him yesterday what he's going to do today. Katsuki's mother had been so confused by the sudden ownership of the red-headed boy that she decided to let him get used to the place that night before giving him any tasks.

Too bad she didn't know that Eijirou wasn't just a gift for their family. Katsuki on the other hand hadn't hesitated at all. As soon as Eijirou returned to the house, the blonde had showed him most of the house before his mother finally joined them and showed the rest of it.

Their house was bigger than Nakhti's, that he already had noticed before seeing it from the inside. More of a little villa than anything else. But at the same time it wasn't as big as some of the villas he had seen while Hitoshi was bringing him here.

Some of the rooms in the house were just for decoration with the furniture and decorative items in them. Couple guestrooms were included, as well as some rooms for servants. Everything inside the house was decorated, even the walls were painted with soft and pastel colors. It really does brighten up the whole atmosphere in it.

They even have a small indoor pool what's filled with brightly colored fish. Eijirou had never seen anything like that nor had he even thought of anyone having something like that in their house. The pool wasn't obviously used for swimming, just to give that little extra taste for the aesthetic view.

Everything in their home looked either very pretty or comfy and it was just another thing what made him nervous. Eijirou wasn't sure how long it'll take for him to get used to this kind of surroundings. He admired their house, but the idea of him living here as well didn't fit in the picture.

"Just how long did you plan on standing there? Let's go, the horses are waiting."

Eijirou's thoughts were interrupted by Katsuki's voice. And he hadn't imagined it at all, Katsuki was standing at the door and waiting for him. He instantly apologized like he had done something wrong and started heading toward him, but the blonde didn't even budge from where he stood.

He was eyeing Eijirou for a moment what felt like forever because he didn't say anything. What was he doing now? Eijirou had no idea and he was nervous. Did he already made a mistake? "Umm, is something wrong?" the redhead finally decided to ask. Katsuki just clicked his tongue in response and huffed after it.

"You're missing the kohl, Shitty Hair. I thought you were ready for the day. Did you even change your clothes? You're not even ready yet", Katsuki started to lecture him, before he ended up groaning in frustration and turned his back on him. "Be quick or I'll feed you to the horses instead. I'll be waiting you outside."

Eijirou was left there standing still, probably confused expression painted all over his face. What?

His eyes trailed to the white fabric next to his bed. He indeed got a new white skirt to wear but he hadn't thought of changing his clothes immediately. His current one wasn't even dirty.

Whatever. He changed his clothes anyway as Katsuki told him to do and then moved to the closest mirror while applying some kohl on his eyelids. No matter how much he had done it at his previous homes, his hands were still little bit shaky and it showed with the way the kohl turned out. It wasn't really that bad, but it wasn't anything perfect either.

Katsuki was standing near the front door, exactly where he told him to find him. When he heard his steps, the blonde turned around to inspect him again. And even though it was only a quick glance, Eijirou watched as Katsuki frowned upon seeing his face. "It's messy. But I guess it'll do. I wouldn't let you apply kohl for me though, you still need some practice with it."

Now that he mentioned it, Eijirou focused on staring his eyes and the line of kohl that's on his eyelids. It was perfectly applied and looked great, definitely a lot better than the result Eijirou came up with his attempt.

"Let's go." And with that Katsuki was already heading toward the stable, Eijirou following right on his heels.

Eijirou soon understood what Hanta had meant back then when he told him how Katsuki had yelled at him, thinking that he hadn't put enough effort on taking care of their horses while they were visiting his owner.

Katsuki explained very carefully everything and Eijirou tried to keep a mental note of things he expected from him. It's not like he's unfamiliar of how to treat animals, the redhead loved being around them and even back at his real home he used to take care of the animals. While horses weren't that different from donkeys, it still made him nervous.

Especially since Katsuki seemed to be very strict about the way his horses were handled. But at the same time he cared a lot about them, which in return was kinda sweet trait for someone like him.

"If I see you not taking this seriously and doing the job with only half of the effort, I'll personally kick your fucking ass. My old man may not be as demanding with his horses but if you dare to slack with mine, I'll make sure you do it properly next time." Katsuki's eyes were like daggers on him and Eijirou nodded, maybe even a little too fast. He could feel the shiver going down his spine, Katsuki wasn't joking with him at all. He really meant that.

Hanta hadn't been kidding or exaggerating his words.

Eijirou knew Katsuki didn't mean anything particularly bad with that but he would be lying if he said that he isn't nervous. He doesn't want to get yelled at for some little mistakes and seeing how explosive person Katsuki is, who knows what would happen if he made a bigger mistake.

Something what he hadn't expected either was the fact that the Bakugou family didn't have other slaves. They did have a handful of servants with different tasks, but not that many in the end. It's astonishing. For a family like them, you'd expect more than necessary amount of servants as well as some slaves too. If nothing else, then to show off to the others how they're wealthy enough to have them.

Katsuki's mother's, Mitsuki's, reaction made so much more sense now.

And speaking about her.

"So, have you made any plans for today?" Mitsuki asked and shot a curious look at her son before moving her eyes back to her breakfast. Eijirou could feel the slight tension in the air and while it made him interested, he also felt like he didn't want to hear the rest of the possible conversation. The tension between Katsuki and Mitsuki seemed to be pretty typical for them, other servants weren't surprised by it whenever it happened. But Eijirou just couldn't understand it.

He was standing at the back of the room and waiting for them to be finished with their food, all the while he could feel his own hunger catching up with him. Lucky enough his stomach didn't growl but watching them eat was probably one of the worst experiences he's ever had. They weren't bothered by his presence.

"I'll be taking Eboni out for a ride today", Katsuki started but judging by the tone in his voice, he knew he was going to hear something what he won't be agreeing with his mother. "Whatever plans you made for me can be cancelled."

"Again with that horse? You're too invested in it."

Eijirou watched as Katsuki made an eye contact with his mother, looking like he just got insulted badly. It was just absurd to watch the situation unfold right in front of his eyes. Whatever was happening between the two was just unbelievable. The blonde wasn't afraid of showing some disrespect, which in return was pissing off his mother.

It was so weird to watch it. The idea of being disrespectful toward his own mother never crossed in his mind. Eijirou just couldn't even imagine doing something like that, so seeing the odd relationship between those two just made him wonder what's the reason behind it. Most likely it was just both of them being stubborn and ill-tempered, making them a match made in heaven when it comes to having bad arguments or even pure verbal fight.

"I invited Tsunagu back to teach you. This time you better not chase him away, brat. It was already embarrassing enough to talking him into agreeing with it." There was a certain amount of bitterness in Mitsuki's words, but Katsuki was unfazed by it.

In his typical way he just clicked his tongue while focusing back on his breakfast. "I hate him, he's annoying. There's no need to ask him back again."

"Don't be ungrateful, Katsuki. He's one of the best teachers and to have him come here to give you private lessons instead of putting you into school is a privilege you should be happy about."

"Oh shut up already, old lady!"

"Stop calling me that, brat!"

Eijirou was horrified to say the least and only hoping for them to finish their breakfast soon.


 

Sure enough the said person arrived later there. Tsunagu was a tall blonde man with a sense of fashion and style. He didn't really give off any vibes of him being a private teacher for Katsuki, but then again Eijirou hadn't really seen any teachers before. He never attended any kind of school. The little village near his childhood home didn't have any and there weren't any teachers either.

Not like he would have ever needed skills of reading or writing since his family was just a farmer family.

Katsuki wasn't happy at all by the presence of his teacher, but they eventually settled in to one of the rooms that was dedicated to be some kind of study room. Eijirou was curious to see what kind of things Tsunagu would teach to the blonde, but as assumed they didn't need any extra pair of eyes to watch them.

Instead Eijirou was doing his first tasks around the house.

They weren't anything hard or that special, mostly just cleaning and organizing some of the rooms that were little bit messy with all the furniture in them. He noticed that coming up with tasks for him was slightly hard for Mitsuki since she hadn't really expected to suddenly own a slave. And the small amount of servants they had were already doing most of the work anyway.

But Mitsuki didn't turn her back on him. No matter how shady the situation had been with Hitoshi suddenly bringing him here, she decided to welcome him with open arms instead of denying as much as she could. It felt nice.

In general Eijirou felt like Mitsuki wasn't even seeing him as a slave or someone who was in the lowest position in this household. She was surprisingly nice whenever she gave him new tasks and jobs to do. Even though Eijirou had seen already how she could be ill-tempered with Katsuki, she had another side in her which was sweet enough.

But Eijirou wasn't going to take any risks and do his job with a lazy attitude. If he wanted to make sure that they won't be selling him too soon, he had to put his mind into the things he did.

But he was sure they'd eventually end up selling him. Just the way Mitsuki was already struggling to find him good tasks was enough to put that idea into his head. It made him anxious to say the least. The thought of staying in the never ending circle of changing homes and owners wasn't really pleasant or something he wanted to happen or experience again.

Nakhti had been exception since the way he made him feel like was nerve-wracking.

After he finished his tasks around the house, Mitsuki sent him outside to take care of the garden at the backyard . He was more than happy to do it, the fresh air was all he needed right now. And something to clear his mind, he knew the anxiety was slowly trying to fill his head and make his mind all cloudy.

The small garden behind the house was beautiful and precisely planned out. In the middle of it was a small pond full of white and blue lotus flowers blooming and giving more color to the already colorful and very green garden. The trees and bushes were planted to surround the garden and almost hiding it behind their leaves. It really gave off an atmosphere of another world full of beauty and peace.

And not to mention the flowers that were planted there to give the finishing touch to the whole picture. Eijirou thought he walked into a some kind of paradise when he arrived there. His eyes were probably slightly bigger with all the amazement and wonder, he hadn't even noticed earlier that there's a garden behind the house. Well, not like he had a chance to see it either since Katsuki had taken him into the stable.

Eijirou already loved the garden and he's sure it's going to be his favorite spot from the whole property. And he knew very well it was going to be a true pain in the ass to take care of it, but at least he'd be busy with something.

Before he even started his job, he dedicated a single moment for himself to just walk around the green paradise and inspect every single corner of it. Letting his mind rest for a moment since no one else was there to watch him.

He let his thoughts run free as he walked in circles and thought about his situation. He wasn't really sure what to think of his new home since it's his first day, but so far he's had a mixed emotions about it.

Like Hitoshi has convinced him, Katsuki wasn't that bad. Well, at least not as bad as the first impressions of him tried to make him believe. Sure, he's strict and got an attitude what isn't really pleasant or very charming to say the least, but at the same time Eijirou respected some of the things he noticed about him.

But on the other hand he was still unsure of what to think about everything. He was afraid and anxious. He could hear that voice of hesitation in the back of his mind, whispering things into his ears to make him doubt everything. Was Katsuki just messing up with him? Saying he's interesting enough for someone like him to buy him. Eijirou still can't understand what is it that Katsuki sees in him? What is that thing that makes him, a plain and boring person, to be interesting?

He must be out of his mind to think something like that.

Eijirou thought the working in the garden would keep his mind empty and in check. Oh boy how wrong he was. As he started weeding the nearest flower bed, it was like an explosion happened in his head.

For some reason his emotions became so overwhelming without him even knowing the real reason behind it. Was it because of the new place and new owner? Or all of the stress he had bottled up this whole time? His eyes fell on the flowers and he bit his lower lip, feeling the sting of tears that were forming and soon trying to escape from the corner of his eyes. He did his best to not let that happen, tears would only make a mess with the kohl and give away the fact that he's been crying.

It's not like he's ashamed of crying. It's natural and helps him whenever he has bottled up all these negative feelings, one of his bad habits apparently. But he doesn't enjoy it and the way it makes him look so weak and helpless is frustrating. He wants to be tougher than this. He really does, but his emotions are betraying him all the time.

He decided to focus back on his work and ignore his feelings for now. It's no use to upset himself more, it'd make everything just harder to tolerate. He should really give a chance for this family and this so called new home of his. He really should.

But it's hard. It's hard since he's constantly afraid of someone getting tired of him and selling him. It's ridiculous to worry about that since it's his first day here, but he can't help his thoughts that are still running freely. Or the ache in his heart as the thought of staying in that never ending limbo crosses his mind.

Maybe some things are just meant to be destroyed completely.

Same goes with people. Maybe just some people were never meant to be happy. It would at least explain all the misfortune in his life. All the mocking he's gotten so far from the gods. It's cruel but it didn't take long for him to really get used to it. It's nothing new when something bad happens to him, leaving him emotionally scarred and messed up. It's been his every day life quite a while now.

In fact, Eijirou still isn't even sure how long he's been a slave already. Losing the track of time is probably one of the things he's bothered by and sad. It even scares him to think about it. About the time he's already been someone else's property instead of having his own freedom.

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard yelling at the distance. He accidentally hardened his other hand as he thought the yelling was meant for him, but it quickly became clear that it was Mitsuki shouting at her son. Apparently Katsuki was crossing swords with her again. His best bet of the reason for it was the teacher who Katsuki didn't like at all.

It was in its own way kinda hilarious, but Eijirou couldn't make himself to smile about it. Katsuki should be grateful for every privilege he has or the fact that no matter how much they seem to argue, his mother cares about him. As impossible as is seemed to be since even though he's been here only for one day, it feels like he already knows enough of the relationship between them.

Sure enough Eijirou could see between couple trees how Katsuki disappeared into the horse stable. It didn't take long before he walked out with the black horse ready to be ridden.

His eyes returned to the flower bed when Katsuki finally was sitting on the back of the horse and disappeared from his view again. He heard the clop of hooves as they hit against the hard ground and headed toward the open gate and eventually quieted down.

Must be nice to be able to just stop whatever you're doing, grab a horse and leave without any extra words. Eijirou was pretty sure Katsuki wasn't even going anywhere specific, just riding around the familiar places and enjoying the company of his horse. Probably cooling down his head, too.

Eijirou had to admit that he envied Katsuki's life a lot. He wanted to have that kind of freedom too. Even though he had to work and help back at home, he never felt like he's trapped. Even when his own parents were horrified by his quirk, he still thought it had been the best place for him.

But Katsuki was free to go wherever he wanted. He didn't have to worry about a thing and no matter how much he fought with his mother, she cared deeply. Maybe that's another thing what Eijirou envies about his life.

His family didn't care about him. In fact, they probably felt better now that he was out of their sight and out of their mind. They didn't have to worry about the dirty secret getting revealed to the whole village, making them a target of nasty looks.

Sometimes Eijirou wondered if his parents ever thought about him. He's sure they don't regret their decision, but do they ever think about their son?

Probably not.


 

"Did you finish your work in the garden, Eijirou?"

He was stopped in his tracks by the question. Eijirou's eyes trailed over the blonde woman who was standing at the back door and watching him curiously. The resemblance between her and Katsuki is unmistakable, almost even scary. They're almost like copies of each other.

"Yes, I did everything I was told to do. I hope it's good enough as I tried my best", Eijirou answered, hoping that Mitsuki won't be asking any further questions since he isn't sure how to be around her. She doesn't feel like that bad of a person, but at the same time he was little bit prepared for getting bad words from her. Since her attitude was almost identical with Katsuki's, it's only natural that the feedback he'd possibly get from her would be as sharp and harsh as his.

"Well let's take a look, shall we?"

Of course. It's just Eijirou's bad luck, as always. He tried to smile while he nodded his head but it was almost impossible task. Almost like he had forgotten how to smile, but maybe it wasn't that strange after going through everything he had. He didn't exactly smile around Nakhti that much in fear of him getting fond of it. Nakhti had already been so fascinated by many things, his smile was something he didn't want to let him enjoy at all.

Mitsuki walked past him toward the garden where he had been returning from but now he just turned around to go back there. It really sucks since they were alone and Eijirou didn't really know what to think of Mitsuki.

Soon after arriving to the garden the woman took her time to inspect every corner of it, walking around and clearly just letting her mind wander and relax. At least they both seemed to agree with the fact that the garden was perfect place to calm down and just enjoy the beauty of nature. Like a world of its own.

It would have been another relaxing moment if it wasn't for the fact that Eijirou was nervously waiting for her to tell him whether he managed to do his job well enough or not. He couldn't really tell just by looking at the expression on her face, she wasn't giving off any hints for him.

She stopped at the pond and stared the lotus flowers floating peacefully on the calm water, acting like she almost forget Eijirou was following right behind her this whole time. He kept his distance and watched her before turning his gaze away to admire the little paradise. Or that's how it probably looked like, in reality he was just feeling the pressure of his nervousness and it was getting harder to tolerate it. Especially since it feels like he's getting crushed slowly by it.

The longer the silence between them was, the more Eijirou started to panic that he had done a bad job. There's no other reason for Mitsuki to stay silent this long, she's just letting the atmosphere getting heavy enough to make him feel ashamed. Of course he would be unsuccessful at carrying the simplest tasks given to him. It was predictable and Eijirou was getting ready to hear disappointed words, to hear Mitsuki call him out for his pitiful lacks of skills and how unfit he is to be their slaves. That must be it, that's why she's taking this long.

Eijirou bit his lip maybe little bit too hard, waiting to hear those words and preparing himself to accept the fact that he's worthless to them.

That he won't be able to do anything else than to disappoint everyone.

That it's better to just give him away or sell him.

That he's just a failure as a human being.

"You've done splendid work here, Eijirou."

Well that definitely caught him off guard. He hadn't expected that and now his brain just couldn't register any others praises she's telling him while her eyes were still on the lotus flowers.

They weren't that important though. Only that first comment mattered. It lifted the heavy weight off of his shoulders, giving him a reason to not stress about this. Mitsuki was satisfied with his work, she wasn't disappointed at all. It meant that maybe, just maybe there's a chance that she won't be getting rid of him just yet.

She turned around to face him and that gentle yet proud expression that was resting on her face sealed everything. She was telling him the truth, she really thought of that. Eijirou didn't even notice he had been holding his breath until now and he let out quiet sigh, scratching the back of his neck nervously. It felt strange to hear praises. That kind of honest praises, the ones he got from Nakhti can't really be counted in.

"I think I don't have any other jobs for you today. Any other than just making sure the horses are fed tonight. I assume you don't know this area very well?"

Eijirou nodded as an answer, he really had no idea. He just followed Hitoshi and didn't pay that much of an attention to things around him up until he noticed the difference in the area.

"It's okay. I'll take you with me next time I'm taking care of some things and you can use that opportunity to become familiar with everything. After that I can give you more different tasks to do." Mitsuki crossed her arms and let that small smile stay on her face for a moment. Her words were like magic and suddenly all that extra weight was gone from his shoulders. She was talking in a way that she's convinced of keeping him around. It honestly made him feel little bit better, but it still didn't remove his doubts and hesitation. Or his fears.

Before he could even thank her or answer to her at all, he heard the familiar clop of hooves coming from the gate's direction. Katsuki arrived back home.

Except he could hear something else too and more hooves stepping on the hard ground.

Oh, he didn't come back alone.

"Looks like the brat met with his father and came back home", Mitsuki stated while her eyes were watching at the horse stable's direction. Eijirou turned his gaze to that direction as well and just like she said, there Katsuki was. Already standing on the ground and leading the dark horse to the stable.

Then a pair of grayish horses pulling a chariot came in to the view and Eijirou quickly recognized them being the same ones as back at the construction site when Masaru visited the architects. Both of the horses were patiently waiting as they were getting freed from the wooden vehicle.

"Let's go inside. They can handle that."

And with that they left the garden. Mitsuki said it in a way that was more of an order than just a suggestion. Eijirou could feel the ominous atmosphere getting ready to happen and he just knew that the dinner between those three was going to be another wild thing to witness.

He wasn't wrong at all with that assumption.

While the family was eating, Eijirou once again stood at the back of the room and waited if they needed something. If they needed more drink or food, he's there to serve them.

There was that slightly unnerving tension filling the whole room with its heavy atmosphere. It honestly made Eijirou nervous to the point where he squeezed the clay jug in his hands, luckily not too hard to break it. If he accidentally used his quirk, maybe then it would have cracked and shattered into small pieces.

"So, did something happen while I was gone?" Masaru asked as he was getting very aware of the obvious strain in the room. Or more like the tension between the two blondes, both too stubborn to pick up the subject.

"Nothing that different. I managed to invite Tsunagu back but apparently your son isn't very grateful of the lessons he's getting", Mitsuki explained and the words she chose clearly didn't settle in well with Katsuki.

"We were done by the time I left. Stop making it sound like I ran away", Katsuki growled, getting dangerously annoyed by his mother's words. To Eijirou, it looked like he was ready to challenge her and she didn't hesitate at all to give him her response.

It really was unsettling, Eijirou would never even imagine challenging his own mother that way. He had always held a great amount of respect toward his parents. No matter how much he hated what they did to him, he probably still hold that specific respect for them.

"I thought I already told you that you're too invested in things like that."

"I'm aiming to join the military and the chariot unit, so it's only natural I keep my focus on things that matter!"

"Don't yell at me, Katsuki!"

Watching their argument get out of hand was like holding a double-edged sword. Whenever one of them started moving to a subject like that, the other responded with aggressive tone and then the fight was ready to happen at the place right there and right now. This was no exception and Eijirou was feeling both awkward and horrified as he was witnessing it again.

"You two... stop it. This is ridiculous." Bless Masaru who decided to try and calm down the situation before it gets any worse. Judging by the way he reacted to it, it wasn't anything new and rather normal thing that probably happened more often. Another reason why Eijirou was quite shocked.

"Don't butt in, old man!"

"Stop being so disrespectful! You're old enough to act like an adult, Katsuki!"

Eijirou wanted to escape and never look back. This was so awful to even witness and nerve-wracking to say the least. He thanked every possible gods that Masaru was here to calm those two hot heads down before it gets any worse.

Eventually both of them dropped that subject and continued eating, but Masaru was the next one to bring one certainly new matter up. Definitely new to him, at least.

"Well then, there's something I've been wondering now. When did we get a slave? Or more like where did we get one?" Masaru asked suddenly. His words got everyone's attention completely on him, even Eijirou couldn't ignore that since he'd been slightly afraid of this kind situation rising out of nowhere.

"He was brought here yesterday. I don't know the details but he's apparently a gift. Not sure from who", Mitsuki explained but the quick worried look visited her face. She still wasn't quite sure what to think about it since the situation had been weird and kinda shady.

"A gift, huh? That's strange. I thought the current amount of servants we have is enough."

Eijirou knew it. He didn't fit into this house and to this family, so it'd be clever to just sell him and never think about it again. His gaze fell on the jug he was holding, it was getting more interesting to watch it rather than staring at the family.

"Who gives a shit about who gave him to us. Can't return him since there's no info about that person." Katsuki was surprisingly serious with his words, they were lacking that mocking tone he sometimes had while talking about these kind of things.

"Katsuki..." Mitsuki started, warning him to not cross the line. Soon after that her gaze returned to her husband and her expression softened slightly. "But the brat has a point." She ignored Katsuki's annoyed huff caused by that nickname.

"We can't really return him if we don't know who gave him to us in the first place. And it'd be kinda rude, don't you think? Besides, I'm already liking Eijirou. He proved himself with his hard work at the garden, you should go and see yourself", Mitsuki continued and smiled, giving her own approve to the decision of keeping him.

Masaru stayed quiet for a while. It was probably only for couple of minutes at the most but to Eijirou, it felt like an eternity. When he finally broke the silence, Eijirou felt his shoulders tense up. "Come here, Eijirou."

He did as he asked and walked right next to him. He held out his empty cup and Eijirou didn't hesitate to fill it with wine even when Masaru didn't ask him to do so. He could feel all three gazes on him but he never felt like he should say something. It wasn't his place to say anything.

Masaru was still quiet after taking a sip from his cup and putting it back on the table. Only then his eyes finally met with Eijirou's as the redhead was about to back away. Immediately when their gazes were locked, he froze and started preparing himself for the worst possible decision the man just made.

"Well, I guess it's decided then. Eijirou?"

"Yes, master?"

Eijirou didn't even realize at first that he said that word, it just escaped from his mouth. Not like it was something wrong, in fact that's how he should call him. Masaru is the head of the house so of course he needs to be called master, even though it's actually Katsuki who bought him. And with that, technically it's Katsuki who's his true master.

Eijirou was too nervous about the situation that he didn't even dare to move his gaze away, which is probably good because he missed the smug grin that was painted all over Katsuki's face at that moment. And only for that fleeting moment since it disappeared very quickly.

It didn't matter. Masaru was now smiling gently as he said the next words, which in return probably made Eijirou look surprised.

"Welcome to the family."

Chapter Text

The garden truly was becoming his favorite place of the entire house and yard around it. Just something about the calmness of the nature and colorful surroundings was really therapeutic and helped relax his mind. Eijirou was more than happy to receive the garden tasks. Even though they are time and energy consuming, in return the atmosphere around it was worth it all.

It was the only place where he felt like he can relax little bit and somehow feel like he's finally at home.

A home.

That's how he should be feeling about this entire place.

It might be a little bit too much for his liking, but it's just because he's so used on places that haven't been as aesthetic and cozy as this house, just plain and normal without anything too fancy. This place is big and screaming the fact that the people who live here have more than most of them who are considered being normal working citizens.

And the Bakugou family really is something else. Something Eijirou still can't understand, but he's trying his best. He wants to understand them. He really does.

It's been almost a week since he felt like he was really accepted into this family. Masaru's words had caught him off guard back then and he still has his sudden moments of doubt. It wasn't anything he really wanted to do on purpose or feel like, but it's like carved into his mind. Like an instinct, just in case for things to turn sour quickly.

And Eijirou couldn't just stop thinking that way either. There's still that little seed of doubt buried deep in his mind, waiting for something to happen and prove that his luck won't last for long. Like he's constantly preparing himself for suddenly hearing that this doesn't work and he needs to leave.

He's really afraid of that day to arrive.

But as the days seemed to pass quicker than necessary, Eijirou was slowly, oh so slowly getting used to the new surroundings around him. It's going to take a while before he gets used to everything but, to his surprise, the Bakugou family was letting him have his time to settle in properly. The tasks he got involved various jobs around the house and yard, but nothing was impossible to carry out.

Eijirou had started his job quite early in the morning after the horses were fed and he had eaten his own little breakfast as well. At least the garden provided some shadows as the temperature of the day was about to increase higher and it's getting warmer as the hours pass.

He could be at ease knowing that he won't be bothered that much while he's at the garden. That teacher, Tsunagu, was here to teach Katsuki again. The blonde wasn't very happy about his presence, but his teacher didn't seem to be bothered or surprised by his attitude. What Eijirou had grasped from the arguments between Katsuki and his mother, Tsunagu was familiar with Katsuki's attitude.

Mitsuki was supposed to take him with her today to run errands, but in the end the woman was in a hurry and decided that today isn't the day for that. Eijirou would be lying if he said he isn't happy about it, he felt like he doesn't want to be in the middle of crowds right now. And knowing how well known the Bakugou family is, it meant that everyone most likely stopped them and wanted to talk with them.

Eijirou preferred this so much more right now.


 

The garden was looking pretty nice already, even though Eijirou had only finished the other side of it. It was strange how big of a difference can just trimming some of the bushes do to the overview of it, but it was satisfying to see his own hands' work showing off.

Eijirou was already working with the other side of the garden when he noticed something from the corner of his eye. Some kind of movements that definitely wasn't there before.

He moved his gaze to the direction of it, noticing it coming from the swimming pool that's close to the garden. He recognized the familiar blonde quickly, but that didn't really explain anything.

It was surprising to see Katsuki there, but then again it wasn't really. Either his study session was already over or he just decided to end it without finishing it. Eijirou still didn't know why exactly Katsuki doesn't like his teacher. He's seen only glimpses of him but Tsunagu didn't give off any bad vibes. He had even greeted him! A slave, someone he doesn't even need to acknowledge if he doesn't want to. And he still greeted him.

It was like the biggest compliment he's ever had.

Eijirou didn't want to stare the blonde's bare back too much, so he turned his gaze back to the bush he was currently working with and cut some of the visible bad stems off. But his curiosity was getting the best of him right now. He has to admit that the sight of Katsuki's sudden appearance was making him curious to know what the blonde was up to this time.

It was more of an inner struggle to decide whether to turn his gaze back to the blonde or not, but in the end his curiosity won. He really didn't want to make himself look like some kind of stalker but he hadn't expected to see the blonde suddenly here. Well, technically he wasn't at the garden but he's relatively close enough to be seen from there.

Even though he only saw his back, Eijirou could tell that Katsuki was planning something.

And he was right, it didn't take long before the blonde began to untie the knot from his belt while keeping his eyes on the water. As soon as the belt was open and he unwrapped the skirt around him, the pieces of clothing and underwear dropped to the ground and revealed the rest of his body.

Eijirou already knew that Katsuki has slim but muscular built. It was showing since he never really wears anything else than the shendyt that's long enough to extend right above his knees and sometimes when it's very hot, he wears loincloths too. He's never seen him wearing any kind of tunics or other longer clothes to cover himself more, so his back muscles were always on exposure.

But now that he could see the whole picture, he really acknowledged their differences. And honestly, he was already little bit jealous of the fact that Katsuki has some muscles and isn't just a weakling like him.

He turned his gaze back to the bush and continued working, trying so hard to ignore the blonde while he was slowly sinking into his own little world. He should let go of this way of thinking. It's not good to envy the blonde, it doesn't change anything in the end. Things will stay like they are and that's it.

And it's definitely very unmanly to be jealous of these kind of things, too.

"You look like you need to take a break or else you'll end up destroying that bush."

Eijirou's thoughts were interrupted as he turned his gaze back to the blonde's direction. He was honestly surprised when Katsuki, though now in the pool and enjoying the coolness of water, was staring at him rather than just minding his own business and focusing on the swimming.

The realization hit him right then after repeating his words in his mind and Eijirou noticed how close he was to actually ruin the bush by trimming it way too much, making it stand out from the line of bushes. Good thing Katsuki snapped him out of his thoughts before that happened. There's no way he could have been able to fix that mess.

Maybe he should take a little break, he's been working this whole time and the heat was probably getting the best of him already. Katsuki is lucky that he can use the pool to cool himself down whenever he felt like doing so.

He could tell that Katsuki was still staring him, he didn't even need to look at him to know it. He felt his eyes all over him and it was slightly unnerving to say the least. The way his gaze was always sharp enough to notice every single little detail, how it felt like he was constantly judging everyone he looked at.

Eijirou wasn't even sure how often Katsuki did that, but right now he felt like he was getting judged by the blonde. Maybe it was overwhelming since to this day he hasn't had that much of a time to interact with him, so it was starting to feel like the blonde was turning into a stranger rather than being his owner.

"You're thinking something stupid again, Shitty Hair", Katsuki called him out on it, like he just read his mind and noticed how Eijirou was making a mountain out of a molehill. It was ridiculous and he knew that, but he couldn't stop himself from thinking that way. It just felt like Katsuki is like that, even though the redhead really doesn't know him too well to be confident about this conclusion.

Katsuki was probably getting little bit frustrated when Eijirou didn't seem to react to his words at all, but instead of nagging about it, he tried a different way to approach him.

"Come here."

That's enough to draw his attention back to the blonde. In return Katsuki smirked but didn't make any attempts to get out of the pool. "Come here before I have to get there and drag your ass all by myself. Take a break, you won't be any useful if you turn your brain into a mush. Getting dangerously close to that point already."

And he is right. Again.

Eijirou was probably too stubborn to even consider taking any breaks, afraid of looking like he's trying to avoid his job. Last thing he really want to do is to make himself look like a slack in front of the Bakugou family. No one needs lazy slaves and he's still too afraid of the possible chance of getting suddenly sold by them, so it's better to be effective with everything he does.

Even if it means that he's pushing his own limits.

He hesitated, but since it's Katsuki who told him to take a break then maybe it's okay? He could take a moment to just sit down and rest, all that squatting was already feeling on his lower back.

Katsuki looked like he was ready to tell him again to come over there but before he managed to do that, Eijirou stood up and walked over to the pool but he still kept his distance. Like he was afraid of the water, though that wasn't really the case.

"Sit", Katsuki said while motioning with his other hand, gesturing him to sit down on the edge of the pool.

He wanted to say something against it, but then again he really didn't want to piss him off because of something silly. Eijirou sighed quietly and sat down, not sure why the blonde wanted him to sit right there but he didn't want to question him too much either. Sometimes Katsuki was just one big mystery, too hard to even try to solve or understand.

Eijirou let himself relax little bit while watching the blonde swim around the pool. In a way it was kinda even therapeutic sight, but then again it made him want to join him and refresh himself from the heat of the day. That, of course, would be stupid since he doesn't know how to swim. Never really got a chance to learn that skill.

But it didn't stop him to eventually dip both of his legs to the water and enjoy the coolness of it while sitting on the edge.

The whole situation was honestly weird and Eijirou just couldn't understand why Katsuki was even concerned of him taking a break from his work. But then again he's more than just a handful of mysteries. The kind of person Eijirou wanted to understand, but it was harder than he ever imagined. Some people were easily readable, but Katsuki unfortunately wasn't one of them.

"You must be fun at the parties", Katsuki's words effectively drew his attention completely back to the blonde who swam toward him and then leaned against the side of the pool, resting both of his arms on the edge of it while keeping his eyes on the redhead.

The kohl from his eyes was mostly gone, small traces of the black substance still there but most of it was gone. He looked different, but not in a bad way. The way kohl usually highlighted his eyes made his gaze look sharper, but now that it was mostly gone he didn't in fact look as intimidating as usual. But it's not only because of the kohl, the swimming session was clearly helping him to relax and it left him with a relaxed expression as well.

"I'm sorry. It's just a bad habit of mine to get lost in my thoughts", Eijirou apologized, turning his gaze sheepishly to the water while avoiding making the eye contact with the blonde. It really is his bad habit and he should get rid of it, but it's harder than you think it'd be.

Katsuki hummed quietly and stared at him for a moment before turning around to press his back against the wall of the pool. His elbows propped him up enough so he didn't need to constantly keep moving to stay on the surface.

"So you're just a natural airhead."

Ouch. It hurt when Katsuki said things that way, with his honest tone while the neutral gaze was on his face. Eijirou was never really sure whether the blonde meant what he said or just said things without thinking too much of the impact on them, but he tried to not take everything he says so personally. Surely Katsuki doesn't mean everything to be taken so seriously, right? At least he hopes so.

"Yeah. You're right, I'm just stupid."

Katsuki moved his gaze to Eijirou's direction, watching him for a solid minute before rolling his eyes and clicking his tongue. "You really hate yourself that much, huh?"

Correct.

Katsuki just hit the nail on the head. This heavy feeling what felt like it tried to possess him all the time, it's not just any kind of darkness. It's the self-hate that's always been with him, always tried to take over the reins and eventually beat him completely. He blamed his quirk mostly, it's probably the reason of everything bad that's happened in his life.

Eijirou sighed, not really wanting to answer or say anything to Katsuki's comment but it was enough for the blonde to know he was correct. While Katsuki's hard to understand, he on the other hand may be even way too easy to read, like an open book just waiting for everyone to learn what a tragedy his whole life is.

He didn't notice it but the blonde seemed to quiet down after that. But Eijirou didn't mind the silence, in fact it was relaxing enough right now. He knew if the other decided to stay on that topic, it'd only turn things more dark and just ruin the mood. Luckily Katsuki decided to drop it before he even got started about it.

"Is it because of your quirk?"

Nevermind. Apparently he wasn't done with the topic.

He was probably waiting for an answer but Eijirou already decided that he doesn't want to talk about it. It's rude, he's very aware of it but talking about this topic didn't feel right. He doesn't want to talk about how he hates his own quirk. Katsuki knows it already, he heard enough back when they met at the Nile.

"You should embrace it instead of rejecting it. It's not something to be taken for granted."

Eijirou finally turned his gaze to the blonde's direction, only for his eyes to meet with the pair of other red eyes that were staring him intensively. He had expected to see some kind of smirk on his face but Katsuki was being serious. There wasn't any hint of amusement, any chance of him just messing with him and joking around. He was all serious and it was showing from the way his eyes stared right into his.

"It's not so easy to think about it that way. I understand why you see it the way you do, but for me it's something that's ruining my life."

"I know."

"And it's the reason why I was sold in the first place."

"I know."

"And it makes me hate myself so much that it's hard to even feel like I'm alive or that my life matters at all."

"Damn it Eijirou, I know!"

Eijirou wanted to say more. He wanted to open up his heart and let out all these feelings he's been bottling up for so long, but he knows he already crossed the line. Katsuki doesn't need to hear these, he doesn't care either. It's not his problem and Eijirou honestly was surprised that the blonde was patient enough to hear all that without stopping him at the first sentence.

Katsuki sighed loudly, looking pretty frustrated but not enough for it to show off any signs of him being angry. No, he didn't look like he's angry at all.

"What I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't really look at it like it's some kind of disease. It doesn't make you weak. I think it's just helping you get stronger. And it's a damn good thing that your quirk is hardening, you're too soft from the inside. That's why you should embrace it instead of rejecting and making it weak." Katsuki kept his eyes on him as he talked, his gaze staying serious throughout his speech.

They stared each other for a moment before Katsuki moved away from the edge of the pool. Instead of continuing swimming and ignoring that this whole conversation even happened, he moved right in front of Eijirou and put both of his hands on his knees, making sure the redhead kept his eyes on him again.

"Your quirk isn't making you weak at all. It's that mind of yours. The way you look down at yourself any given moment. It's what makes you pathetic but I won't pity you."

Eijirou felt how he squeezed his knees slightly, it sent a shiver down his spine as he tried to keep himself together. It really felt like Katsuki's words were right now messing up with his mind. He had no idea why he was so determined to even encourage him. What does he see that Eijirou himself doesn't?

At the same time his words made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. He could feel his both arms getting goosebumps from them and he hated to admit that Katsuki was right. He's so right that it's scary to even acknowledge it.

It's his mind that makes him weak. His quirk has nothing to do with it.

True, because of his quirk he's had the pleasure of feeling this misfortune following him all his life, but his own mind is the reason why he's so fucked up in the first place. He's letting all these emotions chew him. And even Katsuki could see through him, knowing exactly how broken he is. How ready he is to be shattered completely.

"Earlier you told me you wanted to die. Do you still want that? I could still help you. Damn, just jump in the pool and drown. You can't swim, right? So it's right in front of you. All you gotta do is dive in and let death have its cold embrace with you. What do you wanna do with your life?"

Eijirou was lost of words. His feelings were all over the place, he never thought of having this kind of conversation with Katsuki when he decided to do as he said and walk over here. He bit his lower lip as he tried to keep his emotions controlled, but it was hard.

Does he really want to die?

No. That's not what he wants. He never really wanted that in the first place.

He wants to live.

"Thought so. This world isn't so black and white as you're trying to imagine it being. Same goes with the quirks." Katsuki was still squeezing his knees, like trying to prove his point through it. Like a silent attempt of trying to cheer him up through his touch.

"If you refuse to go down, it means you're stupidly strong, Eijirou."

He felt some kind of loneliness when Katsuki finally let go of his knees. The lose of touch made his heart feel like it was getting pulled apart. It made him feel weak, but then again he could feel that flame inside him trying to grow stronger. Katsuki's words were like the spark that was needed to help it.

And while it felt like he was struggling with an inner battle of his feelings and thoughts fighting against the words Katsuki just said to him, he swore he could feel some kind of peace slowly taking over his body and mind. Just for a moment he wanted to live his life to the fullest. Even if it means that he's a slave, at least his life wouldn't be so bad if he was this family's slave.

Tears were slyly starting to form in his eyes and trying to escape from the corner of his eyes, but he tried to stay strong and not let those tears escape. There's no reason for him to cry.

"You're getting all emotional on me, Shitty Hair. Chill out."

As Eijirou finally turned his gaze back to Katsuki, he noticed how the blonde was now smirking. Without any warnings he suddenly hit the surface of the water with his hand, splashing little bit of water over him playfully as his smirk stretched little bit wider. He was grinning, but no matter how much he looked like he already forgot the topic they just talked about, Katsuki still had that piece of seriousness in his eyes.

Eijirou didn't expect the sudden attack and instead of getting mad about it, the corners of his lips betrayed him and small but weak smile was on his face. How could he be angry about that?

Well, he was smiling while couple tears already escaped from his eyes but it doesn't matter.

"You better help me fix my kohl, I feel like not doing it again today."

"Whatever you say, young master."

"But don't you dare to fuck it up."

Of course in the end it wasn't as perfect as Katsuki wanted it to be, but he was very aware of it when he told him to do it for him. Eijirou knew that no matter how much Katsuki wanted to complain about it, at least today he didn't seem to mind it that much. It's just his ego acting up.

"I'll take you to see the places tomorrow. I know mom was supposed to do that, but she's busy. Damn that hag for leaving these tasks to me all the time."

"She cares about you."

"Oh shut up, Shitty Hair."

Eijirou couldn't help but let that small smile rest on his face again. No matter how much Katsuki seemed to disrespect his mother, in the end he doesn't really mean those mean words.

He's really not that bad of a person.


 

As soon as the gate of the walls surrounding the house and its yard was left behind, Eijirou started to feel a little bit more fidgety. It's true that he's nervous because he feels like he's not ready to be in the middle of people, under the gazes of everyone but he knows he can't hide from this forever either.

Good thing Katsuki decided to not take the horses with him. The chariot would only attract more attention and Eijirou didn't really want that right now. Besides, the day was already looking beautiful enough so little bit of walking wouldn't hurt them at all.

"Don't get left behind. It's annoying, makes you look like a damn dog." Katsuki mentioned when he noticed how Eijirou was just following him sheepishly instead of walking beside him.

Eijirou whispered a quiet apology as he sped up his steps enough to catch up with the blonde, this time walking next to him while letting his gaze wander around the area. He didn't feel like looking at Katsuki's direction, like he's afraid of seeing what kind of gaze he has right now.

Not like it really even matters.

Eijirou found it very interesting that even though the Bakugou family doesn't live right next to the city, the surrounding area seems to be quite active and people come and go as they please. There didn't seem to be that big of a difference to the other living areas. Maybe the only thing one he noticed is the amount of bigger houses and even couple more villas that were the same size as theirs.

If he focused enough to watch far away, he'd see another villa but that was almost double the size of the others. Some even richer people must live there. Even the thought of a house that's double the size of the Bakugou family's house is making him feel little bit nervous. He'd never be able to adjust into living in a place like that. It's already hard enough with his current home.

