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Third from the Left

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Hinata has a good feeling about today.

He's trained for many long, hard years. He's learned how to sit and stand with the best posture, how to eat in a way that looks like he's not chewing, smile with his mouth closed and cover it when he laughs. He knows how to dance and how to read (mostly), he knows that perfume is the most alluring on the nape of the neck and backs of the knees, he knows flattery gets you nowhere, but a well-placed compliment will open doors.

He is ready.

He stands in a lineup with a group of other men and women, all of them different heights, weights, hair colors. A good variety. Most of them, Hinata is familiar with, and they are familiar with him. Most of them never thought he'd make it this far, deeming him a simple goat herder's son.

Hinata has never been sure of why this is a bad thing. Goats can climb and eat anything, two skills he has always felt are very important in life.

The buyer that day is a wealthy merchant. Maybe not quite as illustrious as a prince or a king, but those opportunities come rarely, and this is still a good prospect. The man, it appears, is looking for a "companion" for his son. The exact role doesn't matter—companion, concubine, sex slave, they're all the same thing. Whatever they're called, they'll be fed and housed and their debts paid off. There isn't much more desirable in life than that.

Or so Hinata thinks.

The buyer doesn't come himself; instead he sends his son, which is appropriate. They bring the man into the viewing room, and everyone perks up because not only is this man rich, but he's also very, very attractive. The slaves all posture like a bunch of peacocks, but barely has Hinata struck a sultry pose when the merchant's son points and says,

"That one."

He is pointing at Hinata. Hinata's eyes widen.

"Me?" he squeaks, and immediately wants to kick himself. How unattractive.

But when the traders ask the man again, just to make sure, he nods and says brusquely, "Third from the left," before turning on his heels and marching out.

Third from the left is Hinata. Just like that, he is sold.

*

Hinata doesn't see the merchant's son again until that night. Servants bring him to the Kageyama household, a sprawling complex built across many acres of land. He has his own room, which is surprising. But in the evening, he goes to the room of the son, and waits for him.

After three quarters of an hour, the man (Hinata does not know his name, yet), enters. The room is dark, but Hinata thinks he can see him changing. He is practically vibrating in anticipation, and reminds himself to calm down. Tonight, he needs to seduce, soothe, satisfy. Prove his worth as a comfort slave. They can get adventurous later.

The man finally comes to the bed, pulling back the sheer hangings that drape over the sides to slide in beside Hinata. For a moment, he says nothing. Then he turns over.

"Hi," Hinata says, breathless.

The man blinks at him.

Then he shouts, flailing backwards so hard he nearly falls off the bed. Startled, Hinata shrieks, backpedaling so violently he does fall off, and gets tangled in the gauzy curtains on his way down to the floor.

"I'm—sorry?" he says shrilly, trying desperately to untangle himself, but it's no good.

"Who are you?" the man yelps back at him. "What are you doing in my bed?!"

"What?" Hinata yelps back. "I'm your—your father bought me! You chose me, today!"

Silence. Then, "O-oh. Oh, you're my—"

Rustling can be heard, and then the man is hurrying around to Hinata's side of the bed, where he struggles, still stuck fast. With his new master's help, he manages to free himself. He is now in complete disarray, and there is a bruise forming on his knee where he banged it on the floor. This is not how he imagined the first night would go.

"I wasn't... I forgot," the man explains, casting his eyes around the room nervously. "Do you want to get back into bed?"

"Yes," Hinata says, breathless now for different reasons. He can still salvage this. It's going to be fine.

They clamber back into bed and Hinata lays down, arraying himself alluringly on his side, hand draped over his hip—

—to see the man has laid down with his back to him, blankets drawn up to his ear. Hinata stares.

"Um," Hinata says, "hello? What are…" He is bewildered. Is his new master teasing him? Playing hard to get?

Gingerly, he reaches out, coaxing. Light physical contact to set the mood, he's been taught.

"Do you want to do anything with me?" Playfully, he adds, "To me?" as he slides his hand over the man's back.

Instantly, the pile of blankets draws away from him.

"I want," the man says, "to sleep."

Hinata's mouth falls open. "You want to sleep."

"Yes," says the man again. "Goodnight."

When it becomes clear that he is very serious, Hinata flops back onto the bed next to him, stunned.

