Hello, everyone! I'm sorry about all my late updates and all for my other stories – but I'll try my best to update them!

Anyway, to this story! It's my very first DNAngel fic, so don't blame me if it's crappy! Also, I haven't really seen the entire thing, because it's a little hard to get them in England. I'm just waiting for my faithful friends in Japan to share the kindness of their souls by lending it to me! So please point out if several of my preferences are wrong. This is set in AU, but there still might be mistakes.

First of all, I want to say this: FLAMES WILL BE IGNORED.

If there's anything I hate, it's flames. If you don't like the story, then don't READ it! And on top of that, don't REVIEW! Or more precisely, don't FLAME! Advice is okay, but flaming is way out of league. It's not my story is going beyond the rules of or anything. I always write within the rating frame of this website, thank you. (But that's only because I suck with explicit scenes)

Okay, away from all that discouraging stuff! This story is about Krad and Dark, mainly. I've gotten the inspiration for this story from various other fics, though I didn't really copy their ideas or anything, trust me! Each idea for this story is original, though the 'slave' part of it is gotten from the storyline of other fics. That's just about the only thing I copied and admit it. Xb

This story is about Krad, a rich, flamboyant young man and his slave, Dark. The idea for this story is that Krad is actually a very confident person who spites slaves because they won't stop letting themselves being pushed around like trash. But in this AU, slave trade is common and legalized. When Emiko buys a (ahem) slave for Krad(you may have some idea but if you're not clear on what kind of slave, read the chapter. I, like mentioned above, suck at explicit scenes and words – cannot bring myself to type them), Krad is forced to look after the slave-boy. At first, Krad treats the boy with a distant and cold indifference, and doesn't feel pity for his new slave. But eventually, he does realize it's not his slave's fault, and they start a strong, but fragile relationship.

--

A World of Strangers

---

He whimpered as Master tightened the ropes on his wrists.

"Don't you try anything," Master growled. "Or you'll regret it, boy."

He nodded ever so slightly, whimpering again as the ropes cut deeply into his raw wrists. Master gave them a rough yank and snarled, causing the small boy to let out a pleading whine.

"Who ever said you could make any sounds?" Master snapped, pulling hard on the ropes again. The small boy let out a soft, barely audible cry. He was afraid Master would get angry at him again. He kept his head low, his shoulders were trembling slightly.

Master let go of the ropes and tightened the leash attached to the heavy metal choker around his neck.

"Tomorrow," Master smirked. "Tomorrow you'll have a new master."

The small child shuddered at the thought.

---

"KRAD!!"

22-year-old Hikari Krad twitched with annoyance as the hyperactive red-haired kid barged into his study room.

"…what…?" Krad growled out.

"Mom says we're going to get a new slave!" the annoying boy paraded around the room.

"I know that, Daisuke," Krad grumbled, sorting through the many papers on his table. "Can you tell Emiko that I don't feel like going? I have lots of work left to do, and there's no time for me to accompany the lot of you to get a new slave…besides, you know I don't support that thing…"

"Oh, come on, Krad!" Daisuke said, slapping the palms of his hands on the table. "It's not like we're cruel masters or anything! Look at Towa-chan! She doesn't think like that about us, right?"

"The people at the slave fair today are simply a bunch of low-class, greedy bastards," Krad said indifferently. "I have no intent on following you to buy a replica of Towa."

"Towa-chan, Krad," Daisuke correctly. "You know she prefers us to call her that. And if the people at the slave fair are really 'low-class, greedy bastards', wouldn't we be doing the slaves a good deed by buying one of them?"

"One out of the millions out there is barely significant," Krad said calmly. "No, Daisuke. I am not going anywhere. My work is much more important than supporting something as inhuman as a slave fair. Daisuke, by going out to things like that and buying slaves from those bastards, it's telling them that they can continue to earn money from slave-trade."

"But don't you pity the slaves? Don't you want to buy them so that they can be safe?"

"Why should I? They are the ones who landed themselves in the trade," Krad said. "Or better still, blame it on their parents. I bet half of the lot was sold into it because their parents were bankrupt."

"You're cruel, Krad."

"So what?" Krad said, not even batting an eyelid. "It's the truth. Blame it on their parents who abandoned them. And blame it on those low-class, greedy bastards who sell them like pieces of ornaments, or worse, trash."