And that was enough to set his mind into somewhere else, making him feel that same nervousness as he used to feel while Nakhti took him somewhere with him. He wanted to turn around and head back but he knew that's something he can't do.

Katsuki seemed to notice the sudden change in the mood.

"What is it now?" He asked, but Eijirou's attention was everywhere else and he didn't hear his words. Katsuki muttered something about him being quite troublesome, but instead of ignoring it he snapped his fingers in front of the other boy. It earned a curious yet surprised gaze back to his direction from the redhead, exactly what he had wanted to happen with that gesture. At least now he got his attention back to himself completely.

"Relax Shitty Hair. We're just taking a little walk and that's it. I don't know what stupid idea you managed to put into your mind but drop it already. You're getting worked up over nothing."

His words had that typical insulting tone in them but Eijirou didn't really feel like he was getting insulted by him. It was more of an attempt to calm him down and it worked. Even though he still didn't like the way there's people near them, he decided to listen to Katsuki and forget what he just had been thinking to make himself feel slightly distressed.

It was even stupid to feel that way so suddenly out of nowhere. And especially over something so simple, something that was never meant to be taken that way. He knows he is being just an emotional mess, but apparently Katsuki decided to act instead of letting him have his inner crisis over nothing.

It's kinda nice of him to even think about it or pay any attention to the situation.

They were silent after that but it wasn't a bad silence between then. Eijirou tried to keep his attention at this moment, studying every single detail around him and memorize everything he was able to see. It would be a a pain in the ass if he doesn't even try to learn to recognize any of the places Katsuki is showing him right now.

It would mean that the variety of tasks he'd get stays limited to the ones he already has. Maybe it's okay for now, but he's sure in a long shot it's not going to be good enough for them. And for him either.

"Oii! Kacchan, wait up!"

Eijirou's thoughts were interrupted immediately, mostly due to the fact that Katsuki groaned loudly in annoyance as a person Eijirou has never seen before approached them. He heard how the blonde cursed someone's name quietly under his breath. He didn't catch up with the name, but that wouldn't be a mystery for a long.

"Get lost, shitty Deku. I'm in no mood for having my day ruined by you today", Katsuki growled, making it very clear how he was displeased by the appearance of the green haired boy.

The sudden change in his mood probably was the reason why Eijirou felt little bit taken aback. Not like he's really that surprised by the rudeness of his master, Katsuki can be really rude and hard to deal with. But the aggressiveness in the atmosphere came out of nowhere and he really, really didn't understand why.

All he managed to figure out is that it probably had something to do with this person named Deku.

"But we haven't seen in a while and I was going to pay a visit to your house later anyway. I was honestly little bit worried, Kacchan. You've been acting weird lately", the boy answered as soon as he was at their heels, following them no matter how much Katsuki tried to speed up to make him give up with the idea of having a conversation with him. Unfortunately it wasn't really working the way he wanted it to work.

"It's none of your fucking business." His voice was dangerously close to turn fully sour, his words already like daggers that tried to hurt the boy as much as possible. Judging by how the other wasn't that much bothered by them, it's obvious that this is the normal kind of behavior between them.

But Eijirou couldn't really understand what he was witnessing. He always thought that Katsuki doesn't have any friends. Even the rumors he had heard about the blonde indicated that indeed he was a lonely wolf, someone who doesn't want or need friends to keep him occupied.

Still, here he is watching this scene unfold right in front of his eyes. There's a person who clearly knows him, who acts all friendly even though the responses he gets is just a bunch of curses after curses. It's unbelievable.

Like he just read his mind, the boy huffed in annoyance as he wasn't getting any proper answers from Katsuki and turned his full attention to Eijirou instead. His eyes were curiously watching him for a moment before he smiled and nodded his head.

"Hi! Are you Kacchan's friend? I'm Izuku, nice to meet you!" He chirped happily, his sweet smile giving a good competition to the sun itself. All that positive energy he was emitting was overwhelming, but instead of it feeling like it's forced and fake, it's genuine and real. Nothing forced, it's just showing the real personality of this person.

Izuku? Well, that's a name Eijirou hasn't heard anyone say in the Bakugou family. He thought his name is Deku, but apparently it's just a nickname. Which made sense since he was calling Katsuki with a nickname, too.

"Eijirou's my slave. Stop being so fucking nosy, stupid Deku. You're gonna give him some of your stupid ideas so get lost", Katsuki chimed in before Eijirou managed to answer back. He had expected him to do so anyway, so it's not like he's surprised by his sudden interruption.

Katsuki eventually stopped to turn around and face Izuku. That seemed to make the other rise up his guard little bit and who could blame him. The blonde was dangerously close of starting to look pretty pissed off and Eijirou was getting worried over the other boy.

"Oh? But I thought your family doesn't need any slaves?"

"Shut up! None of your business."

Izuku kept his green eyes on the blonde and Eijirou wasn't really sure if he's scared or just choosing his next words more wisely. He didn't seem to have problems with how aggressively Katsuki was talking with him, but then again Eijirou did notice a hint of timidity in him. If the green haired boy didn't know him as well as he seems to know, he's sure Izuku would be gladly backing away from this situation.

"That's really odd", Izuku started, but his gaze moved to Eijirou's direction instead of keeping the eye contact with Katsuki. "I hope Kacchan hasn't scare you too much. He's not really that bad --"

"Shitty Deku I'll fucking kill you if you don't leave now!"

"-- but it really is weird. Kacchan always takes care of the horses so it's not like they need extra hands at the stable. Are you a personal slave or just helping everyone? Kacchan did address Eijirou being his instead of just saying he's theirs. But why on Earth would he need a slave? Well it might explain the small change in his behavior as..."

"Deku I'm going to blow you into pieces, you better run if you want to live."

Katsuki was pissed enough to blow up some small explosions from his raised palm, like a warning for Izuku to stop his mumbling and leave. That seemed to bring out more of his timid personality, but it was only a moment of hesitation from him.

It doesn't matter. Eijirou was sure his brain had turned into a mush during the intense mumbling session the other had. He wasn't even sure if he ever asked anything from him, or even spoke to the redhead directly but maybe it's better to not pay too much attention to it.

"I'm sorry! I was just surprised." Izuku raised both of his hands in a gesture of surrender, but Katsuki just clicked his tongue in annoyance. He still looked like he was ready to beat Izuku in any given moment, but Eijirou noticed that Katsuki was very slowly calming down. Well, at least enough to not really wanting to execute his threats.

Eijirou thought Katsuki was going to let out another set of insults, but instead he huffed and turned his back on him. "Whatever. Get lost. And if you spread rumors to Round Cheeks or to your other stupid friends, I'll crush you all like insects."

Katsuki then ignored Izuku's presence and glanced at Eijirou's direction, probably to indicate that they're leaving.

"But Kacchan, I still have something for you!" Izuku started but Katsuki really just ignored him and started walking away.

Eijirou stared his back before turning has gaze to Izuku's direction. He wanted to say something to him since all this time he's been silent, but he couldn't come up with any words. No matter how he tried to think of something, it really felt like his brain was just all mushy and couldn't function right now.

So instead he just shrugged his shoulders and gave him an apologetic gaze. Katsuki's a hard person to understand and Izuku seemed to be aware of it too. But the blonde doesn't look like he was pissed off completely, and it made the green haired boy confused by the strange situation.

Izuku's green eyes met with his red ones and they exchanged gazes. Or more like Izuku exchanged a knowing gaze. He knew how hard it is to handle Katsuki and his nasty attitude, but then again he wasn't really looking him down or anything.

"He's a tough one. But definitely not a bad person, no matter how evil he makes himself to look like. Don't worry about it, I'm sure you'll be fine and get used to his mood swings", Izuku explained and let that sweet smile return to his face. His encouraging words were soft and Eijirou appreciated them, but at the same time they felt like they were not needed at all.

Eijirou already knew all of that.

Katsuki has already shown him that he's not just a barking dog, ready to attack anyone who's close enough. Maybe some day he'll let his guard down enough to show the other side of him, but it's gonna take time.

If anything, he's a good guy to be around. Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking when he's showing his bad side and he can be overwhelming time to time, but Eijirou is getting used to it. Especially after his previous owner, he really prefers staying at Katsuki's house. He could tolerate his tantrums and slightly aggressive attitude if it means that in return, he gets his own peace and doesn't have to be scared all the time that something unpleasant is going to happen to him.

"Come on Shitty Hair! We don't have all day to waste on him!"

Both of them seemed to tense when they heard Katsuki's shout at the distance. Eijirou knew the blonde was probably already impatient, waiting for him to follow him and after noticing how he was still here, he got frustrated. Didn't really mean to come off as he's angry, but it really sounded like he's pissed right now

"It's okay. Go now, it was nice to meet you, Eijirou. I'm sure we're going to see again very soon", Izuku said and kept smiling, waving his hand while saying his goodbyes. Eijirou nodded shyly, managing to say goodbye to him too. Finally he was able to even say something

He quickly caught up with Katsuki who was waiting him and as they started walking away, he glanced over his shoulder to take a last glance of Izuku. The boy was staying still and watching them curiously, still having that smile on his face. And when he noticed Eijirou looking at him, he waved again and chuckled.

Eijirou liked him already. Izuku didn't seem to be a bad person and he was definitely interested to learn more about those two. They clearly share a history, some kind of childhood together probably, but it doesn't explain why Katsuki was so mean toward him. Isn't he his friend? 

Katsuki on the other hand was cursing again like Deku ruined his day completely. It was silly, but Eijirou just shook his head when the blonde wasn't paying any attention to him.

Sometimes he really just doesn't understand Katsuki at all.


 

He never really expected Izuku's words to be taken so literally when he told him they're going to meet again very soon.

"Good morning!"

Eijirou had been in the middle of pruning the bushes of the front yard to make it look little bit more nicer. When the sudden familiar voice greeted him, he moved his gaze toward the direction where it came from and there he was. He honestly was very surprised by their sudden visitor.

The familiar looking green haired boy was approaching him with that same friendly smile all over his face. His white tunic looked like it's little bit too much to wear right now. Even though it's only morning, it was already warm enough to make him feel like it's too hot to handle. And Eijirou's wearing only a shendyt!

"Good morning?" Eijirou returned the greeting as he straightened his back, keeping his eyes on the boy who stopped next to him.

"Eijirou, was it? You're working pretty early", Izuku started and looked around him, noticing the way how couple bushes were already finished compared to the others that were still needing his attention. Eijirou just nodded, not really sure whether he should just stand here and talk with him, but Izuku decided to keep going with the small conversation.

"Is Kacchan home? I assume he is because he never goes out for a ride with his horses until midday at the earliest."

So Izuku truly is some kind of friends with Katsuki, no matter how much the blonde tried to deny him and shoo him away. It left Eijirou wonder what happened for them to have this strange relationship, but then again he knew it's pointless to analyze too much when all he got is his own assumptions he can make just by looking at them. Especially when it's about Katsuki. Sometimes he's just one big mystery that's close to impossible to solve.

He already has learned some things from him just by looking from the distance and hearing things from others, but he can't say he knows everything about him. There's so many things he still doesn't know though he's curious to learn more.

"He's at the study session with mister Tsunagu. Did you come here to meet him?" Eijirou answered and decided to throw a question back at him before Izuku manages to do so. No matter how much he feels like this isn't something he should be asking about, he's curious. A little bit too curious sometimes.

Izuku looked surprised, but that expression disappeared as fast as it had appeared. "I should have thought about that. I wonder how long it will last. Knowing how smart Kacchan is, Tsunagu probably ends lessons earlier than normally." He was trailing off into his mumbling again, which in return caught Eijirou really off guard. He hadn't expected to witness that again so soon and it honestly for a moment just creeped him out. Izuku even avoided his question, which was frustrating enough but Ejirou figured out it's better to drop it instead of asking it again.

But what he noticed couple days earlier at their first meeting was the way Izuku probably had a habit of suddenly mumbling things quietly to himself. And at the same time he forgot the people around him, not on purpose but his thoughts just trailed into other things and it made him focus on everything else instead.

It kinda resembled the way Eijirou was lost in his own thoughts time to time.

Eijirou didn't have a heart to snap him out of his mumbling, so he just awkwardly stood there and hoped for the other to stop it soon. Luckily Izuku didn't ramble and mumble that long.

He really wanted to ask again if Izuku came here to meet with Katsuki, but he didn't want to repeat himself.

"I actually brought something my mother sent to Mitsuki. But I guess she isn't home?" Izuku said, like he was able to read Eijirou's mind about the question of why he's here. It made sense, he had a small reed basket with him this whole time. Eijirou just didn't pay attention to it since he was surprised by the sight of him already.

"She already left and I'm not sure when she'll return back."

"Oh, I see. I guess I chose bad time to pay a visit here."

"I'm sorry about it."

It was like an instinct for Eijirou to apologize. To even apologize about the things he isn't responsible of. It really seemed to catch Izuku off guard again, his smile fell while his eyes were little bit more wider with wonder and surprise. He tried to understand why Eijirou was apologizing since it wasn't his fault.

"Hey, it's okay. It's my own fault, you don't need to apologize", Izuku managed to respond after gathering his thoughts back together. He hadn't expected anything like that.

Eijirou bit his lip and just shrugged his shoulders slightly. He wanted to get back to work and finish the front yard before Mitsuki returns back. There's no real reason for him to finish it so quickly, it's mostly just due to his own fear of making himself look like a lazy person if he isn't fast enough.

But at the same time he didn't want to turn his back on Izuku and continue working, it would be rude. He's in no position to turn his back on someone.

"I don't mean to be rude, but how long have you been serving the Bakugou family? I've never seen you before and I'm curious", Izuku asked after he noticed the awkward little silence what was dangerously trying to fall between them. That, and the fact that he's curious to learn more about this mysterious slave. He knows pretty well that the Bakugou family never really felt like they needed slaves and that's why they hadn't bought any either.

So to hear them suddenly own one really made him curious to hear more about it.

His question didn't really surprise Eijirou since he figured out already that Izuku probably wanted to know more. He couldn't believe what he was hearing when Katsuki told him that instead of Eijirou being just a friend, he's in fact a slave. His slave.

"Not for very long. I recently started here", Eijirou answered. He didn't keep a count on days he's been here already. It'd be depressing if the day of them getting tired of him and selling him comes so soon. It's just better to live day by day and see what happens tomorrow.

Izuku hummed, his eyes almost sparkling with all that curiosity he has. At least it was a good hint for him to get ready, Eijirou can tell by the look of those eyes that he's gonna get drown with question after question until Izuku is either satisfied with all the answers he's gotten or something else shows up to stop him.

"I see. And what do you think about this?"

Eijirou opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again like a fish on a dry land. He has formed some kind of opinion about the family already, but he really shouldn't be telling it. He shouldn't be criticizing or thinking anything bad about them, especially when he doesn't have anything bad to say.

The Bakugou family has treated him surprisingly well from the start and he doesn't want to ruin anything by saying something he might regret later. And because he hasn't been here more than a couple weeks, it's too early to say an opinion about them. If his thoughts and opinions change, it'd be awful to try to explain it afterwards.

"I think I can not answer to that question", Eijirou managed to answer, scratching the back of his neck nervously. He didn't want to get in trouble just because he said too much stuff he's not supposed to say.

Izuku seemed to understand that his question was little bit silly and he nodded, letting his gaze wander around instead of just staring at the redhead. He had noticed earlier how Eijirou looked like he got slightly nervous whenever someone was staring him too much, so it's better to give him a rest from that. He didn't want to make him feel cornered.

It's dangerously starting to look like that awkward silence was trying to make its way back and Eijirou really didn't want that to happen.

"Are you two good friends?" He asked, being very aware of how it might cross the line of what he can ask or talk about. He was curious, after all Katsuki called Izuku with that strange nickname, Deku. But then again he also called him Shitty Hair so it might be just a habit of his to give nicknames for others.

"Me and Kacchan?" Izuku asked. A hint of sadness could be seen in his eyes but it was buried under that smile that covered his face. Eijirou was afraid he had said something bad, but the green haired boy turned his gaze back to him and nodded slightly.

"I've known him since we were little. He used to have this small group of friends following him wherever he went."

Eijirou couldn't hide his surprise. It was kinda hard to even imagine Katsuki with friends since his personality alone was enough to keep everyone in a distance. He didn't want to have anyone close to him, he preferred staying alone. He never really understood why, but knowing Katsuki he always had his reasons for everything.

"What happened?"

It felt wrong to be this nosy, but Eijirou wanted to learn more. Even if it was just a little single piece of information, it helped him to understand him more.

He knew if he tried to ask it directly from the blonde, he won't be getting any answers. This was his chance and Izuku didn't look like he was too uncomfortable with those questions.

"He began to isolate himself suddenly. Before that he always wanted to be the leader of the group, but then he started talking about us being in his way and just using him. I guess he even considers his horses to be more of his friends rather than us." Izuku, while still having that small smile on his face, looked more sad than anything.

Eijirou knew that was an indicator for him to stop asking more about this topic. It was more than he could ask for already. There's still things he wants to hear. What he wants to learn so he can understand Katsuki more, but this is not the right time for that. Maybe Izuku isn't even the person he should be asking these questions from in the first place.

"It's okay though. I'm sure Kacchan will eventually let people back in his life", Izuku said when he noticed how the atmosphere was dropping unnecessary low.

No matter how worried Izuku looked, the smile on his face was genuine and that happy spark was back in his eyes. He really believed those words.

He didn't know what to say, so Eijirou just nodded and listened when the green haired boy changed the subject. He acted like he listened, but in reality he just repeated every single piece of information Izuku revealed to him.

What he just heard raised more questions, to his displeasure. Oh well, it's good enough to learn that too. At least Eijirou knows now that Katsuki hasn't always been a lonely wolf.

"Deku bastard! What are you doing here?"

Both of them tensed their shoulders upon hearing the familiar voice of the blonde, none of them expected to hear him so suddenly after having a small conversation like that. While Izuku turned his gaze to the blonde and greeted him, Eijirou just turned his gaze back to the bush and thought about continuing his job.

"Kacchan! I was just asking Eijirou if your mother is home!"

Eijirou could tell already without looking at him that Katsuki was glaring at Izuku with a gaze that would kill if it was possible. How the other boy managed to even keep talking to him after all that cold shoulder he's giving to him is only a big mystery.

The power of early childhood friendship probably.

But maybe Izuku's word were true. Even though Katsuki always seemed to push people away from him, Eijirou wanted to believe that he'll some day change that behavior. When and where it happens? Who knows. But maybe some day.

"Get lost Deku!"

"But Kacchan!"

Definitely not today though.


 

"Shitty Hair, pay attention to what I'm showing to you! Next time you'll have to do it all by yourself!"

It was one beautiful evening when Katsuki suddenly decided to teach Eijirou how to harness his horses to the extra wooden chariot that has been standing unused all this time he's been here. Even without asking about it, he just knew that it's Katsuki's chariot since the blonde has three horses instead of one and Eijirou's seen him driving a chariot before.

"And make sure the straps aren't too tight or else they'll start rubbing against the skin and hurt them. But do not leave them unnecessary loose either, that'll end up with the same result. Do you understand?"

The way Katsuki explained while he also demonstrated everything had that admirable tone of passion in it, showing how serious he is about the topic. Eijirou nodded and made a mental notes as the blonde kept talking and explaining. He was going to memorize all of this.

He had harnessed oxen before but this definitely was something entirely different. Well, not really but knowing how much it means to Katsuki to have everything perfectly done, he's gonna make sure that he'll meet all those expectations.

But no matter how strict Katsuki is, Eijirou found this side of him kinda endearing. It was pretty sweet and definitely manly too to be concerned about his animals, it just meant that Katsuki doesn't really have a cold heart. He might be mean to others, but clearly he has a respect for his animals.

"We're done now. Can you visualize how everything is supposed to be?" Katsuki turned his gaze to him and watched with his piercing red eyes, waiting for a proper answer to know if anything he just taught him was understood.

Eijirou nodded, but when Katsuki just furrowed his eyebrows to the gesture, he knew it's better to say a proper answer instead of nodding his head only. "I think I got it, young master. Next time I'll definitely know how to do this."

In reality he wasn't that confident about it, but it can't be that hard. Right?

It was Katsuki's turn to nod his head now and he was about to start leading the horses toward the gate when suddenly the blonde stopped. "Almost forgot something from the stable."

As the blonde went back to grab whatever he had forgotten, Eijirou stood next to the horses and carefully patted one of them while waiting for him to return. It's not like Katsuki's going to take him with him to the chariot ride, but he took this as a chance to admire the horses like he always does.

He let his thoughts finally wander freely, thinking everything he's learned so far and recently about this family and Katsuki in general. If he's blessed with another chance of meeting with Izuku, he can't help but hope that he'll learn something more about the blonde.

There's so many things he really doesn't know and asking them directly from Katsuki would probably end up with curses and a cold shoulder. He's not the kind of person who likes to talk about himself too much, that Eijirou has already figured out just by watching him.

He didn't even notice the shy and small smile that was slowly making its way on his face.

Maybe this place he should be calling his new home isn't that bad.

Maybe he's worrying too much over nothing.

Maybe he should just try to relax little bit.

When he heard Katsuki's footsteps approaching the chariot, Eijirou turned his gaze to the blonde's direction to acknowledge his presence. To show him he noticed him already.

The world around him felt like it was suddenly frozen in place.

His heart started beating faster while the color was escaping from his face. That fear what's been sleeping in for a while now was wide awake and swelling in his chest, the familiar heavy feeling making it almost hard to breath. It felt like his legs were a moment away from betraying him, like he couldn't keep his balance anymore.

What has he done wrong?

He doesn't know.

Is he gonna get punished?

Probably.

The sight of whip in Katsuki's hand made Eijirou remember that familiar pain of the leather hitting his back, cutting his skin deep enough to make it bleed and leave scars. The burning sensation of it and the way pain spreads more through his entire body with every single hit on his skin.

He thought he never has to experience that pain ever again. Oh how he was even stupid to wish for something like that.

Of course it means he's gonna get punished.

That's why Katsuki has a whip in his hands, right?

Chapter Text

Pain.

That's the only word Eijirou could think of right now.

The sight of whip always means pains. It always means that he's done something wrong. There's a mistake and he's getting punished because of it. His body remembers every single time it's gotten hit by the whip, but it's still afraid of it. No matter how much he thinks he's gotten used to the familiar feeling of the leather hitting against his back, the reality is different.

He's such a fool. Of course he's gonna get whipped, he always does. He's never good enough to satisfy anyone. And knowing how much of a perfectionist Katsuki is, it was only a matter of time for him to notice what a mistake it was to buy him. Took him long enough.

Eijirou wanted to move. He wanted to take a deep breath but it felt like he was getting choked by an invisible hand. His whole body was shaking while feeling at the same time like it's too heavy to move. He wants to back away but his legs won't obey him.

His body is burning from the memories of that familiar pain. He can already feel his bangs getting glued against his forehead, and even though chills are running through his body, it still feels like he's going to get burnt eventually with the heat of his body.

There's nowhere for him to run from this situation and it's better to endure it all. It'll be over faster if he doesn't try to fight back, instead just submitting. He's nothing more than a property of someone, after all. And they can do whatever they want to him. If they want to break him, then so be it.

Katsuki's sharp gaze was on him instantly, hurting like he got stabbed by a dagger. His eyes were watching him, probably satisfied how easily he was crumbling right in front of him. How easy it is to show him his place. Katsuki probably has been waiting for a right moment to show him his place, he's gotten too comfortable so it's only natural for him to discipline him at some point.

What Eijirou failed to notice is the fact that Katsuki's gaze wasn't on him because he was judging him.

He's more surprised of this sudden turn of events, trying to understand what is happening right now.

"Hey, hey! Shitty Hair, what's wrong?" Katsuki asked but he did not receive any answers to his question. Eijirou looked like he was about to pass out. His face was getting pale fast while his whole body seemed to tremble under his gaze and it was pretty clear that there was a good reason for his this sudden reaction. Something like this just doesn't happen without a reason.

"Calm down and talk to me, Eijirou." Katsuki's words fell on deaf ears, leaving him to wonder how to approach the redhead without sending him into the edge more than he already is. Everything was just one big mess at this point and the blonde was trying to find a reason for this sudden shitshow before it gets any worse.

Even the pair of horses began to catch on the unnerving atmosphere already, their ears moving back and forth as they tried to listen their surroundings. And Katsuki knew that if nothing is done and Eijirou doesn't calm down, it's gonna be the domino effect at the worst case.

Something needs to be done and fast before this escalates.

"Eijirou..." Katsuki started as he took a step closer, touching Eijirou's shoulder gently with his free hand. He thought that he'd get his attention completely on himself if he did that.

Well, he indeed did. But not in a way he had wanted it.

"I'm so sorry, young master. I'm so sorry... I promise I'll do everything better next time, so forgive me..." Eijirou sobbed and flinched at the touch while his legs finally betrayed him. Katsuki tried to catch him, but Eijirou was quickly on his knees and pressing his forehead on the ground while still whispering quiet apologies over and over again. It was really just a mixture of him sobbing and apologizing over and over again, leaving Katsuki just more confused by the sudden turn of events.

"Hey... Eijirou." Katsuki tried again, but his eyes locked on the sight of the redhead's back.

It was full of visible scars. It's not like Katsuki didn't know that, he saw them every day. He knew what those were, damn he had even witnessed one of the punishments Eijirou had gotten at the construction site. It was bad, Katsuki has seen his fair share of slaves getting punished but that had been one of the worst ones he's ever seen.

The whipping.

Katsuki turned his gaze to the long whip he just went to get a moment ago and after returning with it, things escalated so fast that he didn't even have a chance to understand what's happening.

Looking back and forth between the horse whip and the redhead who was sobbing and apologizing like he had committed a crime, Katsuki started to put pieces together.

Eijirou just didn't suddenly have a breakdown.

He's scared.

And Katsuki knows exactly what he's afraid of.

He's afraid of him. Scared that he's here to punish him, that he's ready to beat him with the whip he has. The whip what was never meant for him, it was meant for the horses since those two are still stubborn enough to resist his commands when they find a chance for that. Not like he uses it very often but it's good to have it with him whenever he goes for a drive with the chariot, to teach those two to obey and listen to him.

"Those bastards really put you through a torture. What a fucking mess... Fuck!" Katsuki growled, clenching his fists and feeling the urge of letting out smaller explosions just to calm himself down. He really wanted to do that, but it wasn't worth the risk of scaring both Eijirou and the horses, so he held back that.

What he didn't mind was the feeling of the whip bending in his other fist, not enough to break it but giving him the satisfaction of making it feel his current anger.

He hadn't even thought of anything different when he grabbed the whip and walked back to the chariot's direction. All his thoughts had been in the upcoming chariot ride. Of course it makes sense that Eijirou's going to react this way to the surprising sight of whip without any context.

And now? Now Eijirou is just a sobbing mess in front of him, waiting for the nonexistent punishment he thinks he's going to get. He thinks he deserves it.

What a fucking mess indeed.

Katsuki groaned and dropped the whip into the chariot. He should start calming Eijirou down by getting it out of his sight first. Just so he doesn't have to be scared of it and to let him know that it's not meant for him.

"Eijirou, you're okay", Katsuki said, keeping his voice calm and clear in hope of reassuring the other that he isn't angry to him. Because he really isn't, why would he be?

The blonde knelt down and resisted the urge of touching his back or shoulder, not really wanting to make anything worse with it. True, it could regain his attention back easily but Eijirou flinched earlier under his touch. He's gonna get scared and more anxious if he does it again and Katsuki didn't want this to get any worse. It's hard enough already, no need to make it almost impossible.

And it was frustrating to say the least. While Eijirou clearly was afraid of touches right now, Katsuki knew already just by looking at him that he's the kind of person who probably yearns for that. He's exactly one of those who most likely likes cuddling and hugs and basic human contact but because he's gotten so much shit happening around him, he's grown afraid of them. Afraid of things that would make him feel happy and safe.

Who knows how much of it was ruined by his previous owners.

"Can you hear me Eijirou? Breathe. Take a deep breath. It's okay." Katsuki was never good with words. He never felt that way anyway. He knew how to make words sharp as knives, how to hurt others with them but using them as a way to calm someone was never anything he tried to learn.

But apparently his words reached out to Eijirou. Katsuki let him take his time, but when the redhead finally raised himself enough to sit and face him, he noticed how he was still avoiding eye contact. Nothing surprising with it, it just made sense that Eijirou was doing that, still afraid of the punishment he's not gonna get.

"You won't be punished. I won't hurt you, I promise. You don't have to be scared."

He tried to make his words come out as sweet and soft, using a tone he rarely if never uses. Katsuki knew just by the look of his eyes that Eijirou was hesitating, not sure if he can trust his words or not. It was in a way hurting Katsuki's own ego but he let that slide for now. If he starts to nag at him in a moment like this, it won't help to reassure him that he's serious with his words.

Katsuki was very aware of the fact that he's bad at this. He's never really been in a situation like this. He knows how to calm down horses, he knows that sometimes a gentle touch is enough to help even a big animal like them to relax. But trying to calm down others? No idea.

His only experience about that was the times he calmed down horses. And of course some hazy memories from his childhood, too. But Katsuki never considered those things, never really wanted to remember them.

Eijirou looked like he was searching some kind of escape route in case Katsuki suddenly took the whip and decided to beat him. His mind was just one big mess and his whole body was acting on an instinct. He wanted to believe him, wanted to calm down and trust him but it was really hard.

Especially when so many people he thought he can trust have betrayed him. When so many people he thought weren't that bad just shattered the image of them completely.

His heart was still beating fast and his body was constantly shivering. He felt like he wanted to keep crying, but there were no more tears to shed for now. And the ones that managed to escape from his eyes were already starting to dry on his cheeks.

It felt like he was placed under a heavy rock and he had no way of lifting it, no way to ease the crushing feeling in his chest. Just a moment ago while sobbing, he felt like he was suffocating as well. But when Katsuki told him to take a deep breath, it had been like that rock was slightly raised up, letting him breath little bit more than what he managed before.

Eijirou was so lost in his thoughts that when he finally paid attention to Katsuki again, he was both surprised and ready to back away after seeing how the blonde was moving his raised hand toward him.

"Shhh, it's okay", Katsuki whispered, his whole attitude surprisingly calm yet confident.

It was an instinct for him to harden that part of his face where Katsuki's hand was going for. Eijirou's body felt heavy and while feeling like he wanted to back away, he knew he won't be able to do that. He was frozen still, but that didn't mean he couldn't harden his skin to protect himself.

And the last time Katsuki brought his hand this close to his face, he had threatened to blow his face off. It's just logical to stay on guard whenever the blonde brought his hand too close for comfort, especially close to his face where he could do some serious damage.

Instead of feeling that familiar heat of explosion and the ringing in his ears, Katsuki's hand touched his cheek while those red eyes kept watching him closely, looking for his reactions and whether it's okay to continue or not. He never took his eyes away, noticing every single little detail what he could see.

Eijirou's shoulders tensed up instantly. He was confused, scared and not even sure if he likes this or not. Not sure if he wants Katsuki to keep his hand off of him or not.

Katsuki started to stroke his cheek slowly with his thumb, not really caring the hardened skin what felt like he was petting a rock instead of a person. Eijirou wasn't trying to escape, so that might be a good sight?

"That's right. Just keep breathing. No one's going to whip you anymore."

He wanted to believe those words. He really, really wanted to believe. But it's too hard to trust them. Eijirou can see it from those red eyes that the blonde is being serious, but it's impossible for him right now. It's impossible to think rationally or trust the blonde.

Slowly the gentle stroking on his cheek started to feel little bit comforting. He kept his guard up just in case, but after Katsuki didn't make a move to hurt him, to let out an explosion right on his face or even insult him, Eijirou decided to lower his guard. Just a little bit. His hardened skin turned back to normal after a while and he let himself relax. Slightly, but enough for his shoulders to ease up as well.

For a moment, the whole world seemed to pause.

For a moment, there was nothing else, just the two of them. He couldn't even feel the presence of the horses that were standing right next to him anymore.

For a moment, he felt like he really is safe from the pain.

He was always sure that Katsuki has a gentle side too. He had seen it whenever the blonde was with his horses, the way he patted them after a good work was always so gentle. Something what didn't really fit in the picture of him. Didn't really fit into the impression he gave to everyone as him being just a jerk who has no time for others.

That same gentleness was present right now and while Eijirou was confused by it, at the same time it helped him relax. It helped him feel safe and trust Katsuki, even though the blonde was the reason why he even freaked out in the first place.

He was feeling calm.

That breakdown he just had was all gone, like it never happened. This calming feeling was overwhelming, spreading everywhere in his body and letting his mind relax. The fear of getting whipped was still present, like the fear itself was trying to whisper warnings into his ears, letting him know that all this might be just a play. Just a sadistic act for Katsuki to surprise him and beat him like there's no tomorrow.

But he blocked his ears from it. True, there's still that hesitation and fear of the possible whipping, but right now he was convinced that it's not going to happen.

Katsuki didn't even have the whip in his hand anymore. It's not like he'll be able to grab it suddenly and start hitting him.

"I'm sorry." Eijirou whispered a quiet apology. He's not even sure what he's apologizing for this time.

Is he sorry about the sudden breakdown, the fear taking over his rational thinking?

Sorry about the possible mistakes he's done and what makes him deserve the punishment what, apparently, isn't going to happen?

Sorry about him being this weak, this messed up?

Sorry about him being so broken that even something minor like that moves him to stand on the edge?

He doesn't really know. And Katsuki doesn't seem to care either, his gaze was all soft and he shook his head, disagreeing with him.

"Don't be. There's nothing to be sorry about."

For the first time Eijirou frowned right in front of Katsuki, knowing very well it might be rude but at this moment he didn't really care. He was waiting for the other to correct this behavior, he was expecting him to do that. But instead of getting that kind of treatment, Eijirou noticed how Katsuki was now actually smiling instead of having that disapproval look on his face.

It wasn't a smirk at all, Eijirou had seen him smirk smugly so many times that he knew that expression very well. No, this was far from that. This was a smile with no bad intentions, no insulting gaze to go with it.

He didn't know how to feel about it. He had never thought of seeing this side of Katsuki so fast, but then again he doubted often if he'll ever see it. Katsuki was always one big mystery. Eijirou tried to understand him, but sometimes it was harder than he had imagined.

"Geez. You really made yourself look like a walking mess, your kohl is everywhere else except on your eyes", Katsuki suddenly said, clicking his tongue afterwards but he really wasn't annoyed or anything. He was sneakily trying to change the subject to get his fears vanish and his thoughts collected.

And Eijirou was buying all of it, accepting the change of the subject.

He had a point though. Eijirou probably looked like a literal mess, he can imagine the way his cheeks have lines of kohl running along the trail of tears. Dried on his cheeks with the tears, making him look stupid with the black lines running along his face.

"I'll fix it", Eijirou promised, but Katsuki shook his head and stopped his thumb from stroking his cheek, just letting his hand touch his skin while watching his red eyes.

"I'll do it for you. For once you'll have it perfectly done."

Eijirou wanted to say something. He wanted to refuse his offer and tell him that he can do it all by himself, he didn't need his help at all. But instead he just nodded, letting his gaze fall on the ground and avoid Katsuki's eyes.

And with that, Katsuki finally moved his hand away from his cheek. The loss of touch was at the same time satisfying but it left him feel lonely, too. For a moment it felt like his cheek was burning from the touch and Eijirou wasn't sure why. It doesn't matter though.

He really felt calm right now.


 

Katsuki never went for the chariot ride that day. Not even when Eijirou had calmed down completely nor when he had fixed his kohl.

It shouldn't make him feel guilty, but Eijirou couldn't help it.

He felt so much guilt over him overreacting to the sight of whip. Well, maybe the term 'overreacting' wasn't really accurate at all. The fear he felt was real and became so overwhelming that he couldn't control his emotions. Couldn't keep himself together either.

He was embarrassed. Even sad for some reason. Maybe because he knows how much Katsuki enjoys the time he spends with his horses. He can see that sparkle in his eyes whenever he's going out for a ride or just checking that everything is okay in the stable.

Eijirou found himself staying awake some of the nights, just thinking what had happened between them. Katsuki was never gentle around others, never really caring about the people who he really should care. The way he always gets into arguments with his mother, the way he pushes Izuku away whenever he tried to make an attempt to fix their friendship. How he sometimes talks in a very disrespectful way to others.

He always comes off as a lonely wolf. A very rude one. Someone who hates any extra human contact, who doesn't need anyone else beside him. Who only seems to think that his horses are worth of proper treatment, he doesn't seem to really care about anyone else.

That impression he's given of himself is really fighting with the picture Eijirou still has in his mind. Katsuki had been so gentle with him. His normally sharp gaze was nothing more than soft, the same kind of he has whenever he's really focusing on his horses and petting them.

Eijirou still feels the sudden heat on his other cheek whenever his mind trails back to that moment. The way Katsuki had stroked his cheek to get his attention completely was so out of character for him. Eijirou didn't understand why he'd do something like that.

It really showed off a different side of Katsuki to him. He's very aware of the fact that Katsuki did it only to get his attention and calm him down, but it had been so effective that Eijirou wasn't sure what to think.

Was he letting Katsuki get too close to him? If it had been Nakhti, everything would have turned more worse than better.

It's not like Eijirou dislikes Katsuki. Sure, he can be rude and hard to handle whenever he decides to act all bratty. There's been several times when Eijirou's felt like he's unsure of what to think about the blonde. Unsure of how to react to the things he does or says.

But there's still things he doesn't know about him either.

And this is one of them.

It's honestly very frustrating.


 

He's avoiding him, Eijirou is sure about that.

Katsuki is avoiding him.

Since the whip incident Katsuki's behavior changed. Not really that much but Eijirou noticed how the blonde was keeping himself busy with everything else, not even paying attention to him whenever they passed by. It's not like Eijirou wanted his attention but it's certainly weird.

Katsuki didn't stick around the house as much as usually, instead leaving whenever he had a chance. All of them weren't just riding trips, it almost looked like he was having less of them than normally.

At first Eijirou thought he was just imagining this all, that it's just all in his head but day after day he's getting more convinced that he's being avoided.

They normally didn't have time together that much anyway, but sometimes when Eijirou's doing the stable work, Katsuki was there too. He did half of the work, even when he didn't need to since Eijirou's there to do it. It's probably a habit of his or just him making sure he does everything the way it should be done.

However, Eijirou hasn't seen him there lately. He shouldn't be disappointed about it, it's understandable that Katsuki can take a break and leave everything for him to do.

Normally something like that isn't a clear clue that he's being avoided. It's the fact that when Eijirou comes to work in the stable, he can see that Katsuki has been there earlier and done the usual work he often does.

That is why Eijirou is sure he's avoiding him.

And it's quite depressing. Maybe Katsuki finally noticed how pathetic he is and decided to forget his existence? That makes sense. Eijirou was expecting something like this to happen anyway at some point, so he shouldn't be disappointed at all.

He still is.

After another disappointing morning of getting avoided by the blonde, Eijirou was glad that he was working at the garden today. No one's going to bother him there or notice the frown on his face.

It's really hurting him since he has no idea why Katsuki is suddenly doing this. Eijirou doesn't crave for attention but he's been happy about the fact that he's finally starting to learn something from the blonde. And then the whip made him crumble right in front of him and everything ended up getting ruined.

Eijirou couldn't help but sigh while he was watering one of the flower beds. He shouldn't let his thoughts wander freely but he can't help it.

Normally he wouldn't feel this hurt about his owner not really paying attention to him. Since the time with Nakhti, he really appreciates the time he gets completely to himself. When he can just think and feel like he doesn't have to be on guard all the time. When he can trust that nothing bad is going to happen to him.

From the day one he never craved for Katsuki's attention. He's not craving it now either.

However, it's hurting him so much to see how Katsuki is purposely avoiding him after that whip incident. Avoiding him like he has a disease that he's going to catch if he stays with him for too long.

He doesn't understand why exactly Katsuki is doing this. And he can't ask that either, it's none of his business in the end.

With another deep sigh Eijirou moved to water another flower bed, deep in his thoughts that he didn't notice the approaching figure at all. His thoughts were just one big knot what he was trying to untie, but it's harder than he imagined it being.

"I'm starting to feel bad that I left you here. You're almost wearing the same expression as the last time."

Eijirou flinched when he heard that familiar deep voice, already recognizing and connecting it to the person it belongs to. Could it be? His attention was immediately everywhere else than where it should be. He stopped everything he was doing and turned around, getting greeted by the familiar sight of indigo hair and purple eyes that were studying him already.

"Hitoshi. Why are you here?" Eijirou asked. The answer was obvious, he's here probably to meet with Katsuki. No other reason for him to come back here.

"Ouch, already questioning me. Where's the normal 'long time no see' stuff?" Hitoshi answered with his own question. The corner of his lip lifted into a crooked smile while he kept watching him, letting a sarcastic aura surround him for a moment. It earned a confused yet gentle smile from Eijirou, which probably surprised him. He hadn't expected to see that.

"Long time no see. Are you happy now?" Eijirou let that small and gentle smile rest on his face for a moment before it started to disappear, his expression turning curious as he was waiting for the answer to his question.

"That's better", Hitoshi nodded, crossing his arms and keeping his eyes on him. "And I was asked by someone to check if you're alright."

He got curious immediately, but Eijirou knew by now that trying to ask who this someone is won't give him any answers. In a way it's kinda frustrating to talk with Hitoshi, some things he says are always hidden behind well chosen words and if he tries to ask more, the other just ignores or gives an answer that really doesn't help.

"Thank you. I appreciate the thought", Eijirou muttered and moved his gaze to the nearest flower bed, deciding whether to return back to his work or keep chatting with the other. There's things he wants to ask, but then again he doesn't want to get frustrated by the way his questions are always answered or avoided.

Hitoshi hummed, already making his judgement about the current situation here. Clearly Eijirou was still having problems with getting used to this family and live with them, but he wasn't a lost case at all. He's more calmer than Hitoshi even imagined him being and it's kinda relieving to see that. Though he doesn't want to admit it, leaving Eijirou here when the redhead was begging him to not do it with all that anxiety left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Did something happen?"

Hitoshi's question earned Eijirou's gaze back at him. Of course Hitoshi would go straight into the heart of the matter, that's the way he approaches subjects and topics. He's careful enough, but doesn't hesitate to strike when there's a chance for that. It's admirable.

