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A knock on the door woke Asahi from his doze.


            The door opened a crack. “I’m Sugawara Koushi. May I come in?”

            Asahi nodded and the door swung open, a Living Crystal entering. His eyes widened as he took in Sugawara’s appearance: beautiful pale blue crystal, short hair, dazzling smile, and were those…


            Sugawara nodded. “I brought some for you as well. It’s just a robe for now until Noya can get you some real clothes.”


            Suga smiled instead of answering outright. “May I sit?” At Asahi’s nod, he did so, settling on the bed and turning to Asahi. “I know this is hard for you to understand because you’ve been used as a doll and as an object, but you’re free here; everyone is. Personally, I don’t know what that feels like, I was never registered, I don’t exist. That’s why I’m here. There are others here too, but they’ve been forcibly rescued from showrooms. You are the first Living Crystal Noya has bought and brought home.”

            “I am?”

            “Yes. So I will say this and keep saying it, as will everyone here: you are free here. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want to, Asahi. That includes the clothes. You can wear them if you want, but you don’t have to.”

            Asahi nodded. “I-I think I want to try them…”

            Sugawara smiled. “Alright. Do you want me to wait outside while you change?”

            “You don’t have to…”

            “Asahi, this is about what you want. Do you want me to stay?”

            “Um… yes? I’ve never… never…”

            “You’ve never put clothes on before?”

            A nod.

            Sugawara smiled. “I’ll stay.”

            “Thank you.” Asahi responded meekly, putting the white robe on with a little difficulty- his arms got a bit trapped, but Sugawara helped him.

            “There you go. Do you want to go see the rest of the manor?”

            Asahi looked nervous. “Um… where’s the master?”

            Sugawara looked confused. “Master…? Oh, do you mean Nishinoya?”

            Asahi nodded.

            “He’s at a political meeting. The Nishinoya family has high political standing here, so he’s using it to fight for our rights.”


            “Also, try not to hear you call him ‘master.’ He hates it. It’s one of the few things that will get him angry at us Living Crystals.”

            “Why does he hate it?”

            Sugawara shrugged. “I’ve never asked.” He stood. “Would you like to meet some of the others?”

            “Um… How many are there?”

            “Living here? I’ve never counted. Quite a few… Seven or eight I want to say?”

            “Wow… and they’re all free?”

            Sugawara smiled. “So are you.”

            Asahi nodded, steeling himself. “I think I’d like to meet some of them.”

            “Ok. We’ll start with Daichi- he should be at the front.”

            Sugawara moved to the door. “Oh, and you can call me Suga, if you want. Most people do.”

            “Ok… Suga.” Asahi smiled, following the other to the door.

            They both walked carefully downstairs, looking around to make sure none of the others were around.

            “Come on, Daichi should be this way.”

            “WAAAH! Kageyama, look! The new crystal’s come out!” A bright orange crystal with milky plumes shouted.

            “Hinata, you dumbass! Introduce yourself first!” A deep black crystal speckled with white yelled back, jogging to catch up with the shorter one. “Sorry. I’m Kageyama, snowflake obsidian, and the fire opal over there is Hinata.”


            Suga stepped between Asahi and the other two living crystals, smile overly sweet . “Why don’t you two run along? Asahi will come greet you and the others properly later.”

            Both gulped.

            “Yes, Suga!”

            And ran off. Suga turned back to Asahi.       

            “Sorry about them. They can be a little excitable.”

            “I-it’s ok…”

            Suga tilted his head, concerned. “You still want to meet Daichi?”

            Asahi nodded. “Yes.”

            “This way then.”

            A series of long, twisting hallways later, they stopped outside a nondescript white door with a plaque designating the room as belonging to “Sugawara Kouishi & Sawamura Daichi.”


            “Koushi, that you?” a deep, soothing voice answered from inside.

            “Yes. Asahi, the our new resident, is with me. He’d like to meet you.”

            “Alright, one second.”

            Some rustling from inside and then the door swung wide, revealing a room bigger than Asahi’s draped in pale orange and only one bed.

            Asahi looked between the crystal at his side and the man holding the door open.

            “You two…?”

            Suga nodded. “We’re a couple.”

            Daichi wrapped an arm around Suga’s waist, drawing him close and extending a hand to Asahi.

            “Sawamura Daichi, but you can call me Daichi. It’s nice to meet you.”