Word count: 2,959
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine and the story is solely fantasy, totally has nothing to do with the real life persons. Some facts, however, might be based on magazine translations.
Summary: Locked inside the barn, Yamada wasn't expecting it to be an experience that would somehow unlock the nature of certain mysteries around him.
A.N.: AU. Self-beta'ed.
( Chapter 1: Rejected? )
( Chapter 2: A Step Behind )
( Chapter 3: Confusion )
( Chapter 4: Turning Point )
Staring at the wooden ceiling high above him, Yamada shifted in the straw bedding he was lying down on. The sharp edges of the straw were stabbing his skin even through the jeans he was wearing, but it was pretty much the very least of his concern. His surrounding was quiet, other than the sound of the heavy wooden door of the barn being opened from the outside.
He sat up, crawling to another door that separate him from the barn itself. There was a small storage room that had nothing but stacks of straw in it inside of the barn. The walls were mad of wood, and there was only one small window on one of its sides and no bulb, the only source of light he had was the dim shining moon from the outside. And it was where he was locked up.
“Yamada-kun?” someone whispered to him.
Trying to find a hole or a crack from the wall, Yamada wanted to see who it was, but the woods on the wall were perfectly cut and nailed, making it impossible for him to even take a peek outside. He sighed, sitting down next to the door with his back leaning on one of the walls, his head resting lankily against the wood.
“Were you asleep?”
“No. I can’t sleep,” he answered.
“I saw what happened,” the other said again, this time Yamada was sure that it was Yuto. “I was taking the dogs out.”
He didn’t want to remember about what happened. It was his fault for acting up, but he couldn’t forgive Daiki just like that either. He was aware that he had no right to protest or complain about anything Daiki said or wanted him to do because he had lost the privilege to decide for himself the moment Arioka-san bought him to be Daiki’s pet.
“Never knew you are capable of getting mad like that. Not that it was as bad as when Ryutaro got all mad, but still,” Yuto commented from the other side.
“I didn’t know I could either…” he replied honestly.
“Was Daiki-san’s friend mean to you or something?”
Yamada gulped, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to answer that correctly no matter how much he tried to. He knew he could trust the taller boy, especially because in the middle of the night like that, Yuto still came over just to talk. It might not seem much but he knew it was far from twenty-four hour since he was locked up, so having a company was nice.
“Do you think it’s weird that I feel that… I want him to pay attention more towards me?” Yamada said at the end.
The other boy didn’t reply him right away, making Yamada wonder if he said something wrong. He shifted in his seat, pressing his ear against the door – trying to listen if Yuto was still there to begin with.
“You’re so having the ‘Baby-Ryutaro-Rebelling-Syndrome’ right now,” Yuto burst into laughter.
“Eh…?” Yamada blinked, not understanding the answer that Yuto just gave him.
“Nothing. It’s normal. You’re his pet, you want his attention. It happened to Ryutaro too before. But he was a lot bizarre because for a nine year old, the amount of plates he threw around as he raged was enormous,” Yuto chuckled.
Somewhat… Yamada could imagine a little boy version of Ryutaro doing that.
“You know, everyone else was bought too,” Yuto continued.
He heard Yuto moved closer to the door, the lantern lamp that the other boy had with him was shifted closer too, the light escaped into the small gap between the door and the bedded floor. The action alone made Yamada felt a little safer even when he was hardly able to see anything clearly in the darkness.
“Yeah. Me. Hikaru-kun, Yabu-kun, Inoo-kun, Takaki-kun, and even Keito,” Yuto answered. “Arioka-san… the husband, I mean… is a politician. That’s why you don’t see him around that much. He’s from the opposition party and their mission is to erase slavery. But it’s too drastic to just make it illegal and people wouldn’t like it, so he’s like testing to see what if the term pet is being introduced and all. And that was how Ryutaro joined the family.”
“But why pet?” Yamada asked. “It’s almost the same thing.”
“Not quite. Because when you have a pet, you take care of it. Just like how I’m taking care of the animals in this barn. I feed them, wash them, and make sure that they are healthy. Inoo-chan wouldn’t change your hair colour if you weren’t a pet, or Arioka-san wouldn’t prepare a room for you. I doubt Daiki-san would let you sleep on his bed if you were a slave.”
Somehow it made sense to Yamada, the questions that he had been wondering about was being answered perfectly by Yuto. “Then why the locking up like this?” Yamada mumbled.
He saw the light from underneath the door leaving him, seemingly from Yuto standing up and picking it up. Panic started to wash over him as he almost clung to the door, not wanting to be left alone in the dark again, especially when he found it hard to sleep.
“Because that’s what Daisuke does. Daiki-san is just like that. Even when compare to Ryutaro, you’re like super duper good boy, so we totally cannot see why he had to lock you up. But it’s Daiki-san we’re talking about. He’s always trying too hard,” Yuto replied. “Anyway, I have to go back to my room. You go have some sleep, somehow. I’ll come back before lunch because I work here anyway.”
