Chapter 4

This was so not the thing I needed right now. My face burned up, remembering similar circumstances at the Animorium. At least he wasn't inches away this time. Except now…I couldn't help but stare.

"Master?" I looked up.

"Master?" I stupidly pointed my finger at myself. "Me?"

"You signed the contract. You are my master." Admittedly I wasn't expecting a fish…but I didn't expect this either. Actually thinking about it…what the hell was I expecting in the first place? The more I thought about it, the more I understood how little I had actually thought about all this. I knew he wasn't a fish in the first place. I knew I didn't ask for the fish when I declared him mine. I just knew…he was mine. Okay granted I thought of him as such, but-"

"Master?" I realized I was staring…then I looked down again.

"Damn." I forced my stare away and cupped my right hand over my eyes to make sure they didn't wander. "Hey, um, don't you come with clothes…or something?" Crap I hated that I was treating him like an object. But I felt no emotion from him.

"In the box is a set of clothes, and personal belongings." I looked over at the box. I was about to ask him to get it, but I remembered the glass. Best guess he wasn't wearing shoes either. I went to pick up the box, and kept a firm stare on it. I hurried and put it on the counter, then proceeded to rush towards the living room.

"Go ahead and put some clothes on, please." I heard the box scrape the counter as he picked it up. "There's a bathroom there to the left. Don't take the right hall. Um I'll be in the living room when you're done."

"Living room?" I refused to turn around.

"Yeah, in here." I raised my arm up around my head to point ahead.

"Very well, master." Once I heard the click of the door, I decided I could let myself breath. Maybe I should clean up the glass, first? I couldn't help but feel lazy right now. I think I have a right to relax for a moment.

I headed into the living room, though it was more of an entrance room made into a living room. I didn't have a television in here. Instead the couch faced the window leading to the street. I found it more comfortable that way. Somehow I didn't feel like sitting down right at the moment. I headed towards the window and watched the storm outside. I felt my insides stirring up. I couldn't keep my mind on a single thought for more than a few seconds. There are just too many emotions left behind in this room. I don't know which one to hang on to.

"Master?" His sudden appearance made me jump a bit, but I didn't turn around.

"You don't have to call me that, you know."

"But you are my master." I turned to face him. He was wearing a plain white T, with black sweatpants. Looking over at his face, it was totally serious. I've always been able to tell people's moods, feel their consciousness. Know what they may say or do. But, with him I draw a blank. It was like this at the Animorium, too. I couldn't feel his anger until I heard it, couldn't feel his sympathy until I saw it. Is this what other people feel like? I guess not. In order to feel like this one would have to know the sensation of having lost it. What made him so different? I closed the distance between us. He backed up a bit, until he bumped onto the edge of the couch. Knowingly, a wickedness I had felt only moments ago was sprouting unwillingly.

"What's your name?"

"Edmund." Edmund? There's another name that's not befitting. "So you say I'm your master?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"As part of my contract, anything you say, is command." I came up to him until I was inches from his body. His sheer size still amazed me. I looked up at him, and placed the tips of my right hand on his chest. He didn't budge, just stared back down at me, no emotion in his eyes. I don't like this, why is he acting like he doesn't care? Why am I acting like this? I wanted to push him, to get a reaction, anything would do. So I did; I pushed him back, and he fell on the couch behind him in a sitting position. I climbed on top of him putting my legs on either side of his body. I felt a sudden need to have him, but despite this, I knew I wouldn't go through with anything.

"Am I your first master?" I whispered this to him, with very close proximity to his lips that I dared not touch.

"No." Somehow that hurt me. As if sensing that, he nonchalantly said, "You're the third." I pulled my face away from him. He continued, "My first master took me in when I was eight, but returned me as soon as she saw my mismatched eyes, said I was defective."

"Defective?"

"Unlike you, all the other people I belonged to bought me. Anyone bought from that place comes at quite a high price. Aristocracies like purity in their life; my eyes didn't match the criteria." How much purity can you have if you're buying a child?

"My second master bought me a year later. Back then, despite being returned, I was still a part of the blue tanks, fresh, new," he paused, "untouched." I drew a breath. "About three years later when that master decided I was of no use to him anymore, he returned me back to the Animorium. After that I was moved to the fish tank you found me in."

"Him?" I couldn't move, I just kept a blank stare.

"Yes, him. Life isn't as perfect as you may think it is." This actually kind of agitated me, but I ignored it.

"Why that tank?"

"We all have rankings, when I was eight, my ranking was higher because I was new. As soon as I was returned, my ranking fell, and was put into a different tank, still not far from the first tanks." He paused. "When the man returned me, I was put into the dirtiest tanks, amongst the cheapest people, who were more likely to die in those tanks, than they were to be bought off."

"But couldn't people be used as like, I don't know…"

"Slaves?" I nodded my head, hating myself for thinking that this was an alternative. "Believe me most of us would love to be bought off as slaves, though it did happen from time to time, or so I heard. Most people who were bought were usually used for different purposes." I felt my body move off of his. I stood up and walked back until I hit the wall. I kept my head down. "Master?" This whole time, his voice has been so level, not a hinge of regret, no remorse, no emotion. At the same time I felt disgusted with myself. What was I doing? A sudden rage sprouted in me. Another returning emotion.

"Don't call me that."

"Do you feel disgusted now?" My head shot up, how could he know? "Do you want to return me, as well?"

"What?"

"That's why you backed away right? Because I am unclean."

"How could you say that? You're not the one I'm disgusted with." I felt myself boil up inside.