"Why are you asking that?" Eijirou stared right into Hitoshi's eyes, trying to be all confident but it was hard. Especially since he knows how he is reading him easily like an open text scroll.

"I didn't even need to see your face to know the frown you had earlier. And I can sense the atmosphere being somehow tense, so I just guessed that something happened. Judging by your answer, something indeed did happen. Care to fill me in on the details?" Hitoshi had a point or two. Not really surprising since he's observant, Eijirou noticed that from the very first moment he talked with him.

And he hated how right he is. Something did happen and it's consuming him from the inside. Eijirou doesn't know how to fix this situation or if it needs any kind of fixing at all. He just doesn't want to feel like he's being avoided by Katsuki.

"I think Katsuki hates me", Eijirou finally admitted. There's no other explanation for the sudden change in his behavior. He probably finally realized how pathetic he is and avoids him, so it's easier to find a way to get rid of him. Katsuki's been probably busy planning how he's going to sell him.

A surprised expression visited Hitoshi's face, like he couldn't believe what Eijirou was saying. "Oh, are you sure about that?"

Eijirou nodded. He is certain about it.

Hitoshi looked little bit puzzled, not that much but enough for Eijirou to notice it. It shouldn't really be that surprising, he's sure even Hitoshi can see what a failure he is! It frustrates him that everyone else seems to notice things about him what Eijirou himself doesn't notice at all. And when he tries to ask about them, he never receives a proper answer.

"What makes you think so?"

Of course Hitoshi is striking again straight into the topic. Eijirou sighed deeply again, he could feel that hint of frustration growing in him. No one understands him.

"Because he's avoiding me. I thought I imagined it but now I'm sure he's really doing that. I mean, I don't mind the peace and a chance of having my own time but I can't help but think that Katsuki hates me now." He felt like he's just rambling on and on about this, not even sure if Hitoshi understands what he means with it. He doesn't want to sound like he's sad that Katsuki isn't with him. No, that's not it.

He wants to know if he did something wrong to piss off Katsuki. If his reaction to the whip made Katsuki finally realize how messed up he is.

"That's odd", Hitoshi commented after Eijirou had ranted enough, turning his gaze away from him while thinking something. It almost made him want to ask what's going on in his mind, but Eijirou just knew how pointless it is. Hitoshi isn't going to answer, so whatever.

"To me, he looked little bit embarrassed last time I talked with him."

Nevermind. Apparently Hitoshi decided to share this little piece of information with him, to Eijirou's surprise.

But he's not sure what is surprising him more; The fact that Katsuki has actually met lately with Hitoshi or that he's been feeling embarrassed for some reason.

Eijirou didn't know how to respond. It feels like he's never good enough to keep up with a conversation, so instead of trying to say something to keep it going, he just shuts up and hopes for the best. Maybe Hitoshi will drop this subject, maybe he's going to continue with it.

Hitoshi didn't say anything after that. He just turned his gaze back to him, staring at him like he's waiting for some kind of explanation. And Eijirou has no idea what he's expecting to hear? He's not even sure why Katsuki would feel like he's embarrassed.

Except if he feels embarrassed about what happened that day.

"I freaked out, okay? I don't want to talk about that." Eijirou really didn't want to talk about what happened back then. He didn't want to remember it, he could feel the goosebumps on his skin already and he just knew that it would eventually break him down into a crying mess. Again. And he doesn't want to crumble again.

"It's okay. I'm not going to ask anything, it's none of my business."

He was glad that Hitoshi already acknowledged that. Maybe it's for his own good too, he had seen just how broken and vulnerable Eijirou can be. It just makes sense that he doesn't want to cross the line too much and often. It would gain nothing.

"So what are you gonna do about this?" Hitoshi's question didn't make any sense and Eijirou knew he could see his confusion from his expression alone.

"About what?" Eijirou asked. He really had no idea what Hitoshi was now implying.

"About you thinking that he hates you. Even if he is avoiding you, that doesn't mean he hates you. I certainly didn't get that kind of vibes from him. If anything, you're probably one of the few people he tolerates. You know how much he looks down others and keeps everyone away? Even Izuku agrees with that."

Eijirou was surprised. Surprised and confused at the same time and he's sure he looks like a fool right now. He wasn't sure if he heard him right at all either.

"Wait. Izuku? You mean Izuku, that green haired boy? Katsuki's old friend?"

How the heck does Hitoshi know Izuku?

"Well yeah? I'm not really friends with Katsuki but I do know him and Izuku. If anything, Izuku is the one who's trying to be friends with me. Hate to admit it but he's not really that bad, I just can't help but wonder why he keeps trying to fix his friendship with Katsuki. But that's none of my problems." Hitoshi looked little bit bored because of the subject, but it was a miracle itself that he decided to answer so honestly to his question.

Eijirou felt little bit dumb by now, the sudden realization hitting him hard. It makes sense that he knows both Katsuki and Izuku. And it's surprising that apparently Katsuki has talked with him more than just couple times.

All this new information made his head hurt. He could feel the upcoming headache making its way. Everything made sense, but then again it doesn't.

"I guess it's better to stop here before I break you. I'm sure Katsuki won't appreciate that." Hitoshi chuckled, which was rare to witness or even hear but Eijirou didn't care right now. He was just so confused. Nothing makes sense.

"I'm sorry..." he apologized, but Hitoshi just shook his head.

"Don't be. No reason for that."

Maybe it's good that Hitoshi came to speak with him. Even though he left him more confused than he was before, it was kinda refreshing to speak with someone about this topic. Eijirou could see how Hitoshi was sometimes feeling like he doesn't really know how to talk with others, but he disagrees with that.

Whenever he's talked with him, no matter how confusing it can end up being, it also is kinda therapeutic. Hitoshi does know how to choose the right words. And Eijirou appreciates that he tries to help him, even if he's not so straightforward with it. At least the thought counts, right?

"Thank you Hitoshi for dropping by. I really needed to talk with someone." Eijirou moved his gaze away, not wanting to make an eye contact with him. He was feeling embarrassed too, even if there's really no reason for him to feel that way. He felt Hitoshi's gaze on him and while it wasn't the best possible thing right now, it wasn't that unbearable either.

Hitoshi stared him for a moment before shrugging his shoulders. "You're welcome, I guess. But it honestly wasn't my idea. Someone just has too big of an ego to solve these kind of problems. And that someone should try to learn how to talk with others, it's not fair to send others do it instead."

Even though he avoided saying the name, Eijirou couldn't help but smile little bit. Maybe he was doing it on purpose, but with that and all of the hints he gave on purpose, he has his suspicion of the person who sent him.

And he's grateful for that.

"Well I think I should return back to work. It was nice to see you again, Hitoshi."

"The feeling is mutual. I'm actually glad to see that you're somehow comfortable here. Would you leave if I offered a chance for you?"

Eijirou finally turned his gaze back to Hitoshi, only to see that same crooked little smile on his face. He knew he's just joking but it wasn't a cruel joke at all. And it managed to draw out a little smile on his face, too.

"Stop teasing me. I know you won't do that." Eijirou smiled and grabbed one of the water pot, moving to the next flower bed that needed watering.

"You caught me."

Eijirou just shook his head and moved his gaze back to the flowers, starting to water them while still being aware of his presence.

"I'm leaving now. See you again some day, Eijirou", Hitoshi announced. Eijirou just nodded and said his goodbyes to him, focusing back to his work.

Hitoshi was about to take his leave when he remembered something, or more like found a chance to say it now. He turned around to watch Eijirou again and waited little bit before the redhead finally turned his gaze on him, confused as why he hadn't left yet.

"By the way, your friend Denki told me to send you his regards and tell you he's alright."

Eijirou almost dropped the clay pot upon hearing that.


 

"Hey, Shitty Hair. Are you done soon?"

The sound of that familiar voice tensed up Eijirou's shoulders. He had been in the middle of cleaning one of the rooms when he heard Katsuki talking to him. It felt like it's been forever since he time talked with him or heard his voice, even after Hitoshi took his quick visit couple days ago Katsuki's been kinda avoiding him. Not as much as he did before but still.

Eijirou turned his gaze to the direction of the sound, his eyes meeting with those crimson red eyes that were staring him and waiting for an answer. Katsuki was standing at the doorway, arms crossed and looking as sour as usual. Eijirou didn't even want to know what was going on in his mind right now, but his posture was relaxed enough that he didn't worry about it either.

"I've almost finished this room. Why? Do you need me for something, young master?" Eijirou noticed how Katsuki's shoulders tensed slightly before they relaxed again. He wasn't sure why he had that kind of reaction, but then again Katsuki is still pretty much a big mystery to him.

"Yeah. I'm going out to deal with something and I'm taking you with me today. If you have more rooms to clean up, ignore the task. I'll be responsible about it if the old hag starts to bitch about it." Katsuki's tone was as cold as usual, like nothing has changed at all. It's little bit upsetting, it feels like he's starting to turn into a stranger again.

Eijirou thought he was finally getting to know with him and he did manage to crack that invisible mask and see the other side of him. But that's it, he's fixed every crack and it's like starting the project all over again.

"If you say so. I'll hurry up."

"Good. I'll be waiting you outside."

Katsuki exchanged gazes with him for a moment before finally leaving. The odd emptiness fell in the room shortly after but Eijirou just shrugged his shoulders and kept cleaning.

That certainly was weird, but at the same time he's happy that Katsuki finally spoke to him. He could still feel that little tension between then, coming mostly from Katsuki's side and he honestly didn't know what to think about it.

But maybe he shouldn't pay attention to it at all. At least Katsuki talked to him, maybe he's finally decided that enough is enough and stopped avoiding him? Gosh, he really hopes so.

Hitoshi's words came back into his mind as he tried to think something else. Apparently his thoughts wanted to return back to Katsuki constantly, now that the blonde broke the seal of silent treatment and avoidance. He knew more about Katsuki, knew more why he's been avoiding him. That's for sure. Too bad Hitoshi is good at keeping that kind of information all to himself, though he likes to leave little hints whenever there's a proper chance for it.

It's odd though. Eijirou just doesn't understand why Katsuki would go to visit Hitoshi so suddenly. They weren't really friends, that's what Hitoshi admitted. And Eijirou knows for a fact that Katsuki doesn't see others as his friends. Even Izuku told him that. He's a lonely wolf who pushes everyone away.

Which is why he felt little bit funny whenever he thought of Hitoshi's words.

If anything, you're probably one of the few people he tolerates.

Eijirou shook his head, trying to empty his mind so he can finish this room. Katsuki is waiting him after all and knowing how impatient he can be sometimes, it's better to hurry up.

When he finally was able to finish and go outside, he was surprised by the sight of the horse chariot that was waiting there. Two chestnut colored horses were standing still obediently as Katsuki stood in front of them and pet them both at the same time. The other horse tried to nuzzle closer to his shoulder while the other just turned its ears back and forth, accepting the petting but not really caring that much.

It was kinda therapeutic sight to be honest. Moments like these made it harder for Eijirou to even think that Katsuki could be bad person. He can be mean, that's for sure but bad? Not at all. Probably never have been.

"Are you ready now?" Katsuki's question snapped him out of his thoughts and he immediately was little bit embarrassed to admit that he had been standing there, just watching the blonde interact with his chariot horses.

Katsuki moved in front of Eijirou and waited his answer again, but this time he couldn't say anything. Maybe he was too embarrassed to being able to say anything, so instead he just nodded. Lucky for him that it was enough for Katsuki. The blonde nodded as well and hopped into the chariot. The horses immediately raised their heads slightly, waiting and listening for the command to move.

Eijirou hesitated, but knowing he doesn't have any other choice, he got on the chariot as well.

"Let's go." Katsuki said while flicking the reins in his hands. The horses responded right away and started walking toward the open gate, their ears listening closely as they knew that they're going to get another command as soon as they exit the yard.

When the gate was left behind, the speed grew as the horses finally started galloping excitedly.

"Where are we going?" Eijirou asked as he tried to sneakily take a better grip at the edge of the wooden surface. It's unmanly to admit it but he was little bit intimidated by the speed of the chariot.

It's not the first time he's been in a chariot but Nakhti never made his horses to gallop. Speed was something he wasn't interested in while driving his horses. Trotting was also good way to gain attention from others, the steady sound of clopping attracting curious gazes wherever he went.

"To meet someone."

That didn't really tell much but it was enough to put funny ideas into his head. Who are they going to meet? And why would Katsuki need him to be there with him? He couldn't help but let his guess go wild. Maybe he decided to get rid of him and he took him to meet his new master?

No. That can't be true, Katsuki isn't going to do something like that. Eijirou didn't want to believe such a stupid idea, but he couldn't shut his mind from it either.

What if he really hates him now and sells him?

The thought made him surprisingly sad.

He doesn't want that. He was just getting used to the Bakugou family.

Is Katsuki going to push him away too? Maybe that's why he's been avoiding him. It's easier to sell him if he doesn't get attached or involved too much.

Eijirou knew it was stupid to make those kind of scenarios in his head, but his insecurities were getting the best of him.

The chariot ride was silent. It would have been awkward too if Eijirou wasn't so deep in his thoughts to pay attention to his surroundings.

"We're here. Did you fall asleep or something?" Katsuki's voice next to his ear snapped him out of his thoughts. Eijirou hadn't even noticed how fast the chariot ride had went. Or how long it had lasted, he's been so in his thoughts to even realize it.

The horses were standing still as the chariot was stopped and Katsuki next to him watched him curiously. Eijirou muttered something incoherent and jumped off of the chariot, glancing around as he was trying to see the person they were supposed to meet.

Instead he was surprised by the realization that they were at the place where he and Katsuki met and talked for the first time. The shore of the river Nile, the exact same place. Eijirou recognized it, how couldn't he?

He turned his confused gaze back to Katsuki, who just shrugged his shoulders and watched him.

"They'll be here soon." It's all he said, Eijirou didn't even have to ask anything.

And he settled for that answer. Eijirou nodded and glanced around again, tempted to ask more but instead he headed toward the water. He felt Katsuki's eyes on his back but he didn't care, he just walked into the water and let it cool his feet.

It didn't take long before he heard Katsuki walk to the shore. His eyes were still watching him closely and for a moment it felt little bit intimidated, but at the same time Eijirou was just used to it. Katsuki was watching him as he studied his body language, trying to read him like a book. And probably he understood him better than he himself does.

"Am I going to be sold again? Is that why we're here?"

His question was left hanging in the air, dragging an atmosphere what felt heavy and confusing. It's not like Eijirou really wanted to ask that question, but he couldn't stop himself either.

He just has to know. He can't take the pressure anymore, he wants to know.

Eijirou turned around to let his eyes meet with Katsuki's. What he hadn't expected was the surprised gaze the blonde has.

"What kind of shit you're talking about now?" Katsuki asked after a moment of silence, his expression showing how confused he is by his words. It made Eijirou frown little bit, is he playing dumb with him?

"Isn't that why we're here? You hate me, I know it." Eijirou didn't mean to be rude at all, but at this moment he couldn't stop himself. He just wanted the blonde to tell him straight that he's gonna get sold and that's it. No need to tease him anymore. His gaze fell and he moved it away, it really hurt to even say these things, everything became so real after saying it out loud.

"I'm sorry that I'm useless. I've really tried my best but it's not enough and I know it too. It's better for everyone that I disappear from their life."

"Eijirou you're so fucking stupid sometimes!"

Eijirou flinched, his gaze returning back to Katsuki. And he knew he had messed up when he saw that expression on his face.

Katsuki looked offended, but at the same time there was a hint of disbelief in his gaze as well.

"I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to buy you. But I never believed you can be this stupid! What makes you fucking think that we're here because I'm going to sell you? I already told you, we're meeting someone. No, you're meeting someone since I know you need this!"

Katsuki didn't hesitate to step in the water as well, walking right in front of Eijirou while it felt like his eyes were drilling through and into his eyes. Eijirou really felt little bit intimidated by how close he is suddenly, but he didn't back away.

"You're mine. Do you understand? I'm not going to sell you to anyone, they can fight me all they want but I'm not going to let you go."

Even though his thoughts were all messed up because of Katsuki's words, Eijirou still noticed that Katsuki wasn't exactly keeping up well with that mask of his. He could see that the blonde was probably feeling little bit embarrassed because of those words he said, but it made them feel so much more meaningful. Like he really meant everything he just said.

They stared quietly each other for a while before a cough from the shore's direction got their attention.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you but we're here."

Hitoshi was standing alone at the shore, a curious yet slightly amused look in his eyes. He probably heard everything but knowing him, he's not going to make a comment about it.

Katsuki huffed and took a quick glance at Eijirou before muttering something and walking back to the shore. "Just wait a little bit, Shitty Hair." And with that, he and Hitoshi left him standing there alone, confused and not really sure what's going on.

If they were going to meet Hitoshi, then why didn't Katsuki say anything? It's not like Hitoshi is that big of a stranger to him anymore.

In fact, everything Katsuki just said confused him. He needs this? What does he mean by that? He didn't say anything about Eijirou assuming he hates him, but then again after everything Katsuki just told him, it's probably safe to assume that he does not hate him.

There's too many things going on and Eijirou doesn't know what to think about them. Doesn't know how to handle all this information, all these feelings and things around him.

He heard footsteps getting closer and he could see from the corner of his eye how a new figure was approaching him. But maybe he was just too busy trying to make some sense with everything that he didn't really care right now. Well, not until the person stopped next to him and talked.

"You're still falling into that world of yours often enough, huh? That hurts, bro. I've missed you and you're giving me the cold shoulder already?"

He recognized that voice. It belongs to someone he's been missing too. Could it be him?

Eijirou turned his gaze to the person and it was like his body acted on its own after that. That familiar smile greeted him as the golden yellow eyes met with his own.

They both almost lost their balances as Eijirou locked the blonde into the bear hug, getting emotional over this meeting with a friend he thought he'll never see again. He didn't even try to hide the fact that his eyes were little bit watery already and it felt good to clutch onto him like a child who was looking for comfort.

And when he felt those familiar hands wrapping around him, he knew the feeling was mutual.

"I've missed you so much... Denki, I'm sorry." He heard the blonde chuckle quietly. At that moment it was easy to compare it to a music, it was the sound Eijirou liked. And it instantly put a small smile on his face.

"I know, Ei. I've missed you too. Both me and Hanta have been very worried about you", Denki whispered right into his ear and started stroking his hair gently.

Katsuki and Hitoshi were staring them from a little distance, both agreeing that it's better to let those two have their reunion. Who knows when they get another chance to meet again, so it's only fair to let them focus on each other without anyone else interrupting them.

They're not sure how long they just embraced each other but Eijirou didn't mind it at all. He really had missed Denki. Just knowing that the blonde was mostly trapped in a same kind of situation like his made him worry so much, but at the same time he knew Denki is a lot stronger. He tolerated so much shit compared to Eijirou, who was chased into the corner rather quickly.

"Ei, I'll probably suffocate if you don't let me go soon. Your grip is so tight!" Denki announced, though he laughed afterwards. Maybe Eijirou was really hugging him way too hard, like being afraid that if he let's go, the blonde will immediately disappear and the harsh reality would hit him with another lie.

When Eijirou finally had a heart to loosen up his grip and let go of his friend, he quickly wiped the corner of his eyes as the tears were trying to escape from them. He's really happy. Just being able to see that Denki is okay is enough for him. And the blonde looks like he's really happy to see him, too.

They walked together back to the shore but immediately after stepping into the warm sand, Denki stopped.

"When I heard that you've been sold, I was really surprised. I knew there was something fishy going on and I did overhear some things... but I still got scared." Denki's gaze fell down as he thought his words carefully, something he didn't usually do. Most of the time he was more of a carefree person, but it was clear just how much this has strained him.

Eijirou was about to tell him it's okay, but Denki's gaze was soon back on him as he smiled like he was trying to give a competition to the damn sun. "But I can see now that I was worrying over nothing. You're feeling better, I can tell that. That's good."

He couldn't help but smile. Well, it's definitely true that he's in a better home now and his owners are something else completely. But he's not sure about how much better he's feeling.

Certainly better right now and it's all thanks to the blonde.

Maybe he's giving too much credit to Denki. Honestly Eijirou feels relieved too, and that's all thanks to Katsuki's words. No matter how much he still doubted himself and let his insecurities get the best of him, Katsuki's words felt pretty nice. He knew when he was serious and at that moment, Katsuki had been dead serious.

"So.. wanna tell me why Katsuki Bakugou is your new owner?" Denki suddenly asked, his smile turning more into a mischievous grin. That's the typical Denki he remembers and even though the question was little bit too sudden, Eijirou didn't mind it at all.

He just smiled carefully and shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't know. You should probably ask him." Eijirou tried his hard to stay restrained from laughing at the expression on his face. Denki quickly shook his head but he was interested to learn more about this new information he just got.

"Aww man. You're no fun."

Denki playfully pouted for a moment before that smile returned back to his face. Of course he's just playing and joking and that's one of the things what Eijirou really likes about him.

"Well, explain to me why you're with Hitoshi", Eijirou decided to throw the question back. It was his turn to tease the blonde little bit but Denki already knew that, so it's not going to be so easy.

Denki hummed and glanced quickly at the direction where Katsuki and Hitoshi were before turning his gaze back to him. "Hitoshi borrowed me for today."

"Borrowed you?" Eijirou tilted his head slightly, not really understanding what he meant by that. Borrowed? He knitted his eyebrows, confused and maybe even worried about what he heard. He needed an explanation for this.

"Yeah..." Denki laughed and scratched his hand. "I know it sounds silly but that's what he did. He's in the process of freeing me from Rasui but it's harder, you know? Nakhti told him what happened with you and it send him to be more alerted. It's going to take a while but Hitoshi is working really hard with the plan."

Oh. That explains it. At least little bit, but Eijirou was worried. He knew Nakhti would most likely tell everything to someone and Rasui was his good buddy. Honestly he felt even guilty because of it. And he shouldn't really feel that way.

"I'm glad for you though, Eijirou."

That earned him a curious gaze from the redhead. Denki just smiled sweetly and glanced at the other direction quickly, before returning his gaze back again.

"I can see it. He's a dickhead but he's doing something good. You're going to be okay with him." Even though Denki was smiling, his eyes were serious and missing that playful spark what would reveal him just joking around. No, he was talking honestly and with an open mind.

Eijirou didn't know how to respond to that. He's sure Hanta probably never talked with Denki about the conversation they had when they were alone, judging by how the blonde wasn't teasing him about Katsuki being his owner. And he's grateful about it.

"Your hair is growing longer and turning back to the original color. It's nice to see that", Denki suddenly commented and smiled, but his comment helped Eijirou to realize the same thing. His hair was indeed getting longer and while that shouldn't be bothering him, he's kinda feeling that way right now.

Same thing with the color. He knew the black roots were already visible enough to be noticed, but the reddish color was slowly fading away as the days passed by. It was making him nervous.

His hand went to automatically touch his hair after mentioning it, testing and agreeing that it was longer. He shouldn't feel like it's a big deal, the only reason why he ever cut it in the first place was Nakhti and the way people kept touching his hair.

That wasn't a problem with Katsuki, but Eijirou couldn't help but feel like he needs to do something about it. Maybe later.

He doesn't want to think about it right now.

"Don't worry, whatever you decide to do with it, you're still gonna be cute!"

Eijirou rolled his eyes and smiled, that was probably what Denki was going for with those words.

"Thank you Denki."

"Anything for you, Ei!"

Chapter Text

For the first time Eijirou felt like he was blessed by the gods and goddesses.

Well, not really. But at least something good did happen to him for once.

The reunion with Denki felt unreal and even bittersweet to some point. He was so grateful by the fact that both Hitoshi and Katsuki had planned something like this. Eijirou knew his chances of seeing his friends again were slim and getting smaller every time when his owner changed, but seeing that familiar sparky blonde and talking with him was like a miracle itself.

Eijirou was happy.

And when Hitoshi and Katsuki let them have their time without interrupting them, he couldn't be more happier. There were so many things to catch up with Denki and they both knew they won't be able to talk everything through this time. But maybe there's going to be a second time? When things clear out with Denki's situation.

Gosh, he really hopes that there will be another chance for them to meet again. But at the same time Eijirou knows that he shouldn't be greedy. Things will take a quick turn if he isn't satisfied by this, they always does.

But he cherished this moment as much as he could. As long as he was allowed to enjoy it.

He doesn't know how long it took until Hitoshi and Katsuki started to give them hints that it's time to say goodbye. And while it was bittersweet, Eijirou appreciated everything. Even Denki was having little bit of hard time to say goodbye, but they both knew they can't stay much longer here. Denki needs to return back home and while Eijirou hated the idea of his friend returning back to someone like his owner, he knew that with patience and time Hitoshi will be able to free him.

They just have to trust him and let him take the time needed for that.

Their last hug felt like it lasted one long eternity.

"Don't worry, Ei. We're gonna meet again soon, I have a good feeling about that", Denki whispered right into his ear, knowing very well how much those words meant for both of them. But to Eijirou, those words were important. Denki knew how much his friend likes to worry over nothing, over little things that he shouldn't be even thinking.

It's the least he can do to relieve the emotional pain he might feel.

"Be safe. I'm going to miss you." Eijirou returned his own words, but it made Denki chuckle and after they were done with their hugs, the blonde locked his eyes with his.

"You're saying it like it's the last time we're going to see each other. Positive thinking, Eijirou. Positive thinking", Denki laughed and carefully ruffled his hair. It earned a gentle smile from the redhead and a small chuckle as well, which probably surprised Hitoshi and Katsuki completely.

And Denki did notice how those two hadn't expected to hear Eijirou chuckle, he looked past his friend's shoulder and watched for a moment as Katsuki's eyes were nailed on him. At least for a moment, before his gaze quickly moved to Eijirou and then to the chariot, like the blonde tried to deny the fact that he was surprised by that. Hitoshi on the other hand just nodded when their eyes met, telling him without words that what he was doing is good. Good for both of them.

"And I think I should be the one to tell you to be safe. Your new owner is kinda scary... and very explosive." He joked, knowing very well he was testing his own limits by it. And he was so glad that Katsuki wasn't close enough to hear them properly, or else there'd be nothing but ashes left of him.

Eijirou just smiled, not really wanting to comment anything about that joke. Denki was right, Katsuki is little bit scary and has definitely very explosive personality. But he also has a side that's sweet enough and admirable. Eijirou knew if he tried to explain that to others, no one would really understand him or take him seriously.

And maybe he just didn't want to share that information either. It's like a little secret.

"Tell my greetings to Hanta when you see him next time." Eijirou wanted to let him know too that he's okay. No matter how little time he and Hanta had before Hitoshi came to free him from Nakhti, he still saw him as his friend too. And if anything, Hanta deserves to know that everything is okay.

Denki nodded and promised he would do that. Even without asking it he would have done it. He and Hanta shared lot of things and Eijirou had already seen the special bond they have, so he didn't doubt him.

Eijirou didn't want to admit it that it was rather hard to just stand still and watch as Hitoshi left with Denki, the blonde turning couple times to wave again and he could still see that big and bright smile on his friend's face. He really missed him and that feeling was growing stronger.

Deep down he was mostly happy. He's always been sure that the blonde has some kind of magic to put a smile on everyone's faces and this was no exception. He didn't even notice that he, too, was smiling. It wasn't that big of a smile, but it was there and visible.

Even Katsuki noticed it. He was now standing next to Eijirou and watching as well how those two were disappearing from their view. Well, at least that what everyone probably assumed. Every now and then he stole glances at the redhead, especially when he wasn't looking at him.

Maybe it had something to do with Eijirou smiling, it was a rare sight. It's not like Katsuki hasn't seen it before, but now it was all visible on his face and seeing it made him feel somehow little bit eased. Even pleased, knowing that Eijirou was still capable of smiling. Katsuki was very aware of the fact that Eijirou hasn't been feeling so well, at least mentally so something like this did only good for him. Even if it ended with a bittersweet atmosphere, it was enough.

"Let's go home", Katsuki finally broke the silence, earning a quiet nod as an answer to his words. He didn't expect to get any other answers anyway.

The chariot ride back home was mostly quiet, at least from Eijirou's side. Katsuki wasn't much of a talker either, but he did all the talking. Most of it was just him reminding that they still have work to do, there's some stable work but Katsuki would be there to do it with him and things like that.

He didn't comment anything about Denki and maybe it was good that way. Eijirou didn't feel like starting to explain everything to him, especially since Katsuki wasn't really that curious about things like that.

That night Eijirou found it hard to fall asleep as his thoughts were swirling with everything what has happened recently. No matter how he tries to sort them out and make sense of them, it feels like he's at the dead end every time.

For a start, things what have been happening with Katsuki were really messing with his mind. Some of them even bothered him and there were moments when Eijirou felt like he wanted to ask things, to get some kind of clarification to them. But knowing Katsuki, he's not going to talk with him about these topics. Not at least so easily.

There's many things Eijirou just doesn't understand. Katsuki himself is the biggest mystery, like a puzzle what he's trying to piece together but it's missing so many parts that it's hard to even imagine completing it.

Eijirou will never really understand why Katsuki ever saw him as an interesting person. That's the reason why he bought him, at least that's what he tells him. There has to be some kind of ulterior motive, he just doesn't want to accept that as the answer.

Sometimes he wishes that he could just ask him directly about it. Ask him and get a honest answer.

But he doesn't hate him. Something about Katsuki is making him feel little bit more calm than usual. He remembers feeling very restless when he realized that it's the Bakugou family where he's going to live for now. The fear and anxiety was trying to chew him slowly, but recently Katsuki didn't make him feel like he's standing on his toes all the time.

Probably the things he said to him at the river were playing a big part of this new image of him. I'm not going to sell you to anyone, they can fight me all they want but I'm not going to let you go.

What is that even supposed to mean? Well, whatever it was meant for, Eijirou was feeling somehow relieved. Katsuki had been serious with his words and he meant everything. He's not going to sell him, even if Eijirou himself sometimes gets these funny ideas of that being the case.

It was honestly so relieving to hear those kind of words.

Even Denki said that Katsuki was clearly doing something good for him.

Eijirou couldn't really tell what that was supposed to mean, either. But he trusted his friend's words. If that's what he thinks is happening, then maybe all this is okay? Maybe he can relax little bit and breathe, knowing that Katsuki isn't just going to stab him in the back any given moment.

And thinking about Denki, he's the second reason why Eijirou felt too restless to sleep right now.

He was more than happy to learn that his friend is doing good. This is the first time he's been able to see his friends after their roads divide and they go on different paths. Being able to see and hear everything from Denki himself was like a blessing.

Well, it's true that Eijirou is still worrying about what's going to happen to Denki. But knowing that Hitoshi is already working with a way to get him out of Rasui's disgusting hands is enough for now. And then there's also Hanta who'll make sure that Denki is goingto be okay.

It was nice to see him in person instead of just hearing how he's doing from someone else.

Eijirou knew he needs to thank Hitoshi when the time is right. He never had to accept his little request, the favor he asked from him but he did it anyway. It doesn't matter if he really cares about them or not. Or if he's doing it just for fun or because hidden deep behind that cold and stoic mask of his is a person who's sweet and kind. Any of that doesn't matter, Eijirou's just happy to know that Hitoshi decided to help Denki.

But what he would really like to know is the fact that who thought about letting them have this sweet reunion. Was it Hitoshi? Or Katsuki? Or both of them?

Whatever. Eijirou was satisfied and happy. For once in his pitiful life he's feeling like things aren't really as bad as they have been. That maybe, maybe this is where he'll stay.

But like always, whenever he felt happy for a moment, sad and bad thoughts tried to ruin everything.

This isn't an exception, either.

Eijirou knew Denki didn't mean anything bad when he mentioned about his hair getting back longer and his black roots showing. It's not like he thought that won't happen again. Of course his hair is growing and the color is fading away.

He shouldn't feel like it's a bad thing. But it is gnawing him, the need of doing something before bad things happen.

It's funny, though. Eijirou knows the Bakugou family isn't going to treat him the way Nakhti did. They don't care what his hair color is or if it's long or short. It shouldn't bother him, either.

Still, he feels like if he let's his hair go back to the way it used to be, he's not going to be able to relax at all. Afraid of someone suddenly pulling his hair if it's too long, someone getting all nasty just because they like the natural color of it.

Maybe if he was stronger, he wouldn't be bothered by that.

But in all honesty, he isn't feeling strong at all.

And in the end he gives in for his insecurities and makes sure his hair stays short enough and red.


 

Everything turned back to normal with Katsuki, which in return made Eijirou feel calm and even happy. Seeing how the blonde had clearly avoided him earlier was like a hit in his face, not knowing why he had been doing it was the worst.

Eijirou started to understand why he had done so.

He probably didn't want to give away his plans of letting him meet Denki. Or the fact that he's been talking with Hitoshi. Eijirou knows how prideful Katsuki is and he never wants to admit something what might make him look weak.

But that doesn't make him look weak at all, at least Eijirou doesn't see it that way.

It was another rather calm morning when Eijirou woke up and began to get ready for work. And he wasn't alone in the room, the family cat had taken a liking for him for some odd reason. Eijirou didn't mind it, even though he has couple times woken up in the middle of the night because the cat decided to punch him in the face with its soft little paws.

He couldn't help but scratch behind its ears before changing his clothes and starting to prepare the kohl.

"Well look who's here. And here I was starting to think that the hag managed to scare it away."

Eijirou didn't have to turn around to know it was Katsuki who's waiting him at the doorway but he did it anyway, he didn't want to be rude and make him stare at his back.

"She's such a sweetheart. At least as long as she doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night", Eijirou admitted and kept mixing the kohl, his eyes never leaving from Katsuki who was curiously watching the cat.

"Tell me about it, I've waken up countless times because of her", Katsuki said, allowing a small smile appear on his face while he shook his head. And like it got a cue from the gesture, the cat jumped down from the small shelf and walked next to the blonde, rubbing its body against his legs couple times before he finally gave in and petted it.

"You should be happy about it. It's a good sign, Bastet might have set her eyes on you and decided to give her protection from diseases and evil spirits. Maybe she told her to keep an eye on you during the nights" Katsuki never really talked about the gods or goddesses, so Eijirou stopped everything for a moment just to look at him.

He wanted to say his own opinion about it, but instead he just shrugged his shoulders and turned his gaze away. Yeah right, as the gods now suddenly decided to let him go easy. They always seemed to have something up their sleeves, just waiting for a right moment to strike and make sure Eijirou knows how much they like to play with his life. How much they like to put him through shit, just to amuse them.

Katsuki stopped petting the cat after a while, focusing his attention back to the boy on the other side of the room. Like it was given another cue, the cat meowed like it's pleased with the attention it got and then just ran out of the room. Probably looking for another servant to show her some love and respect.

Eijirou smiled little bit and turned around to watch himself from the polished bronze mirror, ready to apply the finishing touch of the kohl. Except he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder, which made him wince but knowing it was Katsuki by his side, he didn't feel like moving away from the touch.

"Your hands are still shaking", Katsuki said and gently took the kohl pot from his hand. Eijirou wanted to tell him he'll do it, it's no big deal and he's gotten better at it, but the blonde took his stick next before he even managed to put any of the black substance on his eyes.

"Turn around to face me." And Eijirou did what he was asked for, he turned to face Katsuki, who was clearly not satisfied enough with the way the redhead had mixed the kohl. He began to mix it more before finally dipping the stick back in the pot and turning his gaze on him.

The moment between them was silent. Katsuki didn't say anything as he started outlining his eyes with kohl, taking his time and focus on it like he was painting a picture. Knowing how much of a perfectionist he is, it never surprised Eijirou how much focus and patience he put in it. It's not the first time he's doing his kohl, either.

Eijirou appreciated it. The blonde never really had to put his time or focus on him, or even do this for him. But he still did it whenever there was this kind of moment for that. Sometimes Eijirou felt like he should be ashamed of it, knowing that ever since living with Nakhti, he had to put kohl on his eyes all the time by himself. It's not like he needs anyone to do it for him.

That, and the fact that he was allowing someone to get this close to him. Katsuki could hurt him if he wanted to, he was so close that if he got any closer, Eijirou could feel his hot breath on his face.

If it was someone else, he would be already praying that they get away soon and don't invade his personal bubble ever again. But Katsuki is a different story. No matter how rough he can be, no matter how mean and nasty his attitude is, Eijirou doesn't feel like he wants to push him away. Sure, sometimes having Katsuki this close to him made him feel slightly nervous, but the blonde had never really done anything bad to him.

Well, except that one time when he tried to blow off his face. Back then it left Eijirou confused, even little bit scared and the memory of it made him very aware of everything when Katsuki was close. But he hasn't done anything like that since then and Eijirou is sure that he had his reason for it back then. He had his reason to threaten him that way, but he's too shy to ask about it. And knowing Katsuki, the blonde probably won't answer to him either.

Katsuki finished his kohl and took a better look at it for the last time before giving an approving nod and putting away the pot and the stick.

"Thank you, young master." Eijirou noticed the way Katsuki's shoulders seemed to tense very slightly, like something was off but he quickly relaxed them again and nodded.

"It's nothing. Just didn't want you to make those shaky lines again."

Katsuki turned his gaze away and Eijirou expected him to back off as well, but instead the other was still standing right in front of him. Still invading his personal space. It's not like Eijirou felt like he was doing something bad, he had already allowed Katsuki to stand this close to him without him feeling like he's being constantly threatened.

Because honestly, has Katsuki ever done anything bad to him? Not really. And he told him that he's not going to sell him either, so it means that he finds him good enough to keep around? At least that's what Eijirou thinks about this.

"There's something I want to talk with you. After my lessons end with Tsunagu, I'll come to look for you." Katsuki said after the silence started to fall between them. His words surprised Eijirou, but he nodded as an answer. If that's what Katsuki wants to do, then so be it.

The blonde looked like he wanted to say something more, his eyes trailing back to him and for a moment they just looked deep into each other's eyes. Eijirou wasn't sure what was going on in Katsuki's mind, but he didn't look angry at all. So that's a good sign, maybe it means that at least he isn't in trouble.

They stood still for a moment before Katsuki turned his gaze away again and mentioned that they need to go feed the horses.

Or it should be Eijirou who does that alone, but Katsuki always seemed to help him with it. He didn't mind it at all.


 

The day wasn't going any differently than usual. After feeding the horses and having their own breakfasts, Katsuki was busy with his studies while Eijirou was doing his own chores around the house.

Eijirou almost forgot what Katsuki said to him as he was busy with his tasks. Knowing that Mitsuki was in the house made him put his full attention into everything he did, whether it was cleaning or something else. He didn't want to disappoint this family, knowing that they probably expected a lot from him anyway. And while Katsuki says that he's not going to sell him, would he be able to stop if his parents decided to get rid of Eijirou if he wasn't good enough?

He didn't want to think about it, so he just put all the effort on the tasks, often getting praised by Mitsuki at the end of the day. Even though Eijirou himself had this constant stress of showing he's doing everything they want him to do with a perfect effort, he doesn't always seem to notice how Mitsuki clearly is satisfied by his work. It's not like the woman gives compliments too easily, she's little bit of a perfectionist as well.

"It's a good thing you're here."

Eijirou got surprised by Katsuki while he was brushing one of his horses, knowing that Katsuki is going to take his usual trip to wherever he went most of the days after ending lessons with his teacher.

"I've already memorized your daily schedules. You're going for a ride today as well? I wasn't sure if you're going to take the chariot or just Eboni, so I brushed all of them", Eijirou answered as he continued brushing the black horse.

He could swear he heard Katsuki chuckle very quietly. It was probably amusing to notice how observant Eijirou can be as well, but since he's been here for a while now, of course he's gotten used to the schedules of every family member. Katsuki was very punctual with his anyway, so it's not like Eijirou's doing something miraculous right now.

"You're right. I'm going to take Eboni", Katsuki answered as he went to grab the bridle and cloth for his steed.

Eijirou just nodded and finished cleaning up the horse before leaving the rest of it to Katsuki. With an approving look, Katsuki was satisfied and put the bridle on the horse while the redhead just watched from the side.

Then he remembered the words Katsuki said to him that morning, about wanting to talk with him.

"Um, I don't want to be rude, young master. But did you want to talk with me about something?" Eijirou gathered his courage enough to ask it. Katsuki just tightened the bridle and then put the cloth on his horse's back before finally turning his attention back to the other.

"Yeah I did. And we're going to talk."

Eijirou was waiting for him to start speaking, but instead Katsuki just took the reins and began to lead the black horse out of the stable like he was continuing his day normally without any intention of talking with him. It was confusing, Eijirou thought they were going to talk right now.

He followed him out of the stable and closed the doors, watching as the blonde got so easily on the back of the horse. The black horse raised its head slightly, looking like it's ready to go wherever they're going today.

"Have a fun riding trip", Eijirou decided to say. He had wanted to ask other things, but clearly they were going to talk later. That's alright.

Except Katsuki didn't seem to agree with that.

"What? No, come back here."

Eijirou stopped at his tracks and turned his gaze back to the blonde, who was now staring at him with a confused gaze. He was almost as confused as Eijirou is, which in return was kinda comical.

He didn't know what to do until Katsuki motioned him to come closer and Eijirou did it. He walked back to him, stopping right next to the horse and looking up at Katsuki's face while waiting for him to say something.

"You're coming with me."

"Eh?"

It took him a moment to even understand what Katsuki was saying. He's coming with him? But he's about to leave with his horse, how could Eijirou possibly go with him? Shouldn't he take the chariot in that case, unless...

Oh.

When the realization hit him, Katsuki had already stretched out his hand for him to grab and allow his help. Eijirou couldn't even think of hiding the hesitating expression that immediately showed up on his face. This is wrong, he can't just leave with Katsuki. He still has work to do, and he's never been on a horse's back before. Just why is the blonde doing this now?

Katsuki clicked his tongue when Eijirou didn't make any kind of move to even consider this.

"C'mon Shitty Hair. If you need it, then it's an order. I'll take the responsibility of you leaving with me, so don't worry about it. If the hag starts to nag, she'll have to nag at me." His words didn't really convince him, but Eijirou knew that he can't refuse if Katsuki says it's an order. As much as he wanted to refuse it.

Eijirou sighed quietly, though Katsuki probably noticed it. The blonde didn't say anything, just waited for him to get on the black horse's back.

"Are you sure she can carry us both?" Eijirou hesitated. Honestly this didn't feel like the safest way to travel, but he was also worrying if the horse can't carry them both. Katsuki would be pissed off if anything happened to her and Eijirou knows how much he likes that horse in particular.