Yamada mumbled an “okay”, sitting by the door quietly as his ear caught the way the sounds that Yuto’s shoes made fading away from him, gone completely when the other boy closed the barn’s door. All alone in the dark again, he thought. Even when it was nothing like his bunk back in the basement, it had been awhile since Yamada experienced the dark like this, away from his bed and warm blanket.
He tried his best to fall asleep, but instead of doing so, he found himself staring at the ceiling again all night long, the only voice he heard was the cricket from outside of the barn. It was a restless night for him, even when he did fall asleep, he would be awaken just after five minutes or so, somehow couldn’t find the right spot to make him feel comfortable enough to pass out until morning came.
When the sky brightened up, Yamada groaned, realising that it was already dawn and he hadn’t had any sleep for the whole night. He heard the way the animals inside the barn starting to make noises, somehow scaring him a little when the horse that was probably just beside the room he was in roared randomly.
A few more hours, he sighed, sitting up again as he tried to see what was going on outside from the small window on the wall.
Yamada startled when the door was suddenly knocked from the outside, blinking in surprise because it was too early for Yuto to come back to the barn. He frantically crawled to the door, pulling up his parka sleeves to his elbow as he fisted his fingers, getting ready to punch whoever it was that might come to get him.
“Ya-ma-da~~,” a familiar voice called his name, the door slowly opened up from the outside, revealing a casually dressed Takaki. That was Yamada’s first time seeing one of the butlers wearing only a hoodie and sweatpants.
“Yo~! Hungry?” he grinned, walking into the room in a cavalier manner.
He hardly felt hungry until the older boy mentioned it to him, his stomach suddenly growling in the most bothersome fashion ever. He hadn’t had any meal since he got locked up, his abandoned, unfinished breakfast was the last meal he had. “Y-yes…”
“Perfect~. I have some bread for you,” he sat down, handing Yamada something that was wrapped up with tissue.
“Thank you!!” he beamed, forgetting how tired he was from his sleepless night.
It was a rather hard French bread, but it was better than nothing at all. He wasn’t sure how Takaki got it because the staff hardly got anything that fancy but he pushed that thought aside because his stomach jolted in joy as he took his first bite. “Takaki-kun, thank you again!” he said while munching his bread eagerly.
“Oh, don’t thank me. Thank your owner,” he laughed.
Choking to his bread, Yamada turned to Takaki with a frown, couldn’t get it why he had to thank Daiki because technically the older boy just locked him up in a dark room inside the barn.
“He told me to give it to you. He told me to, and not Inoo of course, because Inoo would give him the “I told you” lecture if he asked that guy to give you food,” Takaki chuckled.
“Oh…” Yamada looked down, munching on his bread quietly.
“What’s with the low-spirited reply? You were like grinning stupidly when you told us Daiki-san was taking you out yesterday,” Takaki frowned.
“I don’t know…”
“You’re mad at him?” the older guy asked.
“I’m not sure…” he answered.
Takaki leaned his back to the wall, crossing a leg over the other as he observed the inside of the room. He looked adorable just the way Yamada remembered him from watching how Yabu always scolded him every morning for being slow with Daisuke’s breakfast. His brown hair was half tied and he looked far from scary, unlike what Ryutaro had been telling Yamada.
“You see, we technically know Daiki-san since before any of us can even read. That kid is trying too hard to be badass, but not gonna happen. We all know him too well,” Takaki said again.
“Oh… you’ve been around for a very long time then?”
“Yes. The butlers are all here the longest, along with Hikaru of course. We were originally bought to be friends with Daisuke-san.”
“So you were bought when you were a kid?” Yamada asked, very interested in knowing what was behind the weirdness of the Ariokas.
“Yeah. But Daisuke-san is a popular man, even when he was still a kid, so he barely needed us to play with. Hikaru and Yabu helped Arioka-san most of the time at the end, while Inoo grew closer to Daiki-san without him even planning to. So that’s how we got our jobs,” he explained.
“What about you?”
“Me?” Takaki raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I followed Daisuke-san everywhere he went. I was like this little awkward boy that tailed him around. There was no butler in this house before, but like each time his friends asked him who I was, he never said that I was just a slave that his parents bought, but instead he always jokingly said that I was his personal butler. And one fine day, Arioka-san thought it was a good idea to have personal butlers.”
Yamada nodded, a sign of him understanding this new information that Takaki just gave him. He quietly finished his bread, noticing how the older boy looked so relaxed and actually rather mature-looking when he wasn’t with Yabu or Inoo, maybe it was just the strange mixed aura that Takaki had in him.
“Anyway, it’s not twenty-four hours yet, but I guess I should just let you go,” Takaki yawned.
“I have the extra key to the barn, you know. Ryutaro isn’t exactly a very tame pet. It’s not once or twice in a week I have to bring his food here because he got locked up all the time. Did you know why he was gone for three days last week? He was like steal-drank Daisuke-san’s wine,” Takaki shook his head.