"So you blame both sides?" Daisuke asked quietly. "The traders and the slaves?"

"Yes."

Daisuke scowled. He changed the subject. "So you're not coming?"

"No," was Krad's unwavering reply.

Daisuke scowled and stalked out of the room, shouting, "Mom! Krad says he's not going!" Daisuke paused at the door. "Krad…?"

"What now?"

"You know, it's not the slaves' fault."

Krad sighed, shaking his head before looking down at the messy piles of papers on his table.

---

"Dai-chan, so Krad isn't coming?" Emiko asked.

"Nope," Daisuke said, falling onto the couch next to Satoshi. The blue-haired boy smirked.

"Still going on with his 'I do not care about slave-trade' attitude?" Satoshi guessed.

"Bingo," Daisuke said. He turned to his mother. "Mom, why does Krad keep saying that?"

"Well, Krad just doesn't really like the idea of slave-trade," Emiko said, checking the money in her purse. "That man just thinks differently from all of us. But no matter…he is a kind person at heart, and he feels that people should stand up more for themselves instead of expecting others to help them. That's why he feels spite for the slaves. And as for the traders…he just thinks they're disgusting."

"But he keeps saying it's the slaves' fault!" Daisuke protested. "And just now, he told me that the slaves should blame their parents because they were probably sold into slave trade because their parents were bankrupt!"

"That's a fact, Daisuke," Satoshi interrupted. "Krad's not lying. It's the truth. Even I know it."

"But…"

"Dai-chan, it doesn't matter what Krad thinks," Emiko smiled. "It's about what you think. Like I said, Krad just thinks differently from all of us. You know what happened to him before, so he knows that people must stand up for themselves. The slaves won't…that's why he spites them, and doesn't feel sorry for them. But it doesn't matter, Dai-chan. As long as somebody cares, it's good enough."

"Your mother is right, Daisuke," Satoshi smiled.

"Anyway…I was thinking of getting Krad a slave today…" Emiko trailed off.

This time, even Satoshi perked up.

"But, Mom – he'll completely hate the idea!" Daisuke yelled in protest.

"Krad is such a busy man," Emiko said, unfaltering in her decision. "I was thinking it was better for him to have somebody to give him help in other things besides his work. Like cleaning his room, for instance…"

"Ugh, Krad will just throw the slave back to us! We were just talking about how much he dislikes slaves!" Daisuke groaned.

"I agree with Daisuke, Emiko-san," Satoshi said, nodding. "Krad, like you said, thinks differently from all of us. He won't appreciate the idea of a slave."

"Well, we'll be killing two birds with one stone, then," Emiko said cheerfully. "He will have somebody to help him, and he'll not be so poisonous towards slaves."

"Whatever you say, Mom," Daisuke said, falling back on the couch.

---

The boy winced.

His wrists were tied painfully tight in front of him. A set of heavy chains was on his ankles, and they made movement so much more difficult and painful for him. The long, thick chain leash was attached to the hefty metal choker that was slung around his neck. There were big, angry, black bruises all over his body. Gashes and cuts marked his arms and legs, several old, several just fresh, others already beginning to get infected. Nobody ever treated his wounds properly.

His body hurt all over, and felt so heavy. His vision was a little cloudy, his head slightly airy. He hadn't eaten in two weeks, and his last, meager drink of water was a day ago. His stomach rumbled in protest, and his throat was terribly parched. He winced in pain as the heavy chain attached to his choker was yanked on roughly. He almost fell forward.

"Come on, boy," the man holding onto the chain-leash snapped.

The boy knew that the auction was starting soon. He would be sold again to another cruel master.

He kept his head low. His breathing was as shallow as always. It was barely as though he were breathing at all. His very first master had punished him for breathing, and the fear of that very first punishment had scarred him since then. He didn't want his masters to know he was breathing, so he always breathed as shallowly as he could. Hardly anybody noticed that he was breathing at all.

The man holding onto his leash led him out of the dimly lit room. The boy winced as light hit his sensitive eyes.

"C'mere, you," the man pulled him forward roughly. He was forced onto the auctioning stage. He could hear the delighted squeals from women, and the excited chatter of men. They were discussing him, the boy knew. They were wondering if he was strong enough to do heavy tasks, submissive enough to be a bed partner and so on. He kept his head low as usual and trembled with fear.

He saw Master stepping up onto the platform, too.