"Okay," he says, in a tiny voice. "Can I… at least ask your name?"

After a moment, the man says, in an equally quiet voice, "Tobio."

"Ah," Hinata says, unsure of what else to say. "Sleep well, then, master."

Maybe, he thinks, Tobio is just tired. The next night will be different.

*

It's not. Neither is the next next night, or the night after that one, or the following after that. Every night, Tobio returns to his room, pulls back the curtains, and gets into bed with his back toward Hinata. Most nights, he doesn't say a word. Hinata is very confused.

When a week has passed, and nothing has changed, he finally works up the nerve to say to the lump of blankets on the other side of the bed, "M-master!"

Tobio's shoulders stiffen, and Hinata thinks he has made a mistake.

But then Tobio says, "Yes?"

"I… am sorry if you're tired," Hinata says carefully. "But I was wondering if tonight you would like to do anything other than… sleep?"

For a long moment, Tobio doesn't respond. Then he says, "We could…"

Hinata leans forward in anticipation. Lightly, he walks two fingers up over Tobio's arm, his firm shoulder. "Yes?" he prompts, voice a low, breathless invitation.

"…talk," Tobio finishes.

Hinata gapes at him. "Talk?"

Nestled within his blankets, Tobio nods.

Hinata sighs. This is not what he had in mind. But he is good at talking to people, and so he says, "Of course. What of?"

"Where are you from?" Tobio asks him.

"You want to talk about me?" Hinata asks, surprised. He wonders if this is a test. "We should speak about you!"

"Why?" is Tobio's next question.

Hinata scrunches up his face in irritation, squinting at the man's back. It feels like he's being tested. "Because—you're my master! I want to—no, I need to know everything about you! I… I long to know it!"

Tobio hunches in on himself. "Well, as your master, I'm… telling you to tell me more about you, so—"

"Okay, okay!" Hinata says quickly, detecting the note of equal annoyance in the man's voice. "Where to… start…"

There is nowhere very interesting. He tells Tobio about his life, his training, his studies (he is vague about the studies, as he was never very attentive in lessons). He talks about people he knows, and his teachers, and the places he's lived. He hesitates, after this, because the only things left to speak of are his family, and the sparse hills where he grew up. Tobio hasn't said anything since he started, anyway, and Hinata thinks he must be asleep.

But then the other man says, "What about your home?"

Hinata swallows. As minimally as possible, he tells Tobio about the village he grew up in, and his father's profession.

Tobio, for the first time in seven days, rolls over to face him.

He really is a handsome man, Hinata thinks again. Serious-looking, but nice, too. His eyes are very pretty. All these thoughts are edged with trepidation, however, because he isn't sure why Tobio has chosen to look at him now.

Then Tobio says, "You took care of goats?"

Hinata's heart sinks. All the teasing and mockery he endured throughout the years comes ringing back in his head as he tries to think of a way around the question. But lying to one's master is forbidden, one of the worst things he could do, and so he says, quietly, "Yes."

Tobio stares at him for a long moment, before asking, "Do you like animals?"

Hinata does not know what to make of this question, but he replies truthfully, again. "Yes."

Tobio's frown deepens, but it's a thinking sort of frown, not an angry one. He says, "Most animals are afraid of me."  

"Oh," Hinata says, surprised. "That's… well, that must be because you're very intimidating and impressive."

Tobio looks at him, deadpan, and Hinata wonders if that was too much flattery.

"Are you afraid of me?" Tobio asks him.

Truthfully, Hinata says, "No." He watches, warily, as the other man sits up a little.

"Tell me more about your family," Tobio says.

So Hinata does. He tells Tobio about his boisterous father, and his happy mother, and his best friend, his younger sister, who he hasn't seen in years. He tells Tobio how they had begged him not to leave their village, even when they were barely feeding three mouths, let alone four. He tells Tobio that he misses them, even though he knows they are better off this way.

He speaks all about the people he left behind, and it is quite some time before they fall asleep. He realizes, when he finally closes his eyes, that he had started calling the man by his name, Tobio, instead of always addressing him properly—but Tobio had never once corrected him. Hinata likes the sound of the name, the way it feels on his tongue when he says it. So for the time being, Hinata thinks, he'll continue to do so.

