The door opened slowly with the hinges creaking. Aichi peeked inside the dark room, gripping the doorknob while his other hand grasp at the wooden surface. A sudden tight knot was formed in his stomach, nervous tension running up his spine. It wasn't from the sound of thunder erupting outside with lightning that lit the dark clouds, but it was upon his decision in entering the Beast's room without permission. And he had not spotted any sign of the Beast even by the faint light that had caused from the sparking bolts.

Aichi was about to take a step back until something on the far end of the room caught his eye. A faint glow emanated under a drapery covering something on a stand. It stood between the glass window and bed, close to the wall. He took a few steps towards the stand, ignoring any uneasiness in his mind and stomach as if he were in a trance.

His hand reached out to grab the fabric before, in a mere second, revealing what was hidden underneath: a red rose hovering inside the bell jar with the stem not touching the bottom. The delicate flower gave a majestic glow with tiny dew that shone almost like diamonds embedded on the outer petals. Only a few petals lay on the bottom.

Aichi gasped, eyes widened admired by its beauty. "It's….beautiful…."

"What are you doing here?"

Aichi almost jumped, startled by a sudden voice behind him. He gulped before turning a quarter profile then freezing in place. Blue eyes had met golden, chilled and demanding, eyes. The gaze only lasted for a second moment before blue eyes wandered shyly to the side, towards the floor.

"I was….curious…" Aichi admitted shyly.

"Curious?" the beast's voice perked, as if an adult was close in chiding a child.

"Exploring…and….."

"Stay out of my business," the Master said coldly. Aichi's head jerked up to glance at him, a light gasp released from slightly parted lips. The Master continued icily, "And I don't want to see you around here again."

Aichi's eyes widened almost close welled up. His lips quivered in a quiet whimper. Blue locks fell over his eyes as he bowed. "I'm sorry." He dashed out of the door to wherever his feet took him and not noticing of passing the servants. Their voices of concern were deaf to his ears as he made his way towards the doors, pulling the handles and squeezing his way to exit.

Cold droplets of water greeted him along with a whirl of breeze, whisking against his form the moment he exited the manor. Aichi dashed down the pathway towards the forest to as far as his legs could carry him. He didn't care where he was going as the Beast's words repeated over and over. Those words seemed to be the only thing that mattered on his mind and what drove him to tread further and further into the forest, splashing footsteps in his wake.

Why did the Beast want him to come to the manor only to be told later that he didn't want to see him around? It confused him. The long journey on foot… was it worth it only to be wasted? A heavy weight dragged his heart then. He wanted to go home….yet one side of him just wanted to be left alone. Where was home, now?

Aichi was soon snapped out of his thoughts when he slipped before tripping onto the ground. A muffled sound, twisted in agony, was torn from him upon impact. Mud had splashed onto his hair, skin, and clothes. When he carefully turned to his side to take a glimpse of what he tripped over, he winced. A dilapidated root. His left ankle he felt had been scraped and twisted. He guessed it must have been scraped by a nearby broken bark as well.

His leg muscles tightened, leaving him to lay still in the puddle, mixed of water, dirt, twigs, and leaves. He brought a laxed fist near his mouth and slowly closed his eyes. No one would find him in the middle of nowhere in this forest, especially in this storm. It made him slightly frightened. Would he freeze to death or starve with no one to ever know? His body shivered, eyebrows furrowed.

In what seemed to be less than a moment passed by, Aichi's eyes slightly flittered open at hearing footsteps coming towards his way. He couldn't tell where exactly they were but it was near. Who was it? Was that person lost too? His heart pumped in anticipation of who that person may be, yet he had a little doubt that s/he would save him. That doubt had come too soon, as arms cradled and lifted him off the ground. Fur? It was soaked too…

Too tired to care or realize who exactly his rescuer was, Aichi snuggled against the furry chest with his cheek resting on it. His eyelids had crumbled to a close and he soon fell in a limp slumber.

o0o0o

Aichi stirred. His eyes fluttered open; he stared towards the ceiling blankly as his vision adjusted to the blurred image. A soft moan vibrated in his throat and noticed by the feeling of comfy sheets and pillow he was in his guest room. What happened? Just a moment ago, he was outside letting nature bury him somewhere he expected no one to find him.

"You're awake"

Aichi shifted his gaze to Misaki sitting at his bedside. He whispered her name. Misaki returned with a concerned smile to rest for a while. And in seeing his curious yet confounded look on who had brought him back into the manor, she spoke, "The Master brought you back. I tended your wound."

He bolted in sitting up, hearing the mentioning of the Master. Why? Many thoughts dawned on him then. "Where is he?" he wanted to see and talk to him.

"He's in the lounge."

"Please take me there!"

Misaki eyed him for a moment. She silently mused over a few protests before noting the boy's pleading blue eyes staring at her. She figured with that look, getting him to change his mind would be a waste of breath. She nodded, complying with his wishes.

His lips curved into a smile, glad that Misaki agreed to lead him to the beast. Aichi pushed the covers to the side to climb out of bed and touched his bare feet onto the carpet. When he did, he noticed he wasn't in the attire he was in earlier. Aichi glanced down noting he wore a white long-sleeved Victorian night gown that reached to his mid-calf in length. The small ruffles tickled at his neck and slightly below, a red ribbon tied into a bow to fasten the gown. He felt a little space for his arms under the puffed sleeves; at the wrists were ribbons wrapped around. He mentally shook of this notice to focus on meeting the Beast.

Aichi let Misaki aid him as he limped, with her supporting his arm as they walked towards the hallway.

"The carpet is really wet…." Aichi commented.

"…I'll take care of that later," Misaki said, a little irritation present in her tone.

o0o0o

At the creaking sound of the hinges, the Beast and butler glanced towards the door with the Master's eyes flickering open while Miwa's averted from the beast. In spotting Aichi and Misaki, Miwa made his way to exit, saying he'd let Aichi be alone with the Master. He gave Aichi an assuring grin along with a little nudge inside the lounge before grasping the knob. He tended to the door after him, leaving it slightly open.

"I'm not even gonna ask why you're soaking wet," Misaki remarked. Miwa mumbled.

"Stupid cat of a Master."

Aichi fidgeted his fingers against the fabric of his gown. Seeing the beast's gaze didn't ease his sudden anxiety. Yes, he wanted to see the Master after bringing him back into warm shelter; however thinking back to the start of it all… His heart pounded a few beats per second. The silence from the Beast and cracking from the wood among the fire in the hearth didn't ease those poundings.

The Beast only stared at Aichi, studying his movements. He mentally sighed and gestured with his features for the boy to come closer. Aichi had took heed of the meaning, after a moment of figuring it out himself, and limped towards him stopping in front of the fireplace. The warmth swirled around him, lessening the cold that had soaked him earlier.

Aichi opened his mouth partly to speak shyly,

"I…. thank you….."

"You shouldn't have left," the Beast returned flatly.

"… well, um… you told me to leave…"

The beast frowned in thinking that he didn't mean it that way.

"…. Sorry." Perhaps it was a bad idea to enter the Master's bedroom without permission. Guilt had weighed on the boy's heart. He fell silent for a moment wondering what the creature in front of him would say about his naivety and curiosity.

"You are prohibited of leaving this manor," the Master ordered firmly breaking the silence.

Aichi knew this as he was told from his mother of her price. "So, what should I call you?" if he was going to stay for who knows how long, he might as well know how to address the Master of this manor. He felt it wouldn't sound right to refer to him as "beast", "creature", or of any similar sort. And wasn't sure about calling him "Master".

The Beast replied in a natural tone. "Kai"

"Kai-kun"