"You think I would do this if I didn't know whether she's capable of doing it or not? Just get your butt up here and let's go."

And with that, Eijirou finally gave in. He had no idea how he's going to get on the back of the horse, but with Katsuki's help he found himself very quickly sitting behind the blonde. It was a new feeling, Eijirou has never been on a horse's back and knowing this is Katsuki's favorite horse, he was feeling more nervous than before. Even when the horse raised its head more, confused by the situation and aware of the second person on its back, Eijirou felt like he wanted to get off and fast.

"Hold on tight." And with that, Eijirou wrapped his hands around Katsuki's stomach, pressing himself against his back as the horse started to walk. It was strange being this close to the blonde. Eijirou thought for some reason that this situation was just plain wrong, he shouldn't be here and he shouldn't be leaning so much against Katsuki's back.

But here he is anyway.

"Hey Katsuki, what are you planning?" Mitsuki asked and stood at the front door, watching as the horse passed her. It wasn't anything new to her, except the sight of the redheaded slave being with him and sharing his horse as well.

"Nothing. Just taking Eijirou with me." Katsuki muttered as the horse was walking toward the open gate.

"Brat! Get back here!"

Even Mitsuki probably knew that it's no use to yell at him. Katsuki is too stubborn to listen her anyway.

As soon as they exited the gate, the horse started to gallop and Eijirou's grip tightened around Katsuki's waist. He felt like he was going to lose his balance, but leaning on Katsuki kept him somehow in place and still.

His heart was beating so hard against his rib cage, this was something new and in some way exciting. But at the same time he was worried, what if he falls? What if they both fall off? Eijirou can always harden himself to protect his body from injuries, but Katsuki can't do anything like that.

His worry was big, but it was replaced by the excitement and curiosity. His shoulders were stiff for a while, until they started to relax as he was getting used to the movement of the horse under him.

Katsuki didn't say anything about him leaning so much against his back, or the way his hands were stupidly tight around his waist. Maybe if he hardened his fingers on an accident would the blonde say something, but as of right now he didn't seem to mind it at all. Probably expected him to cling on him like this.

Eijirou had to admit that this was kinda fun. It was surely scary and that little worry was still at the back of his mind, but everything was overcome by the fact that this isn't really as bad as he thought it would be.

The wind from the speed played with their hair as the horse kept its pace, not showing any signs of it having a hard time carrying two riders instead of one. It wasn't probably used to it anyway and it had stumbled at first when it walked, but other than that this wasn't giving her any problems.

While Eijirou probably looked like he's stiff as a stick, Katsuki on the other hand was really relaxed and his attention was on the horse, giving it commands every now and then to direct it where he wanted it to take them.

Being this close to Katsuki was odd. Eijirou didn't even notice when exactly he had decided to lean so much on him that he had turned his face and pressed his left cheek on his back. It was embarrassing and he wondered why Katsuki didn't say anything, but as soon as he realized he was doing it, he took a better posture and made sure he doesn't do it again.

It felt like they were riding for one eternity. Especially since Eijirou didn't know where they were going, but judging by how determined Katsuki was, this wasn't any kind of riding trip. He knew exactly where they were going.

They didn't exchange any words, which was actually good. This moment didn't need anything else, just them sitting on the back of the galloping horse was enough. Nothing needed to be said right now.

When the horse started to slow down finally, Eijirou paid more attention to their surroundings. He noticed immediately that the place where they arrived was just an isolated place. No houses anywhere, no sign of anyone living nearby. Just them and the nature, which was mostly as empty as the desert.

Eijirou didn't dare to ask anything, instead just waiting for Katsuki to explain everything. Only if he wants to. Knowing the blonde, it's a possibility that when he said he wanted to talk with him, it was just an excuse to get him to go with him.

The galloping slowed down into a trot, which quickly was changed into a walking as the panting black horse probably preferred it instead of trotting with all of the weight on its back. It could do it without a problem, but Katsuki let it go easy after long trip of galloping.

"We're here", Katsuki said when he stopped the horse and dismounted after Eijirou finally let go of him. He gave a good pat to his steed before turning his gaze to the redhead, who was still sitting on the horse's back and letting that pure confusion show on his face.

They stared each other for a moment before Eijirou got the cue and hopped off, getting surprised by how wobbly his legs were after all that. He heard the blonde chuckle quietly. So quietly that he wasn't even sure if it really happened or not, but a quick glance at the blonde's direction confirmed that he indeed had just chuckled. Katsuki looked slightly amused, even when his face was pretty expressionless like usually. But his eyes showed it and it was enough for him to confirm it.

Katsuki took the cloth from the horse and folded it before leading his dark horse toward the closest patch of fresh looking grass. It happily started to munch it while Katsuki started to walk away from it.

"Where are we?" Eijirou finally asked, following behind while glancing back to the horse's direction couple times. Is Katsuki just going to leave it there? What is he planning this time?

He didn't receive any kind of answer. Katsuki just kept walking, not even glancing around as he probably was familiar with the area already. There's no other reason for him to stop suddenly and even leave his horse behind. It was like out of character for him, like every piece of information Eijirou had managed to grasp was now proved to be wrong or something else. It just doesn't match up with it.

Other thing what he really couldn't understand was this whole situation itself. Katsuki had wanted to talk with him, so why instead of them just speaking they are in the middle of nowhere? And Katsuki isn't even answering to his question!

It was frustrating. If it was anyone else, Eijirou would already have his doubts about this situation and feel his anxiety levels rise up rather fast. But Katsuki hasn't done anything so far what would make him feel that way. Sure, there's moments where Eijirou feel nervous around him and doesn't know what to think or do, but Katsuki has never taken any kind of advantage of him. Maybe sometimes he's pushing him to break his own limits, but so far the blonde hasn't done anything to him.

There's so many questions he has right now.

When Katsuki finally stopped and dropped the cloth to the ground, Eijirou thought that maybe, just maybe he's finally getting answers to his questions. Or start talking with him like they were supposed to.

But instead the blonde started to stretch himself like he was about to start a workout routine. Stretching his arms all the way up in the air, stretching his shoulders and back before lowering his arms and shaking his hands, earning a loud crack from his wrists.

"I usually come here almost every day because this place is isolated enough. Don't need any extras to watch me and it's distracting enough if there's someone who doesn't understand anything." Katsuki said while he kept his gaze in the horizon.

Eijirou didn't know how to answer. It's not an answer for his question, but it doesn't mean that he isn't listening what Katsuki is telling him either. He still couldn't hide how confused he is and at this point he's more than eager to learn more. To hear why they're here, or what they're about to do.

"Everyone just assumes I take my sweet time with riding all days without responsibilities but they're blind. I'm here to break my body every day." Katsuki finally stole a quick glance at his way, letting that smug grin on his face before finishing his little stretching session. He shook his hands again and clenched his fists for a moment, staring at them like he was inspecting something to happen.

And then he moved his eyes to the horizon again, stretching his other hand forward and opening his palm to release a loud and huge explosion what Eijirou hadn't expected at all. Even he could feel it, though he had a little bit of distance to him.

Even he felt it and it was a strong release of power. The one what Katsuki had used on him at the Nile all the way back then had been just a small one, nothing compared to the one he just released. It was impressive.

"Your quirk is very strong and amazing, young master." Eijirou really had no idea if Katsuki even wanted him to say anything, but he felt like he needed to give his comment about it. And knowing how prideful Katsuki is, he probably expected to hear something like that from him.

Instead of being pleased by it, Katsuki just clicked his tongue and turned his gaze toward him. "Just call me Katsuki when we're alone. I hate that title you've given to me and I don't give a shit about it."

He released another loud and bright explosion toward the desert but this time he kept his eyes on Eijirou, watching as the redhead didn't move his gaze away from him.

"And it's nothing like that. True, my quirk is strong but it's because I keep training it. It's gotten a lot stronger than what it used to be at the beginning." Katsuki's expression was serious, not even a hint of that usual smugness or plain pride what he seemed to feel whenever he was talking about his quirk.

Eijirou wasn't sure why exactly Katsuki had taken him here with him. It doesn't make sense, the blonde even said that he doesn't need any extra pair of eyes to watch him train. That he doesn't need anyone who doesn't understand his quirk, or maybe quirks in general.

Except that Eijirou understands very well.

"I'm sorry but I don't understand this. Why am I here with you?" Eijirou hesitated little bit, not sure if his question was going to make Katsuki angry or just make him look stupid in front of him.

Katsuki didn't say anything for a while, just keeping his eyes on Eijirou and locking their gazes. It made him think that his question was probably just stupid since the blonde isn't even going to answer to it.

"Show me how much you can use your quirk to harden yourself."

Eijirou opened his mouth but when he couldn't find anything to say, he closed it and bit his lower lip. He was starting to catch up with the situation, or at least he thought he's starting to understand why exactly Katsuki brought him here.

"Show it."

He really didn't want to do it, but eventually Eijirou just sighed and hardened himself as much as he could. It was impressive how much he could cover himself with the hardened skin, considering how little he used his quirk in general. Or how much he tried to deny it even exists. He hates it.

And even though he could cover up almost his whole body with it, it wasn't as strong as it is when he's hardening only part of himself. Like an arm or his face. When almost his whole body is hardened, it's not as strong as when he hardens only a single part of himself.

"Good. You can harden most of your body, that's a good start."

A start? Eijirou knitted his brows together, not really sure what Katsuki was chasing after with those words or what he was trying to tell him. "Weren't we supposed to talk about something? Why are we here?" Eijirou knew he was going to annoy Katsuki if he kept mentioning those things or repeating his questions, but he really wanted an answer.

Instead Katsuki clenched both of his fists and changed his posture, like he was readying himself in case of Eijirou attacking him. Which didn't make sense, Eijirou isn't going to do that.

"Shitty Hair, we've been talking this whole time", Katsuki mentioned and licked his lips, looking like he's really concentrating and watching how this situation is going to unfold in front of him. "Come at me with all you got."

It caught him off guard completely. So much that he reversed himself back to normal, the hardened skin turning back to soft as Eijirou was studying Katsuki's expression. He can't be serious. But seeing that particular sparkle in Katsuki's red eyes, he just knew how serious the blonde is right now.

When Eijirou didn't do anything or even say something, Katsuki clicked his tongue. He was getting impatient and even frustrated. "Do it Eijirou. Harden yourself and come at me with all you got. I don't care if you hurt me, just do it. There won't be any punishments if you're afraid of that. I want this and if you beat my body full with bruises, it's okay."

"But why? Why would you want that?" Eijirou still hesitated. He doesn't want to harden his arms and try to beat Katsuki. Why would he want to do something like that? Something so violent, even though this is probably just some kind of play. Play match, nothing more than that.

"Because I want to show you just how much you've been blessed with the quirk. Get your head out of your ass to show you that it's not a fucking curse. It's part of you, idiot!" Katsuki snarled, opening his palms as he let out small explosion to show how frustrated yet serious he is with his words.

"Don't deny something that's part of you. My quirk is strong because I'm embracing it instead of rejecting it! Your quirk can be strong too if you stop trying to cut it off from your life completely. My quirk is part of me and I am part of it. Same goes with you, your quirk is part of you and you're part of it.

If you refuse to accept it, then you refuse to accept yourself as well. And if you hate yourself that much, you will never be able to live your life to the fullest. You'll always feel shitty. You'll never be able to trust anyone. Never be able to feel loved, or even love anyone. Your life is a fucking tragedy if you decide to settle down for that. You're not weak Eijirou, if you decide that you won't be a weakling, then you won't be.

Show me yourself, who you truly are.

Who is Eijirou, the real and complete Eijirou."

Eijirou didn't know what to say or how to react to those words. He never expected to hear anything like that, but at the same time it was shocking to hear those kind of words from Katsuki. Of all people, it's Katsuki who's trying to pull him from this swamp of self-hate and insecurities where he's been sinking all these years.

It's starting to look like that hand what reached out for him in the darkness belongs to Katsuki. And Katsuki is the one who's leading him away from it, away from the cold and empty darkness that's trying to consume him constantly.

"I don't want to hurt you..." Eijirou finally muttered, lowering his gaze to the ground while feeling uncomfortable with this situation. Even if he manages to take the catch and lunge at him, he'll restrain himself because he doesn't want to hurt Katsuki.

Not after everything Katsuki has done for him.

"You're not going to hurt me." Katsuki's words earned his gaze back to him, the blonde being serious again. Not even smirking, just watching him while waiting for him to do something.

"You're not plunging at me. Can't you see it? It's not me you're attacking. It's Nakhti who kept harassing you. It's the architects who decided to beat you like there's no tomorrow. It's the guard who hit you with that whip, leaving those scars on your back. It's them you're going to hit, not me."

His words were like a spark that was going to ignite the fire inside him. No matter how much Eijirou hesitated to give it a shot because it's Katsuki who's telling him to hit him, the image he's painting to his mind right now is easing up things. It's like those silent whispers, trying to tell him to go for it.

Eijirou clenched his fists, feeling how they were slowly hardening again. It was really hard for him to keep himself on control, all that provoking what Katsuki was doing right now was starting to sink in. Starting to fire him up to the point where he's really going to strike at him with his fists.

"That's right. Give them back exactly what they did to you! Show your strength, Eijirou!"

He didn't even notice that he had already rearranged his posture, raising his fists and just getting ready to attack.

"Are you really just a cursed one, a worthless slave? Or are you an actual human being, someone who's worth of his chance of living in this world? Which one it is, Eijirou?!"

It was the final push Katsuki needed to give him.

Without even thinking about it anymore, Eijirou plunged toward the blonde, his fists hardened as he tried to hit him with one of them. Katsuki casually avoided it, giving a small explosion to push him more into the edge.

Eijirou didn't even notice that. For a moment he was just acting on an instinct. Wanting to punch the whole world for everything it has done to him. To give back everything he's gotten from the moment his quirk manifested.

He turned around to give another punch at Katsuki's direction, only for the blonde to stop it and grab his fist in his hand, giving him a taste of explosion.

"Are you even trying? I know you have more strength in you!" He kept yelling at him, not really with an angry voice at all. No, Katsuki's voice is full of encouragement as well as some kind of excitement. This situation was firing him up as well, especially since his words managed to reach out Eijirou. They managed to get inside his hazy mind and affect him.

Katsuki avoided most of his attempts to punch him, but Eijirou wasn't sure was the blonde holding back his own attacks just because he wants him to show what he's got. Or if he just didn't feel like he needs to fight him back, every now and then he did give an explosion or two to keep that fire inside him strong.

But even if the blonde managed to keep his own attacks restrained, it didn't mean he was leaving Eijirou to do all this fighting. For one point he tested if Eijirou was able to defend himself from his attack, hitting his left hand on the redhead's right side while giving it a semi big explosion. Eijirou managed to harden his side on time and was left unharmed by it, which was satisfying.

Except in that moment, Katsuki could feel Eijirou's right fist moving past his face, close enough for the hardened skin to scratch his right cheek what was left with a cut. It wasn't anything bad, just a small scratch but Katsuki felt the warm blood starting to roll down his cheek.

It made him grin instead of feeling angry or offended. He had wanted to see what Eijirou can do with his quirk and the redhead was proving himself all this time. Even managed to give him a cut. There really is more to him than just his hardening quirk.

"That's right, Shitty Hair. Give me all you got, wreck me! This is only the beginning!"

Katsuki never really expected to see Eijirou give him this much of a fierce attacking. Even though this isn't a real battle, instead just a training if you want to call it that, the blonde is already impressed enough. He's gotten everything he wanted to know about the situation with Eijirou's quirk and honestly, he's more surprised than anything.

With the way Eijirou always talked about his quirk being a curse for him or how he's always trying to deny it, it's pretty strong. And Katsuki is sure that Eijirou doesn't train his quirk, he can see that the redhead's movements are kinda sloppy and he's not really that good of a fighter.

He can also see that Eijirou is already starting to slow down and his quirk is wearing him off. It's because of him not training it, not trying to make it stronger. If he gave it a try, he could be able to stay hardened longer than this. If he learns to accept his quirk, who knows how much he can push with it.

How much stronger he can grow if he allows it.

If he wants to give it a chance.

If he learns to love himself and embrace his gift.


 

Their little play fight comes to an ending eventually. Or sparring, if it can be called that instead.

They're both left panting like they just ran across the desert and while Eijirou never really managed to land a major hits on him, Katsuki still feels like he's been beaten up. He didn't get any other cuts other than the one what landed on his right cheek, but it still felt like he just fought an amazing fight with Eijirou.

In the end they both ended up lying on their backs on the ground right next to each other and watch the sky as the sun was starting to set in the horizon. The heat of the day was slowly cooling down, but it wasn't cold at all.

Eijirou has never felt as tired as he is feeling right now. Even while working at the construction site he didn't feel like he could fall asleep instantly here. If Katsuki wasn't lying right next to him, he'd probably close his eyes and let himself rest.

But no, he can't do that right now. They still need to return back to home and he can't sleep during the ride back there. He's not really that excited to get back on the back of the horse, but at the same time he's kinda looking forward it. It was indeed fun, even if it was scary.

He turned his head to Katsuki's direction, watching as the blonde tried to calm down his intense breathing. His chest rising and falling faster than normally, but he's still wearing that proud grin on his face. Eijirou didn't really understand what Katsuki was thinking right now, but he was happy to see that the blonde wasn't mad at him.

Wasn't even angry about the fact that he managed to scratch him accidentally.

Eijirou himself almost panicked internally when he had realized the bleeding cut on Katsuki's cheek after their little play fight was over. He never meant to hit him with that kind of force, but Katsuki seemed to embrace it instead of being angry about it. Maybe he was telling the truth when he told him that there won't be any kind of punishment for him to attack like that. Katsuki clearly had wanted this to happen and he wasn't backing away with his words.

"You're so stupidly strong, Eijirou. Do you even realize that?" Katsuki finally broke the silence, turning his gaze to the redhead's direction. Their eyes met and the blonde kept smirking, probably the adrenaline still running inside his veins.

At least Eijirou could still feel the rush of adrenaline. It was strange how his instincts had taken over and he had just plunged at Katsuki. He never wanted to hurt him, he doesn't want to hurt anyone but Katsuki teased him enough. Provoked him to let himself go wild and free.

And honestly? It felt damn good to let out some of those things what he's been bottling up. The frustration of everything. His hate toward his own quirk and quirks in general. Even his self-hate and insecurities. All of them got a taste of his fists, though it was Katsuki who was at the line of fire.

"Not really. My quirk is weak, I was having a hard time to keep my arms hardened that long." Eijirou knew what Katsuki was going to tell him. He's probably going to tell him that it's because he doesn't train his quirk, unlike the blonde who seems to have dedicated his time for his quirk training. Eijirou always thought that Katsuki just went for a horse ride to kill some time, but he never even imagined that this is what Katsuki has been doing most of the time.

Sure, probably some of those rides were actually just him enjoying the company of his horse and looking at the world from the back of his steed. But seeing how much Katsuki can control his quirk, Eijirou doesn't even doubt that he hasn't been training it like crazy.

Katsuki stared him for a moment before he rolled his eyes and clicked his tongue. However, he didn't really look like he was annoyed or frustrated by his words.

"Of course it is. You've been trying so hard to ignore and reject it. But you know what? Even the tallest mountain started as a stone. You're weak, but if you decide to train and work hard, you're going to grow stronger. Your quirk has potential, it's up to you what you want to do with it." Katsuki turned his gaze back to the sky. Eijirou saw how he let out a deep and silent sigh, but he didn't look like he's disappointed. Not at all. If anything, he looked like he was pleasantly surprised by everything.

And Katsuki did have a point. If only Eijirou wanted to get stronger, all he needed to do is train his quirk.

But he doesn't know what he wants to do with it. No matter how much Katsuki is trying to make him realize that his quirk is just part of him, Eijirou isn't sure if he wants to admit it. If he wants to acknowledge his quirk that way.

"I guess you're right..." Eijirou answered quietly and pouted. He wasn't even that deep in his thoughts when they were interrupted by Katsuki chuckling. It earned another curious gaze from him to the blonde, who was now watching him again and clearly finding something amusing about the way he was pouting like a young child.

"I'm always right, Shitty Hair." This time it was Eijirou's turn to sigh, but he was just amused by the self-confidence Katsuki has. Of course he is right. Katsuki isn't stupid at all, if anything he's smart. Even though sometimes he's just little bit too hot-headed.

Eijirou couldn't restrain the little smile that escaped on his face. Like his lips curled up on their own, but it didn't really matter. He was feeling rather peaceful right now and lying on the hard ground beside Katsuki didn't feel too overwhelming. The blonde wasn't invading his personal space at all, if anything he really enjoyed this little moment. Katsuki was allowing him to see a different side from himself, so maybe it's his turn to let the blonde see something new about him, too.

And knowing how observant the blonde is, Eijirou knew that he had already noticed that small smile what was on his face.

"Is my hair really that shitty?" Eijirou decided to ask, changing the topic before Katsuki decides to keep ranting about quirks. It feels like he's heard enough of them already but he's sure they'll eventually turn the tables and return back to the topic. But before that Eijirou decided to distract himself with other things.

His question seemed to catch Katsuki off guard, the blonde looked surprised and even confused for a moment before he gathered himself again.

"Don't ask stuff like that so suddenly", Katsuki groaned, but while he was wearing that same little smirk on his face, he wasn't really mocking him. If anything, Katsuki was amused by the situation and it made Eijirou feel happy. Katsuki was usually so grumpy and even angry, so seeing him being even a little bit playful was definitely a progress. Eijirou was learning so much about the blonde, so much new stuff he didn't even know was there.

They stared each other quietly, just letting that calming silence fall between them. It wasn't unpleasant, if anything it was relaxing the atmosphere. Their eye contact was broken only when Katsuki turned his gaze away again, focusing on other things instead of watching straight into Eijirou's ruby red eyes.

"It's not really that shitty", the blonde muttered quietly, Eijirou wasn't even sure if he heard him right but he didn't want to make him repeat what he just said. If he asked again, Katsuki probably won't answer so he settled down for that.

"I honestly shouldn't be that surprised that you decided to cut and dye your hair again, but it did surprise me. But it doesn't matter, I don't care as long as you don't dye it green. It would resemble bastard Deku too fucking much."

Eijirou couldn't help but chuckle. He was little bit sad that Katsuki was rejecting Izuku so much, after so many attempts from him to fix whatever had happened between them. Izuku really wanted to fix their friendship, but Katsuki was ignoring him. Maybe some day they'll be able to finally be friends again.

"I guess I'm sticking with old habits", Eijirou said quietly. The reason why he decided to keep this color and hair length is still clear as day. Katsuki probably was aware of the reason why Eijirou did it, but does it really matter? The blonde told him he doesn't mind at all. "I just feel more safe when my hair is... well, the way it is now."

Katsuki just snorted, not bothering to turn his gaze back to the redhead. Eijirou could see the pure disgust what he was feeling, but he wasn't sure exactly why Katsuki was feeling that way.

"That asshole deserves to fucking die after what he did. If I ever see him even looking at your way, I swear I'll fucking destroy him. Bastard like him doesn't deserve any kind of respect", Katsuki growled, but afterwards he just sighed and with that, his sudden anger started to calm down as well. It surprised Eijirou because honestly, Katsuki never really talked about topic like this.

And while Eijirou didn't like to talk about Nakhti either, seeing Katsuki's reaction to even a mention of his previous owner just sealed more his words about him not going to sell Eijirou. While sometimes the redhead still felt like he isn't good enough or that he's just waiting for Katsuki to get disappointed on him completely, moments like these proved him that the blonde was serious with his words.

They were silent after that. Maybe it was better, Eijirou didn't want to continue this topic about his previous owner. If anything, he really wanted to forget everything about Nakhti and his life at his mercy. All those nasty times were behind and he doesn't have to be afraid of someone being as disgusting as he was.

Eijirou didn't even realize he was staring at Katsuki without saying anything. Maybe it was creepy, but he was studying his face and watching as the blonde was relaxing his body. He wiped some of the blood off from his cheek, the cut wasn't bleeding anymore either. Good thing. He still felt little bit bad that he managed to accidentally cut him with his sharp skin, but knowing that Katsuki wasn't angry at all eased up the little feeling of guilt in his chest.

"You know, Eijirou..." Katsuki started as he finally turned on his side and watched straight into his eyes again.

"I know I'm repeating myself and I really hate doing it, but if you want to train your quirk, I know couple people who might be able to help you with it. At least Mashirao will be able to help you if you're interested." While he was telling him all that, Katsuki's expression was more softer than it usually was. It was almost as soft as it had been when he tried to comfort him during his panic attack after seeing the whip in his hand.

It meant that he wasn't trying to push him too much, but he was serious with his words. And Eijirou understood why he was offering that. While Katsuki can train his own quirk without anyone's help, Eijirou on the other hand can't really just hit air with his fists and call it a day. His quirk won't really get any kind of exercise with that way.

Eijirou bit his lip again as he thought his words carefully. He knew Katsuki wasn't really trying to force him to accept the offer, but he was aware of the fact that the blonde wanted to make him feel more comfortable with his quirk. He doesn't know why he is doing it, or why Katsuki even feels the need to make him accept his quirk. But he's happy about it.

Even though it's hard to accept this extra ability what he always thought of as a thing that's comparable to diseases and what's ruining his life, Katsuki is making him realize important stuff with it.

His quirk really is a part of him and if he rejects it, he'll never be able to accept himself completely.

And if he doesn't accept himself, then how is he going to live his life to the fullest?

"I'll think about it."

Chapter Text

Eijirou could still feel his heart pounding hard with excitement against his chest while his thoughts were swirling in his mind, a tornado of thoughts to be more precise. He was trying his best to collect every running thought and sort the whole mess that occupied his head right now but it was rather hard.

Every time he closed his eyes, he could hear Katsuki's words ringing in his ears, telling him things what he found difficult to even agree with.

It had been dark already when they arrived back home from their little trip. Mitsuki was mad and even yelled at them both because apparently she had some things for Katsuki to handle, but the blonde never listened her when she asked him to come back. They had left without telling where they're going and Mitsuki wasn't happy about it.

Katsuki did what he had promised and took all the blaming on his shoulders, telling her to leave Eijirou out of it because it was his order for him to come along. If he hadn't done it, he'd have been disobedient and that's bad, right?

Maybe the blonde had noticed how Mitsuki liked Eijirou already enough that she was having little bit of a soft spot for the redheaded slave. Or maybe it was just because Eijirou did his work with a serious attitude, never slacking or complaining. Whatever, Mitsuki eventually let him go easy while she continued arguing with her son.

Their arguments were always bad and hard to watch, but this time Eijirou tried to tolerate it since he felt like it's the least he can do to repay Katsuki. Not like he himself even knows why he was feeling like he needs to repay something.

And now when the house had quieted down and he was supposed to be asleep, Eijirou was feeling restless. It's nothing new, it has happened before but there's something special with it now.

True, last time when he was feeling restless and unable to sleep was partly because of what Katsuki had told him.

But now? Now it was completely his fault. His words, those encouraging words were truly touching and making him question about everything. And hearing them coming from Katsuki's mouth was definitely one reason why they affected him so much. Katsuki, who's so full of confidence and pride, had actually said so much things what Eijirou's never heard anyone say to him.

Or maybe he just hasn't listened them when someone else said the exact same things.

Your quirk is part of you and you're part of it.

That's true. It's something Eijirou can't deny even if he wants to. He can always try to cut off his quirk from his life by choosing to not use it anymore. It'll stay weak and be useless eventually, but that would make him appear more normal, wouldn't it?

If you refuse to accept it, then you refuse to accept yourself as well.

Eijirou hates how true that is as well. He hates the fact that his quirk really is part of him and if he doesn't acknowledge it, he's a person who is broken. Missing a piece of himself and he'll never be fully complete without it.

He sighed and closed his eyes, biting his lip while trying to convince himself that it's okay. Maybe he doesn't have to accept all of himself. Maybe it is possible to move on while hating his quirk. Everyone around him always hated it, his parents hated it. Why should he try to accept something what makes his whole life full of misery?

And if you hate yourself that much, you will never be able to live your life to the fullest.

He can feel the pain on his lip as he bit it little bit harder.

He's always hated himself. Hated the fact that he'll never be normal and never have a chance for a normal life. He wouldn't have really minded the life of a simple farmer. It's true that if he never got his quirk, he'd be still living with his family and being able to turn his gaze away from the cruelty of this world.

But at the same time while he's gone through so much pain, he's met amazing people along this journey.

Ibara, Mezou, Rikidou, Fumikage, Denki, Hanta, Hitoshi, Neito, Itsuka, Izuku.

The Bakugou family.

Katsuki.

You'll never be able to trust anyone.

Eijirou put his hands on his ears like he's trying so hard to mute those whispers what seems to linger in the room. Like Katsuki is whispering them right into his ears, like he's hearing them again for the first time.

He already trusts others. Friends what he's made so far haven't betrayed him, none of them has stabbed him in the back. But there's a good point in those words. If Eijirou can't even accept himself, how is he going to trust someone else? How can he place his trust in people when the one he should really be trusting completely is he himself?

All of his friends have been trustworthy. It's one of the reasons why it still hurts to even think about them. He misses all of them, he'd give anything to meet everyone again. Meeting with Denki had been such a big blessing itself and Eijirou knew he shouldn't get greedy with what he wants. If he gets too greedy, he's going to lose everything.

Never be able to feel loved, or even love anyone.

"Love, huh?" Eijirou muttered to himself as he opened his eyes again, feeling how they were slowly getting watery. He used to know how it feels like to be loved. His parents loved him. As much as they could, even though he got something what wasn't exactly wanted in his family.

Couple tears managed to escape from the corner of his eyes as he thought about those words.

Love.

That's something what he never really expected to feel after he knew just how fucked up his whole life is. Or when he was abandoned by his father, sold to slavery and forgotten like a dirty little secret. That's probably what he is to them. Just a secret, something they don't want to remember.

He's not even sure anymore what love is supposed to feel like. Not like he has that much of an experience of it anyway.

Katsuki is being little bit silly. Eijirou can't really understand the point of talking about love, it's not like he's going to fall in love with someone. And there won't be anyone who'll be able to love him, either. He's disgusting, he's nothing special.

He's just a weak person who's cursed with a quirk, cursed with this cycle of insecurities and self-hate. Katsuki's words are so true that it hurts.

How could he even be able to love anyone if he hates himself so much?

You're not weak Eijirou, if you decide that you won't be a weakling, then you won't be.

Show me yourself, who you truly are.

Who is Eijirou, the real and complete Eijirou.

It's easier to say it than do it.

Eijirou wiped his cheeks and sighed again. He doesn't want to be weak and he's trying his best. Even when he's overwhelmed by different feelings, even when it's so hard that he wants to give up and sink completely into that darkness.

He wants to believe everything Katsuki is telling to him.

If he just ignores them, then it's like he's ignoring Katsuki as well. Katsuki, who's doing so much for him. Doing things what he doesn't need to do, or even saying words that Eijirou feels like he doesn't even deserve.

But for some reason the thought of rejecting those words hurt him deeply. It hurts because it's like he's rejecting Katsuki as well, being ungrateful and just wallowing in his self-pity even though the blonde is trying to offer him a helping hand. And he would be lying if he said that the words Katsuki said to him means nothing.

If anything, it feels like they're meaning more because it's Katsuki who's telling him all that.

While deep in his thoughts Eijirou raised his right hand toward the ceiling, turning it slightly like he's examining it.

Would it be really that bad to train his quirk? Gods and goddesses have already thrown all bad things at his direction, they can't come up with anything worse. Right?

His red eyes watched curiously as he used his quirk, hardening his hand and again turning it little bit. The rough edges of his hardened skin really resembled a surface of a stone. The way his fingers got sharper, like he had grown claws to replace them.

It wasn't a beautiful sight, it's never been anything like that. When his quirk got activated for the first time, he had been so terrified to say the least. He had thought that he's going to die, that he's turning into a monster. His four-year-old self back then didn't even know what quirks are. It's not something what his parents would talk about. And as far as he knows, none of his grandparents possessed a quirk.

So why him?

He'll probably never going to have an answer for that. And he doesn't even expect to get one, no one really knows why quirks exist. They just do.

It hadn't been a lie when he promised to think about the offer of having help with his quirk and its training. On the other hand it sounded like an opportunity and Katsuki really was trying to convince him to learn more about his quirk and give it a chance.

Give it a chance to really become part of him and making him finally complete.

But at the same time he was scared. It's not easy to consider something like that when it's about his quirk. It's like discovering a new part of himself and while Eijirou always knew what kind of quirk he has, if he starts to train it and pay more attention to the subject, he might learn something he didn't want to know.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when a loud meow came right next to him.

Eijirou reverted his hand back to normal and turned his head to the direction of the sound, already knowing the source of it. His eyes met with the yellowish feline eyes that stared back at him, the familiar black cat just sitting there and watching.

He couldn't help but smile while he lowered his hand and turned on his side, facing the animal and eventually giving it couple good strokes behind its ear. It earned him a relaxing purr as the cat rubbed its head against his hand before laying down and enjoying the attention.

The atmosphere was calming as fast as Eijirou's own mind. It probably had something to do with the presence of an animal and that relaxing purr it kept making as he petted it.

With a little smile on his face Eijirou finally closed his eyes again, trying to sleep as his thoughts were now calming down and he doesn't feel as restless as before.

It's kinda funny how this whole family and even their animals seem to have this kind of effect on him.

Maybe he's really found his home.


 

If their little riding trip and a sparring session taught him anything, it's probably the fact that Katsuki is really in good shape and all that training is definitely paying off.

Eijirou didn't want to admit it but the morning after that, his body was aching. His hips felt stiff and his thighs hurt whenever he walked around the house. Katsuki probably noticed it since he caught him smirking playfully if their gazes met.

Not to mention Katsuki decided to joke about it later that day when they were at the stable, brushing the horses as the blonde had decided to take the chariot today.

"Looks like my girl was more than you could handle", Katsuki snickered as he was brushing the said black horse, clearly finding it hilarious how Eijirou was feeling so stiff right now. It's not like he's really mocking him or anything. He knows just how much it takes time before your body gets used to riding a horse and since he does it almost every day, he's so used to it by now that he barely had any of those problems.

Eijirou glanced at him before turning his gaze back to the chestnut colored horse, hiding his little smile as well. "It was scary, I was afraid I'd fall."

He expected to hear another laugh from Katsuki, but instead the blonde just huffed and shrugged his shoulders.

"You better not be really thinking that I'd let something like that happen. I knew you'd be fine." Katsuki patted the black horse's shoulder and continued brushing its smooth and soft coat, every now and then stealing glances at him. "And you liked it, didn't you?"

His question made Eijirou hum quietly, keeping his eyes on the brown horse as he thought about his answer. He did enjoy it, in fact it had been kinda exciting. Even though he had been afraid of falling, them both falling because of him, he had enjoyed the speed and the wind that played with his hair as well.

It was like for a moment he had been as free as the birds in the sky.

He understood very well why Katsuki liked to take those riding trips. If he had closed his eyes and relaxed little bit more, it'd have felt like he was flying in the sky.

"It was... I don't know. Exciting little bit?" What an obvious lie. It had been damn exciting that Eijirou could still remember how fast and hard his heart had been beating in his chest, like it was trying to carve its way out through it.

He didn't dare to turn his gaze back to the blonde but he just knew that the other boy was smiling proudly.

Eijirou was still hiding his own smile while trying to ignore his stiff shoulders as well. It was probably the result of their sparring session and he knew now why Katsuki did that little stretching before starting his quirk training.

The calm atmosphere was now lingering around the stable, like a soothing aura what's making sure everything's okay.

It was honestly kinda strange, but at the same time Eijirou felt somehow special. At this moment they were talking like friends, like there isn't any kind of social hierarchy between them. Katsuki didn't act like he owns him, he acted like they've been friends for life.

The thought of it alone made Eijirou feel oddly happy. All of his previous owners treated him like he's dirt. Well sure, there's been at least one who seemed to like him well enough, but most of them just looked down at him. They always made him feel like he's not even a human, more of an animal if anything else.

But Katsuki and his family paid him some respect. Of course there's no denying over the fact that he's slave and his position is the lowest, but sometimes it didn't feel like that.

"Oi, don't fall asleep in the middle of work." Katsuki's words ring in his ears as the blonde snapped him out of his thoughts. Eijirou just mumbled a quiet sorry and kept brushing the horse until it's clean and approved by Katsuki.

As soon as both of the chariot horses are clean and ready to be harnessed, Eijirou backs away as Katsuki does everything on his own. He always keeps telling him that it's the redhead's task to harness the horses and make the chariot ready for him, but so far it's Katsuki himself who does it all.

Eijirou doesn't mind though. He keeps his eyes on him and watches as Katsuki gently but easily handles the horses and the task.

Couple times his eyes trailed off to the whip what's leaning against the corner of the stable but Katsuki hasn't used it since that time. It's untouched and abandoned in the corner and Eijirou doesn't know what to think about it. Sometimes the sight of it makes him nervous, but most of the time he just ignores that it even exists.

Maybe it's better that way. If he ignores it, he doesn't get funny ideas. If he could decide what to do with it, he'd just throw it away.

It doesn't take long for the chariot be ready for the trip and while Katsuki is tightening the last straps, Eijirou just stands next to the chariot and wonders if Katsuki is going to train today as well. It makes sense, he follows all of his schedules so strictly that it would be a big surprise if he doesn't do it today.

"Have a fun time with the chariot ride, young master. I hope you return before the sun goes down." Eijirou isn't trying to tell him to return before that. Just knowing that Mitsuki is probably going to lose her mind if Katsuki keeps ignoring his own tasks and instead plays around all the time, it's better to remind him about it. And only a reminder, it's up to the blonde what he wants to do.

Katsuki just clicked his tongue and muttered something about him knowing it already while hopping into the chariot and taking the reins in his hands. The horses perked up their heads immediately, listening and ready to go whenever they get that familiar command.

Eijirou stands still and waits for the chariot to leave, but instead Katsuki is just pulling the reins slightly and looking like he wants to say something. His eyes are on the horses that are obediently waiting for the command to move, but eventually his gaze turns back to Eijirou.

They exchange gazes in a silent what felt like a lifetime.

The silence between them is broken only when the other horse began to paw at the ground as a sign of it getting impatient. Katsuki immediately corrected its behavior and after the horse tossed its head and stood still, the blonde turned his gaze back again to the redhead's direction.

Only for a moment though.

"Wanna come along?" he suddenly asked and before Eijirou managed to even come up with an answer, the blonde already turned his gaze back to the horses, avoiding eye contact. It was little bit strange but Eijirou decided to ignore that.

"I really shouldn't..." the redhead started but he knew it only takes one word from Katsuki and he'll have to go with him. If he gives him an order, then he has to obey him.

But instead of it, Katsuki huffed and visibly tightened his grip of the reins. "You've done most of your tasks anyway, right?"

Eijirou nodded.

"Then it won't be a problem. We're not going there if you're hesitating because of that. Today's not a good day for training anyway." Katsuki did have a point but Eijirou still hesitated for a moment. He really shouldn't, it'd look bad if he keeps ignoring his own work and just has fun with Katsuki instead.

But honestly, his body was aching little bit and he felt like he needed a little break from the work.

And if he has to admit it, the offer didn't sound that bad either.

He probably would have kept hesitating and making the blonde wait if Katsuki didn't turn around to hold out his hand for him, still being sure about his offer. If he hadn't done that, Eijirou would have most likely refused and returned back to work.

Too bad he did it.

And Eijirou took the offer, grabbing his hand gently and hopping next to him to the chariot.

Maybe he was getting greedy but he couldn't deny the fact that as soon as they were out in the wild and the house was left behind, the wind what started to play with their hair as the horses began to gallop and pull the chariot felt like he was tasting that little piece of freedom again.

Even though it's not the real freedom he once had, it was good enough.


 

"Katsuki! Don't think I'll let you ignore me this time."

"I'm not ignoring you!"

"Yes you are! Now please go drop these at Inko's place and tell her my regards."

"Huh? Why don't you go there?!"

"I'm busy! I have things to do. Oh and before you return back, please can you get some honey from Merit? You know where her stall is."

"Hag what the--?!"

"Thanks brat!"

They were at it again. Luckily this time the little heated discussion between Mitsuki and her son wasn't as bad as they can get. Eijirou was getting used to them by now, even though he sometimes still winced whenever Katsuki was really disrespecting his mother. It's just not nice.

Judging by the expression after Mitsuki finished the conversation, Katsuki wasn't pleased by the task he got. The blonde just growled something incoherent to himself while Mitsuki playfully ruffled his ash blonde hair.

"You can take Eijirou with you." Mitsuki chuckled when Katsuki just slapped her hand away from his hair, still not really excited about the trip to the city but knowing him, he's going to do it. No matter how much he might disrespect her, it's mostly on verbal level.

And Mitsuki knows that too.

She smiled as she finally left her son sulk for a moment, taking it as a chance to approach Eijirou and probably tell him to accompany him.

Eijirou just stood where he usually did, waiting for them to finish their breakfast before he could clean up everything and then eat his own. His eyes followed Mitsuki as she was coming at his direction, smiling gently and then stopping next to him.

"Please go with him, Eijirou. I don't want him to cause any trouble at the marketplace. Just remind him to visit at Inko's place and buy some honey before leaving, okay?" She didn't really have to ask that, Eijirou was already okay with it.

"Yes ma'am. I will", Eijirou answered and nodded his head, earning another honest smile from Mitsuki. She quickly glanced at Katsuki's direction, saying something about how he should get ready and jokingly telling him that Eijirou would be there to prevent him from picking up a fight with Inko's son. Katsuki just cursed something about shitty Deku, but Eijirou wasn't able to focus on him.

His whole body seemed to froze as soon as Mitsuki patted his shoulder, not really noticing the sudden tension in his shoulders as she was already looking away. "Eat something before you go. You're not allowed to starve here", she said and quickly glanced at him, smiling gently before leaving from the room.

Even Katsuki, who had been just cursing Deku and his mother, went silent and watched them. Or more like watched Eijirou. He noticed how fast he got tense from the sudden touch and was ready to say something about it but the redhead seemed to relax quickly after the first shock.

Everything's okay.

And that's how Eijirou found himself in the city, walking next to Katsuki as they were moving through the busy streets of Memphis. The one and true shining jewel by the Nile, a city full of power and rich history. Even the heavens are smiling upon it, like both Horus and Nut have set their eyes on the glory of it.