“But… won’t you get into trouble if Daiki-san found out?”
“Me? Neah~. I won’t. Especially not if this boy has been eavesdropping us the whole time,” he yawned again, opening the wooden door wide open.
As Yamada could see the view of the barn, he almost choked for the second time when the wide open door revealed a figure sitting on the floor, not far from where the room was. There, Daiki looked just as surprised as Yamada was, probably not expecting Takaki to expose his presence in the barn.
“BAKAKI! I told you not to tell him I’m here!” Daiki exclaimed, frowning at Takaki.
“You are welcome~,” the oldest among them just laughed, waving to the two of the boys as he left them alone, walking out from the barn.
The barn went awkwardly silent when Takaki left, Yamada didn’t move from where he was standing, and Daiki was still sitting on the floor, scratching the back of his head somewhat agitatedly. The boy was wearing what it seemed to be his sleepwear, almost like what Takaki was wearing, a jumper and a sweatpants. His hair was not styled, yet silk and smooth like of a kid.
“Hey…” Daiki said at the end, standing up while patting the dirt off his bum.
They both stood in silence; none of them seemed to have the courage to start a topic or something. The barn’s door itself was wide open, revealing the view of the sun rising, shining down on the massive land of the house as morning greeted them.
“Let’s… get back to the house?” Daiki mumbled.
Walking a step behind Daiki, something that Yamada somehow just did automatically now, Yamada watched the way Daiki still seemed pretty twitchy as they walked back to the mansion, the other’s piercing randomly shone when the sun’s light hit it causing a reflection of radiance. Daiki’s walk was slow, felt rather draggy and anxious.
“Don’t walk so far away…” the other mumbled.
“I’m a step behind… like you told me to.”
“Don’t walk a step behind me then.”
“But you said…”
“Just do as I said?” Daiki stopped, turning to Yamada as he said.
He stopped instantly as the other did, his hands digging deeper to his parka’s pockets both from the morning cold and from the sudden tense feeling hovering over him. “I’m sorry about yesterday…” Yamada said instead, looking down to the ground, his feet fidgeting against the soil that he was standing on.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry too… for locking you up…” Daiki mumbled. “You look tired. Was the barn that bad?”
“Better than where I came from, but I couldn’t sleep,” he answered.
When Daiki turned to make his way to the house again, Yamada walked right beside him this time, keeping himself somewhat close to the older boy. As he turned to the constricted staff hallway that leaded to his room, Daiki grabbed his arm and pulled him away from it, shaking his head as a way to tell Yamada that he didn’t want Yamada to go back to his room just yet.
Following Daiki’s conduct, he realised that he was being guided to the older guy’s room. They hadn’t said a thing since they stepped into the house, and Yamada assumed because Daiki was bad with mornings (just as bad as Keito) so he figured maybe he wanted some company to continue his sleep, just like the way Daiki took those naps by hugging Yamada.
Yet it surprised Yamada when Daiki opened the door for him, letting him enter the room first, something that was very unlikely for an owner to do. Hesitantly, Yamada walked in, seeing how the bed seemed to be untouched, making him wonder if the housekeepers already cleaned the room, but changing his mind right awawy when he saw comic books all scattered by the big sofa and the glass table.
“You haven’t slept either?” Yamada asked, almost instantly when he realised why the room was in such state, forgetting the little formality that he should use when he was with Daiki.
“I couldn’t…” Daiki answered in a mumble, almost inaudibly.
“Did you get into a fight with Chinen-san because of me? I’m so sorry…”
“No, that’s not it. Chii sulks, but that’s all he would do,” Daiki shook his head as he walked to the sofa, throwing the comic books away to either the table or the floor.
The older boy sat down on the sofa, sinking his body to the fluffy surface while closing his eyes, taking a moment before doing anything at all. He patted the empty space beside him, telling Yamada to join him, and without thinking twice Yamada did as he was told.
“I’ve been thinking of what Inoo-chan has been trying to make me admit all this time… and I guess I was thinking too hard about it last night. Like… because it was rather surprising to find you mad like that, or that how I actually felt uneasy after that.”
Yamada just sat quietly, not knowing where this conversation was going.
“Yamada…” he started, turning to Yamada, the side of his body leaning on the backrest. “I have a question to ask…”
He just froze in his seat as he watched Daiki shifting closer to him, their faces were merely inches away from one another, Daiki’s big irises were looking into his eyes, somewhat soft. Their noses touched, making him able to feel the warm breeze from the older boy’s breath that was mingling with Yamada’s. He felt his stomach exploded like fireworks when Daiki pressed his lips against his very own lips, his eyes closing almost instantly and his head suddenly hurt from bewilderment.
“Would you mind if I disown you? I can’t have you the way I want it if you stay as my pet…” Daiki said, resting his forehead against Yamada’s.
Cliffhanger, much? Well... I already went over the word limit, a little bit too much in fact, so why not just throw in some nasty cliffy~... LOL.