*

Hinata begins to see Tobio more often. During the day, sometimes for breakfast or lunch, sometimes to walk around the grounds of the estate, sometimes really for no reason at all. He starts to find he looks forward to all these times, when Tobio comes to find him, though he isn't exactly sure why his master prefers to seek out his company for so many things other than what he was brought to the estate to do.

At night, they still talk. That's all they do, talk, but it's nice in its own way. Maybe a bit more than nice. Hinata wonders if he's enjoying it more than he should, given he still hasn't fulfilled his purpose. But he was told to provide companionship. When he watches the other man talk, when he sees the frown lines in Tobio's brow ease, he still feels like he's doing something. Even if it's just words, and nothing more.

There is one night, when they have fallen quiet and contemplative, that Hinata forgets to rein himself in. Tobio is staring up at the canopy of the bed, and Hinata is staring at Tobio, studying the planes of his face unnoticed. He's always struck by how handsome Tobio is, how lucky he was to have Tobio choose him.

But more than looks, it's Tobio's nature that makes him feel so lucky. Quiet and a little rough around the edges, gruff and easily irritated or flustered; but the dark-haired man is kind. Perhaps not thoughtful, necessarily—he can be embarrassingly blunt, at times. But he's gentle in his own way. It surprises Hinata to realize how much he's grown accustomed to Tobio's presence beside him, and how much he truly likes it.

How much he might, maybe, truly want more. Not just because it's his duty.

"Can I ask you something," he whispers quietly.

"What?" Tobio asks. He sounds sleepy.

"Have you ever had sex before?"

Tobio is silent for a few moments, before he all of a sudden sits up, eyes wide as he stares down at Hinata. Hinata gazes back up at him, wondering.

He wonders if anyone else has had the chance at a privilege he's been bought and sold for. Wonders if they took it for granted, if they'd sought Tobio or the other way around.

He wonders if it means more when it isn't paid for.

"What?" Tobio asks. "Why are you asking me that?"

"I'm just curious," Hinata tells him. He worries he's overstepped.

"Does it matter?" Tobio asks him.

Hinata shakes his head. "No, not at all."

"I—I don't—" He flounders, and Hinata thinks he has his answer. 

He is not supposed to be possessive of his master’s affections; he has no claim over them. But he feels a little strain of joy, working its way through him.

"Have you?" Tobio asks.

"No!" Hinata practically gasps. How does Tobio think he would ever have been offered to such a wealthy family if he wasn't a virgin? "Of course I haven't."

Tobio stares at him and Hinata can see him blushing, even in the dark. Hinata wonders if this, maybe, is his chance. He takes it.

"You'd be my first," he says, and feels his cheeks heating up, too. He likes that thought. He wants Tobio to be his, first. "I've been waiting for you."  

"You've been waiting for the person who bought you," Tobio says flatly.

"That doesn't matter," Hinata says again, quickly. "You're the one who did."

Tobio nods, stiffly, and then lies back down again. He says nothing.

"Do you ever want—"

"Hinata, sleep."

They don't talk about it again after that. Though Hinata doesn't stop thinking.

*

One day, Tobio asks to show him something, and brings him out to a little courtyard, where a trader waits with his small cart. The trader has with him the tiniest, fluffiest brown goat Hinata has ever seen.

Hinata loses all composure instantly.

"Do you like him?" Tobio asks, an entirely unnecessary question, as Hinata has collapsed to his knees in front of the goat to scoop it up in his arms, screeching delightedly when it headbutts him immediately.

"I LOVE HIM," Hinata tells him, very calmly. (He's not calm, at all. He will die if ever he is parted from the aggressive bundle of joy he has been shown.)

Tobio looks relieved. "He's yours, then. I already bought him." He nods to the man, who begins to pack up his cart.

Hinata stares at Tobio in shock. "Really?"

"Yes," Tobio says. "I thought you'd like him."

Hinata hasn't a clue what to say. The goat solves this problem for him, by springing out of his arms and headbutting Tobio straight in the shin. Tobio stares down at it in surprise, and Hinata, unable to help himself, bursts out laughing.

"He's not scared of me," Tobio says, in awe.

"Goats aren't scared of anything," Hinata says, covering his mouth to hide his helpless giggles. "But they always want to pick a fight, so you should watch your back from now on."

