Jess liked to think she was an open-minded person. She knew her thoughts occasionally derailed from that path but before they completely formed, she liked to cut it off. To re-affirm herself that the world was too big for her to impose her morals on others. Even so, there were times when she didn't even know what to think. Today was one of those days.
Steven, a good friend of hers who worked in a jewelry store, called her the night before to say that Sam's bracelet was finally fixed. She could stop at the store the next day any time to pick it up. She thought of calling Sam as soon as Steven ended the call, but she was tired from her night shift and giving Sam a nice surprise would be good for him. She could buy some food and make something. Sam often forgot to cook after all, preferring take out than home-cooked meals.
She was already planning what to cook as she changed into her pajamas, grateful that her day off had finally come. She could sleep late, go to Caro's for lunch, and maybe take a walk. Then she could go to Sam's apartment one or two hours before he returned from work to have time to cook. Everything sounded great in her head. She was more than ready to spend her free day with her friends.
When Jess arrived at Sam's the next day, however, she was not prepared for the man already sitting on the couch as though he lived there. The man with dirty blond hair looked oddly confident in his own skin even if he wasn't wearing a shirt though he was wearing some strange looking pants Jess was sure she had seen before but couldn't remember the name. His eyes were on the book on his lap, clearly concentrated on his reading. For a second, Jess thought she got the wrong apartment, but that couldn't be. The key had worked, after all. She backed away slowly, trying to return outside to double check the apartment number, when the man finally looked up at her.
She froze, a shiver of fear attempted to overwhelm her senses but she snapped out of it when his eyes went to her hair a wistful expression crossing his features before he completely turned his face away, an annoyed scowl gracing his features.
"Who are you?" she asked, her tone curious. He wasn't a burglar, she was sure, too casual and familiar with his surroundings.
"Perhaps I should be the one to ask that question, hm?"
Jess frowned, she didn't like the way the man easily shrugged her off as unimportant. "I'm Sam's friend. What about you?"
The blond seemed to think about her question as he closed the book, his head tilting slightly to the side. That was when Jess noticed the bracelets around his wrists—beautiful material that shone even in the soft light that filtered in through the curtains. He was wearing more jewelry than just the bracelets, she noticed. There were bangles on one of his ankles, a long earring in his right ear with what looked like a white feather that fell on his bare shoulder, a golden collar adorning his neck, seeming a little too tight to be comfortable, and a long necklace that reached his sternum.
"Sam is my master," he finally answered with a lazy stretch of lips. He seemed calmer.
Jess felt heat creeping into her cheeks. There was only one way to take that statement and she didn't know what to do with that. Sure, Sam had mentioned he liked guys before, and they had tried some really kinky stuff while they were together, but that kind of thing had happened mostly because she was the one inciting them. Sam was really good in bed but he was pretty vanilla.
"Sam has mentioned that staring at people for long periods of time is considered quite rude and yet you are doing it."
Jess blinked, finally tearing her gaze away. She coughed uncomfortably. Sam wasn't here and she didn't know if the man knew they had been together before. It'd be weird if the ex suddenly appeared in his apartment using her own key, right? Or perhaps Sam had already told him about her…?
Well, only one way to know.
"Sorry barging in like that," she said extending a hand. "I'm Jess, Sam has probably told you about me."
The man's eyes were on the book once again. He didn't took her hand but he did raised his gaze to meet hers. "Your name is not familiar," he added before returning to the book.
"Oh. Okay then. What about you, what's your name?"
He didn't answer, simply turned a page from the book and didn't look up.
Jess put both hands on her hips, bag full of groceries moving with her. She didn't like this stranger's attitude, the way he didn't look at her for more than a moment, but she didn't let it affect her. More hands meant she was going to finish cooking earlier. She walked towards the man until she was standing in front of him. The man's gaze were cold when they locked eyes, but she shrugged off the warnings that screamed in her head. "So, John Doe, want to help me with something?"
