Daichi walked down the stairs, felt his lips pulling up into a smile for the first time in what felt like weeks. Ever since his first, and last, trip into the marketplace the last thing Daichi had felt like doing was smiling. He thought of messy hair and gray colored eyes and felt his smile slip off his face as he took the steps at a slower pace.
“All that noise,” Koushi stopped one step behind him, standing slightly to his right as his position demanded. They didn’t follow so closely to tradition in the privacy of Daichi’s suite but they knew better than to push their luck in public. Especially after the spectacular failure of Daichi’s first and only sign of rebellion. “Might prove interesting if nothing else maybe Ryuu will get a nice snack out of it.” They both turned towards the large tiger who tilted his head, watching them as if he knew he was being talked of.
“Ryuu is a big softie.” Daichi ran a hand over Ryuu’s head, could feel the vibrations of the tigers purrs through the contact. Koushi was raised too well to snort but the look on his face showed how he felt about Daichi’s assessment. “You take the seat out of one arrogant princes trousers and suddenly you’re labelled a monster.” Ryuu looked mournful as they continued their walk to the main hall.
A new lord had made a grand entrance into their land. There had been a ridiculously loud and colorful parade. Daichi had to hand it to him, the splendor had not gone unnoticed but he had yet to meet a lord or lady that had even begun to impress him.
There had been the boy from the marketplace but-
Voices could be heard from the main hall, one almost sounded familiar but Daichi could not place it.
“Daichi will like this one.” Twenty years of edicate lessons and repeated scoldings of ‘manners!’ still had not broken Daichi of his eye rolling tendencies. Of course he did it where his father could not see him but he was still surprised at how little his own father knew of him. It didn’t help that the Sultan had said that about all of the suitors who had come to visit him.
“And I’m pretty sure I’ll like Prince Daichi.” Daichi turned to Koushi, who laughed and refused to allow Daichi to storm back to his suites and wallow in his misery once more. Their small tussle went unnoticed by the men in the grand hall. How was Koushi so dainty looking yet so strong?
“Your Highness, no!” Daichi gave up his struggle as he heard Kurokawa, the royal visar and someone Daichi very much disliked, spoke up. “I must intercede on Daichi’s behalf.” This time it Koushi had to hold Daichi back as he attempted to take his boot off to have something to throw at Kurokawa’s head. How dare he say such a thing when the one person Daichi could have- might have possibly - and Kurokawa had them killed! “This boy is no different than the others. What makes you think him worthy of the prince?” Daichi might just marry that boy under the one promised condition that they would throw Kurokawa out of the palace the moment they were made rulers.
“Your Majesty, I am a Prince.” The familiarity of the voice was gone, left with a smugness that Daichi wanted to stomp into the ground. “Just let him meet with me, I will win your son.”
Daichi had had enough. He stormed into the grand hall with Koushi and Ryuu close behind.
“How dare you all!” Daichi yelled, fingers curling into fists. He didn’t bother looking at the new suitor because he didn’t matter, but he did spare a heavy glare for the visar and a more hurt one to his father. “All of you! Standing around deciding my future? I am not a prize to be won!”
Daichi left after that, heart aching in his chest once more. He dismissed Koushi once they reached his rooms, though his servant promised to bring him food. Always taking care of Daichi though he’s not quite sure if he deserves it.
If it hadn’t been for Daichi then Tetsurou would still be alive. He had survived so much. A disease that had taken his parents, left him a young orphan on the streets. He had continued to live on those streets and life experiences that should have made him hard and bitter only made him kind. He had saved Daichi from an angry merchant, had brought him to the small area he called home and how did Daichi repay him? By having him executed for “kidnapping the prince”.
Daichi sat on the balcony with Ryuu’s heavy head on his lap. The tiger looked as forlorn as Daichi felt, his one constant companion that he had told the entire story of the street urchin who had somehow captured Daichi’s heart in one day.
“How foolish.” Daichi sighed as he rubbed Ryuu’s soft ears.
“Who are you talking to?” Ryuu turned, snarling and flashing long teeth in an obvious threat as a man tried to make a hasty retreat back over the side of the balcony. “Nice kitty!” Daichi blinked in confusion before recognizing the new suitor. He hadn’t bothered to look at him but he recognized the lavish clothing if nothing else.