He wonders if he's said something wrong, when Tobio frowns and grabs his hand—but the tall man just pulls it away from his mouth.

"Don't do that anymore," he says.

Hinata hiccups, pulling his face into a tranquil expression. He feels embarrassed—he'd forgotten himself completely at the sight of the little goat. "I'm sorry."

"Not laugh," Tobio scoffs. "You always cover your mouth when you do."

Hinata tilts his head, confused.

"Don't—hide it, anymore," Tobio says, mumbling now. "I don't like that you do that."

"Oh," Hinata says. Oh. And then, before he can help it, he's beaming up at Tobio. Automatically, he raises his other hand to his mouth, but Tobio grabs that one, too. His hands are big and warm around Hinata's, and his eyes are very serious as he stares down from his taller vantage point.

"Don't," Tobio says, again. "I want—" He flushes red, his whole face going up in flames, all the way up under his bangs, to the tips of his ears. He looks anywhere but at Hinata when he says, "I like seeing you smile."

Hinata feels like he's been headbutted in the chest by a fully grown ram.

"Okay," he says, voice coming out in a whisper. He does smile, a little bit more nervously, eyes fluttering to look away before the hot sunlight is blotted out and he looks back, to see that Tobio has leaned down toward him, blocking it from view. He is very, very close, and Hinata's heart jumps, eyes going wide. Tobio raises a hand, and, so quickly Hinata wonders if he imagined it, slides his palm against Hinata's cheek.

Then he nods decisively and drops his hands. He begins to walk away, leaving Hinata staring after him, feeling entirely out of breath—but their new goat chases after Tobio instantly, leaps up, and rams its head directly into his rear end. The yell Tobio lets out is priceless.

"I warned you!" Hinata says gleefully, and this time when he laughs, he lets it go free.

*

Everything in Hinata's new life seems to be going very, very well. He and Tobio slowly but surely have become inseparable, along with Maes (their goat), who has ceased headbutting everyone at first sight, except Tobio. Tobio has grown very attached to him.

Their relationship is unusual all around—Hinata is more a friend to Tobio than a companion of comfort, but as Hinata hasn't had a friend in years, he finds it to be a welcome change of pace. All in all, it would be the perfect arrangement, but for one small problem.

He thinks he might be in love with Tobio. But Tobio doesn't want to touch him.

The only things they've ever done in the same bed together are talk and sleep. Hinata has seldom seen Tobio's father, but he has not forgotten who bought him in the first place. And if his weight in gold is deemed unworthy, nothing good will come of that. At best, he'll be sold off at a discount, to a less prestigious household. At worst, he'll be disgraced and cast out to fend for himself.

Whatever they decide to do to him, they will take him away from Tobio. And he can't let that happen.

So he tries being a bit less subtle.

At first, it's perfume. Just a little bit, and he thinks it might be working when Tobio sniffs the air as he gets into bed—but he doesn't comment on it at all, so the next night, Hinata puts on a little more, wears it a little stronger. Tobio stops a few times to stare at him while they talk, but still nothing—so Hinata keeps going, wears more and more, until one night, Tobio comes down with a horrendous sneezing fit.

Dismayed, Hinata asks, "Is it too strong?"

"Yes," Tobio says, coughing. "Why do you keep wearing it?"

"Because I—I'm trying to—" Hinata doesn't know what to tell him. There's nothing more shameful than a concubine who has to convince their master to have sex, so he lamely says, "I thought you'd like it."

"I don't," Tobio says bluntly.

Red-faced, Hinata quickly goes and takes a bath. When he returns to bed, Tobio is still awake. He looks uncomfortable.

"Don't wear that stuff," he tells Hinata. "It makes my nose itch."

Hinata is too embarrassed to say much else besides, "Okay."

After a moment, he feels something brush his fingers. Confused, he opens his hand, and feels Tobio's slot into his own, fingers intertwining.

Tobio burrows further into the blankets. "I just like the way you smell normally."

Hinata rolls his face into the bedsheets and speaks primarily to them when he says, "Oh."

He shouldn't be so pleased, after his plan has failed utterly, but he is.