No matter how many times he visits a city like this, he feels nervous. He can feel that little spark of anxiety keeping an close eye on the situation, ready to get out of hand if something unexpected happens.

He would most likely be a nervous mess right now if he was here with someone else. But Katsuki had told him so many times that he's not going to let him go, at least without a fight. In an odd way it gives him a little feeling of peace.

But still it doesn't really cut off the inner demons what haunts Eijirou every time he's placed into a situation what reminds him of another, not so pleasant one.

Katsuki seems to be aware of Eijirou's nervousness. He's not usually the one to talk nonsense that much, but after they entered to the city and Eijirou's anxiety levels started to slightly rise, the blonde began to talk. A lot.

A lot of stuff what he usually doesn't. Katsuki cursed his mother for sending him to do tasks like these. He told him how he isn't really looking for their meeting with Inko, who happens to be Izuku's mother. It makes sense why he isn't happy about it. Katsuki tells him how he doesn't like the narrow streets full of people, but you'll get used to it after a while.

He talks so much things to distract Eijirou's mind from the situation. And it is working, it keeps his thoughts distracted enough that he simply doesn't have time to remember all the horrible things and memories what have taken a place here.

It's really a wonder itself that he's still living around, or more like close to Memphis. His owners have changed and so has his homes, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he was taken somewhere else. Taken away from the city of wonders.

Even though he's still trying to get used to the busy streets and crowded places whenever he needs to visit here with his new owners, Eijirou is kinda happy about no one taking him too far from the area.

If he was taken to somewhere else, he never would have met amazing people. And never would have ended up being the property of the Bakugou family. It's kinda sad, but at the same time Eijirou feels so grateful about it. No matter how much shit was thrown at his shoulders, he ended up finding a place where he doesn't have to be in constant fear of something bad happening to him. No one in the Bakugou family has ever send him any kind of bad signals.

Sometimes he's afraid that he's letting his guard down too easily, but the whole family is proving him to be trustworthy.

Maybe this city holds little bit of glory and wonders, after all.

"Are you even listening me?" Katsuki's words finally snapped him out of his thoughts. Eijirou turned his gaze to the blonde and nodded, even though they both knew he wasn't really listening to what Katsuki was just saying. Probably cursing Izuku, that's what he's been rambling about for a little while now.

"I'm sorry, I guess I was lost in my thoughts again." Eijirou couldn't hide the little embarrassment what was probably showing on his face, too. It wasn't a big surprise that he was in his own world sometimes, he hasn't really gotten rid of this bad habit.

Katsuki watched him for a moment before he huffed and shook his head. "You're just a natural airhead sometimes."

He just nodded and agreed with it. This habit wasn't the best possible, it often caused him to overthink stupid things he shouldn't really be thinking and then the end results are usually him freaking out over nothing. Katsuki had seen it happen enough to know about it by now.

Eijirou stared into Katsuki's red eyes before turning his gaze away, instead letting it wander around his surroundings. He didn't feel like answering to that or keeping the current conversation going. The blonde seemed to agree with that, he felt his eyes turn away from him and they were silent.

No matter how much Eijirou found the busy city unpleasant, at least Katsuki's presence was enough to keep him collected. He had started to feel more relaxed when he was around the blonde, though sometimes Katsuki still put him standing on his toes as he tried to be good enough and not annoy him too much.

And speaking about annoying things, Eijirou could feel the atmosphere suddenly getting heavy and the mood dropping as Katsuki tensed up.

They had been heading toward one of the quieter areas, consisting of houses where people live and work as most of them seemed to have bakery or workshops in them. They could see people working in their workshops, whether it was crafting or something else, but overall it didn't feel like the area was buzzing with too many people.

It was so different from the area where Bakugou family's villa is. This place even felt more of a community, seeing how people there talked a lot with each other and greeted as they passed by.

It wasn't probably the area what was making the blonde so stiff and annoyed. Eijirou noticed the familiar green haired boy in the distance, standing in front of one of the houses while he was talking with someone. A girl with brown short hair, excitedly explaining something to Izuku and every now and then giggling. Her white dress was beautifully creased from the waist down and the robe on her shoulders finished her outfit. She did have couple bracelets hanging on her wrists but nothing too flashy.

"Great, Round Face is here too. I hate this already." Katsuki muttered and looked like for a moment he was considering if he could just leave from the situation, never having to face Izuku. It was late though, Izuku had noticed them since they were getting closer and closer.

"Hey, it's Kacchan and Eijirou. Hi!"

His happy and energetic greeting could be heard through anything. If they were at the marketplace, Eijirou was sure they'd be able to hear Izuku among the hordes of people, too. It's not like he's that loud or anything. He just seems to get excited and happy whenever he sees familiar people and friends.

Katsuki really wanted to flee from this, Eijirou could see it from the way his expression was getting sour.

But the reed basket what Eijirou was carrying was the reason why he couldn't just leave. They had something that they need to give to Izuku's mother, but they can probably just give it to him instead.

Izuku had already turned toward their direction and waved his hand, that same happy smile on his face like he was looking forward to talk with them. The girl next to him turned around as well, slightly confused before smiling and waving.

"Well I think I should keep going now. See you tomorrow Izuku!" she said and nodded at Izuku's direction before taking her leave, nodding again as she greeted silently Katsuki. Izuku was left with a quick confused look on his face for a moment, before it turned back to that happy and relaxed expression as they stopped in front of him.

"It's been a while. I'm happy to see you both here." Izuku was smiling brightly, but Eijirou noticed that slight tension he had underneath that bubbly and happy mask. It's not a surprise though, Katsuki's sour expression was intimidating enough to put anyone on guard whenever he was standing close to them.

"Like I'd come here with my own free will. The hag sent us so don't get too excited, Deku." Katsuki had already crossed his arms, showing how displeased he was because of this but Izuku was used to it by now. He kept smiling and nodded again, understanding it.

"I know. Oh! I was talking with Ochako about the changes in the army! You probably know about it, don't you? You must know, you always know the latest gossips of army. Enji got a raise to the Pharaoh's army, the royal troops nonetheless. I heard it from --"

"Idiot, everyone knows about it. And if you dare to say that bastard's name, I'll blast you into the waiting mouth of Ammit. I don't care about him or his father."

"That's horrible, Kacchan. Don't even joke about that. You know, you're the one whose heart is going to be devoured because of that."

Eijirou watched them talk while he slightly tightened his grip on the reed basket. No matter how much Katsuki threatens or tries to scare Izuku, sometimes he can give every mean word right back to the blonde without a hesitation.

He was sure Katsuki was going to be mad about that, but as he turned his gaze to the blonde's direction, he was just grinning like a madman for a moment. "You think I'd let her do that? That would be the last thing she does."

Izuku just sighed and raised both of his hands in defeat, not really wanting to continue this conversation. "You shouldn't make fun of gods, Kacchan. They'll curse you and show their wrath."

Katsuki snorted mockingly, but decided to back away from the topic. It's not a good idea after all and even he must know it.

"Well anyway. These are for your mother, take them and we'll keep going. Don't have that much time to waste at your place." It's not really like that, they have all the time needed for the trip but Eijirou knew that Katsuki just wanted to get out of here.

The green haired boy watched Katsuki before his eyes moved to Eijirou's direction, the redhead showing the basket he has been holding this whole time and offering it to him. The smile came back to Izuku's face as he accepted the basket and kept his eyes now on him instead.

"Sorry Eijirou, I didn't mean to ignore you."

"It's okay. I don't mind it." Eijirou tried to convince him that it's okay, but Izuku just shook his head.

"No, it was rude. I'm sorry. How are you? I hope Kacchan has been nice to you! You do seem to be little bit more calmer than before."

Eijirou didn't know how to answer to that question. He's a little bit more calmer? Well, maybe. Katsuki has been treating him well, so he doesn't feel like he should be scared and on his guard all the time. Maybe that's why he's calmer?

"Fucking Deku, are you comparing me to shitty owners? I'll blast you into pieces if you dare to say shit like that ever again."

Izuku probably was surprised by how angrily Katsuki was reacting to his words, but Eijirou understood him. He knows what kind of owners had him before him, so if Izuku even accidentally hinted about him acting like any of those persons, it's obvious that Katsuki is going to get mad. Katsuki has made it clear how he despises Nakhti. Probably doesn't like the way the architects made him go through that physical punishment, or more like torture, back in the construction site as well.

He didn't pay that much attention to the heated up conversation between Katsuki and Izuku, it was mostly just the blonde spitting insults at him anyway.

"Fuck this. We still have to go to the marketplace so we're leaving now", Katsuki finally annouced as he already was turning his back to Izuku's direction, indicating that the meeting with them is over and they're leaving.

"The marketplace? Hey, I was about to go there as well. Let's go together."

"Fuck no."

"But we're going to the same direction..."

"NO!"


 

In the end Izuku tagged along with them, walking at the other side of Katsuki toward the marketplace while trying to talk with him every now and then. It was honestly admirable how much effort he was putting into fixing their relationship and no matter how much Katsuki just spit out all those nasty insults, Izuku still tried his best.

Eijirou could see that some of those words really hurt him. Katsuki probably knew it as well but kept going with them.

It was kinda absurd because Katsuki was like another person when he was being that mean to someone.

And it's not like Eijirou just realized that side of him. It's the first side he ever saw from him and he knows just how nasty Katsuki can be if he really wants to be mean and hurt with his words. He knows it.

Yet, it feels so weird to see it happening right now since recently Eijirou's seen the side of him what no one else probably doesn't. No matter how rough Katsuki can be, he does have a softer side. It's like two entirely different persons live inside his body, the other one being mean and bratty while the other is kind enough to acknowledge things what even Eijirou himself isn't aware of.

It's fascinating.

As they were entering to the marketplace area, the amount of people seemed to double in their eyes. And Eijirou didn't really like that.

Wherever his gaze moved, there were at least a group of people at the sight.

The amount of noise was distracting, too. People yelling and talking, laughing and moving from place to place. All of it was overwhelming, but knowing that the atmosphere was different with Katsuki, Eijirou tried to relax as much as he could.

Eijirou was lost in his thoughts, not paying even attention to Katsuki who kept having this heated conversation with Izuku again, filled with insults because he was getting annoyed. Not only because of Izuku's presence and him walking with them, but the whole marketplace was affecting him as well. Katsuki hated the loudness of it and people stopping him time to time to ask how his family is doing, has his father returned from the army and in general questions what were ticking him off.

They walked through another crowd of people and headed toward the heart of the marketplace. Which was annoying to say the least, the deeper they were there, the more people were around them as well as loud noises.

His eyes trailed off for a moment and when his gaze caught something familiar yet little bit forgotten, Eijirou stopped to stare at that direction. Katsuki didn't even notice that he's not following, being too busy with Izuku.

Eijirou wasn't sure if his eyes just betrayed him or if he was dreaming, but he was sure he saw something familiar. Something he sometimes saw in his dreams.

He needs to check if it's true.

Pushing gently through crowds of people and heading away from the center of the marketplace, Eijirou found himself wandering off from Katsuki. It's like for a moment everything around him was blocked away, hidden underneath the dark cloud while his eyes focus on the only thing he can see right now.

The only person.

It feels nice to get to the quieter side of the area, like he can breathe more since there isn't that many people invading his personal space. Not like he cares right now.

He was slowly approaching that person who was looking at something. Eijirou was sure he's got the right person, he'd recognize that quirk from the distance. Damn, he's even seen her in his dreams, so of course he's sure it's her.

He's unsure about how he should get her attention, so he just decided to call her name and see if she reacts to it. Hope for the best.

"Ibara?"

The girl turned around to search the person who said her name and as soon as she did it, her eyes stopped at him. They exchanged gazes without saying anything. Eijirou couldn't help but let that gentle smile spread on his face, feeling happy about the fact that it was Ibara. But he's not sure if she recognizes him and he can't blame her. It's been so long since the last time they saw and Eijirou has changed his look enough to not be that recognizable.

Ibara squinted her eyes as she studied him for a while, clearly trying to think hard if she really knows him. Her head tilted slightly and her lips were pressed together in a thin line. For a moment her expression was pretty neutral, maybe even little bit gloomy but Eijirou could tell when she finally recognized him.

The way her face lit up as the sweet and gentle smile replaced her almost expressionless face was a good indicator.

"Eijirou? Is it really you?" She asked and her question was enough to make Eijirou feel how his eyes were little bit more watery than normally. He's not going to cry, but he's so damn happy right now.

He nodded maybe little too fast, which in return made Ibara chuckle quietly.

"I can't believe this", Ibara admitted, a slightly confused eyes watching him but Eijirou couldn't help but agree with her. She's so right, even he can't believe this is happening. It's something he's been only dreaming to happen.

Their little reunion was cut off short when Ibara noticed couple people who wanted to do business with the seller, so she took his hand carefully in hers and began to lead him away from the noise. "Let's go somewhere else where we can talk more without being in the way."

Eijirou just happily nodded and followed wherever she was leading him, excited for this chance to hear how she's been. He really hopes that her owner is good, it'd be sad to hear anything else than that.

They stopped only at the fairly remote area and Ibara let go of his hand, turning again to face him and study his expression for a moment.

"It's really you." She said and Eijirou just nodded again, smiling softly yet happily.

"It is me."

Ibara crossed her hands and pressed them against her chest, letting that happy expression return to her face. With the little amount of time they shared together at the mercy of slave merchants, Eijirou learned enough to know that it isn't that common expression on her face. She used to stay neutral most of the time, but things were different back then.

"I missed you. Thought we're never going to see each other again", Eijirou admitted. It had been so heartbreaking to go into separate ways with her. She was his first friend, first person who didn't really act like he's a walking disease.

"I have kept you in my prayers." Hearing those words honestly made him even more happier, knowing that Ibara never really forgot him. She could have just erased him from her memories and never think about him ever again. Instead she's kept him in her thoughts.

Her vines looked even more greener and stronger than they had been back then. Eijirou assumed her new home was good since her vines were looking like that. He didn't want to ask directly about it, maybe it would be too personal thing to ask. But he's happy if that's the case, Ibara deserves to be in a home where she can feel happy.

"Your hair is different. What happened?" Ibara asked carefully, aware of the fact that it might be off the line and maybe too personal. And she was watching him closely, looking for the way he reacts to that question. Only one sign showing that it's making him uncomfortable would be enough to make her change the topic and never return to that.

But Eijirou just shrugged his shoulders, moving his gaze away from her for a moment before returning it back and smiling.

"Life happened. I've been changing owners more than I want to even admit." Eijirou usually didn't like to talk about this topic, but since it's Ibara, he can make an exception.

Her smile disappeared for a second, an understanding gaze washing over him as she seemed to get the hint from those words. She told him at their first meeting that she's been through something like that, so she really understood the meaning behind everything.

"Oh. I see. I am sorry about it, going through that is painful."

Eijirou didn't say anything but it's honestly okay. He tried to reassure her with his smile that he didn't mind that question. It's in the past now anyway.

"What about you?" He decided to ask, changing the topic back to Ibara. She tilted her head again little bit before smiling.

"I've stayed at my current owner ever since the slave market. I am pleased with everything, I couldn't have asked for anything better."

It's good. Everything is good.

Eijirou nods again, satisfied with the answer. It's all he needed to know and hearing that Ibara's home is great makes him feel so happy for her. He can even see little bit of changes in her personality, like she's gotten more open with her emotions than before.

"Have you find out what's your purpose in this world? Or answers to your questions?" Ibara's questions were sudden and Eijirou wasn't prepared for them. He was left thinking an answer to them for a moment, making Ibara chuckle again as he looked like he was thinking the answer to the biggest questions in this world. Like he's solving an ancient mystery what no one's really been able to solve anyway.

After a while Eijirou settled down for some kind of answer, shrugging his shoulders as he watched deep into her dark green eyes.

"I'm not sure. I haven't really, but there is someone who's trying to show me a new side of my quirk. At least that's what I think he is doing."

Ibara was immediately looking more curious about it, but instead of getting nosy and asking too many questions, she smiled and nodded. "And does that person happen to be your new owner?"

The look on Eijirou's face probably revealed the answer and Ibara was now laughing quietly, looking like she's pleased with the information she's learned so far from Eijirou's situation. She was sorry that Eijirou had to go through the shit-show of changing owner after owner and clearly he's gone through much more than that. But there's something new in him and she's not quite sure what, but she can see it.

When Eijirou admitted that yes, indeed his new owner was trying to make him see his quirk in a different light, Ibara lowered her hands and kept smiling. Her smile really showed off the gentleness she has.

"It's good then. I can see that you've gone through a lot, but your current owner is a blessing for you. Your aura is calmer. A lost lamb has found its shepherd."

Eijirou really missed the way Ibara said things like those, sometimes clearly talking about her strange and different religion. But it's all good and he doesn't mind it, if anything it's kinda fascinating.

"I'm really happy to see you again, Ibara. I really am. Is it okay if I hug you? I think I should return back to my master soon." Eijirou was little bit hesitant with that question.

The image he has gotten from her is distant. It's from that time when everything was just scary and Ibara was numb to the whole world. She never seemed to be the kind of person who likes extra human contact than what's necessary, so he didn't really know what to expect from her.

She looked surprised for a moment and because of it Eijirou was sure she's going to refuse the offer. But instead she looked around before spreading her arms, inviting him to give that hug he really wanted to give to her.

"Just be careful with my vines. They can scratch you if you are incautious."

That made Eijirou chuckle while he took a step closer, closing the gap between them as he wrapped his arms carefully around her.

"My quirk is hardening so I'm sure I can handle the thorns on your vines", he joked but it's true. Ibara's thorn-covered vines are nothing compared to the pain he's gone through his journey so far.

Ibara was little bit uncomfortable at first under his touch, but she relaxed eventually and even wrapped her own arms around him. One of her hands went to stroke his hair, curiously touching the short strands while she remembered the way his hair used to be back then. All black and longer than this, but she didn't comment anything about it. No matter how much Eijirou has changed from the outside, he's still him.

Still that same Eijirou.

They stayed like that for a while, just enjoying the small reunion and the fact that both of them are doing good nowadays. To Eijirou, that little piece of information meant a lot. He can stop worrying over Ibara, knowing that she's okay and her new home isn't anything like he had been afraid of it being.

The last thing he wanted to learn is Ibara being at the mercy of someone who's similar to Nakhti. Only gods know what would happen to her if that was the case.

At some point Ibara stopped stroking his hair and watched in the distance, her shoulders tensing up while she was the first one to let go of him.

"Tell me... does your owner have a spiky blonde hair and an angry expression?" Ibara asked suddenly, the question coming out of nowhere that Eijirou let go of her as well and took a step back to see her face, trying to understand why she was asking something like that.

"Yes. How did you know about that?" Eijirou couldn't help but throw question back to her, confused and waiting for her to tell him how she managed to describe Katsuki so accurately.

"I think he's here to pick you up", she answered while carefully nodding with her head, trying to make him turn around.

Eijirou did it and he noticed the familiar person in the distance, the blonde watching them while his arms were crossed and he stood still. Katsuki looked angry and Eijirou didn't know why... until he remembered how he wandered off without ever telling him where he is going.

Katsuki never knew where he was going so he must have been looking for him from everywhere around the marketplace at this point. No wonder he's so angry.

"Uh, I think I need to go. I never actually said anything to him and just wandered off so..." Eijirou muttered, ashamed already while he scratched his head. He was honestly nervous to face Katsuki right now, the blonde was going to give him an earful most likely.

And he deserves that. There's no denying of it.

"I see." Ibara said while looking back at Katsuki's direction, but her gaze turned so fast back to Eijirou that he already knew what kind of nasty look Katsuki most likely shot at her. "Return back to your shepherd, lost lamb. It's not good to wander off like that."

Eijirou wasn't sure if she tried to joke about it but he smiled anyway and nodded. "I hope we see again."

"I'm sure that will happen. It's a miracle itself that we met today. Take care, Eijirou."

He nodded and waved before turning around and walking toward Katsuki's direction. He was still standing with his arms crossed across his chest, the sour expression on his face as his eyes were staring him. It was like he was getting slightly crushed by them and Eijirou knew he was in trouble.

Before he even managed to apologize for disappearing without saying a word, Katsuki just clicked his tongue and turned around to leave the area. He never said anything to him, never cursed or yelled either.

Eijirou knew he had made a mistake.


 

For the entire way back to home they were silent.

It's not like Eijirou even expected Katsuki to talk his ear off, he's not the kind of person to blabber about anything and everything. The silence between them wouldn't normally even affect him at all. He wouldn't be paying this much attention to it.

But it's now almost overwhelming and crushing because Eijirou knows that Katsuki is angry and he's the reason why.

It feels horrible. He knew he should have said something to him, it was wrong to just wander off without a word. Katsuki had been so busy cursing at Deku that he hadn't noticed when exactly Eijirou had disappeared.

It must have felt awful to notice that he's missing and he doesn't know where or why.

Eijirou thought they would talk about this when they arrive back but that didn't happen. Katsuki had tossed the pot of honey to his mother, almost breaking it and getting yelled at for doing such a stupid thing. He didn't care.

For the rest of the day Eijirou was working with his other tasks, not seeing a glimpse of Katsuki at all. Maybe it's better that way, the blonde has a chance to cool down before confronting Eijirou about his sudden disappearance in the marketplace.

He deserves to be punished.

Even Eijirou knows that. He was disobedient and just left without a permission, without saying anything. It's understandable that Katsuki would be upset about it. The thought about the possible punishment is scary, but at the same time Eijirou feels like he shouldn't really feel that way.

The atmosphere in the whole household was more tense, mostly because of the attitude Katsuki was giving to everyone who happened to get in his way. He chose to fight with Mitsuki about it. When Eijirou returned back to the house after finishing his tasks in the garden, a full blown argument was happening between those two.

They weren't fighting about the typical stuff, it was just Katsuki letting off some steam and Mitsuki just happened to be the best person to challenge at that purpose. The argument wasn't even really about anything particular, just Katsuki being mean and throwing insults at her, cursing about how he's tired of stupid tasks like those and stuff like that.

Mitsuki, who clearly was confused by Katsuki's sudden strange behavior, just yelled back at him. She told him how she has no idea why Katsuki is throwing a tantrum now and how he should just man up and stop this childish fight. That she can see how he's just using her as a way to release that frustration.

It was bad, one of the worst arguments Eijirou had witnessed so far.

And especially because it was purely just Katsuki being an asshole without a reason.

Eijirou couldn't help but hope that it was enough for Katsuki to calm down. To collect himself and just face the real reason of his anger, which clearly is Eijirou. He might be naive sometimes, but he knew that he's the reason for Katsuki's anger.

He should be letting off that steam onto him, not onto Mitsuki. She didn't do anything to piss him off.

The same crushing atmosphere followed to the stable as they were later doing the night routines there. Cleaning the stable and feeding the hungry horses. Some other minor tasks whenever it felt like it's necessary to do those too.

Eijirou was throwing hay at one of the horse's stall while stealing a glance at Katsuki, who was cleaning up Eboni's bridle. They haven't said a word at all during the whole time they've been at the stable and the silence was getting way too intimidating and uncomfortable.

He wanted to get over this because it was really upsetting. And the horses noticed the nasty atmosphere too, turning their ears backwards as they were showing the signs of being unpleased by it.

It's unfair and selfish of him to even wait for Katsuki to say anything about it first. Eijirou knows he should be the one to start the conversation, but he has no idea how he should approach this topic without making the situation get out of hand. He's afraid of how Katsuki is going to answer to him, though he knows he's going to get the cold shoulder.

Finding the right words is surprisingly hard. What should he even say?

It doesn't matter. He needs to say something before this gets any worse than it is already.

"I'm sorry about leaving without saying anything to you. It was stupid and I didn't mean anything bad", Eijirou started and waited for Katsuki to either interrupt him or just click his tongue in annoyance, like he always does when he's displeased by something.

Instead he was met with complete silence. Eijirou turned his gaze to Katsuki's direction, watching his back as the blonde just kept cleaning the bridle without turning to look at him. It was honestly discouraging to say the least, but Eijirou wasn't really expecting him to just laugh about it and forgive him easily.

"I wasn't sure if I saw someone from the past and I kinda just blacked out. Wanted to go and see if she's the person I thought she is. It turned out to be true and then I got distracted by our conversation that I didn't realize just how long I was gone."

Still nothing. Katsuki didn't even stop for a moment to listen him. His whole focus was on the leather bridle, but Eijirou knew he was listening him. Maybe the fact that he saw him once tighten his grip on the reins was a good indicator that the blonde is indeed listening every word carefully.

"I'm sorry." Eijirou sighed and went to grab another portion of hay.

As he was finishing feeding the horses, he noticed that Katsuki was now leaning his back against the wall and watching him with that same sour expression on his face.

When their eyes met, Eijirou could feel a shiver run down his spine as Katsuki's gaze felt like it was piercing right through him.

It felt like the whole world suddenly stopped around them. Like all the background noises were gone, replaced by emptiness. Eijirou could hear his heart beating faster, like it's beating right next to his ear. Loud and clear.

He felt uncomfortable and mentally he was preparing himself for the oncoming attack. Katsuki was going to yell at him, he could tell it by the look of him. He's really close to his flash point.

Eijirou could see the moment when that spark finally happened in Katsuki, igniting the anger and frustration on fire completely.

"Do you have any fucking idea how it felt like when I noticed that you're missing? Even that Deku bastard was surprised by it. What a fucking joke! He was wondering if I scared you away. Fuck that, I thought someone snatched you or something! That it was that fucking pathetic piece of shit Nakhti."

Katsuki was showing different emotions so fast that it was hard to even keep up with them. For a second he was angry, then he looked little bit worried before he turned out to be like a madman with that frustration and negative energy that was chewing him.

If it was for any other reason, Eijirou would be surprised to witness something like this. But now he just understood very well why he was going through all those feelings.

"I'm sorry..." Eijirou started his apology again, but Katsuki raised up his hand to signal him that he's not done yet. It made him go silent and just wait for his own turn to speak, it's better to let Katsuki finish what he wanted to say.

"And when I go to look for you, ready to see that something bad happened to you, I find you all lovey-dovey with that fucking vine girl. I don't fucking care if you're out there meeting up with your secret girlfriend. Or lover, I don't give a shit about that! Don't care if you go smash prostitutes, it's none of my business. Just don't disappear without a word you idiot!" Katsuki was almost out of breath after all that.

His expression had turned more gloomy and dark as he kept going with his words, his eyes never leaving from Eijirou. He was clenching his fists and resisting really hard the urge of letting out explosions. That would scare the horses even more, all three of them had already stopped eating and just watched the situation. If this keeps going, the horses might even get nervous to the point where they don't feel safe at their own stable.

Katsuki was aware of that and after he had opened up his mind for a bit, he tried to calm himself.

Eijirou on the other hand was just purely horrified by his words. He had been waiting to hear stuff like that, but the way Katsuki just cursed and yelled at him like that was putting him on the edge, too.

When Katsuki seemed to be done with his yelling, Eijirou took a deep breath before answering to him. He didn't really know what to say after that, or what was even appropriate for him to say considering him being just a slave. But he still wanted to clear up some things.

"It was wrong to not say anything. I know and I'm really sorry about it", he started but when Katsuki didn't interrupt him, he kept going. "Ibara is a dear friend to me and when I thought I saw her, I couldn't help myself. I had to make sure if my eyes were right or if I just imagined it. I haven't seen her in ages. Forgive me, I promise next time I won't wander off without saying a word."

Katsuki crossed his arms over his chest, that sour expression so dark that it was really intimidating at this point. Eijirou almost wanted to turn his gaze away from the blonde, but he knew he couldn't do that. It would only piss him off even more and that's the last thing he wants to do right now.

"Looked like a lovers to me. But whatever. Like I said, I don't care if you go to fuck someone, just know that if you disappear like that again I'll put a fucking leash on you."

"We are not lovers!"

Eijirou was surprised and even horrified when he realized how he just yelled back at Katsuki. He definitely crossed the line, but even Katsuki looked like he was taken aback from his sudden shouting.

"We're not lovers and I'm not doing anything like that with Ibara. I'd never do that because she's my friend, she was my only friend after my own father had sold me into slavery. My first real friend. I thought we're never going to see again when we were sold to different owners. I got excited and had to make sure it's her. I'm sorry!" Eijirou wasn't sure if Katsuki even cared about the details but he felt like explaining. Especially after yelling back like that. Not like it matters anyway.

When Katsuki's expression didn't seem to change at all, Eijirou had no other choice than get down on his knees. That seemed to finally make the blonde curious yet question about what he was doing.

Eijirou watched him quietly and sat on his knees before leaning forward and pressing himself down, bowing before him and showing him a genuine attempt to submit in front of him.

"Forgive me my young master. I deserve punishment for my bad behavior."

He couldn't see how confused Katsuki was now, all that anger gone and replaced by pure confusion. This whole situation was just getting out of hand, but Eijirou felt like this is his best shot of showing him just how sorry he is about it.

Katsuki didn't say anything for a while and Eijirou didn't dare to look at him, didn't dare to move from this position at all. He had already been rude enough to his master, he can't be disrespectful again.

"Fuck, stop that Eijirou." Katsuki finally broke the silence after another minute passed. "Get up from the dirty ground."

It was enough for him. Eijirou straightened his back and looked at Katsuki, noticing how the blonde was now avoiding to look at his direction at all. It probably caught him off guard because Katsuki usually didn't just suddenly get lost of words. But right now he looked like he doesn't even know what to say, the whole gesture from the redhead was so unexpected and even weird.

Before they even managed to start another conversation, or fight if you want to call it that, they heard a horse chariot stop in front of the stable. Masaru had arrived home for the night and it meant Eijirou has more work to do with the horses, taking care of his chariot horses as well.

Maybe it was good that he arrived just in time.

Eijirou was distracted enough with Masaru's horses but he knew he couldn't stay at the stable the whole night. He needed to be there and serve them during the supper and he needs to do his tasks fast at the stable if he wants to make it on time for that.

The atmosphere was little bit calmer during the supper, but Mitsuki and Katsuki were still having some bad vibes from their fight earlier. Masaru noticed the strange atmosphere as well, knowing that something was going on because it wasn't normally like that.

Yes, Mitsuki and Katsuki did have arguments often enough but it never left an atmosphere this weird afterwards.

Masaru knew it's better to not even ask about it if he doesn't want to witness replay of it. And right now he didn't feel like so.

"Have you heard about Enji's raise already?" Masaru asked when everything seemed to be more calmer than before. His words earned a curious gaze from Mitsuki, while Katsuki looked like he wanted to be anywhere else except here.

"It's been a gossip for a while now. What about it?" Mitsuki asked while she took a bite of her bread, curious to know what Masaru had on his mind.

"Well, since it's a really big deal, he's decided to throw a party. Something what he wouldn't usually do. He even invited us there too, isn't that exciting?" Masaru asked.

It was enough to trigger another wave of anger in the room as Katsuki was clearly not happy about the invite.

"Katsuki stop that. It's ridiculous, what's wrong with you today? You've been acting like a little brat." Mitsuki was the first one to react to Katsuki's attitude, but the blonde just huffed and stopped eating for a moment.

"I'm not going to a party what's hosted by the Todoroki family."

"What did I just tell you about your childish behavior?"

Eijirou couldn't help but stay at the other side of the room and watch the situation explode right in front of his eyes.

He could tell that Katsuki isn't going to be happy about the end result of this argument.

Chapter Text

Katsuki definitely hated the end result of their argument that night.

The rest of the supper went through with an atmosphere what was getting so thick that you could cut a piece from it. Eijirou was having a little bit hard time to stay still and tolerate the change of it and the heavy feelings it brought to the room with it.

And he wasn't the only one who was affected by the change. Even Katsuki himself was having hard time to get through the situation without exploding the whole room to the kingdom come. Whatever was causing that kind of reaction in him was really chewing him as well. Eijirou only figured out it has something to do with this Todoroki family, but Katsuki never said why he dislikes them so much.

Even when Mitsuki and Masaru started to talk about different things and dropped to subject, Katsuki was still caught up with it. He didn't need to say a word, Eijirou could tell by the look on his face. He's not happy about it.

For a moment he thought it might still be because he's angry at him and his stupid mistake of leaving at the marketplace without saying a word to him. Katsuki had indeed gotten angry because of it and it was understandable. But after a while it's clear that Katsuki has forgotten it, too busy with his frustration about the party they're going to attend.

It honestly got Eijirou curious as why Katsuki doesn't like them that much. He wanted to know the reason why this heavy atmosphere was lingering around the white walls of the living area, like it's trying to paint it with a shade of gray.

Too bad he can't just ask about it like that. Especially after making Katsuki angry earlier, probably ruining the feeling of them acting more like friends rather than just a master and slave.

Katsuki was done with his food faster than usual, excusing himself as he got up and left the room. His eyes met with Eijirou's as he was passing him and in a quick moment they exchanged gazes before the blonde was gone, ignoring Mitsuki's attempt of telling him to stay here. Knowing Katsuki's determined personality and his pride, he's not going to listen to her right now.

As soon as he was gone Eijirou's gaze fell on the floor and he let his thoughts race for a moment. The little eye contact they just had was different, nothing what he had expected to see. He had seen the anger in his eyes, but there was something more. Something he couldn't exactly pinpoint, or say what kind of emotion it is.

Maybe he'll learn more about it eventually. That's what he hopes at least.

But knowing the way Eijirou always likes to overthink things and eventually worry over nothing, he ended up with another restless night as he tried to figure out things.

When the house quieted down for another night and Eijirou got his chance of getting the needed rest, he found himself just lying on his back again and staring at the ceiling while he was thinking everything what happened during this day.

Meeting with Ibara had been a nice change. Something what he definitely had needed, giving him a chance to drop that heavy feeling on his heart every time he thought about her. Knowing that everything is okay with her current home is like a gift for him and he was more than happy for her.

And while he was feeling happy, another feeling was trying to wash over and drown the positive ones as his thoughts returned back to Katsuki. The way he had yelled at him at the stable, the way how he had been so irritated because of him. He might be overthinking it, analyzing this situation without a good reason for it anyway.

But he couldn't stop himself even if he wanted to, because there's that little voice in his head trying to warn him to not mess up everything.

And honestly? He was little bit afraid of the consequences of his actions.

He's been so happy ever since Katsuki started to act more natural with him. At first they were little bit awkward whenever they were together alone, or at least Eijirou was feeling that way. He had been so worried, readying himself in case Katsuki just got bored with him and decided to get rid of him after realizing just how big of a mistake he can be.

But things definitely did take a turn without Eijirou even noticing it at first. He couldn't tell the exact moment when they started to change, but maybe he doesn't even want to know that.

No matter how much he's reminded about the fact that his family owns him and Eijirou really doesn't have his own free will on things, Katsuki has clearly placed a trust in him.

Eijirou isn't stupid. He knows how much Katsuki probably has been thinking about it before he finally decided to show him the place where he trains his quirk. Or thought about taking Eijirou with him to the chariot ride, knowing very well that Eijirou doesn't have time for those kind of things.

Katsuki even took all the blaming whenever Mitsuki was questioning whether Eijirou's tried to avoid his work or not.

And not to mention all that talk about his quirk, about how he shouldn't ignore it because it's part of him and it will always be. Whether he decides to use it or not, it doesn't change the fact that he has it. The quirk will stay with him until he takes his last breath in this world.

Those words were something he never wanted to listen. How could he suddenly like his quirk, when all this time everyone has been telling him that it's something unnatural? Something disgusting what only makes everything worse in his life.

He always believed those words. Eijirou never had any doubts about his quirk and he had settled down to the fact that it's nothing more than a curse. No matter how people tried to convince him otherwise. He was so sure that he would never see it as anything else, even when Ibara shared her opinion about quirks and how they should be seen as gifts.

But then Katsuki appeared into his world and told him his own thoughts about quirks. Or how he shouldn't just shut it off completely from his life, leaving him to be only half of the individual he is. Only half complete as a person.

It honestly started to feel like they were more of friends than just a master and slave. He's not sure if Katsuki himself is aware of this feeling, knowing how much his pride prevents him from showing his true feelings. He wanted to believe that Katsuki enjoyed their relationship as it is right now. It feels more natural, more real. Even though the blonde sometimes does give him orders and reminds him what his place is in this household, he never really tried to make him feel like he's worthless. Quite opposite of that, in fact.

And to Eijirou, it was something he cherished very dearly. He cherished these moments with Katsuki and it was hard to resist smiling whenever he felt like they were acting like friends. When he could see that no matter how harsh his words were, the gaze Katsuki had on him told more than a thousand words.

This strange yet calming thing he wants to call friendship, it means so much to him. And he doesn't want to let go of it. Doesn't want it to end so suddenly, the warmth radiating from it turning freezing cold only because Eijirou made a mistake.

That's why he's afraid of what the future holds up for him after the events of today.

What if it was enough to piss off Katsuki to start acting coldly toward him?

He really hopes that doesn't happen.

It was already horrible when Katsuki was avoiding him. Back then it made him feel like he'd done some kind of mistake and was paying the high price of it. He really doesn't want to disappoint Katsuki, not after everything he's done for him.

And he's doing so much for him anyway. Way too much for someone like him who doesn't deserve even the half of the effort Katsuki is putting in his words whenever he has a moment for that.

In a way Eijirou is afraid of the idea of Katsuki becoming a stranger, leaving him behind and moving on. He's not greedy and he doesn't feel like Katsuki should keep doing that little encouraging he seems to do whenever there's a chance for it. No, it's not what he wants from him. There isn't really anything in particular he wants from him.

He just wants to keep their friendship the way it is. Whatever is going on between them, he doesn't want to lose that. It doesn't matter that Katsuki is his owner and he can order him to do whatever he wants. Eijirou trusts him enough to know that the blonde would never force him to do something that makes him really uncomfortable. He'd never do those things what his previous owners did, hurting and making him feel like he's more of an animal than a human being.

Sure, Katsuki does sometimes push him off of his own limits and makes him try things what he's afraid of or what he doesn't want to. But never has the blonde made him feel scared for his life, the way some of his previous masters have done. He doesn't feel like an cornered animal, if anything, he feels like a bird that can finally spread its wings wide and take its attempt to fly for the first time.

Even the whip incident is something Eijirou's trying to forget as much as he can. It was a pure misunderstanding, mostly on his side. Katsuki never tried to get that kind of reaction from him on purpose, he knows that. If he wanted that, then it doesn't make sense why Katsuki so gently tried to calm him down or went through the trouble of asking help from Hitoshi. Again.

Asking help is something his pride tries to stop him from doing, Katsuki always tries to do everything without asking help.

Sometimes he wished he understands Katsuki better. That he sees more of him and different sides of his personality, knows more of what his actions mean. He wants to ask directly, but he knows his place and he can't just do that.

Eijirou just wants to know completely the person Katsuki is and how he feels about things. How the blonde feels about him. Does he want to keep their relationship the way it is or is he looking for a friendship? His actions are giving mixed signals.

Sometimes Katsuki is like a friend, laughing and joking with him without trying to make him feel bad. And then other times he's clearly his master, giving him orders and expecting things from him.

Eijirou really wants to ask an honest answer from the blonde. But he can't, unfortunately.

He needs to be patient and wait for a chance to rise.

It will eventually happen, he's sure of it.


 

Eijirou had never even heard of the Todoroki family before, but what he could tell by the way Katsuki's family reacted to the invitation to the party, they must be even more known than they are. More powerful and influential than any other family living in the same city, or at least close to the city.

Of course it makes sense why they're reacting that way. Even Izuku had talked about them, about Enji Todoroki getting a raise to Pharaoh's army. That's something you can't just brush off as being a minor event and something not worth of all the gossiping. And a party to celebrate that? Everyone who's gotten an invite to it must feel somehow special to be remembered by the family.

It was being the hottest gossip of the month, all those hushed whispers about Enji and the Todoroki family in general. That name was practically at everyone's lips all the time. It probably had been going on even longer than he knew, but it's the first time Eijirou heard of it.

He never really tried to eavesdrop whenever someone was talking about it, but he had to admit that he's curious to learn more. Why is everybody respecting them so much, what kind of people they are and everything what he can learn while not asking any questions. There's things what everyone else knows but he doesn't, so he feels like he's been left out from some of that information.

And being the curious person he is, he needs to learn more. He found himself wondering if he could ask about this topic from Izuku, he seems to know a lot. Since Katsuki was out of question with his attitude and dislike toward them, it's probably his best shot to ask from someone else.

All this was in a way really exciting and Eijirou was feeling rather eager, which was a feeling he hasn't felt for a long time. Knowing that he's not invited there wasn't any kind of problem at all, it didn't stop him from being excited for the whole family. Eijirou didn't even feel like he's going to miss out something.

Everything what was already so mundane was suddenly replaced by this thrilling feeling as they started all the preparations for the upcoming party, almost like they were the one who was hosting it instead of the Todoroki family. It's a nice change and while Eijirou's getting busy with his own tasks to help his owners to get ready, he likes it. It's a chance for him to keep his thought in check and to not let them get out of hand too much, leaving him overthink things.

To someone else all this might look like just unnecessary hassle, that they're taking this too seriously but Eijirou didn't feel that way. He could see the reason why his owners were taking it with this kind of attitude.

The Bakugou family is known too and it meant that everyone knew they've been invited to the party as well. They wanted to be at their best during it.

It might not really be like that, but Eijirou guessed that it probably has something to do with Masaru being the captain of his own troop. Even though he isn't one of the biggest names in the army, people knew him and respected him a lot. He didn't want to take any chances of something affecting his own rank. At least in a negative way, probably all this ordeal was just to make sure that if the party has some kind of affect in his own career, it's only positive.

Both Mitsuki and Masaru were busy with their own tasks, with the preparations to make sure that they attend the party and leave a good impression of them.

While Masaru was busy with army and his other jobs whenever the army and his troop weren't needing him in their training or other official work, he kept helping in various construction sites. His interest toward designing seemed to be genuine and whenever he managed to help the different architects with his own opinions and ideas, it left him satisfied at the end of the day.

Mitsuki on the other hand was focusing on to make sure they have nice clothes for the party. It was more like a hobby to her but she really seemed to enjoy working with different fabrics and doing little designs in the clothes. Most of her dresses and their designs she wore all the time were done by her. She never really had to work to earn goodies for her family, but she did it as a hobby. And there were quite many who wanted to buy clothes from her.