"Master-"

"I told you not to call me that!" He stiffened.

"I understand. Then may I call you by your name?" My heart skipped a beat. Of course he could.

"You can call me whatever you like."

"No. I am only allowed to call you what you allow. I belong to you, it is your choice." After that, my already lit fuse hit the mark.

"How can you say so easily that you belong to me!?"

"That is the way is has to be. You signed the contract. In exchange for having me by your side, I must never leave you, nor you me. I have to follow your every command." Still his voice sounded level. Here I am yelling at him, and he acts like he doesn't care.

"That seems to favor me quite a bit."

"That is the way it has to be, you released me, now I must stay with you."

"Even so, one day, you'll leave me…" then I mumbled "everyone does."

"I will not leave you, I will not break the contract. If you, or I for that matter, break that, I have to go back there."

"A contract. That's all that's keeping you here." I wanted to cry. What's worse than forcing someone to stay with you. Nothing, that I knew of.

"Does that bother you?"

"Maybe it does. I have no interest in someone who is forced to be with me! You're like my father." I know there was acid in those words. "He was forced to stay with me, too. Until he decided I could take care of myself." Edmund looked at me with bewildered eyes. I felt hot tears down my face. Damn it, I hate crying. He came closer to me. I knew I shouldn't be yelling at him. Too much happened today, and for the first time in years…I was angry. More than angry, I was furious, and confused.

"Thea…" I froze. This marked the first time that he called me by my name, it felt so bitter sweet. I melted at his words, yet I hated how wonderful hearing him say my name was. I closed my eyes; tried to make my mind go blank. Just like I've done before, shove all this sadness away from my life. I then felt hard warmth on my face. I opened my eyes shocked, and noticed Edmund's white T-shirt blocking my view. He held me close, and I could feel my head on top of mine.

"Thea, do you see me as a person?"

"What? What else would I see you as?"

"An object. A doll." I looked up at him. He was serious. Even in this darkness I could see his beautiful multicolored eyes full of something I knew all too well. Sadness. I stared.

"Why can't I feel your sadness?" I said in almost a whisper. His eyebrows twitched as if wondering what that meant. I decided for the both of us to ignore that comment. "I almost turned you into an object. You must think I'm horrible." I could have done anything to him, and he would have let me, but at what cost?

"I think…" He paused. "you wouldn't have gone through with it, even if you hadn't gotten angry."

"You don't know that."

"Yes, I do."

"Well I guess I couldn't have done much without help from you." I felt myself blushing. I'm happy I decided to look back down into his shirt.

"I wouldn't say help from my side would be very hard to get." My eyes went wide, but my face stayed frozen in place.

As if suddenly realizing the situation I pushed him away. What the hell was I doing? All I know about him is his name, and a horrible past. Yet, I was here practically throwing myself at him. This wasn't like me, I needed space away from him.

"Thea?" He was holding on to my hands which were still in full contact with his chest. What I thought was me pushing him away, was actually just me pushing myself back arm's length. This guy felt like a brick wall.

"I think…I need to rest." I kept my eyes to the dark wood that covered my living area floor. "Too much has happened today. And-"

"I understand, master." I shot up.

"No. I don't like the idea of giving you absolute orders, but this one will stand. You will not call me master. Do you understand? You call me Thea." I could have sworn that the corner of his mouth twitched into a smirk for a second, but that may be the darkness and my exhaustion playing tricks on me.

"Very well…Thea." I felt myself warm up a bit.

"Okay then. Umm…" Despite my exhaustion, I couldn't just leave him without a sleeping arrangement. There was always the room next to mine. It was a bit cluttered and didn't have a light, but there was a mattress. It'll have to do. I sighed. "follow me."

I headed past the kitchen into the hallway and turned right. The hallway was narrow, but not so narrow that two people couldn't walk side by side. I flipped the switch to turn on the light. We passed my room, which was the first door on the left, the second door was the extra room. The one I kept just in case-. No. I wasn't putting myself through that, not right now. I opened the door, with some difficulty due to the boxes behind the door. I didn't even know what I had in here. The only light in here was from the hallway, but I could at least see that the bed was box-free. I turned towards Edmund.

"I know it's not much, but for now this is all I can offer." I kept talking without looking back at him. "Tomorrow after school I'll clean up this clutter. We can go to the store and get whatever you may need." I paused for a moment. I should get him some covers. "Hold on for a moment, I'll be right back." I went into my room for a moment. When I came back out, low and behold, he was right where I left him. He was staring at me quizzically as I headed out with a pile of blankets. "Here you go. This should do for tonight." I smiled slightly as I handed them to him, but it disappeared as soon as I saw his face. He looked confused, almost pained. "What's wrong? Are you all right? I know they're not the nicest, but it's all I have for now."

"It's not that." He said abruptly. "I just..." His face softened in the most glorious way. "Thank you, Thea." I knew that if I didn't go to my own bed soon, I may not at all tonight.

"Um, yea, no prob." I stood there. I'm not sure what I was waiting for, so he spoke for me.

"Good night, Thea." Okay, new rule first thing: he wouldn't say my name at the end of every sentence. I don't think I'll be able to take much more of it.

"Um…good night." I pointed, "there's another light switch there to turn off the light, so you don't have to go to the end of the hall." He nodded his head, and I awkwardly rushed to my room, and closed the door behind me, being careful not to slam it. I stood next to my door for a while longer, and once the light from the hall switched off, I decided I should probably go to sleep. Or at least try.