So, scents are a dead end. Hinata goes to a more dramatic type of seduction. Every night, his outfits become… less. Less opaque, less fabric, less skin covered. Translucent, fluttering things that leave little to the imagination.

Tobio seems to have been struck suddenly blind. He never makes a single comment, though he does seem to be looking at Hinata less than he did before, instead of more. But Hinata has been instructed well, in all the subtleties and signs inherent in the game of attraction, and he can hardly fail to miss them now.

The way Tobio's gaze gets stuck on him when he thinks Hinata isn't looking, how it instantly slides away as soon as Hinata smiles at him or catches his eye. How the other man slowly wets his tongue with his lips while he's listening to Hinata, even though he makes sure only to look at Hinata's face when they talk. The flush on his cheeks and the way his eyes, always attentive, dilate, when they are lying side by side, Hinata stretched out next to him and nearly bare, a blatant offering. Tobio does want, but still he doesn't act on it.

So Hinata finally gives up on clothes entirely one night. He pulls no punches; the two small, golden hoop piercings he usually wears, one in his belly button, the other through the peak of his right nipple, are reserved enough that they can normally go unseen. But tonight, he wears another piece of jewelry, a delicate, thin gold chain that links between the two hoops, brushing cold over his breastbone and stomach, accentuating the flush over his skin, the smooth planes of his body.

He prepares himself, in every sense of the word, for Tobio to have him. Then he stretches out on the bed, fully naked, and waits for his master to appear.

When Tobio finally enters, pulls back the hangings of the bed and sees him, he lets out a noise that sounds as though it's bordering on surprise and terror. "What are you doing?" he demands, before Hinata can even say a word.

"I was waiting for you!" Hinata says, bewildered. How could he be more obvious than this?

"Well, don't wait like—like that, idiot!" Tobio says thunderously, and before Hinata can even register what's happening, Tobio throws all of the bedsheets and blankets on top of him, nearly smothering him. "You'll get cold!"

"Cold!" Hinata exclaims, from underneath the mound of bedding. He claws his way back up through them, until he can pop out of the top, glaring at Tobio. "I'm not going to get cold!"

"You could—" Tobio starts to say, and Hinata isn't having anymore of it.

"I don't understand!" he shouts, and this is the last thing he should be doing, but there's no point anymore, in trying to act like an obedient little love slave.

"What?" Tobio asks, staring at him.

"Why?" Hinata hurls the word at him like a stone. "Why did you pick me? Why did you choose me?"

Tobio shakes his head. "What are you talking about?"

"Why did you want to own me, if you don't want to do anything?!" Hinata yells at him, before he grabs the blankets and yanks them over his head, so he doesn't have to look at Tobio's stupid, confused, wonderful face anymore.

The bed indents next to him, and a hand lands heavily on top of his head. "I never wanted to own anyone."

"What?" Hinata says thickly into his blankets. "Then why—"

"My father wouldn't take no for an answer," Tobio told him. "So, when I had to choose, I just told myself… I'll pick whoever is third from the left. And that was you."

Hinata takes a long moment to process this. Then he whips the blanket back off his head to look at Tobio. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," he says, nose stopped up, because of course he's started crying. He sounds disgusting, so therefore, he probably looks it.

But Tobio isn't looking at him like he's disgusting. He doesn't even look angry at Hinata's blatant disrespect. Instead, he withdraws his hand, expression pained. "I know it's stupid," he says.

"So you weren't interested in me at all," Hinata says, dully.

"I didn't even look at you," Tobio admits.

Hinata sits up. He wipes at his eyes and nose with the (very expensive) sheets. He is glad, at least, that he finally understands.

"I'm sorry," he tells Tobio, at the exact same moment Tobio says,

"I didn't mean to fall in love with you."

Hinata freezes, sheets still held over his eyes. He… must have misunderstood. He can't have heard Tobio correctly, because that would mean—

He feels the cloth being tugged gently away from his face, and then all he can see is Tobio's miserable face, all he can do is look at Tobio in stunned silence.

"How can you be in love with me?" Hinata whispers.

"Because you're—" Tobio shakes his head, frustrated. "Look, I know none of this was your choice. I swear I won't force myself on you any more than I already—"

"Tobio!" Hinata says shrilly. "I've loved you all this time, and you're an idiot!"