"We'll start from 65 000 yen!"

---

Daisuke, Satoshi and Towa followed Emiko down the bustling streets of town. Slaves were being auctioned everywhere. There were all kinds of slaves, from the simple ones who did normal chores, and to those who accompanied you to bed…

"So, Mom – are we getting two slaves?" Daisuke asked.

"Yes, Dai-chan," Emiko said. "One for ourselves – to help Towa-chan, of course – and another one to give to Krad."

"I can just imagine Krad's response to our thoughtfulness," Daisuke muttered. He pulled a face. "Like this," he imitated Krad's annoyed expression. "He'll say, "What! A slave! You know I don't support this stuff, so get him out of my sight!" Like that, Mom."

"No matter, no matter," Emiko went on cheerfully.

They came to a particularly large group of people, all crowding around a small auctioning platform.

"70 000 yen!"

"75 0000 yen!"

"Gosh, what high bids!" Daisuke commented.

"What kind of high-class slave would that be?" Satoshi wondered aloud.

"Let's see, Miss!" Towa-chan said excitedly to Emiko.

"Yes!" Emiko agreed.

They fought their way through the hordes of people, the bids raising higher every time.

"90 000 yen!"

"100 000 yen!"

"120 000 yen!"

"C'mon, ladies and gentleman!" a chubby man standing on the platform shouted. "He's a rare, exotic creature! Look at that body! Strong enough to do house chores, and lovely enough to sate your needs…"

"M-Mom!" Daisuke stuttered out, fighting the appalling noise.

"Yes, Dai-chan?"

"This…this slave is a…a…a…that kind of slave!"

"That?" Satoshi asked quizzically. Then, he seemed to get the message. "T-that? E-Emiko-san, let's not get this one…for Krad or for yourself! This kind of slave is not meant to be doing house chores…they…they…!"

"Now, that's not very nice to say, is it?" Emiko said in a contradicting tone.

"I agree with Miss!" Towa added.

"Oh, but, look!" Emiko squealed, pointing to the boy on the platform. "He's so cute! I'm sure Krad will love him."

Daisuke and Satoshi looked up. For a moment, their breaths hitched in their throats.

The boy was very small in size, though he couldn't be younger than 12. He had beautiful amethyst eyes, but they seemed to be so empty, so drowned in sorrow. His hair was a dark lilac color, so unnatural, so exotic. His pale skin seemed to give off a slight glow in the bright sunlight. But despite his ethereal features, his perfect skin was marred with gashes and blotched with angry bruises. Some of his wounds were even infected.

"Well…he is good-looking…" Satoshi trailed off.

"Yeah…" Daisuke murmured.

"Good! Then let's join the bid!" Emiko said. And before either boys could protest, she yelled, "150 000 yen!"

Silence rang throughout the crowd. It seemed nobody wanted to pay more than that for such a skinny, unhealthy-looking slave.

But, then…

"170 000 yen!" a voice defied Emiko.

Everyone turned to look at the bidder. Daisuke recognized the man immediately.

"It's Harada-san's father!" Daisuke breathed. "Mom, he's got more money than us!"

"So what?" Emiko said. "200 000 yen!" she yelled.

This time, Harada-san didn't shout out.

"Going once," the man on the platform said. "Going twice…to the young lady there!"

Emiko laughed, clapping her hands together.

Satoshi and Daisuke gaped at her.

Towa just laughed.

"Let's go meet our gift to grumpy Krad, shall we?"

---

The boy was forced back into the dim, gloomy room again. The ropes and chains were taken off his wrists and ankles, and the man yanked him to meet his new master.

He kept his head downcast as they came to the bubbly brown-haired woman from the auction. The boy had raised his head only slightly before just to catch a glimpse of the person who so greedily wanted him.

The woman was accompanied by two boys, both bigger than him. One of them had fiery red hair, and the other, icy blue hair. They were stark contrasts to each other, but seemed to belong to each other, as if they were together by an invisible thread.

"He's all yours, lady," the boy heard Master's voice. So Master was here, too.

He didn't dare look up, and relied on his sense of hearing to tell what was going on. He heard several chinking noises, and presumed that the lady was taking out several coins. There was some rustling, so it had to be the yen notes. He heard them being passed to Master. Hurried rustling told the boy that Master was greedily counting the money, to make sure and to please himself, as usual. The boy knew that Master was a very money-hungry person, but he would never say that out loud.

