disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Chloe, as per usual. you skank. /fond
notes: why can't I write anything normal.

title: use it
summary: The slave auctions leave her with a sour taste in her mouth. — AU; Ririchiyo/Soushi.

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He was very quiet.

That was Ririchiyo noticed first.

He was very, very quiet and very, very still; it was like he feared moving in her presence, and Ririchiyo was not sure what she was supposed to make of it. He watched her with slit eyes, the muscles in his cheek twitching as he clenched his jaw.

Sometimes she wondered if he thought she was going to wrap her hands around his throat.

That would explain his fear, at the very least.

But mostly Ririchiyo ignored him.

It was easier than, say, trying to make friends—after all, Ririchiyo was no good at friendship, and she knew that. Because she was mean, even if she never meant to be. She was mean because she knew how to say things that would hurt. She was mean because mean was better than being hurt.

And Ririchiyo was so tired of being hurt.

She sat in the middle of her bare room, and sipped perfectly brewed coffee.

He stood by the door, and didn't move.

Lace and linen were easy things for the daughter of the Shiirakin house, but not so much courtesy. Ririchiyo grit her teeth, and tried to force the words out.

"Sit down, you fool."

(And of course it came out all wrong. Ririchiyo contemplated dunking her head in a bucket of cold water.)

He looked startled. Slid down to his knees. Bent so low, he touched his forehead to the floor. "Pardon, lady, I meant no offense—"

Ririchiyo hated that pose.

It made her think of cages.

"No, stupid," she sighed. "I mean over here. And what am I supposed to call you? I can't just go on calling you fool, though I'm sure it's accur—"

She cut the word off there, turning dull red.

(She was going to have to work on that apology thing.)

But he seemed to have taken no offense at all.

Like it hadn't even mattered.

Still, he didn't move.

"Would you quit that?!" she finally exploded. She stood and stomped across the floor, grabbed him by the lapels of his shirt, and forced him to stand up, pressed nose-to-nose. "You're a person, not a dog! Stop grovelling like one! You have a name and feelings and this is—this is ugly! Stop it!"

He stared down at her, face completely impassive. The two-coloured gaze was uncanny and eerily blank, like he wasn't even there at all.

Ririchiyo fought the urge to shrink back.

In response to the sudden fear, she intensified the glare.

(That probably wouldn't work, but it was better than nothing.)

"Lady," he said, "you'll hurt yourself."

But he did not dare to touch her, and Ririchiyo raged.

"What is your name?!" she hissed. "I know you have one! Everyone has one! What's yours?!"

He opened his mouth to say something, but Ririchiyo scoffed. "Not the one they gave you at the pen, moron. Your real name."

His mouth snapped closed, and he looked away.

"Tell me," she insisted.

He did not look her in the eye.

"Soushi," he said at last. "Miketsukami Soushi."

Ririchiyo released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. She took a miniscule step back, fingers still wound into his shirt. "Miketsukami-kun. I like that. Okay. That's what I'll call you. It's nicer than stupid, anyway."

Another step backwards, and she finally released him.

"You belong to me. You understand that, right?"

"Yes," he said.

"Good," and she tossed her hair over her shoulder. She could feel his eyes track the movement, still wary. She reached for the beaker that held her coffee, and poured an extra mug.

She didn't say anything else.

But she thought that maybe he understood anyway.

tbc.