Tobio stares at him in shock. "No, you—not me. You love the goat."

Hinata wrinkles his nose in confusion. "What?"

"You can't really love me, you just like the things I—"

Hinata pulls himself upright, balancing on his knees on the bed, staring Tobio down furiously. "If you really love me, don't insult me like that."

Tobio frowns, mood reflecting Hinata’s. "I wasn't trying to—"

"You think I don't know why I was brought here?" Hinata challenges him. He lets the sheets around his shoulders fall away, so he's fully naked, and Tobio's shoulders droop, his gaze falling away from Hinata's to look anywhere but at him. "I know I was brought here to serve you."

"I know—" Tobio tries to say, but Hinata cuts him off, reaching out to grab Tobio's face in his hands, dragging his attention back so they are looking at each other once more.

"I know enough not to think that's love," Hinata says. "And enough to realize what I feel for you is."

"Hinata, you're enslaved because of me," Tobio tells him. His voice is a hoarse whisper, disbelieving, but when Hinata leans into him, he doesn't pull away.

"I'm happy because of you," he says, right before he presses his lips softly against Tobio's.

Tobio inhales sharply, and Hinata feels him start to soften, start to respond before he holds himself back.

"You can touch me if you want to," Hinata says, and Tobio lets out the softest noise against his lips, helpless and yearning. Hinata murmurs, "I want you to."

Tobio gives in. He pulls Hinata to him, wraps his arms around him—and he's so warm. He's so warm that Hinata gasps and lets himself be gathered up against Tobio, held close and tight. He slides his arms around Tobio's neck, and lets Tobio kiss him, just like Hinata has wanted him to for so, so long. His lips are warm, too. Hinata wasn't trained in this as much as he was in other areas, and he hopes he's doing alright, as Tobio moves his mouth cautiously over his, hesitant, before he finally slides his hands over Hinata's body, resting lightly against his lower back. Kissing had always been deemed nonessential in Hinata's training, but he knows now that was wrong.

"Tonight, right?" he asks breathlessly, when Tobio pulls back, leaving the barest hint of space between them. "I don't want to wait anymore, I can't."

Tobio nods. "Okay. Anything you want."

Hinata can't stop smiling, as he pulls on Tobio gently, sliding back down against the sheets. "You don't know what I want?" He laughs softly as Tobio's face reddens.

"How, then?" he asks. He can't keep his eyes off Hinata, though they still continue to flick away anxiously. That's alright, though—Hinata will make sure he doesn't look away, soon enough.

Hinata reaches out to tug on the loose sleeve of his shirt. "These, first."

Tobio swallows, but nods—such a bravely determined gesture that Hinata squirms a bit on the bed in happiness. He watches, breath held, as Tobio pulls off his shirt, before his hands hover around the waistline of his pants. After a moment's hesitation, he pushes those down as well, and Hinata is finally free to stare at all of him. He's never seen Tobio naked, before, but now that he has he very much doesn't want to stop seeing it.

He stretches his hands up, and Tobio finally climbs into the bed for Hinata to hold for the first time. He feels strong and smooth under Hinata's hands, when he runs them over Tobio's back, memorizing the way Tobio shivers at his touch. Hinata wants nothing more than to do what he was meant for, and he gets overexcited, to say the least.

"I'm ready," he blurts out. Tobio shifts above him—he seems to be trying to find his bearings, how to hold his weight over Hinata's smaller frame, where to put his hands. Hinata just wants him closer. "I'm ready now."

"Give me a minute—" Tobio tries to tell him. His voice is quiet, contemplative.

"Don't need it," Hinata says insistently. They are so close, Tobio's warmth is so close to him, and it's becoming hard to think. "I already got myself ready for you."

The other man sucks in a breath. Hinata looks up at him, fingers trembling where they press into his shoulders.

"You can have me right now," he tells Tobio.

Tobio props himself up on his elbows so he can look down at Hinata, ducking his head for another kiss that makes Hinata's stomach bubble with joy. "Okay," he says.

But then he keeps kissing Hinata. Different kinds of kisses—light and barely brushing over his lips, pulling away until Hinata tilts his chin, lifts his head to try and catch him before he goes; soft, close-mouthed kisses, just resting against Hinata's lips, until Hinata starts to giggle; and every so often, an aching, lingering kiss, that makes Hinata go silent, aside from the way he sighs into Tobio's mouth, and gasps as he feels Tobio's tongue slide softly against his lips, before Hinata opens them to let him in.

