The blond prince sighed and slumped in his chair, having long since lost interest in the elaborate lecture his father was giving him on proper etiquette around the commonfolk. He knew all of this already: stand up straight, walk gracefully, don't speak to any of them, never make eye contact, and other useless formalities that made him seem more like a stuffed shirt than an actual person. The young royal yawned, silently reflecting on how boring this lecture, along with the rest of his life, truly was.

His wandering mind was abruptly shot back down to reality, however, when he felt a light smack on the back of his head. "Ryouta!" came the stern voice of his father. "Ryouta, are you even listening to us?"

"Ow, hey!" Ryouta automatically responded with a hint of annoyance in his voice, rubbing the spot with a gloved hand even though it didn't hurt. "Father, I know all of this stuff already. Why should I be listening?

This earned him another swat on the head. "You need to learn how to behave properly." The king said, looking down at his son with a disapproving frown. "Such uncourtly behavior reflects poorly on us, the royal family."

Ryouta narrowed his golden eyes and scowled at his father. "Like I care." He grumbled, standing up with a huff and descending the carpeted stairs towards the exit, brushing past the king, who became visibly more irritated.

"Ryouta, come back here!" His slightly raised voice echoed off the stone walls of the throne room. "We haven't finished with you yet!"

"Stop saying 'we'! Nobody uses that anymore; it's outdated!" The blond practically yelled back, walking out of the room without even a glance over his shoulder; before his father could further protest, he was gone.

The king's mask finally dropped when his wife, the queen, reentered the room. "What am I going to do with him…?" he asked with an exasperated sigh.

Ryouta agitatedly walked down a random series of passageways and corridors. The palace seemed to be more like a prison than a home to him, and he just wanted to get away from his family and all their rules, at least for a little while. He ended up in an unfamiliar part of the castle, with a window nearby that, when he leaned up to it and looked outward, had a perfect view of the market square.

The atmosphere outside of the castle seemed so lively and somehow inviting, everyone bustling about and gossiping with one another. Despite their less-than-preferable social status, they seemed happy. The blond envied them for that. He peered out the window for a while, resting his head on his fist and watching the activity with half-hearted interest, until he saw something that caught his attention.

A person who looked small enough to be a child, dressed in plain clothes and had baby blue hair, was weaving through the thick crowds while awkwardly carrying a heavy crate of some kind. While it was unfortunate that children were being put to work like that, Ryouta noted, that wasn't what he found curious about the boy; it was the fact that no one seemed to see him at all. Even when the mule-drawn cart raced by and knocked the boy down into the mud, nobody even noticed and just continued on as if he wasn't even there. But the blue-haired boy didn't cry or complain; he silently stood up, brushed himself up, and started to examine his scattered produce to see what he could salvage. The prince observed the scene with renewed curiosity. "How can he just carry on like that?" he asked himself. "Amazing…"

"Oi, Tetsu!" roared a voice from within the crowd. Ryouta looked toward the voice and saw a tall, muscular, dark-skinned man with dark blue hair pushing and shoving through and walked over to the boy (whom Ryouta assumed was "Tetsu"), kneeling down beside him and proceeding to help him clean up the mess. He said something the royal observer couldn't hear, but the pale boy responded with a nod. Then the taller raised one of his strong arms and began to ruffle Tetsu's hair, then helped him to his feet, making another comment with a wide grin. But then the boy did something that both amazed and confused the prince: he smiled. Not a half-hearted or a fake smile, but a real, warm, happy smile. The blond raised his head off his hand in surprise as his eyes widened. How? How can he possibly be happy after something like that? He wondered, watching as the darker male picked up the crate and walked off with the boy, still grinning. Ryouta pulled away from the window, perplexed, and started down the corridor again. He admired the boy for being able to recover like that, and throughout the rest of the day he found himself thinking about him. Finally he decided he was going to attempt to contact this Tetsu to see if he could possibly learn more about him. He had never been this interested about anything or anyone before; at the very least, he had to see him again.