“Give me one reason I shouldn’t let him eat you for trespassing.” Daichi leaned back against the stone wall, looking unmoved as Ryuu prowled closer to the intruder. There was a brief moment as the suitor removed his hat to wave it fruitlessly at the oncoming tiger that struck Daichi. “Ryuu.” The tiger paused but his shoulders were hunched, ready to pounce.
“I just wanted to apologize.” The suit shoved his hat back on before landing on the balcony, giving Ryuu a wide berth of space. “It was a long journey to get here and I was tired. I say stupid things when I’m tired and you’re beautiful.” Daichi raised an eyebrow at that. Of course that would be the first thing a suitor would say to him, it was the first thing all the suitors said and it sounded as false coming from this new one as it did from everyone before him.
“Oh?” Daichi stepped closer to the suitor. “I’m rich too, you know.”
“Yeah!” Daichi had never understood these lords and ladies from different lands. They were all wealthy in their own right, how much wealth did a person need before it was enough? This new suitor had shown up with a huge caravan of servants and performers and various animals. Why was Daichi’s own future fortune worth it?
“The son of a sultan.” Daichi knew power had its draw too but he couldn’t in good conscious let someone like this suitor or the ones before him, the ones driven by greed, govern the people Daichi cared so much about.
“I know.” The suitor nodded, Daichi avoided looking too closely at him because he didn’t care.
“A fine prize for any prince to marry.” Daichi watched as the suitor swallowed thickly, finally realizing this might not be going the way he wanted it to.
“Uh, right? Right. A prince, like me.” The suitor sounded unsure of himself and Daichi was reminded of broad shoulders and a calloused hand that held his own and as suddenly as this game had begun, Daichi was done.
“Right, a prince like you.” Daichi pushed the suitor away. “And every other stuffed shirt, swaggering rooster I’ve met!” The suitor sputtered but Daichi wouldn’t let him speak. “Just go jump off the balcony!” He yelled, fed up with having his space encroached upon.
“Yeah, right!” The suitor shouted, sounding of all things frustrated. Daichi felt himself stiffen in anger and Ryuu pushed between them, snarling once more. “I-I mean, you’re right. You aren’t some price to be won, you should be free to make your own choices.” Daichi heard the echo of a conversation he had with someone else that seemed like a lifetime ago. “I’ll go.”
Daichi was too caught up in past memories, didn’t realize what was happening until the suitor stepped off the ledge of the balcony. Daichi shouted out, rushing over and nearly falling over when a head appeared on the other side.
“What?” The suitor looked around, eyes wide and so gray. It was the first time Daichi allowed himself to properly look at the other prince.
“How- how are you doing that?” Daichi asked, rubbing his chest to try and calm his beating heart down. Ryuu paced restlessly behind him.
“It’s a magic carpet.” The suitor flew higher and Daichi couldn’t help but let out a gasp. He didn’t know such things existed though he was acquainted enough with the magics of the world.
“That’s amazing.” Daichi said honestly, watched as the carpet rippled as if it understood the compliment.
“You-” Daichi looked up in gray eyes, was surprised by the nervous gesture as he rubbed the back of his neck. “You wouldn’t want to go for a ride, would you?” His eyes met Daichi’s hesitantly.
“Is it safe?” Daichi asked before he could really think about it, how just moments before he was telling this same man to go jump off the balcony. But it was as if the suitor had dropped a mask or act, as if he was completely different then who he was pretending to be.
“Of course.” A hand was held out. It wasn’t the hand of a prince, or at least any prince that Daichi had known. There were rough calluses, two of the fingers look permanently crooked, and the knuckles were swollen as if used to hard labor. “Do you trust me?” Daichi looked up into gray eyes and felt his heart twist inside his chest.
Could it be possible?
“What?” Daichi asked, his own hand curling right above his heart.
“Do you trust me?” A slightly crooked grin, raised higher on the left than the right. A warm calloused hand pushed closer, not demanding but asking.
“Yes.” Daichi reached out as he had done in the marketplace and allowed himself to hope once more.