And then Tobio pushes away, and Hinata would protest, but he finds himself being kissed on other parts of his body, now, and he watches, transfixed, as Tobio moves his lips lower, down over his chest—kisses the pink slope of Hinata's nipple next to the hoop ring, nervously. Hinata bites his lip.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"I don't know," Tobio responds, but he doesn't stop. He traces the gold chain with his mouth, brushing his lips down over Hinata's stomach, until he gets to the belly button ring. He looks at it for a moment, and Hinata opens his mouth to ask what he's doing now, when Tobio dips his head down low and slips his tongue gently into the little hoop, flicking it wetly against Hinata's navel.

The heated rush that pulses through Hinata's body, flowing out from that one point of contact, stuns him. He goes rigid, voice breaking as he gasps. Tobio runs the tip of his tongue around the outside of his belly button, agonizingly slow, before he takes the gold hoop in his mouth and tugs on it with his teeth.

Correspondingly, the twin piercing at Hinata's chest is gently pulled, tugging at his nipple, and his body burns, cock twitching as he arches his back off the bed, hands sliding into Tobio's hair. When Tobio lets go of the hoop and returns to soft kisses against his skin, Hinata collapses back into the sheets, trembling. He brushes his fingers lazily through the other man’s dark hair as Tobio continues moving lower, and Hinata is so blissful, so hazy, that he only realizes where he's headed when it's almost too late.

"Tobio!" he yelps, fingers tugging at Tobio’s hair. "No—you can't—I'm—"

Tobio looks up at him, his eyes dark. "You're what?"

Hinata props himself up onto his elbows, shakily. He knows it's different already, between them—but for their first time, he can't let Tobio do something like this. "I'm… your—"

"Hinata," Tobio says, cutting him off, "We can't—I can’t, if that's still how you feel. You’re not my slave, I don't want you to be. Please, let me show you."

This isn't how it's done, Hinata thinks—but he needs Tobio. So he nods, nervously.

Tobio studiously, inexpertly, starts to lavish attention over his cock, with his lips and tongue. He's very, very inexperienced—not terribly good at it—but in less than a minute, Hinata has fallen back against the pillows, eyes shut tight as he's overwhelmed by the feeling of that mouth on him, warm and wet and so unbelievably eager to please. Just the way Hinata should be—but instead, Tobio is doing this for him.

He doesn't even realize he's saying anything, until Tobio pauses, and Hinata manages to look down at him with unfocused eyes.

"Hinata," he says hoarsely, "you have to stop."

"Stop... what?" Hinata asks, slow and confused.

"Saying my name," Tobio tells him. "I, um—I don't think I'll last."

"Oh," Hinata says, eyes widening. And then, before he can help it, he laughs. "Then, come back here, and you won't have to."

Tobio looks conflicted, but Hinata runs a hand through his hair, whispers his name again and gets to see his eyes flutter closed, this time, before he pulls himself back up the bed until he's over Hinata.

"I'm more ready, now," Hinata tells him with a grin, and Tobio looks like he wants to laugh, but is too nervous to do so.

He's prepared himself well, and when Tobio guides himself into place, lining up against him, Hinata wraps his legs around his waist and sighs as he's filled, whispers that he's alright, more than alright, that he just—needs.

"This is okay?" Tobio asks in his ear, and Hinata wraps his arms around his neck.

"Yes," Hinata says, holding onto him as tight as he can. "Now, please, now…"  

Tobio moans when he starts to move, the sound of his voice so desperate it makes Hinata fall apart when they've barely begun. Tobio feels amazing in him—but so does his warm, tall frame, pressed to Hinata's body. So do his hands, as they slide over his skin, over his sides and legs as Tobio finds places to grab onto, as he rocks into him.

Tobio touches him the way Hinata has always wanted him to, strong and sure and careful, all at once. He looks at Hinata and there is only softness in his eyes, softness and something else warm and deep and sincere. And Hinata finally, finally realizes. Tobio hadn't wanted a slave. He hadn't wanted to own Hinata.