Sam had seen the genie without a shirt since they've met (only a set of golden necklaces and that collar around his neck to cover him) and it had been clear that even if they were almost the same height, Sam was still broader in the shoulders. His shirt would probably be too big for the genie but it would probably still look normal enough. What he didn't think would fit him were his pants. The genie seemed to have broader hips—not that Sam had taken too much notice of the fact, but seeing a handsome man walking around half-naked was weird to get used to.
He got out of work a little late but thankfully not late enough for him to find the stores closed. Walmart was also relatively close. And cheap.
He had only seen the genie wearing those weird baggy pants with the scarlet cloth wrapped around his hips, so maybe pajamas would be both comfortable for him and would not make him stand out quite so much. A pairs of jeans just in case.
By the time he got home, Sam was anticipating seeing the genie in other clothes, wondering if he'd look less foreign, so it was understandable that he didn't bother checking the bowl next to the door where he threw his keys, failing to notice that Jess's spare was there, too.
"Hey," Sam started, "So Chuck told me that he has seen you walking aroun—"
He stopped. Jess was sitting at her table. Next to the genie, who luckily didn't bow, or kneel as soon as he saw Sam. His back was straight as a board, though, with his chin held high and shoulders set, making him look more like a king than the servant he pretended to be. His entire demeanor exuded regality and it fit him so well that Sam was starting to wonder if all the 'you're my master' stuff was only a joke. He couldn't picture this man serving anyone. His presence screamed elegance.
Sam blinked, finally noticing the plates of lasagna they were both eating. "What's going on…?" he asked, but as soon as the words left his mouth, the genie stood, as if remembering he was a servant, his posture dissolving and going back to what Sam had seen before. Sam wanted to stop him, to tell him that he didn't have to serve Sam's dinner but he was too dumbfounded to say anything.
Placing her fork down, Jess spoke, distracting him only slightly from the genie's actions. "We got tired of waiting, but there's some left. It's still warm, don't worry." Sam swallowed, finally tearing his eyes from the genie. Jess gave them a curious look. "John and I cooked."
"Yeah, John Doe here." Jess pointed to the man who was laying the plate of lasagna in front of him. Sam sat after saying thanks, eating a forkful of the food just so he won't say anything too revealing. It tasted incredible. "He's a really good cook, lucky you," Jess continued. "But aren't you mean enough to leave him walking without a shirt? I tried to offer him one but he said he couldn't accept it. What kind of kinky stuff have you gotten into?"
Sam choked on his food. Jess was giving him the smile she wore whenever he did something that made her proud. "We aren't together," he blurted. Jess was standing up to clean her dishes but she still turned to raise an eyebrow at him. "We are... roommates for now."
"Didn't know you were looking for a roommate. Do you even have any space here for another person?"
Sam was at loss. It was true that the apartment only had two bedrooms. One was a lot smaller so he had turned it into an office and Jess knew it if her smile was something to go by. Sam looked up at the genie, desperation in his eyes. He only stared calmly back. Sam was lucky that Jess had turned back to the sink.
"The reason I am sharing rooms with Sam is simply because my previous space was too small for me to be comfortable. Sam offered me the chance to use his apartment and I accepted."
That wasn't far from the truth, actually. Just worded as something more realistic.
"Oh, that sounds like Sam…" Jess muttered, grabbing her jacket from the back of a chair and putting it on it, happy that she was getting some answers now that Sam was here. "What about the costume?"
The genie looked down at himself, clearly offended by her words. Jess giggled at his expression, pushing her hair out from the inside of her jacket.
"It was a bet," Sam said quickly before he had the chance to reply. "I forgot to tell him that the game was over."
"That's what all-nighters do for you, Sam. God, go and get something else for him to wear. It's cold."
"I am indifferent to the cold," the genie intoned, clearly unimpressed.
Jess gave him a weird look as she walked out of the kitchen. "You'll get sick eventually. Sam make sure to make him change."