Eijirou could feel their excitement in the atmosphere and it was having an effect on him, too. He did his very best with his own tasks, whether it was cleaning or gardening. Sometimes Mitsuki sent him to get more fabric from the seller whom she regularly bought it from. During those times Eijirou wasn't really happy about leaving the house and going close to the city, but he knew he couldn't just say nope and decline the task.

Mitsuki had told him very early that whenever he gets to know the area better, she can give him more tasks that include visiting the city or some other nearby places. Since he was finally starting to learn more about his surroundings and the area they were living in, it had been only a matter of time for her to expand the number of tasks she can give to him.

While the whole household seemed to be buzzing with all this preparation, there was one person who wasn't as happy about the invitation as everyone else was.

At the same time Eijirou noticed how Katsuki was getting more grumpy whenever anyone even mentioned the Todoroki family or the party. He disliked them and he's been very open about it too, though he never really said why exactly he doesn't like them.

It didn't surprise him that instead of being honored about the invitation and helping with the preparations, Katsuki instead just took off whenever he had a chance, leaving Mitsuki yell after him and sometimes again when he returned back.

Eijirou knew where he went whenever he felt like he needed to get away from this unnecessary hassle. But even when Mitsuki sometimes wondered where Katsuki was this time, he never said anything to reveal his location. Well, it's not like Eijirou could tell her how to find Katsuki whenever he left to ride or to train.

And even if he would get a reward from revealing that information, Eijirou felt like he would be betraying Katsuki and that's something he definitely didn't want to do to him. So he always kept his mouth shut and just focused on his own tasks whenever he heard Mitsuki wonder alone where Katsuki is.

It's just better to give him a chance to let out all that steam what all of this is causing to him.

Though at the same time it hurt little bit, because while Katsuki was keeping his distance to everyone at the house, it meant that he wasn't talking with him either. It's not a big surprise but it was disappointing to say the least.

Eijirou knew he shouldn't feel like he's hurt because of it.

Because honestly? Katsuki was just angry. He needed some space and time to cool down. It's a good thing he's doing that, if he bottles up everything and then gets dragged to the party with all that bubbling rage, it'd end up with a chaos. He can imagine it and Eijirou was just glad that Katsuki is doing something to ease his mind.

He'll calm down when he feels like that.


 

As the party was getting closer and closer, Eijirou felt like he was slowly drowning with different tasks. Tasks he accepted and did without any complaints, leaving everyone happy as everything was carried out nicely and with full effort. Exactly how they expected him to do it. Eijirou couldn't help but feel satisfied whenever he knew he's done a good job.

It felt like a treat when he finally got to work at the garden, surrounded by the beauty of nature as all the preparations started to be ready for the party. All of the horses were brushed to the perfection, their manes trimmed and all parts of the harnesses cleaned up. Even the chariots were ready for tomorrow. Mitsuki had finished her projects and Masaru was back at home, too.

It was ridiculous how fast time seemed to fly right in front of his eyes. He can't believe the Todoroki family's party is tomorrow, it feels like he heard about it only yesterday when in fact he heard about it couple weeks ago.

Eijirou couldn't help but shrug his shoulders and keep working. At least he might be able to have a day off as his masters were at the party. He was really looking forward that, just having a moment to himself and enjoy the quiet house. Maybe he could take a good nap and just relax, knowing that no one's going to give him various tasks tomorrow.

Maybe he's earned that, too.

"You're daydreaming again."

Eijirou turned his head to the right and watched as Katsuki was already sitting on the stone bench close to the small pond in the middle of the garden, reading some kind of scroll full of hieroglyphics. Something Eijirou didn't know or even could read anyway.

It's probably something Tsunagu left for him from their last study session, today they didn't have one as the family is getting ready for the party. And who knows, maybe Tsunagu's going to attend there too. It's not like Eijirou knows who are invited to the party and who are not.

After a moment of staring at the blonde's direction, Eijirou quickly realized what he was doing and turned his gaze back to the flower bed and kept himself busy with the work. He didn't mean to stare at him but he couldn't help it.

Since everyone's been busy, he hasn't seen Katsuki that much. It's even rare to see him at the garden at this hour of the day, usually he'd be riding away with Eboni and avoiding the hassle what was related to the party.

Eijirou was happy to see him here now. It's not even like they're sharing a moment and enjoying each other's company, he's focusing on his work while Katsuki is probably studying while finding motivation from the fresh air and green nature that's surrounding him here. It's nothing more than that.

It's still enough for his heart to beat little bit faster and his mind to calm down, knowing that Katsuki isn't angry at him anymore. He knows a thing or two from him enough to know that if the blonde was still holding some kind of grudge toward him, he wouldn't be here. He wouldn't bother to stay at the same place where he is.

He couldn't stop that little smile what escaped on his face, letting his whole posture be more calm and pleased as he moved to the next flower bed, examining the amount of weeds that tried replace all of the beautiful flowers on it and getting to work with pulling them out. He knew at the end of the day his back is going to hurt probably because of this work, but at least he doesn't have to worry about it tomorrow as he can rest immediately after the family leaves.

While working with the weeds and focusing on it completely, Eijirou could feel eyes on him time to time. And he knew it was no one else than Katsuki who was looking at his way, watching him as he kept working.

He's not sure if he should ask something. He's been waiting for that moment to check if the friendship what's been forming between them is still there or if he managed to ruin that already, but Eijirou just didn't know if it's the right time for that or not. Katsuki is already stressed out with other things, he doesn't need to hear something as stupid as that.

They both stayed silent, leaving the garden mostly quiet. Every once in a while a bird was chirping in the distance, but other than that it was just peaceful silence.

Eijirou didn't mind it. It helped him keep his mind calm, though every now and then his thoughts tried to escape and he almost fell back to his habit of daydreaming. He's trying his best to focus on the work instead of just thinking too much. If he keeps slipping into his own world, the work will never be finished here.

It was only when the redhead was finishing his tasks at the garden that the silence was finally broken.

"Hey Shitty Hair, when you're done with the flowers, go put Eboni ready for me." Katsuki didn't even move his eyes from the scroll, not giving a single glance at his way either. But Eijirou wasnt' surprised by it, it's just something Katsuki does sometimes.

"Yes young master", Eijirou answered and nodded as well. He heard the blonde click his tongue and waited for him to say something, but instead Katsuki decided to ignore it.

He tried his best to not show it, but deep inside Eijirou was feeling little bit disappointed. It felt like the strain between them was getting somehow tighter, which was something he had been afraid of for a while now.

Eijirou couldn't help but wonder if he had ruined everything they'd been building up so far. Ruining the chance of being friends with Katsuki and making their relationship revert back to the starting point.

At the same time it's so ridiculous to feel this way because Eijirou knows that the mistake he made isn't really that big. And while Katsuki can hold grudge from some things, sometimes even stupidly small things, this definitely wasn't worth of it. It's not something why he would be like that. Maybe there's more what Eijirou just doesn't see, but he really hopes that Katsuki hasn't decided to cut him off from his life and become a stranger again.

Not when Eijirou is finally finding him as someone he looks up for. Someone to be worth of admiration. Katsuki does have his own flaws but it makes him more human, more real and relatable.

And whenever he learned something new about him, it made Eijirou feel like he's little bit closer to him. Little bit closer to crack the mystery that is Katsuki Bakugou.

The last flower beds were done rather quickly and when he was ready with the garden, Eijirou headed straight toward the stable, leaving Katsuki alone to finish whatever he was studying at that moment.

A deep sigh managed to escape as he opened the door and stepped inside the little building.

But he couldn't really feel down, all five horses there were curiously watching him and some of them even nickered at him as their way to greet a familiar person at the stable. It immediately put a little smile on his face as the horses started to recognize him as a person who wants no harm for them and who's feeding and taking care of them.

He headed toward the stall at the end of the little row and before he even arrived there, head of a black horse was poking out to watch him and nicker again as it recognized the redhead. Eijirou couldn't stop his lips from curling up even more, a proper smile that escaped to his face as he let the horse sniff his hand couple times before patting its strong and muscular neck and greeting it.

A quiet whisper of 'good girl' was lingering in the walls as he slipped into the stall and started to brush the black coat of the mare, cleaning it up from straw as she has been lying on the ground at some point during the day. The horse didn't mind it at all, just standing still and letting Eijirou work with its coat.

He was getting so used to taking care of the horses that it didn't take long for him to clean up Katsuki's favorite horse and put the bridle on her. Unlike with Katsuki, the horse was trying its limits as it moved its head away couple times when Eijirou was putting the bridle on.

Eventually Eboni just gave up, waiting for the redhead to finish tightening the leathery straps and when it was done, the familiar cloth was placed on its back. It was like a cue for the horse that it's getting out of the stable. Before Eijirou even managed to open the stall door and start leading it toward the door of the stable, the horse was already trying to push him to hurry up.

Katsuki was already waiting outside when they walked out of the stable and stopped in front of him. His gaze met with Eijirou's before he turned it to the horse's direction and with his usual small effort he got up to the black horse's back, taking the reins in his hands while the horse looked like it was going to take the first steps before the blonde is ready.

"Tomorrow's going to be busy day, huh? I hope you can relax with this little trip", Eijirou said and kept his eyes on Katsuki. He tried to bit his tongue little bit as he had been itching to tell him that it's better to come back home early today if he doesn't want to get yelled again. Eijirou knew Katsuki isn't stupid and he's aware of it, but he couldn't help but feel like wanting to remind him about it.

It's a good thing he was able to keep his tongue in check. That'd just make the blonde explode if he reminded him about tomorrow's party. He was already trying his own limits with the words he had chosen, but Katsuki didn't seem to get too annoyed by them right now. That's good.

"You've got any extra time right now?" Katsuki asked, clearly avoiding the answer to his words. It doesn't matter, Eijirou never really expected to receive one either.

But his question surprised him though.

"Well I did finish the garden, I probably do have some other tasks if I go and ask about them." Eijirou turned his gaze back to the house's direction, feeling how Katsuki's eyes were now on him. He was watching him closely, before quietly snorting and earning a curious gaze from Eijirou.

"So you're saying you're free?" Katsuki was going straight into the heart of the matter, the corner of his lip curling up for a moment as he allowed a little smirk appear on his face. It was quick and Eijirou noticed it before it was gone and replaced by very stoic expression.

He opened his mouth and was about to say something, but when Eijirou couldn't find any words, he closed his mouth and just nodded as an answer. He's finished his tasks for now, at least until he goes to ask if Masaru or Mitsuki has something they need him to do.

Apparently Katsuki had different thoughts when he looked at his hand before holding it out for him, a little gesture that told him to hop on the back of the horse.

Eijirou knew he shouldn't accept it. He can't just leave, but then again it was hard to even resist the offer when it's Katsuki who's offering it.

His hesitation was probably all visible on his face because the blonde finally clicked his tongue. "It's okay. We're going to return early, I promise. You can trust me."

Eijirou moved his eyes to Katsuki's own, letting their gazes meet as he was looking right into his red eyes.

He never doubted Katsuki.

Never.

So in the end Eijirou grabbed his hand and allowed him to help pull him to the back of the horse. He immediately wrapped his arms around the blonde's waist as the animal began to walk toward the gate.

Without realizing it he tightened his grip around Katsuki when Eboni started galloping, the familiar noise of hooves hitting against the hard ground while the horse snorted and stretched its neck. The wind was gently playing with their hair and after he managed to relax his body little bit more, Eijirou couldn't help but smile slightly.

He didn't mind being this close to Katsuki, in fact he preferred staying close to him as he was afraid of falling from the horse's back. His stiffened shoulders started to ease up as Eijirou looked the back of Katsuki's head and noticed how relaxed he seemed to be. It never surprised him to see how much Katsuki enjoyed the company of his horse and if anything, Eijirou was secretly glad to be part of these moments sometimes.

Whenever Katsuki invited him to these trips, it felt like he was allowing him to see a part of himself what no one else is allowed to see.

And that always made Eijirou feel somehow little special.


 

He watched as Katsuki was letting out huge and loud explosions in the distance, sometimes even yelling like a madman as he was doing it.

It had been a while now and the blonde was still training, or more like torturing himself at this point if you ask about it from Eijirou. Katsuki didn't even need to say anything about how much it's probably hurting to set off those kind of explosions, he could tell by the way his posture wasn't as strong and full of pride as it had been earlier.

When he accepted the invitation to go ride with Katsuki, he had expected it to end up either for the blonde to train his quirk or it being just a normal riding trip.

What he didn't really sign up for was this torture right in front of his eyes. Katsuki was pushing his own limits and it hurt to even watch him do that. Eijirou could feel the pain what those giant explosions were most likely causing to him, he just doesn't want to believe that Katsuki is not feeling those at all. He must be feeling the heat and the pressure of them.

With a deep sigh Eijirou decided to stretch his legs and get up from the stone he's been sitting on this whole time while Katsuki's been training. The horse next to him was still munching whatever small grass patches it managed to find close by.

It's a big surprise how used to the explosions the black mare is, but then again Eijirou knew how easily animals can get used to almost everything. Katsuki took this horse often enough with him whenever he went to training, so it only makes sense how used it is to the explosions. Though every once in a while Eijirou could see how the horse winced from the sudden noise, from a sudden particularly strong and loud explosion. It was raising its head to check the situation before deciding whether it should stay here or run away.

But the horse probably trusted its owner enough to not run way, instead just lowering its head back to nibble the grass again and again.

The way Katsuki was pushing his own limits was just his way of letting off that steam he's been collecting ever since the invitation to the party. It's a good thing to let him do it here without anyone interrupting him, but Eijirou couldn't help but wonder why the blonde decided to ask him to come here with him.

Whatever. He appreciated the fact that Katsuki was okay with him watching and being here.

Maybe he hasn't ruined his chances of being friends with the blonde, after all.

Eijirou walked around little bit, letting his mind rest while he resisted the urge of staring Katsuki and watch as he pushed his body beyond his own limits. He had to turn his gaze away or else he would be there to stop him, to tell him that it's enough already.

He wanted to do that so badly but being aware of his own position, Eijirou decided to keep himself busy with everything else.

It's a better choice after all. When he returned back to sit on the stone, he observed how Katsuki had finally stopped those ridiculously huge explosions and was now just leaning his hands against his thighs, calming down his rapid breathing as sweat was dropping down from his forehead.

It's enough.

Eijirou wanted to say those words to him. Tell him that he's done a good training today and there's no need to hurt himself anymore with it, but he was a coward. A coward who knows that sometimes it's just better to keep his words in check.

But he couldn't hide his relieved sigh when Katsuki finally turned around to walk back to them, being done with the exercise and torturing his own body to the final point.

"Those explosions were impressive. You're getting so strong, young master", Eijirou smiled when Katsuki was close enough to hear his words, but after getting a quick sharp look from him, he realized the little mistake he made. He muttered a quiet apology, but Katsuki just shook his head and sat down next to the stone.

They watched quietly as the dust was settling down in a distance, the afterward of the pressure what was released from the explosions. It wasn't a bad sight at all even though it was only a desert they were looking at.

Somehow it was a calm sight to see. Nothing but sand in the horizon, maybe a couple trees behind the sandy little hills since they aren't in the middle of the desert anyway.

Katsuki was still panting little bit, trying to calm down his breathing while letting his body just relax before getting ready for the ride back to home. Some of his blonde hair was damped and glued against his forehead, the sweat glistening slightly under the rays of hot sun.

Good thing he wasn't wearing any kind of tunic or longer clothes right now, his sweaty skin would just be glued against the fabric and feel uncomfortable. And Katsuki very rarely wore something that hid most of his body, he usually settled down for a white shendyt with colorful belt to stylish it.

But while the blonde looked like he had run across the desert and was dead tired, pain covering his hands from the pressure of the explosions, there was a hint of satisfaction as well. He was feeling a lot better now that he had a chance of letting out those feelings he had been trying to suppress all this time.

There were things Eijirou wanted to talk with him, but right now he felt like the silence between them wasn't that bad.

He sensed how Katsuki was calmer right now, finding some kind of inner peace here after all that hard training, so he didn't feel like ruining the moment with anything else right now. And if Katsuki was feeling peaceful, then so was Eijirou too. It's actually a nice change to be here and say nothing, just enjoy the silence of the nature after all that hassle what's been happening lately.

Even though there were no words exchanged, Eijirou could feel like he was little bit closer to Katsuki in some level. That this was a good thing and the blonde was most likely feeling the same. Feeling like it's just nice to sit next to him and say nothing.

To enjoy this little close moment because they haven't spend any time together lately. Katsuki's been busy with his own stuff and Eijirou has been helping around the house and whenever Mitsuki or Masaru needed something.

This calm atmosphere around them was full of warmth and all around nice indeed.

Eijirou sighed again, feeling satisfied and relaxed. Maybe he had needed this kind of break from all those busy tasks, too. He hadn't even noticed that earlier.

He stared into the distance for a while before finally turning his gaze back to Katsuki's direction, his eyes meeting with those crimson red ones as Katsuki was watching him. None of them dared to say anything for a moment, just keeping the eye contact going on while staring deeper into each other's eyes.

It was Katsuki who eventually broke both the silence and the eye contact as he got up from the ground and wiped sand off of his white skirt.

"I guess it's time to head back home or else the hag will make a scene." Katsuki's word came out little bit rough, but Eijirou noticed that there wasn't that usual harshness in them. It's better that way.

"It's understandable. But she might be taking too much stress about it, though", Eijirou answered and smiled when Katsuki turned his gaze back to him. For a moment Katsuki seemed to tense up, but as quickly as he did his whole body relaxed again and he nodded. It was little bit rare for him to just nod as an answer, but Eijirou didn't care.

The blonde took the cloth from the ground and dusted it before walking next to the horse and putting it back on its back. The horse didn't mind it all, it just kept eating the sad amount of grass that was on the ground while Katsuki patted its shoulder.

As Eijirou got up again from the stone and stretched his arms for a while, getting ready for the upcoming ride back home, he was surprised by Katsuki's next words.

"Tell me Eijirou... are you feeling happy?"

His ruby red eyes were back at Katsuki who just watched the black horse while he was avoiding the eye contact with him.

The question really caught him off guard and Eijirou had to think hard before answering to it.

Is he happy right now? Why is Katsuki even asking something like that so suddenly?

If he has to be honest, he's not quite sure. He's not sure what kind of answer Katsuki is looking for to hear but he decides to be honest with him. It's only fair.

"I think I am. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve to be this happy and I do have those days when I feel down... but I'm happy."

He's happy. This current home is making him happy and the way he's treated there is more than he could have ever asked for.

Katsuki is making him happy, too. For some reason.

And he wanted to tell that to him but he didn't find a courage to say it loud. Because if he says it loud, then he admits it completely. There's probably nothing wrong to admit that Katsuki is like a friend to him and being with him makes him feel calm and happy.

But Katsuki probably can sense it. He's not stupid, he's far from that.

Katsuki hummed quietly and turned his back to him, patting the horse for the last time before getting on its back. "That's good."

Their eyes met again only when Katsuki held out his hand again to help him get to Eboni's back as well so that they can finally head back to home. There's still some things that needs to be done before tomorrow.

"Are you happy, young--... Katsuki?" Eijirou asked while he grabbed his hand and helped himself onto the back of the horse. The mare had already abandoned the grass and was now waiting for Katsuki to give it a command to move.

The redhead was slightly surprised when Katsuki didn't immediately answer to his questions, instead taking his time like he was thinking about it. After a while the blonde just hummed again while Eijirou was wrapping his arms around his waist.

"I guess I am happy."

Though the blonde couldn't see it, Eijirou smiled softly as the answer was the one he was looking for. If Katsuki is happy, then it means everything is okay. Maybe he had been overthinking everything, like always. That's another bad habit of his.

"I'm going to take a bath when we get back home", Katsuki announced while giving a command to Eboni to start walking. The black horse just tossed its head and snorted while it began to walk in a steady pace. Maybe the mare is happy to go back home too.

"Of course, Katsuki. I'll let one of the servants know so they can warm up the water for your bath."

"No. I want you to do it."

"Huh? But I'm probably going to have other tasks to do. And I need to feed the horses later, it's going to take some time to warm up the water and fill the bathtub."

"It's okay, I'll feed the horses."

Eijirou didn't know what to say, so after being silent for a moment, he just sighed and nodded, knowing Katsuki can't see it.

"I'll get your bath ready."


 

The bathroom was getting more steamy as the wood fired stove in the corner of it was warming up another set of water for Katsuki's bath. Eijirou had never done this before, it was always one of the few servants that helped around the villa but for some reason Katsuki had decided that the redhead would do it this time.

It's not like he can't complain about it, but it was little bit out of character. Eijirou didn't understand why Katsuki suddenly decided that he's the one who helps him with his bath, but at the same time he didn't want to think that it's a bad thing.

Katsuki is placing even more trust in him and he doesn't want to disappoint him either.

Eijirou was putting some of the scented paste into the water as Katsuki finally arrived there just in time.

"Everything's ready. Just get in and I'll start washing your hair", Eijirou said while he went to check if the water on the stove was warm enough to be used.

"Don't warm it up too hot, I'm not here to burn myself." Katsuki's words made him just smile little bit. He's going to make sure the water's not burning hot or else he's going to get an earful from him and he'd rather not have that right now.

He turned his gaze back to Katsuki who had already started on untie the knot of his belt and strip off his clothes. In his typical way he let them just fall on the ground after the knot was opened and before the blonde even made an attempt to get in the tub, he used the water in one of the basins to wash off the kohl from his face.

Eijirou found it little bit funny when Katsuki was ready to get in the tub, but instead he tested the water with his hand before approving the temperature and succumbing into the warm water after that.

It's just amusing how precise he is with everything, but at the same time it made him the person he is. Even though he can be picky sometimes, he's not really that bad when you get to know him better.

As soon as Katsuki managed to settle down into the tub and let out that satisfied yet relaxed sigh, Eijirou approached him with the ceramic jug of warm water in his hands and stopped behind him. When Katsuki nodded as a sign that it's okay to start, Eijirou carefully poured some of the water on his head and watched as the blonde was relaxing even more.

He emptied only half of the jug before putting it down and taking another smaller jug next to the tub, pouring some of the essential oil to his hand and then starting to rub it on Katsuki's ash blonde hair. After pouring it little bit more and setting the jug aside, he carefully began to massage his scalp and watched as Katsuki had closed his eyes and just seemed to melt under his touch.

The essential oil smelled like flowers and it reminded him about the garden where he worked so often and Eijirou honestly liked the smell of it. And he liked the feeling of Katsuki's soft hair as he rubbed some of the oil on it.

Eijirou was aware of how important it is to make sure Katsuki's hair is as clean as possible. The party's tomorrow and if he messes this up and leaves it dirty, Katsuki needs to take another bath in the morning and that's going to make him angry because of the frustration.

Maybe it was silly to take a bit of stress over this moment, but Eijirou was starting to feel little stressed out. Not on purpose.

"Calm down, Shitty Hair. You're doing fine, I think you're better than anyone else who usually does this anyway." Katsuki's soft voice was like a magic trick, all those thoughts and horror scenarios what he was making up in his mind were as fast gone as they had appeared in the first place.

"I'm sorry. I just don't want to do a bad job and force you to take another bath tomorrow. Tomorrow's going to be busy day, anyway", Eijirou apologized but Katsuki just hummed in agreement.

"I wouldn't mind if I had to miss out the party just because you did a shitty job. Wouldn't be angry at all either."

Eijirou knew Katsuki was being silly again. Mitsuki would be furious but honestly, the redhead could imagine Katsuki being actually secretly happy about any kind of reason why he wouldn't have to go to the party.

"Don't be like that. I'm sure the party's going to be fun, right?" Eijirou asked while he began to massage his scalp again, but this time Katsuki didn't answer at all. He knew he's poking a sensitive topic and if he's not careful, he might awaken the anger what seems to be resting right now.

But he's curious. He wants to know more, wants to learn everything about Katsuki. So maybe he should try his luck, just this time.

"Is there a reason why you're not excited about the party?"

He could see how Katsuki's shoulders tensed up for a moment and it was enough to tell him that he was in a dangerous waters right now. He needs to think hard before saying anything right now, or else he might set off Katsuki and he doesn't want to do that.

Katsuki's shoulders seemed to relax after that short moment of tension and he just grunted quietly, muttering something to himself before answering to his question.

"Because I dislike them. Do I need any other reason to not be happy about the invitation?"

"Of course not. It's understandable. I'm sorry if I was being too nosy."

Eijirou massaged his scalp for a while before stopping and taking the jug of water again and pouring the rest of the water on him while cleaning him up. After that he went to get more water from the stove and repeated the washing process couple times until the oil was gone from his hair.

He didn't feel like trying to hurry up Katsuki from the bathtub, so he let the blonde enjoy the warm water a little longer. Well, more than just a little longer. Eijirou poured more hot water into the tub couple times to make sure the water stays nice and warm as long as Katsuki wants to stay in it.

And he was still relaxing in the tub after Eijirou poured more hot water into the tub. He set the jug aside and started to collect Katsuki's clothes from the floor, setting them into a pile of dirty clothes before he went to grab a set of clean clothes for him.

While he was walking around the bathroom, he could feel Katsuki's gaze on him occasionally. He was keeping an eye on him, but at the same time it wasn't like he was watching how he's doing things and if he's doing everything the way it should be or not.

Whenever he turned his gaze to the blonde's direction and their gazes met, Eijirou let that soft smile stay on his face. In return he even got a smile back from Katsuki, which made him happier than it should. There was that mutual respect again, it had never really disappeared even though Katsuki has had his mood swings recently.

Eijirou let his gaze wander around the bathroom when everything was ready for Katsuki whenever he decides that the bath time is over. New clean clothes are waiting for the blonde and he even brought a towel for him so he can dry himself without having to wait it.

Eijirou was standing close to the stove when he felt Katsuki's eyes again on his back and he couldn't resist the urge.

He turned around to see the blonde leaning slightly against the edge of the stone tub, his eyes fixated on him like everything Eijirou's doing right now is the most exciting thing he's ever seen.

"You should join me, the water's still nice and warm", Katsuki suddenly said, but Eijirou could tell by the tone of his voice alone that the blonde was just joking around. It didn't stop him from smiling though and in the end it earned a quiet chuckle from the redhead.

"If I joined your bath right now, the tub would overflow and all that warm water would be gone. And dirty, too. You'd have to take another bath right after this one", Eijirou answered and noticed the playful smirk on Katsuki's face as he was finding it as amusing as he is.

"You're not tempted at all?" For a moment Katsuki looked slightly surprised, but that smugly smirk returned back to his face shortly after.

"Maybe a little bit. A nice warm bath doesn't sound bad at all."

Honestly the offer didn't sound as bad, Eijirou can only imagine how nice it must be to just relax in warm water while all worries of the day are slowly melting away. Though he couldn't really imagine being in the bathtub at the same time with Katsuki, they probably won't fit in there and it would be weird, too. Eijirou didn't find the thought that unpleasant at all though.

"Then next time we should bath together." Eijirou tried to find that hint of humor in Katsuki's eyes, but for a moment he looked like he was dead serious with his words. It made Eijirou just furrow his brows in confusion at that moment before he relaxed and smiled.

"You're too kind to me, Katsuki."

The blonde huffed and shook his head, confusing Eijirou slightly more with that gesture.

"I'm not being too kind. You deserve it, Eijirou. You deserve to be happy, you know?"

Katsuki's words wiped off the smile from Eijirou's face as he tried to progress his words. Is he being serious now? How could someone like him deserve to be happy? This happy, as he is right now.

It was hard to not let that doubt show on his face but as soon as Eijirou focused back on Katsuki, the blonde was gesturing him to get closer. He hesitated for a moment before walking next to the tub and kneeling down to be closer to the same eye level with him.

They didn't say anything for a moment, just watched deep into each other's eyes until Katsuki decided to try his luck.

He stretched out his other hand, slowly bringing it closer to Eijirou's face while trying to find any kind of uncomfortable reaction from him. He did notice how Eijirou seemed to hold his breath while his shoulders tensed up, but he relaxed very quickly.

However, there wasn't any sign of him to wanting the blonde to pull his hand back to the tub and keep it away from him, so he kept bringing it closer and closer until it touched the other side of Eijirou's face, his fingers carefully brushing his cheek.

"Well if you don't want to take a bath with me right now, then make sure to wash and clean yourself tonight before going to sleep." The blonde's words came out almost like a whispers and Eijirou was wondering why he was telling him that. He does wash himself every day anyway.

Eijirou would have asked why Katsuki was asking him to do that, but he was too busy with the fact that the blonde was so gently touching his cheek. The moment didn't last long and before he had more time to even process what is happening, Katsuki had already pulled his hand back to the tub and smiled.

"You're coming to the party tomorrow with me."

It took a moment for Eijirou to process those words Katsuki just said and his expression was probably hilarious because the blonde chuckled after watching him long enough.

"I'm what?"

Eijirou couldn't believe his ears.

Chapter Text

He had been really looking for that day off as the Bakugou family is attending at the party. It's not like Eijirou is feeling lazy or anything, he really likes to serve this family because the treatment they give to him is so different from the way his previous owners did.

But surely anyone would agree that the possible day off is always something you can't wait to have.

So when Katsuki suddenly had announced that he's taking Eijirou to the party with him, the redhead didn't know if it's a joke to see what kind of reaction he has or if it's true.

It was true.

And maybe that's why he was feeling so restless last night that sleeping had been almost impossible and now the morning felt like it was just getting worse as time goes on and they're getting ready for the party. Maybe ridiculously early if you ask him, but then again it's understandable because it isn't just any kind of party anyway.

"There's no way I'm going to wear something like that!"

"Hey brat, now it's not the time for that!"

Eijirou was ready to turn around and return back to the stable where at least is quiet and peaceful atmosphere as soon as he heard the agrument what was still going on. The entire morning has been just a big hassle and he had been really glad to escape some of the drama as he went to do the morning stable work.

But now that he was returning back to the house, it felt like someone has unleashed a demon or two and they were currently possessing those two hot-headed blondes. Katsuki had tried to sneak out to the stable with him, but Mitsuki had caught him and they've been probably arguing this whole time. It doesn't even surprise him if that's the case.

Both Mitsuki and Katsuki weren't backing away from the argument. One of them had to win it and knowing how stubborn they both are, it'll take a while before they get tired of it.

Eijirou really hated seeing their arguments because he never wanted to take anyone's side. He understood some of the things what Katsuki was always complaining, but then again sometimes he was being just an ass and trying to pick a fight without any particular reason. He also knew that Mitsuki was most of the time right and making sense with her point of view, but they just tend to have a quarrels whenever there was a moment for it.

Knowing how much Katsuki was thirsty for winning, it's not really that surprising how he always seems to keep up with the arguing. They probably argue about the stuff what isn't even worth of it, like it's their way of communicating or something. Whatever.

What he could grasp from the bits he managed to hear, right now they're fighting about the outfit Mitsuki tried to offer to him.

And Katsuki wasn't having any of it right now.

"I already told you that I hate those silky see-through tunics! They're stupid. I'm not wearing one", Katsuki growled as he was already letting out small sparks from his palms, little cracking noises audible whenever there was a slight pause between their words.

"Oh hush my child, stop whining over little details. It's not that bad and you know it." Mitsuki's sharp gaze was drilling through her son for a while before she turned her gaze to Eijirou's direction. It softened immediately when her eyes met with Eijirou's and a little smile was visible on her face.

"Good timing, Eijirou. Please help my stubborn brat get dressed and ready for the party. He's acting like a little kid and doesn't even let any of the servants help him."

Eijirou could see how Katsuki was glaring daggers at his mother's direction, clearly not happy about the way she talked about him. Or about the fact that now she was ignoring him and instead focusing on the redhead instead.

"Stop dragging Eijirou into your messes. This is between me and you, he doesn't need to take a part of it."

"But I'm telling the truth, you've been shooing other servants away this entire morning. Just stop it already and let Eijirou help you, ungrateful child."

They were about to take another round of their arguments when Masaru decided to finally take the bull by the horns and make an end for this ridiculous fight.

"Stop it, both of you. We don't have time for these unnecessary fights. You're making everyone feel uncomfortable." Masaru almost always did try to interfere with the fights whenever he found a chance for it. But it wasn't usually with the determination and commanding tone he used this time. He was almost always talking with more of a shy attitude, which didn't make sense considering his rank as a captain of his own troops.

Eijirou used to doubt some times if his rank even is anything like that since he doesn't seem to act like a leader-like person whenever he's with his family. But sometimes, especially during times like these when he left that shy and kind attitude and decided to speak up his mind, he convinced the redhead to believe that he indeed is a captain of his chariot unit troop.

"Stay out of this, old man!" Katsuki growled, but Masaru shot a sharp gaze at him. Something what's really rare and even Eijirou was feeling it, feeling the shivers what were going down his spine.

"Katsuki. Just get ready, we don't want to be late." His voice was almost creepily calm, yet commanding. Clearly Masaru didn't use that tone very often because even Katsuki was left there watching him like he's weighing his options whether he should challenge his father in an argument or not.

Luckily he decided against it. With deep and annoyed sigh, Katsuki threw his hands in the air at defeat. It was almost like a miracle, Eijirou knew how much Katsuki liked to be a winner and admitting that he's been defeated is something he never does.

Eventually the blonde turned his gaze at Eijirou's direction before nodding his head at his room's direction.

"Come on Shitty Hair. Let's get ready."

"His name is Eijirou, Katsuki!"

"Do you think I don't know that, old hag?!"

It was really close that another argument wasn't blown in the air but before everything could escape to that, Eijirou quickly moved next to Katsuki and gently took his hand in his own. "Let's go young master. You need to get ready", he said while guiding the blonde out of the room.

Katsuki muttered something and followed him without any complaints. It probably left his parents watch after them with surprised look on their faces as Katsuki's pride wouldn't usually let anyone do something like this to him. But that's the least of the problems right now.

Eijirou could sense the atmosphere starting to relax as soon as they were at Katsuki's room and the wooden door was closed, leaving them alone without anyone else's presence in there.

The redhead didn't even hide the fact that after he closed the door, he let out a relieved sigh and eased up his mind. What a mess it had been indeed. He really disliked watching how Mitsuki and Katsuki are constantly arguing over everything they just could come up with. It's not like they have that bad of a relationship, it's just the way they communicate with each other most of the time. Eijirou will never be able to understand how the house isn't torn completely apart after some of those arguments.

His eyes were at the door for a moment before he realized he's still holding Katsuki's hand. He turned his gaze to the blonde's direction and their eyes met as Katsuki was watching him, not really looking like he's even bothered by it even a slightest bit.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that", Eijirou quickly apologized while letting go of his hand and taking a little bit of distance, his eyes moving away from the blonde as well while he started to look for the clothes.

"No need to apologize over nothing", Katsuki reminded him before sighing and sitting down to the closest chair in the room. "I guess it's good you did that." He added and crossed his arms over his chest, his gaze staying on him before he finally moved it to somewhere else.

Upon hearing his words Eijirou let a quick smile appear on his face before he continued searching the clothes. It didn't take long before he spotted them, Katsuki had probably thrown them to the closest little wooden table as soon as Mitsuki had brought them to him and just put on his daily clothes instead.

It was going to be a real pain to make Katsuki wear everything Mitsuki had chosen for him, Eijirou could tell it already by the way the blonde just sat down without making an attempt to remove his current clothes. Exactly like a stubborn child. Maybe there was some truth in Mitsuki's words, after all. But that's something Eijirou would never really agree loudly, it'd piss off Katsuki and right now he didn't need anything else except his full willing to cooperate with him.

Eijirou slightly shook his head while he grabbed the white shendyt, letting his fingers brush against the fabric couple times as he examined it curiously. It was definitely made from some kind of expensive fabric, the way the material wasn't rough but instead soft and smooth against his fingers.

His eyes trailed along the pleaded design of it. It made it look like Mitsuki had added various layers on it, but it was just the fooling of the pleading on it. It didn't look bad at all, even though there's a golden yellow belt to go with it.

Maybe it's better to get Katsuki dressed up before they start adding up the jewelry what was waiting on the table, with the other part of the costume as well as the eyeliner Katsuki's missing at the moment. Which is honestly surprising, he never starts his day without adding it.

Eijirou turned around with the shendyt in his hands, his eyes moving back to Katsuki as to tell him to stop being stubborn and just undress everything he's wearing right now.

But to his disappointment Katsuki's gaze seemed to stay in the corner of the room, his thoughts racing as the expression on his face was calm yet thoughtful. He's definitely deep in his thoughts. Something Eijirou hasn't seen very often, Katsuki isn't really a person to just fall into his own world and ignore everything around him while he's thinking hard.

"I think we should really start dressing you up, young master." His words sounded like they came out unnecessary loud but it was just because the room was so quiet when none of them said anything.

Katsuki didn't seem to react to his words at all. It was surprising, but then again Eijirou was aware of the fact that the blonde isn't thrilled about the idea of going to the party. He sighed and let his gaze wander little bit in a room.

It's really a simple room. All the furniture there is just something necessary, like tables and chairs and such. His bed was at the back of the room, close to the wall yet not touching it at all. The sight of it made Eijirou tilt his head slightly. He had tried to sleep in a bed when he was at Nakhti's place but he never really got used to it. Maybe it had something to do with his constant fear of bad things happening when he's not on his guard or maybe it's just the way he's used to sleeping on floor with various mats and carpets softening the ground just enough.

Katsuki probably would never understand the simple life style like that. He's always been surrounded by beautifully crafted items and comfortable clothes, so it's not like you can even expect anything like that from him.

"Katsuki... I know you don't like it but we can't stay here all day. Your mother's going to be angry if we're taking too long with this." Eijirou turned his gaze back to Katsuki and noticed that this time he seemed to react to his words. The blonde just sighed, annoyed expression quickly on his face before it disappeared.

No matter how much Katsuki hated everything about this, he wasn't going to lash out on Eijirou who's just doing his job. And Eijirou wasn't afraid of something like that happening, either. No matter how aggressive Katsuki can look when he's angry, it's mostly just all bark and no bite.

"I know Eijirou. Fuck this though, I'm not going to wear everything she's trying to force me to wear", Katsuki growled as he finally stood up and began to untie the knot of his belt. In a smooth movement it was undone and he took off the skirt, leaving his underwear on only.

"I'm sure we can improvise somehow. Don't worry about it." Eijirou smiled and walked closer to wrap the pleated white shendyt around him, kneeling down to tie the knot of the belt properly while Katsuki looked like he didn't know what was happening. Or why it was happening.

"I can tie my own belts, thank you very much", the blonde just automatically almost hissed without thinking it twice but when Eijirou shot a curious gaze at him, he could see that Katsuki probably regretted using that tone of voice on him. So instead of feeling like he did something wrong, Eijirou just smiled while tightening the knot.

"I'm not doubting that. But your mother told me to help you get dressed completely and I think this is what a slave should do." Eijirou would be lying if he said he didn't find it amusing how Katsuki was lost for words for a moment. The blonde looked even slightly embarrassed as he stared the redheaded slave for a while before turning his gaze away.

"You're getting too cocky, Shitty Hair."

"Forgive me. I didn't mean to push my own limits."

"No. It's fine. Just be careful when you're doing it. You'd get in trouble if someone else heard you say stuff like that."

Eijirou flashed him a quick smile and tightened the knot one more time before approving it.

He got back on his feet and grabbed the next clothing from the table, knowing that this one's probably the one what Katsuki is hating the most. The completely silky pearl white tunic, so white in fact that it's almost see-through. Eijirou understood immediately why Katsuki doesn't like the idea of wearing it.

Yes, the fabric is smooth and light to wear but at the same time it's just too much. At least for his own taste and knowing how Katsuki is used to wear shendyt most of the time, he probably feels like there's too much clothing on him with something like this. Even if it's just a see-through piece of fabric. Very rarely Eijirou has seen him wear a tunic or a robe anyway.

"Yeah fuck that. I'm not putting it on." Katsuki already commented the piece of clothing before Eijirou even managed to turn around and show it to him.

Oh boy this is going to take some time and he's sure he won't be able to talk him to even consider wearing it.

"Are you sure? It might be nicer than it looks like."

"Eijirou, no. Just no."

"Very well, Katsuki."

Katsuki huffed and crossed his arms again as Eijirou put the tunic away. He knows Mitsuki wants the blonde to wear something more than just a better looking shendyt, so there must be some kind of good alternative cloth for it.

He turned his gaze around the room as he tried to find a solution to it.

In the end he found out something what was little bit pleated like Katsuki's shendyt and it was close to a shirt than tunic, so Eijirou tried to persuade him to wear it instead. Katsuki didn't seem to be very fond of the idea but between the shirt and the see-through tunic, he eventually chose the shirt. At least it's not that bad?

Well maybe it was little bit. It hugged his chest perfectly, not too tightly but then again it wasn't as loose as some of the shirts usually are. To his dismay it was short and left his belly button visible, but that wasn't as big of a problem since he's most of the time wearing only the shendyt or loincloth, leaving his chest bare completely.

Eijirou was honestly happy that Katsuki accepted this as a solution to the earlier problem, at least he's wearing something more. Mitsuki's probably going to nag about it but hey, he's wearing something different than usual.

Next were the jewelry what had been decided already.

"Shit, I hate all this unnecessary stuff", Katsuki muttered while he was putting thick and long golden bracelets around his wrists. It made Eijirou smile again because he really agrees with that. It's important to show off how wealthy you are but jewelry is most of the time just unnecessary, at least that's what he's always thought about them.

And Katsuki wasn't clearly fan of it either. Most of the time the jewelry he wears is simple, like a golden armlet in either one of his arms or both at the same time. Sometimes he did have bracelets as well but mostly it was just an armlet due to them not being in his way that much.

This time he wasn't missing armlets either, having one in both of his upper arms. Of course they were made of gold as well, with a little triangle pattern in them.

But the worst one was by far the one what Eijirou was putting on him. The blonde cursed silently as he gently put the giant neck collar on him, starting to tie it tight enough that it's not going to fall any time soon. Most of his shoulders were hidden underneath the colorful jewelry and as soon as it was on place, Katsuki looked like he wanted to rip the damn thing off of him.

Eijirou understood him so well, he wasn't really a fan of those big wesekh neck collars either. Nakhti forced him to wear them quite often so he can't really even think of putting one on his own neck again any time soon.

However, it doesn't mean that he's not admiring them. They always looked good on Denki and the way the sparky blonde wore them with a pride probably had something to do with it too.