But he does love Hinata, now.

He kisses Hinata's shoulder, and breathes, "Actually… if you could—not make any noises at all—" His voice is strained, but Hinata can tell he's teasing, mostly. He is definitely very close.

Hinata slides a hand into his hair and pants, "Can't help it—you feel too good—" Tobio groans, and Hinata smiles, murmurs his name into his ear, over and over, and Tobio can't hold out.

He comes with a soft exhalation, face pressed into Hinata's neck, and Hinata holds him tight with one arm around his shoulders, reaching his other hand down to stroke himself off as Tobio's hips roll, pressing so deep inside Hinata that it isn't long before he's whimpering as he spills over his stomach.

He's still trembling from his climax when Tobio starts kissing him again, nearly missing his mouth on the first try. Hinata wraps him up in his arms and laughs until he's breathless all over again.

"Master..." he murmurs, and Tobio prods his stomach.

"Don't call me that now, all of a sudden," he complains.

"But," Hinata says, grinning at him, "what if I still want to belong to you?"

Tobio frowns, then kisses him again, softer this time. "On your own terms."

Hinata is quite sure the conditions have already been met.

*

Far, far from the Kageyama estate, and the city, in sparse mountainous hills that dictate the country's borders, there is a village. Its people are poor, and living is hard; but there they have dwelled for the lifetimes of many generations. And they have family, and community... and an overabundance of goats. 

"Maes!" Hinata shouts, hands on his hips, as he watches his feisty pet terrorizing some of the nearby locals—or making an attempt. They are far too used to these sorts of antics to be truly bothered. It is somewhat embarrassing to Hinata that his goat is the least well-behaved of the lot. 

"He's not doing any harm," Tobio says. Hinata huffs. Tobio is far too overindulgent and believes Maes can do no wrong, which is the entire reason the goat is so spoiled in the first place. Hinata is about to say so when a loud, excited shout pulls their attention around.

"Shouyou! Tobio!" 

Hinata turns, and there, flying across the village square towards them, is a small figure with burning orange hair. Her parents—their parents—follow at a more reasonable pace. But she is all bright eyes and joy, and he wouldn't have it any other way, not even when she flings herself into Tobio's arms, first. 

"What's happening here?" Hinata asks, mock indignantly, as Tobio hoists her into the air. "Natsu, you don't hug me first?" 

"Tobio can lift me much higher than you can, Shouyou," Natsu replies remorselessly, and Tobio actually cackles. Natsu cackles back. She, like Maes, is not scared of him or his sideways smile in the slightest, which is likely what endeared them to each other so quickly. 

Hinata and Tobio come to visit the village when they can, though still not quite as often as either of them would like. There are still restrictions on Hinata, appearances Tobio must keep up, a distance that must appear to exist between them. And so it has to be until Tobio himself is master of his estate, and not his father. But that day will come. 

Without his arms full of Natsu, Hinata is free to embrace his parents, clinging very, very tightly to make up for all the years he missed them. He thinks, perhaps, they are finally beginning to forgive themselves for allowing him to leave, though Hinata knows they never could have stopped him in the first place. Not when he knew he had to provide for them, rather than the other way around. Not after he'd heard Natsu cry for food because they never had enough. 

Now, they don't have that problem. No one in the village does. Not with the monthly provisions Tobio sends, taken out of his own yearly allowance. It is less than he wanted to give them, but he has to avoid suspicion from his father. It's still enough to keep the tiny village fed. 

And one day, Natsu, and their parents, will come to live in the city, at the estate, away from the harsh mountain landscape. Or perhaps, there is a place in between; somewhere quiet and green and simple for them all. Their lives then will be rich; not with gold, but with the absence of farewells. 

Natsu doesn't know Tobio's background, or how he and Hinata came to meet. She doesn't know that Hinata was, at one time, merely the third from the left. She just knows Tobio is a man who smiles rarely; that if she searches the right pockets of his expensive clothes, she might find sweets; and that he means the world to her brother.

That is all that matters, because one day, Hinata will be freed.  

But for now, he and Tobio come to the tiny village where neither of them are bound by money or contract. They sleep on mats on the floor, they eat with their hands, and they are with family that cares to see them happy; and so they are.

And this trip, they are thinking of getting a second goat.