"Well, I've to go now. You came too late and I've to work tomorrow. I'll see you another day, Sam."
Sam walked her to the door. She gave the genie a small wave and once Sam had his hand on the knob she pulled a small cloth bundle from the pocket of her jacket.
"Here's the bracelet. I think it looks better now than it must have before, if I say so myself." She gave Sam a quick kiss on his cheek and whispered, "We'll talk later and you'll tell me all about this."
A wink later, she was gone.
Entering the kitchen again, Sam saw the genie placing their dishes inside the dishwater. "I thought you couldn't eat."
"I think I used the words 'not necessary.' I still can eat but I choose not to. I don't need it to survive like humans."
"You say that but you're quite a little bit on the thin side." Sam could still make out the ribs under the genie's skin but at least he wasn't as pale as he had been when they met. In an unconscious action, he poked his side as he came to help him. Sam froze on his spot but when the genie didn't retaliate and merely glanced up at him with a raised eyebrow, he relaxed a small smile tugging at his lips.
"Chuck told me he saw you walking in the park. You're starting to create some rumors," Sam said after washing the dishes. The bag of clothes was still on the table. "Maybe you should wear something else to look a little less… exotic."
The genie glanced down at himself. "I'm not used to being around anyone but my master. I've forgotten the care you humans have for appearances. I do not care for the opinions of other humans, but perhaps..." the genie trailed off, his eyes following Sam's to the bag. "You found me clothes?"
"Yeah, that way cops won't arrest you if they see you outside," Sam chuckled, grabbing the bag and motioning to his bedroom where the other could change. The genie stiffened momentarily but he seemed to relax when Sam handed him the pajama pants. "I hope it's your size."
The genie looked at the pants with clear distaste. Sam's eyes went to fabric, not understanding. He had chosen them because they were white and had a pattern of small golden feathers. It reminded him of the earring the genie wore but now that he thought about it, the genie looked comfortable in what he was already wearing and had never shown signs of wanting to change his clothing. Sam really hadn't thought anything of the clothes until now but maybe it had some meaning behind?
"Or maybe you don't want to change your pants? You don't have to if you don't want to."
The genie looked at him for a moment, huffing at whatever thing he found in his expression. "I do not have any emotional attachment to the clothes that were given to me. I am not human. I barely understand your choice to wear clothes," he said, starting to take off the scarlet fabric wrapped around his waist. Sam took it from his hand when he was finished, relishing in the soft sensation of the texture against his skin. It felt like silk.
"The one that gave you this must have been very rich then" he muttered, lost in the intricate designs the cloth had, so much so that when the genie untied the laces of his current pants, Sam was already looking up to ask about the fabric. He was just in time to catch sight of the cloth hitting the floor beside their feet. Sam's eyes darted away in vain, a small lump forming in his throat, making it dry. He only returned his eyes to the other when he was sure the pajama pants were in place.
"Rich, I wouldn't know, the word powerful would fit him better. By your standards and the one of other beings. Though I do believe there was some kind of joke I couldn't grasp in his actions."
Sam didn't know how to answer to that. The genie had revealed more information he thought he would do. There was some sort of soft reminiscence in his eyes as he spoke. Sam wanted ask about what kind of joke would be in receiving gold and precious clothes but the genie was glancing at the other clothes he held.
"Uh, right. Well, I didn't know your taste in shirts so I didn't buy you anything. I'll give you this in the meantime." Sam pushed one of his smaller shirts towards him and watched as the man easily shrugged into it.
Sam pointed at his jewelry. "Do you want to take that off?"
The genie looked down at them. "I am aware that a display of gold often indicates a being's measure of power."
"I would take it as a no, then. Besides, it looks pretty, too."
A smile tugged at the corners of the genie's mouth and Sam felt oddly triumphant. "What about the collar?" he said, moving his hand to point to the gold band around his neck. The genie immediately recoiled, his hand shooting out to grab Sam's wrist tightly.