And Katsuki... he looked gorgeous with it. It was little bit disappointing that he dislikes it because Eijirou wouldn't mind to see him wear something like that more often. But at the same time he just knew how uncomfortable those can be if you're not fan of them.

The hardest part of this mission was definitely now finished.

"You're almost done. I'll make the kohl ready." Eijirou started to prepare the makeup ready for use as Katsuki sat down again and just watched him, his eyes never leaving to anything else in the room. He could tell that Katsuki was pouting slightly because of everything he has to wear right now, but Eijirou can't help but be happy that the blonde didn't fight that much back.

He turned his gaze to the headdress that was resting on the table as well, wondering how he's going to make Katsuki wear it to finish everything. Katsuki had already complained about the amount of jewelry, which was kinda silly thing to do because that's not even a lot. Eijirou had to wear a lot more while he was owned by Nakhti. The amount of jewelry Katsuki is wearing is right and not too overpowering to make it look ridiculous.

As he approached Katsuki with the kohl pot and stick in his hands, he was almost waiting for the blonde to announce that he's going to do his own makeup because he's better at it anyway. Eijirou didn't even doubt it, Katsuki is better at doing it.

But he didn't say anything. When Eijirou stood in front of him, looking confused and not sure what to do, Katsuki just nodded as a sign for him to go for it.

Well if he insists.

After exchanging gazes for a while, Eijirou decided to bend down little bit and start applying eyeliner on Katsuki's eyelids. He tried to be careful as to not accidentally poke him with the stick and at the same time to make every line straight. His hands were still shaky, not as much as they used to be when he started doing his own makeup but it was still there.

He was so focused on the task that he didn't even notice just how close his face was to Katsuki's own. Katsuki could almost feel his breath on his face, judging by the gaze he was giving to him but the blonde didn't mind. He had no problem with it.

And maybe it's a good thing that the redhead didn't notice it. He'd just get embarrassed and most likely mess up the whole eyeliner when his focus would escape to the fact that he's so close to Katsuki.

It was amusing to watch how serious Eijirou was about it and since his focus was completely on Katsuki's eyes, he missed the smile what appeared on the blonde's face.

Eijirou took his time with the eyeliner but when he finished it, he was feeling proud of himself. The black lines didn't look shaky at all, even though they were definitely different from the way Katsuki paints them.

"Good job Eijirou", Katsuki said without even taking a look of himself from the mirror. There was that same little smirk on his face, but it wasn't mocking at all.

"You're not gonna check yourself from the mirror?" Eijirou asked, the hair brush already in his hands as he had put away the makeup and was ready to do the last task.

"I don't need to. I know they're good, you're getting better. It's not the first time you've done my kohl." Katsuki kept smirking and Eijirou was sure his grin grew little bit wider when the redhead felt like his face was trying to turn to the same color as his hair. His cheeks felt hotter than normally but before Katsuki would even make a joke about it, Eijirou was already behind him and gently brushing his soft ash blonde hair.

The whole room went quiet after that. Katsuki sat still and let Eijirou brush his hair in peace. And he was doing it as gently as he can, not wanting to pull any of the possible knots there might be. Though he couldn't even see any of them while watching and admiring his blonde hair.

A small smile was resting on his face as he kept brushing the soft locks. He had imagined that the whole scenario with him helping Katsuki get dressed would have gone a lot worse than it did.

But honestly? It went very well. Katsuki did throw an attitude but that wasn't anything unusual and in the end he agreed with almost everything.

Even his attitude seemed to be calm and relaxed right now and that's a good sign. He's glad about it.

Though Eijirou could still feel his cheeks being rather hot, probably decorated by reddish color that tried to imitate the color of his hair. Katsuki had actually praised him. It wouldn't be that big of a deal, but somehow it made Eijirou just so happy to hear those words from him. It made his heart beat little bit faster and seeing the approving gaze Katsuki had while he was smirking was enough for him to know he was being serious.

Katsuki definitely is something else.

Their quiet moment was disturbed only when the room to the door opened and Mitsuki looked inside, surprised that Katsuki is actually ready but at the same time looking disappointed that he isn't wearing the complete outfit what was meant to wear at the party.

"Woah, you actually did it, Eijirou." Her words had an honest surprised tone in them, but Katsuki just clicked his tongue while looking at her direction.

"Is there anything else?" He spitted, probably getting annoyed as he was reminded again that yes, he has to attend to the party.

"Nothing. Just remember to put the headdress on."

"I'm not putting it. It looks ridiculous and makes my hair look stupid."

"Then put a wig my son. There's always that choice."

"No."

"But Katsuki..."

"Just no."

Eijirou sighed quietly and hoped that Mitsuki didn't see it. The atmosphere in the room was so calm but it was dangerously starting to turn back to that familiar sour one. Katsuki probably noticed his reaction because instead of trying to make a full blown argument with her, he decided to back away.

"Maybe Eijirou could wear it? He's coming with us anyway."

The redhead tensed his shoulders upon hearing his own name in the conversation, for a moment even stopping brushing his hair as he hesitated. Eventually he started to brush it again, he's not going to take a part of that conversation.

"Katsuki, we talked about it."

"He's coming and that's it. It's not unusual that some people bring their slaves with them. I'll find him a better clothes and make sure he looks acceptable."

They shared a little argument about it, but Mitsuki probably realized that this is one of them what she's never going to win. So instead she gave in and told him to hurry up with it. There's still things to do as they need to put the horses ready.

"Are you sure it's a good idea to take me with you?" Eijirou finally asked after the silence returned to the room. Maybe it was a mistake, he noticed how Katsuki's shoulders tensed up as he looked like he couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Huh? There's nothing wrong about it, don't worry."

"...If you say so."

As soon as he was ready and stopped brushing his hair, Katsuki stood up and Eijirou took a moment to just admire him.

He looked beautiful, but at the same time manly too. He had tried to make another design to his eyeliner as they're going to the party and it looked nice, bringing out more of his red eyes as it wasn't just the typical thick lines. And his hair looked so much softer than usual, Eijirou was almost tempted to touch it again since it looked like a soft cloud.

His thoughts were cut short when Katsuki's eyes fell on him and his smirk was back again.

"Well, Shitty Hair. It's your turn to get ready. We don't have all day to waste."


 

The sound of two horses trotting on a hard ground was impressive enough to amaze Eijirou every time, but when there's four horses trotting? Even better.

Earlier he had been little bit surprised when Masaru had told him to clean up the leather harnesses and make sure the chariots look nice too. He had been wondering why they're taking horses to the party, even though the answer was obvious. They don't need to walk there if they use the chariots.

Well, the reason why he's surprised is the fact that the party is somewhere at the other side of the town, at the peaceful area what resembles the one where Bakugou family's villa is located.

Except this area was clearly even better one. Not so many houses were built close to other but the size of them was in another different level. Bakugou family's villa was huge enough to Eijirou, but some of the villas here are like three times the size of it. Maybe even more.

The horses were trotting in a steady pace ever since they left home. Eijirou had noticed couple times how Katsuki was tempted to just command his horses to gallop instead of this more calmer pace, but if his brown horses sped up their pace even the slightest, Masaru shot a glance at his way what was a clear warning for him to not do anything stupid.

As they passed some of the luxurious villas, Katsuki's mood started to drop and Eijirou just knew they're getting closer to the party.

And it's not like it's hard to guess which one is the Todoroki family's villa. They're not the only chariots that are heading toward the villa what was standing out from the others. It's just a lot bigger, a lot more fancy and the wall what surrounded the villa's area was more detailed than the others.

Definitely Todoroki family's villa.

Both chariots started to slow down as they were getting closer to the gate what was probably double the size of the gate back in Bakugou family's property. Eijirou couldn't even hide his amazement, he had never seen anything like this house before.

It was honestly the kind of house he always imagined as the palace where Pharaoh lives in. Outstanding and huge, something what makes his childhood home look like a pile of dirt next to it. And it probably is if he has to compare it to this.

He turned his gaze to Katsuki's direction, studying the annoyed expression on his face while the blonde was focusing on to drive the chariot. He looked like he regretted everything right now. The sourness in his eyes was something familiar, but then again in a different level what Eijirou has never seen before.

It makes him just more curious to learn why Katsuki doesn't like this place or the family. But then again knowing him, the reason can be anything. Literally anything. Sometimes it feels like if you greet him a way he finds annoying, that can be enough for him to decide that he doesn't like you.

The horses slowed their trotting, eventually changing it into a walking while they went through the open gate. Masaru's pair of grey horses were leading them and Katsuki's pair of brown ones were following behind. Though couple times Eijirou was afraid that the blonde would jokingly just command them to walk fast enough that Mitsuki and Masaru could feel their presence right behind them.

"I hate this already", Katsuki muttered quietly but it was enough for Eijirou to hear his words. His reaction didn't surprise him at all.

"I'm sure it's going to be fun." He smiled and noticed how Katsuki glanced at his direction, before turning his gaze back to the horses and just shaking his head slightly.

"I doubt that."

Eijirou wasn't sure how he could convince him to at least try to enjoy the party, so he decided to not say anything about it for now. He's not going to turn Katsuki's head so easily and since he's already feeling like this is some kind of punishment and torture, Eijirou's not going to be able change that attitude no matter what he says to the blonde.

But maybe he can make sure that Katsuki doesn't get too annoyed and make a scene. If he distracts him enough, he should be fine. And Eijirou honestly was placing his bet about that being the reason why Katsuki wanted him to the party with him. To distract him from the things and persons so he doesn't lose his temper.

As soon as the horses finally stopped close to the stable area, some of the stable workers came to grab them before the next chariot would stop there.

"And take a good care of them or else", Katsuki almost growled when the servant took his horses and began to lead them behind the stable where they can rest in a little pasture. Good thing Katsuki didn't manage to finish his sentence, knowing him the words that were about to escape from his mouth weren't going to be the polite ones. A stern look from Masaru reminded him about whether he wants to cause a scene here or not, so the blonde swallowed his pride and decided to ignore it.

Eijirou knew Katsuki wasn't meaning anything bad with his words. He just cares about his horses and that's how it should be anyway. Showing some respect to the animals what are pulling his chariot, after all.

"Smile Katsuki. We didn't come here to pout. It's rare for Enji to even throw a party in the first place. We're talking about Endeavor, Katsuki."

Mitsuki's words made him just roll his eyes and mutter something about him knowing it already.

The guards standing at the entrance of the house didn't even move to stop them to ask if they've been invited to the party. They most likely recognized the family, though Eijirou noticed how one of them shot a curious yet doubting gaze at his direction. Probably wondering whether to ask something from him or not. Katsuki noticed it immediately and just put his hand on Eijirou's shoulder while his red eyes were at the guard.

They didn't need to change any words. The guard just nodded slightly, understanding what Katsuki was trying to tell him without the use of words.

Eijirou tried to calm himself down, but as they walked inside the house, he felt like his heart was going to carve its way out through his chest. His emotions were just a big mess, most of it being curiosity and excitement of the new place. But at the same time that familiar hint of anxiety had perked up its head, watching the situation and waiting for something to be enough to trigger that overwhelming feeling. That feeling what sometimes felt like it's trying to suffocate him completely.

He was afraid of something like that happening, but after taking a glance at Katsuki who's walking right next to him and still keeping his hand on his shoulder, Eijirou felt more relaxed. He doesn't have to be afraid as long as he's with him. Katsuki has already made it very clear that he's not going to tolerate any silly business if someone tries something.

The big corridor felt like it's going on forever, never really ending. Some of the rooms along it were closed with the wooden doors, but couple of them were wide open and some of the servants were going back and forth between the rooms. They were busy and after watching them go for a while, Eijirou was really grateful that the Bakugou family's villa isn't anything like this house.

One of the servants met them soon after they arrived inside and began to lead them to the hall where the party was going on. Even the servants were dressed up with the finest looking clothes and jewelry, which just proved Eijirou's theory about this family being either really rich or just straight up noble. No one really told him anything about the Todoroki family beforehand, much to his dismay.

After taking another turn to the right and walking along another corridor that looked exactly the same as the others, Eijirou had to admit that he's already lost completely. If he worked in a house like this, he'd probably get lost into its labyrinth like corridors and just starve to death after that.

Oh how much more he's going to love and appreciate the Bakugou family's villa after this experience. At least you can't get lost there and the layer of it is simple.

"Enjoy the party and don't hesitate to tell if you need anything", The servant said after leading them through the wide open double doors to the giant hall, probably the biggest room in the house.

And Eijirou wasn't even trying to hide his amazement and curious gaze when they stepped inside.

The elegantly decorated hall was almost full of people chatting and laughing. Playful music was playing as the musicians were sitting at one side of the room and focusing to entertain people with their music, setting a joyful atmosphere and mood to the entire room.

And not to mention the delicious smell of different foods on the tables, waiting for the guests to grab a plate and fill it with everything what they desire to eat at that moment. So much food and different fruits, Eijirou has never seen as big amount of food anywhere as he's seeing right now. Not to mention the servants who were walking among the people and filling their cups with either wine or beer, depending what the guests wanted to drink.

Eijirou felt like he's out of place here. He doesn't belong here!

His eyes scanned through the expensive looking clothes of the guests, all those beautiful jewelry they're wearing and not to mention some of the headdresses. Many women complimented their beautiful white dresses with a headdress what was either full of colored stones, beads or feathers. And all of them looked so good.

Eijirou couldn't help but take a quick look at his own clothes. It's not like he's not wearing anything appropriate to the party. No, Katsuki made sure he's wearing clothes that don't make him stand out from the crowd, but that aren't too fancy for his liking either. His simple white tunic was slightly pleated as well, but not as much as some of the other tunics he could see some people wear.

Katsuki didn't want to drown him with jewelry since he's most likely aware of how Nakhti used to dress him with it like there's no tomorrow. To his relief Katsuki never made him wear any kind of neck collar. Only a pair of golden bracelets as well as armlets that matched with them. Simple yet stylish and Eijirou was okay with them.

"Come on Katsuki. You're going to greet Enji as well and thank him for inviting all of us", Masaru said and started to look for the host of the party from the room. His words snapped Eijirou out of his thoughts and made him realize they've been standing at the door for a moment what honestly felt like one eternity.

Maybe he started to understand why Katsuki never wanted to attend to the party. So many people, too much for his liking. Too many curious gazes.

Katsuki sighed but didn't complain, which was surprising. But then again they're here finally and he can't just act like a brat.

Masaru seemed to notice the host of the party as he nodded his head toward the direction and started heading toward it, Mitsuki following right next to him while greeting all the other people who greeted them. Katsuki just followed behind and dragged Eijirou with him.

Though Eijirou didn't mind it. As long as Katsuki was right next to him, he knew he'd be calm and won't get any stupid ideas that ends up with him worrying over nothing. Katsuki knew it too.

"I really hate this", Katsuki muttered, his eyes looking bored as he ignored most of the people who greeted them. His focus was mostly on Eijirou.

"It's okay. I'm sure you're going to have fun here." It was an obvious lie, Eijirou knew that but he still tried to cheer up the blonde. Katsuki wasn't really buying it judging by the way he just rolled his eyes, but the redhead noticed that quick little smirk on his face before it disappeared again under that stoic expression. It made him flash a quick smile to him too.

Masaru and Mitsuki stopped to greet a man who was probably the famous Enji Todoroki, someone who has been the hot topic of the rumors for a while now. And Eijirou started to understand why. Or why in the first place he got that promotion and raise to Pharaoh's army.

Enji's more beast of a man than anything else. His tall and sturdily-built physique is enough to intimidate anyone who wants to challenge the might of the famous and powerful Egypt. Not to mention his muscles looked like he'd be able to take a hand-to-hand fight with the crocodiles in the Nile and most likely win that said match too.

Everything about him was intimidating and Eijirou felt like a pathetic little ant next to him. Enji could crush him with little to no effort at all, even if he was using his quirk to harden himself in an attempt of trying to protect himself from him.

Eijirou didn't even listen the first half of the conversation what Masaru and Enji were talking. His eyes were fixated on the man, watching as his short crimson red hair highlighted his sharp ice blue eyes. The combination of them made him even more scary looking, but what really caught him off guard was his beard and mustache. Both of them were made of fire and Eijirou wasn't that stupid, he immediately put two and two together.

Enji Todoroki has a quirk.

No wonder he got a raise to Pharaoh's army. As intimidating person as he is with a quirk that seems to be fire type is like a dream soldier for the Pharaoh.

"Looks like your son has been training his quirk as well. No doubt he's following your footsteps, Masaru." Enji's deep voice sent a chill down Eijirou's spine and he noticed how the man was looking at Katsuki's direction, making an eye contact with the blonde.

Even Katsuki seemed to tense up under his gaze, but instead of being somehow scared of him, he just clicked his tongue and stared right back at him. "Thank you for inviting us, mister Endeavor."

Seeing Katsuki act so out of character made Enji's presence even more scary than it was already. Even he knew better than to not mess up with the man. Katsuki never talked so politely and formally like he just did and Eijirou was feeling slightly impressed, too. Enji had so strong personality and harsh outlook that even Katsuki decided to show some respect instead of spitting insults at his way.

Maybe Katsuki has some sense of self-protection left, after all.

And maybe the way Masaru shot that same glare at his way was enough to remind him that it's just better to behave here.

Eijirou was sure his whole body froze as soon as Enji's eyes moved from Katsuki to him, his sharp gaze studying him as he was probably trying to recognize him. And as expected, he didn't manage to do that so he took a step closer to take a better look at him. The step was enough to raise up some of his anxiety levels, Enji's presence was so intimidating that Eijirou was sure he's not going to be able to handle it.

That gaze alone is enough to make him crumble in front of him. And he was really tempted to harden himself just in case, like he needs to protect himself from this overwhelming feeling. From this person who looks like he could tear him into pieces in the blink of an eye.

"And who are you?" There was no kindness or warmth in his voice. If anything, Enji's words were like knives, ready to stab him if he gives him the wrong answer. Ready to punish him with the power of words alone.

Eijirou could hear his own heart beating fast and he didn't even dare to take his eyes off from him. But at the same time it felt like all the words he tried to say were suddenly either lost or just stuck in his throat.

He wanted to be swallowed by the ground and disappear, never to be seen again. Enji's presence was too strong, too intimidating and he's sure he can't handle it anymore.

"Don't mind him. He's our slave, Eijirou. He won't cause any harm because he knows the punishment he'll get if he does."

And with that Katsuki was suddenly between him and Enji. His words were colder than usual and the way he talked about him was very degrading, but that was the least of his problems right now. Eijirou just wanted to get a break from the intimidating atmosphere that seemed to follow Endeavor wherever he went.

"A slave, huh." Enji's eyes were all over him again and with a final look he finally turned his gaze away and left him alone. Eijirou felt like he could breath properly again as soon as his sharp gaze was away and in anywhere else instead of being on him.

"Well, owning a slave does teach how to use more authority."

Enji gave his last glare at Katsuki before exchanging couple words with Masaru and then finally leaving. As his figure was disappearing among the crowds of people, Eijirou felt his anxiety levels lower down slowly.

He definitely was glad to be owned by the Bakugou family instead of anyone else. He didn't even want to imagine what kind of life he would have if he was owned by someone like Enji.

Eijirou could still feel the shivers run down his spine, still being aware of just how intimidating and powerful Enji Todoroki can be with only his presence alone. He's someone you don't want to mess with. And who most likely doesn't spare using the whip if he feels like it.

Even the thought of it was enough to turn his skin full of goosebumps. He knew Enji was somewhere else in the room, but it felt like he could still feel those sharp eyes on him.

But it was expected from someone like him. It won't be long until he'll be the general of the army, Eijirou's sure about it.

Katsuki's deep and frustrated sigh drew his attention finally back to the blonde who was standing next to him, arms crossed while he glared at Masaru's direction.

"Well we greeted him." Katsuki finally pointed out when Masaru turned his gaze to him. Maybe he had been waiting some kind of approval to leave or just walk at the other side of the room where one of the corners were calm enough, not too many people standing close to it.

"Yes and we're going to meet and greet other people too."

Katsuki's expression was instantly more sour and Mitsuki looked like she wanted to scold him, but instead she kept herself calm and collected. She knew this isn't a place for them to have another argument, they can have those all they want at home but in a party like this? No. Just no.

"Give me a break, I'm tired already. Too much socializing", Katsuki groaned quietly and Eijirou understood him. There's just way too many people for his liking and what he's learned from him, he knows how much Katsuki dislikes all the hassle and noise from the crowds.

Masaru looked at his son with softer gaze, not the kind of commanding one what he's been using to make Katsuki behave better. Maybe he understood, too.

"If you want to follow my footsteps into the army, I think you should use this as an opportunity and leave some kind of impression of yourself. Who knows what kind of doors that can open for you in the future." Masaru's words were wisely chosen, the way he knew would affect Katsuki.

And he chose them very well. Katsuki, while still looking tired and done with all this talking and socializing, had some kind of spark in his eyes when he mentioned his possibly future career in the army.

It surprised Eijirou. He was aware of Katsuki's plans to join the army as soon as he can, but the way it sparked that fighting spirit in him was like a new side he's seeing for the first time.

Seeing Katsuki so passionate about something made Eijirou's chest feel warm with proud and some kind of happiness for him. At least the blonde knows what he wants for his life and has already made some plans for it. And he wants to support him with every way he can. It makes sense why Katsuki trains his quirk so much during his free time. Everything makes so much sense.

"Just watch me. Before you notice it, I'll be in a higher rank than you, old man." Katsuki smirked and Masaru couldn't hide his own smile. It was rare to see the whole family be so calm and not arguing over nothing but Eijirou was honestly fascinated by the view he was witnessing right now.

The family dynamics was definitely little bit weird, but in a good way. Even when Mitsuki and Katsuki were constantly arguing at home over stupid things and yelling at each other like they're ready to start a war between them, there's a deep care what she is showing at him. In her own peculiar way.

But it seems to work well enough.

"Make sure to greet Taishirou at least. He's one of the garrison troops overseers and making him as your ally is a wise move, kiddo."

"Don't ever call me that again."

Katsuki's sour expression made Masaru chuckle, amused but at the same time letting himself be more carefree. And with that he and Mitsuki left to greet their friends, leaving the blonde to work with the impression he wants to leave from himself. Mitsuki shot a final glance at his way before she disappeared into the crowd, like a silent warning that he better behave and not cause a scene.

Katsuki just huffed and turned his gaze back to Eijirou. The redhead just smiled, not knowing what else he should do or say. He's just going to stay at Katsuki's side and that's enough for him.

The blonde exchanged gazes with him without saying anything for a while, before he sighed again and relaxed his shoulders what were quite tense earlier.

"I guess we should find Taishirou and deal with all this socializing out of the way. Stay by my side, Shitty Hair."

"Yes, young master!"

Katsuki just rolled his eyes and began to lead him through the crowds. It can't be hard to find this Taishirou person, right?


 

The answer to the question is yes, it wasn't hard to find Taishirou among the guests.

And as soon as they approached him and he seemed to recognize Katsuki, Eijirou just knew that he's the kind of person who's going to annoy the blonde.

"Ah, you're Masaru's son, aren't ya? How old are you, am I expecting to see you at the army any time soon?" The smirk on Taishirou's face was a good rival to Katsuki's usual smirk. But while Katsuki's was usually mischievous or even mocking, his was more playful than anything else. He wasn't trying to make fun of him.

"Not yet. I'm seventeen but I can tell you already, when I turn twenty and can join the fights, I'll make sure even Pharaoh knows my name. It won't be long until I'll join the army anyway" Katsuki's grin didn't seem to surprise him at all, the way Taishirou just scratched his blonde hair while his golden yellow eyes were studying Katsuki was everything else than surprised or startled.

"I see. You're ambitious kiddo with an explosive personality. Pretty fitting for a fellow who's got the kind of quirk you have. You've definitely got the potential." Every word was slowly growing Katsuki's pride more and Eijirou noticed how Taishirou probably found it just endearing if anything else. Katsuki tried to show him off but it wasn't really giving the kind of reaction he was probably waiting for.

If anything, Taishirou was just playing with him. Seeing how his ego grew with little praises, the older man decided to drop the bomb and tug Katsuki back into reality.

"Well, have you signed up for the army yet? You know, the youngest ones have been only five years old when they've been put in the army's list. I can not recall your name being there, Katsuki Bakugou." The playful smirk seemed to spread wider on the older man's face as Katsuki's ego was getting a big blow from his words, leaving the blonde slightly confused as just a moment ago Taishirou was praising him. Now it was more like an insult.

Not really though. Eijirou couldn't find any kind of insulting tone in the way Taishirou talked with him. He was just playing around and teasing him little bit.

"I never needed to be signed up at such a young age. It's obvious what my path is going to be."

Eijirou could sense some signs of annoyance in Katsuki's words. Oh boy, Katsuki was either taking it too seriously now or just didn't want to accept the fact that the man was teasing him.

While some people would start to back away from the conversation as soon as Katsuki was showing signs of getting annoyed, Taishirou just pushed his limits and tested the waters, playing along as he was clearly finding this whole situation amusing yet interesting. A chance to see his real personality.

"You know, while I admire your thirst for victory and determined personality, I can already tell judging by our little conversation what your flaws are. Wanna hear me list them all?" Taishirou started, clearly surprising Katsuki because the blonde opened his mouth to say something but he was lost for words. Which was surprising, Katsuki Bakugou was never lost for words.

"You're crude, arrogant, short-tempered and quite aggressive person. Am I right? It's a good thing to be a competitive about some things but eventually you're going to be blinded by your own ego. And when that happens, your career in the army is gonna be cut short. You might even die at your first battle if you decide to not fix your attitude, boy. I've seen enough people like you stumble to their death only because they were too damn pride to even acknowledge anything else around them."

The expression on his face changed, that playful gaze turning to a serious one while his smirk was gone as well, lips pressed into a thin line as Taishirou was staring straight deep into Katsuki's red eyes.

Wrong move. Eijirou noticed how Katsuki was already clenching his fists, probably close to letting off smoke from his palms while he was resisting the urge to show him to not mess with him. The redhead knew this is going to end badly if Katsuki doesn't calm down or if Taishirou keeps poking the topic without hesitation.

"What are you trying to say?" Katsuki asked, his voice creepily calm while he was glaring him.

"I'm saying that with an attitude like that, it's your own grave you'll dig, Katsuki Bakugou. Even if gods have blessed you with a quirk, it doesn't mean that they're going to protect you from everything. Remember that, boy. Set is leading you into your own destruction at this point and the only goddess who's going to embrace you is Nephthys while Anubis is weighing up your heart."

Well chosen words mixed with the seriousness as Taishirou's expression didn't change at all was probably that little spark that was enough to trigger the situation. At least that's what Eijirou is afraid of happening right now. No matter how calm and collected Katsuki looked, he could tell just by the look of it alone that the blonde was at the edge of bursting into a full rage mood and getting ready to argue with Taishirou.

And he needs to think fast before this situation escapes out of hand completely.

Katsuki took a step closer to the man and without even thinking too much about it, Eijirou put his hand on his shoulder and it earned a curious yet annoyed gaze from the blonde.

"I think he's just teasing you, young master." Eijirou knew he was crossing his own limit. He can not do something like this, he doesn't have the authority to act this way. But who cares about that right now, Katsuki can punish him if he feels like that's necessary later. Right now he just doesn't want to let the situation go bad and with it, Katsuki would be in trouble.

Maybe there's a chance that Katsuki was never really going to make the situation worse, but Eijirou wanted to play it safe. He's not underestimating the blonde at all.

Katsuki's sharp gaze was on him for a while before he clicked his tongue and gently slapped his hand away from his shoulder. "I knew it already."

"Of course, young master. I'm sorry for interfering the conversation." Eijirou smiled. At least Katsuki didn't look like he's angry at him, so maybe he'll let that one slip and won't mention it later.

A gentle chuckle drew their gazes back to Taishirou's direction. For a moment the man was forgotten completely, but his reaction to the scene in front of him earned a curious gaze from both of them. What was so funny?

"You're letting a servant do something like that? Well, I wouldn't mind though, he's exactly right. It's a wise thing to listen to him right now" And with that Taishirou's gaze and whole attention was completely focused on Eijirou.

It was at the same time embarrassing and little bit overwhelming, he knew the man was studying him now and making his own assumptions about the redheaded slave and his relationship with Katsuki in general.

But the same playful smirk what was painted all over his face was slowly disappearing away, instead replaced with another serious expression the more he watched the redhead. His gaze wasn't mean at all, but it made Eijirou feel like he wanted to get smaller and eventually just turn invisible.

It's not like Taishirou is as intimidating as Enji was. While Enji was muscular and his gaze is sharp like it could pierce through anything, Taishiro's on the other hand like a gentle giant. His expressions are much softer and while he does have some muscles, he doesn't look like he's going to snap you like a twig.

"I see. The world hasn't been very kind to you", Taishirou finally said and it made Katsuki growl, telling him to leave Eijirou alone.

However, the blonde man just raised his hand as a sign for the younger one to stop whatever he's doing. Katsuki wasn't happy, but he shut his mouth, showing little bit of respect for him. Though he was ready to grab Eijirou and lead him away if Taishirou did any kind of wrong move.

"It's going to be okay. You've got a heart of gold, something what's rare these days. I'm sure he's noticed it too since he's letting you calm him down like that." Taishirou's words were soft but the quick grin finally appeared on his face again as he mentioned how Katsuki's probably seen the same thing he's seeing right now.

"I can tell that you're a strong one. No matter how much gods have played with your life, you still have that spark in your eyes. Like a baby chick. Its first challenge is to make its way out of the egg and then show it's strong enough to survive in the world so it gets fed and grows stronger. I guess you've already accomplished that and now you're just waiting for a moment to spread your wings."

"You're generous with your words, mister Taishirou." Eijirou had no idea what else to say. He was confused as why someone like Taishirou would pay even a slightest attention to a slave like him. So he just decided to thank him and even bow, showing him his uttermost respect.

A soft smile replaced the seriousness on his face and Taishirou tilted his head slightly, keeping his eyes on the redheaded slave and studying him for the last time.

"Maybe I am or maybe I'm not", he started, his curious eyes watching Eijirou before he finally turned his gaze to Katsuki, who started to look little bit impatient and wary of the words the man was about to say out loud. "But I guess I've found out one of your young master's weak spots."

Eijirou didn't even manage to ask what Taishirou meant with that, Katsuki cut him off completely.

"I think this is enough. It was nice to meet you and I'll show you just how wrong your words are. Just wait and see", Katsuki spit out his words in a quick yet annoyed tone, his eyes staring Taishirou like he's challenging him. But instead of staying still and letting the man accept the challenge, Katsuki grabbed Eijirou's hand and started to lead him toward the quiet corner of the room.

The redhead was surprised by this reaction, but at the same time he was kinda glad to get away from this situation. He turned his head and looked over his shoulder to Taishirou's direction for the last time, noticing that the blonde man was amused by the turn of events.

"I'll surely wait for that, Katsuki. I do want to see you prove my words being wrong", Taishirou said after him and waved his hand, making the last eye contact with Eijirou while that same playful smile was on his face.

Eijirou just nodded as a sign that he noticed and listened him before turning his gaze away and following wherever Katsuki wanted to lead him.

He was quite happy to find himself in the more peaceful corner of the room. Like a chance for him to breathe, but at the same time Eijirou knew how much Katsuki needed this little break too. All this socializing was pretty tiring, especially for someone like the blonde. He wasn't very good with it most of the time since everyone usually just backs away, too scared of his attitude and explosive personality.

Not to mention how Taishirou had just teased him enough to last for a while. Eijirou couldn't help but agree with the fact that Taishirou is a brave man, taking the bull by the horns and say things what people never would want to say to Katsuki, afraid of how he's going to react to them.

Katsuki let out a deep sigh as he leaned against the white wall, still slightly triggered by Taishirou's words. It was even a miracle itself how collected Katsuki managed to keep himself, no matter how furious he might have felt at that situation.

He had showed some respect to the blonde man, though Eijirou had noticed how close it was for him to snap and spit out rude insults to him.

"What a jerk. I fucking hate parties like these, can't stand all this socializing and stuff. People are so annoying", Katsuki complained, crossing his arms across his chest and then just letting that gloomy aura surround him.

"I think he was just testing you. I don't think he's that bad of a person." Eijirou's words earned a nasty look from Katsuki and the redhead took a step back as a sign that he's not trying to mock him. He didn't get any bad vibes from Taishirou, but then again the man had focused on playing with Katsuki so much that he didn't pay too much attention to him. In all honesty, Eijirou even kinda liked the way how the blonde man wasn't afraid of facing Katsuki and call him out like that.

Katsuki looked like he wanted to open up his mind and tell everything what he's thinking about him right at that moment, but instead the blonde just clicked his tongue loudly and turned his gaze away. "Whatever. He was annoying."

Eijirou smiled when he noticed that no matter how tough and pissed off Katsuki was trying to be right now, his expression was more softer than it should be. Maybe he's not really that annoyed because of Taishirou's teasing, knowing that he didn't mean anything bad.

"Well it's over now", the redhead started and took a step closer to Katsuki, standing right next to him while turning his gaze to the crowd and letting it just wander around the room. "You don't have to worry about talking with him anymore. It's done and you can relax little bit."

He heard the blonde let out dry laugh but his whole posture was more relaxed than before. All of the words he heard from the man were probably like a blow to his pride but it's nothing serious.

Maybe it's even a good thing that someone was pointing out Katsuki's flaws. So many people prefer to just let him get away with them since they're either afraid of his reputation or his quirk.

"I doubt about that", Katsuki muttered quietly enough that only Eijirou could hear his words. He was being too negative but he decided to not mention about it. The blonde did warn him about how he's getting too cocky and he definitely made a little mistake when he stopped Katsuki in front of Taishirou.

But then again it was a good thing he did that, who knows how much longer Katsuki would have been able to keep himself collected.

There was a silent moment between them as both of them just tried to relax. The music was still playing, the tune of joyful melody dancing in the room through the conversations and laughter what was all around them.

It was kinda funny how Eijirou found it somehow peaceful to just watch the people from the distance while his thoughts are completely still. Not racing like they were most of the time, giving him some kind of inner peace as well. The sight of this many people was at the same time interesting and thrilling, though once in a while his anxiety was perking up its head and waiting for something to happen what can make it grow bigger in an instant.

Eijirou didn't really like to be in the middle of crowds and people in general, but watching them from a little distance was fine with him. In fact, that was something he even liked to do whenever he had a chance.

There's been times when even being close to the large number of people made him feel somehow nervous but with Katsuki right next to him, he knew he can be at ease.

Watching people move from a place to another and talk with such a carefree attitude made him wonder just how many of them have a quirk. Some of them did have visible quirks, but not too many.

How people can be just so friendly with each other, even though some of them probably have deeper gap between the social classes where they are located in.

But in this room, most of the people seemed to be somehow equal. He can't say for sure though, Eijirou doesn't really know any of the people here. Almost all of them look rich enough to belong to the upper class of the society, but then again some of them reminded him about the normal citizens he's seen in the city, working in their workshops or selling their goodies at the marketplace.

Some of the guests were probably members of the army. At least Taishirou was one of them and it makes sense if many of them are military families.

Eijirou's attention returned back to Katsuki when one of the servants approached him and offered a cup full of wine for him. Judging by the look of the servant, she was finding the blonde intimidating and probably wanted to get away from him as soon as possible. Not surprising at all, considering how Katsuki's basic expression is more of like a resting bitch face.

The blonde accepted the drink and as soon as the cup was in his hand, the servant was gone. It was hard to resist a chuckle what was trying to escape from him, the whole scenario had been quite hilarious. But relatable as well, Eijirou knew how intimidating Katsuki can be when you don't know him well enough. After all this time even he feels sometimes little bit unsure around him, but he's learned so many things to be able to read Katsuki's body language enough to know it's his ego what's always just acting up.

Deep inside Katsuki is a person who's hard to even explain to people who will never even have a chance to see behind the mask he wears. But Eijirou likes that person, he's someone who's acknowledging him and treating him like a friend. Though Katsuki probably doesn't want to admit it.

"Would you like some wine, sir?"

Eijirou's thoughts were interrupted when the same servant girl returned back with more wine, offering a cup to the redhead like he's someone worth of to be called by that title anyway.

"Oh, no. I'm good, thank you very much", Eijirou replied maybe little bit too fast as the girl looked confused while she was watching him. He can't possible take any drinks or food here, he's not a real guest. He's just here because Katsuki brought him with him.

"Geez Eijirou. Chill and just take the drink. You're going to be thirsty by the end of this party if you don't drink anything", Katsuki butted in before Eijirou could hush the servant away completely, taking the other cup from the girl and now offering it to the redhead instead.

"But I possibly can not because..."

"Just take it."

Eijirou knew he couldn't argue with Katsuki, so he accepted the cup in defeat and watched as the servant girl bowed and continued her way to offer wine for other people. He moved awkwardly the cup in his hand and watched as the dark red liquid was hiding the bottom of it. He was still hesitating because really, he's a slave. He shouldn't be enjoying himself here because he was never invited in the first place.

His eyes moved to Katsuki, who just took a sip of his own drink and then let his own gaze move among the people before it finally landed on Eijirou. He could tell that the blonde was still pretty annoyed by the fact that he had to come here.

"If I have to socialize with another idiot so soon after dealing with that jerk, I'm going to lose my mind."

"Hey, it's Kacchan and Eijirou! Hi!"

"What did I just say about dealing with idiots?"

Eijirou turned his gaze to the direction where he heard that familiar voice come from. The sight of curly green hair and freckled face made him smile as he recognized the person immediately, waving at him which in return probably made Katsuki just growl even more.

"What do you want, shitty Deku?" Katsuki asked when Izuku stopped in front of them, smiling happily as he was probably surprised to see Eijirou here as well. It was expected that Katsuki's going to be here, but seeing Eijirou with him was most likely a pleasant surprise. At least to Izuku.

"I saw your parents and wanted to find you just to say hi. And I'm happy that I decided to do so, it's a nice surprise to see Eijirou here as well!" Izuku's smile seemed to grew little bit wider as he turned his gaze to Eijirou's direction, nodding as a quiet second greeting. It's been a while since the last time they've seen anyway.

"It's always a pleasure to see you, Izuku", Eijirou said and nodded as well, making Katsuki just snort quietly. They already knew that the blonde wasn't really looking forward to meet again with Izuku, he's made it very clear from the beginning.

The atmosphere between them was already little bit straining, mostly due to the attitude Katsuki was throwing at Izuku. But since Izuku was so used to it and it wasn't anything new to Eijirou either, they managed to ignore it mostly. Katsuki can find this situation unpleasant all he wants but at least they're going to enjoy it.

Eijirou honestly liked Izuku, he always seemed to be in good spirits and while Katsuki sometimes managed to throw him off guard, most of the time the green haired boy just ignored his tantrums.

"I'm actually glad to see you here too. Shouto got curious when I talked about you to him. No worries though! It's nothing bad, I told only good things because there really isn't anything bad to talk about you", Izuku said while raising both of his hands slightly in the air as an act of him surrounding like Eijirou's going to be angry about it.

Why would he be angry when he's just surprised? That Izuku even has something to tell about him.

"Tch, you're always licking that half and half bastard's ass. Of course you'd be gossiping everything with him because your own life is so fucking boring." Katsuki's words were getting dangerously sharp as knives and his whole attitude was turning sour so much that Izuku did take a step away from the blonde, instead moving closer to Eijirou.

"Licking his ass? Don't say stuff like that, Kacchan. I'm not trying to impress anyone. Why are you always so mean to Shouto? He's not your enemy, he's a friend." Izuku was approaching a topic what clearly made Katsuki feel more furious if it was even mentioned.

Eijirou watched as his grip tightened around the cup, the blonde was already looking daggers at him, ready to tell him to get lost but his attention was drawn to something else instead suddenly.

"You really haven't changed at all, Katsuki. Always the same."

The redhead had no idea when the new person had even arrived next to the blonde. It was truly a mystery since this person was very noticeable with his hair what was white from the one side and red from the other, the colors perfectly split like a beautiful jewel with two different colors on its beads.

Or the fact that while he's wearing a fine looking white shendyt, the thick and oversized belt was in a golden color with blue stripes. The same golden color with blue stripes was a theme what was making up his whole outfit from the belt to his long wristlets that hid his wrists completely. Even his armlets, anklets and the neck collar, wesekh, was following the color theme.

The only thing what hasn't blue stripes on it was the simple golden headband he was wearing, but it finished his look perfectly.

Eijirou didn't know where to look at, his eyes trailed to the burn scar on the left side of his face, but at the same time he was fascinated by the fact that the boy has two different eye colors. His right eye was brownish dark gray while the left side was turquoise blue, reminding him about the sharp gaze of Enji he had the pleasure to experience earlier.

"What do you want now, half and half bastard?" Katsuki asked with sour expression taking over his face, making even Izuku wince at the sudden change in the atmosphere.

"Can you at least call me Shouto? That name is getting pretty boring and childish, Katsuki." Shouto's stoic expression wasn't even close to change no matter what rude names Katsuki's going to spit at his direction. Clearly he's heard so much of them that the reaction he can give is just total numbness.

Which unfortunately just pissed Katsuki off, creating a circle of events and attitude what's not going to break at any time soon.

Eijirou could feel the atmosphere getting pretty strained by whatever was going on between those two and he was honestly afraid of the end result.

He's not really sure about the current situation because this is clearly something even he can't interfere.

Chapter Text

Eijirou had seen his fair share of people who have built a sturdy wall around their heart to protect it from getting hurt by the others. He had tried to do so too, but eventually failed because of the way his owners broke his spirit over and over again until there was barely anything left of him.

Being numb to the whole world has been his best shot when he felt like there's nothing else to motivate him to even try live his life anymore. Living with his previous owners left scars what were still slowly healing but probably would never disappear completely. As time goes by the pain will be gone but the marks are still going to be there. There's no escape from it.

But it's always darkest before the dawn.

When he thought his life would never be worth living for, suddenly everything changed and upon it came Katsuki in to his life. Like the dark and rainy clouds finally moved somewhere else and god of sun himself, Ra, blessed him with the sunlight what chase away darkness and every shadow of it.

For the first time in what felt like forever Eijirou was reminded how empty everything feels like when you've decided to hide your heart from the world and become numb to everything.

How the numbness really doesn't help that much, after all.

