A/N – I fixed some minor mechanical errors in the previous chapter. No new warnings to add for this chapter. I would love to hear questions, feedback, and any other comments you have! Thanks very much for reading on!

Another day passed before Brin was picked up. In this time, he learned that he had been purchased by a man who worked for his new master, apparently an assistant. This brought all of his nerves crashing back. His master had yet to see him. He might not like his assistant's tastes. What if Brin got sent right back? He thought he had made his first impression, the most important one, already.

"Your slave is right this way, sir."

A guard and another man approached Brin's cage. He'd been collared and leashed with a temporary rope a half hour prior, so he had known to expect his master's arrival. This must be the man. Brin was already standing for presentation this time, though he was already trembling. He kept realizing how badly he needed to get out of this dreaded compound, where he had begun training when he was twelve, and where he had spent the subsequent years waiting in idleness and boredom until he came of age at seventeen and could legally be sold. For all this time, he had seen the same smooth, white floors and walls, been surrounded by the same dismal atmosphere.

Brin could not wait to get outside and see what the rest of the world looked like. He couldn't wait to have some sort of bond with another human.

"This one?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Thank you."

The voices were muffled, as the glass separating the slaves extended up until there were only about three feet between the top of the glass and the smooth, white ceiling about fifteen feet from the floor. Even so, Brin could hear how deep and steady his master's voice was. He sounded relaxed, but at the same time there was a quality to his voice that spoke of an utmost confidence. What would it be like to receive orders from the man, to be his personal slave?

"I'll take him from here, then."

"Yes, sir."

The guard stepped forward and unlocked the cage, taking hold of the leash to pass it over to Brin's master.

"Enjoy, sir."

As his new master stepped up to take the leash, he finally came into Brin's vision. The first the thing the boy could see was the polish of his shoes, which were a quick indicator of the man's wealth; even Brin recognized the designer label. He took in the excellent tailoring of the man's suit and the high tech watch that would have cost thousands of credits.

And finally, Brin dared to flick his eyes up to glimpse his master's face. His master had a few inches over him and at least ten years on his seventeen years of age. The man was somewhat muscular, but it was clear that he spent much of his time in an office and in the company of people of affluence. When Brin looked up, careful not to shift from his submissive posture, deep, near black eyes met his own. In surprise, Brin hastily averted his gaze and blushed, feeling as though he had been called out, though the man said nothing of his infraction.

But even in that brief moment he had seen all he'd wanted to know: his new master's dark brown eyes were a reflection of his dark hair, which was cut short but laid in attractive waves that reminded Brin of male models in those magazines that were marketed to the wealthy and seemed to advertise the trappings of "the dream life." Brin didn't think he'd ever before seen anyone so beautiful who was not a slave, whose entire purpose was not to look good. He had the fleeting, disturbing thought that he could tolerate the cruelty of someone with such good looks.

A silence dominated the holding area and Brin suddenly remembered his self-consciousness. Now, as he waited anxiously for his master's direction, his earlier insecurities flooded back. Brin was nothing special to look at, with his pale skin, his light brown hair, and his light brown eyes. Where his master's dark looks seemed smoldering and handsome, Brin's appearance was ordinary, with no awesome aura to speak of. His wavy hair was short like his master's, but lacked the same flair, and his presence was certainly not commanding. And perhaps the lack of these qualities was not such a bad thing in a slave, but Brin knew that he was also lacking in either the daintiness or the young, masculine beauty so many of the boys around him had. He didn't have their beautiful facial features or their silken voices. All he had was his natural averageness.

What could Brin do for this man? How could he impress his master, make himself indispensable? He supposed the only things he had going for him were his excellent obedience and his high marks in school, though that education had ended when he was fifteen. He had been deemed to be more knowledgeable than was necessary in a slave; any extra education was a waste of resources.

From then, the only education he'd received had come from the books he'd been allowed to read in his free time while he finished his training with perfect marks and waited to come of age. There had been nothing to do all those afternoons except read, sleep, eat, and maintain an acceptable level of fitness. It wasn't a particularly unusual situation for someone who had been young at the time the government seized his family's assets and enrolled the children in training programs. Brin had shared a dormitory with dozens of other children who would be made into slaves. He was just one among thousands of slaves in the market, and his lack of outstanding characteristics continued to gnaw at him as it always had. It was a temporary relief when his master finally spoke, his voice as stable and smooth as it had been earlier.

"Alright, boy. Time to get home," With that, he stepped back and turned to exit Brin's cage. With a tug that was surprisingly gentle, the man waited to see that his slave was moving, and left the compound. Leading his boy to the hovercar that awaited them outside, he ushered the boy into the passenger seat, climbed into the driver's seat, and activated the autopilot. Soon, they were racing out of the markets, past the hub of the city's activity, and into the heart of luxury.