Sam couldn't help the groan of pain that escaped him. The sound seemed to snap the genie out of his fit of anger. He released Sam's wrist and knelt quickly, his head lower than he had seen before.
Sam rubbed his tender wrist as he observed the other man's reaction. "Hey," he started, "I'm not going to do anything. If you don't want the collar off, then it's okay. The one you mentioned before also gave it to you? Genie? Look up. Everything's fine."
"A leash," the genie said after finally meeting his eyes. "This, at my neck, is a leash. Not a collar."
Sam looked again at the gold leather around his neck. It looked soft, but it seemed to be wound too tightly around the skin. This close, it looked even painful. "Oh."
The genie's gaze dropped.
"Do you want to take it off?" he asked, just to be sure.
"Yes," came the late reply. "...But it is not my place. One of my older masters ordered me to not take it off."
Sam remembered his brief conversation about orders and how the necklace worked. "But I'm your current master, right?" Sam said, his hand palming gently at the genie's neck, cautious while touching. His eyes found his again and his pupils widened slightly. He nodded and Sam reached for the clasp, being careful as he began to unfasten it. "If you don't want it, I don't want it."
The leash loosened, giving away to burned, pelted skin; the red, uneven line contrasting the slightly pale skin.
Nodding to himself, he said, "Stay here." He stood up and went for the first aid kit he had in his bathroom. A couple of seconds later, he was pulling a cream out. He showed it to the genie. "This is supposed to make your skin feel better. It'll feel weird at first though."
The genie scowled, seemingly a step away from tell him it was fine, but he stopped, a considering look flashing in his eyes. A small sigh escaped his lips and he let Sam rub the cream into his skin. The genie didn't twitch or move away, he just looked at him as he worked, his own fingers moving slowly to his neck, hovering close but not touching, not tearing his gaze away until Sam was done.
"How much does it hurt now?"
"It never hurt. However, I don't doubt it will take a while to heal."
Now that Sam's hand wasn't near him, the genie's palm had moved so it was covering most of his neck— Sam deduced it was an attempt to hide the mark from view.
Taking hold of the scarlet fabric that once was tied on the genie's waist, Sam thinned it, enough to make it look like a scarf. "You could use this around your neck," Sam motioned the new scarf towards him. "It'll hide the burns until they're gone."
He looked at it in distaste, clearly fighting not to say yes so readily.
Sam sighed. "Come on, put the pride aside. I know you don't want to show the burns."
There was fire behind the genie's glare. It seemed the only thing that he was going to do to impose him, the servant mindset he had going on still clear on him, but Sam didn't let it affect him; he glared back with the same defiance. The only difference between their expressions was Sam's slight smile, but he couldn't repress it; he was glad that the genie was showing more emotions.
The genie eventually rolled his eyes. Sam took as a triumph seeing him taking the scarf from his hands and wrapping it around his neck. The contrast of the candid color of the fabric and the genie's icy blue eyes making him look cute even when there was only pure annoyance and frigid cold in his expression.
Covering his laugh with a cough, Sam took the repaired bracelet out of his pocket. "Jess was the one who knew where to take it and it's fixed now. I don't know if you still want to use it but it's fine."
Looking up at his eyes in surprise, Sam swallowed, allowing an honest smile to form on his lips. "You're welcome."
They looked at each other for a while until Sam glanced down at the leash on the floor. "What do you want to do with it?"
The genie followed his gaze. "I'll think of something," he said before disappearing in a flutter of papers. When Sam looked down again, he found out that the leash was gone, too.
Four hours later, the genie finally returned. He didn't notice at first, it was night and Sam was in his office, so tired. He wanted nothing but to let his head fall against the cool surface of the wood. Even so, he noticed when the door opened, careful steps following the action. He looked slowly over his shoulder. The genie walked quietly and calmly, going for his library to choose a random book before disappearing into the living room, scarf loosely wrapped around his neck. Sam smiled before going back to his work.
A/N: Comments please?