Watching Shouto's distant and unemotional expression was like a mirror showing him his past self. Someone he almost became, or more like would have become if Katsuki never decided to find him interesting enough to buy him and thus get him out of Nakhti's tight grip.

There's so much more beneath the surface than meets the eye, Eijirou can see it from the way the aura around Shouto was little bit unwelcoming but not trying to push people away. Sometimes it felt like he was relaxed and maybe even enjoyed the company. Then there were moments where it's like he pulled that mask back again and hid everything under it, not wanting to show anything else to anyone.

Maybe it's just because of the way Katsuki is throwing an attitude at him or just the blonde's presence in general why Shouto seems to be so wary of his surroundings.

But then again, it doesn't make sense how calm he is while facing Katsuki. As cool as a cucumber, used to face the blonde while getting that kind of reaction from him.

And if Eijirou knows something about how to piss off Katsuki properly, Shouto is doing his best right now with it. His calm approach and neutral attitude is a good choice if you want to make the blonde lose his marbles. Sometimes it doesn't work but most of the time it does. Probably depending on the person who's facing him.

"You two never get tired of this, do you?" Izuku decided to break the tension with his words while quietly chuckling, clearly getting little bit of nervous about the atmosphere what was slowly getting too overwhelming. Eijirou was glad that he isn't the only one who was affected by it, it's like an invisible hand on his throat and slowly tightening its grip until it feels like it tries to choke him.

Katsuki didn't even move his gaze away from Shouto, not even for a slightest moment. It's like he admits his non-existent defeat if he does so. And his pride would never let him do such a thing since Shouto seemed to be his biggest enemy at this moment.

"It is really tiring, Izuku." Shouto was the first one who broke the eye contact between them, turning his head and moving his gaze to their direction instead of Katsuki's. His eyes met with Izuku's for a moment before his gaze greeted Eijirou's eyes. His stoic and pretty much expressionless face was soon getting more softer features and even a weak smile escaped to his face as he nodded his wordless greeting to Eijirou's way.

"So you're Eijirou? I'm Shouto Todoroki but just call me Shouto. Please make yourself at home and I hope you can catch a breath, though I do understand well how hard it can be with all the hassle around here." It was a big surprise how fast Shouto changed from a person who's reserved and numb to a person who doesn't want to make you feel like he's trying to push you away as soon as possible.

Clearly that kind of attitude was reserved only for Katsuki, which is understandable.

Eijirou couldn't help but stare at him. It took him a moment to connect the dots about Shouto being Enji's son but when he finally realized he's been just staring at him quietly, he winced and bowed, showing his honest gratitude to him. "Thank you Shouto. You're too generous for a slave like me."

Katsuki's quiet snort next to him was enough to tell what the blonde was thinking about this.

"Watch out Shitty Hair. You're gonna end up following him like Deku if you let him get too much into your head." He felt the blonde's gaze on him, sending some shivers down his spine as Eijirou just couldn't really understand why Katsuki was saying stuff like that right now.

What does he see in Shouto that everyone else apparently doesn't? Well, if he has to guess it's something what probably Katsuki has made up in his head and it's not even true at all. Shouto doesn't seem to be a bad person at all.

Which is kinda sad. With their similar military family background, it'd make sense if they were friends instead of enemies. They'd understand each other better.

And still Katsuki has decided that Shouto is his biggest enemy. Eijirou can't exactly complain though, he doesn't know what kind of history those two share but clearly they've known each other long enough for the blonde to make this kind of judgement.

"That's just mean, Kacchan", Izuku said while his expression was little bit frustrated, even somewhat defeated. Maybe he's just not in a mood to try change his attitude or thoughts about him so he's just letting it slip past. He shouldn't let him go so easily, it just makes Katsuki say things like those even more.

But clearly Izuku isn't that much bothered by it either. Not right now. He's so used to Katsuki's attitude being sometimes so nasty even without a good explanation as why he felt that way.

Shouto on the other hand looked like he was getting little bit tempted to give a piece of his mind to Katsuki but he never really did that. At least not so straightforward as the blonde was doing anyway. "I don't even know what I am supposed to do anymore to make you finally bury the hatchet. There is literally no reason for you to feel that way about me. I am not your enemy."

Moments like this really hit Eijirou with the fact that he doesn't know that much about things here. He has no idea what kind of history they share, why their relationships are like this and why they aren't even fixing it. Or why Katsuki doesn't want to fix them, Izuku is clearly trying and Shouto isn't getting provoked by his words either. At least not that easily.

Eijirou felt the intimidating atmosphere what was lingering around them. It was heavy, even feeling like something is trying to crush him into pieces. Even Izuku felt it, he was making himself little bit smaller as the two of them were again close to challenge each other into whatever fight they need to have to solve the problems between them.

And knowing how much Katsuki just would fire up for that idea wasn't helping at all. They both knew it, he's sure Shouto acknowledges it too. He's trying to choose his words carefully, but it's almost like no matter what he says or does, Katsuki will find them as a challenge or as personal attack against him.

Oh how much the redhead just wanted to get in between and interfere before this gets any worse. How he just wants to do his job and make Katsuki think anything else except the way he's going to kick Shouto's ass.

Katsuki eventually, while still looking like he was about to punch Shouto right in the face, decided to back away. Maybe he noticed how uncomfortable everyone was around him, or more like how Eijirou was getting too worried and stressed. And how much willpower he had just to hold himself back, not interfering even though the blonde can see it from his face how much he really wants to do so.

"We've not finished this but I'm not in a mood to deal with bastard like you." Katsuki finally turned his drilling gaze away from the other boy as a sign of him backing away. Eijirou couldn't help but sigh quietly in relieve, but he quickly straightened his back as Katsuki wasn't done with his words.

"We'll deal with this later. Let's go Shitty Hair."

"Yes!"

Eijirou quickly gulped down the wine he still had in his cup, grimacing as he felt the small burning sensation at the back of his throat. He's sure he'll never get used to the taste of wine but it's not like he gets to drink it often anyway.

The blonde was already walking away as Eijirou put the cup down to the small table next to the wall and turned again to bow and show his gratitude, this time to both Shouto and Izuku.

"Thank you again and it was nice to meet you, Shouto." He let his eyes met with Shouto's before his gaze moved to Izuku and with a small smile, he nodded. "And you too, Izuku."

Izuku's confused expression turned back to gentle smile while he awkwardly just scratched the back of his head, not really sure how to react to the respectful way Eijirou was talking to him. To see him bow like that probably caught him off guard already.

"Don't worry, I'll find you later and we can talk more. Maybe it's better to let Kacchan calm down." The tension he was feeling was slowly fading away as Izuku relaxed, making sure to smile gently as he exchanged gazes with the redhead. No matter how much Katsuki dislikes the green haired boy, it's his own business. Eijirou will never really understand why their relationship is what it is, but he himself likes Izuku and that's something even Katsuki can't change.

Eijirou's smile was gentle and genuine, full of warmth what seemed to touch even Shouto's heart as he probably could tell that the redhead hasn't always been like this. And if Izuku has told him only the truth, he knows enough to put two and two together.

"Take care. I'm sure we'll meet again as well", Shouto added. He never really smiled, but his gaze wasn't as though and icy cold as it had been when he was facing Katsuki.

"Come on Shitty Hair!"

Eijirou never managed say any kind of answer to Shouto's words, instead tensing up when Katsuki called him suddenly. His shoulders relaxed as quickly as he had tensed them and after nodding for the last time, he quickly went after Katsuki.

He could feel how both Shouto and Izuku probably watched after him but he was too busy with Katsuki slightly lecturing him about why he shouldn't leave behind.


 

Eijirou honestly felt bad for Katsuki as they were meeting more people, more of his father's acquaintances. Some of them the blonde clearly knew beforehand but most of them were unfamiliar.

And he could see how Katsuki really needed a break from all this.

After the encounter with Shouto his mood wasn't swinging that much, mostly staying quite neutral or just plain irritated. But still he managed to put that friendly enough mask on his face and act like he's having fun with the people he's meeting. When he puts his mind into it, it's surprising how good Katsuki can be when he acts as if what the person is telling him is the most interesting thing he's ever heard.

It's a good thing none of the others decide to test him like Taishirou had. Eijirou's sure Katsuki's mask would crack if someone decided to push his limits too much right now.

As the redhead was just standing next to him and watching the blonde be in the middle of a conversation with one of the more familiar persons from the army, he couldn't help but let that quick and small smile on his face. He knows exactly now why Katsuki brought him here. But while it's obvious that he's supposed to help him get distracted whenever they can have a break from all of this, he's sure that Katsuki never really needed his help in the first place.

Well sure, the conversation between Taishirou had looked like it was a moment away from an explosion. Literally. But then again Eijirou trusts Katsuki enough that he wants to believe that there never really was a real chance of him starting a proper argument with him. Especially if he doesn't want to get into his bad side.

Whatever is going on between Katsuki and Shouto is a different story, however.

Eijirou wants to learn more about it but then again, judging by how Shouto reacted to the way the blonde was just spitting insults at his way like it's the most normal thing ever, he does have some kind of idea. It needs a confirmation but it's still something he considers being closer to truth than anything.

While he's learned so much about Katsuki, he has noticed that sometimes Katsuki doesn't need that big of a reason to be mad at someone. If Shouto ever just said something little bit wrong, the way what pissed the blonde off completely then that's as good as any other reason in Katsuki's mind.

It's kinda ridiculous but it probably has something to do with how prideful Katsuki is. If you hurt his pride enough, then get ready for a declaration of war.

"Hey, pay attention to me."

Katsuki's voice drew Eijirou's attention back to himself after he snapped him out of his thoughts.

Apparently the conversation was over and he was finally given another chance to cool down as they had met all of the people they were supposed to. "Wanna take a break?"

Eijirou couldn't help but stare Katsuki's red eyes for a moment while progressing what he said before showing him a reassured smile and nodding.

The expression on the blonde's face softened slightly and he nodded back, turning around to head toward the area what's the most quiet and isolated right now.

Eijirou couldn't help but agree with him this time, even he felt like they need a little break from all this socializing. And he isn't even the one who does the talking!

It's not a secret that parties like this with people everywhere make him feel slightly stressed and stay on his guard. He wants to trust everyone and be able to relax and catch his breath, but all the parties where Nakhti used to drag him left so many bad memories that it's hard. Even every now and then he's still afraid of someone suddenly coming from behind and starting to touch him or make a nasty comment or two which always left him disgusted beyond belief.

In all honesty Eijirou's even surprised how calm and collected he's been so far. But then again, Katsuki being right next to him all the time was the reason for that. He trusts him. Katsuki would never allow anything like that to happen ever again and he isn't gonna put him in a situation like that either.

That slightly heavy feeling was gone instantly when they were back at the corner of the room what was quiet and not too many people were close to it. Eijirou stood next to Katsuki and just let out that small sigh of relief, lowering his guard. Just a little bit but enough to let himself relax more. All that tension on his shoulders was wearing him off so it felt good to release it.

His eyes observed his surroundings, watching as the guests were having good time and maybe he was little bit jealous how easy-going and congenial this party is to others. But then again those thoughts went away instantly when he was reminded that he was here to keep some company to Katsuki.

For some reason that thought made him somehow happy. While he still was little bit sad about missing that day off he had been looking forward so much, at the same time he can't help but agree that it's nice to be here for Katsuki. Seeing how he acts in different social situations and how he reacts to things. It's more than he'd ever ask for whenever he felt like he wants to learn more about him.

It's like he's allowed to see another part of him. Another part of Katsuki that's been hidden from him. He's slowly gathering all these pieces together to come up with the complete picture, getting to know with him even though he isn't the one who's talking with him. He's just observing.

He used to hear only rumors about the blonde and with them he drew the image of him in his mind. Katsuki felt like a person who was so different and distant, completely untouchable and someone who has his shit together. Whose life is like a fairy tale come true with an extra slice of spice in it what comes from having a quirk.

But after living with him and seeing all these different sides of him, Eijirou's been happy to discover that the image he had from him before was so misleading.

Experiencing everything firsthand has taught him things from him what the rumors never covered. And that makes Katsuki just so much more humane, someone who isn't just a guy with quirk and freedom.

Everyone has their own chains to something.

Even those people Eijirou used to think are lucky since things are supposedly good for them.

"Hey, are you going to ignore me for the rest of the time here?" Katsuki's voice was suddenly so close, right next to his ear and in that moment Eijirou yelped quietly, taking a step away as he turned his gaze back to his direction. Katsuki didn't look surprised at all, that familiar smirk taking over his face as their eyes met. And it made his heart beat faster against his rib cage as he hadn't expected to hear him so close to his ear.

"Geez, that happens when you have your head in the clouds." His voice had that little mocking tone, but it wasn't like he was trying to make him feel bad. If anything, Katsuki was looking more playful and amused, not meaning anything bad with his words. Well, it was all obvious if you could read between the lines and Eijirou did notice that undertone, letting his thoughts settle down while he was in his mind cursing that he let his heart pound this much over something like that.

He had recently learned that when talking with Katsuki, it's good to try and read between the lines whenever he's saying something like that. The blonde doesn't always say things so straightforward, instead hiding them. Maybe that's why most of the people think he's simply just rude when the answer is laying right between the words.

"I'm sorry. Did you say something?" Eijirou asked and tried to distract the fact that he could hear his blood flow in his veins. His heartbeat was ringing in his ears, almost muting the background music completely. He focused everything completely on the blonde while trying to calm himself down.

Katsuki tilted his head slightly and studied him for a moment, his smirk almost disappearing as he was making his own judgement of the situation.

Instead of it disappearing completely, it turned into a genuine smile and his harsh gaze softened as his eyes were back at watching deep into Eijirou's ruby red eyes.

"What should I do with you? That habit of yours is getting out of hand", his voice had an amusing tone in it and he shook his head before turning his gaze away to somewhere else in the room. "I asked if you wanted to eat something. This is gonna be one long ass party and I'm sure you're not going to survive with only breakfast. So?"

With a gentle smile Eijirou shrugged his shoulders before replying to him. "I'm okay. It's fine if you want to grab something, I don't mind."

In all honesty, Eijirou wanted to taste all those delicious looking foods but he couldn't help but hesitate. Is he even allowed to eat anything? He's not sure, he was never really invited here in the first place. Taking the wine what the servant girl offered to him was hard enough and if Katsuki hadn't just forced him to take it without a complain, he's sure he would have kept declining until she left him alone.

He noticed Katsuki's gaze returning back to him, probably reading him like an open book while figuring out what to say next.

Eijirou eventually let their eyes meet again, making an eye contact and watching deep into those red eyes as if he was trying to tell him everything without saying words.

"Fine. I'm gonna grab something, just wait here and don't disappear."

The redhead nodded obediently, it's not like he's going to leave this spot. His eyes kept watching as Katsuki turned around and went to get something to eat, disappearing into the crowd until he couldn't see him anymore.

Eijirou couldn't help but sigh and turn his gaze back to the middle of the room, letting it wander as he just watched people go back and forth while talking and laughing with others at ease. He was trying to be as relaxed as those people were, but sometimes it just felt hard. Sometimes he was simply afraid of letting his guard down too much, like something bad would instantly happen when he did it.

After another sigh escaped from his mouth, he leaned his back slightly against the wall while letting his attention fall on the floor. He knows it won't take long for the blonde to return, but still he was getting ready to fight his anxiety what was clearly finding this situation interesting enough to whisper things into his ears.

It makes him feel pitiful whenever he realized how much he's leaning on Katsuki's direction on these type of situations. Like he's just throwing everything at the blonde and hoping for the best. Hoping that he keeps him safe from the cruelty of this world, like he's some kind of damsel in distress.

It's not manly at all and Eijirou hated it. Hated being so dependent on Katsuki. But he's still scared of the demons from the past.

Maybe some day he's strong enough to face them without putting this much weight on Katsuki's shoulders.

"I honestly thought you're not going to last long with him but I'm surprised. If anything, it's almost like he's less of an asshole lately. Guess I underestimated things."

The sudden voice made Eijirou wince, almost taking a step back as his gaze moved quickly to the person who was standing close, but still keeping his distance. And his eyes met with familiar blue ones, the blonde smirking while tilting his head slightly as he was studying Eijirou. It was a surprise he even recognized him since it took him a while before the redhead finally remembered who he is.

Well he couldn't really forget him. After all, the blonde was one of the people who got him out of that disgusting house.

"Ah, I see. I surprised you, didn't mean to." Neito said while shrugging his shoulders, letting a bored expression take over that smirk what was on his face just a moment ago.

"No, don't worry about it!" Eijirou spurted out as he tried to relax his body again. He hated how skittish he was sometimes, he already thought he was getting over it but apparently not. "I was just in my own thoughts as always!" He added, but regretted it immediately.

He could feel his embarrassment coloring his cheeks more reddish when Neito smirked again, holding back a chuckle what was trying to escape as he was watching the redhead. His blue eyes were clearly sparked in amusement as he flashed a toothy grin at him.

"Whatever. Gotta give you some respect though, I really thought you're going to run away when the right opportunity arises. I wouldn't even blame you." Neito turned his attention back to the room, his eyes slowly starting to study other guests while he stood next to Eijirou.

"He's not bad once you get to know with him." Eijirou didn't even think through that, the words just escaped as he didn't like the way Neito was just speaking ill of Katsuki.

Maybe he seems to be that way to others since they have no chance of seeing through the mask that hides his real personality. Hides other sides of him and while he might be intimidating and rude, he has that plain opposite side with so much gentleness and appreciation.

Katsuki, while he has most of his flaws too visible, is someone Eijirou's looking up to. Admirable with that determined personality of his.

When he finally realized he said those words out loud, Eijirou wanted to curse himself as he caught Neito's curious yet studying gaze on him again. He was tempted to say something else to soften and correct his words, but he knew it was already late for that. Neito had already made his own assumption and he can't just change that anymore.

"Not bad, huh?" The blonde repeated while he looked like he was thinking his words carefully. "Seems like he's been treating you nicely enough."

Eijirou couldn't even stop when the corner of his lips curled up, a small and gentle smile appearing on his face as he agreed with those words. Katsuki's been more than just nice. He's been fair and treated him like an actual person while all his previous owners always treated him like a dirt, like an cornered animal. Eijirou used to feel unsure around him too, maybe even scared at first but nowadays he's feeling more at ease whenever he managed to make some time to spend with the blonde. And he really liked those moments.

Something about him is just so fascinating. Maybe it's the warm feeling he can feel in his chest whenever Katsuki lifts that mask and shows him the side of him what no one else is allowed to see. The way his laugh has the magical power to chase away those dark clouds what sometimes try to make everything look so gloomy and dark.

Or the way his gentle smile is strong enough to make Eijirou smile as well, like he's learning all those things again with the blonde being his guide.

"I see. It's more like that, then", Neito interrupted his thoughts, a smirk turning more into a grin at that point.

"What?" Eijirou had no idea what Neito meant but the other boy just shook his head, amused but not wanting to explain his words.

"Nothing. Just forget it", he said while smirking, not even glancing at Eijirou's way. "But be careful with those feelings. You're gonna get hurt when his parents find someone crazy enough to marry him, you know? Well, maybe there's some hope since he's the kind of person who makes everyone keep their distance to him."

Eijirou probably looked so dumbfounded right now, trying to progress what Neito was hinting at him. Feelings? What feelings is he talking about?

But he has to admit that the idea of Katsuki marrying someone was making him feel weird. Of course he would be happy about it, but why is the thought of it feeling like someone's tugging at his heartstrings? He's never really paid a moment to even think about it.

It makes only sense that something like that would happen eventually. Katsuki should be married already, maybe his personality is the reason why he isn't?

All these thoughts are messing up with his mind. Eijirou pressed both of his hands on his temples and just tried to empty his mind completely, but the feeling of something trying to crush his heart was still there. It's so stupid.

Whenever that happens, he should be happy! While Katsuki is his owner, he also counts him as his friend. Maybe even best friend, no matter how sad that can sound. And best friends are happy for each other when good things happen to them.

Maybe he's just afraid of their friendship suddenly disappearing if a third person steps into the picture. But it's still a stupid thing to think.

"I turn my back for a second and in that short amount of time vultures are already cornering him."

Eijirou was more than happy to see Katsuki return back with plate full of assortment of food and dessert. He had that typical annoyed expression on his face as his red eyes went straight into Neito who just kept smirking, not affected by the other blonde.

The tension between them was instantly up in the air, like two wolves challenging each other over a piece of meat they both want to eat.

"That's not a nice way to talk to someone who helped you."

"I don't care. It doesn't matter anymore." Katsuki stopped next to Eijirou and moved his gaze to the redhead, studying him for a moment. He's not stupid, he noticed quite easily that Eijirou had gotten those funny ideas again, making him overthink stupid things and in the worst case just make him feel stressed over nothing.

His sharp gaze returned back at Neito's direction while the grip was tightening on the plate and his shoulders were tensing up as well. "Bastard, what did you do to him?"

"Nothing. We just talked, he doesn't need a permission for that. It's just interesting to catch up with him because you know, the favor you asked for could have gotten us all in a very bad spot", Neito corrected him, knowing pretty well how he's getting into the danger zone if he keeps this attitude.

His words were true though and Katsuki acknowledged that because instead of keep going with it, he decided to mutter something what's most likely just another insult and focus on other things instead. Neito isn't worth of the hassle or even the energy spent on him.

Katsuki was quite obvious with how unwelcome Neito was to stay there, maybe even so much that eventually the other blonde just chuckled quietly and knew it's better for him to move somewhere else.

"I know, I know. I'll leave, no need of trying to kill me with that gaze", Neito joked while he took a step back, even raising both of his hands like he's giving up. His gaze moved back to Eijirou and with a nod he finally left.

As soon as Neito was out of sight, Katsuki eyes were all over Eijirou as if he was trying to find something wrong with him.

"That bastard didn't do or say anything I should be aware of?"

Eijirou quickly shook his head and let out a quiet sigh as he lowered his hands and turned his gaze to the direction where Neito went.

Katsuki doubted his answer but decided to leave it for now.

"Just ignore him. He has his head far up in his own ass anyway." Katsuki huffed and let himself relax again, taking a fresh date and biting into it while his whole attention was on Eijirou. He didn't look nervous so maybe Neito hadn't been teasing him, but clearly he had some kind of stupid thought going on in his mind. Katsuki knew when Eijirou was thinking something unnecessary, it's not the first time.

So to distract him, the blonde offered the plate to him and watched as his surprised gaze went there to take a closer look of the food.

And it was working, Eijirou's mouth was watering as he carefully studied every single piece of meat, fruits and even dessert what Katsuki had assorted on the plate. He would be lying if he said he isn't hungry at all. It was so tempting but he was restraining himself. In fact, so tempting that he could feel his stomach growl at the sight of food. Good thing music was playing in the background, he'd be so embarrassed if Katsuki had heard that.

"Go ahead. I know you're hungry and you want it."

Eijirou glanced at Katsuki quickly before his eyes fell on the plate again, still hesitating. The meat especially looked delicious and it was really hard to just watch it, he wanted to taste it. Everything on the plate looked like worth of trying.

"I'm good, thank you for the offer", he tried to convince him, but it wasn't even worth the attempt. Katsuki saw right through him anyway.

"Eijirou, I swear to all gods if you don't take something from the plate, I'll shove every single piece of food into that mouth of yours and feed them to you. Eat. Now. You're not here to starve."

Eijirou opened his mouth to say something, anything to refuse the offer but in the end he knew he's not going to win this little argument. If you even can call it that. Katsuki's just too stubborn and he's already settled on that. It's not like he's going to be able to change his mind.

So in defeat he finally nodded and grabbed the piece of meat what he'd been eyeing the moment Katsuki showed up with the plate.


 

"Did that bastard say something to you earlier? Don't hide it, I noticed you looked like you were thinking about stupid things again."

Eijirou was in the middle of taking a bite of the round ball of tiger nut sweet in his hand, ready to taste that sweet mixture of honey, dates and nuts with a hint of cinnamon to give it some spice.

All of the food was already eaten fast and they were emptying the plate from the desserts in a swiftly pace. But Katsuki's words stopped him before he managed to taste that delicious dessert and instantly Eijirou's thoughts were back on the words Neito said earlier. Eventually he just lowered his hand, moving the dessert away from his mouth.

His feelings were getting mixed with a different strange emotions colliding, like a little storm was going on inside him. He's not even sure what most of those feelings are and no matter how he tries to understand them, it's like he's trying to reach his hand into a complete darkness.

Is he getting too greedy with Katsuki? He appreciates everything he does for him. Katsuki is doing too much already and he's grateful of it. But he can't just decide to have him completely, he's not worth all that time.

After Neito said those words, Eijirou tried to think hard why he's feeling this way. The only conclusion he came up with is that he's afraid of losing the friendship between them. If someone else appeared into Katsuki's life and took his attention away completely, Eijirou's afraid that he's going to forget him eventually.

Oh how greedy he is. It's disgusting and Eijirou's sure if Katsuki learned this, he'd be disgusted by it, too. It could take a serious toll on their friendship.

Katsuki probably noticed how his gaze fell for a moment, a quick gloominess painted all over his face before he managed to collect his thoughts and wipe off that unhappy expression. It was replaced by shy smile, but Eijirou knew Katsuki had noticed that quick moment of different feelings taking over the whole atmosphere.

"Neito didn't say anything. I guess I'm just overthinking", Eijirou guessed, but in all honesty he isn't even sure about it. It's not like Neito said anything in particular what made him feel like shit. It's just his own thoughts and strange coldness what washed over his body when he let his thoughts wander off too much.

He heard Katsuki sigh quietly next to him as he put the now empty plate away, not really buying everything what Eijirou told him. He knows he can't just make up a white lie to him, the blonde isn't really that stupid. Sometimes it's like he's reading him perfectly, knowing exactly when he was trying to tell him those little lies what aren't even that necessary to begin with. Katsuki probably let most of them slip past only because they were so minor, but now he looked like he didn't want to agree with that answer.

When the other boy took a step closer, Eijirou was preparing himself to hear some kind of lecture about how he can see right through him and doesn't want to accept that as the answer. It's just something so typical Katsuki behavior and he knew the blonde isn't satisfied with an empty answer like that.

But instead he felt Katsuki's hand suddenly in his hair, carefully ruffling the red locks while the blonde was watching him closely. He probably noticed how Eijirou was quick to react to the sudden touch, his shoulders tensing up and head turning toward him, eyes wider as his gaze met with his.

For a moment Eijirou looked like he wanted to escape from the touch. And he honestly was feeling like that, the touch reminding him about how Nakhti used to touch his hair with that disgusting look in his eyes, waiting for him to stop fighting and just succumb to him completely.

The only reason why he didn't slapped Katsuki's hand away and escape from his touch was the fact that his eyes were watching deep into Katsuki's crimson eyes, noticing that soft gaze while the rest of his expression was stern enough. But at the same time Eijirou noticed hints of gentleness and in the end it helped him relax his shoulders, though that small voice in his head was whispering how he should just back away from it.

"Shh, it's okay", Katsuki whispered quietly while he carefully ruffled his hair, eventually just stroking the red tresses for a while before pulling his hand away. As soon as he allowed more personal space back to the redhead, his expression softened momentarily until that all familiar seriousness replaced it. "You can tell me if someone's being an ass. Neito can be piece of shit sometimes so if he ever does anything, just tell me and I'll blow him into the Nile."

Eijirou didn't know how he could convince Katsuki to believe that Neito didn't really do anything, so he just turned his gaze away and nodded while that small smile was on his lips again. He didn't doubt that threat, either. Neito would find himself in the water of Nile if he did or said something bad to him and Katsuki learned about it.

He wanted to avoid Katsuki's gaze, but eventually his eyes turned back to him as the blonde stole the round dessert from his hand and smirked, taking a bite of it while watching Eijirou's reaction to the situation.

And it was probably hilarious, that shocked expression what Eijirou couldn't even hide because Katsuki just took a bite of his dessert. His. His!

"You should really stop thinking about stupid things. You're just going to ruin your brain completely. Have your head in the clouds enough and who knows, you might lose it if you keep doing that."

Eijirou frowned, but it was quickly gone when Katsuki offered the half eaten tiger nut ball back. Though instead of just giving it to him, he pressed it against his lips while his eyes were locked with his. "Eat. I've had enough of sweets and it's yours anyway."

It was embarrassing but Eijirou just accepted the stolen dessert and ate the other half of it while Katsuki just shook his head, amused.

It's even scary to admit that even though Eijirou got little bit nervous when Katsuki so suddenly touched his hair and while it brought back some of those bad memories, he didn't hate it at all. Maybe it was the way the blonde did it quickly enough, not taking his sweet time. Just testing it, watching the reaction Eijirou would give to him and then decide whether it's worth it to keep going or pull his hand away.

Somewhere deep inside Eijirou just knew that he could trust Katsuki.

While watching his eyes, the redhead suddenly noticed the lack of sounds around him as the background noise had quieted down. He hadn't even realized it earlier, but now that he managed to notice it, he couldn't ignore it anymore. Katsuki seemed to do the same discover too, his eyes moving into the middle of the room as people were gathering there.

And like a cue, the light in the room was slowly escaping, turning the room more darker as some of the servants lowered the curtains of the windows. Within a few minutes the whole room was dimmed, except the middle of it where everyone seemed to encircle the area.

"I wonder what's happening now", Eijirou muttered quietly, mostly to himself but loud enough for Katsuki to hear his words.

Katsuki's attention was in the crowd as well and while he didn't exactly like to be in part of it, he carefully grabbed Eijirou's hand and began to lead him toward it. They can take a good look at what people are looking and then return back to the quiet corner, right?

Sounds like a plan if you ask from him.

As they got closer to the crowd and Eijirou was able to let his gaze wander around and study everything, he realized how much it reminded him of the moment he saw Denki for the first time. How the sparky blonde had been dancing in the middle of a circled area, all eyes on him while his hips moved with the rhythm of a music.

He was sure he's going to see something familiar like that. It made his stomach churning little bit, even the thought of seeing someone forced to dance in an erotic way just didn't sit well with him.

Finding a good spot to see what was happening was harder task than they had assumed as everyone was curious to see who was standing in the middle of the large empty area. Eijirou felt a wave of hesitation wash over him as they finally found a spot where they could see everything. He wasn't sure if he really wanted to see something what just makes him remember his friend who probably is still trapped in the situation he is. He doesn't know, Eijirou hasn't seen Hitoshi in a while.

The first thing his eyes saw was red. So much red as the feathers on the wings were in that color.

He felt Katsuki's grip loosen on his wrist and eventually the blonde pulled his hand back, his eyes fixated on the person as well like they were the most interesting thing in the room.

And that's true, a pair of large bright red wings caught everyone's attention, as well as why the light was dimmed but the winged person was the one who had the spotlight on himself completely.

Eijirou could hear quiet whispers all around him as people were talking about the person. Talking about his gorgeous wings or the fact that he's clearly got something in his mind. Even the music had died down as the musicians had stopped playing their instruments and the whole room was for the first time in total silence.

All he could even see from that person was his back and those wings as he was showing his back on his way. But Eijirou had no complains, the sight of wings alone left him in a total awe. Well that's a quirk what definitely turns everyone's gazes at the said person.

The atmosphere shifted as soon as music returned back, this time a slow rhythm echoing in a now silent room. Eijirou could even hear the quiet swish of feathers as the man seemed to react to the music. He raised his hands slowly toward the ceiling, stretching his back muscles as well while letting his wings take more space.

Red wings were completely displayed as they were spread to the fullest, taking a lot of space while also showing just how large they are. They looked big because the man was relatively short with a slim and narrow build. But he definitely didn't look like a weak. Especially when every single fluffy-looking feather was puffed up, stealing attention from the hands what were making slow movements, like a mystical and sacred ritual was going on.

Eijirou didn't want to take his eyes off of the scene, there was something magical about it what was just pulling his whole focus on the blonde man.

And then the music started to get more rhythm but not too much. Just barely enough to ease up things as the man pulled his wings back against his back and froze still. Whatever movement he was doing with his hands in the air stopped as well, making it look like he was suddenly turned into a statue rather than being a living thing.

The man in the middle of the lighted area began to move again shortly after, slowly turning around while his hands kept moving with that same elegant way, sometimes making little wave like movements as he turned his wrists in a circular motion.

His wings were participating in the movement as well, almost mimicking his hands. If he raised one or both hands in the air, his wings spread too. Even to the point of looking like a peacock what's showing off its feathers. The redness of them highlighted his light colored skin and sandy blonde hair, some of the tufts looking like they were partly feathers, too.

It took Eijirou a while to realize that yes, it was indeed some form of a dance the man was performing, making use of his beautiful wings as he moved. His white knee length shendyt with a golden belt never really made a big movement as he wasn't moving his hips too fast to rock the fabric.

The way his muscles were stretched and then relaxing was visible even though he was wearing a shirt. Or something what was trying to be a shirt, it was more of a long piece of white fabric what had been wrapped around his upper body and then tied like a belt on his left side, leaving his shoulder blades bare as that's where his wings were attached.

"Who is he?" Eijirou managed to whisper finally, so quietly as if he was afraid of the performance suddenly ending if he said it too loud. But it certainly would be rude to talk loudly right now, especially when the dance looked like it was coming straight from the gods.

Katsuki hummed quietly next to him as his eyes were fixated on the man as well, finding his performance fascinating enough to pay attention into it this much. "No one knows that much about him", Katsuki started and it was enough to catch Eijirou's attention. He even managed to tear off his gaze from the winged man, just enough for a quick glance at the blonde's direction.

"I've heard his real name only couple times before. I think it's Keigo but everyone just calls him Hawks. I'm sure that's how he wants people to call him anyway."

Hawks. Somehow that name is pretty fitting for him and Eijirou was satisfied with that information alone. Learning more about him would be nice, but the name was enough to satisfy his curiosity for now.

"Some people say he's helped in the army but no one's even sure if he's officially part of it or not. It's kinda stupid, how can you trust someone like him if you..." the words quieted down as Katsuki noticed how Eijirou wasn't even paying attention to him at all. His eyes were full of wonder, that childlike curiosity and admiration almost sparkling in them like a pair of ruby red diamonds.

It's not even surprising to see a reaction like that, seeing how gracefully Hawks is performing this slow paced dance is like something from another world.

It is like watching one of the gods performing a sacred dance. It's so magical yet mysterious at the same time, aesthetically pleasing as the way his red wings just played along the movement of his hands and his entire body. No matter how slow paced it can be, it's beautiful every time.

And seeing Eijirou watch it so curiously made Katsuki just roll his eyes and shook his head, a small amused smile returning back to his face as he was now just watching the redhead. The way his entire face just brightened up as he watched the performance with full fascination showing in his eyes. It was adorable.

But where's the lie, though?

Eijirou felt like the whole dance was pulling him into some kind of trance. He didn't even want to take his eyes off of Hawks, afraid of missing important part of the dance.

The most fascinating thing in the whole performance was the fact that there isn't anything sexual about it. It's not erotic and the point of it wasn't that either.

Every time he has seen Denki perform his own dance, it was always to please those disgusting men who were drooling after his body and imagining disgusting things what they wanted to do with him. And while his friend's dance was exotic and beautiful, the reason why he had to perform it in the first place is the reason why Eijirou never really enjoyed watching it.

But this was something completely opposite of it. The whole dance is just aesthetically pleasant to watch, with a hint of mysterious atmosphere what's embracing Hawks as he goes on and on with it. The audience isn't watching him with a gaze filled with lust and desire.

Everyone is watching it like they're making a connection with the gods through the performance.

The music in the background isn't even music anymore. It's just a background noise, drowning down whenever there was a swish of wings or a cling from the several thin wrist and ankle bracelets what made sounds when he moved little bit faster or suddenly.

A new feeling was quickly taking its place in his chest, making Eijirou wonder what it is. What kind of feelings is this beautiful and divine performance giving to him right now.

It took him a little while before the pieces finally fall into place and he realized it.

It's the heady feeling of freedom what's emitting through that dance.

His eyes are watching true wings of freedom.

And it's beautiful.

The feeling was almost overwhelming and Eijirou didn't even notice at first how his eyes were slowly getting little bit watery, a fluttering feeling in his chest growing. It's like the lost freedom he's been yearning for is right in front of him, taking a form of this winged man and whispering voiceless words into his soul.

At the same time it is reminding him the fact that no matter how cruel and merciless this world is sometimes, it is also so beautiful. Oh so beautiful.

Maybe life is worth living here.

A sudden touch on his shoulder finally caught his attention, snapping him out of his trance. He slowly turned his gaze to Katsuki, who had gently placed his hand on his shoulder to get his attention.

"Everything okay?" His soft words asked, followed by a gaze what was maybe slightly concerned but mostly just curious. The way Eijirou had reacted to the dance performance wasn't that odd though, many other people were just as moved as he is.

But something about it was captivating. It touched right down to his heart.

His face beamed even more as a big and genuine smile spread on his lips while he nodded slowly. Eijirou closed his eyes for a moment to hold back the tears what were trying to escape from the corners of them, eventually winning that little battle against them. "Yes. Thank you Katsuki", he whispered quietly.

His words earned a curious gaze from the blonde, one of his eyebrows raising more as his answer didn't seem to make sense. But instead of saying anything back or even questioning him, Eijirou was met with Katsuki's soft and rare smile the next time he opened his eyes.

Life truly can be worth living for when you're surrounded by the right people.

Chapter Text

Hawks' dance performance could have kept going on and on and Eijirou wouldn't even mind it. He found it absolutely beautiful yet so mysterious that he would have happily kept watching it until the end of the day, a small eternity if you ask him.

And the dance was going on for a while with no sign of it stopping any time soon, the songs changing couple times as the earlier ones came to an end. The winged man didn't look like he's getting tired of it and neither did his audience, everyone being so fascinated and oddly happy about it still going.

It had the power of releasing some kind of inner peace to everyone who were watching it.

The inner peace what Eijirou was feeling made him feel comfortable, almost raising up a question whether all of this is happening or he's just dreaming of it. The dance looks like it's from out of this world, something what only gods and goddesses would know and be able to perform.

Maybe that's why it was so enjoyable to watch it.

But everything good comes to an end eventually and so did the dance, much to everyone's disappointment.

After another song ended and the sandy blonde man froze again, he cracked a wide smile what clearly didn't belong to the show. All this time he has been dancing with a serious and more neutral expression on his face, so seeing that cocky smile was a clear sign of it being over. His eyes were almost sparkling in a playful way when he scanned through the audience with his gaze, noticing just how many people were paying an attention to him with their expressions getting little bit disappointed as the realization of the dance ending finally started to sink in.

"I know, I know. We would be standing here all night if this doesn't end now", he finally broke the silence, wide and bright smirk on his face while his wings were spread to the fullest just to display the sight of them one last time. It earned surprised and admiring gasps before everyone quieted down again.

Another silent moment went by before people started to clap their hands and cheer, even Eijirou had to clap and pay his respect to this man. His dancing was beautiful and he could see all that confidence what was basically radiating from his expression. There was some childlike playfulness in him too as Hawks himself clapped his hands as well, his red wings finally drawing back and relaxing, giving more space to people around him as they weren't in full display anymore.

"If you excuse me now, I'm little bit tired of being in the middle of attention as I'm supposed to be a guest instead of a performer. Let's have fun here, shall we?" Hawks announced and raised his hands slightly in the air like he's admitting a defeat. A lighthearted chuckle escaped from his mouth before his expression changed little bit more serious, yet still friendly enough to show off his carefree attitude.

His words caught curious gazes as some people were instantly whispering around, even wondering whether it's true or not what Hawks said. Eijirou tried to listen closely what they were saying but he couldn't really make up the words that were said, it was like a quiet series of hushing around him.

As mysteriously as Hawks had appeared earlier without a bigger hassle about it, as quickly he was gone. Eijirou's eyes stayed on his back as he spun around and started to walk away, some people following him and thus blocking the view of him completely. For a moment he could still see the sight of reddish wings in the distance but when the crowd finally parted away into little groups as everything was returning back to normal, the sight of Hawks was gone completely.

A quiet and somehow uncanny atmosphere was left lingering in the walls of the room, a white noise drowning most of the chattering what began again as the performance was over, leaving everyone feel like they were waking up from a trance what's been taking a long time.

Eijirou never really noticed when the musicians started to play their instruments again, the sound of drums and flutes just disappearing as his thoughts were racing wild. The impression he was left by Hawks was strong and no matter how much he tried to snap himself away from this little trance and focus back on Katsuki, it felt impossible right now.

All he could think of was the way Hawks was proudly showing off his quirk. He isn't ashamed of it, if he is then there's no reason for him to start a dance like that what was just focusing on the red wings, like they were the star of the show instead of him. Maybe in some way they were as Keigo was putting his mind into them, proud like a peacock with its feathers spread out completely.

Eijirou found it interesting as how he was so damn confident of it, about his quirk. Yes, his quirk is quite beautiful as the eye-catching pair of wings were such a pleasant view, unlike his own quirk. Whenever he hardened his skin, it wasn't pretty at all. The rough and craggy shapes weren't something to be admired exactly.

Well, his quirk is handy in some ways. There's probably many possibilities of how to use it if Eijirou wanted to do so, but the rough look of it was one of the reasons why he dislikes it so much.

He still has his own doubts about his quirk. He's not sure what to think of it. Katsuki keeps telling him that it's part of him what he can't really deny and that he should just accept it as one of his good qualities, or at least learn to accept it. He's right, it's no use to just cut it off from his life completely. It's going to stick with him for the rest of his life, whether he wants to accept its existence or not.

But learning to like, or even love, something what he's always compared to something as disgusting as a disease isn't easy at all. It feels impossible.

Watching Hawks' performance was somehow inspiring. The way he so gracefully moved with his quirk, almost rubbing it to everyone's faces while proudly showing it off was just something he's never really seen before, Denki never really tried to show off too much his quirk. At least not the way Hawks had been doing all that time.

And while Katsuki is proud of his quirk, Hawks takes it into a whole new level completely, not being afraid of showing just how proud he is.

Especially if it's true that he's just a guest, not a performer.

Eijirou could have been easily lost in his thoughts as long as he pleases if it wasn't for Katsuki to snap him back into reality, a quiet chuckle next to him drawing his attention to the blonde who was staring at him with his red eyes. That all familiar smirk was on his lips as he has been watching him for a while now, noticing the exact moment when Eijirou's train of thoughts had gone wild completely.

"No matter how much I warn you about it, you just keep getting sucked into that dream world of