When Master had finished counting the money, he grabbed onto the boy's chain-leash and dragged him forward. The boy let out a pained whine at the sudden force on his already bruised, cut and raw neck given by the heavy choker.

"Don't do that!" a voice – a little girly, but boyish cut through the cold air.

The boy lifted his head ever so slightly, and the vicious yank on his choker came again.

"Keep your head down, boy," Master growled. He turned to the boy, the red-haired one and smiled in a rather fake manner. "Young man, this slave is very disobedient at times, so I must punish him."

"That thing is hurting him!" the boy cried out.

"Dai-chan," the lady's voice interrupted. She took the leash out of Master's hand and with a very sheer contrast to the Master; she gave a gentle pull on the chain-leash, signaling for the boy to come towards her. "We'll be going now, mister. This boy is ours now."

"Sure thing, sure thing," Master said, not wanting to lose his customer. "Please, please – the exit is that way."

The lady gave a huff of triumph, before marching towards the exit, her two boys behind her. The boy pattered about three steps behind her, his head and eyes downcast again.

Will…will she punish me, too?

---

"That man was an ass!" Daisuke yelled immediately after they left the fair. They had decided against getting another slave, as neither of the slaves at the fair really fit their taste. Towa-chan refused to work with them, when they asked her opinion – either because they were male, or because they looked too snotty for a slave, and would 'disrespect Emiko-san', she said.

"Dai-chan, don't get so mad," Emiko said. She turned behind and saw that the slave-boy was trembling quite terribly, and he was looking at the ground as he walked. And on top of that, he was walking about three steps behind them. Emiko stopped walking and turned around completely.

The slave looked up in terror, backpedaling a little, whimpering softly – almost inaudibly. He never looked at Emiko in the eye. He returned his gaze to the ground again.

Emiko shook her head. "Sweetie, I'm not going to beat you," she said comfortingly. "Okay?"

The boy lifted his head slightly, but hardly enough to reach Emiko's shoulder. "Y-y-yes…M…M-M-Master…"

"My name is Emiko," Emiko said. "This is Daisuke, or Dai-chan. And this is Satoshi. Oh, and that's Towa-chan."

"Hey," Daisuke grinned.

"Hi," Satoshi said.

"Pleased to meet you!" Towa squealed.

The boy lifted his head slightly higher and shook more than ever. He was truly terrified of them.

"Well," Emiko said, shaking her head. "It's Krad he has to get used to…not us, anyway…"

Daisuke shrugged in agreement.

Wonder what Krad's going to say…

---

They are nicer than Master…but… He shook his head violently. Though he knew it was impossible, there was foreboding feeling whenever he even thought badly of Master.

He had met many masters before. Several of them pretended to be really sweet and kind at first, but turned out to be the worst and cruelest of the lot. Maybe they are pretending, too…maybe they…they want to be nice to me…so that I'm not afraid of them…and then they'll…they'll…

Years of suffering had thought the young boy not to be so gullible and trusting. Following his instincts, he told himself that these strangers weren't going to be nice to him. They could pretend all they liked, but he wasn't going to believe them. Because in the end, they would betray him, they would hurt him. He knew it. He knew that was for sure!

He knew. He knew as he walked three steps behind his new masters, wincing at the pain his body was giving him, he knew that the world – this harsh world of his – was full of strangers, full of people who would hurt him.

He couldn't trust a stranger.

There's nobody who won't hurt me…there won't be anybody like that…ever… The small boy thought, as he walked to his masters' destination.

Ever…

---

"KRAD!!"

Krad let out a low growl of annoyance. I was hoping they'd be out for dinner, too…

Sighing, he got out of his seat and went downstairs. Two of the Niwa family plus one of the Hiwatari family was never a good mix. Add a hyperactive slave who was more like a maid plus a newly purchased slave didn't really make the situation better.

"Krad!" Emiko shouted. "Come and see a little surprise!"

Surprise? Krad thought, puzzled.

He went downstairs. He saw everyone beaming at him, except Satoshi, maybe. But curled into a small ball, sleeping on the armchair behind was one beautiful boy.

--

Does that count as a cliffy? O.o

Anyway, how was it? Tell me, tell me! I want to know all your comments!

Depending on my number of reviews is how fast you get the next update!

Hope to see you at the next chapter!

Don't forget to R & R!