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After the Fight

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It had been another long day at the pits.  Thornstriker was exhausted, too tired to even raise her hand up to wipe her hot brow.

All that could be asked of her was to lean against Novabomb's side as they entered Bloodshed's residence.  Only when the doors were closed behind them did her master turn around and take her off his friend.

"Thornstriker?  Are you alright?"

She was too tired to answer either.  The hot sun, the loud and rambunctious crowd, Bombrush's solid arm that she had to lean against during the latter half of the fights, the smell of blood covering the battlefield-

It was on Bloodshed too.  From the ones he had to kill to come out of those horrible pits alive.

"Nova, get the servants to draw up a bath for us."

"Got it!" Novabomb sauntered away to get the servants. "And I'll cover for you if someone wants to talk, okay?

He nodded. Once Novabomb was out of sight, Bloodshed gently picked her up and took them in the directions of the baths.  As they arrived, Thornstriker could see a bath being filled with warm water, steam dancing across the air as each bucket was dumped inside.

She could feel the cold stone against her backside as Bloodshed set her down.  And his warm hands only registered against her hot skin as he began to pull the heavy jewelry off her body.

Bloodshed felt guilty as he helped her out these gaudy things. He hated dressing her up like this, as if she were some sort of possession to be decorated and paraded around. It only made it worse when he had to take her to his fights, forcing her to watch such gruesome battles and to have people gawk and stare at her like some piece of meat. It was completely dehumanizing... But he had no choice.

He had to make sure no one found out that he actually cared about her. That he loved her. He had to make it seem like the prize he won back during that tournament was of no importance. Was only his... first choice slave. He hated it, but it was something he had to do and force her through. 

He finally removed the rest of the jewelry off of her and slowly helped her undress. Thornstriker didn't say anything and allowed him to gently take her clothes off, though he had her turn her back to him so she would be more comfortable. Once she was free from her clothes, Bloodshed undressed too while she got into the bath. He could see her relax a bit, but it didn't mean she was okay. He knew how much she hated seeing those fights.

Once he was naked, he joined her in the bath and came up behind her.

"Thornstriker?"

She glanced back at him.

"Are... Are you okay?"

She nodded.  Her arms remained up to cover her chest even though her back was to him.

"The water isn't too hot, is it?"

Damn it, he thought, he should have had the servants not heat up the bath water as much.  Thornstriker had been in the hot sun all day, she didn't need to get heatstroke or something worse.

"It's alright... I'm just..."

"Thornstriker?"

"I'm just tired, that's all."

That he could do little about.  It was fatigue for putting on a face all day, but Thornstriker was just mentally exhausted.  Having to see so many die, some by his hands.  All because her parents got themselves so far into debt that they got rid of their "problem" child.  Not the one who could actually make something for himself, just the weak and defenseless one that still lived in their home.

She would never escape this life.  She was doomed to be a part of it forever.  Whether it was with Bloodshed or the man who defeated him in combat.  She would be a part of it for the rest of her life.

A wet cloth touched her shoulder, causing her to jump out of the water to splash her companion.

"Sorry," he said as he gently moved the cloth across her shoulders, "Your skin in red.  It needs to be cleaned before it gets worse."

Nodding in answer, Thornstriker held her arms closer as the cool cloth worked its way gently over her red skin.  It hurt, but even with the lotions Nebula put on her, it never seemed to work that well, especially when her shoulders were bared.

Bloodshed could see that the cleaning was hurting.  He would have to apply some of that poltice to her shoulders after this, but he had to get her clean of the sweat and make-up she was forced to wear.  Slaves had to look presentable; no good gladiator would have his slave, or slaves as in plural, come to watch them fight with no make-up or jewelry on to show their riches and spoils.

Damn it, if it didn't mean inviting trouble, he would keep Thornstriker in here all the time.  Even if it seemed like a cage, at least she wouldn't be in those damn pits watching humanity's worse atrocities committed for the public's entertainment.

He pulled the cloth away from her. Her skin was still a little red, but it looked liked she would be all right. Still, he worried. She had such fair skin... It probably wasn't good for her to be out in such hot weather all the time with little protection from the sun's rays. 

"... Bloodshed?"

He was surprised by her saying his name suddenly. "Y-Yeah?"

"... Are you all right?"

"Huh?"

"Are... Are you all right?" She slowly looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes locked on all the faded bloodstains on his skin. He had been in some rather gruesome fights this time around. It had been frightening, especially since it had looked like he would be the one to fall a few times down in the fighting ring.

"I'm fine."

"... Really?"

He nodded. "Don't worry... I won't leave you and let some other bastard have you."

She bit her bottom lip. That wasn't what she was primarily worried about. Yes, she knew that if her master was killed, it wouldn't be any good for her. Her new owner would not be as kind as Bloodshed was if he were to ever die. But as much as that idea frightened her, she was still worried about his own health and safety. He was not a bad man, so she cared for him. At least a little bit.

But she didn't say anything else, turning to face him when he turned his back to her so she could clean him. He always took wonderful care of her and was always looking out for her wellbeing. The least she could do was the same, even if it was the only thing she could do.